June 4, 2004

Transhumanism continues to spread as a cultural phenomenon

There's an article in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune about transhumanist Matthew Gress, 34, an independent computer contractor and a member of the World Transhumanist Association. Here's an excerpt from the article, "Minneapolis Transhumanist Hungers for Eternal Life."
"People are very afraid of technology. They're afraid they're going to break it, do something wrong or seem stupid," Gress said. "We're a nation full of people who want the neat, fast thing, but we all have 12 flashing on our VCRs."

That will change as we develop computers that we operate just by talking and that talk back in the languages our minds use.

"It turns out that there are several parts of our brain, and they all talk to each other really fast. Because they talk to each other so fast we think we're one person. The question is, 'When my Palm Pilot goes from being able to talk to me in regular language to talking to me via my nervous system in the same language that my brain uses, what happens to my perception of self?' "

Most exciting to Gress is the idea of extending life indefinitely -- restoring people to whatever degree of youth they desire and keeping them there for as long as they want.

"I'd like the option to live as long as I care to," Gress said. "And I believe that if technologies appear to do that, if you are a religious or spiritual person you are morally required to pursue them."

Gress was raised Catholic and educated by Jesuits. While he values that moral code, he's not involved in organized religion. But he believes these changes are consonant with the Christian idea of bringing heaven to Earth. Given the chance, Gress would keep the mind he now has but store it in the body of a 20-year-old.

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