[ExI] Wrestling with Transhumanism :: Katherine Hayles :: Global Spiral

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Thu Jun 12 13:59:31 UTC 2008

Here's an excellent opportunity for thoughtful, rational criticism and
comment. [3 of 6]

- Jef

Wrestling with Transhumanism :: Katherine Hayles :: Global

Wrestling with Transhumanism
By Katherine Hayles <http://metanexus.net/tabid/72/Default.aspx?aid=598>

Transhumanism for me is like a relationship with an obsessive and very
neurotic lover. Knowing it is deeply flawed, I have tried several times to
break off my engagement, but each time it manages to creep in through the
back door of my mind. In *How We Became Posthuman*,1
identified an undergirding assumption that makes possible such predictions
as Hans Moravec's transhumanist fantasy that we will soon be able to upload
our consciousness into computers and leave our bodies behind. I argued that
this scenario depends on a decontextualized and disembodied construction of
information. The disembodied information Claude Shannon formalized as a
probability function, useful for specific purposes, has been expanded far
beyond its original context and inappropriately applied to such phenomena as
this argument, I naively thought that I had dismissed transhumanism once and
for all, exposing its misapprehensions to my satisfaction and delivering a
decisive blow to its aspirations. But I was wrong. Transhumanism has
exponentially more adherents today than it did a decade ago when I made this
argument, and its influence is clearly growing rather than diminishing, as
this workshop itself testifies.
[image: Android Missing Head]

There are, of course, many versions of transhumanism, and they do not all
depend on the assumption I critiqued. But all of them, I will argue, perform
decontextualizing moves that over-simplify the situation and carry into the
new millennium some of the most questionable aspects of capitalist ideology.
Why then is transhumanism appealing, despite its problems? Most versions
share the assumption that technology is involved in a spiraling dynamic of
co-evolution with human development. This assumption, known as
technogenesis, seems to me compelling and indeed virtually irrefutable,
applying not only to contemporary humans but to *Homo sapiens* across the
eons, shaping the species biologically, psychologically, socially and
economically. While I have serious disagreements with most transhumanist
rhetoric, the transhumanist community is one that is fervently involved in
trying to figure out where technogenesis is headed in the contemporary era
and what it implies about our human future. This is its positive
contribution, and from my point of view, why it is worth worrying about.

How can we extract the valuable questions transhumanism confronts without
accepting all the implications of transhumanist claims? One possibility is
to embed transhumanist ideas in deep, rich, and challenging
contextualizations that re-introduce the complexities it strips away. The
results re-frame the questions, leading to conclusions very different than
those most transhumanists embrace. In these encounters, transhumanism serves
as the catalyst—or better, the irritant—that stimulates a more considered
and responsible view of the future than it itself can generate.

As a literary scholar, I consider the *locus classicus* for re-framing
transhumanist questions to be science fiction and speculative fiction,
jointly signified by SF. To initiate my inquiry, I will focus on the
critical area of reproduction—reproduction of individuals through children,
reproduction of the species through technology as well as biology, and
reproduction of psychological, philosophical, social and economic
institutions that facilitate and/or threaten the continued existence of
humans as a species. To see why reproduction is at the center of
transhumanist concerns, we need only consider the rhetoric of the
"singularity," a term introduced by SF writer and mathematician Vernon Vinge
to indicate a decisive break in which advanced technology catapults us into
a future qualitatively different from all previous human experience. Within
a few years, Vinge predicts, we will confront a change comparable to the
rise of life on earth; "the precise cause of this change is the imminent
creation by technology of entities with greater than human
intelligence." 3<http://metanexus.net/Magazine/Default.aspx?TabId=68&id=10543&SkinSrc=%5bG%5dSkins%2f_default%2fNo+Skin&ContainerSrc=%5bG%5dContainers%2f_default%2fNo+Container#_edn3>So
different will our future be, the story goes, that it is impossible
us accurately to predict it from our position on this side of the break.
Insofar as reproduction implies continuities between past and future, it
challenges the idea of a cataclysmic break, while simultaneously acting as a
privileged site for visions of radical ruptures and transformations.
Reproduction, then, is where the rubber hits the road—where issues of what
will change and what will endure are imagined, performed, and contested.

