transhumanism

Transhumanism: a new way of thinking that challenges the premiss that the human condition is and will remain essentially unalterable. Clearing away that mental block allows one to see a dazzling landscape of radical possibilities, ranging from unlimited bliss to the extinction of intelligent life.

Last January, hplus Magazine, dedicated to all things futurist—transhumanism, AI, nano, neuro, and whatnot—offered us five forecasts to ponder, by futurist philosopher Gray Scott.

In this column, I will deal with only one of his predictions:

1. Transhumanists will outnumber Christians by 2035.

By 2035, even if a majority of humans do not self-identify as Transhuman, technically they will be… The future will be filled with digital implants, mind controlled exoskeletal upgrades, age reversal pills, hyper-intelligence brain implants and bionic muscle upgrades. All of these technologies will literally make us more Transhuman. …

Along with the rising rate of atheism, this will cause Transhumanism to overtake Christianity by 2035. Evolutionary psychologist, Dr. Nigel Barber, argues that “more educated countries have higher levels of non belief and there are strong correlations between atheism and intelligence.”

Now, that last point is bunk, as I pointed out in a 2012 article here at MercatorNet, commenting on the circus wagon of such claims:

I first became suspicious when Lynn et al. tried to explain why the United States is anomalous “in having an unusually low percentage of its population disbelieving in God (10.5 percent) for a high IQ country [98].”

Good thing it’s easy to test that one. Canada has a similar history, and features average IQ 99, with 22 percent not believing in God. So twice as many Canadians don’t believe in God but exhibit no statistically significant reward in IQ. That’s one wheel off – but it’s still a tricycle.

Looking at the chart closely, I noticed another anomaly: The Czech Republic and Slovakia split on January 1, 1993. In 2008, the Czech republic clocked IQ 98, 61 percent disbelieving in God, and Slovakia at IQ 96, with only 17 percent disbelieving in God. The difference is obviously cultural. Second wheel gone. We now have a bicycle.

The third wobbly wheel was the fact that Israel and Portugal -with very different culture and histories – both feature IQ 95. But in Israel 15 percent disbelieve and in Portugal 4 percent. So tripling or quadrupling the number of atheists did nothing for IQ when culture and history are different. Will the data at least give us a unicycle for the theory to wobble on?

Don’t count on it; let’s call a taxi and get out of this dump.

By the way, Barber’s credibility isn’t helped by the revelation that he is an evolutionary psychologist. Let’s just say that his discipline is the Bedrock of psychology.

But that’s not the big problem with the prediction. The main reasons for the decline of Christianity have nothing to do with transhumanism. Christianity is being driven out of its ancestral homelands by aggressive Islamists, and rotted from within by the general decline of the West into naturalism, a decline which, as we shall see, is affecting the sciences as well. In the sciences, we see widespread peer review scandals and an increasing preference for non-evidence-based reasoning.

So the sense one gets from this and other futurist predictions is that the future they predict is in the past. The real future isn’t NASA and its marvellously successful spinoffs. For example (we haven’t been to the moon in over forty years). Nor is it Big Biotech and its promising spinoffs.

The real future includes the rise to prominence in the post-Christian world of sects of Islam whose spokesfolks are proud to ride fast backward into the seventh century. Many commentators hope that their children will just grow up to want something different. But these hopes give way to mixed realities.

For one thing, in large sections of the post-Christian West,in demographic free fall, productive employment, live-at-home dads, and substance abuse-free households are no longer even viable among the diminishing working class. In Britain, where most children will likely be born out of wedlock by 2016—a far more reliable prediction than those of the futurists’, by the way—“Muhammed” tops the list of names for baby boys. Chances are, by the way, that “Muhammed’s” mother is married, and lives in a community that enforces standards. As communities had done immemorially in Britain, until quite recently.

Yes. Change happens, and to the victor belong the spoils. But it is only fair to note: The part of the world that Islam dominates is simply not noted for science or intellectual achievements, with the one exception of Israel, which is not so far Muslim:

The main lesson is that human achievement is widely variable by time, place, and circumstance, and within those limits, it depends a great deal on how people want to spend their time, what they want to do with their lives. The role religion plays is highly variable because it depends so much on the content of the religion as it plays out in people’s lives. Not necessarily as proclaimed by prophets, apologists, or spokespeople.

No, science isn’t everything—unless one is a transhumanist, of course. In which case it literally is everything. Which is what makes Scott’s prediction seem so off side. If things continue in the current direction, the future we face will likely feature more starkly enforced social rules accompanied by fewer science achievements of the very sort he depends on for his predictions. Because, as my compatriot Mark Steyn likes to say, demographics is a game of last man standing.

Well, we shall see. Later, I will take up another of Scott’s predictions: The artificial uterus fends off declining birth rates.

Note:hplus Magazine sponsor organization Humanity+ is

a not for profit organization dedicated to developing knowledge about the science, technology, and social changes of the 21st century. We aim to deeply influence a new generation of thinkers who dare to envision humanity’s next steps

 

Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...