Of Pond Brains and Humanity 2.0 Part I: Theoteknosis By Tom Smith Published 27/01/16 Biosphere 2 . Source: Wikimedia (User: Johndedios) ‘You’re not going to take people who lack skills,’ says Steve Fuller, ‘you’re not going to take homeless people, though that’s not official policy i .’ Fuller is sociologist -in-residence for the Space Ark, a craft in conceptual development by Icarus Interstellar to take nature with us when the earth becomes a no- go zone. Given the vast challenges posed for the project of civilisation by ecological change, Fuller and colleagues are getting restless about our earth-bound future. The Ark is envisioned to take the form of a ball of genetically-engineered soil, an artificial biome fifteen kilometres in diameter, inhabited by somewhere between fifty and five hundred humans, those few (I hesitate to say ‘lucky few’) deemed worthy of saviour. The project builds on work into artificial,
closed ecological systems started in the early nineties at the $200 million Biosphere 2 complex--now owned and operated by the University of Arizona. The latter, an audacious, though disappointingly terrestrial, ‘vivarium’ boasted a miniature rainforest, mangrove wetlands, savannah grassland, desert, coral reef and an agricultural zone complete with goats, hens and pigs, all crammed onto a glass- encased three-acre site. It was home to eight 'bionauts' who, for over two years, lived a hermetically- sealed existence in what was probably the world’s most radical exp eriment of self-sufficiency in recent history. The theological inspirations, and aspirations, of the Ark project are far from incidental. Fuller, a professor at the University of Warwick, as well as a Christian and proud transhumanist, argues for what he dubs theomimesis : the act of playing God. After all, he writes in his latest book The Proactionary Imperative , we are ‘aspiring deities’ with ‘divine potential’, and ‘not simply one among many species’. Welcome to Humanity 2.0, Fuller’s break away from bori ng old Humanity 1.0, with its creaky knees and reactionary moral aversion to eugenics. The Proactionary argument put forward holds that the precautionary principle, much beloved of environmentalists, has become an impediment to our innate brilliance, lowering our aspirations and placing us amongst other lowly animals. This gloomy precautionary belief in ‘do no harm’, now purportedly built into policy and the popular consciousness (albeit, one should add, to little avail), should be replaced by the explicitly anti-Darwinian proactionary imperative. This would enable a departure from our evolutionary past, taking genetics into our own hands (Fuller is a proponent of non-authoritarian eugenics, a term which he deems wrongly maligned), hopefully taking leave from this space rock we call home, and ultimately replacing our weak bodies ‘with some intellectually superior and more durable substratum’. Phew. ‘Better to give hostage to fortune,’ writes Fuller, ‘than be captive to the past.’ Of course, if work on Humanity 2.0 were the writings of a lone madman, this rich, heady vision of
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