Before demonstrating that SF re-contextualizes crucial issues surrounding
reproduction, I will find it useful to review briefly the ideologies
implicit in transhumanist rhetoric. Transhumanism, sometimes signified by <H
or H+, is an international movement dedicated to the proposition that
contemporary technosciences can enhance human capabilities and ameliorate or
eliminate such traditional verities as mortality. It holds that human
evolution is incomplete and, moreover, that we have a responsibility to
further our evolution through technology. As a sample of transhumanist
rhetoric, consider the following passage from Max More, a prominent movement

We seek to void all limits to life, intelligence, freedom, knowledge, and
happiness. Science, technology and reason must be harnessed to our extropic
values to abolish the greatest evil: death. Death does not stop the progress
of intelligent beings considered collectively, but it obliterates the
individual. No philosophy of life can be truly satisfying which glorifies
the advance of intelligent beings and yet which condemns each and every
individual to rot into nothingness. Each of us seeks growth and the
transcendence of our current forms and limitations. The abolition of aging
and, finally, all causes of death, is essential to any philosophy of
optimism and transcendence relevant to the individual.4

 Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University and one of transhumanism's
more thoughtful practitioners, gives a two-fold definition on the World
Transhumanist Association website:

(1) The intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and
desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied
reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to
eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and
psychological capacities. (2) The study of the ramifications, promises, and
potential dangers of technologies that will enable us to overcome
fundamental human limitations, and the related study of the ethical matters
involved in developing and using such technologies.5

As these examples illustrate, transhumanist rhetoric concentrates on
individual transcendence; at transhumanist websites, articles, and books,
there is a conspicuous absence of considering socioeconomic dynamics beyond
the individual. Bostrom, for example, writes of "making widely available
technologies to eliminate ageing," but what this would do to population
growth, limited resources, and the economics of the young supporting the old
are not considered.

Transhumanists recognize, of course, that contemporary technoscience is not
an individual enterprise, typically requiring significant capitalization,
large teams of workers, and extensive networks of knowledge exchange and
distribution, but these social, technoscientific, and economic realities are
positioned as if they are undertaken for the sole benefit of
forward-thinking individuals. In addition, there is little discussion of how
access to advanced technologies would be regulated or of the social and
economic inequalities entwined with questions of access. The rhetoric
implies that everyone will freely have access (as in the quotation cited
above), or at least that transhumanist individuals will be among the
privileged elite that can afford the advantages advanced technologies will
offer. How this will play out for the large majority of people living in
developing countries that cannot afford access and do not have the
infrastructure to support it is not an issue. Indeed, the rhetoric often
assumes that, as Iain Banks puts in his transhumanist far-future novel *Look
to Windward*,6
Age of Scarcity is a passing phase in human evolution that our descendants
will leave far behind, with death, hunger, disease, and other afflictions
brought under control and subject to the whim of individual choice.

Resisting these utopian visions are the sociological, philosophical, and
psychological complexities (a constellation that Iain Banks has usefully
called "metalogy"
that operate at their most fraught with reproduction. Consistent with the
transhumanist emphasis on the individual, reproduction typically figures in
transhumanist rhetoric as the reproduction of the individual through
cloning, cryogenic suspension, radical life extension, and uploading human
consciousness into a computer. In all these versions, the rhetoric assumes
that the individual will maintain his identity intact. As Hans Moravec's
fantasy scenario of uploading in *Mind Children* makes clear, not only is
identity is preserved, but the uploaded consciousness is represented as
seamlessly continuous with the embodied mind.8
a reproduced consciousness would in fact be identical (or even similar) is a
point of intense interrogation in SF. In Greg Egan's *Permutation City*, for
example, an uploaded consciousness finds the awareness that it has become a
computer program unbearable, and all such consciousnesses commit suicide (or
try to) within fifteen minutes of coming to awareness.9

Equally controversial are issues surrounding the reproduction of the
species. Transhumanist rhetoric assumes that "we" will become citizens of a
transhuman future, an assumption existing in uneasy tension with the
decisive break implied by the singularity. Who or what will be left behind,
and what global conflicts might result from class and economic disparities,
are seldom discussed. When such issues are entertained, as in Moravec's
claim that intelligent machines will be our evolutionary successors and that
we will embrace them as "mind children," the rhetoric implies that these
silicon progeny will inspire the same emotional investment, love, and pride
that (sometimes) accompanies biological reproduction. Whether deep-seated
responses evolved through millennia of biological reproduction would map
seamlessly onto intelligent machines created through entirely different
mechanisms is typically not a concern.

