Transhumanism becomes a significant force

Transhumanism becomes a significant force

Wild Card's progress: fully-fledged

This Wild Card came from: 
Workshops/Meetings

The theme/scheme related to this Wild Card: 
United Kingdom

The sub-theme that best relates to this Wild Card: 
February 2010

The source of this Wild Card: 
SSH experts of the iKNOW Workshop in Manchester: Julia DE CLERCK-SACHSSE (European Commission), Dalina DUMITRESCU (Institute for Business Administration in Bucharest), Gabriele GRIFFIN (University of York), Dirk JOHANN (Austrian Centre for Social Innovation), Javier MEDINA (Universidad del Valle), Konrad MICIUKIEWICZ (Planning and Landscape Newcastle University)

Likelihood timeframe and scenario features : 
now-2050

Wild Card's description 
The wild factor here is that commonplace assumptions about boundaries that have been drawn between humans and technology are substantially undermined. This means a process of redefining human identity, i.e. what makes us distinctively human, what we value about this, and rethinking expectations about human capabilities. The possibility of human enhancement here gives rise to large strident social movements who welcome increased efforts to augment human minds and bodies. Some relevant technologies may be cheap – “smart drugs” and the like. Some may be relatively expensive – prosthetics (and human-computer interfaces), gene therapy, etc. There may be new divides opened up, with new elites who live longer, are healthier, more intelligent and “beautiful”, and who (having selected the most promising foetuses) have their children further enhanced to ensure they have the best start in life. People who cannot afford or do not accept biological and transhuman manipulation will ‘lose out’ on jobs, partners and income. Ideologies that justify or challenge these new social gaps may take bizarre forms, since traditional Darwinist and racist arguments do not fit the new scenario. (Furthermore, transhumanists now tend to be libertarians.) Finally, there could be distinct subcultures stressing specific aspects of enhancement – cosmetic appearance, sporting prowess, intellectual abilities, even emotional features of personality. (There are historical experiences of people hoping that their child would be the “chosen one”: now they may have a chance to design such a child!).