How great – or detrimental – would it be to change human traits? How peculiar would it be if we could engineer our bodies to eradicate disease, or to regenerate better parts and systems? How ethical is any of this? What would be the ramifications? Where would such realities leave God, spiritual mythologies or faith itself?
These are some of the questions surrounding an intellectual and cultural movement called transhumanism; sometimes signified as “H+,” as in humanity plus. Transhumanism refers to the development and use of refined technologies to heighten, enhance and improve humans’ traits, capacities and abilities. “Posthuman” refers to the species that will exist once man has completed the transition from “normal” to “enhanced.”
It’s a movement gaining both attention and momentum, as what was once the realm of science fiction becomes contemporary reality. This is not robotics or simply artificial intelligence; constant developments in genetic engineering, tissue/organ replacement, and scanning technologies mean man is getting closer than ever to understanding, predicting and changing the prospect of life, and of healthful living. For cosmetic, rehabilitative and essentially vital reasons, man has regenerated organs, implanted technology and engineered electronics. These technologies have greatly improved the lives of millions.
Not all transhumanists are interested in “life everlasting,” or an eternal fountain of youth. Science is steadily moving towards such remarkable advancements, but the transhuman movement, its adherents maintain, is more about success, innovation and integration.
On Tuesday September 13 at 6 p.m., Dr. Calvin Mercer, professor in the Religious Studies Program at East Carolina University, will conduct an open discussion at Greenville’s Go-Science Center, 729 Dickinson Avenue.The topic is Practical Immorality: Living Healthy for 500 years; a publication co-edited by Dr. Mercer himself. Dr. Calvin Mercer is an established editor and author having several published works discussing human enhancement including the Palgrave Studies in the Future of Humanity and its Humanity and its Successors. Dr. Mercer and Go-Science will present this intellectual forum where the aspects if transhumanism or human enhancement can be deliberated. It is an event that will cover some of the ethical, social, legal and fundamentals of human enhancement and related technologies.
Mercer says his goal is to “promote a conversation in the broader culture about human enhancement technologies, including radical life extension, without bias for or against enhancement programs.” He adds, “I am working to facilitate discussion and debate among academics of religion and communities of faith.”
Go-Science is a museum focused on science technology, engineering and mathematics featuring exhibits and events designed to promote early engagement in these fields Admission to the forum is free. Call(252) 825-7243 or email Info@Go-science.org for further information, or visit their website.