Let's work on the FAQ!

Nick Bostrom (bostrom@ndirect.co.uk)
Sun, 12 Jul 1998 00:05:50 +0000

Time to roll up our sleeves :-)

I have extracted 28 preliminary questions/objections/reactions to transhumanism. In order to turn this into a good FAQ I suggest we do as follows. I list all the questions below so that people can suggest which questions should be added/modified/deleted. Replies to this messege should only deal with that or with issues of proceedure. I will then make four separate posts, spread out in time, with 7 questions each so that we can discuss in more detail how to answer each question.

Anybody can comment on any question they feel like. I would like to collect two types of answers:

(1) Full answer: perhaps two paragraphs long (or ideas for what
should be included in the full answer). This will form the basis for the FAQ.

(2) One-liners. Short replies that witty, funny, pithy,
disarming or polemically hard to counter. These would be useful, for example, in debates and interviews.

When everybody has had enough time to comment I suggest that three or four experienced transhumanists get together (virtually) and write up a draft that can then be sent back to the list for further revision.

What is transhumanism?

What is a posthuman?

Why do you want to live longer?

Isn't death part of the natural order of things?

Won't extended lifespans cause overpopulation problems?

Won't new technologies only benefit the rich and powerful? What happens to the rest?

What kind of society would posthumans live in?

Isn't transhumanism tampering with nature?

Won't transhuman technologies make us inhuman?

Do you believe in God?

So you think technology will solve all problems?

Shouldn't we concentrate on current problems like improving the condition of the poor people or solving international conflicts, instead of putting effort into foreseeing the "far" future?

What evidence is there that it will happen?

There is a non-physical soul and therefore some transhumanist issues are bound to fail (uploading, conscious AI)

What is nanotechnology?

These new technologies will be used in war and may cause our extinction.

How will superintelligent machines treat us humans?

All these transhumanist issues will not happen within a hundred years, they will take more like a thousand years. (MNT, Uploading)

What if it doesn't work?

Is transhumanism a cult/religion?

What makes transhumanism different from other philosophies, movements, or religions?

Isn't transhumanism old hat? Sure, it's a new name, but basically, hasn't the philosophy been around a long time?

What prominent thinkers are associated with transhumanism? (This is not the same as "Who is prominent within transhumanism?")

Oh well... (Person sort of agrees in an intellectual way but doesn't take it to heart)

How could I become a posthuman?

The possibility of success (in cryonics) is too small.

Will the people of the future be interested in restoring you?

What recent progress has been made towards transhumanist goals?

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method London School of Economics