The metalogical (i.e., the psychological, physiological, and philosophical)
contextualizations SF performs draw thee assumptions into question. In
Philip K. Dick's *Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?*, the issues
surrounding reproduction are enacted in multiple ways, including through the
surrogacy of animal procreation.10
Deckard's argument with his neighbor about whether it is immoral to own more
than one animal when others (like him) own none is precipitated by the
neighbor's announcement that his Percheron mare is pregnant. A similar
dialogue occurs when Deckard negotiates with Rachel Rosen for part of
Scrappy the owl's brood—until he realizes that the owl is a mechanical
replica, biological owls having been extinct for decades. These minor
incidents serve as a backdrop to the major issue of human reproduction.
Deckard dons a lead codpiece when he goes outside to protect his gonads from
the radioactive dust that has covered the planet since World War Terminus.
He undergoes regular testing and has so far managed to maintain a sperm
count that allows him to be classified "normal" within the limits defined by
law, but thousands fail each month as their reproductive (and intellectual)
capacities plummet below the line, condemning them to the category of
"specials," who are not allowed to emigrate off-planet and can look forward
only to further decline. The biological reproductive future of humankind
appears doomed; their evolutionary successors will clearly be the androids,
now so sophisticated and intelligent that they already surpass human
capabilities in many respects.

In sharp contrast to Moravec's vision of a humanity that embraces its
postbiological successors, humans in Dick's novel cling to every possible
vestige of superiority, however spurious, and ruthlessly oppress the
androids, condemning them to lives of slavery in the hellish conditions of
Mars and other off-world colonies. Humans will not, it appears, go gently
into that good night. Ridley Scott's brilliant film adaptation11
up on this theme, representing Roy Baty, leader of the rebellious androids,
as the errant son of Tyrell, CEO of the company that created him and the
other Nexus-6 androids. Although the androids do not manage to wrest a
longer life span from their "father" and eventually are all killed, as they
are in Dick's novel; the novel makes clear that this postbiological species
will nevertheless triumph as humans fade from the scene, victims of their
own environmental folly.

The empathic (and viscously competitive) bond in the film between father and
postbiological child plays out differently in the novel, with empathy
partitioned among species and alleged to be possible only with humans and
animals, with androids positioned outside and exterior to this privileged
emotion. This ideological configuration, promoted by the government as a
justification for human superiority and android oppression, is confounded
when Deckard realizes he feels empathy for at least some androids. The
resulting ethical and psychological complexities entwine reproduction with
political ideology, species identification with cross-species empathy, and
the individual with global dynamics that dictate the outcome of the war,
regardless of individual contests such as those waged by Deckard.

When the child is not an android but a biological progeny, the prospect of a
transhuman future is, if possible, even more contentious. Novels exploring
the parent-biological child relationship range from Arthur C. Clarke's
which the children become a successor species, to Vernon Vinge's near-future
world in *Rainbows End*,13
the generations are separated only by technological expertise and quickness
in adapting to it. At the passionate end of the spectrum is Greg
Bear's *Darwin's
Radio* and the sequel, *Darwin's Children* 14
than imagine a future in which technology creates a postbiological future,
Bear speculates that the human genome can function as a non-conscious
genetic engineer of sorts, responding to global factors such as "stress" by
activating an ancient human endogenous virus (significantly nicknamed SHEVA)
that causes genetic mutations in fetuses. In ironic inversion of the AIDS
virus, SHEVA infects only couples in monogamous committed relationships and
has its epicenter in the US and Europe, while Africa is not hit nearly as
hard hit. With the threat looming close to home, emotional tensions are
exacerbated when the mutational process causes a two-step pregnancy. The
first fetus, initially mistaken as the virus's final product, is horribly
malformed by conventional standards, with virtually no brain, rudimentary
appendages, a Cyclopean head formation, and a functional ovary. It
invariably aborts at the end of the first trimester, and images of the
miscarried fetuses cause worldwide panic among pregnant women and their
partners. The first fetus's purpose, it turns out, is to release an egg that
initiates a second pregnancy without further fertilization from sperm. The
emotional thumbscrews are tightened when male partners refuse to believe
that their women could become pregnant for a second time without having sex
with other men, and violence against women spikes worldwide. Further
complicating these dynamics is the possibility, trumpeted by the dangerously
ambitious governmental functionary Mark Augustine, that the SHEVA virus is
activating other ancient retroviruses in the human genome, releasing a
pandemic of diseases unknown for millennia. The resulting world-wide riots,
corporate intrigue, and global panic lead to unprecedented crises in which
the civil rights of SHEVA children and their parents are shredded.

