Saturday, 18 June 2011

Immortality by Kevin Bohacz

Immortality is not a bad book, for two evenings of reading it is more than OK. But as many other scifi's I think it ends where it should begin. The merging of man/machine, or upgrade to "human 2.0" is happening now and we need authors to explore the ethical and aesthetic aspects of what is happening.

1. We have close to 2 billion people with overweight,
2. close to a billion people chronically hungry,
3. at the same time as we are killing the planet,
4. we can see the end of the western dominance and
5. the (re-)emergence of other values beside the linear/growth paradigm that has dominated the leading institutions thinking about development.

For each there is a challenge for "transhumanism"
1. Will it only accelerate the need for "more" and individualism (the book and many others highlight the connectivity as a potential force for transformative change)?
2. Is the development helping those in most need of help? The book does not even mention the poor on the planet... and hardly anyone outside the US...
3. How will it help up live more sustainable lives? Here the book highlights current challenges (and actually make them a key part of the plot), but does not talk about actual solutions.
4. China, India and other re-emerging economies will set the agenda in a way that never has been the case though history. It is time for the western civilization to leave room for other cultures, if not we will have "war" in a few decades where the reality and current institutions drift too far apart. Nothing in the book discussed these issues.
5. There is so much focus on the technical development that the ethical aspects are often forgotten. Right when the book end the people of the world face some interesting choices and ethical dilemmas.

Part of me also feel a little uncomfortable with an average book that use the same title as Kundera's masterpiece.