Some time ago, reading science fiction took us to unusual places and unimaginable figures, everything was as far as typical of a daydream state. Today, those fantasies seem to be before us recreating the future, showing the path towards a different way of understanding life and men.
Up to now, a piece of research into techno-sciences led to the provision of tools and services in charge of a set of robots, which during the last years started to participate in a greater number of spaces and tasks. These mechanical creatures have already carried out complex experimental surgeries, specific military maneuvers. What is more, investigators started to consider the possibility of being able to travel through the bloodstream so as to fight against tumors, among other examples. It is about a series of advances aimed at taking traditional disciplines to a higher level of development, and at achieving from now on that these beings be able to interact with us almost in any environment.
As usual, in transition times, the ones who pose the need of returning to an apparent more secure past or those who refuse to incorporate the improvements are always there. However, the critiques are often closer to technophobia than to a questioning about the implementation of those discoveries. To explore those potentialities requires a consistent frame which takes these efforts to a truly positive place analyzing how these advances are used, with which aims and by which means
Perhaps, the most interesting contribution artificial intelligence may offer is related to an eventual qualitative leap to the prolongation of life, to extend it to unthinkable levels through a set of alterations in “human nature”. The creator and futurist Ray Kurzweil is one of the most representative exponents of this position. He reformulates the notion of Singularity taken from cosmology, which describes a place located in space or time where all the magnitudes turn to be infinite and the current scientific paradigms are not enough, sustaining in this way his prediction of unlimited vitality.
Through the last years, many researchers examined this field arriving to different conclusions. The mathematician Vernor Vinge took said concept and noticed through computer science progress the end of man, arriving the moment in which super intelligent machines evolve by themselves, leaving him in the obsolescence field or as a simple spectator of an overcoming process. Other investigators even state man’s destiny would be related to the idea of being a slave or food of these new beings.
With a more optimistic tonic, Kurzweil positioned himself as a founder of a movement that waits for the next stage in which humanity would progress towards immortality, instead of being destroyed. Biological hybridism would the guarantor of this, with a set of electronic devices in the body which enhance our intelligence and patrol the inside of the body, avoiding the spread of illnesses, or when the advance of these methods generates the possibility of transferring our mind to a technological device allowing an eternal survival. It is an encouraging horizon to some people, ridiculous to others, but under no doubt it is a vertiginous invitation to what is unknown.
His statements are similar to those coming from someone who seems to throw the dices of the history. Without certainties about the future but highly convinced of the destiny of sciences related to longevity, he set the principles to rethink man as a whole, his relation with the world and nature. This perspective was set aside by Paul Myers (biologist of the University of Minnesota) who affirms he is closer to be a religious current full of false promises than to a strongly based theory. So, it would only be about "a New Age spiritualism", since "the fans of computer science also want to find a God somewhere, and Kurzweil gives them what they are looking for".
Although transhumanism shows many carelessness to be objected, it is interesting to interpret the strong critiques received from a cultural view, or at least to ask oneself if many of them are not explained by means of a strong refusal to a deep change. Perhaps it is more nutritive to be placed outside the fanaticism or abstentions this prediction generates in order to analyze what is behind this situation and what can be potentially reached with a refinement of that though.
For those who grew up watching “Blade Runner” and other movies that agitate us with a society threaten by its creations, this scheme may be homologized to a Russian roulette. However, the possibility of transcendence, the opportunity to turn the dream of eternity into a viable purpose could sow in those hearts more than fear.
It is obviously supposed said change in longevity could give rise to an eclosion in people’s strategic and project frame. If this situation took place, the established models would be changed and they could even be unable to satisfy needs typical of this arising temporality. It would not be surprising that certain fear to an integral redefinition went underground through the defense mechanisms of a culture that noticing its fall pretends to perpetuate itself by all means. Therefore, this is the real field of battle where all the forces, all the resources and the more profound problems are at stake. A path which pretends to lead life and death to a material division does something else than generating an analytic mishap. Besides focusing the power on the individual, it questions all the things that exist up to now and their utility for the future. Accepting death implies not only a failure without resistance but also a refusal to a deep debate about all that is naturalized.
Before such uncertain and promising future, perhaps it is more convenient to be inspired by these promises, to let oneself be seduced by those omens but bearing in mind that monitoring the control of these innovations will be humanity’s responsibility; maybe to have enough open-mindedness in order not to cling to antique limitations, signing a death certificate when those destinies are just being discussed. In short, it is possibly about being permeable to novelties, sensitive to what mutates, and finally to allow oneself to consider all the redefinitions that arise when it is probable that illusion turns into reality.
El "transhumanismo", tal como está planteado, parece limitarse a un papel de proyección experimental que no se anima a romper con el factor conspirativo clave a la hora de hablar de prolongación de la vida: la Cultura Central.
El partido de la vida y de la muerte quizás se juegue en múltiples niveles interrelacionados, no sólo en términos de deterioro de funciones y tejidos, sino también en cuanto a directivas culturales injertadas en los modelos de vida que gestionan al hombre.
Aun imaginando una posibilidad de acceder a un "upgrade cyborg", es difícil pensar en la motivación orgánica que puede tener semejante criatura para extender su vida más de lo normal sin una readecuación de nuevos objetivos vitales que hagan más coherente y justificada tal expansión.
Esta negación a reconocer a la Cultura como el factor primordial probablemente potencie la dificultad de asimilar y aprovechar los nuevos avances.
¿Puede haber un "transhumanismo" consistente que no cuestione la prerrogativa de muerte inherente a las principales instituciones de la cultura "por defecto" (familia, profesión, etc)?
Miren la insólita reacción del pionero de la gerontología Leonard Hayflick cuando un periodista le pregunta:
- ¿Entonces [estos avances] no implican que se encuentre la solución al problema de envejecimiento?
- ¿Para qué querría usted tal cosa?
Parece que pensar que un gerontólogo top quiera combatir el proceso de envejecimiento es tan absurdo como esperar que la Academia pueda ayudar a pensar ideas nuevas para la Humanidad.