Should We Continue To Push Technology Forward In Order To Make Ourselves More Than Human?

edited October 2016 in Community

I just got done watching this video on YouTube about "Future Prosthetics", that is Bionic Limbs approaching the full range and usefulness of human mobility.  There is one moment in the video where the interviewer is asking the scientist who builds these things if he could imagine a point where they become better than a natural hand, or when we start to give them functions other than natural, handlike ones.  His response, to my surprise, was "the real question is should we".  (time of said quote: 

My answer to that question is yes, without hesitation, yes.  And not only yes, but pushing the boundaries of technology has always seemed a given to me.  Pushing our technological limitations is a defining characteristic of human society from where I am sitting, and so it seems inevitable. But even if this was not a certainty it is something I would want to do, and it is something that I definitely want to do to myself.

Does anyone here think that there is any real reason that we should not push our collective way into trans-humanity?  I understand the want and the need to be careful, and to test our creations and theories, but the thought that the engineer presented in this video, that maybe we simply should not is absolutely foreign to me.  Do you know anyone who is against the advancement of technology, at least when it applies to making better and more interesting humans?  How do you feel about this and how it applies to what we call Grinding?  Do you know anyone who has any serious ethical reservations about self-modification or the like?

(If anyone noticed I was absent for a month or so, my apologies.  Life caught up with me.)


  • edited October 2016
    The biggest problem I see is that people with access to these advances will consistently outperform people without them, leading over time to a divide between humans and enhanced humans... who will then go on to have kids who will be upgraded and the cycle will continue until the unenhanced (the poor, the unlucky) die out or get forced into some lower class of society.

    Basically the plot setting of 3/4ths of cyberpunk fiction. A great divide between the rich and the poor, while the rich keep getting richer and the poor wallow in filth.
  • edited October 2016
    Isn't life kind of already like that tho?  The rich have the easiest access to the best medicine, the best weapons, the best technology, everything.  The divide is less obvious than during the Dark Ages perhaps, but I would argue that personal modifications is just one new addition to a long list of things that the rich will have better access to.  But like with smart phones, I believe that eventually,these things will become so cheap and commonplace that they will literally give them away, to try and entice you to purchase something else.  This seems to be the pattern with technology; at first only the rich can afford it but then a few years or decades later it is everywhere and close to becoming obsolete and no longer revolutionary.  I just don't see it being that much different than what we have now, instead, I see it as merely an extension of what is already occurring.
  • edited October 2016
    I would think that this would be a trigger for a major change towards a much more egalitarian society, just like how the appearance of nukes stopped worlds wars.

    Besides, I don't think it is ever going to be possible to be "superior" in everything, even with science and technology, which time and time again shows us that for every advantage there will need to be compromise in something else. Transhumanism isn't going to lead to a "superior" human: it's just going to give rise to further diversity and us the ability to choose.

    And that's what I look forward to.
  • What do you guys think about implants that could actually help us "return" in a way to senses we're losing because we rely so much on tech

    EG: having better innate sense of land/mapping how to look at the stars and find our way? 

    I'm thinking of the implants that tell you when you're facing north. Are they just gimmicks or do you think they enhance your understanding of where you are in the world and give you a more intimate connection with it? 

  • I've long held the opinion that we should focus on building prosthetics that can exceed the human body. @BoboTheEpic raises a good point, and many bioethicists share that view point. But in that same thinking, didn't the advent of computers and phones have that same effect? The rich were able to get more advanced tech which allowed them to perform better jobs and get richer while the poor couldn't afford it. But if you look around now, most everyone has a phone, and a large majority have smartphones. My argument is that while it could definitely have negative consequences, we can't look at the near future. The more we research cybernetics and bionics, the cheaper they will become which will enhance the lives of everyone. In the meantime however, people can focus on the best ways to help those who can't afford it, eventually turning prosthetics into something that could be covered by healthcare.

    We're actually pretty far forward in the field of this kind of stuff,
    TL;DR we've created ways for amputees to control prosthetics with old nerve endings, and have even restored basic touch senses to them.

