The Transhumanist Manifesto
2020 v.4. Natasha Vita-More, Professor Emeritus, Technology, Ethics, Innovation. (First version 1983) (Second versions 1998. Third version 2008). www.natashavita-more.com
The Transhumanist Manifesto challenges the issue of human aging and the finality of death by advocating three conditions. These conditions assert that aging is a disease; augmentation and enhancement to the human body and brain are essential for survival, and that human life is not restricted to any one form or environment.
Understanding these conditions are core to the philosophy and worldview of transhumanism[i] and advocate for the ethical use of technology and evidence-based science to intervene and effectively mitigate aging and to retreat from genetic liability by advancing genetic liberty. These actions must be reached with a mindful, rational approach. Aging is a disease. The aim is to mitigate aging and amend human lifespans beyond the maximum time frame as a biological state where disease affects everyone to varying degrees, ultimately programed for death. New technologies and advances in science, along with social reforms on aging, will build a positive outlook and practical conviction for the future.
Augmentation and enhancement to the human body and brain are essential for survival. Each person deserves the right of genetic liberty. People have a fundamental right to own their body, shape who they are, and live their lives. Morphological Freedom meets this condition by protecting a person’s right to augment and enhance and protects a person’s right never to be coerced to augment and enhance.
Human life is not restricted to any one form or by any one environment. Environments are the sole factor for the existence of life whether it be the biosphere on earth, digitality of cyberspace, artificial simulations of virtual reality, or the life support systems within outer space. To maintain existence, all environments require safe and healthy infrastructures that protect life and eliminate threats to life.
A vision for shared appreciation of life and purpose
People create theories and related opinions that can bring about discord and divisiveness by pitting one belief against another with false assumptions and suggest one group as being more or less worthy than another based on age, gender, race, appearance, religion, beliefs, and political and social status. This sentiment is not about biology or human evolution; it is about a human need to control that is triggered by fear, greed, and uncertainty. Humanity needs a change—a new outlook that helps us become more humane.
This something new is transhumanism—a worldview that seeks a quality of life that brings about perpetual progress, self-transformation, practical optimism, visionary solutions, and critical thinking—the transhuman.
The transhuman[ii] is a biological-technological organism, a transformation of the human species that continues to evolve with technology. This evolution is understood within the fields of paleontology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, and anthropology. It is further studied and understood in philosophical discourse and social and cultural studies. It is made aware and realized through advances in technology that bring about human-computer interaction, wearable devices, and computerized communication infrastructures. It is evidenced in medical science and scientific breakthroughs that identify genetic mutation and target disease as well as research and development of gene therapies that aim to reverse and restore cellular damage of biological system. On an environmental level, it is experienced in spaceflight by astronauts adapting to environments beyond earth. On an interactive level, it is experienced in the personalized avatar and character usage of virtual reality, augmented reality, video games, and other artificial environments.
Life Extension & Expansion
Life extension aims to increase the maximum human lifespan. Life expansion means increasing the length of time a person is alive and diversifying the matter in which increasing options and capabilities a person exists. For human life, the length of time is bounded by a single century and its matter is tied to biology.
To pursue longevity, it is crucial to uncover visible and invisible borders between interconnecting forces that disrupt health and well-being. It is also necessary to actively address ethical concerns about science and technology with reasonable defense, to protect human rights, including morphological freedom.[iii]
Transhumanism is the first philosophy and worldview to publicly proclaim the need to eradicate disease and to advocate for longevity and ageless thinking. Transhumanists have contributed toward the ideas, research, development, and education of longevity through science, technology and addressed governing bodies and groups on the ethical use of technology such as AI, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering.
Transhumanists are the world’s strongest advocacy for a positive future of health, well-being, and prosperity for every human.
I would rather be a transhuman than a cyborg
The technology for transhuman transformation emerges from cybernetics. It is here where concepts of the human and machine integrate and the computer begins to interact (Wiener 1950:163)[iv] with the human body and its biology, bringing about the concept of the cyborg. Comparisons are often drawn between the cyborg and the transhuman deliberately and also unwittingly. A cyborg is positioned as an endpoint for the integration of human, machine, and computer; however, the transhuman is a continuous human evolution. This evolution includes a confluence of organic human, technological advances in AI, nanomedicine, and gene therapies that mitigate disease, the devices and prosthetics and enhance biology that append biology, and an awareness of personal identity, as a transformative, telematic, and expanded agency that expands through new tech-communication systems.
