Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future

James Hughes, Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future (USA: Westview Press, 2004).

James Hughes is a democratic transhumanist, and technoprogressive thinker. In Citizen Cyborg he outlines his specific transhumanist ideal, in which democracy and nation states play an important role in promoting the best aspects of transhumanist technologies, while helping to mitigate the greatest risks they pose through regulation.

Hughes is a strong believer in democracy and maintains that it is important to actively promote equal access to modern enhancement opportunities and game changing technologies, rather than allowing them to ‘trickle down’ to the disadvantaged in a purely free market system.

While Hughes opposes the most anarchic elements of libertarianism that dominated earlier transhumanist cultures, like extropianism, his own position overlaps with civil libertarianism in many ways. For example, Hughes is against over-regulation and believes that (in keeping with the principle of morphological freedom) humans should have the right to make their own decisions about treatment and enhancement technologies without government intervention.

This book is detailed, well-written, and provides some great historical background of the transhumanist movement. It was penned during an important moment in transhumanist history, in the midst of the controversial public debates over biotechnology and human enhancement in the USA in the early 2000s. Indeed, it was published the same year that the social scientist and member of George W. Bush President’s Council on Bioethics, Francis Fukuyama, declared transhumanism “the world’s most dangerous idea.”

Citizen Cyborg is one of the first rigorous, book length publications on transhumanism. It provides a very good overview of the evolution of the transhumanist movement to date, and also advances a newly emergent position in the transhumanist community (propagated largely through the World Transhumanist Association): specifically, that transhumanists must consider the social and political consequences of rapid technological disruption, engage in democratic discussions regarding funding and regulation, promote equal access to enhancement technologies, and promote transhumanist technologies as a means of enhancing collective intelligence and strengthening liberal democracies.

An absolute must read!

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