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Transhumanism: Group Discussion Guide

Planning Time

1 week

Group Size

Any

Staff #

1

Event Date

Anytime


If you are just starting your freethought campus group, you might be in need of some fresh ideas to kick off the quarter. Even if you are an established group, oftentimes it can be difficult to come up with new topics every week for the duration of the academic calendar. These meeting topic activity packets should provide you with some materials and discussion questions that you can use to spur dialogue and conversation at your meetings. Attached is also a PowerPoint which you could use to introduce the group to this fascinating topic.

 Transhumanism

In a world in which many of the selective pressures that guided the development and rise of the human species are largely absent due to technological advancements, will those same technological advancements allow us to accelerate our transition into an existence that is something beyond human? Transhumanism is a philosophy of life that is gaining popularity around the world as people seek to break through the limitations that our biology places on our development. Adherents to this worldview would like to extend lifespans, augment the senses, increase memory capacity, and use technology in general to improve the human condition.

Transhumanism is not without its critics however. Many assert that the goals of transhumanism are impractical and largely unattainable. Other hold that transhumanist objectives are inherently immoral due to the fact that the opportunity for enhancement would apply only to the privileged in society. It is unlikely that transhumanism will cease to become a controversial topic in the near future. Including this in your semester meeting schedule could bring in a wide range of people outside the freethought bubble to discuss the possibilities transhumanism offers while also engaging in a discussion about the ethical issues associated with the adoption of its tenets.

Teaser Questions:

When promoting this meeting idea, it might make sense to pose some provocative questions on your fliers or chalkings, e.g.

  1. Does Google function as a second brain for you? What if Google existed inside of your brain?
  2. By how much do you anticipate new technologies will allow us to extend our lifespan?
  3. Can human technologies play a role in prompting the next stage in our evolution?
  4. Do transhumanists run the risk of "playing god" as they alter the human condition?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Should transhumanist ideals be abandoned in favor of more realistic and practical goals to better humanity?
  2. How will humans be able to distinguish between what is natural and what is artificial presuming the rise of transhumanism?
  3. Can you envision a future in which the exploitation of Earth's resources could actually be slowed by the advent of transhumanism?
  4. What does it mean to be "conscious" and how could the encroachment of transhumanist technologies threaten human consciousness as we know it?
  5. Should humans embrace transhumanism as a means by which people could rid themselves of their physical and mental limitations?
  6. If you could use technology to enhance aspect of your existence, what would improve or change?
  7. Would it be irresponsible to attempt to move beyond the limits our environment places on us? How would transhumanism affect earth's growing overpopulation crisis?

Videos:

  1. The Transhumanist Manifesto
  2. Nick Bostrom on our Biggest Problems : Oxford philosopher and transhumanist Nick Bostrom examines the future of humankind and asks whether we might alter the fundamental nature of humanity to solve our most intrinsic problems.
  3. Aimee Mullins - The Opportunity of Adversity : The thesaurus might equate "disabled" with synonyms like "useless" and "mutilated," but ground-breaking runner Aimee Mullins is out to redefine the word. Defying these associations, she shows how adversity -- in her case, being born without shinbones -- actually opens the door for human potential.
  4. Aubrey de Grey - Can We Avoid Aging? : A true maverick, Aubrey de Grey challenges the most basic assumption underlying the human condition -- that aging is inevitable. He argues instead that aging is a disease -- one that can be cured if it's approached as "an engineering problem." His plan calls for identifying all the components that cause human tissue to age, and designing remedies for each of them - forestalling disease and eventually pushing back death. He calls the approach Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS).

Transhumanism PowerPoint Primer

What role should technology play in prompting the next stage in our evolution? What exactly is Transhumanism? What role could nanotechnology, biotechnology, and cognitive science play in improving the human condition? What are the possible benefits of Transhumanism? Drawbacks and criticisms? These are the questions.....Click here for the answers .

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