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Facing the Challenges of Transhumanism: Religion, Science, Technology

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Transhumanism is an ideology that attempts to provide coherence to the acceleration of knowledge in emerging fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, information and communication technology, robotics, and applied cognitive science. The confluence of these inquiries has created a new situation in which the human has not only become a design project, but, due to genetic engineering, human beings will be able to redesign future generations, thereby affecting the evolutionary process itself. Transhumanists enthusiastically endorse these developments in the prediction that the human will evolve into a transhuman state through the application of technology to the human condition. In the second year of the project, we will explore the interplay of science, technology and culture which has given rise to transhumanism. The philosophical roots of Transhumanism are to be found in the Enlightenment Project, but the revolutions in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics have generated a new human condition to which the conceptual framework of the Enlightenment no longer applies: the new genetics enables us to enhance our biological state; nanotechnology enables us to manipulate materials on an atomic scale; and robotics not only replaces the human brain with non–biological computing power, which will exceed the human brain, but also facilitates the integration of biological and information technology. As a result, the Enlightenment’s dichotomy between the observer and the observed, the humans and the physical environment, nature and culture, making and thinking is no longer tenable. In the second year of the project we will seek to understand the urgency of the new situation and articulate a theoretical framework that could address the new complex reflexivity. In particular, we will examine the transhumanist conviction that technology will transform human beings and that this transformation constitutes “progress” for the human species.