Sun, 16 Aug 1998 10:50:00 EDT

In a message dated 98-08-14 17:43:44 EDT, Nicholas Bostrom wrote:

> How could I become a posthuman?

Although some transhumanists envision very rapid and radical transformations of at least some humans into posthuman beings with vastly augmented powers, a more gradual change is the most likely path and, in any case, should be possible for individuals who reject immediate far-reaching change. Possible scenarios of transformation include gradual adoption of more and more powerful tools of intelligence augmentation and biological robustness and longevity, with a step-by-step incorporation of those tools into our bodies. Eventually, such changes will amount to a qualitative transformation into a posthuman being. Examples include the initial use of wearable computers, gradually giving way to incorporation of interface tools into our bodies (for instance, retinal displays), genetic therapy giving way to more significant augmentation through genetic engineering and use of virtual reality, combined with direct neural-computer interfaces, eventually giving rise to full-fledged uploaded beings.

> Isn't the possibility of success in cryonics too small?

Estimates of success for cryonic suspension vary. However, transhumanists see even the smallest chance as preferable to the alternative.

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

This will be a function of the cost and effort required to revive a suspended person. As technology advances, especially as powerful nanotechnology and advanced artificial intelligence are developed, that cost and effort will inevitably decrease. Eventually, reviving a suspended person may involve so little effort relative to what is possible that even a future that is relatively indifferent to those who have been suspended will undertake the project out of scientific curiosity, of for no other reason. Furthermore, many cryonicists subscribe to the concept of the "Life Pact", a moral obligation of the earlier-revived to work toward reanimation of those suspended before them.

> What recent progress has been made towards transhumanist goals?

Every week brings some news item reporting on an exciting breakthrough in one area of the transhumanist agenda or another. The following are just a few examples:

o Since 1996, many new developments have been made in materials science and chip design that promise a clear path to computers with at least humanequivalent information processing power by the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.

o Since 1995 many established scientific and industrial institutions -- in academia, government and business -- have expressed optimistic investment in programs to develop sophisticated nanotechnology.

o The 1990s have been declared "the Decade of the Brain" as both a statement of goals and a description of the breathtaking progress that is being made in understanding the detailed structure and function of the human brain.

o In 1997, development of functional neural-chip interfaces were reported.

o Also in 1997, large mammals were cloned. Since then many reputable researchers have spoken optimistically about cloning of human organs within the next ten years.

> How can I become involved in transhumanism?

There are a growing number of organizations that have been formed to explore and develop transhumanist technologies and contemplate the issues on the road to posthumanity. Extropy Institute, the oldest of these, was formed in 1988, and publishes its magazine, Extropy Online, on the World Wide Web. The World Transhumanist Association was formed in 1997 as an umbrella organization to publicize transhumanist ideas and to seek academic acceptance of transhumanism as a philosophical and cultural movement. Its publication, The Journal of Transhumanism, is a peer-reviewed publication featuring articles that have been rigorously researched and subjected to the scrutiny of the leading thinkers in transhumanism. The Foresight Institute and the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing work toward the development and understanding of nanotechnology and its peaceful application to human affairs. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation is a non-profit organization offering cryonic suspension to its members and information to the public at large about cryonics.

All of these organizations offer opportunities to learn more about transhumanism and the various technologies and ideas that transhumanists seek to apply to human life. They organize conferences and meetings and sponsor various electronic fora to network with other people interested in furthering the transhumanist agenda. New business ideas are constantly being explored by their members and opportunities for employment in work that is actively and explicitly aimed at developing a transhuman future lie in the near future.

[There are many more that should be listed . . . This is just a list off the top of my head.]

	Greg Burch     <>----<>
	   Attorney  :::  Director, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
	           "Good ideas are not adopted automatically.  They must
	              be driven into practice with courageous impatience."