National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), USA is developing 14 Transhumanist technologies for upcoming future. They are developing technologies like Prosthetic Leg, Wireless Brain Computer Interface, Synthetic Tissue, Cartilage Regeneration, Implantable Sensor etc. They have just launched an app for demonstration of their technologies as Bionic Man.
Since I wrote couple of articles on Brain Computer Interface and Visioning 2050 the world has seen the emergence of MindRDR, which allows users to take pictures and upload them on the web through HMDs such as Google Glass, all with just a thought. The future, is here.
MindRDR’s innovative app product is a mere beginning. It is still reliant on physical hardware that is visible. This is simply because the root enabler of Brain Computer Interface technology, Brainwave Computing, is still in it’s early stages of commercial development.
We have yet to see the technology advance to a level where a remote and tiny computing device with an ultra-powerful processor is able to read the brainwaves of it’s owner or user, to pick up instruction and carry out it’s functions; absolutely any computing function that the owner or user instructs it to perform, even from a distance.
Apart from just reading instructions as thought by the user, we will see gradually the commercialisation of technology where Personal Computing Devices (PCD) read and pick up memory, including that in vivid visual form, from the owner or user, whether for storage or for processing. For example, I go out onto the street, take a walk looking around and as I am doing so, an innocent looking device small enough to fit into my palm, is recording all that I see and hear, lying inside my pocket. I do not even need to touch it and nobody around me knows that I am recording whatever I am seeing or hearing. I am doing it with my thought, remotely relaying what my brain is processing, to my PCD. When I get back home, I can have the device replay the recording of what I saw and heard through a projection or on a screen display. As I watch the playback of what I was seeing and recording onto my PCD, with my thought, I can instruct the PCD to freeze frames or images, storing them as JPEG images. I can also alter and edit the video as I perceive fit with my mind.
With Brain Controlled hardware and software functions, I do not necessarily need technical computing skills such as editing or formatting. I think it, and it happens. In a world of Invisible Telekinetics, where PCDs identify owner or user thoughts, read all of them, in any form and process them at a thought, you have unprecedented challenges.
First and foremost, security agencies will have a difficult time dealing with surveillance, reconnaissance or espionage by criminal or malicious elements out there. Protecting against piracy at concerts, theatre shows and cinemas will be another challenge. Yet, too most people, even though at least the question of national security or societal order should matter to the utmost, these issues will seem distant. There are other issues though, arising from Invisible Telekinetic Functions, that few will dismiss from thought.
Recording memory, with Brainwaves of what the user sees being transmitted to an electronic device is one thing. What is than done with that recorded memory, thanks to other Brain Controlled computing or technological functions, is another thing altogether. There is a reason why most of us do not want strangers to take our pictures or films us. The reason is, that we do not know what they might do with the images of us that they capture.
Personal privacy is going to be a huge problem in a world where anybody you meet anywhere, is capable of secretly recording you with sheer mental whim to do so, relaying your image directly from their mind to an electronic device in a pocket, in a bag or even further away remotely. When there is no HMD, camera, lens or any hardware device of the sort that is visible, can you really be sure, that you are not being recorded? Trust and confidence will take on a whole new meaning. How will you ever know, that a conversation meant to be kept private, will be kept private and not used against your interests?
Of particular concern will be what one can do with images of you. Parallel developments in Thought-Instructed editing software will enable abusers to alter images of you, taken without your permission or knowledge, for ulterior motives. Images can be developed of you that may compromise your position or credibility that could be difficult to prove as falsified. The problem with Brainwave Computing is, that what you imagine, becomes your memory.
If an individual with an ulterior motive has an image of you in mind and consciously imagines you an alternate setting or situation, that is unreal, it still forms as a memory which could be relayed onto a digital device that is Brain Computer Interface enabled, and stored or formed as a photograph, or worse, more convincingly, a moving video. This is hard image considering where Brainwave computing is today, but just months ago, MindRDR was unimaginable to most persons as well. The fact is, the technological capability of which alarms are being raised herein, is on the horizon.
A nightmare scenario that could come true, is of disgruntled employees or colleagues in the workplace or random strangers in public places or even friends you trust, may abuse the technology at their disposal to form convincing images of you in compromising positions, mentally, and instructing software on PCDs with their thoughts, to create and store those images, which can be uploaded onto the web for distribution, all too easily. And the perfection of quality of such products of malicious minds will likely be so convincing, it may be even impossible to disprove their authenticity. The worst of possibilities is that of innocent and unsuspecting individuals have images of themselves falsified with just malicious imagination or smart morphing simply by thought, turning up in pornography, something could be excruciatingly damaging and traumatising. If someone can invisible photograph you, by simply relaying what they see when looking at you, remotely through Invisible Telekinetic means, this is a real possibility, or should one say, a frightening threat.
When one does not need to use hands to interact or interface with technology, the barriers to what one’s mind can do with access to technology begin to evaporate, where it is imagination that necessary instead of skill. The problem with imagination however, is that it is not always necessarily righteous.
Aging is the primary risk factor for cognitive decline, an emerging health threat to aging societies worldwide. Whether anti-aging factors such as klotho can counteract cognitive decline is unknown. Scientists shows that a lifespan-extending variant of the human KLOTHO gene, KL-VS, is associated with enhanced cognition in heterozygous carriers. Because this allele increased klotho levels in serum and analyzed transgenic mice with systemic overexpression of klotho. Mice performed better than controls in multiple tests of learning and memory. Elevating klotho in mice also enhanced long-term potentiation, a form of synaptic plasticity, and enriched synaptic GluN2B, an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) subunit with key functions in learning and memory. Blockade of GluN2B abolished klotho-mediated effects. Surprisingly, klotho effects were evident also in young mice and did not correlate with age in humans, suggesting independence from the aging process. Augmenting klotho or its effects may enhance cognition and counteract cognitive deficits at different life stages.
