Man + Machine = Transhumanism

transhuman-robot

Transhumanism can be defined as ‘a cultural and intellectual movement that believes we can, and should, improve the human condition through the use of advanced technologies’ (Anthony, 2013) . In basic terms, it is about the improvement of our capabilities as humans through highly advanced technologies. Advocates of this believe that we should be making attempts to use these technologies to create life extensions for humans, as well as bettering our physical, intellectual, and psychological capabilities far beyond what our human minds are able to do. To do this, transhumanism involves ‘augmenting ourselves with advanced technology’ so the technology actually becomes part of us, rather than a simple extension of us like our iPhones are (Falconer, 2011).

There are many examples of transhumanism in today’s society already, even though these technologies are only the beginning of what is to come for transhumanism in mobile computing. In 2013 it was reported that German biohacker Tim Cannon inserted a computer chip and a wirelessly-chargeable battery inside his arm. The purpose of this chip, which was devised by Cannon’s company ‘Grindhouse Wetware’, is to take record of his basic biometric data (such as his body temperature) to allow it to be send to any android powered device in real-time via Bluetooth.

Tim-Cannon

Tim Cannon

While this is an extreme example, there are countless amounts of transhuman technologies circulating. Take cybernetics for example, which involves the improvement of bodily parts, such as the enhancement of hearing and vision, artificial bones, organs and muscles and even brain-computer interfaces which are invisible to the eye (Lifeboat.com, 2015). The cochlear implant for deaf people is an example of this – it plugs into the nervous system to send electrical impulses of sound to the brain. While it is still in early developments and is very costly, it is a huge advancement on the simple hearing aid.

Microsoft has even announced a mouseless & keyboardless desktop computing whereby users can control the computer by finger tracing and hand gestures. This device is going to be so effective that it is predicted to become a feature that everyday people will have implanted into themselves (Lifeboat.com, 2015). One can only imagine the endless benefits this will provide for small mobile computers such as mobile phones that only have small screens.

The release of the previously mentioned Google Glass is an extension of transhuman technologies  into mobile computing as it is a practical wearable computing device that augments human capabilities. For example, the Google Glass allows one to store their memory to the Glass storage such as the wink activation snapshot feature which allows one to store images in the photographic memory in the Glass. The Glass can also recall memories by playing back a video recorded.

These are current examples of transhuman technology that exists today, but they are uncommon and very expensive. While they improve our human capabilities they are still very basic – transhuman technologies have only just begun and there is much speculation that they have the ability to severely change the way humans live in the future. Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has predicted that by 2029 the computer will have the intelligence similar to that of the human brain, and by 2045 it ‘will be a billion times more powerful than all of the human brains of earth’ (Hay, 2014). It is predicted that we will have transhuman technologies so great that we will be able to eliminate disease through genetic engineering and there will be no clear distinction between humans and robots. While it is still in early developments and mostly in the form of wearable technologies such as Google Glass, the future of transhuman technologies is fast approaching and could drastically change the way in which humans live.

Bibliography

http://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/06/12/humanity-plus-how-transhumanism-could-change-the-human-race/

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/152240-what-is-transhumanism-or-what-does-it-mean-to-be-human

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/170112-brave-idiot-transhumanist-pioneer-self-implants-a-computer-into-his-arm

http://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/06/12/humanity-plus-how-transhumanism-could-change-the-human-race/

http://hplusmagazine.com/2013/06/06/4-ways-google-glass-makes-us-transhuman/

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_transhumanism33.htm

http://lifeboat.com/ex/transhumanist.technologies

http://videomusicbox.tv/man-tim-cannon-becomes-the-first-do-it-yourself-cyborg-and-implants-large-computer-chip-into-his-arm-which-he-tracks-vital-signs-more-with-his-smartphone-irobot/2728

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