borough believes that abortion and birth control, which have reduced infant mortality rates to the point that 90-95% of human babies survive, have stopped natural selection to our detriment. By being able to control who can or can’t be born, we’re taking natural selection’s ability to select for advantageous genes and against disadvantageous genes. On the other hand—according to LiveScience, Dr. Pobiner believes that our larger populations and lower infant mortality rates are actually driving human evolution at a higher rate than ever before. The catch is contemporary human evolution is characterized less by external changes and more by changes in brain size and function. Ominously, she adds that as we evolve so do the diseases that target us. Either outcome is wrought with its own consequences. If Transhumanism is the key to reaching immortality – to reaching our final step in evolution, devoid of disease and death, then will it serve to create a new beginning for humanity or an end to the human species as we know it? Will elevating the human condition elevate us as humans, or will the marriage of biology and technology transcend us into something non-human – more machine than man? These questions are all speculative, much like the technological frontier that Transhumanists have committed to pioneering. We have all the questions, but only the future has the answers.
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And the future might be arriving a lot sooner than anticipated. The 2045 Initiative, a non-profit founded by Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov, believes they can accomplish the goal of “cybernetic immortality” by the year 2045 through what they call an Avatar. While it sounds like something out of science fiction, the Avatar is currently being developed by an interdisciplinary team of biologists, neurologists, engineers, artificial intelligence specialists, investors, and even spiritual leaders. Their hope is that by 2045 they will have reached an understanding of the brain that will allow them to replicate a person’s brain activity, transfer it into a digital medium, and then upload it into a robotic avatar that, if successful, will retain their thoughts, memories, and personality. Unsurprisingly, they don’t state whether or not they intend for this technology to be widely available to the general public or if it’s only going to be accessible to the richest of the rich. Which means that in a world that is already ravaged by global disparities in wealth, health, and opportunity, there will be a new technological disparity to contend with as well; effectively creating a new social class in an already claustrophobic social hierarchy. This is but one of the criticisms facing the Transhumanist movement. Philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders alike fear that Transhumanism will create a world that trades hu-
man dignity for transhuman enhancements; that development of this technology will open the gates to unregulated human experimentation in the name of progress. In fact, one of the most outspoken critics of Transhumanism is the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC). As their name suggests, they are a global consortium of Catholic medical professionals who use their religious backing to advocate against perceived medical and technological injustices committed against humanity. In 2013, FIAMC released the Madrid Declaration on Science and Life calling for the establishment of “an international criminal court before which those experimenting with human life, understanding it as a mean of production, or simply destroying it in the early stages of its development, be held accountable.” Again, we can only speculate on the consequences of Transhumanism and its technology. There is so much hope to be had in believing that one day we can live in a world where technology has eradicated global epidemics like HIV/AIDS and cancer. On the other hand, there is so much fear that this technology could be used to further separate and dehumanize a world already so unequal. Transhumanism can be our deliverance or our doom. Only time will tell.