  • As far as I've heard from other people the devices that indicate North do not form an innate sense. When removed you lose that as surely as removing a magnet. Maybe if you were constantly orienting yourself and looking at stars you may be able to train yourself. If you were conscious enough of your surroundings it may help with your daily sphere and knowing where you are at but you would lose that in a new location.
  • You can definitely train yourself to learn north either by stars or just being used to the area around you. An implant that vibrates at north won't teach you anything except "hey I'm vibrating now ok." Instead try orientation. Look around figure out the land marks learn where the sun is, remember when the highway was you got off or on. Feel the wind? It usually blows the same way in certain parts of the world I.E. Trade winds.

    North paw and such are gimmicks for people who don't wish to actually learn a skill but rather skip to something that can easily be fooled by a boulder, building, power source, magnets.
  • Two comments here. . I think Meanderpaul has a good point. I have yet to see people talk about psychological hacks.. speed learning stuff from the cognitive domain.

    Second. . Are we tolerating this stuff now? Lol. At one point discussions like this were shot down as being speculative h plus bullshit. Let's talk about the ethics of future capitalism.. meh. Im not being critical. There has always been a push though for discussions to be lucrative. They should make something happen. interesting discussions like this are just thought exercises and we are not an armchair community. I don't personally care or anything. I'm just observing. Maybe we should have a section specifically for these kinds of discusions on the new site? Not trying to derail or shoot down this discussion.
  • I mean I'm sure quite a few people have thoughts like this, and with media and basically everyone else warning of the "cyberpocalypse" I feel that while yes it is a silly thought especially compared to other things, 65 is say it's worth it to help other people see new opinions and ideas. But that's my 2cents
  • Agreed. I'm not saying there's no merit to such discussion but of course it is preaching to the choir a bit. I just fear coming in the site some day and seeing 15 threads about preventing the heat death of the universe and how cool AI is going to be without anyone actually doing anything.
  • Yeah definitely stop this from becoming a site for doomsday and conspiracy theorists. I think the way things have been going are a good way to handle it all.
  • There has been a lot of posts along those lines lately. It's actually souring my mouth. I've been just clicking read all Á LOT when normally I actually read each one.
  • Is it really speculative when it is essentially what we are doing? We are not talking about what sort of tech would become available or what we can do. We are talking about when we should stop trying to develop tech to alter our bodies (which seem to be "never").
  • Jeez @Cassox.  I just thought ya'll would appreciate this video highlighting new fangled bionic limbs and a little conversation, I didn't realize I was breaking some sort of unspoken rule with this thread.  I mean, I am kind of new here, but I figure the conversation has merit.  As the people doing the work to open up this new area of human experience should we not also be the ones to determine through discussion and introspection where and what the limits are, if any?

    I do agree that it is sort of preaching to the choir, but that is why I put it in the form of a question.  In the video, the engineer who is developing the prosthetics is the one who poses the question and while I am aware that Ethics is an actual field that people put time and effort into, it never occurred to me to think "hm, should we be doing this?.  The answer to me has always been yes, and seeing someone who is doing this sort of work professionally pose that question made me want to question the rest of the community to see if I was alone in never hesitating in wanting to go forward or if said opinion was as commonplace as I might have thought.  If it is legitimately against the rules or in poor taste, then by all means, somebody take this down.
  • I think you'll find that most of us have slightly different opinions. Mine, well... "Ethics Shmethics".

    As for being disliked, I don't think it's so much that we dislike this sort of discussion, it's just that it does have the potential to get a little conspiracy theoristy. So I do think it should have a distinct section, a section for discussing the "outside" views of what we do, that is, what anyone who isn't a "grinder" would think. Just to avoid cluttering the main forums with things. The main reason for the forum is to discuss biohacking, not question it. The new (work in progress) site should have more distinct sections like that. Until then, that's part of why we require approving new accounts.
  • Jupiter is spot on. It's to discuss new things (in my eyes) not the ethics. Whether we like it or not some rich guys going to decide the ethics in the future. The only way we have a true say is to keep standards and progress the technology in a methodical way. This is the same thing as trying to discuss regulations for it. It's all way off and in the end we won't have any real say.

    If this post was intended to discuss this person's new tech and how they use it then it would fit so much better. How could we adapt that to be made easier, cheaper, better? That's more of a question for this forum.
  • Rich people and "anarchists/terrorist", just feel the need to put that one out there. I am surprised Martin Shkreli didn't get killed for that stunt he pulled. A bullet/hack can change opinions of those who want to play dirty real quickly....

    John Doe
  • edited October 2016
    Holy tl;dr batman! Sorry about the word salad.

