Our trans-human futures; our post-human pasts.

Dreams tangled by wires, the transhuman subject is wrapped in a promise: a promise of technological infallibility and inevitable progress. And so the neofuturists proclaim. Such optimisms are crisp and sure, marketed to the priveleged and powerful. Promises sold like catholic indulgences to assuage our guilt of a growing world and a distancing humanity. There's little room for pause. No ethic between the lines. A preoccupation with silicon cool, as the slums breathe vibrant beneath the wasteland of our curiosity. Lets not be fooled by the glossy wrapping, the baby steps towards godliness, the democratization of techne. Stare in the eyes of a cyborg and you'll find a reflection. A zeal for transhumanity masking our inhumanity.

Lets be clear: posthumanism is not transhumanism. As Foucault, the subjectless author, hinted at the erasure of Man ("like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea"), post-humanism implies the erasure of the subject. A rejection: of philosophical anthropology, the universality of something human, the sciences of life. But transhumanism speaks to transcendence: a glimmer, in the eye of the machine, as we take the next step in this origami evolution. And so dreaming our post-human futures implies a double entendre: an erasure of our selves as we know them and a transcendence of our selves in technology. If the soothsayers are true, the inevitable tide of technology may wash us away. But who is this us? What will be left of our humanity?
The Post-Human Futures conference was a Litmus test of the times, a measure of the zeitgeist in the subtext of its projections. Andrew Hessel, from Singularity University, epitomized this naive optimism and technocentric zeal: selling us a future of Life upon which we triumphantly stand at the pinnacle. This is the boundless enthusiasm of colonial expansion, an organic New World that has come to be our manifest destiny — uncritical, unrealistic, inhuman charlatanism. (Don't ask why, ask how.) Darwin is history, Hessel proclaims, our time is that of the "nurturing of the intended, the shaping of our future; we will do this, we have to, it's the next stage in our evolution." Inevitability.
Remarks about governance, ethics, and our dying humanity were few; exceptions included John Hockenberry's ableist challenges to 'enhancement' and Michèle S. Jean reminder of our wavering techno-history. The audience, microcosm of wider discomforts, asked the hard questions about technology's place in the power structures of worldwide inequity. 
Don't let me sway your opinion, the entire conference can be found online, with the magic of technological webcasting (http://www.situsci.ca/our-post-human-future-frontiers-research-video). And don't mistake me for the neo-Luddite: the plastic-and-metal in my pocket render me cyborg. But I'm not fooled by the shine of enhancements, screenings, and mechanical heads that rise and fall with the demands of the Global North. Lets think twice before adding machines to the trinity of this neofuturism: money and markets and men. A friend once told me that there's enough smart people in this world, what we need is good people. Then what do we do with the mechanical people?
Unwrap the promise, discover your real transhumanity. Here and now.
Michael Cournoyea is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto's Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.