The Promise of a Better Human: James Clement on our Transhuman futures
In this week’s episode, Podcast Editor Josh Wagner takes a look at transhumanism, the philosophy, and ideology that the next stage in human evolution will arrive through artificial enhancements. Started in the early 1990s in Silicon Valley, transhumanism has accrued a wide variety of adherents, ranging from Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk to Jeffrey Epstein, who believe that the human body itself needs to be upgraded. In their minds, such technological enhancements will increase the quality of life and abilities of every human being––“if nature is unjust, change nature!”
But, are such transhumanist dreams even possible, and would such biological enhancements actually help transform the human race rather than reinforcing the social, racial, and economic divides which are tearing at the foundations of our democracy?
Joining us this week is James Clement, director of BetterHumans, the world’s first transhumanist-oriented biomedical research lab. A former international tax lawyer and brewpub founder, Clement now works on the scientific side of anti-aging, often collaborating with Havard geneticist George Church to discover why certain humans are able to live for more than 100 years. At the heart of his transhumanism rests a fundamental belief in human capabilities and their liberation, beliefs which motivate his biological research. For him, transhumanism is a real technology, fundamentally linked to medical vaccines, stitches, and contact lenses. The only difference is that, like any new technology, transhumanism is not fully understood, especially by Americans who are resistant to such changes.
At the core of this interview lies a concern that a so-called transhumanist utopia, while possible, may not be entirely desirable. Like Odysseus’ searching beyond the limits of human cognition in Dante’s Inferno, transhumanism crucially aspires to alter our relationship with our own bodies, potentially increasing carbon emissions, overpopulation, and racial/social inequalities.
James Clement: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jwclement/
Transhumanist Manifesto: https://natashavita-more.com/transhumanist-manifesto/
Humanist Manifesto: https://zelalemkibret.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/humanist-manifestos.pdf