Stepping stones to Transhumanism

googleglassThe Consumer Electronics Show (CES2014) currently taking place in Las Vegas is packed full of smart glasses, like Google Glass.

Wearable tech is poised to transform the way we interact with technology. With a pair of smart glasses, you can begin to feel like superman, taking photos and recording videos of anything you see, and with the almost telepathic ability to interact directly with the internet and with your own automated personal assistant.

Don’t doubt that this will happen, just so long as the cost is affordable and the tech works in a convenient way. After all, just a few years ago, how many people would have imagined that we would be carrying smartphones everywhere and that email, Facebook and other social media would be just as important as face to face communication?

Smart glasses are just the latest in a long history of creeping augmentation of our abilities by technology. Observers of technology call this transition “Transhumanism” and predict an inevitable and exponential increase in how this impacts on our lives.

Wearable technology started with the invention of clothing, and has been an indispensable part of human life for perhaps millions of years. Add haircuts, shaving, cosmetics and tattoos to the list of ways we modify our own appearances. Getting more invasive, we find medicines, dental implants, cosmetic surgery and organ transplants. And of course there’s jewellery, watches, contact lenses, and other wearable technology that we already regard as perfectly natural, even though it’s anything but.

This illustrates just how ready we are to accept intrusive technology provided that it serves a useful purpose. How much more might we be willing to accept? I’d wager almost anything, provided that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Google Glass; ingestible electronic sensors; brain implants. Who knows what might be just around the corner?

Say “transhuman” to the average Joe and he’ll think Daleks and Cybermen and mad scientists. But the technology we use has already moved us along the path from “normal human” to “enhanced human” and the pace of change is accelerating.

cybermen

This is exactly what we won’t look like. If technology can change our appearance, then I’ll choose to look like George Clooney.

In many ways we are already outpacing what Star Trek envisaged for the 23rd century, with smartphones replicating the Star Trek “communicator” and adding in far more powers than Mr Spock ever imagined. After all, with a modern smartphone there’s no need to call Spock if we need to find some facts. We can google it for ourselves then tell Spock about it on Facebook.

spock2

Too slow, Spock, I already tweeted the answer!

Modern technology is changing what it means to be human, just as previous waves of technology have done for earlier generations. Increasingly we will live with one foot in the real world and one foot in cyber space. With Google Glass we’re moving towards an “always on” immersive world. In the very near future, “the cloud” won’t just be a place where we store our music collections; it will be a place where we live.

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14 responses to “Stepping stones to Transhumanism

  1. Pingback: Stepping stones to Transhumanism | High on Science & Tech - H.O.S.T

  2. You know… I just find it hard to post comments on your blog. Your posts are so complete that by the time I’m trying to write something here… I’m speechless. Good job!

    • Thank you, but please do say if you disagree with anything. I need people to challenge my ideas so I can learn.

      • Well, I don’t disagree with anything. I just really don’t know if what is happening is a good thing or not. A bit of both I guess. Time will tell! I do hope at least that more good things and ideas will come from this new way of behaving and thinking. There are though some people who think we stopped evolving because of all the things we know and create and I have no clue whether or not to disagree. I just lift my hands in the air to that thought…
        On another note: I do find your blog entertaining and a place where I can learn some things every once in a while. Also, your writing is very hard to let go. Every time I start reading a post, I just have to finish it. Maybe you should consider science fiction writing? Hmmm… think about it. I would buy it! :)

  3. Awesome post! “Too slow, Spock, I already tweeted the answer!” LOL :P

  4. Interesting question about evolution. Has it stopped? No, evolution continues just as long as there are babies being born. However, evolution is slow – we’re probably not very different from our ancestors a million years ago. Knowledge advances very rapidly indeed – exponentially – and so evolution is no longer a relevant factor in how we will change.

  5. Well said. The coming augmentation makes me wonder if some people won’t be sending and receiving messages while engaged in skiing, wrestling, or having sex.

    • Some people are supposed to plan their weekly shopping list during sex. The next logical step would be to place on online order for groceries. Personally, I think it’s better to concentrate on the moment.

  6. I remember “beam me up scotty” and agent 007′s phone watch, I used to think that there’s no way people would be able to make any miniaturized gadgets work because of how bulky these gadget’s predecessors were. I saw the interview about the prototype of google glass, it’s ridiculously bulky. And now we’re not even talking about kilobytes and megabytes anymore because people have mastered the art of the processor and the storage capacity, this generation of can do people have proven time and again the superiority of the human brain. Although, public acceptance is still very slow, especially in some restaurants and in movie houses, which is understandable, I’m very sure people’s apprehension will be eased out and time will come when google glass will be just another mobile device because people will be able to create certain rules and gadgets to keep those rules effective, its just a matter of time.

  7. I love technology and progress and the future, which is really strange because I also love vintage and archeology and history…

  8. can i about something completely different? “i’ve joined the twitter twats” about me… i like twitter. don’t like (very) facebook… and mainly use google+ … many valuable people, a lot of interesting materials… please come back (g+)

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