The gene takes its name from the entity in Greek mythology called ‘Clotho’, who was one of the ‘fates’ who were supposed to control the thread of people’s lives.
If this research bears further fruit, the KLOTHO gene could change the fate of many people’s lives.
Don’t fear the reaper, says the iconic song by Blue Oyster Cult. But isn’t it a little difficult not to fear a dark-cloaked man who roams around with a scythe and an hourglass? The Grim Reaper is a personification of death that has been invented and refined over the years to help humans make sense of their own mortality. How much do you know about your own mortality? You can’t cheat death, and you can’t cheat on this quiz about death, either. So sharpen your scythe and get started.
Take the quiz now from HowStuffWork
Cryonics is the process of cooling a person at the moment of legal death, in the hopes that future medical technology will have the means and skill to revive that person, overcome illness that caused that death, and overcome the damage of the cooling process. It is based on the principle that medicine is always progressing, and that based on historical evidence, it is reasonable to assume that future doctors will be able to treat illnesses that today are considered a death sentence. It is also based on the theory that our memory, personality, and sense of self is encoded in the “connectome”- the billions of neuronal connections that make up our brain. Preserve that connectome, and the person is not necessarily lost. Most cryonics advocates believe that any sufficiently advanced science that can repair the damage caused by disease and the process of cryopreservation, would be advanced enough to also be able to repair the damage caused by aging, thus creating the possibility that a person revived from a state of suspended animation would not necessarily wake to the same old, damaged body. All cryonicists know that the chances of a successful reanimation are not high however when faced with the alternatives of cremation or burial, that gamble seems worth taking. It is often said “if it doesn’t work, you’re dead anyway so what harm is there in trying?”
Cryonics has had a long history of remaining on the fringes of science. It has taken decades for mainstream medicine and science to appreciate its potential. That is starting to happen as bold advances in computing, genetic engineering, tissue regeneration and the acceptance of hypothermia as a valid medical tool have helped ignite a newfound acceptance of the possibilities that cryonics might work. It has been a slow process and in reality we have only scratched the surface.
Cryonicists in Canada form a slow-growing but stable group of individuals who have had the farsightedness to imagine that cryonics is worth their time and effort. This essay is intended to introduce the world to the Cryonics Society of Canada; how it started, where it is now and where it wants to go.
The Cryonics Society of Canada was created by Douglas Quinn in 1987. Two years prior, he became the first contracted Canadian cryonicist, and went on to be the president of the CSC (Cryonics Society of Canada), and editor of the Canadian Cryonics News1. One of the early ideas in cryonics circles which he advocated for was the concept of permafrost burial 2 as a low cost alternative to standard cryopreservation by using areas of northern Canada where the ground never thaws at a certain depth. This has become a largely forgotten concept. Doug federally incorporated the CSC and wrote its bylaws. Formal application for incorporation was made in 1989 by Doug Quinn, Scott Maynard, a biochemistry student and the secretary for the CSC, and Benjamin Best. The CSC was finally incorporated in August of 1990 after long administrative delays.
In 1990, British Columbia, our westernmost province passed a law prohibiting the marketing of cryonics, and the early 1990’s were spent by the CSC unsuccessfully attempting to overturn it. Similar legislation was considered in Alberta, but it was not passed into law.3 Even though it is fortunate that no other state or province has passed such a law, it still remains in force to this date. Technically, a resident of British Columbia can have cryonics arrangements made, but as one can imagine, a law written in such a manner makes it difficult to find funeral directors and medical professionals that are comfortable assisting these efforts.
The annual tradition of summer parties and winter dinners started in Toronto during this time, and Ben Best took over the role of president of the CSC and editor of the CCN from 1991 to 1999. He was the first cryonicist I met, in 1997 while I was still in college for nursing, and was very influential in my decision to become a cryonics activist and advocate. I consider him to be one of my oldest and dearest friends in this community.
The Canadian Cryonics News ceased publication in 2000, replaced by the Yahoo email and members forum. Guy Desrosiers, of Alberta was elected CSC president in May of 2001, in the CSC’s first online election and held that position until contact with him was lost in early 2003. I, Christine Gaspar was appointed interim president in his absence, and it was decided by vote that I would remain in that position. I bring to the group a background in emergency nursing. I have held that position ever since, with the exception of a period in 2007-2008 when I moved out of country. Patrice Levin was elected as president. She did tremendous work updating our financials during her tenure. She, along with Ben Best and Tanya Jones of Alcor led the first Western Canada standby training session during her time with us. When I returned to Canada in 2008, Patrice gave the role of president back to me, and I have served in that capacity ever since.
In the fall of 2002, the Toronto Local group- a subset of the CSC participated in our first cryopreservation of a lady that was to become a patient of the Cryonics Institute4. For most of the life of the CSC, it has been focused on education and advocacy of cryonics, in the Canadian community, often answering press requests and assisting new members with their enrollment in either CI (The Cryonics Institute) or Alcor Life Extension Foundation. One of the most important aspects of assisting with this case was that it planted the seeds for how the CSC would evolve, and which direction it should be aiming for. Through generous donations, we were able to acquire an ice bath and a Brunswick thumper that would deliver CPR hydraulically. We did also have some rudimentary medications but in hindsight, it would seem that our preparations barely scratched the surface of what would be needed if we were to evolve into an organization that supported its members more than just theoretically.
