In my first post, I declared that three months ago I had never heard of transhumanism. I wrote that I had never heard of Ray Kurzweil or the Singularity or thought much about our world’s advancement in genetic engineering or robotics or nanotechnology. When I explained the Singularity to my Communication professor in class, he admitted to me that he had trouble understanding the concept I was trying to illustrate. He also admitted to never having heard of the phrase “Singularity” being used outside of physics. I couldn’t seem to find one single person who had heard about a technological Singularity. But even if the terminology is unfamiliar to the general public, the concepts are not.
In March of 2007, I went to my local doctor’s office for a routine checkup. The nurse who took my vitals began relating to me the experience he had just had with the doctor’s previous patient, a high school girl who had come in with her mother.
“She opened her mouth and I looked in and said, ‘Well, it looks like you’ve contracted genital herpes in your mouth. Are you sexually active?’
“The girl looked really surprised,” he chuckled as he slipped the blood pressure cuff around my arm, ignoring my mortified expression, “but not as surprised as her mother who was standing right next to me.” He laughed. “I thought she was going to get in trouble for sure until the doctor had a look and said it was only strep throat.”
“I love you deeply.”
Many of us wish we heard those words more; just as many of us wish we could say them more. Often, we feel we have to wait far longer than is comfortable to be recipient or bearer of such tender sentiment. When we finally share declarations of love with those dear to us, they are as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot summer day; as comforting as an easy chair by a winter fire. John Lennon said that all we need is love, but I’m not sure he would have felt the same if, after hearing the words “I love you deeply,” they were immediately followed by:
“As deeply as a synthetic intelligence can at this stage in technological evolution…”
“The clothes make the man,” Mark Twain famously quipped.
While he followed directly with, “Naked people have little or no influence on society,” I have to wonder how seriously he took his observations about clothing (and about nudity, too, for that matter).
What is it about the right outfit that makes us feel so good? Is it the unmistakable feel of high-quality fabric paired with high-quality tailoring that we deeply enjoy? I’ve got a slick lambskin jacket that I look forward to wearing every fall. Each time I put it on, an almost involuntary sigh of satisfaction escapes me. Why is that?
My brother-in-law, Josh, is a self-described geek who loves video games. As a twenty-something who’s in school for Network Administration, he’s a long-time Dungeon Master for pencil and paper D&D, a veteran Game Master for MMORPG’s, and an all-around programming genius. Consequently, he’s usually in the know about what’s up and coming in the gaming department.
When I asked him if he had heard of any games lately having to do with transhumanism, he replied immediately, “Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s all about that.” He and I sat down at the nearest computer and started watching trailers for it.
Three months ago I had never heard of Transhumanism. The name Ray Kurzweil didn’t ring any bells, I hadn’t put much thought into our generation’s advancements in nanotechnology, genetic engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, and other areas of discipline that constitute what Vernor Vinge coined as “the Singularity,” and the idea of humans being designing their own evolutionary replacements seemed perverse and eerily masochistic. In fact, when my Mass Communication professor at UVU asked me what I was going to blog about and I answered with “The Singularity,” he said:
From walkagainproject.org, we read:
“The Walk Again Project, an international consortium of leading research centers around the world represents a new paradigm for scientific collaboration among the world’s academic institutions, bringing together a global network of scientific and technological experts, distributed among all the continents, to achieve a key humanitarian goal.
“The project’s central goal is to develop and implement the first BMI capable of restoring full mobility to patients suffering from a severe degree of paralysis. This lofty goal will be achieved by building a neuroprosthetic device that uses a BMI as its core, allowing the patients to capture and use their own voluntary brain activity to control the movements of a full-body prosthetic device. This ‘wearable robot,’ also known as an ‘exoskeleton,’ will be designed to sustain and carry the patient’s body according to his or her mental will.”