Is that a system error or are you just happy to see me?

I’ve come across a new word:  transhumanism. Apparently there’s even a World Transhumanism Association. The goal is the ethical use of science and technology to increase human capabilities. An extreme example would be, say, the Bionic Woman.

Why is this on my mind?  There’s a book coming out in September by American author David M. Friedman called The Immortalists that delves into these Frankensteinian delights. He talks about the French surgeon, Alexis Carrel, who worked at the Rockefeller Institute in Manhattan and won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in transplantation techniques. Carrel worked with famed aviator and mechanical whiz, Charles Lindbergh, to develop a profusion pump to keep organs viable outside the human body. This was all good work and the foundation of further advances in cardiac medicine. Where it gets weird is when these folks started dreaming of an ideal future where those worthy of immortality (including them, of course) got mechanical body parts so that they could keep on ticking forever.

This isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Chuck and his airplanes, but consider the time period.  Eugenics was a hot topic in the early to mid-twentieth century, the same era that gave us the rise of the Nazis. Advances in technology, immortality, genetic selection, and the like made a new, improved human race look possible. Somebody was bound to take these concepts out of the realm of philosophy and try them out in the lab. Fortunately, some of the work, like Lindbergh’s, had medical value.

As far as the whole man/machine concept goes, I suppose we’ve got that already with pacemakers and the like. How far we’ll take it remains to be seen, but I’m not an advocate of living forever as a conglomeration of mechanical bits and pieces. The industry would want to computerize their fake limbs and organs, and then we’d get something like Vista. And, hey, I know how helpful help desks are. What would happen when my operating system argues with my anti-virus? I’d get a worm or spam or something and be worse off than I would with ordinary aches and pains. I could have a fatal error.

No thanks.  I’ll just get old, not obsolete.

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