The rapid expansion of technology in this new millennium radically transformed our social landscape. The modern life filled with information has placed everyone behind computer screens and cell phones. As society has become more abstract, it became virtual, fabricated with images that are dissociated from the facts and events of the world.
In many ways, the recent hype of ‘fake news’ reflects this counterfeit reality that we are all surrounded by. Waves of whistleblowers in recent years revealed that we live in a kind of simulation intervened by government and corporate media propaganda. The 2008 financial meltdown exposed the global economy, overdriven by the bubble of toxic assets and stocks that were propped up by central banks with their money made out of thin air. This Ponzi scam of financial engineering was further covered up by bank bailouts, creating a fake recovery.
Meanwhile, our ‘democracy’ has been one big consumer fraud. With tactics of divide and conquer, monetary elites behind the scenes trigger emotions, stirring conflicts among voters in a national tournament of identity politics. Once people are trapped by fear and hatred that are carefully manufactured, they easily lose sight of reality. Rather than finding commonality and building a coalition to solve problems, many engage in mutually assured self-destruction.
While the American working class is distracted by this political charade, the economy continues to stagnate, making the divide between the rich and poor ever wider. The beast of neoliberalism that has been devouring victims abroad is now finally coming home to roost. Now, ordinary Americans are suffering from unemployment, homelessness and lack of access to medical care. Young people are burdened with predatory student debt, where despite the promise of college recruiters, there are few viable jobs for them. Social services are defunded, throwing away elders, while a military budget gets fatter and fatter, with increased defense contracts for the never ending wars.
While political corruption is deepening the crisis of institutions and governments, Silicon Valley tech companies through lobbying have steadily gained influence in Washington. Now, technological innovation is pushed forward as a solution to the breakdown of social systems. From Apple and Google to Facebook, giant tech companies put a monopoly on AI, trying to control its development, so to dictate the course of our future. With the initiative of universal basic income (UBI), wealthy and elite technologists advocate for the creation of a robot economy where labor is replaced by automation.
Here the radical vision of humanity 2.0 arises. The coming of a post-human era promises to alleviate suffering, make us stronger, more intelligent and godlike. Transhumanists try to bring eternal life through insemination of machine intelligence into the human body. By combining big data with AI software, the idea is already there for humanity to attain digital immortality, where one can develop mind clones of oneself that has its own life on the web. Dr Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and futurist shares his aspiration of uploading a digital memory, creating a new pill that slows down people’s perception of time and drugs that can eliminate painful memories.
The idea of fusion with technology as a next stage in human evolution can speak to our own narcissism induced by social media attention culture. The H plus agenda can be marketed by appealing to one’s desire for recognition, to be boundless and to attain mastery of oneself. Through social engineering, it will corral the herd and achieve mass adoption. Yet this techno-utopia does not come for free. One has to pay a heavy price for the ticket to this supposed heaven on earth. In the exchange to transcend human limitations, we are asked to give up the essence of being human. What are we expected to sacrifice on this altar of transcendence.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘Transhumanism: A Final Corporate Takeover of Humanity.’