Kathryn Aegis (aegis@igc.apc.org)
Sat, 25 Jul 1998 17:27:48 -0700 (PDT)

Two suggested drafts of answers and a suggested revision of one of Nick's. I think that this section is particularly important in a FAQ precisely because it addresses, more than any other section, the fears that people have with relation to transhumanist ideas. I recommend an approach that uses a personable style with a minimum of jargon and an emphasis on how transhumanists themselves are addressing these issues.

>What kind of society would posthumans live in?

The type of society that posthumans would develop does depend on the type of posthuman that evolves from present-day humans. We can speculate as to how a posthuman might interact with humans, providing that a posthuman would want to interact with humans at all, but it is difficult to imagine how a society of posthumans might conduct their lives. Any construction of a posthuman society would be based on our experiences and desires as humans, or as transhumans, and we cannot depend on those experiences or desires having any relevance to a posthuman. As the seeds of a posthumanity develop, some of us hope to have the opportunity to observe their interactions with humans, transhumans, and other posthumans, from which we might formulate an idea of what kind of posthuman society would develop.

>What happens if these new technologies are used in war? Might they
>cause our extinction?

Some transhumanist ideas focus on the development of technology, but the development of humans themselves also represents an important area within transhumanist thought. We think that each human has the ability to choose positive change, and new technologies can provide the opportunity for many humans to live with more individual freedom and to break away from oppressive governments. If we look at history, from ancient times to the present, we can see a general trend away from brute force and towards cooperation between individuals and between societies. We can also see a trend of using technologies previously used in war to support peaceful and educational activities. The Internet itself originally developed as a part of the military infrastructure, but now its primary use is to support research and personal communication in every field of human endeavor. Although war remains a brutal reality in our world today, more humans have chosen to support increased economic trade and communication between all nations. Transhumanists support the continued use of new technology in ways that will benefit all humans, not just those who seek to gain power by means of force.

At 05:15 PM 7/25/98 +0000, Nick Bostrom wrote:


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

The typical pattern with new technologies is that they are expensive in the beginning and become cheaper as time goes by. In the medical field, for example, experimental procedures are usually only available to research subjects and the very rich. As these procedures become routine, the cost of the procedures decreases, and more people gain access to them. In the field of consumer electronics, the price of advanced computers and calculators drops as more complicated models are designed. - It is clear that everybody can benefit greatly from improved technology. In the beginning, perhaps the greatest advantage will go to those who have the resources, the knowledge and especially the willingness to learn to use new tools. Each society will still face the decision of how to address inequalities between its richer and poorer members; in that respect the situation will be no different from today. Yet, the pie that is to be divided will be enormously much greater.

Transhumanists encourage every society to embrace new technologies, as this will allow every human to progress beyond their present level. Many groups have arisen to address the problem of distributing technology to undeveloped areas, such as the 'freenet' movement that is working to provide Internet access to communities that presently cannot afford to install access. Many transhumanists work in the field of science policy and support [NICK, I REWORDED THIS BECAUSE IT CONTAINED THE TRIGGER WORDS 'RESIST' AND 'LEFT BEHIND' TRIGGER WORDS ARE THOSE THAT RAISE IRRATIONAL FEARS WITHOUT ADDRESSING THEM.]

Take care,

Kathryn Aegis