As can be said for any group whose members are volunteers, with only a single case to base ourselves on, change came slowly. It is really only in the last 2-3 years that significant effort has been taken to truly change our capability to a group that can offer standby support and a cohesive, organized team of volunteers with the capability to truly offer a valued service to a cryonicist in need.
Another element that has served us well is that the political climate and public attitude towards cryonics and transhuman ideas has begun to shift in a positive direction. The fantastic advances in science, and strong transhuman advocacy has helped make cryonics a concept that is gaining mainstream acceptance and legitimacy. This is truly the time to act if we have any hope of improving our chances for a good cryopreservation. Our most basic message is that one can take as many precautions and attempt as many procedures as possible to extend one’s life radically, but life is unpredictable, death can be as random as a car accident, and any serious attempt at transhuman radical life extension must seriously consider a “Plan B”.
One area of focus that I have been diligently trying to develop, with the assistance of our solid group members, is a formalized, clearly defined protocol. Canada is a huge country, with pockets of cryonicists who are thousands of kilometers apart. The same can be said for the rest of the world. My vision here, in collaboration with Alcor and CI is to write a standardized field manual that can be given to any group who wants it, that will outline the equipment, preparation and steps needed to initiate a good cryonics response. It needs to be simple enough that a person without a medical background can work with, and yet comprehensive enough to be worth the group’s effort. We do not have the benefit of contracting with Suspended Animation, as they are still restricted to working within the borders of the continental USA, and clearly, it would take hours, at the earliest, to mobilize a team from Arizona, or coordinate with a funeral director for CI. My goal is to create training videos, and “kits” that can be purchased or obtained by any start-up group, and then operate as a mobile support professional that can come to their aid to initiate the more complex aspects of a stabilization. My ultimate goal would be to have the capability of doing field vitrification, so that a patient can then be shipped to the provider of their choice, in the best possible condition at dry ice temperature.
One of the most significant barriers that we have recently overcome is taking custody of an Alcor meds kit, in the greater Toronto area. A long time concern we have had is that if there is a last minute case, that any delay at customs would severely impact the quality of a perfusion. Now, Alcor representatives have a kit pre-positioned here, and all they have to be concerned about is moving personnel. On the weekend of August 15-17, 2014 Aaron Drake and Dr. Max More will be coming to Toronto to provide us with orientation and training on their equipment and protocols. It is our goal to not only hold their kit, but to be able to offer immediate assistance, when possible, to their patients, in the hours before their team can arrive. Every minute can make the difference between an optimal and a sub-optimal perfusion.
Over the next few months, we will also acquire vitrification solution, and supplies from CI, in order to offer the same advantage to its Canadian members. Once we have a plan in place for the Toronto region, it is my goal to duplicate these efforts in other parts of the country that have the most pressing need, such as British Columbia for example.
This takes us to our next challenge, which is the anti-cryonics law in BC. Cryonicists in BC have been trying to have that prejudicial law overturned for many years now. This is a very important issue, not only for the people of BC, but also for cryonicists in other regions. Having an anti-cryonics law on the books creates the potential for others to be influenced by that established precedent. It is in everyone’s best interest to overturn it, lest another zealous lawmaker sees that as an opportunity to create similar rules. In consultation with a civil rights attorney, BC cryonicists have proposed that the best way to challenge the law is to create a business that would be directly affected by it and appeal on the grounds that it is discriminatory. This creates an opportunity to formally start an organization with a similar purpose that Suspended Animation Inc has in the USA, and it falls beautifully in line with the above mentioned goals of the CSC. What this venture lacks at this time is the funding to realize these goals.
If I was to be completely direct about what the CSC needs to further its mission, it would have to boil down to two elements. The first would be active participants. I want to inspire momentum, and help encourage other cryonicists to take a more active role in this service. The future is as of yet unwritten. Every effort that we make now, contributes to our future success.
The second inevitable need we have is financial support. The ideal situation, as I see it, is twofold. One aspect is the ability to earn a living in cryonics, so that my efforts and time aren’t divided between what I must do in a career which takes up valuable time, and what I could do if I could devote my fullest efforts on this mission. The second area where financial support would be hugely beneficial is to support the start-up of the BC organization, currently named Biostasis Canada, which would be born as a mobile, professional standby organization that would operate to deliver high quality cryonics field work, train and prepare local groups of cryonicists, and have the teeth to take on the anti-cryonics law in court. I have come to understand that given the great distances that often exist between cryonicists and their service provider, that what is most critical to success is timely, effective preparation, to dry ice temperature. Once that is accomplished, it matters much less how far the patient must travel to reach their intended destination.
I have always been raised to believe that being honest and transparent are worthy attributes, and I believe that these ventures would be a wonderful addition to building a cryonics infrastructure that we would all benefit from. It would serve Canadians by improving their chances at a quality cryopreservation, would serve others globally, in assisting them in creating their own networks of support, and in a way would help Americans, create a solid cryonics infrastructure outside of their borders, should their own political winds ever change in a manner that becomes hostile to their goals and freedoms.
A quiet revolution is happening in competitive sports. Some futurists think that in just decades, humans will sprint faster than horses, people will shoot guns with near-perfect accuracy using bionic eyes, and athletes will swim entire races without taking a breath.
Already, untainted urine samples have become as essential to top runners as their shoes. Brainy engineers have become as necessary to cyclists as their bikes. And the precise carbohydrate/protein ratio in meals consumed by swimmers the night before racing the 400-meter individual medley has become as important as flip turns.
The rapid advancement and implementation of science and technology are dramatically changing the human species and our activities. Sports cannot remain the same. Bionic augmentation, performance-enhancing drugs, and radical technological innovation are the keys to the coming sporting events increasingly being called transhumanist competition. The word “transhuman” literally means beyond human.
