An introduction to the debate “Should Humans Be Enhanced?” by Tomáš Hříbek (Filosofický ústav AV ČR)
In the last few years, more and more philosophers have concerned themselves with a set of questions that are suggested by the new possibilities of biomedicine and technology. So far we have been able to treat, more or less successfully, people whose natural capacities were disturbed or impaired by a disease or handicap. However, it seems that the new era is coming when we shall be able not only to treat people, i.e. either to renew the natural functioning of their capacities, or to enable them to do things they had not been capable of, but which are natural to most of the others. The contemporary medicine and other disciplines promise to enhance people, i.e. to provide them with capacities that no human being has possessed so far. Genetic manipulations, cloning, billions of nanobots flowing through an organism and repairing its failures, a fusion of the human and machine intelligence – some of these things still sound like science-fiction; yet we can already at least in principle imagine how they could work. But crucially, their availability could in time lead to an emergence of beings who would not be quite human anymore. They would be much stronger, faster, incomparably smarter, immeasurably longeval – perhaps, for all practical purposes, immortal. People speak in this regard about transhumanism, as a practical movement as well as a philosophy that aim at such an enhancement of humankind. Some authors speak even of posthumanism, by which they mean that radically enhanced beings will advance so much over ordinary mortals that these posthumans will not be members of our species anymore.