What is the UK Transhumanist Association?
It is the proper business of human beings to seek to improve themselves. To deny this is to embrace stagnation and decay.
It's probably safe to say that most people want to see a future where we can live healthy, happy, useful and long lives.
To achieve any such improvement in the human condition, progress must be made.
Today, there are so many anti-progress groups, especially in the area of science and scientific research. Neo-Luddites and bio-conservatives seek to limit the
application of scientific research often as a knee-jerk reaction to
the new, without considering the substantial benefits such
technologies may bring.
Just think for a moment about your life; have you ever been to hospital, had an operation, taken life saving drugs?
If you have then you wouldn't be reading this without being a direct beneficiary of Progress. Even if you had been perfectly healthy since birth, the chances are you wouldn't be reading this, as without Progress there would be no personal computers, and no internet.
The UK Transhumanist Association is here to restore the balance and
promote the benefits of Progress and advanced scientific research. We are a voluntary organisation, whose aim is to raise awareness of issues relating to the creation of a better future for everyone.
Certainly we must be careful with our research and its application in
the new technologies, but to deny significant benefits of these
technologies just because of ill thought out `doomsday
scenarios' may have the reverse effect, and accelerate the problems besetting
mankind at this moment in history.
We want to promote sensible, balanced discussion and policy-making in issues that will affect people's lives in the near future, issues that up to now have been dominated by hysteria and scare-mongering, issues that we cannot afford to have decided by ignorance and fear.
The word "Transhumanist" embodies our belief that the human condition can be improved, through our own efforts, by a rational and compassionate application of advanced technology.
This technology is being developed right now, all over the world. Our use or misuse of it will determine what kind of world we, and our children, will live in.
We believe that everyone can and should understand this new technology, so that they can have a say in how it will be used. You don't need to have a PhD to understand what genetically modified food actually is, and what its potential is, both good and bad. You don't have to simply accept what the newspapers say about stem-cell therapy, because it's 'too technical' for the average person to understand. These things are no more difficult to understand, from a practical point of view, than the decisions that ordinary people make throughout their lives: Use public transport or buy a car? Eat chips or salad? Send your child to a state school or a private school?
Trying to ban new technologies because we don't understand them or are afraid of them is just as bad as uncritically embracing them. We teach our children to treat fire with respect, but we don't teach them that it is inherently bad and must never be used. Fire, while being one of the most destructive and frightening technologies we have ever harnessed, is also one of the most useful, when it is used carefully and appropriately.
Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Cloning, Stem-Cell Therapy - these technologies are the fire of the future, and we must learn how to handle them safely and effectively.
We aim to reach all levels of British society through a mix of lobbying, outreach and education, and networking.
Decisions in areas such as stem-cell research, biotechnology and
nanotechnology are too important to be left to the (unaided)
politicians. There is no shortage of pressure groups that have both a
technophobic agenda and the ear of politicians sitting on crucial
parliamentary committees. We aim to provide an alternative and
positive approach with targeted position statements delivered where
they are likely to have the most impact, i.e. the government and
civil society institutions where those matters are discussed and
decisions are taken.
- Outreach and Education
Increasingly, the prospect of a "posthuman future" is debated in the
media. However, there is an abundance of misconceptions regarding the
use of technology for the enhancement of the human condition, as seen
in the confusion generated by the ongoing cloning debate. We aim to
provide expert-speakers to interested parties, professional
organisations, etc, able to clarify the issues, highlight the
potential benefits and dangers, and generally outline a roadmap to
the future. Furthermore, we aim to organise events that provide the
general public with an opportunity to find out more about cutting-
edge technologies and their impact on individuals and society.
We aim to create networking opportunities for UK-based professionals
in the relevant enabling technologies with the aim of fostering
employment opportunities and cross-fertilisation of ideas.
While not directly linked to any other transhumanist organisation, we
have friendly and cooperative relations with the World Transhumanist
Association and the Extropy Institute (see Links) and we are working towards
building further constructive relationships with other, similar,
Please consider joining the UK Transhumanist Association to keep up to date with developments, enable you to reach a balanced and considered position towards Progress and the new technologies, and help to contribute towards a better future for us all.
What is a Transhumanist?
Transhumanist thought has one very simple underlying concept:
That the Human Condition, as it exists now (circa 2008), can be improved upon, with the intelligent and compassionate application of technology.
This concept is expanded upon in the Transhumanist Declaration
which the UK Transhumanist Association has adopted as its guiding principles.
These principles leave plenty of room for variation to suit different cultures, nations, sub-cultures and individuals. There is no political agenda inherent in them. They are a formalisation of a trend toward greater capabilities, a deeper understanding of the world around us, and an enhanced capacity for survival, both as a species and as individuals, that the human race has experienced since its deepest pre-history. The means to achieving these aims is also one of the oldest of human activities - technology.
It is technology that sets us apart from all the other creatures on this planet. It is the activity that defines us, sustains us, and will one day enable us to reach the stars.
Within these principles, Transhumanists span a wide range of ideas. Some simply want to see an end to the tyranny of nature over humankind. They want to abolish disease, suffering and involuntary death. They uphold individual rights to live longer, more productive, and happier lives for anyone who wishes to. Others want more, and think more deeply about the future of the human race, and of intelligence itself. They want to encourage the development of thinking, living machines that can help us survive a hostile universe, they look forward to the development of technologies that will enable us to transform our bodies and brains so that they are more powerful, more flexible, and longer-lasting than our current ones, which are the product of blind evolution and can be immensely improved upon with the right knowledge and some good design.
Some of these ideas may sound far-fetched, even fantastical, but they are all based upon sound philosophical and scientific principles. Of course, you don't have to subscribe to, or even believe, these more far-reaching ideas in order to be in favour of a better, safer future. All you need is common-sense, some optimism, and a determination to help make the world a better place. No matter how small your part, every little helps.
If you find yourself in agreement with these ideas, then you can call yourself a Transhumanist. Join whichever of our membership options you think is most suitable, and we will keep you up-to-date with the latest developments, and offer you chances to get involved with our various projects. You will also be a part of a growing world-wide community of forward-looking, optimistic and enthusiastic people who, rather than fearing a bad future, know that they are helping to build a good one.