An Evaluation of Transhumanist Bill of Rights From Current and Future Perspective: The Adventure of Technohumanism and Rights

An Evaluation of Transhumanist Bill of Rights From Current and Future Perspective: The Adventure of Technohumanism and Rights

Erdem Öngün (Trakya University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8431-5.ch021


Science and technology are now radically changing human beings and how they help create various future forms of advanced sapient and sentient life in a transhumanist future and their related rights. In that process, the issue of transhumanist rights for such forms attract a great attention that is worth rethinking. Transhumanist Bill of Rights mainly covers “sentient entities” such as human beings, including genetically modified humans, digital intelligences, cyborgs, intellectually enhanced, previously non-sapient animals, any species of plant or animal enhanced to possess the capacity for intelligent thought, and other advanced sapient life forms. In that respect, the main concern of this chapter basically centers around the question to what extent transhumanist rights will be compatible and applicable enough to meet the needs of all sentient entities and forms on universal basis in a transhumanist world, which stands on the line between a dystopian and utopian future.
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It should not be difficult to see the distance mankind has covered from the earliest inventions to the most update devices and gears that are made and meant to serve ‘ the new human’ or ‘half-human half-machine’. It all jumpstarted in 1969 with the U.S. Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) that developed protocols used for internet communication today leading to the great internet evolution. The earliest child of the internet technology web 1.0, a read-only static web, was followed by interactive web 2.0 that enabled its users to read and write. With the advent of 3.0, a read-write-execute web, information can be categorized and stored in such a way that a computer can understand it as well as a human. It is somewhat a combination of artificial intelligence and the semantic web. That means the computer can learn what the data means, which will evolve into artificial intelligence by using that information. In other words, computers as smart machines are becoming amazingly flawless at making decisions and reaching conclusions on the basis of large amounts of data. The whloe process signals at one important fact; that is mankind is inevitably drawn into a digital age where intelligent machines with artificial intelligence are now able to learn and make decisions by using complicated algorithms. A super human is on his way with extended abilities beyond limitations and mechanical elements built into the body. A Cyborg or an android, a humanoid robot which was once a fictitious character of movies, seem to have jumped out of TV screens into the real world; a transhumanist future is not far-fetched anymore. It is not the end but maybe just the beginning of a new and super human.

At that point, a very quick question that may come to mind is that whether such new intelligences, sentient, or sapient forms could be matter of a discussion concerning possible legal rights, so-called “transhumanist rights” that these new forms are to possess. What is meant by these rights is that all human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms are entitled to rights in a posthuman society.All in all, through technology and science, for example, one may ask whether they have the right to end their involuntary lifespan or achieve immortality, maintain liberty, equality, values of human dignity and solidarity, sustanin or modify their bodies.

In the light of new terms and concepts related to the scope of the chapter, this chapter of the book mainly aims at drawing attention to the rapid transformation of human being and other sapient and sentient forms through technological advancements in the next brave new world of transhumanism and the rights involved. The chapter furthermore introduces Transhumanist Bill of Rights and briefly informs the reader about what changes and challenges may possibly exist within Transhumanist Bill of Rights. It concludes with an argumentation from socio-cultural, socio-economic and ethical perspectives as to how realistically transhumanist rigths could be applicable, acceptable and compatible with various sectors and disciplines from now to the far future. Overall, this chapter has two main objectives: First, introduce terms and concepts related to transhumanism and inform the reader about it through a multi-faceted discussion. Second and finally, with a reference to existing Bill of Rights, argue and evaluate the transhumanist Bill of Rights with all the current and future perspectives and challenges involved.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Eschatology: A branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind.

Somatic: Of, relating to, or affecting the body especially as distinguished from the germplasm.

Cryonics: The practice or technique of deep-freezing the bodies of people who have just died, in the hope that scientific advances may allow them to be revived in the future.

Sapient: An organism or an entity that has the ability to act with judgment.

Eugenics: The study or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects orpresumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction bypersons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).

Sentient: Having senses; capable of sensing.

Transhumanism: The belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.

Extropy: Evolving set of values and standards for continuously improving the human condition.

Android: A robot with a human appearance.

Cyborg: A cyborg (short for “cybernetic organism”) is a being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts.

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