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Where Next? The Future of Human Evolution James J. Hughes Ph.D. Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies http://ieet.org Editor, Journal of Evolution and Technology Lecturer, Public Policy Studies, Trinity College

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where next the future of human evolution
Where Next? The Future of Human Evolution

James J. Hughes Ph.D.Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies http://ieet.org Editor, Journal of Evolution and Technology Lecturer, Public Policy Studies, Trinity College

Copyright Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies 2005

April 18, 2008 – Madison Wisconsin - Evolution in the 21st Century

evolution has been accelerating
Evolution Has Been Accelerating
  • More genomic change in the last 40,000 years than the previous 400,000 years
  • 40,000BC humans were more similar to Neanderthals than us

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beyond natural selection memetic selection
Beyond Natural Selection? Memetic selection
  • Dawkins
  • Memes spread from brain to brain
  • Lamarckian evolution
  • Facilitated by our Cyborgification (Literacy)

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beyond natural selection group selection
Beyond Natural Selection? Group selection
  • Economic, cultural, military

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human intelligent design
Human Intelligent Design
  • We have not been optimised by blind evolution
  • Human intelligence will accelerate evolution – genetic, memetic and group – even more

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emerging technologies
Emerging Technologies

Tech that will radically change the human brain:

    • Psychopharmacology
    • Genetic engineering
    • Nanotechnology
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Cognitive science
  • The accelerating convergence of all these
  • “for improving human performance”

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accelerating tech change
Accelerating Tech Change
  • Moore’s Law
  • Accelerating trends in all sciences
  • Convergence

Hans Moravec “When will computer hardware match the human brain?,” Journal of Evolution and Technology. 1998(1)

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singularity punctuated equilibrium
Singularity: Punctuated Equilibrium

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human enhancement goals
Human Enhancement Goals
  • Curing disabilities
  • Optimum health
  • Longer lives
  • Intelligence
  • Emotional control
  • Spiritual goals
  • Aesthetic expression
  • Ensuring the best lives for our kids

Dark Angel television series

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biopolitical battlefronts
Biopolitical Battlefronts
  • Who is a citizen with a right to life?: abortion, stem cells, great ape rights, brain death, chimeras
  • Control of Reproduction: contraception, abortion, fertility treatments, genetic testing, germline gene therapies, cloning
  • Fixing Disabilities to “Human Enhancement”: cochlear implants, prosthetics, eye and brain chips, gene therapies, cosmetic procedures
  • Extending Life: from treatments for aging-related diseases, to anti-aging drugs and therapies
  • Control of the Brain: Ritalin and Prozac, psychoactive drugs, brain chips

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central bioethical disputes
Central Bioethical Disputes

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trans humanism and transhuman ism
“Trans-humanism” and “Transhuman-ism”

Julian Huxleyfirst director of UNESCO "Transhumanism“ "the human species can transcend itself."

“FM-2030” (FM Esfandiary) popularized term “transhuman” in the 1970s

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transhumans and posthumans
Transhumans and Posthumans

What is a transhuman?

  • A 'transitional human', a human taking the first steps towards becoming posthuman.

What is a posthuman?

  • A posthuman is a human descendant who has been augmented to such a degree as to be no longer a human.

But…What is “human?”

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possible modes of being

accessible by posthumans

accessible by transhumans

accessible by humans

accessible by animals

Possible Modes of Being

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postbiological life
Postbiological Life
  • BCI and uploading

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brain computer interfaces
Brain-Computer Interfaces

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bostrom on existential risks
Bostrom on Existential Risks

Bangs – sudden extinction

Crunches – permanent stasis

Shrieks – quick bad posthuman outcome

Whimpers – slow bad posthuman outcome

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bangs
Bangs
  • Asteroids, SuperVolcanoes, Nuclear War

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crunches
Crunches
  • Permanent civilizational stasis

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shrieks
Shrieks
  • Rapid undesirable posthuman takeover

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human posthuman conflict
Human-PostHuman Conflict

"The posthuman will come to see us (the garden variety human) as an inferior subspecies without human rights to be enslaved or slaughtered preemptively. It is this potential for genocide based on genetic difference, that I have termed "genetic genocide," that makes species-altering genetic engineering a potential weapon of mass destruction." George Annas, 2001

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whimpers
Whimpers
  • Evolution to undesirable posthuman state
  • Elois and Morlocks in The Time Machine
  • Batteries for Robots in The Matrix

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will we evolve less diversity
Will We Evolve Less Diversity?
  • Diversity of some kinds will decrease
  • Diversity of most kinds will increase

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could we evolve beyond individuality
Could We Evolve Beyond Individuality?
  • Neurotechnology
  • The Borg and superorganisms
  • Blurring of individuality
  • Co-existence of individualist and collectivist societies

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conclusions
Conclusions?
  • Our future could be really cool and diverse
  • Our future could be really awful
  • Future people may evolve into awful things
  • There may be no future for intelligent life at all

We have some choices to make

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for more information
For more information
  • World Transhumanist Associationtranshumanism.org
  • Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologiesieet.org
  • Me: director@ieet.org

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