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Biomedicine in museums

What makes the human enhancement movement tick?

By December 26, 2007No Comments

I’ve been thinking further about what a loose intellectual movement around human enhancement and converging technologies may look like. Did some search and came across the Betterhumans website which seems to be one of the major on-line gathering places for the transhumanist crowd. One of the most prolific contributors to the discussion forum, Anne C., an electrical engineeer in California, expresses a rather common sentiment in one of the threads:

I don’t think that these sorts of things — discussion of life extension, cryonics, human enhancement, biological research, nanotechnology, etc. — are very popular topics in the population at large. Sadly, most people seem enamored with “reality TV” and celebrity gossip much more so than things that actually have the potential to improve their lives and make them a heck of a lot more interesting.

She also addresses the question why there are so many male geeks and so few female nerds involved:

There are probably more men interested in transhumanism simply because the “movement” is so internet-based and I think guys grow up being more encouraged to use computers.

However, she does have

a few internet-friends who are female and intrigued by life extension. I don’t know how significant this is, but I and these other females who have such interests tend very strongly to be diagnosed with “autistic spectrum” conditions. [my link added]

This is anecdotal evidence, and I don’t think one should characterise the converging technologies/human enhancement movement as a bunch of autists. That said, there is much more on Anne C.:s blog Existence is Wonderful: a goldmine for the historian of contemporary ideas.

For whatever it’s worth, the lasting impression of my two-hour search is that the quest for longevity seems to be an important motivational factor behind the human enhancement / transhumanist movement. (This is actually one of the things we could have made much more out of in our new exhibition Oldetopia; also here).

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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