back
 

essays and articles for study and research

Vita-More, Natasha. Are You A Transhumanist?

Are You A Transhumanist?


Introduction

 

 This is a questionnaire to survey your imagination about the future of the human body and machines.  Today there has been substantial coverage on how technology is merging with biology.  While many of these innovations have a been beneficial to humanity, some are questionable and may cause us to rethink our ambitions and take a look at what we would do if and when faced with some very futurist ideas.  One way to consider where we are and where we might be going is to look at what we think about our current involvement in the design field and then to look at some issues that we could face in the near future.

 

 This questionnaire is intended to elicit your choices in situations involving technologically enabled changes to the human condition. This is not a survey with right or wrong answers. The goal is to better understand sources of resistance to major changes, and to encourage innovative thinking about constructive choices.

let's move on to the closed-ended questions.  Please read the following situations and choose the best answer that represents you views.  If you do not agree with any of the choices, write your own answer.


1.      Your futuristic colleagues are urging you to keep up with the times. Supercomputing power has grown exponentially to the point that Internet and other information interfaces are limited only by the hardware of the human brain. The popular information service, Oogle, is offering brain-chip implants for Oogle's power user interface. This will augment your cognitive abilities well beyond what's possible for a purely biological human. What do you do? 

 

a)   I would not accept the brain-chip implant, even if certain that it were safe. I would be concerned that I would no longer be fully human or that some natural line had been crossed.

b)   I would not accept the brain-chip implant, even if certain that it were safe. I would also discourage others from using it, perhaps through supporting legal prohibitions, on the grounds that it will widen inequalities between people.

c)   I would accept the brain-chip implant reluctantly, not wanting to fall behind.

d)   I would accept the brain-chip implant reluctantly, worried about losing some part of my natural humanness.

e)   I would readily eagerly accept the brain-chip implant.

f)    I cannot choose any of the responses, because I disagree with the implicit assumptions.

g)      I would prefer to make a different decision as follows:  _______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

2.      NeuroChem Solutions, Inc. has beaten rivals to the market with its new superdrug Cogniply. You've been following the clinical development fairly closely and know that Cogniply went through extensive safety and effectiveness testing. You're pretty sure that, as in 98% of test subjects, if you take Cogniply your amygdala and other brain structures will develop more neurological connections over a few months of treatment. Benefits are improved concentration and memory retention. Although you can easily afford this treatment, you know that at least half the population cannot afford the current cost of Cogniply. What do you do? 

 

a)   Go ahead without hesitation and start taking Cogniply.

b)   Go ahead and take Cogniply, with some unease or feeling of guilt, but consoled by the thought that the cost will probably come down over time - like television sets, personal computers, and other drugs.

c)   Take Cogniply with some concern, since you want the benefits, but feel an obligation to do what you can to encourage the accelerated availability of generics perhaps even to push for subsidies to spread its affordability.

d)   Refuse to take Cogniply and discourage others from taking it on the grounds that it's an unfair advantage or that it simply raises competition to another level.

e)   I cannot choose any of the responses, because I disagree with the implicit assumptions.

f)        I would prefer to make a different decision as follows:  ________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

3.      Your daughter is reconsidering starting a family. In the past, she has had two miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy. Now, she and her husband are opting for producing an exowomb baby a baby grown from her fertilized egg but grown in an artificial, external womb. The Exowomb has been tested and guarantees healthy offspring. What do you do? 

 

a)   Agree with my daughter that the Exowomb is a better environment for the development of a fetus because its environment is carefully monitored and regulated by the medical staff. Any Potential problems in the development of the fetus can be detected early on and corrected.

b)   Attempt to dissuade my daughter, on the grounds that the Exowomb is an unnatural environment. I would feel the same way even if infusions of blood from the mother and other biochemical exchanges were done to replicate the natural womb state.

c)   Congratulate my daughter on being resourceful in her awareness of latest reproductive technologies. I support her decision because equality between the sexes is essential, and reproduction in itself needs to be more balanced allowing women better reproduction choices.

d)   I cannot choose any of the responses, because I disagree with the implicit assumptions.

e)   I would prefer to make a different decision as follows:

 

4.      While shopping, you pull two separate packages off the grocery store shelf. One label reads "Real Chicken" and the other label reads "100% SynthoMeat Chicken." You know that Synthomeat is grown in vats from single cells, and made to taste and feel exactly like the real thing. Synthomeat is made from simple chemicals, and with no input from any living creatures. Being grown in vats, it is carefully tested and Consumer Reports and the AMA have shown that SynthoMeat is much less likely to carry bacteria or viruses or other adulterants. The two packages costs the same. Which package do you choose? 

 

a)   I'm a vegetarian and wouldn't eat any meat, let alone synthetic chicken.

b)   I'm a vegetarian primarily on moral grounds, but would at least seriously consider the Synthomeat (if I knew I'd like the taste) since no animals were involved in its production.

b)   I'd definitely take the 100% Synthomeat chicken.

c)   If the "Real Chicken" is grown from an environmentally safe farm, has not been given any steroids, and is fresh, I'd choose it.

e)   I cannot choose any of the responses, because I disagree with the implicit assumptions.

f)    I would prefer to make a different decision as follows:
 

5.      Imagine that a time machine could take you 20 years into the future. Would you see as much or more change in the life, culture, and technology of humans between 2003 and 2023 than humans have seen since:  ___________Yes  _____________No. 

