Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Stepping into a new skin, Transhuman style.

A few thoughts on #transhumanism / #cyberhumanism / #posthumanism / #hplus 

[Transhumanism / Cyberhumanism / Posthumanism / H+] WIP

So, I've been thinking this over for a while, and I've come up with some thoughts on what it'd require to become a true trans/posthuman or cyberhuman-being. Ignoring the cost side of it, since I don't have any kind of estimates or information on that side of the proverbial coin. I can say that I suspect the cost would not be insignificant.

Ok, so on with the show, as it were:

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to wake up as something beyond Human? Are you one of those people who are interested in knowing where Humanity might go next in terms of our evolution? Have you ever sat and tried to figure out what a being like that would look like and how it would work? I don't know the answers to those questions, but here is my viewpoint on several aspects of what it would take to create a true Transhuman being. Enjoy, and don't be afraid to comment below. All I ask is that commentary be kept civil, as I reserve the right to delete offensive comments without warning.

First, we'd need a good strong skeleton to build on.
My suggestion would be, as anyone keeping up on materials science would guess, carbon nanotube construction. They're very light and extremely strong, especially considering that once we figure them out and how to work with them, we can use them to build our first functional space elevator. Carbon nanotubes would allow us to be stronger than we could ever hope to be with our current bone-based skeletal structure. CNT construction would also make ‘bone’ breakage a rare thing. Although if ‘bone’ breakage does happen, since we’ve upgraded, we would only need to repair or replace the affected part, or parts.

On top of this CNT skeletal structure, we'd need an optical nervous system. 
Since nothing travels faster than light, we can enhance our reflexes and control by a considerable margin.

Alongside the optical nervous system, we'd need to have an advanced musculoskeletal system.
Our muscles (including the heart and other types of muscle) would perhaps be activated by pulses of light energy. This, along with our super-fast nervous system, would allow us to move and react hundreds or thousands of times faster than we can now. How would we seal off the nerves from outside light sources? I would suspect a thin coating of a flexible, durable and opaque material would suffice. Any suggestions as to that material would be welcome.

Now you’re probably (and justfiably) wondering about things like our internal organs.
Well, our human body needs separate and distinct organs to provide separate and distinct functions. If it didn’t, we would probably have one ‘super-organ’ in our torso that handled perhaps everything but thinking, breathing, heartbeat/blood circulation and waste elimination. Since a transhuman / posthuman / cyberhuman (henceforth referred to collectively as “H+”) may not have need of certain types of human organs, they probably wouldn’t have them. For example, the kidneys, liver and spleen would be unnecessary in a creature built of technology (unless that creature were intended to be able to process food and drink like a flesh-based human.) Something like a heart might be needed in order to emulate a heartbeat, and to circulate some sort of fluid through ‘blood vessels’ in order to accurately simulate a human body temperature. Something like lungs might be needed in order to mimic breathing and to help with modulating speech, and to also act as a resonance chamber, in order to help to make the voice more human-like. The pseudo-lungs might also have a thermoregulation function as well, which may also be shared with the skin.

What about the brain?
My thinking, so to speak, is that we could take advantage of a kind of advanced neural-net whose structure is based on the same type of three-dimensional grid layout as our brain, and whose ‘operating system’ is the same overall one that our human brains may have. Research hasn’t yet gotten far enough to tell us if our brain has an operating system upon which all of its functions run. If not, then I suspect that emulating the structure, and finding where every bit of data (and other functions) are stored in our human brain is then transferring all of that over to the neural-net, might just be enough to ‘awaken’ that neural-net, and thus, perhaps another ‘us’ or to be somewhat more emphatic about it, another ‘me’. This is all very much hypothetical and 'what-if' at this stage, but it's interesting to me to think about and mull over in my head.

How about that which separates us from the rest of our world? Our skin.
Our skin provides us with a massive amount of data every day. So, we want to keep that source of input, and we want to emulate that as closely as possible, right down to temperature sensitivity, texture, elasticity and deep sensation (that feeling you get whenever you move a limb or press lightly into your arm or some other spot, the fact that you can feel pressure and other sensory data not just at the surface of your skin, but inside the physical structure of, say, your arm, your torso, other areas, etc.)



Well, so far, this is just a rough draft of where I want to take this line of thinking. Any constructive comments are welcome. I would also welcome my fellow HPlussers to help me to ‘formalize’ this document into an overall picture of what it might be like to be ‘upgraded’ into an H+.

Thank you for reading. :)
Brian E Turner MKI ;)

Waiting patiently for an upgrade

Here is my Google Docs version.