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Criticism of transhumanism

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* Where these criticisms have substance - so that transhumanists ought to pay attention.
== A list of criticisms of transhumanism == === Disbelief in a particular technology or timescale ===
Some critics claim that a particular technology (e.g. [[mind uploading]]) is very unlikely to be achieved in a given timescale (e.g. by the year 2043) and therefore transhumanism must be discredited. These critics have observed prominent transhumanists seemingly speaking overconfidently about particular technological breakthroughs happening by particular future dates ([[Reviews of predictions|this page]] lists some examples).
Any such criticisms, therefore, are criticisms of particular views of particular transhumanists, rather than a criticism of transhumanism itself.
=== Conflation of transhumanism with belief in ongoing exponential trends ===
Some critics note that transhumanist writers often refer to ongoing exponential trends in technological development. These critics take the view that all such exponential trends are bound to come to an end, and they conclude that transhumanism is a flawed belief.
However, transhumanism simply points to the possibility of ongoing technological improvement, without presupposing that it takes place with an unwavering acceleration.
=== The view that humanity has already reached a final, desirable state ===
Some critics - including writers who are favourable to traditional religious viewpoints - assert that humanity has been created in what is already a perfect state, and cannot be meaningfully improved by means proposed by transhumanism (including science and technology).
=== The view that human existence needs to be simplified, rather than enhanced ===
Some critics assert that humanity is currently too profligate in use of planetary resources, and needs to be returned to a simpler lifestyle that uses fewer resources (rather than moving to a lifestyle with a greater reliance on technology).
See: [[neo-luddism]] and [[anarcho-primitivism]]
=== The view that science and technology will likely cause more harm than good ===
Some critics of transhumanism assert that more powerful technology is likely to cause:
=== The view that improving human morality is much harder than transhumanists suppose ===
The criticism expressed in the previous subsection can be extended as follows. A critic may acknowledge that transhumanism wishes to apply moral reasoning and social and political checks against misuse of technology. However, the critic may assert that the task of improving human nature is much harder than transhumanists suppose. Transhumanists, in this analysis, are likely to overreach their capabilities, with disastrous unintended consequences.
Note this is not an argument to push ahead with all forms of biomedical experimentation regardless of potential consequences. Instead, there is a clear obligation to anticipate foreseeable harms, and to deal with them in a timely manner. However, this principle should not be extended to a state of hyper-caution regarding potential unforeseen harms. That's because inaction (slow progress with biomedical research) also involves foreseeable harms.
=== The view that transhumanism would shatter the core equality of existing humans ===
''Main: [[Oligarchic transhumanism]]''
* This greater diversity will bring its own set of challenges, but none of these should be seen as any fundamental reason to oppose the transhumanist project.
=== The view that transhumanism will lead to 'gigadeath' ===
As a variant of the previous idea, it may prove to be the case that humans - even if biologically enhanced - are unable to compete with robotic lifeforms. Again, the threat of a fundamental division opens up.
* It is a core part of the transhumanist project to support initiatives by organisations that address [[Existential risk]]s.
=== The view that transhumanism would deprive humanity of ultimate meaning ===
Some critics refer, not to the risk of wars, social disruptions, or other existential threats, caused by technological advances, but to the loss of features which are held to be essential for the best qualities of human life. For example, [ Leon Kass, 2003] makes the following argument:
Transhumanists are willing to allow critics the option for their own lives to suffer personal decline and death, if that is what they truly wish for themselves. However, that outcome should not be extended to apply to people who lack that belief. Instead, transhumanists assert the moral choice of self-determination: their desire for improved health and lifespan, for themselves and their loved ones, should override any desire by critics to limit and constrain them.
=== The view that transhumanism would have adverse social and environmental impacts ===
Some critics say that they recognise the attractiveness for individuals to experience improved health and lifespan - in line with the transhumanist initiative - but that if everyone experiences these benefits, society as a whole will suffer:
* There is ample room on the earth, in the sky, and (in due course) in outer space, to accommodate increased population sizes - and there is plenty of energy available (from the sun and beyond) to provide all the needs for these populations.
=== The view that there are more urgent priorities for human attention ===
In January 2015, Microsoft founder Bill Gates responded to the following question in [ an “Ask Me Anything” session held on Reddit]:
If someone thinks it will be a very expensive project to bring about widespread healthy lifespan extension, and if they think success with that project lies centuries into the future, they'll be inclined to view rejuvenation researchers as eccentric (mad) and/or egocentric (selfish). However, if they concede the possibility that real progress could happen in the next few decades, for a cost-spend comparable to the amount of money that’s currently being spent on, say, cancer alone, their assessment will change. These critics may start to view transhumanists, not as eccentric, but as inspired; not as egocentric, but as heroic.
=== The view that transhumanists have an unhealthy dislike of the physical ===
Some critics assert that transhumanists place too much emphasis on escaping from physical embodiment. By looking forward to uploading their minds into computer systems, transhumanists display (it is said) an unhealthy dislike of the physical.
This criticism, therefore, fails to apply to transhumanism as a whole.
=== The view that transhumanism is a restatement of the discredited concept of eugenics ==='''Main: [[Eugenics]]'''
Some critics assert that transhumanists are "guilty by association" with ideas adopted by the Nazis. The argument runs as follows:
* Transhumanist eugenics involves providing greater genetic choice to everyone.
=== The view that transhumanism is a totalitarian ideology with insufficient respect for human dignity ===
As a variant of the previous criticism, it can be asserted that transhumanism will inevitably remove freedom of choice from individuals who would prefer to remain unenhanced. To remain unenhanced in the future will be akin to someone choosing to remain illiterate: that choice made sense when many professions had no need of literacy, but anyone in the early 21st century who opts out of learning to read and write would be at a substantial disadvantage.
Transhumanists can reply that the upsides and downsides of specific enhancements should be widely discussed in advance, to allow a broader appreciation to be reached on how to preserve human dignity at the same time as humanity is enhanced. There is nothing intrinsic to transhumanism that dictates that personal choices would be overridden.
=== The view that transhumanism is a religion in disguise ===
Some critics point out that there are similarities between transhumanism and religion:
''See also: [[Spiritual transhumanism]] and [[Religious transhumanism]]''
=== Dislike of any "ism", and a preference for action ===
A different set of critics propose that it is more important to actually create engineering solutions (that will enhance humanity) than to develop and support a philosophy about the transformation of human nature. For these critics, the symbol "H+" would better imply "happiness enhanced" than "humanity enhanced". In this case, the issue on the minds of critics isn't particularly with transhumanism, but with any "ism".
Building this positive mindset is a core task of the transhumanist community. That's a task that requires more than technical engineering.
=== Dislike of the word "transhumanism" ===
Some critics like what transhumanism is trying to accomplish, but dislike the actual word "transhumanism". They feel that the word "transhumanism":
''See also: [[Transhumanist synonyms and closely related terms]]''
=== Dislike of association with transhumanists ===
A final reason for critics to be fearful of transhumanism is if they assess the movement as being dominated in practice by people to whom several of the preceding criticisms apply. These are individuals who:

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