So far, society has had trouble with embracing radical science and technology in many competitive sports, especially those which heavily rely on physical performance of the human body. Instead of encouraging open usage of performance-enhancing drugs and technologies to evolve competition, most sporting bodies and their leadership have sharply condemned anything that deviates from the status quo competitive milieu of the first modern-day Olympics held in Athens, Greece. In 1896.
That may change as the benefits of transhumanist-minded competition become obvious to athletes and spectators alike.
“To some extent the Olympics and related sporting competition is about seeing how far the human being can go, how far it can perform,” said Peter Rothman, a futurist, scientist, and editor at H+ Magazine. “Transhumanist competition and an Olympics dedicated to it would be the fullest expression of this idea.”
If we fast-forward 20 years, what might such a cybernetic competition look like? Surely, it will be even more exciting than what we already have. Take one of the favorite winter Olympic sports, Freestyle Skiing—Aerial, where athletes slide down launch ramps of various lengths and hurl into the air performing multiple aerobatic feats. Two tricky issues define this dangerous sport: how much air time a skier can get and how badly the skier will be hurt if they don’t land their jump safely. New technology, both of which are likely to be available in 5-10 years time, would handily deal with these issues.
First, lightweight mini-rocket thrusters attached to the back of skis would burn for a few seconds, pushing ski jumpers down launch ramps at far higher speeds than ever before. Naturally, the air-time of jumps will be far longer and higher than without the rockets. But it’s the type of ski suit that these aerial skiers wear that would allow them to do tricks only futurists dream off.
Sensor-controlled suits could instantaneously inflate all around the body if the skier can’t make a safe landing. Instead of breaking bones, the jumper would bounce down the slopes, unharmed but probably cursing. As far as aerial tricks go, with some much air time, expect newly invented ones. Instead of performing the Kangaroo Flip 900, expect the Toxic Rodeo 1620. Maybe throw in a few variations for kicks.
Regardless what happens in a coming Transhumanist Olympics, all sports will still need rules. Exoskeleton technology could soon allow unthinkable feats, say, swimmers running on water. Powerlifting would likely be a sport defined by super-enhancement muscle-building drugs, customized steroid treatments, bone strengtheners, and epinephrine-like shots that create short-lasting bursts of adrenaline and rage. Just enough to lift a ton of deadweight above one’s head. Obviously, we’d need some safeguards here.
The sport of swimming might include webbing fingers together with skin grafts to give improved paddle-like effects. We could see sleek, no-drag, full-body suits and even aerodynamic helmets. Finally, an injectable short-term microparticle “oxygen substitute” would make races completely underwater where resistance is least. Swimming may become the first Olympic sport with no breathing.
The monetary incentive, along with the bonus of prestige, fame, and pride, has certainly pushed athletes to use radical science and technology to improve their performance. As with the exploits of Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez, who used illegal performance-enhancing drugs to reach the top of their respective sports. Many others are using proven and legal, or questionable and illegal products and methods to improve their performance. Some athletes will do what they must to win.
In the face of the increasingly strict policing of athletes—the anti-progressive “war on performance-enhancing drugs”— a Transhumanist Olympics would be an outlet for experimentation beyond “natural” ability. It would be an alternative for athletes who dedicate much of their lives to a sport and don’t want to be constantly scrutinized as potential cheaters and forced to undergo strip searches and urine tests right before events.
Today, you break a world record and the the first thing someone wants from you is a blood sample, not a congratulatory high-five. Transhumanist competition could change that, embrace the science and technology that can make sporting events ever-more thrilling, and evolve athletic competition, finally, to fit the 21st century.
The primary purpose and function of the Brain Computer Interface technology in development today, to be the standard input, interaction or interface means for all computing and communication devices in less than two decades from now, is to enable the user to use thought, the signal of which is detected and interpreted, to instruct a computer, any other machine or software, to perform its respective function as the user requires or desires. Past to present trends pertaining to technology is that over time they improve and evolve, along with their purposes and functions. We cannot expect the Brain Computer Interface to be an exception.
While the purpose of the Brain Computer Interface is to instruct machines or programmes, the fact that it works by detecting and interpreting, then translating, thought signals, leaves room for more. Not only can the Brain Computer Interface allow the user to communicate instructions touch and speech free to technology, but also to receive communication back right to the brain, most likely for now, in the form of sound directly to the skull, bypassing the ear drum.
The fact that two way communication is essential, where there must be input to technology and output from it, and that the Brain Computer Interface would enable this, to be purposeful, means we’ll be communicating human-to-human, whether across a room, or the globe, through thought using the new interface technology. How this can work, is that my thought is input into a device, where it is translated, converted into the sound of a voice and then relayed to brain of the intended recipient. After which, I would receive a response by the same means. Without microphones or ear-plugs, we communicate bypassing voice boxes and ear drums, where we may not even speak the same language. A thought, is translated into the language of preference of the recipient.
When language, voice and ear drums are no bar, nor too technical competency or literacy, in communication, barriers to communication, indeed virtually disappear. Now thus far, that is a discussion or impending reality between humans. Thus far, the Brain Computer Interface, is about communication involving the human brain with technology. Humans are not the only one’s with brains though. Apart from Micro-organisms, certain groups of marine animals and other rare creatures we do not often consider, most animals we can think of around us or that we see at the zoo, have a brain or some form of a neuro-system that allows for thought or cognition.
Where technology is in hand that can pick-up and decipher brainwaves or brain signals, to read thoughts, and those brainwaves or brain signals also probably exist in animals, though perhaps operating in different ways or at different frequencies, it is a matter of time, that the the same type of thought reading used for human interaction with technology can, and will, be adjusted to identify, decipher and read animal thought.
