Far from the fads of wealthy Californian entrepreneurs and the commercial dreams of Google, techno-progressism wants to moderate transhumanism and think about a societal project that benefits everyone.
“If transhumanism carries the idea that new technologies can improve the condition of man, techno-progressism, he wants to incorporate in this project a societal reflection,” says Didier Coeurnelle to Mashable FR.
It is often summed up transhumanism to the increased man, thanks to the slowing down of the aging process or to the improvement of the physical and cognitive capacities. But within transhumanist currents of thought, we must distinguish one that places particular emphasis on life in society. Thus, it is not only man in the individual sense that should be perfected, but the sum of individuals that form the collective that deserves to enjoy this perfection, without distinction of social class. “The goal is not to reach a utopian ‘perfect man’, a stupid Superman, eternal smile on his lips, but to pursue indefinitely the ideal of human perfectibility”,
“Among some American transhumanists, we find this central idea of surpassing oneself, but the defenders of techno-progressism do not want to reduce transhumanism to this selfish aim. For them, we must think about the issues of transhumanism in terms of living. Together, “says Didier Coeurnelle. A concern that has not always existed, at the beginning of the movement.
Transhumanism is born of the California counterculture
In its traditional definition, transhumanist thinking has its roots in the United States of the 1970s. At the time, the impulse was rebellious and came from the Californian counterculture, which flirted with the anarcho-capitalist spheres and the American right wing advocating ultra-individualism. The movement was called “Extropy” and claimed a happy libertarianism, one that would offer everyone to increase their abilities, live longer and colonize space. The myth of the self-made man revisited, in short.
Techno-progressists want to distance themselves from unbridled capitalism
This state of mind had particularly attracted a number of billionaire tech entrepreneurs such as Larry Page or Peter Thiel Later, as the giant Google became a patron of the transhumanist movement, including in 2013 financially supporting the creation of a biotechnology company Calico to “kill death”, transhumanism seems to have turned into a real business. In addition to being hegemon in the field of technology, the firm of Mountain View appeared decided to obtain the same status in the world of health and biotechnology.
This excessive commodification of transhumanism displeases techno-progressive transhumanists, who are keen to distance themselves from this unbridled capitalism. For them, it is important not to let transhumanism in the hands of the giants who want to increase the man without ethical consideration, but also to think about the project of society that the advent of new technologies is drawing. Transhumanism, okay; but for whom? How? And taking into consideration which risks?
Access to all and risk management
Transhumanism will be techno-progressive only if it guarantees universal access to decisive technologies and incorporates a solid reflection on health and environmental risks. “From an ethical point of view as well as a pragmatic point of view, we cannot hope to live better individually without thinking of living better collectively: technoprogressism, resulting from transhumanism, emphasizes the social and environmental aspects of these evolutions”, can we read in a text of the transhumanist Virginie Soulabaille .
At the end of Transvision , the international colloquium gathering in Brussels transhumanists from the 9th to the 11th of November, to which Mashable FR went, a technoprogressist statement was drafted. It reads, “The world is inegalitarian and dangerous, emerging technologies could make it a lot better, or worse.” Unfortunately, too few people today understand the magnitude of the threats or benefits that humanity faces. It is time for technoprogressists, transhumanists and futurists to strengthen their political commitment to try to influence the course of events. “The other name of techno-progressism is democratic transhumanism. We understand better why.