The World Transhumanist Association (WTA) aims to bypass death by using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), genetic engineering and nanotechnology to radically accelerate human evolution. The transhumanists think this could happen as quickly as a decade from now.
To many, their ideas are scary. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama singled out transhumanism as the world‘s "most dangerous idea."
But they are planning to go mainstream. WTA membership has risen from 2,000 to almost 5,000 since 2000, and transhumanist student groups have sprung up at university campuses from California to Nairobi. Plus, the WTA has attracted a series of wealthy backers.
In the video above, longevity biologist Aubrey de Grey, philosopher Nick Bostrom and neuroscientist Anders Sandberg talk about how you could become immortal.
From a strictly biological standpoint, human beings seem to be set at around 120 years as a maximum lifespan. I do believe that one day lifespan may be extended well beyond this … but becoming “immortal,” at least here on earth, is not something that’s possible for any living creature.
That is, perhaps, until you start blurring the edges of life and technology.
Whether it’s morally right or not, we humans have advanced technology to a point of no return in many respects. It is advancing at exponential rates, and one day may “learn” how to advance itself -- a concept that Ray Kurzweil, the famous inventor, calls "the singularity.”
Singularity refers to the point in time when technology becomes smarter than the people who create it. What will happen when and if this superhuman intelligence takes over is anyone’s guess. Some predict an end to the problems that have been plaguing mankind for generations. Others see half-human cyborgs taking over their “inferior” human neighbors.
Still others, like the three men interviewed in the video above, see intermingling advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), nanotechnology and genetic engineering with the human body and mind as nothing but natural.
Earlier this year, Wired Magazine ran an intriguing article on this very topic. In it, Kurzweil says that “the first AIs will be created as add-ons to human intelligence, modeled on our actual brains and used to extend our human reach.” (I am actually scheduled to do an upcoming expert interview with Ray Kurzweil later this year for my Inner Circle.)
They will be used to improve eyesight and hearing, boost your memory and fight disease. Eventually, however, futurists like Kurzweil believe that artificial intelligence will “render biological humans obsolete.”
To most of us, this sounds like a travesty. But Kurzweil sees it differently. “The singularity won't destroy us,” he says. “Instead, it will immortalize us.”
Is This for REAL?
All of this talk about cyborgs and superhuman intelligence sounds like something straight out of Hollywood. And it has been the topic of countless movies. One of my favorites that came out a few years back was "A.I." by Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick. Now there is a movie that brings up enduring questions of moral responsibility and technology, and their impact on human life.
As for whether or not human beings will one day become bionic … I suppose only time will tell.
If you really want to take your mind on a trip, Nick Bostrom wrote a mind-expanding article in 2003 that argues we could all be living in a super-powerful computer simulation right now.
Now I’m not one to want to veer far from the natural order of things. I don’t even want to eat a piece of genetically modified corn, let alone have that technology implanted in my body.
But the technology enthusiast in me can’t help but be intrigued.
Of course, you can always work on extending your lifespan the natural way, through nutrition, exercise and emotional well-being. If living your life to its full potential -- without becoming a transhuman -- appeals to you, I’ve listed nine of my top tips to maximize your lifespan in this past article.