Genetic transition to posthumanism

From: Francois-Rene Rideau (
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 17:02:48 MDT

How do extropians envision transition from mankind
to whatever posthuman future awaits us?
What are the documented scenarios that have been considered?

I mean, afaik, historically, genetic replacement happens by massive
extinction of species in very short times (geologicallywise, anyway),
with the surviving ones filling the void (that they might or not have
caused, to begin with). Do you expect some posthuman species to just sit
around (maybe in secret) and takeover the planet after some inevitable
catastrophe wipes mankind? I don't think the humans would let such thing
happen -- if they're going to be destroyed, they won't hesitate to make
the planet unliveable. Or maybe other planets would be a shelter to
posthumans, where they'd wait for the final demise of mankind?

If not, this might mean a completely different way for species to emerge
than have been seen in the past. Do you expect genetic enhancement to
become so cheap that just about every human will eventually have been
modified? Would that result into a sustainable species? How long do you
expect it for the transition to take? Won't the biggest brake to such
transition be public opinion and traditional religion? Or would
there be such invisible riskless individual enhancements that people
would first use them undercover until it becomes so common that
prejudices be gone?

Also, many (most?) genetic enhancements are only useful if done at
conception time, so that the embryo may develop new or substantially
different organs (Dawkins argues that the phenomenon of growing individuals
at every generation from a monocellular embryo is one of the biggest
breakthrough in the last 3 billion years of genetic evolution).
If so, the biggest potential for genetic progress in posthumans
is in making new individuals. However, such method, by definition,
cannot ever make any previously existing individual immortal, or
otherwise satisfy anyone's direct selfish interest (or can it?),
so that only a tiny fraction of genetic engineering is actually open
for much transhuman progress. Yet, only selfish interest, coupled
with the responsibility associated to liberty, ensures that things
go into a consistent direction of progress. How do you envision the
future with respect to this kind of problems?

There might be lots of other scenarios.
I'm pretty sure this must have been discussed on the list
(or in some other document) in the past. I'll appreciate pointers.

Yours freely,

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | ]
[ TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System | ]
To appreciate an intelligent man is to have some pleasure when one agrees
with him, and to have an instructive pleasure when one does not.

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