Against this backdrop is set the drama of Mitch and Kaye, who knowingly have
a SHEVA child, Stella Nova (the new species, they decide, should be named *Homo
sapiens novus*). Stella evokes from them the traditional desire to protect,
nurture, and love her, so the tension here is not so much between the
parents and child as between the family unit and the society that fears,
stigmatizes, and hunts them. Although Bear could be accused of
sensationalism, insofar as he relies on the raw emotional impact of aborted
fetuses, children born dead with monstrous deformities, and societal
witch-hunts, he nevertheless recognizes the inherent tensions, conflicts,
and social upheavals that would be unleashed by the appearance of a new
generation of children so superior to their parents that they will obviously
be the successor species, spelling the eventual doom of *Homo sapiens

Perhaps the most explicit SF confrontation with transhumanist philosophy
occurs in Nancy Kress's novella "Beggars in Spain," later expanded to a
novel and a sequel. Kenzo Yagai is the text's philosopher-economist who
serves as the fictional counterpart to Ayn Rand, often cited on
transhumanist websites as one of the founding thinkers of the movement.15
infatuated with Rand's extreme individualism, its concomitant ideology of
free-market capitalism unhampered by regulation, and a Darwinian
survival-of-the-fittest in which the fit are those who can most effectively
exploit the free market, Kress became disenchanted with Rand's Objectivist
wrote "Beggars in Spain" in rebuttal.17
Yagaiist philosophy,18
contract freely entered into by individuals is seen as the basis for a good
society, in part because it is an advance over social systems based on
coercion. The premise is tested by embedding it in a reproductive context in
which Roger Camden, self-made millionaire and confirmed Yagaiist, arranges
for a genetic intervention that will yield a daughter (intelligent, blond,
long-legged, attractive) who will not need to sleep. Unexpectedly, however,
his wife (a bit player in Camden's life) conceives twins: Leisha, the
engineered baby, is one of the Sleepless, while Alice is a "normal" child
who requires sleep.

The match-up allows the effects of this seemingly minor genetic
alteration—eliminating the need for sleep—to be explored and dramatized.
While Alice progresses at the usual rate, Leisha, apple of her father's eye,
zooms ahead of her twin intellectually. She is Camden's "special" (i.e..
"real") daughter not only because he paid for her genetic alteration but
also because she buys in wholeheartedly to her father's Yagaiist doctrine of
individual achievement, allowing him to reproduce ideologically as well as
genetically. As with other SF interventions, Kress does not allow the
narrative to remain focused entirely on the individual but rather sketches a
broader social context. The Sleepless form networks among themselves as they
encounter increasing resentment and sanctions from the majority Sleepers,
who contend that the Sleepless have unfair advantages because they have, in
effect, 33% more time at their disposal in which to study, learn, and
achieve. The social landscape in which Leisha grows up is rife with
conflicts between "normal" humans and the transhuman Sleepless, who as they
grow up prove to be not only highly intelligent and high-achieving but also
resistant to aging, with life expectancies measured is hundreds rather than
decades of years. Already numbering in the hundred thousands, the Sleepless
in a dozen generations appear to be on track to become the successor species
to *Homo sapiens sapiens* (perhaps as *Homo sapiens sleepless*).

Despite the growing tensions, Leisha struggles to retain ties to Sleepers,
including her sister Alice. The eponymous "beggars in Spain" represent a
strong challenge to that desire. Her Sleepless friend Tony argues that
high-achieving Sleepless have more to offer than Sleepers and, in the face
of increasing prejudice against them, should withdraw to form their own
society. He asks her if she would give money to a beggar in Spain; Leisha
says yes. Then what about two beggars, three, a hundred, a thousand? The
lesson Tony means to teach is to show that the basis for a shared
society—that is, the contract that reciprocally benefits both
participants—breaks down when those who have nothing to give outnumber those
who have much to give, for any contract must then be unequal and hence
unfair to the privileged.

