by. Bong Eun Seo
Artificial intelligence has been a worldwide sensation again, due to Google AlphaGo. Lately, there was a match between Google AlphaGo and famous go player Lee Sedol from March 9th to 15th. AlphaGo, which is an computer go artificial intelligence program made by Google DeepMind, is the very first program to beat a professional player. Its unbelievably developed technology of self learning program has certainly marked a new era in artificial intelligence, leading to attention on transhumanism. Basically, transhumanism is overcoming physical or intellectual limits of human by technology. Posthumanism is usually followed by this issue, and it refers to using artificial intelligence(A.I.) as a part of human body.
According to British Institute of Posthuman Studies(Biops), there are three key areas of trnashumanism, super longevity, super intelligence, and super wellbeing (Brietbart). These are designed to solve problems that human has. Ironically, they can result in various problems. This is why I believe when the world that transhumanists expect comes, it will be rather hell than heaven. I want to explain some problems expected to occur when transhumanism comes true.
First of all, overpopulation problem will occur. Aubrey de Grey, an authoritative expert in research about aging, suggests that aging is the biggest reason for most diseases. He wonders why people use millions of dollars every year to develop cures for viruses, but never try to do something with aging. We should try to stop us from aging with technology. When this success, human gains super longevity. However, nobody can assure that this is a good change. Humankind is already going through a serious overpopulation problem (Pigliucci). Space and food are limited and world population is growing. Nations like China are already having hard time controlling growing population. Super longevity will give humankind chances to live way longer than now, and the number of people who dies in a day will be several times bigger than the number of people who are given birth a day. Super longevity will lead to a problem of overpopulation and as a result, humankind will run out of space and food.
Transhuman getting out of control is another serious problem expected to occur. The speed of development of technology is very fast, that if you graph it, there is a point where the graph is perpendicular to the axis. This point is called the ‘technological singularity.’ At this point, artificial intelligence gets to develop itself, that human can never catch up. Modern society is already in symbiotic relationship with technology, so the era of transhuman isn’t far away. Futurologist Rey Kurzweil said if technology continues to develop, humankind will try to make itself closer to machines (Kurzweil). This basically means humans will try to merge them with artificial intelligence. Posthumans will appear, and the world of super intelligence will come. However, this can be a big problem for humankind because this change can never happen at once. While humans are working to completely transhumanize people, artificial intelligence continues to develop passing the point of technological singularity. Then humankind can’t do anything even if the artificial intelligence gets off the track that human expected and do something against the purpose or moral standard of human.
Finally, transhumanism can lead to extinction of certain emotions. The only thing important to primitive people was to survive and pass on their genes. In order to successfully survive, natural selection has designed them to be always motivated to watch out for predators. However, that kind of anxiousness and suffering aren’t need for people these days. The world has changed and now we need to focus on happiness. The problem is that we still have the same genes, same suffering with primitive people. Transhumanists claim that we can get rid of suffering by technology. One of the most popular trnashumanists, David Pearce, says that we have to edit our DNA in order to minimize our suffering (Bailey).When this is successfully done, the state is called super wellbeing. However, this isn’t always a good thing for us. Suffering is not always a bad thing. When someone feels sympathy to my suffering, or feels the same suffering with me, an emotional interaction occurs. These kind of interaction is something that makes our society better. Also, certain sentiments come from suffering. For example, Korean affection(Jeong, 情) comes from the team spirit of sharing the same kind of suffering. Also the sentiment of resentment(Han,恨), which is the fundamental sentiment of most Korean arts and literature, comes from the though of sharing the same historical pain in our hearts. If transhumanists get rid of suffering from our DNA, these essential emotional factors for the development of humankind will disappear.
Some people say we are already transhuman compare the human of last few centuries. We don’t realize we are actually redefining the term ‘human’ because the change is still very slow and tiny. Whether we like it or not, we are becoming more and more closer to technology, and realization of transhumanism seems not so far away form this moment. There are controversies still going on about this issue. Whether we decide to accept and admit the huge change, or we stop the future change from becoming real, we need a united solution for the upcoming change in human society.
(photo credit : http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2014/09/30/nwo-overman-eupraxsophy-transhumanism/)
Bailey, Ronald. “Transhumanism: The Most Dangerous Idea?” Reason.com. N.p., 25 Aug. 2004. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. (Bailey)
Brietbart, Peter, and Marco Vega. “PostHuman: An Introduction to Transhumanism.” YouTube. YouTube, 05 Nov. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2016. (Brietbart)
KurzweilAI New Video Series Aims to Popularize Transhumanism Kickstarter Launched Comments. N.d., 18 Nov. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <http://www.kurzweilai.net/new-video-series-aims-to-popularize-transhumanism-kickstarter-launched>. (Kurzweil)
Pigliucci, Massimo. “The Problems With Transhumanism.” Science 2.0. N.p., 7 July 2009. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. (Pigliucci)