 

1980s              982: Jarvik hearts, Laser printers; 1984: DNA analysis used to clarify closeness of humans and chimps compared to gorillas and orangutans.

1960s              1963 (First woman placed in orbit; Valium introduced; Arecibo radio telescope; Electronic watches introduced, and gene regulators proposed in 1961; Communications satellite launched, and first practical LED produced in 1962; Background microwave radiation discovered in 1964)

1920s              Penicillin discovered; Game theory devised; Talking pictures invented in 1927; Particle accelerator developed in 1929; Nylon invented in 1931)

1900s              1903 Wright Brothers flight; Electrocardiogram invented; First message sent around the world by wire and cable, taking 12 minutes; Sutures developed in 1902; First radio tube invented in 1904; IQ test devised in 1905

1800s              Electric battery invented; Gas lighting invented; Nitrous oxide discovered; Study of tissues published; Jacquard loom invented in 1801; Steam locomotive on railroad demonstrated in 1804.

1500s              Concave lenses invented; Gutenberg prints 300 Bibles on his printing press in 1454; 1502: America recognized as new world; 1504: First watch made; 1523: Earth circumnavigated.)

1000 AD         Science of optics founded in 1025; Greenland discovered by Erik the Red in 982; crossbow invented in 1050.

1000 BC          Steel developed; Iron Age began

8,000 BC         Agriculture developed

20,000 BC       Oil lamp invented; bow and arrow used

2,000,000 BC  Stone tools used

 

5b) What if the time machine took you 50 years into the future, instead of 20? Which of the above answers would you pick then?

                                    ___________Yes  _____________No.

  

5c) What if the time machine took you 100 years into the future, instead of 20? Which of the above answers would you pick then?

                                    ___________Yes  _____________No.

  

       

Please put a √ in the box below that best answers the questions:

 

1. People have a right to augment their brains, intellectually and psychologically, even if the technology is not available or affordable for everyone. 

Definitely!          Somewhat Agree         Not Sure          Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

 
2.  We should push ahead vigorously and research cutting edge technologies (such as biotech and nanotech) even though they might also be used for destructive ends.  The benefits and possibilities of rapid progress outweigh the costs and risks. 

Definitely!     Somewhat Agree              Not Sure     Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

  

3. This century, human intelligence will rate second to superintelligent machines.  

Definitely!     Somewhat Agree Not Sure     Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

  

4.  The idea of what is "natural" changes over time and has little to do with how we should view our biology. 

Definitely!         Somewhat Agree          Not Sure     Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

  

5.  In cases where there is a tradeoff between preserving existing species, cultures and languages, or encouraging global change and growth, I favor change and growth. 

Definitely!         Somewhat Agree          Not Sure          Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 6.  Ideological turmoil is occurring due to a cultural clash between the haves and have-nots.  Do you think a governing body should intervene?   

Definitely!         Somewhat Agree          Not Sure          Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

  

7.  The ethical technological issues concerning genetic engineering, therapeutic cloning and/or nanosystems is the sole responsibility of the investors, shareholders and officers of each business entity. 

Definitely!         Somewhat Agree          Not Sure          Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

  

8.  Supercomputers can only advance so far and even though their computing power may triple that of a human brain, without emotion and conscience, cannot be a real threat to humanity.  

Definitely!         Somewhat Agree          Not Sure          Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

  

4.         A prosthetic arm with robotic capabilities and a sense of touch is, nonetheless, still a prosthetic arm.  

Definitely!         Somewhat Agree          Not Sure          Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

  

5.         Globalize has gotten a bad rap.  The real issue is the fact that people in the franchise business are trying to make money on what sells, not a trend toward cultural homogeny.  

Definitely!         Somewhat Agree          Not Sure          Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 6.         Advances in Infertility skyrocketed in 1990 with embryo manipulation.  In the next few decades, society will be ready for reproduction technologies producing genetically engineered babies outside the human womb. 

Definitely!         Somewhat Agree          Not Sure          Somewhat Disagree     Absolutely Not!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Congratulations, you have finished!  Thank you.

 

C.                 Remarks 

Did you enjoy taking the QUIZ?

Yes, it was great!

 

Yes

 

 

Somewhat

No, not at all

No Comment

Did you lean something from the QUIZ?

Yes, it was great!

Yes

 

 

Somewhat

No, not at all

No Comment

Would you take a longer QUIZ

Yes, definitely!

 

Yes

 

 

Maybe

No, not at all

No Comment

Would you like to submit a story for the QUIZ?

Yes, definitely!

Yes

 

 

Maybe

No, not at all

No Comment

 

 Thank your for participating in our futurist survey "Are You A Transhumanist?"  If you would like to participate in our survey, please print out the questionnaire and email to info@transhuman.org or natasha@natasha.cc  All survey questionnaires will be reviewed and your answers will be used to determine how members of the transhumanist community think about some potentially important concerns of the future.