We Don’t Need Transhumanism, We Need Maxhumanism

By on October 3, 2022

Note: This post expands on some concepts shared in the video – skim through if you’ve seen it already!

Transhumanism is an intellectual movement discussing, and oftentimes promoting, the enhancement of the human condition through technology. I’ve talked about it a fair bit on this site.

Transhumanism

Eventually, a resulting “posthuman” could be stronger than any person on Earth right now. They could be faster. They might age at a far slower rate… if at all.

Perhaps through genetic modification. Perhaps through advanced robotic prosthetics.

See also: A Discussion on Transhumanism Through the Lens of Sapiens

They may have full control over their physical appearance – being able to fully express who they are on the inside through their biological form. Or perhaps they would not be biological at all – but exist as disembodied engrams, uploaded to the cloud. Ghosts in the machine.

Ghost in the Machine

Maybe they could communicate telepathically via brain implants. Through exocortices, their cognitive capabilities might be beyond our understanding.

Such a being might come to regard human 1.0 as we think of a chimpanzee.

Only this time, that evolution would have been self-directed.

The Problem With Transhumanism

As someone who has always dreamed of superpowers, and to better understand the universe, this has always had an undeniable appeal to me. It’s why transhumanism was the subject of my dissertation.

You can actually read my dissertation here: ‘Surplus Improvement’: A Qualitative Exploration of Student Attitudes Toward Transhumanism, Transhuman Technologies and Related Issues

But, after over a decade of research, I believe this to be a mistaken approach.

Augmenting the human body through technology might seem like the next step for a technologically advanced civilization. But I believe it to be hubris.

I think it would end in ruin.

Of course, there are the economic, sociological, psychological, and even existential issues to contend with.

What happens when only certain people can afford the enhancements needed to succeed in

What becomes of our humanity when we can alter our emotions at will?

Where do we draw the line as to what’s acceptable?

But there is a much deeper, more fundamental issue to consider: the fact that the human body, simply cannot be improved upon. Not by us. Not yet.

And not for a long, long time.

The Problem With Improving On Our Biology

You might point to incredible examples of robotic limbs, controlled by the mind. Or perhaps examples of incredible neural networks simulating animal brains.

Maybe you’d explain that we can already create extremely muscular beings through myostatin-blocking gene modification and the resultant “double muscling” it brings.

See also: Futureman: The Future of Health and Fitness (2021 Edition)

Perhaps you’re impressed by what you’ve seen from Neuralink.

But all of these examples are extremely flawed.

Our understanding of the human body is so laughably limited that we could not possibly hope to improve on it in any meaningful way.

Dynamic Human Movement

One issue with blocking myostatin, for example, is that it can lead to tendon injuries. Not only because the muscle runs ahead of the tendon strength but also because myostatin plays a key role in tendon repair and maintenance (study).

The body does not feature arbitrary functions. Everything fits together like an intricately designed watch. Trying to “improve” the body by blocking specific chemicals is like trying to “improve” said watch with a hammer.

Limb Augmentation

Yes, there are robotic limbs that can be controlled by the mind. Perhaps they could be given the strength to crush animals.

But their dexterity, sensory feedback, and fine motor control pales in comparison to that of even a clumsy toddler.

Simply picking up a spoon and bringing it to your face requires an incredible dance of tiny muscles in constant communication with the brain. Each of those tiny muscles engages just the right number of motor units to deliver just the right amount of power in conjunction with all the others around it. The fascia tightens to send signals to other, distant muscles, helping to operate countless built-in reflexes. The proprioceptors: such as the muscle spindles, golgi tendon organs, Ruffini endings, and Pacinian corpuscles.

Robot Arm

This huge amount of data is processed in the context of the further information coming from the other senses or sight, and equilibrioception.

We didn’t even recognize the importance of fascia until very recently. We are light years from being able to reproduce this kind of fine movement.

There can be no Winter Soldier. No Robocop.

Boston Dynamics

In the comments of my video on this topic, someone pointed out the amazing work being done over at Boston Dynamics. Surely, that’s evidence that we could create a robot limb with the dexterity of a human one?

Afterall, those guys have built parkour robots! And dogs that catch their balance after being kicked.

