Transhumanism is all the rage among the nouveau riche of Silicon Valley, who are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into research they expect will launch “The Singularity.” What is that, you ask? The Singularity is an anticipated point—as important to transhumanists as the Rapture is to Evangelical Christians—at which the cascade of scientific advances will become unstoppable, allowing transhumanists to recreate themselves as “post-humans.”
The transhumanist quest has two primary goals: radical life extension—which we will not discuss here—and the exponential increase of human intelligence (perhaps because it would better enable them to achieve the first goal). Transhumanists are obsessed with increasing cognitive functioning. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Inc., has started a company dedicated to developing neural technologies to cure disease and increase human intelligence by way of a “direct cortical interface—essentially a layer of artificial intelligence inside the brain.” The company is also reported to be exploring “cosmetic brain surgeries” to make us smarter.
Musk is not alone in putting his money where his futuristic dreams are. Last year, the New Scientist reported:
If you could implant a device in your brain to enhance your intelligence, would you do it? A new company has just invested $100 million into developing such a device, and is being advised by some of the biggest names in science.
The company, Kernel, was launched earlier this year by entrepreneur Bryan Johnson. He says he has spent many years wondering how best to contribute to humanity. “I arrived at intelligence. I think it’s the most precious and powerful resource in existence,” says Johnson.
Johnson’s belief exemplifies why I find transhumanism—essentially neo-eugenics—both morally deficient and philosophically sterile. There’s nothing wrong with intelligence, of course. It is one of the attributes that make humans exceptional. Indeed, our species’s extraordinary intelligence enabled us to leave the caves.
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