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Directed evolution (transhumanism)

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The term directed evolution is used within the transhumanist community to refer to the idea of applying the principles of directed evolution and experimental evolution to the control of human evolution.[1] In this sense, it is distinct from the use of the term in biochemistry, which refers only to the evolution of proteins and RNA. Maxwell J. Melhmanh has described directed evolution of humans as the Holy Grail of transhumanism.[1] Oxford philosopher Julian Savulescu wrote that:

Humanity until this point has been a story of evolution for the survival genes - survival and reproduction ... we are entering a new phase of human evolution—evolution under reason—where human beings are masters of their destiny. Power has been transferred from nature to science.

According to UCLA biophysicist Gregory Stock:

Humanity is leaving its childhood and moving into its adolescence as its powers infuse into realms hitherto beyond our reach.

Riccardo Campa, from the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, wrote that "self-directed evolution" can be coupled with many different political, philosophical, and religious views.[4]

Criticism of the term[edit]

Andrew Askland from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law claims that referring to transhumanism as directed evolution is problematic because evolution is ateleological and transhumanism is teleological.[5]

Participant evolution[edit]

Participant evolution is an alternative term that refers to the process of deliberately redesigning the human body and brain using technological means, rather than through the natural processes of mutation and natural selection, with the goal of removing "biological limitations" and human enhancement.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19] The idea of participant evolution was first put forward by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline in the 1960s in their article Cyborgs and Space,[20] where they argued that the human species was already on a path of participant evolution. Science fiction writers have speculated what the next stage of such participant evolution will be.

Whilst Clynes and Kline saw participant evolution as the process of creating cyborgs, the idea has been adopted and propounded by transhumanists who argue that individuals should have the choice of using human enhancement technologies on themselves and their children, to progressively become transhuman and ultimately posthuman, as part of a voluntary regimen of participant evolution.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Maxwell, Mehlman. "Will Directed Evolution Destroy Humanity, and If So, What Can We Do About It?" (PDF). 3 St. Louis U.J. Health L. & Pol'y 93, 96-97 (2009]. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-10.
  2. ^ Savulescu, Julian (2003). "Human-Animal Transgenesis and Chimeras Might Be an Expression of Our Humanity". Journal of Bioethics. 3 (3): 22–24. doi:10.1162/15265160360706462. PMID 14594475. S2CID 6914160.
  3. ^ Stock, Gregory (2005). "Germinal Choice Technology and the Human Future". Ethics L. & Moral Phil. Reprod. Biomedicine. 10: 27–34. doi:10.1016/s1472-6483(10)62201-8. PMID 15820004.
  4. ^ Campa, Riccardo. "Toward a transhumanist politics". Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  5. ^ Askland, Andrew (2011). "The Misnomer of Transhumanism as Directed Evolution" (PDF). International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society. 9 (1): 71–78. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-27.
  6. ^ Sharon, Tamar (11 October 2013). Human Nature in an Age of Biotechnology: The Case for Mediated Posthumanism. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9789400775541 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Clarke, Adele E.; Mamo, Laura; Fosket, Jennifer Ruth; Fishman, Jennifer R.; Shim, Janet K. (1 January 2009). Biomedicalization: Technoscience, Health, and Illness in the U.S. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0822391258 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Kline, Ronald R. (25 June 2015). The Cybernetics Moment: Or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age. JHU Press. ISBN 9781421416724 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Gurd, Sean Alexander (1 January 2005). Iphigenias at Aulis: Textual Multiplicity, Radical Philology. Cornell University Press. p. 58. ISBN 9780801443299 – via Internet Archive.
  10. ^ Orr, Jackie (8 February 2006). Panic Diaries: A Genealogy of Panic Disorder. Duke University Press. p. 169 – via Internet Archive.
  11. ^ Mazan, Tobiasz (17 April 2015). "Transcend the Flesh: Transhumanism debate". Tobiasz Mazan – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Blake, Charlie; Molloy, Claire; Shakespeare, Steven (15 March 2012). Beyond Human: From Animality to Transhumanism. A&C Black. ISBN 9781441150110 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Riha, Daniel (28 December 2016). Frontiers of Cyberspace. Rodopi. ISBN 978-9401208581 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Collard, Andrée; Contrucci, Joyce (1 January 1989). Rape of the Wild: Man's Violence Against Animals and the Earth. Indiana University Press. p. 125 – via Internet Archive.
  15. ^ Wolf, Milton T. (1 January 1997). Shaw and Science Fiction. Penn State Press. ISBN 0271016817 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ "Drugs, Space, and Cybernetics: Evolution to Cyborgs" (PDF). 1961. Archived from the original on 2016-02-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  17. ^ "Manfred Clynes and the Cyborg". by Chris Hables Gray. Archived from the original on April 19, 2005. Retrieved June 12, 2005.
    which in turn cites an interview with Manfred E. Clynes in
    Gray, Mentor, and Figueroa-Sarriera (1995). The Cyborg Handbook. New York: Routledge.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
    pages 29–34, which in turn cites
    Clynes, Manfred E. & Nathan S. Kline (1960). "Cyborgs and Space" (PDF). Astronautics. September: 26–27 and 74–75.
  18. ^ "Cyborg Systems". ISTF Brochures. Retrieved June 12, 2005.
  19. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about Transhumanism". Futurist Transhuman Think Tank. Archived from the original on 2003-02-23. Retrieved June 12, 2005.
  20. ^ Clynes, Manfred E. & Nathan S. Kline (1960). "Cyborgs and Space" (PDF). Astronautics. September.