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In the beginning of the 21th century, humanity is entering a new stage of its development, when the scenarios of technological improvement of human nature cease to look fantastic.
Initially, the creation of new biomedical technologies was aimed at the correction of certain disease states of the human body, the restoration of its disturbed functions and structures, what was usually referred to the field of medicine. At present, however, this trend of creating and using “human-oriented” technologies takes new vector. The increasing interest not only of scientists and engineers, but also of the general public, is attracted to ideas of human enhancement, the empowerment of a person with exceptional abilities and properties – physical, intellectual, mental and even moral, that can bring up abilities and opportunities to a new, previously unattainable level.
The emergence of transhumanism as a philosophical approach, which raises the question of new forms of human existence in the context of technological and information progress, responds to the changes, which are taking place.
Transhumanist ideas come from the idea of imperfection of human nature and the need for its improvement (enhancement).
Transhumanism is a world view, which, based on the advanced technological achievements of science, confirms the need for the evolution / enhancement of humans. Man is represented as a being that has not completed its evolution and is capable of accomplishing an “evolutionary breakthrough” with the help of scientific and technical tools.
In fact, transhumanism is the desire to go beyond the physiological characteristics of a person, which represents the individual as potentially unlimited in its development.
Accordingly, a posthuman, in their understanding, is a physiologically utterly modified person who has exceeded the limit of his original innate opportunities.
Transhumanism has intentions in constructing a new person, whose abilities will be artificially set at birth, regulated, and all imperfections, such as suffering, illness, aging, death, will be eliminated. Thus, transhumanism reduces a person to a certain set of characteristics that can be controlled. In consequence of this, new forms of responsibility arise, in which the boundary between persons and things will be erased. Enhancement therefore not only carries purely technical consequences, but also consequences relating to the ethical plan.
With the help of such technologies, a person is able to change his body, it’s functions, “improve” himself. Having lost a leg or other limb, a person can get prosthesis, that again allow him to not just stand on his feet and regain the opportunity to walk, but beyond that – will allow him to run much faster than an ordinary person. Or: after surgery, a person who has badly seen before, has improved his vision above normal. Is this a cure, or is this an immediate “improvement”? How to draw a line between treatment and “improvement”? Many problems are concealed here, beginning with what can be considered as an improvement, and not simply a cure, ending with a difficult question about the status of the norm relative to human nature. The questions “what is a person?” arise here also very acutely. Transhumanism pays very little attention to this item, it takes human nature as something given and taken for granted, whereas nothing intelligible on this subject by transhumanists was said.
Transhumanist discourse tells us about the possibility of a moral “upgrade” of a person.
Moral improvement of a person with the use of modern technology is by transhumanists – a truly humanitarian aid to humanity. Therefore, it is necessary to give the opportunity to promote such technologies to the masses, to enable everyone to be involved in them. But those who cannot afford such “improvements” with their bodies can become less competitive in society. (The appearance of a class of people who are not simply exceed others on a property level, but also on the objective level of “improvement”. With a bit of futurological reflection, we will get a new “breed” of people (superhumans?), which will confront ordinary people. Such technologies can cause (generate) new forms of inequality and injustice.
Now the tendency for brain and consciousness research has begun, especially consciousness, although this is a dangerous territory, because no one knows what it is. What we can say is that “I know that I am”. This called the first person experience. This is as we hope something that almost none of the animals and yet artificial intelligence have.
Dr. Tatiana Chernigovskaya says in her lectures that, in her opinion, it will be possible in the near future to insert chips that will make the course of biochemical processes in the brain faster, a chip that will increase your memory and make the brain better, the liver eaten сcirrhosis from excessive drinking, can be replaced by a new one, which will be grown from your stem cells. “This is real, not jokes and not metaphors. The heart can also be replaced now, hands-feet broken in Courchevel, easily replaced. Eyes, ears.”
Is there anything of your own? Is it still me? This is a serious ethical issue. Is there stability of the personality, is there a stability of the sex and is there this personality itself?
“I cannot stand social networks, although I figure in them, but it’s done by someone else there, not me. And now how can I prove that it’s not me. The person with whom you correspond is it a real person or is it a phantom? And is it just one of a kind? Or is it a program that represents a million personalities, and there is no person at all? Where is he located? Does he have a place, time, does he have an address, does he have a personality? Does he have a name? It’s like in the popular scientific literature about artificial intelligence and it’s called the liquid world, when everything has disintegrated, parted.”
