From holding a rock in our hands to strike an animal for the first time, to discovering fire, taking to the air on the first powered flight, and becoming gods through the smartphones in our pockets, we have not stopped ascending in our foundational human abilities by using technology. This, at its very core is what transhumanism is. Humans augmented by technology.
In 2017, none of this seems strange, but rather, more mainstream than we are willing to admit. More people are starting to realize that we are merely born as “Human v1.0” – a platform of muscles, neurons, and bone. Over time, we see human growth (starting with up and then out), changing psychology, and education affected by what is available in our upbringing. This is widely accepted as the combination of nature and nurture.
More importantly, there are a growing number of people who bought into the paradigm shift that is nature and nurture plus technology, or what some call “Human v2.0.”
Since the late ‘60s, we have seen backstreet chemists pushing psychological boundaries (Nicolas Sand, Terence McKenna), researchers plugging microchips directly into nervous systems (Kevin Warwick), grinders and biohackers soldering electronics and placing them beneath the skin (Grindhouse Wetware, Amal Graafstra), and makers dreaming up new augmentation for life and art (Neil Harbisson, Moon Ribas).
In fact, with over 6 billion people in the world with access to mobile devices (that’s more people than have access to clean water), we must see transhumanism a natural part of human biological progression.
Mainstream media, business leaders, and communities around the world have woken up to this idea and are actively promoting how it’s achingly cool to be a transhuman in 2017. Knowing this, the most powerful technology companies in the world are betting the farm on it – just look at Alphabet, Apple, Tesla, Facebook, and Amazon – and their work in extending human capability and removing friction from life to create a natural, friction-free ecosystem.
Over time more people will demand the right to transhuman capabilities, regardless of income or status. 2017 truly marks the end of the ‘Prozac Nation’ and rise of the people that will become transhumanists and they will demand “Human v2.0.”
With that will come three human rights that will gain prominence: the ability to live longer, the ability to be stronger, and the ability to think more clearly and contribute more to the world than was previously possible.
Living longer is desired. Some experts say humans will now live to be over 120 years old through genetic treatments such as CRISPR-Cas9, hormones, and drug therapies that stop the congenital aging process and cure diseases.
Supportive and increased strength will be essential. We will be able to strap into exoskeletons that provide stamina and strength, and take nootropics (sometimes known as smart drugs) that provide increased alertness and awareness while we do so. No more wheelchairs and more alertness into our more advanced years. And, we hope to have more mental fortitude using psychedelics such as LSD, DMT, Psilocybin, MDMA, and other compounds that are coming out of the shadows of illegal usage into the sanctioned mainstream. With these we’ll need trained professionals to counsel us and help us journey through ritual to help us get to the higher ground (metaphorically and literally). Traditional big business is scared but they’ll come around.
The tech companies are already betting big on increasing human capabilities that will maximize human potential through technological disruption. It’ll be a new and profitable business line. Solutions for anti-aging, strength enhancement, and professional psychedelic treatment will cost a fair amount for many people, as governments will surely be reticent to subsidize these treatments for the masses.
A consequence of this new world will be a new divide separating those with the financial ability and access to buy into the dream from those who without them. For those that can afford it, being human will feel better than ever. For others, they will have to work hard to survive with the “Human v1.0” solutions.
This divide and ensuing tension will cause bias in society for those that have. The consequence of that will be the ushering in the next stage of grinders, biohackers, makers, and experimentalists who will try and make access better for all. Just in time for the experiments that will lead us towards “Human v3.0.”
This article was originally published in BLAAAH Magazine in 2018.