More human than human

I recently purchased a copy of the magazine ‘Wired’.  It’s a lovely publication; nice to read, nice to have around hell, even nice to just touch. Maybe even cuddle at night. But anyway. Full of some fantastic things it is. The Fetish sections are especially nice; drool-inducing glossy photographs of things you probably can’t afford and most likely don’t even need anyway but now you suddenly WANT. This month the special feature appears to be on ultra-durable equipment and clothing (including the most arousing Welsh-forged ice-axe I think I’ve ever seen).

But the main focus – of the front page at least – is a section that dwells upon the subject of ‘you…upgraded’. Transhumanism, you might say, would depend on your lexicon (hur hur). There’s also a fine article by Warren Ellis wherein which he professes his fear of being eaten by robots (alternatively of having his junk removed by a crazed Japanese urinal bot. Either way). I was initially going to try and make a segue from the former to the latter but for the life of me now I cannot remember how I was going to do it.

But yes. Transhumanism, eh? As far as I understand it it is the use of science, technology and basically anything else we can lay our fleshy, human hands on to improve ourselves and slowly chip away at the slightly more undesirable aspects of the human condition (namely things like disease, despair, aging and – wonderfully – ‘involuntary death’ as listed on the wiki; I love that).

To me, I am reminded heavily of GM crops. My rather slack mental reasoning behind this being that both idea on paper look great (‘Less aging/disease/etc!’ ‘More food and easier!’), are slightly harder to work in practise (‘My brain implant has left me emotional scars due to it being inserted during conscious surgery and is also giving me hallucinations!’ ‘These GM crops are all clones! And are dying! And are also replacing the crops that are not dying!’) and also have a lot of concern about them ranging from the fairly well informed to the rather hysterical (‘Science!’ ‘Man was not supposed to do X!’)

That was a long one. But yes. On the whole I support some of these things but only if they’re done right; now that’s a plattitude. On the other hand I am always amused by people who feel that there is some sort of arbitray LINE where humanity is supposed to stop doing things. GM crops, bad, animal husbandry and selective breeding of crops, good. O…kay? Since, wait, what? Limb transplants, werid and bad, peg-legs, good! Says who? I had no idea Long John Silver was a surgeon. Or whatever. I don’t know. I just get annoyed at that sort of argument. Hamstringing progress because of “It just don’t feel right, y’know” is kinda ridiculous especially in light of whatever humanity has been doing since forever.

I for one look forward to becoming a super-human cyborg. It probably won’t be as interesting as its postulated but who cares, whenever I jump it’ll make the noise from the “six million dollar man”. Although that might get old fast. Then again, that sort of thing also depends heavily on what the concept of a person actually is and how many bits can be put in, removed or replaced before you consider them less of a person. If any pieces. Now that’s a complex issue.

Most likely though I’m talking out of my weak, human arse.

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One Response to “More human than human”

  1. I need to get this issue of Wired, then.
    I did a little on the last issue you raised, incidentally: http://jbovington.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/damn-your-short-attention-spans/
    I try to answer the ‘What makes a human?’ bit.
    Love the post.

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