Who invented transhumanism?

Transhumanism: Does Man Need To Be Optimized?

"In the long run we are all dead" is the saying of the economist John Maynard Keynes. But this banal fact probably doesn't even elicit a tired laugh from the so-called transhumanists. In the future we humans do not have to and should not die, say the transhumanists. Eternal life and technically optimized bodies, brains uploaded to clouds and people as cyborgs - these are the visions of men (and individual women) who want to overcome the human and put us into a "posthuman" state.

We talked to Sarah Spiekermann, a critic of transhumanism, about the image of man behind the transhumanist ideas and how it affects our present and future.

"In transhumanism, the negative image of man is condensed into an ideology of lovelessness, in which the human being is simply viewed as a suboptimal obsolescence model," says Spiekermann, business IT specialist and professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.

Spiekermann is not alone with her criticism of the transhumanist ideas and visions. The popular political scientist Francis Fukuyama, for example, calls transhumanism "the most dangerous idea" in the world. Spiekermann agrees: There are currently transhumanism supporters in companies in Silicon Valley and in many top positions in leading IT groups.

Their perception of humans as deficient beings who work in a similar way to predictable computer systems influences the development of digital technologies, which in turn have a major impact on our lives.

"Transhumanism often assumes that people are unhappy, that they are suboptimal and that they are purely rational preference optimizers," says Spiekermann. That is an unattractive image of man, and we have to develop a better one in the late modern era, "which places more trust in the individual," argues the business IT specialist.

You can hear more about the ideas of transhumanism, its representatives and their influence in the podcast Edition Future. (red, April 30, 2020)

Sarah Spiekermann is a business IT specialist and professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, where she heads the Institute for Information Systems and Society. In 2019 Spiekermann published the book "Digital Ethics. A Value System for the 21st Century".

About the podcast:

"Edition Future" is the podcast about life and the world of tomorrow. Editors: Olivera Stajić, Fabian Sommavilla, Philip Pramer | Production: Zsolt Wilhelm | Editor: Daniel Roßmann | Music: Tristan Linton / polkadot | Logo: Wolfram Leitner