A transhumanist dictionary

George Dvorsky has published a guide to the terms and buzzwords of transhumanism – an optimistic movement that seeks to apply current and future scientific discoveries to extending human experience and abilities.

Transhumanists are interested in neuroscience as a way of improving on the natural human range, either through optimising the biological systems already present or extending them with technological interfaces.

They are variously treated with excitement, suspicion and amusement by mainstream scientists who tend to be conservative by nature.

However, the movement has attracted some leading lights in the sciences who are not put off by the sometimes science-fiction focus of the transhuman mission.

You may see lots of references to the Singularity, a key concept in transhumanist thought.

It’s exact meaning differs depending on the context, but one of the most influential definitions is from Ray Kurzweil who uses it to describe the notional point when computers will overtake the abilities of the human brain.

Needless to say, this puts the back up of many philosophers and cognitive scientists who believe that computers will never be able to fully emulate human intelligence or consciousness.

There’s plenty more of these thorny issues touched on by Dvorsky’s dictionary, so have a look through if you want to know what the dreamers of neuroscience are thinking about.

Link to ‘Must-know terms for the 21st Century intellectual: Redux’.

One Comment

  1. Posted February 14, 2007 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Interesting guide.
    Transhumanists are a fascinating bunch, though I can’t help but see most of their views as simply a projection of religious longing onto science. As Ken MacLeod wrote, the Singularity seems to be “the rapture for nerds”.


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