Chris Kelty over at the excellent anthropological blog Savage Minds has written a thought provoking piece on why and how anthropologists should engage with transhumanism. He notes that current critiques may be sound but may be missing the boat not only when it comes to some broader ethical questions but when it comes to even identifying the locus and importance of transhumanism. I have provided a short snippet below:
Most of the critiques of transhumanism center around its more speculative aspects, like the notion of the singularity, the emergence of artificial intelligence etc. But I think there is increasingly an opening here for thinking about what we do and what we do not have control over as humanity evolves. Most transhumanist rhetoric seems to imply that there is no control—-it’s just the next stage of evolution—-but when push comes to shove, whatever “evolution” means to them, it isn’t simply your basic genetic-species evolution, but involves culture and technology as well. And there are some interesting bridges between transhumanism and anthropology as well. I often wonder what transhumanists would think of Carl Elliot’s Better than Well as a kind of middle ground between transhumanism and Foucault… especially since the motto of the World Transhumanist Organization is… “Better than Well.” [...]
Consider a few examples where the issues of transhumanism might be relevant:
1) corn, high fructose corn syrup and ethanol: Corn is domesticating us as we monoculture it beyond all reasonable limits. It’s changing our bodies, it’s changing our ecosystem, it’s changing our technology, and it itself is becoming unrecognizable (i.e. most of it is no longer edible off the stalk, but has to be processed to be used). This is transhumanism, no?