To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death is a 2017 nonfiction book by Slate columnistand literary journalist Mark O'Connell. The book is a breezy, but skeptical, gonzo-journalistic tour of transhumanism and radical life extension. It chronicles O'Connell's travels around the world to interview prominent transhumanists.
Interviewees range from mainstream figures, such as computer scientist Stuart J. Russell, to more colorful individuals, such as Zoltan Istvan, who ran for the American Presidency on the "Immortality Ticket".Much of the book focuses on radical life extension (the desire to engineer immortality); in addition, O'Connell visits a group of "grinders" in Pittsburgh who surgically implant sensors into themselves. O'Connell makes it clear that he personally chooses to reject transhumanist philosophy, stating that his child playing horsy with his wife could not be "rendered in code... Their beauty was bodily, in the most profound sense, in the saddest and most wonderful sense." The book also examines existential risk from artificial general intelligence, the fear that superintelligent machines will destroy the human race. An oversimplified example would be a machine that is asked to eliminate human cancer, and does so by eliminating all humans. In the book's conclusion, O'Connell declines to offer any predictions about whether the hopes or fears of the transhumanists will come to pass, instead stating: "I have seen the present, and the present is strange enough to be getting along with: filled with strange people, strange ideas, strange machines."
Transhumanism is a philosophical and intellectual movement which advocates the enhancement of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies that can greatly enhance longevity and cognition.
David Pearce is a British transhumanist. He is a prominent figure within the transhumanism movement and is one of the co-founders of the World Transhumanist Association, currently rebranded and incorporated as Humanity+. He approaches ethical issues from a lexical negative utilitarian perspective.
James J. Hughes is an American sociologist and bioethicist. He is the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and teaches health policy at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in the United States. He is the author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future and is currently writing a book about moral bioenhancement tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha: Using Neurotechnology to Become Better People.
The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) is a "technoprogressive think tank" that seeks to "promote ideas about how technological progress can increase freedom, happiness, and human flourishing in democratic societies." It was incorporated in the United States in 2004, as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, by philosopher Nick Bostrom and bioethicist James Hughes.
Techno-progressivism or tech-progressivism is a stance of active support for the convergence of technological change and social change. Techno-progressives argue that technological developments can be profoundly empowering and emancipatory when they are regulated by legitimate democratic and accountable authorities to ensure that their costs, risks and benefits are all fairly shared by the actual stakeholders to those developments. One of the first mentions of techno-progressivism appeared within extropian jargon in 1999 as the removal of "all political, cultural, biological, and psychological limits to self-actualization and self-realization".
Many of the tropes of science fiction can be viewed as similar to the goals of transhumanism. Science fiction literature contains many positive depictions of technologically enhanced human life, occasionally set in utopian societies. However, science fiction's depictions of technologically enhanced humans or other posthuman beings frequently come with a cautionary twist. The more pessimistic scenarios include many dystopian tales of human bioengineering gone wrong.
Natasha Vita-More is a strategic designer, author, speaker and innovator within the scientific and technological framework of human enhancement and life extension. Her interests are located within the ethical uses of science and technology and socio-political implications of revolutionary advances impacting humanity's future.
Giulio Prisco is an Italian information technology virtual reality consultant; as well as a writer, futurist, transhumanist, and cosmist. He is an advocate of cryonics and contributes to the science and technology online magazine Tendencias21. He produced teleXLR8, an online talk program using virtual reality and video conferencing, and focused on highly imaginative science and technology. He writes and speaks on a wide range of topics, including science, information technology, emerging technologies, virtual worlds, space exploration and futurology.
Body hacking is the application of the hacker ethic in pursuit of enhancement or change to the body's functions through technological means, such as do-it-yourself cybernetic devices or by introducing biochemicals.
Posthuman or post-human is a concept originating in the fields of science fiction, futurology, contemporary art, and philosophy that means a person or entity that exists in a state beyond being human. The concept aims at addressing a variety of questions, including ethics and justice, language and trans-species communication, social systems, and the intellectual aspirations of interdisciplinarity.
The Transhumanist Wager is a 2013 science fiction novel by American author Zoltan Istvan. The novel follows the life of Jethro Knights, a philosopher whose efforts to promote transhumanism ultimately lead to a global revolution. It was a first-place winner in visionary fiction at the International Book Awards.
Zoltan Istvan Gyurko, professionally known as Zoltan Istvan, is an American transhumanist, journalist, entrepreneur, political candidate, and futurist.
Gennady Stolyarov II is a Belarusian-American libertarian and transhumanist writer, actuary, and civil servant known for his book Death is Wrong. Stolyarov also leads two transhumanist political parties.
The Transhumanist Party is a political party in the United States. The party's platform is based on the ideas and principles of transhumanist politics, e.g., human enhancement, human rights, science, life extension, and technological progress.
The term directed evolution is used within the transhumanist community to refer to the idea of applying the principles of directed evolution and experimental evolution to the control of human evolution. In this sense, it is distinct from the use of the term in biochemistry, which refers only to the evolution of proteins and RNA. Maxwell J. Melhmanh has described directed evolution of humans as the Holy Grail of transhumanism. Oxford philosopher Julian Savulescu wrote that:
Humanity until this point has been a story of evolution for the survival genes - survival and reproduction ... we are entering a new phase of human evolution—evolution under reason—where human beings are masters of their destiny. Power has been transferred from nature to science.
Transhumanist politics constitutes a group of political ideologies that generally express the belief in improving human individuals through science and technology.
Mark O'Connell is an Irish author and journalist. His debut book, To Be A Machine was published in 2017, followed by Notes From an Apocalypse in 2020. He has written for publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, and The Guardian. He is also the author of the Kindle Single Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever .., as well as an academic study of the novels of John Banville.
The Immortality Bus is a 1978 Wanderlodge that has been made to appear as a 38-foot brown coffin.
Immortality or Bust is a 2019 feature documentary focusing on the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign of Transhumanist Party nominee Zoltan Istvan. Directed by Daniel Sollinger, it won two awards at film festivals - the Breakout Award at the 2019 Raw Science Film Festival and Best Biohacking Awareness Documentary at the GeekFest Toronto 2021. It is distributed by Gravitas Ventures.
The Transhumanist Bill of Rights is a crowdsourced document that conveys rights and laws to humans and all sapient entities while specifically targeting future scenarios of humanity. The original version was created by transhumanist US presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan and was posted by Zoltan on the wall of the United States Capitol building on December 14, 2015.