Before I dwell further into the topic of Transhumanism I would like you to watch two clips. The first one is an advert for the fictional human augmentation company, found in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, called “Sarif Industries.”
The second clip is a propaganda film by the fictional anti-augmentation group, also found in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, called “Purity First.”
While this might seem like pure science fiction I will argue that future portrayed in the clips above is not too far away. While organizations like Purity First are yet to exist, and human augmentation and limb replacement have not yet reached the stage where they are superior to their biological counterpart, the Transhumanist movement is very real.
How did it all being? Ever since humans first lost limbs and were born with defective body parts scientists and doctors have long sought to find good substitutes for the biological parts now lost. The most primitive form is of course cruches. It help those with a walk disability to move. Cruches and staffs eventually evolved into the walking frame. Even though these inventions are not mechanical they still provide outside aid to enhance and improve on our biological limitations.
The same can be said for pacemakers. They improve on biological limitations and give patients a healthy heart. What most people don’t know is that once your biological body is physically connected to that tiny machine you are a cyborg, part machine and part human, and have transcended being simply human. Thus you are transhuman.
I would like to provide you with a few contemporary examples of transhumans to put my post in a context of contemporary science. The man in the clip below is known as “Eyeborg.” The clip was made to promote Deus Ex: Human Revolution but I knew about Eyeborg long before his collaboration with Eidos and Square Enix. In this clip Eyeborg talks about his own augmentation, his prostetic eye, and also meets up with other cyborgs, transhumans, that live today.
2027 is the year they said it will be possible to have artificial limbs surpassing our innate ones. I say they are optimistic. We could have such powerful artificial limbs by 2027 if we wanted to but there is a major factor slowing down the development process – corporate interest. Researching and developing such powerful limbs costs vast amount of money. Money the investing companies will not get back for a long time. This is because the market for limb replacement is so narrow it would simply be impossible to make a profit if one accelerates the development process to make superior limbs by 2027. We humans are generally optimistic when it comes to what kind of technology we have in the future. I am, for example, still waiting for flying and self driven cars (the self-driven car is actively being developed and I think the first one should be on the market within 30 years. Hopefully that goes for flying cars as well).
There is still hope for rapid development in the area of human augmentations. That is, of course, because of the development of military technology. It sounds cliché to say that the government is creating super soldiers but the truth is they would if they could. Transhuman soldiers with superior limbs and brains who are less likely to fall in combat would be as useful in battle as guns are to swords. The military are conducting such research, not just in terms of augmentations, but also in terms of genetic improvement. What we are most likely to see used in real time combat first, however, is a battle-ready exoskeleton armour. Most exoskeletons shown in public are the ones that will help disabled to walk but the military are showing an increased number of exoskeleton prototypes as well.
While this might seem impressive one must keep in mind that this is only the armour shown to the public. There must be more advanced and more powerful models kept from the us that will be used in case of a full-scale war.
Ultimately I do believe we will, eventually, reach the stage of human augmentation present in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, mainly because of military investment, but it will take longer than 16 years. Once we have created the first few limbs that actually are superior to biological ones the human augmentation industry will boom. The increased money in the industry will lead to rapid development of the technology and fifteen years after the first super-biological limb we will see artificial body parts several times superior to those we were born with. My guess is that this won’t happen until another 50 or 60 years. But it will happen.
That is where the pro versus anti augmentation groups present in Deus Ex: Human Revolution becomes a topic of interest. Based on history there will be those who oppose change in society and especially when it comes to replacing your own limbs with products branded by a mega corporation. Hopefully we can experience all the benefits of augmentations without the need of drugs like Neuropozyne, the highly addictive and costly drug which prevents the body from rejecting augmentations in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, otherwise the chaos shown in the Purity First propaganda video will be very real.
Personally I think there is nothing wrong with replacing your body parts for superior artificial ones. To be faster, stronger, smart, and more powerful is something to be desired even if it comes of the cost of cutting off your own arms and legs. I also believe that we, especially worldwide governments, must push for advances not only in fields of human augmentation but in technological advancements overall. To force evolution upon man and create a new species unaffected by disease and age that is superior to homo sapiens in every way is something to be desired. I believe only through rapid evolution and through the emergence of a better and smarter species will many of the world’s conflicts be solved. To quote Joatan Leman in his essay “Next Stop: Humanity+”
The premise is that the more technologically advanced we are, the faster we can develop even more advanced technology. When we finally manage to develop computers that are smarter than their creators’ mind, these computers will then be able to enhance themselves. This will lead to an explosion of intelligence, where the rate of technological development in all areas become so rapid that the trajectory is almost vertical.
I believe Leman is accurate in his prediction and that humanity must actively strive to this. One can liken it to us, humanity, playing in a sandbox. We create and make more and more complex constructions out of sand. But the sand is limited and a form of unlawful hierarchy comes to be where people are bullied and chaos governs an unjust world. Then our parents come, the would-be supercomputer, and straightens everything out. No more conflicts and no more chaos – only supreme enlightenment. Not only would such an intelligence help create new cures for disease and advance technology but it would also solve world conflicts and create new and fairer forms of government. It would be able to rule without any notions of greed or selfishness. Instead it would govern and make decision based on pure utilitarianism. Wealth would be distributed equally and those who are obese would give to those who are starving. In such a world only human selfishness would stand in the way of Utopia. I may be a dreamer in such regards but I believe it must happen – and quickly. More resources must be diverted into the research and creation of such intelligence. Only then can we find true peace and happiness in the world.
