8. Towards abundant health

This page contains the opening portion of Chapter 8 from
Sustainable Superabundance: A universal transhumanist invitation

tam graphic 8

8. Towards abundant health

To recap the previous three chapters: there are good grounds for anticipating that, in the not-so-distant future, there can be plenty of clean energy for all human activities, plenty of nutritious food for everyone, and plenty of material goods for all our worldly needs. Twenty first century science and technology place these abundances within our grasp – provided that we are wise enough, and sufficiently strong and agile, to embrace the opportunity.

However, these abundances, by themselves, will be far from sufficient to ensure that human flourishing reaches its full potential.

If, despite an abundance of energy, nutrition, and material goods, our medical health continues to deteriorate as we grow older, then, just as at present, individual human flourishing will be cut short, again and again.

As our health deteriorates, we will be increasingly restricted in what we can do. With feeble bodies and/or feeble minds, we may observe a growing abundance of energy, nutrition, and material goods all around us, but we won’t be able to take advantage of that bounty. As individuals in decline, we’ll move from activity to passivity, from engagement to detachment, from vigour to lethargy, from precision to dullness, and from being to nothingness. Rather than flourish, we’ll flounder and fade away.

So far in history, a deterioration of human health has, sooner or later, been the story of everyone’s life. In some cases, a person’s health declines precipitously, due to a catastrophic accident or harsh act of violence. In other cases, their health declines gradually, due to the impact of one or more diseases or conditions that reduce mental or physical capability, until the point of death. Either way, after a few short decades of life, consciousness ceases. Brains turn to dust. Loving relationships are severed. Each time a single person dies, vast troves of human experience are lost, comparable to the burning down of a library, in a calamitous transformation of knowledge into ashes. Such, it appears, is the brutality of nature.

But transhumanists assert that these brutal “facts of nature” are on the point of being overturned. Thanks to further applications of twenty first century science and technology, the terminal decline of health will no longer be inevitable, but will soon be something we can resist and reverse. Aging can be abolished. In consequence, the vistas for human flourishing can extend mightily, both for individuals and for humanity as a whole.

Rejuvenation ahead

In more detail, the restorative biological properties that we presently experience in our youth, which enable us to bounce back quickly from injury or illness, will no longer lose their power as decades pass. Instead, it will become possible in the not-so-distant future to extend these restorative self-healing powers indefinitely – thanks to a combination of biochemical and nanotech interventions made possible by accelerating progress in regenerative medicine and rejuvenation biotechnology.

As a result, we humans will be as vibrant and resilient in our eighties as in our twenties. If we wish it, we’ll be able to live well past the age of 100 without any decline in our health. Indeed, if we wish it, we’ll be able to live well past the age of 1000, without any decline in our health.

These restorative processes will not only be extended in their duration, but they will also grow in their scope and effectiveness. Diseases which formerly threatened even the most robust physical constitution will be cured quickly. The sinister destructive power of new pathogens will meet their match in the constructive restorative power of highly intelligent, swiftly adapting, personalised suites of biomedical therapies. Due to continuous monitoring of all our vital statistics, and of threats in our environment, corrective interventions can be triggered at much earlier stages in the downward spiral of bodily dysfunction. We will hardly notice that we were, momentarily, ill.

And not only will we remain fit and healthy for as long as we wish, but we will grow even fitter and healthier than we can presently imagine. The transhumanist vision of “better than well” is within our reach – but only if we rapidly alter society’s priorities to give much more attention to this possibility of an unlimited abundance of health.

<snip>

<< Previous chapter <<   =====   >> Next chapter >>

Recent Posts

There’s more to democracy than voting

Suppose that the UK held another referendum on the subject of Brexit. Suppose that the numerical result was essentially the same as before: around 52% voting for the UK to leave the EU, and around 48% voting for the UK to remain.

In that case, would that referendum prove to have been a massive waste of time and money?

My answer: not necessarily. Such a vote could actually lead to the healing of the nation, rather than to continued divisiveness and chaos.

politics chaos or healing

It all depends, not on the numerical result, but on the calibre of the arguments raised during that referendum.

If supporters of Leave came forward, during the campaign, with arguments that were less contestable and more compelling than before, this could lead to a healing of the nation. People who voted for the other option in the referendum might still feel disappointed. But they could accept that there were sound arguments in favour of the side that won. And, unlike the case of the first Brexit referendum, they could move forward, reconciled to the outcome. They could tell themselves they had lost a fair battle.

