This post was originally going to be titled, “Currently reading: The Transhumanist Reader” (Amazon link), but I’m not sure I’ll continue reading it. There’s nothing really wrong with it, and many of the contributors are people whose work I already respect greatly (namely Nick Bostrom, Anders Sandberg, Robin Hanson, and Russell Blackford). It’s just that after flipping through it, and reading a few of the essays, nothing got me particularly excited.
Partly, many of the ideas are things I’m already familiar with through other sources, including reading what the contributors have made available free on the internet. Partly, many of the main ideas seem trivial to me: of course we’ll be able to modify and improve ourselves with technology in various ways in the future, and of course people should be allowed and in some cases encouraged to do so if we can get the kinks worked out in the technology so the benefits exceed the costs.
I’m also not very enthusiastic about the “transhumanist” label. My reasons are very similar to those given in Robin’s post “Meh transhumanism,” as well as this post by Russell. Oddly, though, while I don’t find myself inclined to describe myself as a transhumanist, I do sometimes describe myself as writing about transhumanism, just because it’s a convenient umbrella term for talking about smart drugs, genetic engineering, uploading, AI, etc.