Humanity+ is an international nonprofit membership organization which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. In other words, we want people to be better than well.
Where does Humanity+ advocate the ethical use of technology? What are the human capacities to be expanded? How does Humanity+ foster people being better than well? The following is written by Natasha Vita-More:
Technologies that intervene with human physiology for curing disease and repairing injury have accelerated to a point in which they also can increase human performance outside the realms of what is considered to be “normal” for humans. These technologies are referred to as emerging and speculative and include nanotechnology, nanomedicine, biotechnology, genetic engineering, stem cell cloning, and transgenesis, for example. Other technologies that could extend and expand human capabilities outside physiology include artificial intelligence, artificial general intelligence, robotics, and brain-computer integration, which form the domain of bionics, uploading, and could be used for developing whole body prosthetics. Because these technologies, and their respective sciences, would take the human beyond the normal state of existence, society, including bioethicists and others who advocate the safe use of technology, have shown concern and uncertainties about the downside of these technologies and possible problematic and dangerous outcomes for our species.
The human is a biological animal, which evolved approximately 200,000 years ago as the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens (modern humans). The Western world’s consensus on what is “normal” for a human biology, life span, intelligence and psychology established certain precedents. Outside these precedents would mean that a human is subnormal or beyond normal. A person who is afflicted with a physical affliction, a mental condition, or degenerative disease would be considered to be outside the normal range. Likewise, a person who has increased physiological performance or cognitive abilities, or lives beyond the human maximum lifespan of 122-123 years, would be considered outside the normal range. This determination of “normal” has not kept up with the advances in technology or science.
Human enhancement, both therapeutic and selective, challenges the normal status and aims to expand human capabilities that further human physiological functions and extend the maximum life span. External devices such as smart phones, smart watches, wearable bio monitors, Google glasses, etc. are all expanding human capabilities. In the field of medical technology, the cochlear implant and bionic eyes have broken through the glass ceiling on biological determinism. Regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, smart prosthetics, genetic engineering, nanomedicine, cryonics, nootropics, neuropharmacology, have already done this.
Daily, medicine uncovers another way to make us better than well. People’s illnesses and injuries are not only being healed—they are also being improved. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with aiming to be better than well. However, there are evident concerns and this is where ethical use of technology plays a part. While extending the human maximum life span does not cross these lines, there are other concerns that could affect humanity. Humanity+’s focus is on the course of prompting good to great health. Many of our members practice physical fitness (aerobics and anaerobic exercise, Yoga, Pilates, Dance), participate in wellness diets (Paleo, Atkins, CR, vegetarian, vegan), and mental fitness (meditation, visualization, Zen, spirituality, Buddhism, and other practices). Our members also participate in projects such as Quantified Self (QS), entrepreneurial aims, and self-responsibility, paying it forward, and empathy as a way of life.