Transhumanism: Brainchild of the West Has a Bright Future in the East

Transhumanism today is regarded as a primarily Western-centric ideology, sort of new eugenics in disguise, and many Christian bioconservatives and moderate liberals harmoniously raise their voice against its ideas.

Aside that transhumanists are persistently trying to put their motivation for the improvement of the human condition through scientific and technological progress in the foreground of their deliberations about the new paradigm in which human life is inextricably tied to technology, concerned “guardians of the human soul” are always emphasizing the possibility that tinkering with “our true nature” can, and probably will be abused for ungodly goals.

Different cultures around the world have different understanding of “our true nature” and the desired preferences towards the evolution of human species. We are unquestionably constantly reinventing ourselves. To what extent that redefining of human condition, determined by our attempts to shape the world to fit our needs and collective adjustments to resulting changes, preserves “our true nature”, and what is the point of departure from “our true nature”, no one knows for sure.

The Western world, burdened by its history of flirting with eugenics, and its schizophrenic identity, torn between political correctness and the desire to maintain the world supremacy, has a love – hate relationship with what is commonly regarded as ‘transhumanist’ technologies, like biotechnology, molecular nanotechnology and human engineering. Although Western democracies generally invest huge amounts of money in future technologies, there is also a strong opposition towards over-zealous exploitation of scientific discoveries, out of fear that things can easily escape our control.

It seems that there is much more freedom for scientific research and technological development in the East than in the West. Countries like China and Singapore, for example, have more liberal regard towards biotech research and other innovative technologies then Western democracies.

One of the main goals of transcendentalist movement is enhancing human cognitive capabilities. China is taking this task seriously. They are already investing great amounts of money in innovative systems of education. Apart from that, they are not shy to explore other ways in which they could improve cognitive, psychological and physical capacities of their people. In an interview with Vice, two years ago, Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist, one of the 2, 000 people with above-the-average IQ who contributed their DNA to Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), claimed that, as opposed to people in the West, 95% of Chinese wouldn’t have anything against genetic engineering of their babies if that could make their children “healthier, happier and brighter”.

In the 1980s Singapore’s former prime minister openly called for a selective breeding and higher birth rates among well-educated citizens in order to “maintain economic standards”. It is a public secret that elitism thrives within this society which leans towards a sort of technocracy. From the Westerner’s perspective, this may sound bad, but the same thing is covertly happening in the West too. Clans of rich people and those belonging to academia have their own ways; their own breed doesn’t mix much with the rest of the society. From the early childhood they live in closed circles of their own kind. It just isn’t politically correct to say that openly in public.

However, it seems that with the global spreading of transhumanist ideas, there are far greater chances that those ideas will be greeted with a more positive attitude in the East Asia than they are currently in the West. One of the reasons for that is a fast-paced technological development in East Asia. It is a known fact that the technological innovation always acts as a catalyst of social change. This part of the world is becoming the most dynamic region when it comes to high-tech industries. Having no history of eugenics, and no obvious religious constraints for human enhancements, with their liberal attitude towards future technologies and fast economic expansion, East Asia seems like the most likely place where people will adapt to a progressive lifestyle and the transhumanist worldview.