The Interdisciplinary Aspects of Transhumanism
Passion for improving humanity physically, mentally, and spiritually
What is wrong with the desire of living a longer and happier life?
Each of us come to this world having the capability to transform into better versions of ourselves. While our reptilian brain keep us in the survival mode, our neocortex and limbic system are coded to make perpetual progress. We keep reinventing ourselves.
Technology and science branches have become by-products of using our thinking and emotional parts of the brain collectively. These tools can empower us to go above and beyond when used smartly and in an integrated way. Our genes also express themselves to evolve. We get mentally, emotionally, and physically stronger with evolutionary capacity.
Interdisciplinary studies involve multiple branches of knowledge. Transhumanism is one of the multidisciplinary philosophies. Transhumanists produce interesting and valuable thoughts using numerous branches of science and technology. The fundamental approach is an integrated style empowered by anthropology and futurology, including past and future to the equation.
Every discipline touches some aspects of transhumanism one way or another. In this post, my purpose is to create awareness by giving a few prominent examples to clarify my points. The fundamental merit of my article is an invitation to open-mindedness by refraining from fear and anxiety perceived by thoughts and ideas generated with beyond the box thinking.
Transhumanism is not science fiction anymore, even though this fictitious art form in writing and movies significantly impacted the development of remarkable ideas by thought leaders and practitioners who think ahead of their times.
Evolution is an undeniable fact of life for all beings. However, humans evolve faster than other species. In addition, unlike other species, we have the natural capacity to observe and contribute to our evolution through intentional actions. As a result, our physical and behavioral traits have changed dramatically within the last six million years.
Futurology, which is systemic forecasting of the future using past and current conditions, is a crucial discipline empowering transhumanism philosophy. Using the power of our imagination, we can plan. Moreover, risk management is widely used in many fields, leveraging the guidance of futurology.
While none of us can know about our future to determine it, we can generate ideas to influence our future. Scientists and technologists make significant developments by using the power of their imagination. By using the power of imagination, we can move from survival to thriving mode.
Thoughts come from nothingness in the quantum domain, but we can turn them into ideas and tangible products. The invention process starts with imagination. So does the innovation process. Exemplary leaders lead with inventive and innovative mindset.
For example, electricity was not even a thought a few hundred years ago. Now it is a product and service that affected our lives dramatically. Likewise, the Internet came out of nothing fewer than a few decades ago, has emerged and evolved so rapidly. It connected us more than any technology by removing borders we created with fear and anxiety.
Mobile phone is not just one technology, but we have a tangible product with innovative approaches and integration of multiple technologies. With more creative ideas, our products and services constantly progress, leading to better outcomes. Thus, combinatorial innovation is one of the tools for achieving transhumanistic goals. So is a design thinking approach as everything is connected.
Education is a core discipline contributing to transhumanism. For example, in solving complex research problems in many areas of science, we use interdisciplinarity in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL).
Some people fear transhumanism. They think that we end up being robots. No one, of course, wants to turn their flesh to hardware. On the contrary, having human form extending our capabilities with the help of science and technology is the crucial merit of transhumanism.
Science and technology have the power to hack our biology and physiology. We have already made substantial progress in these areas. For example, we can now see the insides of our body and the brain using various medical devices. So even though we are still at nascent stages of technological and scientific breakthroughs in medicine and healthcare, there has been tremendous progress within the last few decades.
Medicine is one of the disciplines contributing to transhumanistic goals. Endoscopy, colonoscopy, MRIs are just a few examples. Collecting data from our body and the brain, we can create models to identify diseases, threats and address them using smart drugs.
I read some comments about readers associating transhumanism with sex. They are asking whether there is any relationship. If we define sex as the highest form of physical and emotional contact between two individuals, the sexual connection could be one of the transhumanism concerns.
Who doesn't want to be able to connect with others meaningfully at older ages? So why should we be restricted to meaningful connection only at younger ages?
Medical, health, and longevity studies made exceptional progress in our sexual capabilities. Now older people can revive their sexual energy using hormonal medication and sexual and mental therapies. So sexology can be a contributing discipline to transhumanistic goals.
The key transhumanistic goals are to enhance our physical and mental capacities to live longer and higher-quality lives using the power of science and technology.
Transhumanism is usually associated with AI as we are on the cusp of artificial intelligence revolution. While this type of intelligence is essential to augment our natural intelligence, AI is only one piece of the transhumanism puzzle.
Machines can collect, analyze, process, and present vast amounts of data, connect large data sets, generate information from data, and transform them into knowledge constructs very fast and more accurately than human beings. In addition, they can leverage available knowledge by linking them meaningfully.
