March 19, 2009

Sandberg on transitioning to the posthuman

From Anders Sandberg's blog, Andart:

I think the key idea of the posthuman in the sense I use it is simply this: we can change the human condition *a lot* in the near future. Not through some gradual natural change, and not necessarily through a deliberate decision to go this or that way. That forces us to take stock of the current human condition and seriously consider what we think we ought to keep and what could go. It also makes vivid the contingency of our current state: it is the relativisation not just of our culture, but our species.

The things that still make sense in the light of such relativisation are going to be very robust and important principles. But most of life is about things that could be different - we could have different societal arrangements, different structures of life, different motivational systems, different arts and entertainment etc. The big principles may set the boundaries and aims for whole societies and civilizations, but the stuff that makes them worthwhile to live in will be pretty arbitrary, cultural and mercurial. We need the universality of human rights (or, rather, person rights) and structures like open democratic societies to flourish, but the kinds of flourishing people are doing are going to be manifold, unexpected and often controversial.


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