Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Transhumanism, Temes, and Evolution

Transhumanism is the idea that technological advancements will allow improvements to the human form.

I believe that there is a controversy over whether or not this integration is ethical, and what it means in terms of defining humans. But it’s a simple question to answer. Of course! Of course we should improve ourselves using technology if we may. And it doesn’t matter if anyone disagrees because it will happen – and the ‘genes’ that disagree will perish in the course of time – because the artificial advancement of the human form increases heredity – a factor of evolution. This essentially means that those who accept technological integration with human form will be favoured in terms of survival, and thus the humans that take on transhumanism will become better at existing. Susan Blackmore talks about temes or technomemes. These are essentially the third replicating unit, recently unleashed by humans. The gene is the first replicator that happened, then memes, and now there are temes. Blackmore argues that temes are selfish by nature (like all replicators in an evolving system) and that there are only two possibilities for the future: either the temes piggy-back on humans and get a free ride by surviving with us through integration, or (the more scary option), temes learn how to replicate themselves, rapidly evolve, and overcome humanity. The later situation is similar to the movie "I, Robot" with Will Smith.

I think that both will occur. Since genes are selfish they will attempt to merge with temes, and eventually the two will become inseparable. They are both just complexes of replicators, working together in mass, whereby no single entity contains consciousness or intelligence, yet out of the interaction results in emergent properties of consciousness. This sort of ties in with Epiphenomenalism, which is the idea that the physical state of the brain results in the emergence of a mental state, and the mental state doesn’t affect the physical state. Consciousness is rather interesting to look at in terms of systems. In is notable that the human, as a dissipative system, reacts to the environment, causing a change in the environment, causing a reaction by the human, and so on. Chicken or the egg? A feedback loop. I talk more about complexity theory later.

Anyways...transhumanism. We already have bionic eyes. It’s only a matter of time before the quality of a bionic eye becomes more accurate than a human eye, maybe even allowing a broadened range of the electromagnetic spectrum to be viewed. I’m sure that within my life time we will integrate with technology in some form, enhancing the human condition, advancing the original design by evolution.

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