Can you amplify your statement about Buddhism being concerned with "the optimization of subjective experience?"Indeed, while Buddhists would deny the existence of the self, there is no denying the fact that we observe (what appears to be) reality and are deeply entrenched in the condition that is life. Escape into monastic existence is not in the cards for most of us, and Buddhism is sympathetic to this.
It seems to me that subjectivity, or the idea that there is a discrete "you" to futz with, is the first thing to be transcended through unconditioned acceptance.
Take away the film, the projector and what do yo have? The bulb, which is analogous to the necessarily mysterious, unconditioned mind.
Buddhism is fundamentally against "add-ons" to the individual sphere, as mind is already junked up with the projections of ego as is. The practice, as I understand it, is more about stripping away.
That said, I'm curious about scientific improvements to the biological species, as well as the possible transference of consciousness to a non-bio realm. But for now, I'll continue plodding down the Path.
Having a transhumanistically optimized mind is one thing (ie augmented intelligence and memory), having an optimized consciousness is quite another. How we interpret the world and how we internalize moment-to-moment processes (particularly as they are driven by our emotions) is where I think Buddhist discourse is particularly helpful and can work to inform the transhumanist mission.
Working to develop the ideal conditioned mind is the central goal of intrapersonal Buddhist practice, and to this point in history meditation has been the key method in achieving this. Might there be other ways? Imagine a future mod that could immediately rewire a mind to be as disciplined and aware as those of practicing monks.
Sign me up.
Today, a number of Buddhists use the latest in neuroscience to study the make-up of conditioned minds in order to gain an understanding of the neurochemical and cognitive processes behind such functions as happiness and mental acuity. This will not just help to improve meditative and mindfulness practices, but also in the development of the so-called contemplative sciences and advanced neurotechnological interventions.
As for improvements, I do not believe there is anything within Buddhist discourse that forbids human enhancement. Intention is what matters. If we enhance to keep up with social pressures, then that is a problem. If, on the other hand, we work to alleviate human suffering and foster meaningful lives, then I believe modification is in tune with Buddhist values.
The space of all conscious life is likely to be hugely vast, and Buddhists naturally understand the importance of respecting different kinds of sentient life.
On this topic, check out: Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge by B. Alan Wallace and The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality by Dalai Lama.