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Transhumanism is a futurist philosophy and intellectual movement with the purpose of transforming the humanity by developing technologies that greatly enhance the physical and psychological capabilities of humans. Strongly influenced by works of science fiction, the transhumanist vision of a technologically transformed humanity has gained a large and diverse following online.
The term transhuman was inspired by the term Übermensch which means superman or overman, proposed in the 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, which referred to individuals who threw off slave-morality and pursued personal growth and cultural refinement. The word transhumanism was first used by author Julian Huxley in his book Religion Without Revelation:
"The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself – not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way – but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature."
In 1990, multiple advances which strongly influenced transhumanist culture were brought forth. Author Max Moore wrote the influential piece Transhumanism: Toward a Futurist Philosophy which is considered by most the basis of modern transhumanist thought and contains the modern description of transhumanism (described below).
Humanism is a eupraxophy or philosophy of life that rejects deities, faith, and worship, instead basing a view of values and meaningfulness on the nature and potentials of humans within a rational and scientific framework. Transhumanism is a class of philosophies that seek to guide us towards a posthuman condition. Transhumanism shares many elements of humanism, including a respect for reason and science, a commitment to progress, and a valuing of human (or transhuman) existence in this life rather than in some supernatural "afterlife". Transhumanism differs from humanism in recognizing and anticipating the radical alterations in the nature and possibilities of our lives resulting from various sciences and technologies such as neuroscience and neuropharmacology, life extension, nanotechnology, artificial ultraintelligence, and space habitation, combined with a rational philosophy and value system.
That same year on September 14th, the first gene therapy trial was performed on a four-year old girl with the deficiency adenosine deaminase (ADA). This helped pave the way for future genetic engineering which is a core focus of transhumanists. That same year, the first web page was posted on the internet. The internet has served both as a hub for transhumanist supporters to mingle and as a focus for transhumanist culture in regards to its applications in virtual reality and immortalization by means of uploading one's consciousness to the internet.
Vice's Motherboard news blog is a popular blog which devotes a large portion of its news to future-related transhumanist topics and technologies. Their related Motherboard YouTube channel has 671k subscribers and 65 million total views. Psychology Today is a scholarly blog devoted to cutting-edge psychology which has naturally led to them focusing strongly on robots and artificial intelligence. The Future Timeline is a popular transhumanist site with an active forum community which documents a regularly updated timeline of events predicted to happen in the future. On October 24th, 2007, a page for transhumanism was created on the Rational Wiki. On August 26th, 2008, the /r/transhumanism subreddit was launched for discussions about the futurist philosophy. On November 5th, 2013, the British Institute of Posthuman Studies uploaded an introduction to transhumanism to YouTube (shown below, left). On March 25th, 2014, vlogger Jason Silva uploaded a video titled "To Be Human Is To Be Transhuman" to YouTube (shown below, right).
Limitless is a techno-thriller about Eddie Morra (played by Bradley Cooper), an aspiring writer who takes a new drug called NZT that unlocks all his brain's memories and power, letting him learn any language in less than a day (trailer shown below). The movie strengthens the discussion on how drugs can help us transcend our human brain's limitations. Lucy is a superhero action movie similar to Limitless about a woman named Lucy (played by Scarlett Johansson) who is forced into carrying a drug called CPH4 inside her which breaks open and causes her to slowly unlock all her psychological potential as the movie progresses, gaining godlike powers in the process. The movie discusses how drugs can be applied to improve people, the possible untapped abilities of our minds, and toward the end promotes the spread of universally free information. The Terminator science fiction movie franchise focuses on a killer robot from the future named The Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). The movies discuss an artificial intelligence named SkyNet from the future who sends androids and cyborgs to the past in order to stop humanity's revolution against the future killer robots from succeeding.
Limitless is a government action series based on the movie Limitless about Brian Finch (played by Jake McDorman), an FBI agent who takes a drug called NZT that unlocks all his brain's memories and power. The movie goes into the nature of human-empowering drugs and touches on how the government should control a drug such as NZT. Orphan Black is a science fiction thriller about Sarah Manning (played by Tatiana Maslany), one of many clones whom she must figure out the history behind (season one trailer shown below). The show delves into the nature of cloning and personal identity. Stargate SG-1 is a science fiction television series centered around a U.S. Air Force's exploration through gates known as Stargates rooted heavily in Egyptian mythology. The series lasted for ten seasons and dealt with interactions with alien races and advanced technology.
The Bioshock game series is about an attempt a science fiction at times horrifying series taking place in multiple utopias. Many futuristic technologies made to benefit mankind in the games include plasmids able to improve human genes, big daddies which are mutated humans in armored suits, and quantum levitation which allows the city of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite to float. Halo is a military science fiction fps series about armored soldiers in space named Spartans. It is a successful flagship Xbox series and in the game's story is advanced technology such as sentient artificial intelligence, slipspace travel, and enhanced supersoldiers. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a futuristic hack-and-slash spin-off game of the Metal Gear series taking place 4 years after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (trailer shown below). The main protagonist Raiden is a cyborg who dismembers other cyborgs in slow-motion and mentions of conditioning children with virtual reality training and the villain Armstrong uses nanomachines to augment his body to near-invulnerability.
Isaac Asimov's science fiction series Foundation has become a core influence in transhumanist culture. It explains the unique story of how a scientist named Hari Seldon invented a new branch of mathematics called psychohistory able to predict the actions of large groups.
