Mindscan: Transcending and enhancing the human brain

In Susan Schneider (ed.), Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 241--56 (2009)

Abstract

Suppose it is 2025 and being a technophile, you purchase brain enhancements as they become readily available. First, you add a mobile internet connection to your retina, then, you enhance your working memory by adding neural circuitry. You are now officially a cyborg. Now skip ahead to 2040. Through nanotechnological therapies and enhancements you are able to extend your lifespan, and as the years progress, you continue to accumulate more far-reaching enhancements. By 2060, after several small but cumulatively profound alterations, you are a “posthuman.” To quote philosopher Nick Bostrom, posthumans are possible future beings, “whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards” (Bostrom 2003c). At this point, your intelligence is enhanced not just in terms of speed of mental processing; you are now able to make rich connections that you were not able to make before. Unenhanced humans, or “naturals,” seem to you to be intellectually disabled—you have little in common with them—but as a transhumanist, you are supportive of their right to not enhance (Bostrom 2003c; Garreau 2005; Kurzweil 2005).

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Susan Schneider
Florida Atlantic University

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