Of course, there would be other ways to interpret the conundrum, for example
deciding that it shows the limitations of the contract as a basis for social
interactions. This is the interpretation Leisha eventually chooses,
replacing the contract, and the individualistic ideology that underwrites it
with an "ecology of help" in which assistance is extended even to those who
cannot reciprocate in kind. This modest intervention stops short of a
wholesale critique of Rand's Objectivism, however, for in this view society
is still be based on exchanges between willing partners, with the
modification that the exchange may be be unequal and indirect, circling
through a network before benefits are returned to the giver. That the system
might be based on entirely different principles than exchange remains
unthought and unarticulated. Despite this limitation, the story, poignantly
conceived and skillfully written, shows that reproduction is deeply enmeshed
with visions of a transhumanist future and the ethical and social issues it

More startling in its probing implications is James Patrick Kelly's novella,
"Mr. Boy."19
fine example of SF grotesque inverts the usual perspective; rather than
exploring the dynamics between a parent and transhuman child, it focuses on
the tensions between a transhuman parent and child. The protagonist is a
twenty-five year old male who, at his mother's behest, has his genes
periodically "stunted" so that his body remains, emotionally and physically,
that of a twelve-year-old boy. Situated in a posthuman future in which his
constant companion is a robot and his best friend has had himself "twanked"
so that he resembles a dinosaur, Mr. Boy inhabits the site of the
mother—literally. She has had her body transformed into a three-quarter
scale replica of the Statue of Liberty, and Mr. Boy resides within the
multistory edifice. He communicates with his mother via her "remotes,"
robots that carry out specific functions indicated by their names, "Nanny,"
"Cook," "Greeter," and the sex couple, "Lovey" and "Dear," who express and
perform Mom's erotic urges in a room wired to Liberty's head, presumably the
site of her conscious (and unconscious) thoughts.

In this grotesque tale, life and death are systemically confused, each
blending into and contaminating the other. Mr. Boy calls the hospital staff
people that oversee his stunting "stiffs," and his prized porn collection
consists entirely of images of the dead—preferably with their teeth showing.
While his friend Stennie practices for his first real-life romantic
encounter with a girlfriend by having sex with "Lovey," Mr. Boy, who sets up
with encounter with his mother's remote and watches while it proceeds,
confesses "I had always found sex kind of dull." Turning instead to his
corpse porn, he associates the "soft wet slap of flesh against flesh" with
"my mother's brain, up there in the head where no one ever went" (179). The
mother is thus both eroticized and "boring," absent and present, permissive
and imprisoning, presumably alive and yet inanimate. The conflicted and
perverse contexts of reproduction represented here point to the ways in
which advanced technology has been (mis)used to disrupt the age-old order of
things: the mother, instead of watching her son grow up, intervenes to keep
him forever on the child side of puberty; the man, trapped within a boy's
body, finds excitement in the dead and is bored by procreation; the
separation in which the man leaves the mother behind to find a mate is
forestalled because he continues literally to live within his mother's body,
as if still in the womb.

Weary of being stunted, Mr. Boy begins to see his life in a different
perspective when he meets Tree, a young woman whose parents are "realists,"
hard-core resistors who reason that "first came clothes, then jewelry,
fashion, makeup, plastic surgery, skin tints, and hey jack! here we are up
to our eyeballs in the delusions of 2096" (172), careening down the slippery
slope to gene twanking and uploading consciousness into a computer. The
irony of being trapped within Liberty comes to a head (so to speak) when Mr.
Boy discovers there is nothing in the head; his mother had died years ago
and has been running her operation as an uploaded consciousness. After a
final confrontation with Mom, Mr. Boy takes back his given name "Peter" and
finally leaves her, preferring to walk away rather than go through the court
proceedings that would enable him to claim his family inheritance by
declaring her legally dead, uploaders not being considered persons and so
having no legal rights.

One need not agree with Francis Fukuyama that transhumanism is "the world's
most dangerous idea" to appreciate the critiques of transhumanism enacted in
these SF fictions.20
advanced technologies come together with reproduction to reconfigure
metalogical dynamics at every level, from the individual to the family to
the nation-state and globalized society, it is impossible to predict
accurately all the consequences or to trammel them up, as transhumanist
rhetoric implies, using reason, technology, and science. As the SF fictions
interrogated have shown, evolution has twisted together biology and culture
in strands of enormous complexity, and cutting some of strands with advanced
technologies or rearranging them into pattern altogether different almost
certainly will entail unanticipated consequences and corollary changes in
other areas whose association with the primary changes were not even known.
At issue are the emotional dynamics of population change as people confront
the possibility that *Homo sapiens sapiens* may not be the terminys of
evolutionary processes; of parents engendering children so different from
them they can scarcely make contact over the generation gap; of children
contemplating parents whose closely held assumptions are no longer viable in
a posthuman future. Each of these scenarios involves complexities for which
the transhumanist philosophy is simply not able to account or to understand,
much less to explain. Reason is certainly needed, but so are emotion,
systemic analysis, ecological thinking, and ethical consideration. As
Pynchon's narrator in *Gravity's Rainbow* observes, "Everything is

