Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Look out, here comes the Master Race

In the early 1960s, prank comedy duo James Coyle and Mal Sharpe wandered the streets of San Francisco with a tape recorder making outrageous proposals to strangers. They had a special fondness for bizarre medical experiments. "Doctors have discovered that human beings, like birds, have the capacity to grow feathers," they would say. "Would you be willing to exchange your clothing for plumage like a pheasant?" Or, "Would you be opposed to the idea of having a portion of your head surgically modified and used as a storage place for sugar?"

There is more than a little of Coyle and Sharpe in the contemporary movement known as transhumanism, which advocates a radical research agenda to transform the human condition. If you've ever fantasized about uploading your mind to the internet, or gestating your genetically modified children in an artificial womb, or living forever in a community of immortal, hyper-orgasmic superbeings, you'll find friends among the members of Humanity + and other such transhumanist organisations.

Read the rest of my review of The Proactionary Imperative in New Scientist.

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