Saturday, July 20, 2024

The madness of transhumanism


The last 20 years of scientific development have encouraged transhumanists to produce far-reaching visions…

Wojciech Roszkowski

The term “transhumanism” is derived from an ideology pioneered decades ago by English biologist and eugenics proponent Julian Huxley. Huxley was driven by the idea of transcending the natural limitations of humanity. Although Huxley did not explicitly mention immortality, the ultimate goal of this “transgression” can be understood in this manner. In the meantime, however, human beings should, according to transhumanists, take transitional forms making them transitory humans. The last 20 years of scientific development have encouraged transhumanists to produce far-reaching visions.

Among contemporary transhumanists, one of the leading figures is Max More, founder of the Extropy Institute, who formulated the main tenets of the ideology. Its component is the belief in steady progress, with the ultimate goal of achieving immortality by transforming the biological structure of humans through biotechnology and critical theory. Another tenet of transhumanism, according to More, is “practical optimism”, that is, positive thinking that eliminates religion and existential reflection as obstacles to progress. The goal is to become intelligent technologies that enable the transcendence of limited human abilities. The construction of the new man is to take place along with the construction of a new society. An “open society” is to be, according to transhumanists, based on total freedom that enables progress. Thus, static social structures and the authorities that protect them are to be dismantled. On the road to the creation of the “new man”, nothing can limit new ideas beyond the peculiar criterion of rationality.

Belief in the progress of science is the foundation of ideologies that often have already led to disasters. In addition, this faith is based on a rather fragile foundation. It is faith in science, which ultimately provides no more certainty than faith. The development of knowledge about the world in recent decades is good evidence of this, as Toruń-based quantum physicist and cognitive scientist Grzegorz Osiński has brilliantly demonstrated in his fascinating, if at times hermetic, book “Transhumanism”. The author does not stop to analyze the pitfalls of transhumanism, but instead guides the reader through the world of modern science and natural philosophy. He points out that since the discovery of the superposition of quanta, the explanation of the essence of the Universe is based on increasingly complex mathematical calculations, and that mathematics is a strict way of explaining the world, but based always on a system of axioms, and therefore preliminary assumptions that can be understood as acts of faith. This is stated by Kurt Gödel’s inconclusiveness theorem that is in force today, which, incidentally, does not exclude the criterion of truth.

If transhumanists plan to scan the brain and transfer the human mind, they should probably first clearly explain what time and space are, since we know that the only constant quantity in the Universe is the speed of light (300,000 km/sec.), and thus the quotient of space and time, as well as how to understand the principle of superposition of quanta, and thus the phenomenon of localization of elementary particles according to the rules of probability calculus. Finally, the fundamental question that quantum physicists still can’t find an answer to is: what is the relationship and how are the processes within a human organism living on the meso scale, but composed of elementary particles occurring on the micro scale.

How do the words of a professor, who says that “teaching at all levels should give people a digital education; we need to bet on the Enlightenment model of liberation through education,” sound in this context? A person legitimizing himself with academic status is throwing around a slogan that he clearly does not understand himself. After all, what does “digital education” mean if we don’t know what it really consists of? What does “liberation” mean if we don’t know what state it is supposed to lead to? Is it about truth, goodness, and beauty or about “satisfying needs” or happiness, which is a completely relative concept? If the development of science were guided, as it used to be, by truth, goodness, and beauty, it would be easier to curb the madness of scientists. When it comes to meeting needs, the scope of possibilities is extended too broadly: from health care and material prosperity to political domination, mass indoctrination, and crime.

This article was published in September 2022 in “Do Rzeczy” magazine.