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.
What is the UK Transhumanist Association?
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.