Beam Me Up!
Today, actor William Shatner, best known for playing Capt. James T. Kirk on the original Star Trek television series, gives a keynote presentation at Transvision, the annual meeting of the World Transhumanist Association. This selection is not surprising, not only because this year's theme is the humble "Transhumanity Saving Humanity: Inner Space to Outer Space", but also because transhumanists are clearly enamored with science fiction. Star Trek is a particularly popular franchise among those who hope that a qualitatively different future is at hand. In the various Star Trek TV series and movies, humanity overcame its fundamental weaknesses, united itself and other alien species, and established the United Federation of Planets to maintain peace and freedom throughout the galaxy. Soaking up such techno-utopian futuristic visions may lead impressionable boys, and impressionable men, to believe that developments such as mental uploading, immortality, and the Singularity really can solve all the world's social problems.
But I am curious if Shatner will remind his technophilic audience that, in the Star Trek canon, the development of human genetic engineering on Earth in the late twentieth century led to social domination by the enhanced "Augments," and subsequently a globally-devastating conflict, the Eugenics Wars.
Failing that, I hope that Shatner will at least refrain from serenading the audience.