Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been in the news quite a bit recently—and not just because of developments related to his global social network. In December he announced, through an open letter to his newborn daughter, that he and wife Priscilla Chan were dedicating 99 percent of their Facebook stock to philanthropic causes that would, among other things, advance human potential.
“Advancing human potential is about pushing the boundaries on how great a human life can be,” the letter read. “Can you learn and experience 100 times more than we do today? Can our generation cure disease so you live much longer and healthier lives?”
Zuckerberg’s new year’s resolution was to build an artificial intelligence system in his home, complete with voice and facial recognition, to do everything from adjusting temperature and lighting to automatically reordering supplies and monitoring his baby.
Then, in late February, he introduced journalists at the Mobile World Congress in Spain to his virtual reality technology. An image of a satisfied Zuckerberg walking by hundreds of plugged-in, unaware humans caused some to comment that he looked like an all-powerful overlord in a dystopian tech future.
These may seem like no more than the fanciful hobbies of the eighth-richest person on the planet. But Zuckerberg’s gadgets reflect a worldview that has captivated many of our scientific and technological elites: humans will become the best versions of ourselves through the augmentation of technology.
Stronger, healthier, smarter
Such faith in technology to vastly expand the capabilities of humans is referred to as transhumanism. Along with Zuckerberg, other wealthy and influential adherents to transhumanism ...1