Transforming cognitive systems have the power to enhance our capabilities. For example, while a medical doctor can review only a limited number of medical studies and make decisions with this tiny bit of information and knowledge, a cognitive system can check a trillion pieces of information and knowledge constructs and make much better decisions. IBM Watson is one of the recent developments as an example of a cognitive system.
Art also can contribute to transhumanistic goals. While art is a way of expressing our thoughts and feelings, it can be therapeutic both for creators and consumers. For example, we use music, painting, and expressive writing for mental therapies.
Some people may argue that technology creates comfort, adversely affecting our lives. This is partially true within a specific context. However, it is not the fault of technology. It is up to us what we do with technology.
While having a smartwatch bring comfort to my life, I use it to stimulate my body and the brain, using it as monitoring and analyzing device. For example, without a smartwatch, I wouldn't be able to check my sleep quality and the functioning of my heart.
Social science disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and leadership also provide substantial input to transhumanists. We developed many psychological and social capabilities through our evolution. Using our social, emotional, behavioural capabilities, we can generate compelling values to contribute to a longer and happier life.
Even though it is scarcely mentioned in transhumanistic literature, I also believe that our spiritual power, the notion of beyond identity, plays a critical role in longevity and quality of life. Spiritual connections have a significant effect on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. We now know that optimists leave longer than pessimists.
Ethics and societal regulations are critical components of the scientific and technological process. They form governance for collective progress. We need ethics and laws for certain milestones in ideas' lifecycle, such as the design, implementation, and execution phases.
However, if ethics and regulations interfere with the early phases, such as the ideation phase, it can be perilous for our growth. We need to keep in mind that ideation and propaganda are not the same things.
For example, I read stories and comments against out-of-box ideas from transhumanistic thought leaders in this context. However, fearing, cursing, and belittling people with great ideas do not serve the purpose of our collective growth.
Transhumanist thought leaders examine the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies. Their goal is to overcome human limitations and ethical concerns by looking at the pros and cons.
Scientists need rigor to challenge ideas to separate the weed from grass. Science has a self-managing mechanism for evolving ideas without fearing, censoring, and condemning them. Scientists, technologists, and philosophers are not afraid of imagining and documenting their ideas. Preventing them from these critical activities pose significant risks for the development of humanity and the improvement of society.
Fear is the greatest enemy of progress. We kill invention and innovation if we use ethics and regulations to suppress ideas to address our emotions, such as fear and anxiety caused by novel ideas.
We made huge mistakes by punishing great scientists, technologists, artists, and philosophers in the past. Since they think ahead of their time, we thought they were evil and thus should be stopped with our narrow perspectives.
History is full of examples of cursing and penalizing people for their brilliant ideas that were not understood at the time but significantly contributed to the development of human beings.
We trialed and convicted Galilei. We arrested, tortured, and burned Servetus. We hit the head of Rhazes with his own manuscript. We prosecuted and castrated Alan Turing through hormone injections because he had a different sexual preference.
More recently, we penalized scientists who identified the harmful effects of sugar on our health and made those harm our health with propaganda heroes. We also stopped those who brilliantly challenged the status quo for misunderstandings of saturated fats and essential cholesterol for our health, as documented by Nina Teicholz in a masterpiece, The Big Fat Surprise revealing the unthinkable.
I understand the concerns related to equality within the transhumanism context. Some valid concern reveal that while a group of wealthy people thrive, another group, such as financially disadvantaged, might suffer due to inequality. I agree that we still judge people based on their skin color.
However, transhumanism is not exclusive to wealthy people only. Any color of people can benefit from tranhumanistic ideas. I know that some financially poor people live longer and experience a better quality of life than rich people.
For example, we witnessed many centenarians living in financially disadvantaged parts of the globe. Some monks living in poverty depicted more substantial mental power making them happier and more satisfied than billionaires living in luxury.
So, my clarifying point, transhumanism is not just about artificial intelligence but also about using our augmented natural intelligence mindfully, meaningfully, decisively, collectively, and holistically.
Despite all, we will physically die in the end, but our souls deserve a meaningful death to transform into a new entity. Such stoic and spiritual yet paradoxically existentialist and heroic notion makes me euphoric.
Thank you for reading my perspectives.
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About the Creator
Dr Mehmet Yildiz
I'm a writer and published author with four decades of content development experience in business, technology, leadership, and health. I work as a postdoctoral researcher and consultant. My background is at https://digitalmehmet.com.
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