Here we have a question, unpleasant, but important: how much do digital technologies change us?
We are seeing what is now called Google-effect: we sat on the needle very quickly obtaining information at any time. This leads to the fact that we have a different kind of memory. Working memory becomes very short. In 2011, an experiment was published in the journal Science: it was proved that students who have a constant and quick access to the computer (and now this is practically all) can memorize much less information than those who were a student before this era. This means that the brain has changed since then. Now everything goes to the fact that it becomes an appendage to the computer. We store in long-term computer memory that which should have been stored in our brain.
According to McLuhan’s theory, summarized by “the medium is the message” states that “any invention or technology is an extension or self-amputation of our physical bodies, and such extension also demands new ratios or new equilibriums among the other organs and extensions of the body”.
In general, for McLuhan mediums are technologies that with varying degrees of intensity affect the appearance of society at one time or another of history: “it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.” The most intense influence, according to McLuhan, on the development of society alternately had:
1) the invention of writing;
2) the invention of a printing press;
3) the emergence of electrical technology.
Each of these technologies changes the relationship of human feelings: in communities where the spoken word prevails, hearing is a more important ability than vision; with the advent of writing, sight becomes more important than hearing, and with the appearance of print, the hearing finally gives way to sight. For McLuhan, the man of the era of printed technologies is a person visually oriented. The reverse movement from the visual occurs in the era of the emergence of electrical technology: the huge speed with which electricity can transmit information, narrows the social world of a person, turning the world into a “global village”. Moreover, McLuhan understands electrical technology as an external extension of the human nervous system: “Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace”
Each of us for sure at least once in life thought, what awaits us in the future: whether robots will make people a serious competition, whether there will be flying cars or, for example, food, medicine, houses can be printed on 3D printers. Meanwhile, in the 21st century, cinematographers and thinkers show us an “apocalyptic” view of the future, in which the world corrodes economic and social problems, where one ecological catastrophe is replaced by another, new diseases and phobias appear. However, not all professional researchers see the future in this way.
Ekaterina Shulman – Associate Professor of the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Science and Technology has a rather cheerful and optimistic view of the future. In her lectures, Shulman often talks about the amazing time in which we will live. According to her, the society will move from the industrial economy to the post-deficit economy, post-work economy. “We will live in a world in which the idea of a working day will dissolve,” says Ekaterina Shulman, “The old scheme – to get education and to work by profession until death – is also a thing of the past.” We will find ourselves in a world where a person is constantly learning. You will not have a certain profession and a certain place of work, people will work, uniting around projects, and not around jobs. “
While it is possible to outline only a certain general contour of this hypothetical future, any features of the future, which we can see already in the present (and the future, of course, grows out of the present, and not suddenly arises in its final form), represent a repetition of the past on a new technical and social level.
We are entering an era when the production of goods will cease to be the highest value and the main human occupation. The tools for this transition are automation, robotics, new communications and information technology. Due to the fact that many sectors are now highly technological, they require less physical human labor. But, on the other hand, they require human participation – leading and creative.
Apparently, the principle of organizing a way of life will change. The usual “going to work” disappears, we are already entering a period when the order of life is changing, because of the growth of technologies, the society will work no less, but otherwise. Now in the rich countries they talk about the reduction of the working day and the reduction of the working week.
Thus trying to answer the question of where to put these extra hands on? A rather new problem is that in the past there was a problem of an overabundance of the population, which had nothing to eat, now there is something to eat, but there is the problem of extra hands, that is – people whose work is not needed. But in fact, this problem will be solved by technical and social progress itself. Our working day began to extend to the whole day, we no longer go to factories, we, maybe, do not go to the office for the whole day, but we are always on call and in general, we can say that we are constantly working. We respond to letters and calls, we write something ourselves, the concept of free and working time loses its rigid separation. There are also some tries like in France, legal to forbid sending messages to work email outside the working day. But this is unrealistic, because people themselves want to be in touch. When we try to think with old terms and impose them on a new reality, then nothing works. Some say that people will work less, others say that people will work constantly, but there will be neither one nor the other, because the concept of work and leisure will change.
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