Transhumanist Manifestos and Dilemmas: A Decade and a Half of Reflection

Socrates /

Posted on: January 25, 2019 / Last Modified: May 19, 2024

Fifteen years ago, I penned the first versions of Hamlet’s Transhumanist Dilemma and A Transhumanist Manifesto. Much has changed since then, including my perspective.

I began with a question inspired by Hamlet: Will technology replace biology?

At the time, I believed this to be the modern iteration of Shakespeare’s existential query: to be or not to be.

Since death is a tragedy, I believed technology was our only escape. Yet, I feared choosing technology over biology might exact a heavy toll—a Faustian bargain.

I worried that transitioning from human to transhuman—or cyborg—might cost us something precious and unique, something not worth trading even for immortality. Hence, I titled the piece Hamlet’s Transhumanist Dilemma, believing there was no definitive answer and that each person must determine their own path.

A few months later, convinced I had found the answer, I dove headfirst into transhumanism. Everything seemed straightforward—black and white. As Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II succinctly put it: “Death is wrong, and life is right.

Right.

The issue with dilemmas is their lack of clear answers. They are uncomfortable and excellent at posing questions but poor at providing solutions.

In contrast, manifestos leave no room for doubt. They are straightforward calls to action, confident in their solutions. Immersed in the transhumanist narrative, I wrote my manifesto, urging my fellow transhumanists to unite and break the ‘chains of biology and death.’

Fifteen years later, I find myself almost back where I began. [I guess, at least in some ways, life is a circle.] Yes, it is still true that dilemmas may not offer clear guidance, but they are authentic, raw, and honest. They reflect the complexity of our world—a world without a GPS to guide us into the future, where answers are often free, but good questions are priceless.

Dilemmas call for introspection, while manifestos call for action.

Manifestos are idealistic, romantic and convenient. Worse, they are often naïve, simplistic, and utopian—dangerously so. They inspire focus and action but frequently lack introspection and justification.

Perhaps I’m getting old, but lately, I see much action taken without much introspection. The kind of action that is ready to use violence to build a new world on the ruins of the current one. Yet, the world is never as simple as manifestos suggest, especially after the revolutionary (i.e., destructive) phase is over, and we must eventually build something.

And so I’ve returned to dilemmas as a better way to face the future. Because the world is transformed by asking questions. And because, as Richard Feynman noticed, it is better to have questions we have no answers for than answers we can’t question.

So, I’m back to Hamlet. Back to doubt, uncertainty, paradox, and the possibility of being wrong.

What about you? Are you up for revolution or introspection? Do you embrace the paradox or prefer clear answers?

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