The cyborg, no matter how sophisticated the augmentations and implants or written essays on the topic, as articulated by Professors Steven Mann, Kevin Warwick, or Donna Haraway,[v] has yet to address issues of life extension. This area is most distinctly in concert with the transhuman as one obvious outcome of an enhanced person that seeks to life extension and to engage alternative options for perceptual, cognitive, and physical bodies.
A problem in the blurring of cyborg and transhuman (or future posthuman) proposes a tripartite delineation as follows:
“- the field of cybernetics parlayed the cyborg into existence through the relationship between the human and its man-machine augmentation (Clynes & Kline 1960)[vi]” [for the purposes of space exploration and did not foresee biotechnology, AI, or nanotechnology as bringing about an adaptive, evolutionary human—the transhuman];
“- the field of philosophy parlayed the transhuman into culture as a transitional stage of human transformation and regenerative processes and selective enhancement, more currently referred to as the activist and recipient of human enhancement …(More 1990; Bostrom 2005)[vii];
“- the field of science fiction parlayed the posthuman into the arts (Pepperell 1995)[viii], now more currently aligned with artificial general intelligence and artificial platforms of the “upload” whole brain emulation and/or substrate-independent minds (Sandberg & Koene 2009)[ix]”
Simply adding gadgetry to our bodies will not make us modern or evolved, nor will designing new bodies and environment to inhabit without a transdisciplinary strategy. The human body and its diversification requires a cross-pollination of ideas to foster conjectural, multidimensional processes for addressing complex issues of machine and human. Human perception weaves cognition and bodily processes to transmit and translate information, which the patterns reflect an array of molecular activities of biology. Future human use of nano molecules of nanotechnology could work in concert with biology (Drexler 1987)[x]. The elements of molecular assembly will help to build new types of bodies, such as Platform Diverse Body (Vita-More, 1997) (2013)[xi].
Beyond: Social, Religious, Political Bias
Transhumanism offer a new philosophical approach to the human condition while simultaneously expanding upon antecedents, such as the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Modernism, and Postmodernism. Transhumanism values human potential but does not see the human as the final stage of existence.
Transhumanism accepts certain human enculturated behaviors as held between types of people but does not support the notions of a universal human nature. By this, transhumanism does not participate in social, religious, or political absolutes or biases that aim to constrain and curtail peoples’ rights and freedoms. Rather than being divisive about religious and political views, transhumanism seeks a meta focus on healthy longevity as a positive end point rather than the path each person travels to get there. To support this end point, transhumanism advocates for legal wins within the medical, technological, and scientific domains that will help develop longevity research and development as well as personal freedoms for end of life choices. More awareness must be ignited for success in reaching the positive end point, which includes targeted global advocacy for education that focuses on humanity’s future.
Transhumanism recognizes the uniqueness of people and the need to overcome irrelevant bias of age, race, gender, appearance, religion, beliefs, and political and social status, and supports gender diversity to include rather than exclude a heightened awareness of the potential multiplicities of gender and sexual options. In this transitional process, the transhuman sheds worn-out biases and integrates new values and methods for longevity—extending the maximum lifespan, improve biology, and increase mental acuity.
- Beyond Mortality: The disease of aging leaves people helpless, locked in a system of sickness and death rather than a system of healthcare and life. We need new technology, science and social structures that promote positive conditions rather than negative conditions.
- Beyond Scarcity: We must improve global quality of life. An economy of abundance is not about how much; it is about how good—a quality of life that provide basic human needs, freedom, well-being, and that advances opportunity and potential.
- Beyond Cruelty: Discrimination of people because of sex, age, race, gender, appearance, religion, beliefs, and political and social status are global, verifiable, and prevalent. What would society need to overcome misperception and cognitive bias? With an abundance of compassion, discrimination has no place or purpose. [xii]
Transhumanist Manifesto 1983
I am transhuman.
In an aim to integrate creativity and reason
for the purpose of self-awareness and longevitiy
—promoted by persistence
aware of odds, informed by risk,
alert to new discovery, welcoming challenge,
I am the architect of my existence. My life reflects my vision and represents my values. It conveys the very essence of my being—coalescing imagination and reason, challenging all limits.
Transhumanism calls upon a heightened sensibility to reveal the multiplicity of realms yet to be discovered, yet to be realized. We are exploring how current and future technologies affect our senses, our cognition, and our lives. Our attention to and comprehension of these relationships become fields of art as we participate in the most immediate and vital issues for transhumanity: extending life, augmenting intelligence, and creativity, exploring the universe.