Now imagine this, we’re on our way to transcending the language barrier, with the Brain Computer Interface, for human to human communication, where direct and immediate interpretation or translation will be possible with the appropriate software. Imagine, if you can start understanding, what your dog, your cat or your hamster is thinking? And then now think, if we figure a way, to relay our thoughts or intended messages, to your pets or other animals, in a way, they can understand? Going to the zoo will become a very different experience from what it is today.
Imagine if you could have a conversation with a lion. For example, you think the question, “How are you feeling today?”, which gets converted into data, and then signal, which is transmitted to the brain of the lion, in a form, which the lion is able to interpret and understand, in response to which, the lion thinks, a thought that is captured by a brain interface device picking up it’s brainwaves, converting it, translating into a human language you understand, converting it to voice sound, relayed back to you, which you hear in your head, whereby the lion’s response may sound to you perhaps like, “The same as I do everyday when humans like you come by across that barrier. Hungry.”
This is a admittedly, not a possibility within reach any time soon, as the Brain Computer Interface technology is, as far as common or public knowledge is concerned, being exclusively worked on where the human brain is concerned only. Extensive work will have to be done to identify and decipher brainwaves of any animal, to create a system that fulfils the same function with it’s brain, as the system currently being evolved for humans is intended to fulfil. A timeline here is therefore not possible. That the technological progress to enable humans to read animal minds and to communicate back to them will happen, is a definite eventuality, because of both scientific feasibility given what is already known and the human interest to understand other living beings that share our planet. And because it is an eventuality, it is valuable to forecast a scenario, where the technology becomes and actual reality.
Imagine what could happen if we could use such technology to converse with animals, as we converse with each other in the present day. What would the subjects be? Perhaps spirituality, where we ask animals if they understand the concept of life and death, and if so, what it means to them? Do different animals believe in an afterlife? Do they believe in a heaven or a hell? Do they believe in karma or a greater entity? Do they worship in their own way?
Imagine if we could ask different species of animals, how they feel about different things? For example, if we could ask a chicken about it’s sentiments that humans take its eggs or its life, for food consumption? Only time would tell, when such communication is possible, if it’s response, if any, or whatever it is, would suffice to convert the entire human population to vegetarianism. What would different animals say to us, if we asked how they felt about humans in general? Would they say they think we are cute and adorable? Or would they say we frighten them? Or would they say, we look tasty?
Perhaps with a means to communicate across species barriers, with brainwave computing, we will able to negotiate with different animals. For example, we engage sharks to reach an understanding, where we would not hunt sharks for human consumption and sharks would not attack swimmers and beach-goers, more so, if a man goes overboard a ship’s deck, sharks would come to his aid. Perhaps we could discuss means of co-existing and cohabiting better, so as not to impede or violate each other’s spaces. Perhaps we could work out means, with their inputs, on the best way to protect, preserve and rebuild our environment. On the contrary perhaps, we may just perhaps confirm that some species are intrinsically hostile towards us and that is something we may not be able to change.
Whatever the outcome, I foresee, that when, not if for it is an eventuality I reiterate, the Brain Computer Interface technology enables us to read animal thoughts, one thing will be certain; humanity is likely to understand our animal neighbours better. Through that enhanced understanding, I foresee, greater respect by us at least, for them.
I have written this commentary at significant risk. I am anticipating significant criticism, professional and otherwise. I am anticipating even ridicule. The subject certainly appears less than professional and commercial at this present point in time. It sounds more like fantasy, fiction and imagination than not, even though it is indeed much more. It does not sound at this present point in time, like a credible subject of discussion or commercial thought.
I have gone ahead with this, in hope to avail this vision to the world as the first of its kind amongst Futurists, to start the ball rolling for human-to-animal communication forecasting, and perhaps drive interest towards accelerating any such developmental efforts.
Whenever I watch sci-fi films, TV shows, etc., I always tend to over-think certain scenes or actions which catches my eye as being near unbelievable or unachievable. My thoughts go intohow we can make them achievable, and thus believable to the mass populace. One in particular lately has been what is called a “mind meld” from the popular Star Trek series.
First off: is it believable? Well, under its current conditions of being a biological possibility, no. We can’t simply lay our hands on someone’s head and then link into their thoughts and/or memories. Not without assistance, at least. Which brings me to: is it achievable? To make something like this achievable, we’d first need to establish a link of sorts between two people Preferably a mind>hand>mind connection.
To achieve this there would need to be at least one implant procedure done, and at most 2-3.*The main procedure would be a small, thin implant somewhere between the skull and the 5 layers of skin and tissue. This implant would acquire a video file. The file would be a collage of digital “memories” – clips of your life you’d recorded, fading in and out in a cascading motion. The implant would need the ability to be accessed wirelessly, so as the user could occasionally update the file over time.
From there you would need either a Google Glass device, or any other competitor device in the augmented reality spectacles market. This device would automatically upload the downloaded file from the hand implant and play the file for you. In a matter of seconds you’d be watching the “memories” of whomever you “melded” with.The 2nd possible implant procedure would be done anywhere between the distal palmar and thenar of the hand. This isn’t a necessary procedure, but it would certainly add into effect of the action itself, making it all the more fascinating. This implant would act as a scanner, of sorts. You’d place your hand on the position of the person’s head in which the first implant was done. The hand implant would scan the head implant and then download the file.
*A 3rd possible implant would be a retinal implant, which would negate any need for augmented reality glasses. But that would be a risky procedure, and I believe unnecessary. Food for thought, however.
