Thoughts on “The Transhumanism Revolution”

In the service of an impulse that craves immortality, we have children, develop religious ideas that promise eternal life, and seek the kind of recognition that keeps our names alive long after we die.

This is a synthesis of two Quillette articles: “Writing for Quillette Ended My Theater Project” and “The Transhumanism Revolution”. They were both written by Libby Emmons. 

First, here’s a reminder on my methodology, in case a stranger were to happen by… most of the content in this article is not original to me, and that includes the opinions stated. What I do is copy/paste articles and read through them carefully. I’ll often rearrange the content of the article to include sections like: key points, problem, solution, questions, favorite quotes, further reading, vocabulary, etc. At the very end, I’ll leave behind some of my personal takeaways.

Key Points from “Ended My Theater Project”

  • People were taking issue with the author’s views on transhumanism, the women she worked with tried to reassure her.
  • Many extreme ideas that percolate in universities boil over into the arts. In the arts, dogmatic positions on gender identity are now the norm.
  • Trans ideology has been met with complete acceptance, and fighting words for any who dares to disagree.
  • Gang Rape Baby (as they nicknamed it) was directed by the same person who was now suggesting that she apologize.
  • The author has refused to adhere to or espouse orthodox ideas about gender identity, gender roles, or the notion that men can become women.
  • Genre : radical feminist black satire
  • In the arts community, as well as in universities, it is widely believed that traditionally dominant identities produce opinions and ideas that must be considered suspect, and taken with a tablespoon of salt.
    • The higher up the privilege ladder you are perceived to be, the less you should have to say about any group occupying a lower rung.
    • Her perceived identity as a cis straight white woman is a clear indicator that she should neither have nor express opinions about trans queer white men.
  • She said that her director been contacted my members of the theater community who had let her know that the author had hurt them. (See article : The Transhumanism Revolution)
    • She had participated in “trans erasure,” and hurt people by equating medical gender transition to rapidly growing trends in AI and body hacking.
    • She was writing in an attempt to convey a somewhat complicated idea about what human beings are and what we are becoming.
    • Exploring a new idea in a longstanding philosophical debate regarding the interconnected nature of human mind and body was hurtful because it did not uphold the delusion that biological sex is malleable.
  • What society defines as belonging to the domain of women or men are not what make women and men what they are. (E.g. wearing high-heels will not make you a woman)
  • Our bodies have the job of determining male and female, and the mind that is free to do as it pleases no matter the confines of the physical form. Yes, the physical form has its limits, and we ignore those limits at our peril.
  • “I don’t want to debate this with you,” her director said. And that, of course, is the problem. No one wants to debate trans ideology.
  • She doesn’t believe men can change into women or vice versa.
  • Gender is performative and sex is innate
  • The basis of this enforcement is a kind of groupthink, derived from a politics of compassion, moral relativism, and privilege theory. Divergent opinions are not censored, they are self-censored. Artists who disagree do not speak up. To do so is to risk losing funding in an industry that relies almost entirely on philanthropic donations from organizations that routinely signal their virtue to one another.
  • It’s not reasonable to force people to believe an ideology. People can be forced to espouse it, but they can’t be forced to believe it.

Key Points from Transhumanism Revoloution

  • Transhumanism is an ideology which states that humans must harness technological advancements to take an active, intelligent role in our own evolution and the evolution of our species.
  • The ultimate objective : using technology to liberate the human being from the limitations of the body. (E.g. reproduction, disease, mortality)
  • In order to separate consciousness from the brain, we need a proper understanding of what consciousness is, and that it can operate independently from the mind.
  • Human augmentation, or ‘biohacking,’ is born out of trends such as tattooing, piercing, or tongue splitting. Biohackers try to proactively augment their bodies with technology.
  • The human body will become part of the ‘Internet of Things.’
  • Liberating the body from reproduction liberates humanity from our own physical continuation. Reproductive advocates may call this progress, but removing reproduction from our bodily purview can liberate us from the body, but it also subjects us to the tyranny of the mind. Removing the body from reproduction is primarily the elimination of women from the process of creating human beings. Liberation from reproduction is liberation from sex, both in act and biology. At which point, gender truly becomes fashion with no remaining foundations in the story of human origins.
  • Transgender speech codes demand that we renounce our bodies’ basis in biology, and instead call it arbitrary and unjust societal expectations. The ongoing effort to change language, and redefine ‘male’ and ‘female’ so they refer to something other than sexual dimorphism, is to say the mind can dominate body, and personal subjectivity can contradict biological reality.
  • Transgender practice is the ultimate biohack. The claim that one has been born into the ‘wrong’ body is a rejection of mind-body unification.
  • To question the concept of transgenderism is to question the right of trans individuals to exist. This is an extremely effective strategy that deters the skeptical from digging into an ideology.
  • The real issue is not just societal acceptance of people with alternative views or lifestyles, but the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be human.
  • Our bodies suffer pain and spectacular sensation, and feed our minds with data about the world and our relationship to it.
  • Ethics conversations lag behind huge advancements in tech and identity politics.
  • Choice, the determining factor, resides with each individual alone. The transhumanists are right in at least one respect: the responsibility for humanity lies not with the state, nor any NGO, but with each of us. In awarding the mind complete power and authority over the flesh, we are not liberating ourselves, but submitting to the oppression of a consciousness we do not yet properly understand. The risk is that we only belatedly realise that transhumanism is oppression disguised as liberation.

