Editor's note.

Author:Bardi, Jennifer
Position:On the future of transhumanism - Column

I ONCE READ somewhere that Hershey's Kisses were named after the machine that forms them--the two mechanical parts that first deposit the chocolate come together as they lift up and look like lips kissing the conveyor belt. In this day and age you can barely get by with something as vague as "I once read somewhere," and someday our intelligence will be so integrated with artificial systems as to render such obscurity obsolete. But for now, the idea of a machine exhibiting human qualities--and vice-versa--is germane.

In this issue we offer an in-depth look at what our science and religion correspondent Clay Farris Naff declares "the coming transhumanist revolution." It's a future that is, in some ways, already here. So-called smart technology allows us to insert or attach all manner of machinery to our bodies to monitor biological functioning and brain activity, and even guide us where we want to go. (It's worth noting that with vibrating smart shoes and self-driving cars you still have to decide where you want to go.)

Imagine later on. As nanobots regulate our immune systems, race and gender disappear, and we finally upload our minds to computers: What will we have done? As our present lives become more integrated, enhanced, and simplified (and in other cases, complicated) by technology, scientists and philosophers alike are urging us to consider what it means for humanity. Will the artificial surpass the human, and will we be able stop it from doing so? Envisioning a transhumanist future in which we become more like machines, will they become more like us or will they simply outgrow and override all that's human? Naff got very different answers to these questions, from a philosopher and a technologist who've both given artificial intelligence a great deal...

To continue reading