Death is not a topic that anyone likes to think about, and that is just as true of advocates for longevity science as anyone else. We have to recognize, however, that the future of greatly extended healthy lives, produced by technologies, regenerative medicine, and medical nanotechnology, will not arrive soon enough to benefit everyone but still a big question arise again and again, Is death optional ? Well, at the present moment, no, but that hasn’t stopped many from searching to cure that fate we all share. This QUIZ explores what it will take to live forever.
As a consequence of the rapid growth of technological innovations the world has seen the emergence of discursive fields like transhumanism and/or posthumanism. The origin of these discursive practices can be traced back to the Renaissance humanism and the Enlightenment project envisioning a teleological progress of human civilization, though it is customary to regard these developments as a point of separation from the Enlightenment or Renaissance humanism, particularly due to its inclusion of the non-human animals and the extra-human futuristic technological beings. However, its basic objective remains to be the realisation of the human potential through the extension of the field of science and technology. As it happens to be the case with many other postmodern discourses the discourse of posthumanism seems to be a corollary of neo-colonialism. Once colonised, now third world subaltern subject becomes the strategic object of the discourse, since the posthuman man will require its ‘other’ and the otherness will be realised in the pre-posthuman subaltern agency. The subaltern subject with its lack of accessibility to the newest innovations and because of its inability to participate in the discursive practices is fated to become the ‘techno-slaves’ in the hands of the ‘techno-masters’ . Even with partial access to technology this is bound to happen since the colonised subject will have little control over them. The objective of this paper will be an exploration of the hidden colonial agenda in the discourse of posthumanism. Attempt will be made at an explication of the available instances of the process of working of the posthumanist colonial practices
Posthumanism/Transhumanism: There is much problem regarding the term posthumanism and transhumanism. Posthumanism, as noted by Carey Wolfe, “generates different even irreconcilable definitions” (Intro. p. xi). The two terms have been used alternatively but they have also been conceived as opposed to each other and certain posthumanist thinkers have tried to dissociate themselves from transhumanism. Carey Wolfe for example calls transhumanism “bad posthumanism” (Intro p. xvii) and regards post humanism as the “opposite of transhumanism” (Intro. p. xv). But even when bad, transhumanism is post humanism. Joel Garreau defines transhumant as “those who are in the process of becoming posthuman” (Joel Garreau. 232). Transhumanism has been dubbed as popular posthumanism and its better half is critical posthumanism. This discussion concerns both the popular well as the critical branch of posthumanism.
Critical posthumanism has some similarity with postcolonial theories and at times seems to be an extension of postcolonial concern in their use of similar methodologies. Both of the discourses originate in the Western academia and are criticised as extended form of Western liberal humanism. postcolonialism paid attention to the human ‘other’. Posthumanism aims to pay attention to the ‘non-human others’ (that include the non-human animal as well as the technological beings). Postcolonialism offers critique of white West’s domination of the colonial other and it is an effort to deconstruct the colonial discoursesor the colonial mode of thinking that helped perpetuating the colonies. Its aim is to decentre the Eurocentric discourses or the Eurocentric model. Critical posthumanismm also aims at decentring but it aims to decentre the human and decolonise the whole earth/universe by displacing the anthropocentric model of thinking. This, according to the posthunanists, does not mean an announcement of the end of man. Thomas Peperrell puts it in following terms:
“What is meant by the ‘posthuman condition’? First, it is not about the ‘End of Man’ but about the end of a ‘man-centred’ universe or, put less phallocentrically, a ‘human-centred’ universe(171).”
The observation makes the points of divergences between two discourses clear: the focus postcolonialism is man and the focus of posthumanism lies beyond the human. Edward Said in his last book Humanism and Democratic Criticism wrote that humanism is a way of “letting vernacular energies play against revered terminologies” (29). Posthumanism plays against the revered term ‘human’.This retreating back/ moving forward from the human and the valorisation of the ‘non-human other’ is something needs to be critically viewed as it may be a strategy to force our attention away from the human victim. In other words, it is here postcolonial theories can be critically used against posthumanism.
Two important theoreticians Sylvia Wynter and Charles W. Mills sum up the precise problem with this decentring of man from the humanistic perspective. The problem is when some people have not been considered and treated as humans, posthumanism serves as an alibi for further denial of humanity to these same people. Cybernetics may be a step beyond the old fashioned humanism but the newly emergent subjects of humanism—colonised, people women and minorities—need to be respected and dignified as humans first. Here the question is not, as Shu-mei Shih writes about temporality — the subhumans are asking for old- fashioned humanism and hence are hopelessly anachronistic —but about priority within the same historical moment shared and lived by all. This humanism is not to be conflated with pseudo-emancipatory liberal humanism (against which Jan Mohamed warns) but a trenchantly political and collective move against dehumanization (30).
The popular posthumanism or transhumanism
Bart Simon observes that popular posthumanist discourse structures the research agendas of much of corporate biotechnology and informatics as well as serves as a legitimate narrative for new social entities ( cyborg, artificial intelligence and virtual societies ) composed fundamentally of fluid, flexible, and changeable identities. For popular posthumanism, he writes, “the future is a space for the realisation of individuality, the transcendence of biological limits, and the creation of new social order” (2). This form of posthumanism or transhumunism is, thus, closely connected to areas like extropianism and reprogenetincs, bio-technology and bio-informatics etc. It would be interesting to look at some of the transhumanist agendum to feel their pulse:
“Whether somebody is implemented on silicon or biological tissue, if it does not affect functionality or consciousness, is of no moral significance. Carbon-chauvinism, in the form of anthropomorphism, speciesism, bioism or even fundamentalist humanism, is objectionable on the same grounds as racism.”
