Homepage Logo
You are in: Future Mindsets : Transhumanism

Transhumanism represents the view that we should take a proactive role in upgrading the human species.

The word "transhumanism" was first coined by biologist Julian Huxley in 1927 when he wrote that "the human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself". He went on to add that "we need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will service: man remaining man, but transcending himself by realizing new possibilities".

In 1990 philosopher Max More wrote an essay entitled Transhumanism: Toward a Futurist Philosophy that is regarded by many as the foundation of modern transhumanistic thought. Within, More defines transhumanism as "a class of philosophies of life that seek the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology".

Today, a 6,000 member non-profit organization known as Humanity+ provides a focal point for transhumanist activity. Formally known as the World Transhumanist Association (WTA), Humanity+ believes that the "human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase". It therefore advocates the "ethical use of technology to expand capacities" in pursuit of "better minds, better bodies and better lives".

Humanity+ maintains a detailed Transhumanist Declaration. This was first drawn up by an international group of contributors in 1998, and notes that humanity now stands on the brink of being able to overcome "cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering, and our confinement to planet Earth". The Declaration goes on to state that policymakers need to exercise 'inclusive moral vision' in weighing the risks and benefits of new technologies. It also advocates the well-being of all sentient life -- including humans, non-human animals, artificial intellects and modified life forms -- and strongly favours "personal choice" in the adoption of enhancement technologies to advance and improve the human race.

The concept of transhumanism is of course not to everybody's liking. Taking a different viewpoint, many other people believe on ethical, moral, religious or other grounds that the human condition and human evolution are naturally "fixed" and should not be tampered with. Most people of course lie somewhere along the spectrum between these two extremes, and/or have never thought too deeply about the ethical dilemmas that technology developments now place before us.

Debates concerning the development, implications and public adoption of a genetic engineering and synthetic biology in particular are now moving from being of largely academic interest to being key inputs to fundamental government policy and multinational business strategy. An understanding of the transhumanism and its implications for the ethics and practice of human existence is hence becoming a prerequisite for all of us thinking about and planning for tomorrow.

More information on transhumanism can be found in my books 25 Things You Need to Know About the Future and The Next Big Thing.

Return to Future Mindsets.
Blue Earth

Transhumanists believe that all possible technologies should be used to augment the human race and so direct our evolution.

The Next Big Thing

Learn more in
"The Next Big Thing".

logo line
Twit Link