But while the parkour robot is undeniably impressive, and I certainly would never want to take away from that achievement, the truth is that it still pales in comparison to human dexterity. Show me a robot that can do parkour OR swing on monkey bars. And play football. And sew. And juggle. And learn new tasks that it is taught.

Perfect Human

Then show me one that can self-heal. Shrink the weight down to a fraction of what it is currently. And

And you’d still be nowhere near the incredible technology of the human body.

The Brain

The brain is even more complex. Attempts to “map” neural networks into computers are, in my opinion, ultimately doomed to failure.

Human Brain

The brain is not a static map. It is constantly shifting and changing. Neuroplasticity that occurs in the span of milliseconds may be responsible for functions as fundamental as working memory. Our brain is constantly reorganizing and growing, forming new connections. And we don’t understand the laws that govern this process.

There are entire aspects of the brain that are entirely a mystery to us. We don’t know the true purpose of white matter – though it outweighs grey matter considerably. We don’t entirely know the rules that govern which neurotransmitters are released when in the brain. There are likely many we have yet to discover.

See also: Can Mind Uploading Ever Work?

None of which is to mention the absolutely integral interplay between the body and mind. The way in which hormones and neurotransmitters produced in the gut and elsewhere can affect cognition. The way that, as embodied cognition postulates, we may require a physical experience in order to grasp any concept at all…

But Don’t We Already Have Brain Chips?

Again, someone in the comments argued that examples of deep brain stimulation devices and brain-machine interfaces were proof that we “know enough” or that we’re “nearly there.” Sure, these technologies are cool…

But brain machine interfaces work via EEG – listening out for spikes in activity that lack any kind of spatial or temporal resolution. The amount of data we can translate this way is miniscule compared to that coming from your little finger alone.

Transhuman Eye

DBS devices show a lot of promise for those suffering from epilepsy, major depression, anxiety, and other disorders. But only in the same way that antidepressants do.

Again, the brain is hugely complex and should be able to move seamlessly from one “state” to another as the dynamically changing environment demands. Simply suppressing or stimulating an entire region lacks nuance.

None of this is to mention the invasive nature of a brain implant. The potential for damage. Or the

And yes, I know about people who embed magnets in their fingertips. I understand that we can, perhaps, give ourselves a better sense of magnetoreception with some kind of implant. Sure, NFC payment and access to buildings.

Embodied Mind

But these are hardly huge leaps forward. These are only a shuffle toward transhumanism, only slightly more advanced than eye-glasses or hearing aids. Amazing, yes. Transformative? No.

See my article on brain uploading, above, for more on all this.

We cannot improve on these bodies with technology.

Maxhumanism: An Alternative

But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Perhaps there is another step that we can focus on, instead.

Maybe our focus should, instead, be on taking full advantage of the bodies we have right now.

Because I believe that there is a huge amount of potential untapped within us. I believe that the human body is truly the “final frontier.”

Human But Better

I’m not talking about “self-improvement” or getting a little fitter. I’m talking about unlocking a step-change in human performance.

I believe we can find ways to discover HUGE amounts of additional physical prowess; strength, agility, and speed. I believe we can optimize our diets and lifestyles to live for longer.

But I think that the most profound changes will come from changing the way that we think.

I call this “Max Humanism.”

The Infinite Potential of the Human Body

If this sounds far-fetched, then consider just what we know the body to be capable of.

Consider that the blind can learn to “see” with sonar, using the tremendous adaptability of the human brain.

Or indigenous members of “NORFORCE” in Australia who, in some cases, exhibit 6:14 vision.

Think of the Moken people, who can alter the shapes of their eyes in order to better see underwater – for the purposes of diving and fishing.

Human

Or the people that have taught themselves to write two different sentences simultaneously, using a pen in each hand.

There is even evidence for a dormant sense of “magnetoreception” in humans. I believe we could train ourselves to tap into this again, perhaps removing the need for exogenous prostheses.

Imagine if we taught ourselves a new language that was more efficient, allowing for greater data processing.

Options for Drastic Improvement

Imagine if we could utilize technology to provide a greater fidelity in sensory feedback, to transform the way we understand our own bodies. To help draw our attention to tiny sensations that already exist, thus greatly expanding their potential through further plasticity.

I believe there is a LOT that can be done to improve working memory, particularly visual working memory.

Much of this could be achieved best by using virtual reality to create impossible training scenarios that challenge us in new ways. Combine this with high fidelity body tracking – of the kind achieved by the Kinect 2 – and we could hone our movement to a truly superhuman degree.

