015. Posthumanity

A discussion on our end

Questions to ponder

  1. What is human? What is a human being? Can a human exist independently (at least in principle) of their biological body?
  2. Is there an ethical distinction between treatment and enhancement that we should be aware of and respect as legitimate? Could people, for example, be justified in genetically modify themselves simply because they felt like it or because it was a Tuesday?
  3. Would you personally wish to be post/transhuman? Can youever be post/transhuman?
  4. Do you believe, as does futurist Ray Kurzweil, that the singularity is near? What implications does the nearness or farness of human-level artificial intelligence have on our moral decision making?
  5. If only one half of the population could be effectively treated/enhanced by a technique/technology, can we justify its broad use? Must a technology be as egalitarian as possible to be as morally upright as possible?
  6. I have some sense of what a “crime against humanity” might be, but what might a “crime against posthumanity” look like? Would the crime be “more” or “less” severe?
  7. Can a robot have rights? Could those rights ever become equivalent to human rights? Are they greater, less than, about equal to, or incomparable to animal rights?
  8. Should human beings seize control of their own genetic dispositions, evolutionary progressions, and biological status? Or ought some of these things be left to “nature”?
  9. Do we really need to develop a philosophy of cyborgs?
  10. Haraway refers to a cyborg as “a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality […] lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction.” She goes on to state that “taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skillful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts.” What do you make of her use of a construct from 20thcentury science fiction to describe 20thcentury women and (how) does it apply now to our own age?
  11. Take two individuals, A and B. Swap half of their organs after ensuring immunocompatibility. Have the identities of A and B changed?
  12. How do you think the human species will end?



Essays of possible interest

  1. In defense of posthuman dignity
  2. Stem cells, biotechnology, and human rights: implications for a posthuman future
  3. A cyborg manifesto: science, technology, and socialist-feminism in the late 20th century