I do not necessarily agree with Fukuyama's argument that we should outlaw
such developments as human cloning with legislation forbidding it (not least
because he falls back on "human nature" as a justification), but I do think
we should take advantage of every available resource that will aid us in
thinking through, as far as we are able, the momentous changes in human life
and culture that advanced technologies make possible—and these resources can
and should include SF fictions. The framework in which transhumanism
considers these questions is, I have argued, too narrow and ideologically
fraught with individualism and neoliberal philosophy to be fully up to the
task. It can best serve by catalyzing questions and challenging us to
imagine fuller contextualizations for the developments it envisions.
Imagining the future is never a politically innocent or ethically neutral
act. To arrive at the future we want, we must first be able to imagine it as
fully as we can, including all the contexts in which its consequences will
play out.


Katherine Hayles, *How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics,
Literature, and Informatics* (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).

Shannon and Warren Weaver, *The Mathematical Theory of
Communication*(Urbana: University of Illinois Pres, 1949).

Vinge, "Vernon Vinge: The Singularity" (1993),

More, "Transhumanism: Toward a Futurist Philosophy" (1996),

Botrom, "What is Transhumanism?", FAQ, World Transhumanist Association,

Banks, *Look to Windward* (New York: Pocket Books, 2000).

. . . is short for psycho-physio-philosophical," Iain Banks*, Look to
Windward *(New York: Pocket Books, 2000), p. 83.

Moravec, *Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human
Intelligence*(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), pp. 109-10.

Egan, *Permutation** City* (New York: HarperPrism, 1995).

K. Dick, *Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?* (published under the
title *Blade
Runner*, New York: Ballantine Books, 1982).

*Blade Runner*, directed Ridley Scott, released June 25, 1982.

C. Clarke, *Childhood's End* (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, in
conjunction with Ballantine Books, 1953).

Vinge, *Rainbows End: A Novel with One Foot in the Future* (New York: Tor
Books, 2006).

Bear, *Darwin's Radio* (New York: Ballantine Books, 1999); Greg Bear, *Darwin's
Children* (New York: Ballantine Books, 2003).

Rand, writer and philosopher, is the author of *The Fountainhead
*(1947), *Atlas
Shrugged* (1953), and with Nathaniel Branden, *The Virtue of
Selfishness*(1954). Having read Ayn Rand myself in college, I assumed
that she would be
ancient history to today's college students, but I was surprised when most
of my students (in a 100-person lecture class) had read her.

"Interview with Nancy Kress," Carina Björklind asks Kress about Ayn Rand
answers so: "The thing about Ayn Rand, with whom I was enraptured when I was
in my early twenties as so many people are, and who I eventually outgrew, as
many people do, is that although there's something very appealing about her
emphasis on individual responsibility, that you should not evade reality,
you should not evade responsibility, you should not assume that it's up to
the next person to provide you with your life . . . but . . . pushed to its
really logical conclusion, objectivism, Any Rand's philosophy, lacks all
compassion, and even more fundamental, it lacks recognition of the fact that
we are a social species and that our society does not exist of a group of
people only striving for their own ends . . . but groups of people
co-operating for mutual ends, and this means that you don't always get what
you want and your work does not always benefit you directly,"

the preface to the novel version of *Beggars in Spain*, Nancy Kress writes
that "I was nagged by the feeling that Leisha's story had only begun. I
wanted to explore the long-range economic effects of creating a favored
class of people in a United States becoming increasingly polarized between
rich and poor. I also wanted to work out my reactions to other writers'
philosophies: to Ayn Rand's belief that no human being owes anything to any
other except what is agreed to in a voluntary contract," "Preface," *Beggars
in Spain* (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), xii.

the novella, see Nancy Kress, "Beggars in Spain," in *The Best of the Best,
Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels*, edited Gardner
Dozois (New York: St. Martin'sGriffin, 2007), pp. 204-260.

Patrick Kelly, "Mr. Boy," in *The Best of the Best, Volume 2: 20 Years of
the Best Short Science Fiction Novels*, edited Gardner Dozois (New York: St.
Martin'sGriffin, 2007), pp. 158-203.

Fukuyama, "Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Ideas," *Foreign Policy
* (September/October 2004).

**[image: Separater]*
*A paper prepared for the "Transhumanism and the Meanings of Progress"
workshop, ASU, Tempe, AZ, April 24-25, 2008.**

Published   2008.06.05 * *Comments:* Share your thoughts on this article:
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