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 3 – “Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Final Thoughts“