Imagine for a moment that you have traveled back in time to the 1800’s to speak with everyday people of the era. Your mission is to describe to them what the internet is.
Nowadays, we take a basic understanding of today’s technology for granted, but if you could speak to the society of two centuries ago, the developments wouldn’t be describable in words they’d understand.
Now imagine, instead, what humanity in 200 years will have created that may be indescribable to us now. What will they have created that we couldn’t even begin to understand today?
Transhuman: A Documentary
Last week, I launched an IndieGoGo to raise money for a feature documentary I plan to direct and produce: Transhuman.
The film will focus on the various strands of the transhumanist movement. Transhumanists believe in using technology to enhance the functionality of the body and mind and evolve humanity past its present state. This may just be a trend, or it may be the first step toward advancements that shape humanity beyond what we can imagine in the future.
The Movement’s Goals
The transhumanist movement’s goals are diverse. Some individuals seek to merge their bodies with technology to give themselves new abilities. Examples include inserting microchips into one’s hand that allow them to open their house door without touching it, magnets in one’s fingertips giving them a new way to pick up small metal objects, and even a camerainserted into someone’s eye-socket.
On the other end of the spectrum, many transhumanists focus on much more abstract and long-term goals like the ability to upload one’s mind to the internet or achieving immortality. The transhumanist Church of Perpetual Life has even won the hearts of hundreds of parishioners and online viewers who believe in defeating death.
Technologies that allow users to manually edit genes are already beginning to form. Companies like CRISPR are attempting to use genetic editing to cure diseases, but the implications of humans being able to self-edit their DNA could be enormous for the future.
The Transhumanist Party
“I believe… that the world should aim and insist on providing the option for an indefinite lifespans for all people,” 2016 Transhumanist Presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan told me during an interview in August. He is now an advisor to thedocumentary.
Istvan formed the Transhumanist Party in 2014 as a means to promote transhumanist ideas and bring radical science into political discourse. No reports indicated him making any measurable dent in the outcome of the election, but this first attempt signifies the beginning of a possible trend: these issues can no longer be ignored.
The types of experiments and goals transhumanists pursue may now seem like science fiction or even blasphemy, but consider the undeniable effects of stem cell research and the strength of its opposition. Is it impossible to think that microchipping, genetic editing, and lifespan longevity could become hotly contested political issues in the next century?
Third parties historically fail to elect candidates on a national level but often manage to impact elections. “Your tears are delicious and your parties will die,” Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark said after Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson managed to gain more votes in several states than the margin between Clinton and Trump. “If you don’t address libertarian issues, you will lose.”
His point is true across third parties. The Green Party may not win, but it can take the support of environmentally-concerned people away from the major parties. With the beginning of the Transhumanist Party, it certainly stands to reason that in the next several decades, parties and candidates will have to define their positions on futurist topics in order to win elections.
The Future and the Media
So why should we care now? At this point, transhumanism is not remotely mainstream, and questions about technology and bioethics are almost completely unheard of in political discourse. Still, the future is coming fast.
Robots (and robotically augmented soldiers) could be something governments grapple with soon. “War will evolve,” Mike Ricciardi, a production assistant for the film, told me.
Beyond the military implications, the socioeconomic effects could change the structure of society.
“This is a tool that can empower the physically and even neurologically disabled,” Ricciardi told me. “It can also cause massive gaps in society between haves and have-nots.”
Will we ever reach a transhumanist future? How will we know when we’ve gotten there? These are questions I can’t quite answer yet. What I do know is that if society reaches that point, historians will wonder why they missed this. Most media outright ignore this topic.
With the help of my team at News2Share, I plan to make the definitive documentary film that sheds light on transhumanist issues and brings their story into the mainstream.
To support me on that journey, please visit Transhuman’s crowdfunding platform on IndieGoGo, and contribute.