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Old 03-22-2014, 01:02 PM   #1
Astromancer
 
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Default Transhumanism and Society

My thesis is simple, any really signifigant Transhuman breakthough would radically alter society. Radical alterations of society would radically transform the power relationships within and between societies. Radical transformations of power relationships eventually lead to war, both because those who've lost power try to regain it, and those who've gained power want to use it.

If I came up with a wide-spectrum vaccine that, as a side effect, both heightened stats (I'm going to use gamespeak) and radically increased longevity, both effects coming form the fact of a strengthened immune system allowing fuller developement of the child's natural capassities, all societies would experience great pressures to use the vaccine. As societies with national health care systems suddenly had poppulations that were stronger, smarter, thougher, more agile, and much longer lived, than those that didn't, they'd struge ahead. Poorer nations would have trouble providing the same benefits to all and the children who got the benefits would be far less willing to let their elders rule the roost and exploit the land. Somewhere there would be violence. And all for improved health.

More dramatic forms of Transhumanism would lead to war far more quickly and between greater powers.

Many of the world's present day cultures are suffering from failure to thrive. Lack of Democracy and/or civil liberities holds many lands back. Add in a vast new advantage to the wealthy democracies and the poor nations would being to crack from the sheer misery of being left out or the rage of the people at governments that will fight to the death to prevent democracy.

In this environment, Transhumanism is the harbinger of wars.

Ojections? Counter Arguements? Refinements to my thesis? General reactions?
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Old 03-22-2014, 02:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: Transhumanism and Society

The general idea of transhumanist projects leading to violent power struggles, wars, political chaos, etc. appears plausible--indeed, quite likely in many scenarios.

You appear to have based the deeper analysis in this particular write-up on ideological assumptions about the way the world works that I don't buy into.



That said, I like the idea of wars over eugenic upgrades, super-vaccines, and so on. It's game worthy, for sure.

All IMHO & YMMV

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Old 03-22-2014, 05:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: Transhumanism and Society

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
Somewhere there would be violence.
How is that different from now?

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Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
And all for improved health.
...
Not all for improved health; some is for exploitation and disenfranchisment as you mentioned


Where were the smallpox vaccine wars, again?
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Old 03-22-2014, 08:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Transhumanism and Society

Earlier today I was listening to the BBC talking about AIDS and the development of the drug cocktail using AZT in the treatment. For a while it was only used in the North or more developed world due to cost of the drugs and that it required a stringent schedule of treatment to prevent disease mutation. However, that was the 80's before the Internet, social media, more globalization and so on. So let us say you create this vaccine that creates healthier children, how much does it cost?

The West may have patent laws and governments/corporations with the resources willing to defend the patents. We also have places in the less developed world like China/India/Russia who are willing to reverse engineer products and technologies or simply obtain the technology. Good luck trying to enforce those patents since many people would be spending lots of money to obtain those vaccines. So now you would have the birth of the Biopunk age. You have people or classes that can purchase the latest genetic and medical upgrades and the ones who use the state approved versions and then the underground versions.
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:16 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
In this environment, Transhumanism is the harbinger of wars.

Ojections? Counter Arguements? Refinements to my thesis? General reactions?
Since what you have are people who are at a disadvantage in wealth and therefore technology capability and since the transhuman junk if anything just increases that disparity, the result is not war as such. People start wars when they think they have a shot at winning. There would be terrorism of course.
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Transhumanism and Society

Feels allot like many cyberpunk settings and stories theme and tone wise.
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Old 03-22-2014, 10:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
Since what you have are people who are at a disadvantage in wealth and therefore technology capability and since the transhuman junk if anything just increases that disparity, the result is not war as such. People start wars when they think they have a shot at winning. There would be terrorism of course.
Terrorist attacks might help lead to conventional wars, occupations, counter-insurgency campaigns, and so on.

Quote:
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Feels allot like many cyberpunk settings and stories theme and tone wise.
It does, and I like that.




YMMV

Last edited by combatmedic; 03-23-2014 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
My thesis is simple, any really signifigant Transhuman breakthough would radically alter society. Radical alterations of society would radically transform the power relationships within and between societies. Radical transformations of power relationships eventually lead to war, both because those who've lost power try to regain it, and those who've gained power want to use it.

If I came up with a wide-spectrum vaccine that, as a side effect, both heightened stats (I'm going to use gamespeak) and radically increased longevity, both effects coming form the fact of a strengthened immune system allowing fuller developement of the child's natural capassities, all societies would experience great pressures to use the vaccine. As societies with national health care systems suddenly had poppulations that were stronger, smarter, thougher, more agile, and much longer lived, than those that didn't, they'd struge ahead. Poorer nations would have trouble providing the same benefits to all and the children who got the benefits would be far less willing to let their elders rule the roost and exploit the land. Somewhere there would be violence. And all for improved health.

More dramatic forms of Transhumanism would lead to war far more quickly and between greater powers.

Many of the world's present day cultures are suffering from failure to thrive. Lack of Democracy and/or civil liberities holds many lands back. Add in a vast new advantage to the wealthy democracies and the poor nations would being to crack from the sheer misery of being left out or the rage of the people at governments that will fight to the death to prevent democracy.

In this environment, Transhumanism is the harbinger of wars.

Objections? Counter Arguments? Refinements to my thesis? General reactions?
I think a social unrest in response to the increased inequity is more likely than overt war, at least initially. You have a situation where wealth becomes even more of a divisive force as the people that can afford the treatment become measurably better people in the physical sense. Stronger, faster, smarter, longer lived. As many of them will already come from the upper classes and the "elite" how long before they come to view themselves as an almost separate species, at least a good number of them.

And I wouldn't expect those that can't get the treatment to quietly accept their position. There's going to be protests, demands that the government provide it for everyone and outrage at those that use connections or illegals means to get their hands on it while more "deserving" poor go without. There are going to be groups from ultra conservative religious movements to bioconservative organizations to human extinction groups that seem this as morally wrong. Some of them may turn to violence.

Its a valuable commodity so there will be attempts to steal it or the process to manufacture it and the probably pretty severe means employed to keep the secret (too many people making allot of money). Stolen materials, knockoffs and con games using fake vaccine would rampant and while the original serum might be perfect the knockoff and poorly made copied version might not be so harmless. If a significant number of criminals get their hands on this it could make for difficulty for non-enhanced law enforcement to keep up with them. This includes mentally unstable individuals that legally obtain the treatment.

Interesting idea for a gaming. I can see allot of potential for various campaigns everything from smugglers to being agents of a regulatory agency trying to keep some handle on the situation. Some friends of mine actually have a similar situation in their Champions game but with a more fanciful drug.

But long story short I agree with your premise that any major technological change is going to be alter society and there's often going to be "growing pains" associated with that change. That's been demonstrated many times in the past, printed books, the telephone the Internet, the list goes on and on. But I don't think war is an inevitable outcome, at least not directly.
But technologies that generally associated with transhumanism do hold the potential to truly and radically alter society.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:10 AM   #9
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Another technology that would radically alter our world and probably cause a good bit of social unrest would be cheap and easily produced human level strong AI. The sort that could replace human beings in almost all low level common jobs...
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Old 03-23-2014, 01:28 PM   #10
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Default Re: Transhumanism and Society

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Originally Posted by Keiko View Post
Another technology that would radically alter our world and probably cause a good bit of social unrest would be cheap and easily produced human level strong AI. The sort that could replace human beings in almost all low level common jobs...
Their expense would slow that down, but fear of the inevitable causes just as much dangerous panic as present joblessness, I would imagine.
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