In Jean Guerrero’s thought-provoking piece, she discusses transhumanism and its “twin cult” longtermism, a view that prioritizes the lives of future generations over the people alive today. But while it sounds altruistic, longtermism has its roots in eugenics, white supremacy, and capitalism. Guerrero once thought the idea of digital immortality was attractive, but now finds tech-utopian visions of the Elon Musks and Mark Zuckerbergs of today destructive and dangerous. With what we’re learning about the brain, she reports, “feelings sprout from the soil of our bodies and are central to consciousness.” In other words, mind and meat are inseparable, and the transhumanist notion of freeing our minds from our physical bodies is impossible. Longtermism, and its focus on reaching “technological maturity” while ignoring our existing ecosystems and the billions of humans on Earth, is just a fantasy, she writes.
In the early 2000s, I spent hundreds of hours trying to upload my mind to the web. I’d sit at our computer in the evenings — by this time a stylish blue iMac G3 — and type every detail I could recall of the past 24 hours into a blog. I believed if I captured enough of my thoughts and experiences online, eventually some kindly engineer, long after my death, might revive me in the form of an algorithm. I’d be immortal.
It was a teen girl’s techno-futurist fantasy, a twist on the Snow White fairy tale. I imagined nature as the poisoned fruit; the engineer was my savior. But the real poison was the fantasy.