Oligarchic transhumanism

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Oligarchic or plutocratic transhumanism is a popular portrayal of enhancement technologies in science fiction and a major concern of more left-leaning futurists/transhumanists. The idea is highly popular in biopunk and cyberpunk genres.

As a futurist concern

The extent to which this scenario must be avoided is a differentiator between libertarian transhumanists to which it is of concern, and social futurists/democratic transhumanists to whom it is a more significant concern.

Modern headlines tell stories of the super rich 'buying immortality', creating a distrust of such technologies.[1][2]

Do you want to live in a world where Rupert Murdoch could live forever? - criticism of life extension on Reddit

Concern are often expressed about the potential for social statis around matters such as gender, race, religious conflict, class and other hierarchical inequalities that could significantly slow or cease development in a world where the elite rarely die.[3]

In Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age[4], environmentalist Bill McKibben argues against enhancement and life extension. Conservative pundit Francis Fukuyama called transhumanism "the world’s most dangerous idea" in the journal Foreign Policy, elaborating, "The first victim of trans-humanism might be equality."[5]

The Italian Transhumanist Manifesto explicitly rejects such accusations:[6]

The accusation of plutocratic elitism - According to this critique, transhumanists are elite members of the upper middle classes, who plan to enhance themselves at a mental and physical level, becoming immortal demigods, a new superhuman species, in a best-case scenario ignoring the rest of their communities, and in the worst aiming at enslaving them.

In fiction

In such dystopian portrays, the super rich and/or powerful have access to the latest medical technologies where as the less well off are denied access through means costs, slavery or simply selfishness on the part of those in power.

Portrays in science fiction may often depict other dystopian elements present in fascist transhumanism, however it is not inherently so. It is a common cyberpunk theme, but less common in biopunk.

In certain portrayals, the establishment will be battling the brave resistance or anarchists, often as plucky underdogs from an anti-establishment point of view.

Examples in fiction

  • Jupiter Ascending - Billions of lives are killed to make a youth serum for the super rich.
  • Repo Men - Corporate enforcers kill organ recipients who default on their debts to reclaim the technology.
  • Alien series and 2001: A Space Odyssey - Of course the evil corporate overlords are breaching series health and safety regulations with their Unfriendly AI configurations.
  • Elysium - depicts great inequality in access to medical care.
  • Metropolis - where androids are used as a tool of social manipulation in an futurist society with strong class divisions
  • Blade Runner - where super megacorporation control world have begins plan of using biotechnologies to colonized planets and movie focused on ex-police officer-turned-independent private investigator to hunting down four replicants or Bio-cyborgs from those colonies that thier goals need find way to live longer.
  • Continuum - featured a world ruled by a 'corporate congress' and 'life debts'
  • Gattaca - setting where genetic engineered babies (later grown up as GM humans) are treated as normal, while normal humans are slowly see as nothing but "stereotypical" and "primitive". This means replace normal with more GM babies to be perfect humans in near future.
  • BioShock - features fantasy-like genetic engineering in a dystopian objectivist society or utopic religious right society in third game
  • The Expanse - the principle antagonists are a multi-system mega-corporation

See also

External links

References

  1. Survival of the richest: how London's super-rich are trying to buy immortality
  2. DNA testing, £24,000-a-week retreats and FREEZING their heads: TV show reveals the bizarre ways the rich try to defy death (but some methods are called 'utter nonsense')
  3. [User:Deku-shrub|Deku-shrub] - Various offline and online conversations with humanists
  4. Times Books, 2003
  5. Immortality 2.0: A Silicon Valley Insider Looks at California’s Transhumanist Movement
  6. Italian Transhumanist Manifesto