They shrug off the principle of what we normally understand as morality and they look at humanism as a form of racism. Another of their agenda reads:
“Biological evolution is perpetual but slow, inefficient, blind and dangerous. Technological evolution is fast, efficient, accelerating and better by design. To ensure the best chances of survival, take control of our own destiny and to be free, we must master evolution.”
Their target is to master evolution and this is similar to the Extropian view, which according to Thomas Peperrell, can be summarised as an optimistic belief in the power of technology to transform, for the better, that which we now know as human existence( 169). One of the Founders of extropian movement Max More defines transhumanism in following terms :
TRANSHUMANISM: Philosophies of life (such as the Extropian philosophy) that seek the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and limits by means of science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and values, while avoiding religion and dogma. (Max More www.extropy.org).
Interestingly his definition of the Posthuman is intimately connected to transhumanism or extropianism:
POSTHUMAN: Posthumans will be persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological ability, self-programming and self-defining, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals. Posthumans have overcome the biological, neurological, and psychological constraints evolved into humans.
“Extropians believe the best strategy for attaining posthumanity is a combination of technology and determination, rather than looking for it through psychic contacts, or extraterrestrial or divine gift. (Max More www.extropy.org).”
So it is easily discernible what their target is but a number of questions pop up in our mind: What are the possible effects of all these developments? Who is going to master evolution and for whose benefit? What is the effect of this mastering—socially, economically, and environmentally? It is precisely against these thoughts drives Fukuyama to sound a warning: contemporary biotechnology may alter human nature and move us into the ‘posthuman stage of history’ (7). The unchecked progress of corporate technoscience may alter the condition of our common humanity and it will alter the material and biological basis of natural human equality and human rights: “what happen to the political rights once we are able to, in effect, breed some people with saddles on their backs, and others with boots and spurs?” (9-10).
The posthumanist argument for freedom and individuality seems to be a disguise for its hidden agenda of power, politics and money. In a society where even the life saving medicines are controlled by the capitalist mode of production and distribution where money is more important than life one feels terrified at the prospect of these developments. More importantly such developments may lead to a foreclosure of any possibility of dissent or change and the whole world may turn into a colony governed by the ‘techno-masters.’
Fukuyama’s apprehensions become obvious when we consider the transhumanist project of ‘reprogenetics’ and GM food. According to Lee M Silver “Reprogenetics refers to the use of genetic information and technology to ensure or prevent the inheritance of particular genes in a child.” For him the difference between reprogenetics and eugenics is consent(Eugenics – forced. Reprogenetics – consented to). However, Barabar H. Peterson calls it new eugenics and defines it as “the genetic engineering of man to create a human race according to scientific design.” Silver cannot dismiss the question as to who will have access to this technology and what will be the effect if it is used at large scale. He writes,
“The use of genetic enhancement could greatly increase the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in the world. A gap between classes within societies may emerge initially.”
He hopes that in future when the cost of “reprogenetics drops, as the costs of computers and telecommunications did, it could become affordable to the majority in Western and other industrialised countries.” He finally concludes:
“The only alternative seems remote today and it may never be viable: a single world state in which all children are provided with the same genetic enhancements and the same opportunities for health, happiness, and success. But politics are far more difficult to predict than science.”
Further it runs the equal risk of being misused as it happened with eugenics. The underprivileged become the target of eugenics project all through Europe most famous being the German example of racial purification. Similarly currently China is being talked about as practicing mass reprogenetic. Apprehensions are there that China is practising eugenics to become create a race of people who would dominate the world.
Bio-technology and genetically modified food and Monsanto Corporation: “Curing world hunger through biotechnology”: Genetically modified food has been regarded as a panacea for many problems. It is regarded as a solution not only to the growing demand of food but also to the diminishing green forests on earth. As it would require less land and produce more, it would save the greeneries from being wiped out for the requirement of farming land. Crops genetically modified can resists herbicides that would kill weeds but not the plants. Mon 810, the GM corn seed, for example is genetically modified to produce toxin the voracious larvae of the corn border moth (Green technology p. 69-70). But the things to remember
1. Companies such as Monsanto are basically a business house and their target is to have full control over the farmers by controlling the food chain that begins with the seed productions. It is feared that uniform corporate capitalist agriculture would dominate and have control over world’s food supply. At the receiving end will be the farmers everywhere and it would affect countries like India, Brazil, Canada and China most. How Monsanto wants monopoly in business is evident from the case Monsanto registered against the farmers for violating companies IPR. One of such cases was in Canada where the Monsanto sued a farmer called Schmeiser after Monsanto found the company’s patented gene in canola plants on his farm.
2. That the future impact of the GMO food is still unknown, how it would impact humans at the genetic level. Countries like Hungary, Austria, France, Luxemburg have banned GM corn, complaining that MON 810 is harmful to the environment.
3. The herbicides that are applied to the Gm crops are affecting the environment and killing bio-diversity. The farmers cannot reproduce seeds they have always had to buy from these companies.
The scientific researches supported by transhumanist agenda may revolutionize the world technologically and so it may revolutionize it politically, economically, infomartically, robotically whatever. But the point of concern is we are gradually moving towards a future where everything will become programmable in a sense pre-determined. And in this technologically advanced universe a there may be two kind of population: one that will have access to every technology and the other who will have little or no access to it. On the hand one hand there will be money technology power there are going to be the dominant master class; on the other hand will be the poor in terms of money and access to technology they will be the subordinated, dominated and be the subaltern. Today’s subaltern is tomorrow’s human or pre-posthuman.in the posthuman world the movement of the subaltern will become foreclosed since in the technologically advanced civilization there will be no human error. So things will be repeated mechanically without the human error.
