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October 8, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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I’m Going To Be A Robot!

And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.

 

When I was a intermediate-age youngling, our class was given the task (read: it was compulsory) to do a “persuasive speech” on a topic we found interesting. Having just discovered comics through the gateway drug of the Justice League cartoon, I wanted to do a speech on why everyone should have superpowers.

Due to the unfortunate mandate that we had to ground our argument in quote-unquote “reality”, I had to change this simple power fantasy speech into one about funding for programs to allow people to make machines *deep breath* that would give humanity superpowers. Simple, right?

I never came up with a better, more easy to swallow premise, but at least I got a kick out of leaping around the room asking my friends whether they wanted to be faster than a speeding bullet or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Now if only I could travel back in time and tell my past self about transhumanism…

Transhumanism is the idea that humanity will, at some point, begin to see our current ‘design’ as flawed, obselete and in need of improvement, and so we would turn to bio-augmentation and cybernetics in a quick fix to make ourselves harder-better-faster-stronger. Transhuman improvements can be anything from passive abilities like increased disease resistance, to literal superhuman powers like enhanced strength, to mechanical or biological additions such as mechanical limbs or wings. Anything that makes you above or technically superior than the ordinary human makes you a transhuman.

In fiction, this goes for about EVERY superhero and villain ever created. I could go on about transhumanism literally being the thing that turns the power fantasy of comic books into power reality, or how cool it would be able to augment our bodies in an instant for fun and profit in the vein of Deus Ex or Bioshock, but I got all of that out of my system inYear 8. What interests me about transhumanism these days is the limitless potential for human expression. When you think about it, it has the potential to make everyone happy in their own skin, give everyone what they have always wanted in life and let people live however they wanted. In the same sense that those who identify as trans* believe that their body does not adequately express their gender, a transhumanist could believe their body does not adequately express their potential. Everybody wants to be better than they are, and through our exposure to superhero fiction, this can manifest as a desire to have an ability or attribute beyond human.

Everyone has a different idea of what they want to be or do. Sure, super speed could beat the traffic, and turning invisible could make you the greatest master of surprise ever, but I’m not talking utility, I’m talking personality. Some of us want to fly because we like the feeling, or shapeshift because we want to wake up as a different person each morning, or have a robot arm that has wi-fi and a laser cannon so you can tweet about who you just incinerated. “What’s your power?” could become the new “what’s your sign?” as go-to date conversation. Hell, maybe you feel bogged down with just having a body.You could upload your brain into a android equivalent, or live out your life as a disembodied intelligence.There is no limit to what can imagine ourselves to be, and as sure as every person is unique, every person’s vision of themselves will be different as well. So I say, superpowers to the people!

Wearing underwear on the outside is optional.  ▲

Gus Mitchell is studying at Victoria. He fears immortality.

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