Who will recognize Humanity 2.0 and will it recognize us?
If ‘Humanity 1.0’ is the proverbial ‘normal human being’ that our laws have been traditionally designed to empower and protect, then who is ‘Humanity 2.0’? For the most part, the prospects for ‘Humanity 2.0’ largely replay in a new key what I call in my new book the ‘bipolar disorder’ that has always accompanied the human condition: Are we ‘glorified animals’ who should become more embedded in nature or ‘minor deities’ with the potential to achieve full godlike powers? Until the modern period, theology was the natural home for this discussion. But nowadays it is increasingly the subject of public debate. On the one hand are those – often called ‘posthumanists’ – who believe that anthropocentrism is a dangerous conceit. They typically adopt a Darwinian view that we are just one amongst many species who cohabit the planet and who eventually will become extinct and replaced by something perhaps quite unrecognisable. On the other hand are those – often called ‘transhumanists’ – who believe in humanity’s unique ability (if not obligation) to take control of evolution and steer it in directions that project our most desirable features (usually our minds) into perpetuity, even if it means abandoning our biological bodies. While both views may seem wildly futuristic, in fact people are already beginning to live lives that assume one or the other future will come about.