Digital Drug Overdose

Transhumanism and spirituality are two seemingly disparate ideologies, but in reality, they share a great deal of common ground. Both movements are interested in the enhancement of the human experience, and both place a high value on the human soul. There is a lot of potential for overlap between these two groups, and it will be interesting to see how they develop in the years to come.


Transhumanism is an ideology that seeks to transcend biology by using technology to advance humankind beyond its limits (such as mortality). It includes trans-cranial brain stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation) and other methods by which humans can improve their intelligence or physical abilities through technological means. Transhumanists believe that there should no longer be any limitations to the human mind and body.

Transhumanism and spirituality both focus on a form of transcendence. In the case of transhumanism, it is physical transcendence. This means that people can use technology to advance their physical capabilities beyond what human biology allows, such as to cure diseases and bestow indefinite lifespans. In the case of spirituality, it concerns metaphysical transcendence. This means reaching a state beyond this physical realm or existence where one's soul might experience eternal peace after death, for example. Both are forms of "leaving behind" something - whether it be physical limitations or physical life itself - in order to enter into some kind of idealized new world/state/existence/reality (call it what you will).


Spiritual progress, like technological advancement, can be measured by how far it has brought us from a "base line," whether in the form of a pre-existing definition or an original creation. For example, religious progress is measured against a baseline of what is considered right and wrong that includes commandments given by the creator in some theistic traditions. In transhumanism, advancement is measured in comparison to human biology. In both cases, having surpassed the previous standard allows for further advancement with fewer limitations on potential future achievements - greater degrees of freedom if you will.


In spiritual concepts such as Enlightenment or Nirvana, there might appear to be parallels with technological advancements toward Singularity when viewed from certain angles [but this article does not explore these]. The more interesting comparisons between transhumanism and spirituality come from looking at parallels with what we might call the "lower" forms of transcendence.


Transcending Biology: Similarities within Current and Future Transhumanism and Mainstream Religious Teachings


From a New Age perspective, it is believed that our current physical bodies are somehow inferior to those of previous generations (or those belonging to animals). Perhaps this is because over time we have gradually lost some of the biological features that were once more common such as tails or fur or gills. We may also possess fewer abilities like running as fast as cheetahs or flying like birds (though in some cases this loss has been rectified).


Some spiritualists describe the human body as being a prison for our souls - a notion recently picked up by the transhumanist community with the concept of mind uploading.

Transhumanists can also look toward animal biology for inspiration in overcoming our current limitations. For example, some would like to see artificial wings attached to their backs so they can fly. A critical evaluation of these possibilities is probably more valuable than making direct comparisons so I will simply leave it at that.


For mainstream religions, humanity used to live in "paradise" or under god's watchful eye before being cast out by god or suffering some great cataclysmic event (religions vary widely on this). In many cases, human kind has been trapped within a cycle of death and rebirth until they are able to return home - having managed somehow to surpass their old standards and limitations.


In transhumanism, we find an analogy in the current "transitional" phase of humanity between our current biology and future post-Singularity technology. [This article uses Singularity as a general term to describe a timeframe where technological advancement is so rapid that humans become essentially godlike or immortal]. This analogy might be made clearer with examples:


1) The immortality movement seeks to escape death by living forever through scientific progress - much like we consider ourselves trapped within cycles of reincarnation until we reach some kind of nirvana (be it heaven or something entirely different). There will never be any need to die if science can keep us alive indefinitely. We would no longer need to fear death and its consequences because we could always construct a new body and return to life (or be reborn as someone or something else).


2) If the experience of past lives is real, we might consider our current physical bodies to be merely "on loan" from another source until we can return home. It's like the body we use on Earth is an old car that has broken down and needs to be fixed or replaced before we can continue our journey. We may even come back here again and again because there are dangers along the way such as accidents, illness, famine, wars, predators, etc.


3) Cloning comes closest to this idea - allowing us to manufacture copies of ourselves without the need for sexual reproduction or other time and resource consuming methods used in traditional biology. This provides the possibility of creating many different versions of ourselves - explaining why religions make similar claims about multiple lives.


This argument also applies to transhumanist mindsets like cryonics (where one's brain is frozen in hopes that future technologies will be able to revive them). Perhaps this is our version of reincarnation where we are "rewinding the tape" and restarting our life within a computer simulation or new body.


