Over the course of following the transhumanist phenomenon and movement, many people have noted to me, and I myself have observed, the uncanny longevity of some of the world's super-wealthy and powerful people. One need only think of H.M. Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, or of David Rockefeller, and so on. In the case of Queen Elizabeth, this 87 year old lady is the picture of health(at least, from what we know) and does not look her age at all.
I say all this as backdrop, really, to an observation I first made in The Giza Death Star and which was repeated in the book I co-authored with Dr. Scott deHart, Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas. We spent some time in that book discussing Percy Shelley's Frankenstein, and its wider implications in the context of the GRIN technologies - genetics, robotics, information processing, and nano-technology - touted as life-and-culture changers by the transhumanists. What if, by considered application of any one or combination of those technologies, the human lifespan could be greatly enhanced? As I put it in the Giza Death Star, these technologies seem to be making the potential for the lifespans reported in some ancient texts of hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years a step closer to reality. What if one lived, not a "biblical threescore and ten", but hundreds of years? one can envision the cultural transition this would effect. Our greatest scientists - famous for one or two major discoveries in their lives, and usually early in their lives - would perhaps rack up tens or hundreds of such discoveries. Individuals could specialize, not in just one narrow disciplinary focus, but several. Information could be learned at an enormously accelerated rate, and passed on to future generations at an equal rate. The transformation of human culture, not to mention an extraordinarily huge leap in scientific progress, would begin to leap almost off the charts, for we would not have to recyle and transmit the sum of human knowledge to new generations every twenty or thirty years, it could be done much faster, to generations that in turn live much longer.
It all depends on that first crucial factor: longevity.
In the course of our musing on this possibility for many years, and especially during the writing of Transhumanism, Dr de Hart and I also talked about that transional period, when such technologies, due to their novelty, are quite expensive, and hence, access is restricted to the wealthy few who could afford it. In such circumstances, one segment of society will begin to pull away from the rest of humanity by dint of its access to technologies that, for all intents and purposes, are hidden or secret from the rest of humanity. Transhumanism, in other words, is but a different name for ufo scholar and research Mr. Richard Dolan's "breakaway civilization."
Against all this backdrop, we now have this little confirmation or corroboration of these speculations:
Clearly Mr. Nygaard has offered himself as a subject for at least one of the GRIN technologies, genetics, with predictable results. I doubt it is the first such story, but it is significant that the BBC is reporting on it, and we can expect many more such stories in the future. There will inevitably be those who will argue that "the elites" will seek to hoard the technologies of longevity for themselves. If so, I doubt they will be successful. It is the inevitable march of technologies that, as their capability grows, so does their use, but their costs usually decline, and dramatically so. The computer on which I am composing this blog has a memory one million times more powerful than the first computer I used almost twenty years ago, yet it cost me at most a fourth of what that twenty-years ago ancient abacus cost. (And it's a lot less clunky too).
No. I think the real concern that no one is addressing, save perhaps a fourth century church father by the name of John Chrysostom, is the effect of all this longevity on human moral culture. Will someone hundreds of years old grow so tired and cynical of life that humanity is but a plaything? Will, in other words, there be Adolf Hitlers and Josef Stalins able to "perfect" their evil over a vaster amount of time? or will there be Albert Schweitzers and Mother Teresas doing their good over time? It seems the moral questions, as always, are being left out of the mix, even while the transhumanist express is barreling down the tracks straight toward us. We need to start thinking about them... now.
See you on the flip side.