The Transhumanist Reader (April 2013) is the first authoritative and comprehensive survey of the origins and current state of transhumanist thinking, with an emphasis on the fresh, solar, energetic, irreverent and optimistic spirit of early transhumanism.
The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future, edited by Max More and Natasha Vita-More, will be published April 29, 2013.
It is the first authoritative and comprehensive survey of the origins and current state of transhumanist thinking, according to the editors, and the anthology includes a roster of leaders in transhumanist thought. The rapid pace of emerging technologies is playing an increasingly important role in overcoming fundamental human limitations, say Max and Natasha.
“We are in the process of upgrading the human species, so we might as well do it with deliberation and foresight. A good first step is this book, which collects the smartest thinking available concerning the inevitable conflicts, challenges and opportunities arising as we re-invent ourselves. It’s a core text for anyone making the future,” says Kevin Kelly.
I am honored that an article of mine, a revised and edited version of my essay “Transcendent Engineering” first published on the Terasem Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness, is in the book.
Max and Natasha gave a book presentation at the Borderlands Bookstore in San Francisco (please watch the video below, it is a great presentation).
I especially appreciated Max and Natasha’s affirmation of the bold, daring, visionary and politically incorrect spirit of early transhumanism. Current transhumanism, Max says at about minute 27 in the video, “is overly concerned with risks. And now it’s all existential risks and ‘Oh, we might cause the end of the world!’. Bill Joy has won, basically, a large part of Transhumanism is focused on that.” I totally agree, recently we see a very unhealthy obsession with caution and “existential risks,” whatever that means, which indicates a dangerous ossification. Let’s stop sounding like old people afraid of their own shadow, and let’s embrace again the fresh, solar, energetic, irreverent and optimistic spirit of early transhumanism.
In the same spirit, I resigned from the Board of Humanity+ (then WTA) in 2008 in protest against a trend toward “de-transhumanization”. Here is an excerpt from a letter that I sent to the Board in 2008: “Too much maturity, too much sobriety, too much ethics, too much responsibility, not enough vision, not enough experimentation, and last but not least not enough fun. Let’s not sound like advocates of the precautionary principle or, like Albert Einstein said, young whores who become old bigots. This interpretation of transhumanism is about as exciting as a 1000 page book of tax regulations. I have no doubts that it will permit attracting many more fat assed bureaucrats, nanny state advocates and persons afraid of their own shadow, but are those really the people we want to attract?”
After 2008 Humanity+, under the new leadership of Max, Natasha, Ben Goertzel and others, went back to real, visionary transhumanism. The Transhumanist Reader will provide an authoritative introduction to newcomers, and a reminder of real transhumanism to old-timers. Onward, to the stars and beyond!