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The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future

Max More (Editor), Natasha Vita-More (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-118-33429-4
480 pages
May 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future (1118334299) cover image
The first authoritative and comprehensive survey of the origins and current state of transhumanist thinking

The rapid pace of emerging technologies is playing an increasingly important role in overcoming fundamental human limitations. Featuring core writings by seminal thinkers in the speculative possibilities of the posthuman condition, essays address key philosophical arguments for and against human enhancement, explore the inevitability of life extension, and consider possible solutions to the growing issues of social and ethical implications and concerns. Edited by the internationally acclaimed founders of the philosophy and social movement of transhumanism, The Transhumanist Reader is an indispensable guide to our current state of knowledge of the quest to expand the frontiers of human nature.

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Contributor Biographies ix

Part I Roots and Core Themes 1

1 The Philosophy of Transhumanism 3
Max More

2 Aesthetics: Bringing the Arts & Design into the Discussion of Transhumanism 18
Natasha Vita-More

3 Why I Want to be a Posthuman When I Grow Up 28
Nick Bostrom

4 Transhumanist Declaration (2012) 54
Various

5 Morphological Freedom – Why We Not Just Want It, but Need It 56
Anders Sandberg

Part II Human Enhancement: The Somatic Sphere 65

6 Welcome to the Future of Medicine 67
Robert A. Freitas Jr.

7 Life Expansion Media 73
Natasha Vita-More

8 The Hybronaut Affair: A Ménage of Art, Technology, and Science 83
Laura Beloff

9 Transavatars 91
William Sims Bainbridge

10 Alternative Biologies 100
Rachel Armstrong

Part III Human Enhancement: The Cognitive Sphere 111

11 Re-Inventing Ourselves: The Plasticity of Embodiment, Sensing, and Mind 113
Andy Clark

12 Artificial General Intelligence and the Future of Humanity 128
Ben Goertzel

13 Intelligent Information Filters and Enhanced Reality 138
Alexander “Sasha” Chislenko

14 Uploading to Substrate-Independent Minds 146
Randal A. Koene

15 Uploading 157
Ralph C. Merkle

Part IV Core Technologies 165

16 Why Freud Was the First Good AI Theorist 167
Marvin Minsky

17 Pigs in Cyberspace 177
Hans Moravec

18 Nanocomputers 182
J. Storrs Hall

19 Immortalist Fictions and Strategies 196
Michael R. Rose

20 Dialogue between Ray Kurzweil and Eric Drexler 205

Part V Engines of Life: Identity and Beyond Death 213

21 The Curate’s Egg of Anti-Anti-Aging Bioethics 215
Aubrey de Grey

22 Medical Time Travel 220
Brian Wowk

23 Transhumanism and Personal Identity 227
James Hughes

24 Transcendent Engineering 234
Giulio Prisco

Part VI Enhanced Decision-Making 241

25 Idea Futures: Encouraging an Honest Consensus 243
Robin Hanson

26 The Proactionary Principle: Optimizing Technological Outcomes 258
Max More

27 The Open Society and Its Media 268
Mark S. Miller, with E. Dean Tribble, Ravi Pandya, and Marc Stiegler

Part VII Biopolitics and Policy 279

28 Performance Enhancement and Legal Theory: An Interview with
Professor Michael H. Shapiro 281

29 Justifying Human Enhancement: The Accumulation of Biocultural Capital 291
Andy Miah

30 The Battle for the Future 302
Gregory Stock

31 Mind is Deeper Than Matter: Transgenderism, Transhumanism, and the Freedom of Form 317
Martine Rothblatt

32 For Enhancing People 327
Ronald Bailey

33 Is Enhancement Worthy of Being a Right? 345
Patrick D. Hopkins

34 Freedom by Design: Transhumanist Values and Cognitive Liberty 355
Wrye Sententia

Part VIII Future Trajectories: Singularity 361

35 Technological Singularity 365
Vernor Vinge

36 An Overview of Models of Technological Singularity 376
Anders Sandberg

37 A Critical Discussion of Vinge’s Singularity Concept 395
David Brin, Damien Broderick, Nick Bostrom, Alexander “Sasha” Chislenko, Robin Hanson, Max More, Michael Nielsen, and Anders Sandberg

Part IX The World’s Most Dangerous Idea 419

38 The Great Transition: Ideas and Anxieties 421
Russell Blackford

39 Trans and Post 430
Damien Broderick

40 Back to Nature II: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century 438
Roy Ascott

41 A Letter to Mother Nature 449
Max More

42 Progress and Relinquishment 451
Ray Kurzweil

Index 454

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Max More, PhD is President and CEO of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the world’s leading cryonics organization. An internationally acclaimed strategic philosopher, Dr. More is recognized for his thinking on the philosophical and cultural implications of emerging technologies.

Natasha Vita-More, PhD is a leading expert on human enhancement and emerging and speculative technologies and is a Professor at the University of Advancing Technology. Dr. Vita-More’s writings have appeared in Technoetic Arts: Journal of Speculative Research, Metaverse Creativity and The Global Spiral. She has appeared in numerous televised documentaries on media design, culture, and the future.

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“The book, with the exceptions mentioned, may be read by nearly anyone. It is a simple and straight way to make oneself an idea about a movement it is now impossible not to know.”  (Metapsychology, 19 November 2013)

“Edited by the internationally acclaimed founders of the philosophy and social movement of transhumanism, The Transhumanist Reader is an indispensable guide to our current state of knowledge of the quest to expand the frontiers of human nature.”  (LIS Trends, 8 March 2013)

Review appeared in The Guardian 1st July 2013

“We are in the process of upgrading the human species, so we might as well do it with deliberation and foresight. A good first step is this book, which collects the smartest thinking available concerning the inevitable conflicts, challenges and opportunities arising as we re-invent ourselves. It's a core text for anyone making the future.”

—Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick for Wired


“Transhumanism has moved from a fringe concern to a mainstream academic movement with real intellectual credibility. This is a great taster of some of the best emerging work. In the last 10 years, transhumanism has spread not as a religion but as a creative rational endeavor.”

—Julian Savulescu, Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, University of Oxford


The Transhumanist Reader is an important, provocative compendium critically exploring the history, philosophy, and ethics of transhumanism. The contributors anticipate crucial biopolitical, ecological and planetary implications of a radically technologically enhanced population.”

—Edward Keller, Director, Center for Transformative Media, Parsons The New School for Design

 “This important book contains essays by many of the top thinkers in the field of transhumanism.  It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the future of humankind.”

—Sonia Arrison, Best-selling author of 100 Plus: How The Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything

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