A similar conclusion could apply if, in a variant potential future scenario, it were Remain that won the second referendum, even if just by a narrow margin. Again, there’s no inherent reason why that conclusion would lead to ongoing bitterness. Again, it depends, not on the numerical result, but on the calibre of the arguments raised during the campaigns.

Not just a re-run

Various critics of the idea of a second referendum are doubtful that anything positive could arise from a new round of campaigning. It would just be a re-run of the previous campaign, they say, perhaps with a few people changing their minds. Nothing essentially new could arise. Forget healing. We would just get more chaos.

But I give a much more positive assessment to the idea of a second, better, referendum.

For one reason, people have learned a great deal in the intervening 30 months. Opinions which could be seen as plausible two years ago, have long since been shown up as deeply wrong. As an example, consider the now thoroughly discredited claim that it would be “the easiest deal ever” to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU (witness “EU trade deal ‘easiest in human history'” and “All the times David Davis said that Brexit was simple”.) On such matters, we’re all wiser now.

But more fundamentally, it’s now widely recognised that it’s in everyone’s interest to cool down the debate, rather than letting matters be inflamed further.

The falsification principle

As a step away from ideology to objectivity, participants in the debate should start by reflecting long and hard about which circumstances would cause them to change their minds. This is in line with the falsification principle of science: people aspiring to scientific methods should set out in advance which experimental findings would cause them to seriously rethink their currently favoured theories.

Therefore, people favouring Remain should describe the circumstances that would cause them to consider switching to Leave instead. In this way, they would identify the potentially strongest arguments in favour of Leave. For example, to my mind, the strongest argument in favour of Leave would be if the structural weakness of the eurozone were shown to be likely to lead to huge financial chaos, of a sort that the UK could best hope to escape by being outside of the EU altogether.

Likewise, people favouring Leave should describe the circumstances that would cause them to consider switching to Remain instead. For example, they might be prepared to alter their vote if they gained confidence in the flexibility and genuineness of EU reform proposals.

Debate participants unable to set out such a “falsifying circumstance” would have to acknowledge they are driven by ideology, rather being open to new findings.

Preparing to build bridges

In parallel, participants in both sides of the debate need to set out proposals for how the UK could unwind from any state of internal hostility after the campaign was concluded.

To this end, supporters of Remain need to acknowledge that many on the Leave side are profoundly ill at ease with what they see as the direction of social development. More than that, Remain supporters need to be ready to commit to a credible programme to address key causes of this alienation, including the bitter perception many people have of being “left behind”.

Similarly, supporters of Leave need to acknowledge that many on the Remain side are profoundly ill at ease with the potential unravelling of processes of multilateral decisions, in a post-Brexit race-to-the bottom world of increasing deregulation.

Towards superdemocracy

That’s the vision – the vision of a better politics being expressed in a better referendum.

It’s a vision that goes beyond democracy-as-counting-votes. It’s a vision of emerging superdemocracy (to use a term that has featured in the last two Transpolitica books – Transcending Politics and Sustainable Superabundance).

Is this vision credible? Or are we doomed to a politics dominated by feelings of vengeance and obliteration?

That is, is a second referendum likely to lead to even greater chaos, or to healing?

Personal leadership

To an extent, the answer will be influenced by the personal qualities of the people leading each side of the debate. Do these people have high personal integrity? Are they open to learning? Are they able to build bridges? Do they have high emotional intelligence? Or are they, instead, obsessive and self-serving?

The answer (chaos or healing) will also depend on how the media conducts itself. Is the media looking for high drama? Will it seek out and amplify the most inflammatory soundbites? Or will it show restraint and care?

To my mind, everyone who cares about the future of the UK has to get behind the processes of healing, rather than the processes of chaos.

That means a commitment to debating honestly – to considering the merits and demerits of different arguments fairly, rather than with a partisan spirit.

This also means a commitment to building bridges – to discovering shared common values, even with people who express views very differently to our own.

It won’t be easy. But the cost of failure would be enormous.

Image source: “Big Ben at Sunset” – Photo by M N on Unsplash

  1. Superdemocracy: issues and opportunities Leave a reply
  2. New complete book awaiting reader reviews Leave a reply
  3. Q4 update: Progress towards “Sustainable superabundance” Leave a reply
  4. Q3 sprint: launch the Abundance Manifesto Leave a reply
  5. Q2 sprint: Political responses to technological unemployment Leave a reply
  6. Tools for better politics? 2 Replies
  7. Chapter updated: “1. Vision and roadmap” Leave a reply
  8. Chapter updated: “4. Work and purpose” Leave a reply
  9. Transpolitica goals and progress, Q1 Leave a reply