Transhumanists invent and design with technology and collaborate with the cosmos, perform in multiple realities, automorph mind and body, conceive, innovate, and explore. We indelibly engrave longevity memes. We are the neo-cyberneticists utilizing high-end creativity, engineering skills, scientific data, and automated tools to author our visions.
Transhumanists encourage experimentation and attitudes of abundance and emphasizes the infinite possibilities of self-transformation as we seek new values indispensable to our self-creation. We have no interest in focusing on self-defeating thinking or entropy. We are achieving refined emotions through provocative forward thinking and analytical techniques.
Each person influences social and cultural change: how we live and who we are. Each person creates a sense of self, autonomous yet connected to culture’s continuum. How we accomplish our intentions is a matter of selective individual choice—whether abstract or concrete, whether artifact or non-form. Our criteria for art remain open and we welcome cross-disciplinary innovations.
Our unique ingenuity will spread far out into the capillaries of society. We are active participants in our own evolution. We are shaping the image of whom we are becoming (1983 v.2; 1998 v.2.).
[i] More, Max (1990) Transhumanism: Toward a Futurist Philosophy. In Extropy Magazine. Vol. 4, No. 1.
[ii] Vita-More, N. (1986-1995). [Note: The research on the history of the term “transhuman” and “transhumanism” was completed by Natasha Vita-More and Winifred Drake Clark during the late 1980s to mid-1990s: “As an historical note, the Italian verb “transumanare” or “transumanar” was used for the first time by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) in the Divine Comedy. It means “go outside the human condition and perception” and in English could be “to Transhumanate” or “to Transhumanize.” T.S. Eliot wrote about the risks of the human journey in becoming illuminated as a “process by which the human is Transhumanised” (1950:147) in his play “The Cocktail Party” (1950). The actual concept of transhuman as an evolutionary transition was first expressed by FM-2030 (f/k/a FM Esfandiary). His trilogy, Optimism One (1970), Up-Wingers (1973)and Telespheres (1977) comprises his unique ideas about the transhuman, some of which were mentioned in the final chapter of Woman In The Year 2000 (1974). Ideas about humanity and evolution were explored by Julian Huxley in his writings on evolutionary humanism in the book Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (1942) and suggested the term transhuman for a “superior being aware of his potential and able to work toward it because of his knowledge” (Halacy 1965:11). Pierre Teilhard de Chardin referenced the transhuman in The Future of Man (2004) and, in 1966, FM-2030 (fka FM Esfandiary) outlined an evolutionary transhuman future while teaching “New Concepts of the Human” at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Abraham Maslow referred to transhumans in Toward a Psychology of Being (1968), Robert Ettinger also referred to transhumans in Man into Superman (1972), the author wrote the “Transhuman Manifesto” (1982), and Damien Broderick discusses the transhuman in the science fiction novel The Judas Mandala (1982), and by Natasha Vita-More in the “Transhuman Manifesto” (1983).[ii].
[iii] Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphological_freedom.
[iv] Wiener, Norbert. (1950) The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics. New York: Da Capo Press, pp. x, 58, 95, 103, 134-135, 163.
[v] Mann, Steve. (May 1998) WEARABLE COMPUTING as a means for PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT. Keynote address titled presented at the 1998 International Conference on Wearable Computing ICWC-98, Fairfax VA.
Warwick, Kevin. (2004) I, Cyborg. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, p. 4.
Haraway, Donna. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, pp. 3-5, 149-181.
[vi] Clynes, Manfred E., and Kline, Nathan. S. (1960) Cyborgs and Space. In Astronautics, American Rocket Society Inc, New York, New York, pp. 26, 27, 29, 33.
[vii] Bostrom, Nick. (2005) A History of Transhumanist Thought. In Journal of Evolution and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 1.
[viii] Pepperell, Robert. (1995) The Post-Human Condition. Bristol, UK: Intellect.
[ix] Sandberg, Anders and Koene, Randal. (3 October 2009) Anders Sandberg and Randal Koene On Whole Brain Emulation. In H+ Magazine. See http://hplusmagazine.com/2009/10/03/singularity-summit-anders-sandberg-and-randal-keone-whole-brain-emulation/.
[x] Drexler, Eric. (1987) Engines of Creation. Harpswell, ME: Anchor, pp. v, 4, 213.
[xi] Vita-More, Natasha. (March 2012) Life Expansion. Plymouth, UK. University of Plymouth. https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/1182 [xi] . (2013) Body by Design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVG2MbpHd4o
[xii] Goertzel, B. and Vita-More, N. (2020). H+ Summit 2020. https://humanityplus.org/projects/humanity-conferences/