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37 J. Value Inquiry 493 (2003)
Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective

handle is hein.journals/jrnlvi37 and id is 491 raw text is: 4I The Journal of Value Inquiry 37: 493-506, 2003.          493
© 2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective
Oxford University, Faculty of Philosophy, 10 Merton Street, Oxford, OX1 4JJ, UK;
e-mail: nick@nickbostrom.com
1. What is Transhumanism?
Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually
over the past two decades. It promotes an interdisciplinary approach to un-
derstanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condi-
tion and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology.
Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and
information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nano-
technology and artificial intelligence.1
The enhancement options being discussed include radical extension of
human health-span, eradication of disease, elimination of unnecessary suf-
fering, and augmentation of human intellectual, physical, and emotional ca-
pacities.2 Other transhumanist themes include space colonization and the
possibility of creating superintelligent machines, along with other potential
developments that could profoundly alter the human condition. The ambit is
not limited to gadgets and medicine, but encompasses also economic, social,
institutional designs, cultural development, and psychological skills and tech-
Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked
beginning that we can learn to remold in desirable ways. Current humanity
need not be the endpoint of evolution. Transhumanists hope that by responsi-
ble use of science, technology, and other rational means we shall eventually
manage to become post-human, beings with vastly greater capacities than
present human beings have.
Some transhumanists take active steps to increase the probability that they
personally will survive long enough to become post-human, for example by
choosing a healthy lifestyle or by making provisions for having themselves
cryonically suspended in case of de-animation.3 In contrast to many other
ethical outlooks, which in practice often reflect a reactionary attitude to new
technologies, the transhumanist view is guided by an evolving vision to take
a more active approach to technology policy. This vision, in broad strokes, is
to create the opportunity to live much longer and healthier lives, to enhance

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