An interesting work of science fiction The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata, one of the most promising new authors of transhumanist fiction, imagines a future society that is in a sense post-posthumanist that strictly controls and monitors the use and researches in technology. The novel is based on nanotechnology researches. The novels has two group of characters: the wealthy citizens of the commonwealth, orbiting celestial cities and Corporate citizens and the impoverished people of Sunda Free Trade Zone. The people of the Sunda are victims of biotechnology, often enslaved to their masters who control their physical movements through brain implants. The affluent have monopolized migration from earth to nearby corporate space colonies while most of earth has become a reservation housing area for the impoverished.
The people of the Commonwealth either ignore the victims of bio-technology or hunt them down to destroy them. In the novel Phousita and Nikko are victims of nanotechnology—Nikko consented victim and Phousita is the forced victim of nanotechnology. Nikko is regarded as a no-human because he is far advanced than the humans of the common wealth and Phousita in non-human because she cannot be modified as human.
What is interesting in the novel is the fact that the Commonwealth has its own technological advancement but they are now against further technological advancement and they maintain strict vigilance over the Sunda inhabitants and scientists that who dare to go beyond the rule of the Commonwealth. They have become posthuman and they want to maintain their status quo.At the end of the novel we perceive that both Nikko and the citizen of the common wealth refuse to leave their body and border and live a disembodied existence as the posthumanists dream of. In a final turn we see the Summer House rejecting the rule of the common wealth and build a bodiless existence but people of Sunda and other earth bound countries cannot access the ‘biogenesis function’ because they lack wealth and science. Nagata’s fictional representation of the posthuman world shows the collusion of money and technology and it simultaneously depicts the condition of the subaltern who has access neither to technology nor to money.
The aim of the paper has been an illustration the possible links between the discourses of posthumanism and/or transhumanism and postcolonialism. It takes the hypothetical position that subaltern populations in the once colonised countries are in danger of possible marginalization and ‘othering’ in the posthuman world. The paper links the discourses on the subaltern and the postcolonial discourses keeping in view the apprehension that the ‘colonial other’ and the ‘subaltern other’ may get fused together to form the ‘posthuman other’. The matter, of course, requires greater research and investigation.
1. Barbara H. Peterson Transhumanism: Genetic Engineering of Man – the New Eugenics http://farmwars.info/?p=11212 Accessed: 19/01/2014.
2. Bart Simons, “Introduction: Towards a Critique of Posthuman Futures”, Cultural Critique No. 53, Posthumanism (Winter 2003), pp1-9. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1354621 . Accessed: 19/01/2014.
3. Dustin Mulvaney and Paul Robbins . Green Technology: AN A-Z sage New Delhi . New Delhi: Sage, 2011.
4. Fukuyama, Francis. Our Post Human Future: Consequences of Bo-technology Revolution . NewYork: Farar, Straus, and Giroux , 2002.
5. Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu. Who Controls the Internet? the Illusion of a Bodiless World . New York: OUP, 2006.
6. Joel Garreau. Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies—and What it means to be Human . New York : Random House , 2005.
7. Lee M. Silver, “Reprogenetics: third millennium speculation,The consequences for humanity when reproductive biology and genetics are combined” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1084251/
Mills, Charles W. The Racial Contract . Ithaca, new York: Cornel University Press , 1997.
8. Mohamed, Abdul R Jan. “Humanism and Minority Literature: Towards a definition of Counter Hegemonic Discourse.” boundary 2 ,12 no 3 (1984): 281-99.
9. Nagata, Linda. The Bohr Maker. New York : Spectra-Bantam, 1995.
10. Pepperrel, Thomas. The Posthuman Condition. Bristol: Intellect Books , 1995.
11. Said, Edward. Humanism and Democratic Criticism. New York : Columbia University Press , 2005.
12. Wolfe, Cary. What is Poshumanism? London: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
Wynter, Sylvia. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Pwer/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human After the Man, Its 13. Overrepresentation–An Arguement.” CR:The Centennial Review 3.no,.3 (2003): 257-337.
(i) Techno-slave does not simply refer to the addiction to various gadgets or to the Internet but the term includes:
a. The producer-labourers of technological goods who work to create the technology and the technological goods but they do not receive the benefit of it, if there is any.
b. It includes the end users of technology who have partial access to it because though this group have access to technology they do not have any control over it.
c. It also those who do not have any access to technology and also those who refuse to accept it.
The term ‘techno-master’, as used here, does not refer to the person whose brain is behind particular technological innovations but rather refers to those who have control over the production, distribution and to some extent consumption of these technologies. It may be the power houses of business, may be the state itself and at times the intelligent producers/ the experts in the fields of the technology.
(ii) Shu-mei Shih, “Is the Post-in Postcolonialism the Post- in Posthumanism?” Social Text 110 Vol. 30, no.1, Spring 2012. Pp. 27-50.
(iii) Bart Simons, Introduction: Towards a Critique of Posthuman Futures, Cultural Critique No. 53, Posthumanism(Winter 2003), pp1-9. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1354621 . Accessed: 19/01/2014. p. 2
(v) Barbara H. Peterson Transhumanism: Genetic Engineering of Man – the New Eugenics http://farmwars.info/?p=11212
(vi) Lee M. Silver, “Reprogenetics: third millennium speculation,The consequences for humanity when reproductive biology and genetics are combined” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1084251/
(vii) Geoffrey Miller Evolutionary psychologist, NYU Stern Business School and University of New Mexico; author of The Mating Mind and Spent http://edge.org/response-detail/23838
See also Hervard Asia Pacific Review :Imperfect Conceptions, Medical Knowledge, Birth Defects, and Eugenics in China by Frank Dikötter http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hapr/summer00_tech/bookreview.html.