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Transhumanism: Increasing Human Thought Capabilities

In the past much of human culture and thinking evolved through natural selection. What worked was kept and carried out to future generation, what didn’t was discarded. That was the case for the development of Polynesian boat building skill. Image credit: metavuvale.com

In a world, and Society, that is becoming more and more connected we may expect an evolution of what is meant, and was meant, with “thinking”, a characteristics that humans have along with other species but that in humans is so important to influence the behaviour of the individual and of the community.
Culture, in the sense of the shared capability to operate as a whole in a certain way has been evolving because of the flexibility of “thinking” paired with the capability of passing on “our” culture to future generations that in turns will transform it. In this the language and the invention of writing have been crucial. Internet is further boosting the individual access to “culture” and the possibility to influence/contribute to culture and to its evolution as never before.

It would be wrong to believe that human progress and artefacts are the sole result of human thinking capability.

Polynesian boats that managed to cross large parts of the Pacific ocean were not designed by engineers, Polynesians did not have a sophisticated “science” supporting naval design. The amazing boats they built were the result of a natural selection process coupled with the possibility of learning and passing on the knowledge to future generation.

Those boats that sunk were dismissed as poor design. Those that managed to come back were taken as example of good design. Over the course of generations Polynesians got skilled in boat design and construction and surfed the ocean.

I mention this to point out that there is a strong relation between our culture and Nature, between the way our culture evolves and what we learn from Nature.

In these last centuries the amazing progress in science and technology has given us a better understanding of how the world “works”, including ourselves, and opened new opportunities to leverage on the world resources. In the coming decades a new possibility will become real: the sharing of thinking with machines and in a way a symbiotic “culture” with machines.

An interesting perspective on transhumanism can be derived from this vision of a species that “think” leveraging on its artefacts, and that in turns creates a new culture. In the following posts I will look into the enabling technologies steering towards this evolution.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently the Chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and up to September 2018 he was the Head of the EIT Digital Industrial Doctoral School. Previously, up to December 2011, he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.

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