[ExI] (Mis)understanding Transhumanism: TransVision 2010 Presentation by Miriam Ji Sun

Giulio Prisco giulio at gmail.com
Tue Sep 7 18:31:01 UTC 2010

(Mis)understanding Transhumanism: TransVision 2010 Presentation by Miriam Ji Sun

Transhumansism is a complex and still evolving philosophy that cuts
across a variety of philosophies and ways of life and even
incorporated views from its critics. Therefore, transhumanism can not
be understood in a one-dimensional way. When trying to interpret and
understand transhumanism many people tend to only focus on specific
aspects that also relate to familiar concepts. However, transhumanism
is full of seeming contradictions if taking commonly known thought
schools, philosophies and ideologies as basis.

It is neither modern nor post-modern, but it nonetheless contains
elements of “grand narratives” and “deconstructionism”. It is future
oriented but has its roots in the past enlightenment era.
Transhumanism is individualistic but global and secular but also

My argumentation would be that transhumanism should be better viewed
as a new concept with new arrangements, interpretations and
standpoints than in comparison to already known concepts. It is also
important to look at the whole picture and interconnections between
the different elements that make up the core of transhumanist thought.
If this is not done, one can easily get to contradicting conclusions
like stating that transhumanism is pluralistic, multicultural and
social democratic while at the same time “fascist”, atheist as well as
religious, technology-utopian and at the same time concerned with
existential risks, ancient, modern and post-modern. Also other
criticism like transhumanism being male-dominated can not be seen as
allegation: it is open for everyone, but it is of course related to a
rather specific set of interests, but should we force people to join
in order to improve the quota?

My final thoughts will deal with the question if transhumanism may be
better understood from an Asian philosophical tradition that is better
able to incorporate seeming contradictions (or not even seeing this as
contradiction) that from a Western perspective?

As a conclusion I would say that that is not one “transhumanism” since
there is no real code or even doctrine. Even the views about commonly
shared ideas like HET, life extension, cryonics ‘uploading’, AI,
risks, ‘posthumans’ and the concept of the ‘singularity’ are varying.
Thus I would say that transhumanists go deeper into thinking about the
future than some other foresighters (especially those focussing on
rather shot-term business or policy issues), share a common view that
the human condition can be improved through means of science and
technology, that science is the best available method to understand
the world in the context of engineering purposes and technology can
and should be furthered, developed and actively supported to improve
the life and living conditions of humanity (and the environment humans
live in).

Transhumansim can be seen as a new dimension that crosses through
(nearly) all political views and societal choices and thus even people
with very different social or political views (e.g. entrepreneurs and
socialists as well as believers and atheists) can embrace

Miriam Ji Sun is a professional strategic foresight researcher and
futurist volunteer being active in NGOs and several foresight-related
networks. She has obtained her phD in sociology with an
interdisciplinary-oriented thesis about robotics and AI and did her
master thesis in political science on a topic in biopolitics. Now Ji
Sun is specialising in emerging technologies (e.g. NBIC, biomedical
engineering, Human Enhancement Technologies (HET), advanced robotics
and AI, synthetic biology), future issues (e.g. megatrends, weak
signals, Grand Challenges), ethical, legal and social perception of
emerging technologies, vision assessment, transhumanism and foresight

TransVision 2010 is a global transhumanist conference and community
convention, organized by several transhumanist activists, groups and
organizations, under the executive leadership of the Italian
Transhumanist Association (AIT) and with the collaboration of an
Advisory Board. The event will take place on October 22, 23 and 24,
2010 in Milan, Italy with many options for remote online access.

Register now http://transvision2010.wordpress.com/registration/

post links to Twitter, your blogs and websites, and add your name to
the TransVision 2010 Facebook page.

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