The Straightforward Nature of Transhumanist Ideals

I've noted a couple of pieces in recent weeks that emphasised the common sense nature of transhumanism: helping to make life longer and better, one action at a time, is a core human ideal. There are no special cases, no magical transition point at which it's fine and dandy to write people off or justify their deaths. Healthy life extension flows quite naturally from the same mindset that helps neighbors and appreciates modern medicine. We all recognize that which is unpleasant in commonplace life, and it's only natural to work to remove that unpleasantness. Here's another example:

So is technology really such a great thing? Is researching it really one of our highest priorities, if it doesn't even make people happier?

In a word, yes. For there is a way out. Not every technology is meaningless - technology has indirectly made our societies more open-minded, helping members of different minorities feel more accepted. Happiness studies suggest that one's health is a major component to their happiness, so improvements in healthcare help as well. The key seems to be that technology needs to primarily modify, not our environment, but ourselves. If evolution has given us such a crappy deal, where we keep striving for externalities that don't make us any happier, let's beat evolution and modify the internalities.

That, of course, is what transhumanism is all about. In fact, since technology has such a great capability for making people happier, I would argue that anyone who cares about the happiness of others has a moral responsibility to be a transhumanist.

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Currently, growing old is not a very enjoyable thing - your health begins to fail, your close ones start dying off, you become too tired to create new social circles when you lose the old ones. It is no wonder that there have been reports of disproportionally high suicide rates among the elderly. All of this could be avoided if we could eliminate aging and prevent all age-related decline, so people would stay healthy and physically young forever. This is a project many transhumanists are actively working on or supporting by donating to the Methusaleh Foundation - we already know what causes old age, so all that remains is fixing it.

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All six categories - and others I have not mentioned - increase equality. People are not randomly condemned to be stupid. People are not condemned to be unhealthy simply because they're old. Like intelligence, some are naturally more talented at self-control than others: by increasing our control of our own brains, these inequalities diminish. Some people are not condemned to live in bodies they're unhappy with, while others get great ones. People are not condemned to be naturally less happy than others. People are not wiped out of existence when they'd still rather live. All of this increases people's happiness, and giving people control over these things gives them more choice. These are some of the core values that transhumanism's all about: Happiness, Equality and Choice.

Seeking equality of opportunity by helping people to overcome the limitations of their own personal human condition is a worthy goal today, and will be just as much so in a future of far greater opportunity. The foundation of opportunity is life - is being alive, and possessed of the vigor to take advantage of that fact. Without that, there is nothing. So I think we really have to start there, with aging, a great injustice blindly inflicted upon humanity by chance, physics and evolution. To not seek the cure for aging would be just as strange as to fail to seek a cure for cancer or Alzheimer's - it would be inhuman and unnatural for the species that helps its neighbors and appreciates the good things in life.

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