Dr. Manhattan from Alan Moore's The Watchmen comic book series has become a notable icon of transhumanism. Throughout the comics, Dr. Manhattan is depicted as a sophisticated scientist who as the series progresses grows more remote and distanced from everything to the point of not seeing a difference between life and death.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of an interactive 3D environment, either realistic or fabricated. Simulations are typically navigated using headsets and other devices that allow users to move freely in the environment or create a variety of sensory experiences. The earliest known VR-style device was created in 1962 by inventor Morton Heilig, who built the Sensorama machine allowing users to view several short films while stimulating their sense of sound, smell and touch simultaneously.
Robots and Artificial Intelligence
Robots are automated mechanical entities often created to either resemble an organic organism, or to perform a specific function that would normally be carried out by an organic organism. An artificial intelligence is any software that exhibits intelligence derived from computer processing power. It is distinguished from natural intelligence due to the fact that it is stimulated by man-made machines.
The Internet is a system of interconnected computer networks linking billions of machines worldwide using the TCP/IP Internet protocol suite. The internet has served both as a hub for transhumanist supporters to mingle and as a focus for transhumanist culture in regards to its applications in virtual reality and immortalization by means of uploading one's consciousness to the internet. Use of the Internet in the West expanded rapidly throughout the 1990s, growing over 100x within two decades. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, numerous packet switching networks were developed, including Tymnet, Telenet and the eventual forerunner of the Internet, ARPANET. In 1990, ARPANET was decommissioned and the first web page was posted on the internet.
3D Printing is the practice of creating objects from three-dimensional digital models. A core technology discussed in transhumanist culture is 3D bioprinting which is slowly developing from 3D printing. Online communities have arisen for 3D printing enthusiasts, including open-source databases where digital models can be downloaded, including Makerbot’s Thingiverse and Defense Distributed’s DEFCAD.
The Matrix is an American science fiction film about a computer hacker who learns some hard truths about his own reality. The film has heavily influenced and spread transhumanist culture through its depictions of futuristic technology, artificial intelligence, and fully immersive virtual reality simulations. It is the first film in The Matrix trilogy. The Matrix was released on March 31st, 1999. The film stars Keanu Reeves as computer hacker Neo, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Neo’s teacher of sorts, and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, Neo’s love interest.
Deus Ex is a cyberpunk-themed action role playing video game franchise set in the 21st century, where secret societies are fighting for power and control over world, and various types of body augmentation are being practiced. The series is widely known around the internet’s video gaming communities and delves into numerous transhumanist concepts of the ethics of future technology and how it can be applied to overcome human limitations (discussed below). It has its own Wikia and /r/deusex sub-reddit on Reddit. The original game in particular has a large following, and is often regarded as one of the best games of all time. It has a large modder community, with mods ranging from bugfixes and graphic overhauls to total conversions, to be found on sites such as ModDB.
Star Trek is an American science fiction franchise created in 1966 by Gene Roddenberry. It showed a strong favoritism of transhumanism with its numerous showcases of the benefits of advanced technology and Spock's memetic saying "live long and prosper" which further compliments the philosophy. The franchise began with a television show that aired on NBC from 1966 until its cancellation in 1969. From there, it gained a massive cult following, ballooning into a larger pop culture phenomenon, through a variety of outlets including four other live action TV series, an animated series, video games, books, and eleven feature films, with a twelfth in production.
Futurama is an animated TV series based around the main protagonist Philip J. Fry, a pizza delivery boy from the 20th century who was cryogenically frozen for 1000 years, and his adventures in the future. It has thoroughly delved into transhumanist culture with its references to The Matrix, complex scientific jokes, and depictions of future technology often discussed in transhumanist culture. At the same time, Futurama has been observed to be a strong argument against the teachings of transhumanism by the PBS Idea Channel (shown below). The show was created by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. Besides Fry, the main cast includes Turanga Leela, Bender Bending Rodríguez, Professor Hubert Farnsworth, Hermes Conrad, Doctor John A. Zoidberg and Amy Wong, with a secondary cast of Zapp Brannigan, Kif Kroker, Nibbler and Scruffy.
The Singularity, sometimes referred to as “the technological singularity”, is a hypothetical future event in which technological progress will supposedly begin to occur at a near vertical rate. It is often associated with the “intelligence explosion” event, which would result in artificial intelligence systems improving recursively until they become superhuman intelligent beings.
Simulated Reality is the hypothesis that the universe, its inhabitants and other aspects of the physical world are simulated by a computer to a degree that is indistinguishable from our current conception of everyday reality, in stark contrast to the concepts of virtual and augmented realities that are technologically attainable and discernibly artificial in nature. The concept of simulated reality has been commonly used as a plot device in works of science fiction.
 Philosophy Now – Nietzsche’s Übermensch: A Hero of Our Time?
 Nick Bostrom – A History of Transhumanist Thought
 Nick Bostrom – A History of Transhumanist Thought
 iMDB – The Matrix
 ModDB – deus ex mods
 Wikipedia – Transhumanism
 Turing – Alan Turing Scrapbook
 iMDB – The Imitation Game
 Wikipedia – Transhumanism
 YouTube – Morton Heilig's Sensorama (Interview).mov
 Explaining The Future – Transhumanism
 Web Archive – Transhumanism A Futurist Philosophy
 History – Gene Therapy
 Web Foundation – History of the Web
 Wikipedia – Mind Uploading
 Gigaom – Cloud Computing and the 10X Effect
 Doug Engelbart Institute – Engelbart’s Role in Early Computer Networking
 Web Foundation – History of the Web
 YouTube – Motherboard
 Future Timeline – Future Timeline
 Wikipedia – Foundation series
 IEET – Dr. Manhattan – Transhuman Hero
 TV Tropes – Termniator
 TV Tropes – Orphan Black
 TV Tropes – Stargate SG-1
 Rational Wiki – Transhumanism
 Reddit – /r/transhumanism
 Wikipedia – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Windigo With Salad
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Mass Production EVA Unit-05
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