Celestial Spirits: How Transhumanism Seeks to Achieve Spiritual Goals with Scientific Progress


Despite their differences, religions share an interesting commonality in that they look toward something beyond physical existence (be it heaven/hell, nirvana, etc) as being superior to current biological limitations imposed by nature. There is nothing to say this is not possible with science because we can do whatever we want if we put our minds to it.

Transhumanism shares the same basic vision in that technological advancement will eventually take us beyond physics (and biological limitations) as we know them now. In fact, many prominent transhumanists are also very spiritual individuals who seek something beyond their current lives - be it through believing in a god or having mystical experiences via psychedelics and the like. We could even imagine that they have been "chosen" or "prepared" for a higher purpose where they introduce scientific advancements for everyone else's benefit too. Take note of these two characteristics: 1) A desire for an afterlife / escape from the cycle of reincarnation 2) The belief that a new technology has been "chosen" for them to introduce to everyone else.


And what do we have? A person who is spiritual and transhumanist at the same time. In reality, these two ideas are not as dissimilar as one might expect - especially if you consider all the current research being conducted by various scientists on near-death experiences, mysticism, psychedelic drugs , etc.


Perhaps this analogy between religions and transhumanism can make people more aware of both sides of this coin - namely how certain religious beliefs/doctrines may be true after all (in a scientific sense). Of course, there would need to be some significant changes made before any of these claims could become more widely accepted.


Trans-humanists and those interested in spirituality can find common ground, as both desire to improve themselves beyond the constraints of the human condition. While many trans-humanists may not see a religious or spiritual dimension as necessary (and vice versa for those engaged in such practices), their goals do overlap at times.


An important point for both groups is seeking 'enlightenment'. This often involves achieving some sort of higher state of consciousness and awareness through mediation, ritualistic activities, sleep cycles, fasting, and psychedelic drugs. Both parties also place importance on the concept of mortality and overcoming death itself; this has been an ancient human compulsion that few have escaped from since the earliest days of humanity.


There are existing theories which suggest that transcranial brain stimulation will result in a higher state of consciousness.

This transcranial brain stimulation is one small part of the 'neurohacking' trend that is on the rise, along with other human enhancement technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and robotics.


In 1990, Max More coined the term transhumanism to mean "beyond human", emphasizing a more optimistic future for humans using technological advances. The first use of the word came earlier in 1923 by J. B. S. Haldane writing about "trans-man" or humans beyond the current state of evolution; however this word was less popular than transhumanism itself, which became widely known only after More's coining decades later.

Transhumanism differs from humanism generally in its more specific focus on technologies that improve human abilities to reach the ultimate extreme possible under current technological limitations. Transhumanists view future opportunities for humanity arising from science and technology as highly desirable, both powerfully positively reinforcing of their central tenet of improving human abilities, but also as fundamentally offering salvation to those who desire it. Trans-cranial brain stimulation is one example of a transhumanist technology which seeks to elevate mental function with surgical means. The difference between these two approaches is one reason why an increasing number of trans-humanists are also spiritual or religious -- because they feel that various spiritual or religious practices and observances can facilitate the very same goal of improving mental function.


As a movement, transhumanism holds several core values: human life extension, intelligence enhancement, and space colonization; however, there is no strict definition for what constitutes a 'trans-humanist'.


Transhumanism has been described as fundamentally anti-conservative because it seeks change through technological advancements rather than concentrating on traditional means such as politics. The national newspaper "The Guardian" has described the technological singularity as frightening to many conservatives due to its emphasis on creating super-intelligence and the subtlety of the ideology itself.

The transhumanist movement, let's be honest, is fairly new. The ideas of it are fairly new, the philosophy behind it is fairly new, and even the name itself has only fairly recently come into existence. It wasn't until around 2011 that Nick Bostrom wrote his seminal paper on "Transhumanist Values", which laid down some fundamental principles underlying the movement.


A lot of people seem to think that transhumanism is something that will happen in the future - it's just not possible right now. However, these same people do not realize what a deep impact transhumanism would have on our society if it were integrated today. We already live in an age where technology can send information to our brains faster than we could perceive it, where people can control machines with their thoughts, and where life-extending science is rapidly improving.