Of course, I am not the only one to think this way. The World Transhumanist Organisation, also known as Humanity+, actively strive for such improvement and that the option of improving oneself to transcend one’s human limitations to be real. Though I might be more radical than most of them, since I believe we must crush all that is ethics and third world aid to redirect all resources into a ruthless search for a superior intelligence, they share my common goal. Transhumanism is real and the number of people wanting to become more than human are growing. I just hope I can move past my innate limitations before my body crumbles back into the earth from where it came. God can only be found through the machine – Deus Ex Machina.
– F H Hakansson
Read part 1 – “Roots of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and censorship in Swedish media“
Read Part 3 – “Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Final Thoughts“
2 thoughts on “Roots of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Transhumanism”
Those things scare me, literally. So I was watching the first video clip, and I was thinking, “Okay, what has the girl singing and playing the piano have to do with it?” and then I saw her robotic hands and I was freaked out. First point is: talent is natural, and improves with hard work. Would you call someone with unreal hands talented? From the way the video showed it, the talent was only in the hands and not the person itself. To me, that isn’t talent at all.
Let’s just say that I am against human augmentations. I just find it wrong to go against nature. The way our bodies are built is perfect for our survival, we don’t need to change it. We don’t need anything else, so why spend heaps of money on things we already have? And there are more human and natural ways to improve our intelligence, imagination, strength, stamina than inserting robotic parts in our bodies.
My mum’s always been for “simple and natural” (that kind of is my life motto haha). Imagine walking down the streets and seeing this half-robot in front of you. Wouldn’t that creep you out? I think that being human is a wonderful thing, but here we are trying to be what we are not. We are not robots. Just leave us as we are.
I do believe we can’t play around with nature; it all comes down to a very high price, and you can surely see what I mean by that already. By cutting down trees and reducing the natural environment, global warming has evolved for example, along with more and more natural disasters. What about the many women who were diagnosed with cancer from their breast prothesis?
And anyway, I really wouldn’t see the point. Life, to me, is simple: you live, you die. I wouldn’t go to all the hassle of having my limbs removed and replaced.
So what really are the benefits of human augmentations? Are they only physical? A stronger, more resistant “body”? And why exactly do we need this and when we can lead the most fascinating life without it?
Plus, there’s the whole love thing. I just wouldn’t be able to hold X’s hand when it’s not his real one. I’ve never met my true love, but you know, sometimes just by touching someone or holding someone’s hand you get that ‘spark’ (I believe in those things, maybe you don’t).
Oh, and aren’t there any dangers to human augmentations? As I said, going against nature does come at high prices. Already, implanting an inhuman part in the body can lead to greater misadventures (my mum’s done a bit of research about it since she broke her ankle). Some people have died from having screws inserted in their body.
No, I just don’t see the need and the point of human augmentation.
And there was my long comment 😉
Yeah the video makes it seem like she is playing because of her robotic hands. But one could also see it this way – what if she was a great pianist and lost both of her hands in an accident, then it wouldn’t be unethical for her to, hypothetically, purchase a new set of hands with equivalent, or improved, dexterity, stamina, and strength of a human hand.
But, as the videos show, if such hands were to exist those who are wealthy would simply change who they were and become superhuman.
And I agree with certain things that you write. Would I prefer if humanity remained human? Yes – but that will not happen. Not if profit can be gained, not if the illusion of transcending one’s humanity exists, and not if men can become immortals. Those wishes have been the foundation of much human culture throughout the ages. Is that not why people were religious before? The have an afterlife because they feared death? Have the weak not always wished to be stronger and more powerful? If that can be granted with money – just like a lustful person seeks a whore – there will be a market for it.
If I’m honest – I can’t see a future where this is not happening. We will become one with the machine but it will happen slowly. I’m saying this because we are already depending on machines, computers, our phones, etc. The capitalist system allows machines to become more powerful because we are dependent on it and pour more money into the industry. Not only the consumer – but the military as well. The most technologically advances state in the world has the most power and fear.
It might feel unnatural for us to suddenly see a person with a mechanical limb in 30 years but that sight might be ever more natural. It’s the same thing when headsets were new and people thought it was strange to see people talk to themselves. I know it’s a bad example since it doesn’t touch the ethical example of replacing healthy body limbs (which I am against) but it is essentially the same thing.
The worst thing would be not being able to cuddle and feel another person’s warmth because that person’s body is cold metal keeping him from ageing. Yet I am positive such a thing will be mainstream later on – just as our mind and body will slowly be integrated our computers and phones. If we did not need an external machine (the physical phone) but could do all the same things (call our friends, browse the web etc.) with out minds and play a computer game through and augmented reality in our eyes people would buy it.
But I hope it doesn’t turn to a worst case scenario (such as the one in Human Revolution).
and yes – the body does reject augmentations and alterations (like you mother said about the screws). There are ways around this. In the game it’s by using drugs but in real life machine and chip implants are encased in an organic weave when inserted into the body. But we’ll see how that evolves as well…
anyway – here’s my long answer with all possible spelling errors!