Singularity Believers and The New Utopia of Transhumanism

Roberto Paura

Abstract


Transhumanism is a cultural and philosophical movement born in the United States during the 1980s as a product of the technological revolution represented by the mass distribution of information technology and cybernetics, as well as by the first scientific studies on nanotechnologies. Transhumanism preaches the possibility of a technological enhancement of the human body, both through the use of technological prosthesis that by means of a life extension made possible by the use of genetics, biomedical engineering and nanotechnology. The ultimate goal of transhumanism is to completely overcome the need of a biological hardware through the integral fusion between man and machine made possible by the mind-uploading, a technique that would pour out on a digital infrastructure the entire contents of the human mind.
In this paper I intend to analyze the assumptions of transhumanism from a perspective of “technological imagination”, claiming that this cultural movement represents a new kind of utopia, if not even a modern New Age- style religion that blends techno-optimistic statements of scientific and technological research with the collective imagination of cyberculture, resulting in a kind of mystique of technological development. The concept of “singularity”, preached by the theorists of transhumanism (Ray Kurzweil, Nick Bostrom, Max More and others) seems quite similar to the Christian idea of the “end of times”, after which it is expected the emergence of a new type of humanity.
In particular, the argument that transhumanism can be considered a new kind of “technological” religion is based on the analysis of the role that the issue of death plays within the transhumanist discourse. As in most religions and utopian narratives, transhumanism believes that it is possible to defeat death, in this case through the use of scientific and technological progress. Transhumanism supporters are willing to put their bodies into hibernation to wait the future resurrection in a world where death has been defeated. Therefore, transhumanism can be considered a cult of our times, a product of a particular social imaginary of the techno-scientific development.

Keywords


Transhumanism; Technological Singularity; Posthuman; Utopias; Technological Imagination; Re-Enchantment.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7413/22818138056

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