Transhumanism is a philosophy that states that we should use technology to overcome the limitations of the human body and mind - in other words, to make us better. Transhumanists want to eliminate aging and disease, enhance our bodies with cybernetic implants, connect everything together with nanotechnology, become smarter through digital drugs (also known as neuropharmaceuticals), download our brains onto computers, give everyone the ability to edit their DNA, upload their minds into computer systems, genetically modify their offspring so they are born healthier or more intelligent, colonize other planets for when Earth becomes uninhabitable, live forever by making backups of ourselves, use life-extending technology to extend our lives by hundreds of years, upload backups of ourselves into space colonies orbiting the earth or beyond, and more. Transhumanism represents an ethical system that aims to make everyone better - there are no restrictions or compromises for this movement.


The average person either hasn't heard of transhumanism yet, or they think it's something far off in the distant future where robots are taking over people's jobs and self-driving cars are carrying commuters around while everyone on social media jacks into cyberspace via their augmented reality glasses. The latter is just a vision of how technology will evolve - not transhumanism itself.


Transhumanism is happening now, too - it's just that most people don't realize it. A lot of people are already modifying their bodies with implants and augmentations (such as pacemakers), controlling machines with their thoughts (in the form of BCI EEG headsets), making backups of themselves (in the form of cloud data storage services like DropBox), robotizing their jobs by using robotic equipment to do all the heavy lifting for them, taking digital drugs that can enhance their senses or increase concentration, editing genes in laboratories to remove certain diseases before they're even born, using machine learning algorithms to predict potential problems in DNA sequences before they manifest into anything, living longer than ever thanks to modern medicine and advanced medical equipment, colonizing other planets within the solar system so in case Earth becomes uninhabitable we have somewhere to go.

In the modern digital age, you don't need a drug cartel to get your hands on drugs. With a laptop and an internet connection, a person can look at a website that sells illegal drugs, purchase them with ease and have the package delivered in a couple of days. They also come with disclaimers that say things like "this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease" but there are ways around this sort of disclaimer - for example by pretending to be from another country if customs comes calling. Digital drugs require no prescriptions from doctors, there's no government warning labels or restrictions against taking too many at once or mixing them with other substances. The only thing you need is some Bitcoin and knowledge about how to use the dark web (and even this is not necessary, as there are plenty of drug websites that allow you to use their standard shopping cart platforms).


But the real future of figurative "digital drugs" is literal digital drugs. An article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) states:

"Future neurotechnologies might also include drugs or other biopharmaceuticals that can be delivered by electronic devices. Drugs have been used in humans for millennia, but the field of neuropharmacology only emerged in the 20th century. One of the most important discoveries was that drugs work through specific interactions with biological molecules such as proteins or nucleic acids.


"In the early 2000s, a new technology called RNA interference was developed that can selectively block protein production in cells; it is now routinely used in human and animal experiments.


"With recent advances, researchers are now beginning to identify the precise molecular targets for many psychoactive drugs (meaning drugs that affect mood or consciousness).

"This development might lead to the future emergence of "digital drugs," which act by directly altering neural processes with the aid of gene- or cell-based therapies.

The line between virtual reality and the real world is being blurred. A new generation of digital drugs are being created to better immerse the user into the virtual world.

Virtual reality has recently made great strides in overcoming motion sickness that was associated with earlier versions of the technology. Now the technology is being used in more advanced ways, some of which are arguably unethical.

Virtual reality has been assessed as an effective method for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, but the same technology has been used to create a digital drug. This drug is designed to trick your mind into thinking you are somewhere else, creating a simulated experience that may make you think you are on drugs.

The effects of digital drugs could be very powerful, because it works on the neurology of the brain, which is so complex. Users can experience stimuli without being physically present, making them think they are doing things that they are not.

The potential for digital drugs to be used in unethical ways, such as causing an individual to believe he is experiencing something extremely pleasurable, such as sex or drugs, when in reality he is experiencing something extremely traumatic.

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Goodbye, cruel world! Thanks for all the memories, but I'm out of here! I'll never forget you (not that I want to), but it's time for me to move on. Au revoir, mon ami!

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