Featured Article: The Influence of Transhumanist Thought on Human Enhancement
The Influence of Transhumanist Thought on Human Enhancement
by Jeff Sheets
In the April 2017 edition of National Geographic Magazine, journalist D.T. Max describes his encounter with cyborg Neil Harbisson. Color blind from birth due to a condition called achromatopsia, Harbisson had a fiber-optic sensor fixed onto the back of his skull. This device bends like a whip antenna over the top of his head with the tip in front of his brow. “A microchip implanted in his skull converts their frequencies into vibrations on the back of his head” and those vibrations “become sound frequencies, turning his skull into a sort of third ear.” This technology includes a Bluetooth device so friends can upload new “colors.” But Harbisson is not only able to “hear” colors that fall within the capacity of the human eye, but he is able to detect a spectrum of waves such as infrared.
Max’s point in investigating this technological achievement with the human body is this: “Like other species, we are the products of millions of years of adaptation. Now we’re taking matters into our own hands.” This movement to take evolutionary matters into human control is known as transhumanism and its vision is to bring “the radical removal of the constraints of our bodies and brains and the reconfiguration of human existence according to technological opportunities.”
To remove human constraints and enhance the human condition seems like a grand idea, especially for the military. As Patrick Lin noted, humans are “the weakest links in armed conflicts as well as one the most valuable assets…the warfighters themselves.” Why not upgrade the weakest, but most valuable asset in order to dominate the battlefield?…
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Chaplain (Major) Jeff Sheets is the command chaplain and ethics instructor at the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va. He received his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and his Th.M. in ethics from Denver Seminary.