Examples of Transhumanism

There are three growing cultural trends: artificial intelligence, human augmentation, and the transgender phenomenon.

Examples that are already in play:

  • mentally controlling artificial prosthetic limbs that are not connected to one’s body
  • receiving text messages directly in one’s brain,
  • stem cell and mitochondrial DNA research toward life extension
  • 3-D printable organs
  • Turing test passable chat bots
  • nanobots made of folded DNA strands designed to repair the body in a minimally invasive way,
  • gene editing
  • Companionship: lonely people receive robotic pets or sex bots
  • Cybernetic caregivers
  • AI augmented weaponry
  • Sub-dermally implanted Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chips
  • Magnetic implants
  • Smart phones grant us access to a world of road maps and obviate the need for self-orientation. “With every freedom we gain through tech, we sacrifice some autonomy.”
  • The human memory is no longer required to store or recall much now that vast resources of information are only a mouse-click away.

Examples of technology that is currently being worked on:

  • reanimating pigs’ brains
  • Building a complete diagram of the brain’s signals and connections,
  • Building an artificial neural network,
  • duplicate of an individual’s memories and experiences to survive the death of her material body.
  • create pathways to connect the mind to the cloud
  • make the mind to be accessible to others, allow for the experience of mental telepathy, and the emergence of a collective consciousness.
  • replacement of healthy limbs with higher functioning prosthetics
  • artificially grown hearts, lungs, livers, instead of cadaver parts.
  • gene editing software and artificial wombs

Quotes

  • “In the service of an impulse that craves immortality, we have children, develop religious ideas that promise eternal life, and seek the kind of recognition that keeps our names alive long after we die.”
  • “If we do not attend to these debates and their implications, we are going to awaken one day to find that developments have overtaken us, that it’s too late, and that our bodies are of no importance. What we forget is that the mind must serve the humanity of the body—in suffering, joy, pleasure, pain, tickles, itches, even death. Without that submission, the mind is nothing but ego, without any checks on its power or influence. To be a mind without a body is to have no relationship to the physical world, and no stake in it. If we perceive ourselves and others to be disembodied minds piloting meat machines—bodies of mere matter that do not matter—what horror will we be capable of inflicting on the bodies of others? When we renounce our humanity, we forget what it means to inflict pain and to suffer.”

Questions

  • The author writes, “I have no problem with pronouns, or bathrooms, or how people want to live, but that I don’t accept the identifier of “cis gendered,” Why doesn’t she accept the identifier? She doesn’t elaborate on this point.
  • She doesn’t think kids should be transitioned. What do you think is meant exactly by “transitioned”? I certainly don’t think that we should perform surgical alterations on kids, but we could try some less-invasive therapies to help transition kids to living like another gender.
  • How will Transhumanism affect the sovereignty of the individual?
  • How does Transhumanism address the primordial question of what it means to be human?
  • What does AI do with transgenderism?
  • The author writes, “The transhumanist perspective insists that humans have a distinctly separate mind and body, and that what happens to one need not affect the other.” How do they rationalize this?
  • Is the mind and body separate or inseparable?
  • These technologies make me feel extremely uncomfortable. Is it just fear? Or could it really spell the undoing of humanity?

Personal Takeaways

  • Transgender kids in transition shouldn’t receive surgical alteration until they are 18. Even better would be to wait until they are at least 22. Offer every other therapy until then.
  • I have no problem referring to people as their preferred pronoun. I will have a problem with the state forcing me under the threat of a “hate speech” violation.
  • Because of the complete acceptance of trans ideology, it has become extremely difficult to have a real discussion about the movement.
  • It is not biologically possible for men to become women (vice-versa). But men can live as a woman if they choose to (vice-versa).
  • It’s not reasonable to force people to believe an ideology. People can be forced to espouse it, but they can’t be forced to believe it.

Further Reading

  • How to Sell Your Gang Rape Baby* *for Parts in 2013
  • Libby Emmons is a writer and theatre maker in New York. She blogs at li88yinc.com. You can follow her on Twitter @li88yinc

Vocabulary

  • transhumanism
  • bio-hacking
  • grinding
  • proto-philosophical
  • heterodoxy
  • sexual dimorphism
  • Cartesian
  • NGO
  • purview

Featured Image : Pixabay

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