    While I have some interest in the ethics of enhancement/modification, I'm less interested in that compared to how to make enhancements possible. I admit I'm a die-hard scifi fan and have fantasized about being a cyborg since I was in elementary school, so I'm obviously biased towards the "enhance all the things" end. I am frustrated that it's 30 years after I read my first cyberpunk novel and it feels like we are only now really getting started.

    I've been catching up on last season's episodes of Agents of Shield. In one episode, the team visited an underground club for people who enhanced themselves. There was the usual scifi stuff like magic computers, but one scene in particular fascinated me. One of the agents was using infrared (or something like that) glasses to see the enhancements sported by the people at the club and there was a few seconds of what that looked like. 

    I found myself pausing the TV and examining what they were showing. I know it's a fictional setup, but I couldn't help think "What could that implant be? What would be its purpose in the show's universe? How could that be replicated? What's the feasibility of this?"

    I think the idea of enhancement/modification gets a shit rep in (Westernized) culture. It's so often dismissed as being nothing more than fringe weirdness or extreme body mods. But in reality, it's been around us for a very long time. Aside from the more obvious like prosthetic limbs, people have implanted pacemakers, artificial heart valves, insulin pumps, cobalt chromium bones, titanium joints, etc. Even glasses and contacts are sort of a mechanical enhancement. 

    Though those are all medical necessity and of course I wouldn't want to wish injury or illness just for artificial parts. But I think that those things should be considered biohacking/cyborg/etc along with the more frivolous stuff like RFID implants and vibrating north thing. Not just to legitimize biohacking, but also because I think that a mesh of the two--medical necessity and non--would benefit both sides in research and technological advancement. The medical side, though always working hard for better solutions, often suffers from a lack of creativity and biohacking often suffers from a lack of research backing. 

    The recent flood of pediatric prosthetic limbs is a good example of what happens when the two come together. When it's just biohacking, it's some dude wanting to be Iron Man. When it's just medical necessity, it's too often the same aged tech that's not been updated in a while because more advanced options are far too expensive for most. So 3D designers and prosthetic researchers wound up coming together and now kids with missing limbs can perform normal daily tasks AND be Iron Man. 

    So I'd love to see biohacking be associated with medical implant technology so we can push things forward. I'd like to see someone go "hey, I made this DIY implant with LEDs for a few dollars because it looks cool" and a researcher going "let's get some grants and figure out how this can also be useful."

    I know it's probably too simplistic an idea (and thought of before), but it would be nice to say "I wish I had bionic eyes" and have people consider it no weirder or less legitimate of a use than Grandma's pacemaker.
  • Hot damn, that really couldn't have been stated better.
  • I'm just a little confused everyone..... I could swear that I have seen a wide variety of threads discussing many things, and while the majority have been technical discussion and those are some of the best threads, I don't think this is the first thread of its type.  I can try to keep it to the purely technical and the application of all of that as well as meet ups and the like, but this push back confuses me.

    katzevonstich said is the sort of conversation I was interested in inspiring, not anything "conspiracy theory" like.  : (

    But I completely agree katzevonstich!  I myself have both an insulin pump and glasses, and I must say when I first got this machine I was in awe.  It is essentially an artificial organ, although a crude one.  In some sense I am very truly a cyborg.  If I take the machine off of me for any length of time I can become quite ill so it has actually become quite an integral part of me.  To this day I still get a kick describing it to people who are unfamiliar with me as an artificial organ.  

    It is interesting to note the difference in reaction between this and the magnets.  I tell them that I want to get them installed and most of them get the queerest look on their faces and either ask why or state that doing so is not something they would be interested in getting done too themselves.  With the pump most people are a little intrigued and want to make sure they understand how it works, and after that they are easily accepting of the fact that I have to wear a machine 24/7, but when I describe wanting to install magnets, they react with confusion, active disinterest, or something like a light revulsion.  It is such a stark difference when, as you say, the basic concept is vaguely similar.
  • I can understand putting threads like this in a different section, since it is not the main focus of the site, and so I did try and tag it as "other" so maybe it will work better on the new version of the site, it's just; if I can't talk about things relating to grinding here, I don't really have anywhere else to go.  I doubt there is a biohacking forum specifically devoted to non-technical discussions of things relating to biohacking, and no talk of the application and developments of grinds allowed, ya know?
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