The Road to Posthumanity
One step at a time...
A small sketch of possible methods to expand our capacity, from the present
state to a posthuman state. Brackets mark hyperlinked comments with further links.
- Mental techniques to improve our effective intelligence, memory capacity,
train our creativity, motivation and efficiency .
- Simple neurochemical tools (nootropics , imprint-erasing drugs , mood enhancements )
- Computer aids for thinking and communication (hypermedia, Internet,
mobile and wearable computers ).
- Diet and excercise to improve health and slow ageing ,
possibly combined with antioxidants and melatonin.
Deeper integration of different methods to a "transhuman synergy". Human capabilities beyond current possibility.
- Life extension methods (control of telomerases + anti-cancer drugs )
- Genetic improvements 
- Bionic implants 
- Weak AI (software agents) integrated with "enhanced reality" 
Integration of different kinds of systems; the meaning of "human" becomes blurred.
- Total uploading and mental restructuring possible.
- Integration human-AI
- Distributed intelligence 
- Corporate intelligences.
- Technological singularity 
It is impossible to predict what and when entries will become viable or even possible, although it is possible to guess based on current knowledge. They might appear in a different order, and unexpected new developments are bound to occur. The large questions are social, political and economical rather than technological.
Some of the risks and problems that may complicate things:
- Resistance to change
- Most people resist change in their lives, and this is reflected in society. Too quick change leaves people confused and uncertain, and many feel their safety threatened. In addition, it is often hard for humans to adapt or accept new developments, which leads to a lag between the cutting edge and the average population (which will only accentuate the differences in views). Such a situation is a breeding ground for mistrust and hate against proponents of change.
- Socioeconomic chaos
- The introduction of radical new technologies will lead to drastic changes in how people work, live and think, not to mention how the economy and society at large will work. The last major technological transition (from agriculture to industry) changed society beyond recognition (royalty and nobles lost their power, feudalism was replaced with democracy/capitalism) and caused massive upheavals. Future transitions will probably be equally or more drastic, and furthermore much faster. Too quick changes may completely disrupt the current system.
- Resistance to Autoevolution
- There is a deep distrust of autoevolution among many people, ranging from caution to full-blown hostility. Many groups will not accept that humanity (or parts of humanity) takes control of its development, and will fight it for ideological or emotional reasons.
- Technological Problems
- It might turn out that some of the technologies mentioned here are impossible or very hard to achieve, forever putting them out of reach of mankind (possibly due to economical limitations rather than principal limitations). Nanotechnology or AI might be too complex to handle, aging could be cruical for some vital process. However, this will just redirect efforts of transhuman development; while some technologies would be very useful, none are absolutely vital.
- Dangerous Technologies and Disasters
- Greater power also implies greater risks; even if advanced technologies and skills are used with a positive intent the results can become disastrous due to a minor error. The main problem is that it is impossible to prevent such problems, since by definition one cannot prepare for the unexpected, only limit known dangers. To demand absolute safety is to demand the impossible, but humans have so far often wanted security more than freedom.
References and Further Links
Exists, in most cases proven and easy to use. See for example
psychological tricks and
 Their efficiency is debatable, but it is possible to
optimize brain chemistry, for example by regulating food
intake. Currently nootropic drugs are probably more a complement to other
 More research is needed to learn how to use them safely
 Known for millennia, but in definite need of improvement. See "The
Hedonistic Imperative" by David Pearce for an overview and a sketch of a posthuman mental state.
 Already exists, and are under fast development. Better user interfaces are however needed. See Information Management.
 Traditional preventative care strives to reduce or avoid
various diseases and states of unhealth, and is mostly very tried and tested.
and similar more radical methods are not yet well tested on humans, but appear
to be promising.
Speculative, but has some support from current research.
The mechanisms of aging are in the process of being understood.
See the Life Extension Page
Many genetic changes can be done today, while others require a deeper understanding of our genetics, biochemistry and psychology. The main problems are social/ethical rather than scientific. See the Genetic Modifications Page.
Simple neural interfaces are under development. It is too early to tell how useful (if at all) they will become, but I think we will see a synergy with genetics, computer science, medicine and possibly nanotechnology. Bionic implants will begin as prothestics, until they become so useful, easily implanted and easy to learn to use that they can compete with external systems. See the bionics section
 There is a lot of research going on about intelligent
kinds of immersive systems (augmented
reality) and other adaptive tools (like augmented
memory). See Enhanced
 See the Nanotechnology page at Xerox for a good introduction.
 See The Mind Uploading Home Page.
 See Distributed intelligence
 Originally coined by Vernor Vinge, discussed at the
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Up to the Transhuman
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Anders Sandberg / email@example.com