Full dive

What if we could find a more efficient way to consume information – flooding our brains with huge amounts of data in minutes and becoming adept in countless skills.

Not using technology to augment the body, then, but rather to better train it and eek out the most incredible performance possible.

I believe we’re capable of much more and that THIS should be our focus.

Instead of trying to become “more than” human, we should aim to become “more” human.

Closing Thoughts

Okay, so that was… a thing. Hope you enjoyed that little ramble!

If it all sounds a little grandiose, keep in mind here that my motivation is strictly to be more like Spider-Man, or Sonic. Strictly childish.

But I do believe that there’s a lot more untapped potential within us. And that we are MUCH further than being able to effective augment our bodies than we think we are.

To the future

And how do we do it? Well obviously, I haven’t quite cracked the code just yet… But that’s what a lot of my research and exploration is actually about. I have some cool ideas and have found some cool information, and I’m going to be sharing that over the coming months.

So, stay tuned. And look out for a video on “Super Intelligence,” coming soon. What do you think?

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

6 Comments

  1. thetinywoman says:

    This was the most fascinating article I read tonight. I agree with you, I don’t think humans are ready for something this…advanced. I definitely have mixed feelings as a whole on it.

  2. alex says:

    I like the video, and am rather glad that you posted something of a rejection of Transhumanism in favor of becoming the best human that you can be.
    Transhuamnism has two major issues- the first is, as you point out, its utter bunk- being a grift at best and at worst an excuse to legitimize Social Darwinism and Malthusianism. Technology has not been advancing at anything like the rate people are led to believe- my computer does nothing it did not do in 2000 and little more then was doable in “the Mother Of All Demos” in 1968
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_All_Demos
    The second issue is that Transhumanism is rooted in a Gnostic rejection of the material world, and a rejection of reality always leads to bad outcomes. Its the sign of a late stage culture, and the fruits are obvious when you see teenagers physically unable to run a mile, intellectually unable to muster an interest in learning for its own sake and emotionally fragile. As Abigale Shrier speaks of in her book “Irreversible Damage” girls are the first (but not last) to suffer.
    I’ve always liked your channel, but this work strikes me as much more serious then what has gone before and I’m glad to see it….. oh, and since your such a super hero fan may I suggest “Our Gods Wear Spandex” by Chris Knowles. Its kinda a cool history of the genre.

    • Adam Sinicki says:

      Thank you! Yes, I really don’t understand how such unfounded claims about technology abound. Sure, we can do some amazing stuff. But we are nowhere close to a true AI with free will, or even technopathic communication as touted by the likes of Musk. You only have to scratch a little under the surface to see how absurd it is. Look at that old Google Assistant demo from four years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5VN56jQMWM

      So clearly staged – if I recall they don’t even ask for a name! And clearly nothing like this has emerged in the time since.

      It’s easy to presume a conspiracy. But having worked slightly with Silicon Valley for a short time as a tech journalist, I’ve seen enough to know there are a lot of incredibly deluded people running things with more money than sense.

      Thanks for the book recommendation! That sounds exactly up my street 😀

      The response to this one has been fascinating. A lot of people echoing your sentiments here, but an equal number saying I’m ignorant!

  3. Marthy Angue says:

    I have been saying it forever. How can we imagine transcending a humanity we have yet to achieve fully?

  4. Elliot Loughman says:

    Absolutely amazing, read this while listening to Endel on the bus while doing some incidental training. Absolutely agree on the whole point of myostatin blockers, I think it’s too early. And to be honest I feel that no matter what happens, transhumanism will probably come first before maxhumanism. It would be good if the higher up’s in the world made certain rules for partaking in extreme transhumanism, like people who are able to do a set level of requirements showing they are seriously on self improvement or partaking in a journey of maxhumanism and want to take it to the next level which many maxhumanists probably would not partake but however this would be the beauty of the two sides. It would make the world this weird kind of ying and Yang, masculine and feminine, liberal and conservative etc.

    This can really be taken places man, should make more posts about it.

    Best regards
    Elliot loughman

  5. Kate says:

    This is such a fascinating article! I’m a huge fan of your blog.

    Similar to the Peak Performance movment where we use what we already out— out biology to our advantage. 💪🏼

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