Italy has a transhumanist politician – far thinking or far-fetched?

In science magazine New Scientist, Transhumanist politician and Italian politician Giuseppe Vatinno, says that transhumanism “aims to continuously improve humanity. It promotes science and technology but with people at its centre.” So far, there is nothing controversial. Most people would sign up to this.

“It does this through the development of technologies that boost health and fight ageing and disease, by replacing lost or defective body parts and by improving the internet, communication technologies and artificial intelligence.” Another serving of motherhood and apple pie.

But then… “Ultimately, it aims to free humanity from its biological limitations, overcoming natural evolution to make us more than human.” Ok… so now we’ve moved to sci-fi.

As a play thing, a tool to think about the nature of humanity, transhumanism has an interesting power. Just as sci-fi movies ask us to investigate our value, motives and relationships, transhumanism challenges us to consider the ‘me’ within the being.

But to use this as a tool to form political policy is worrying. Yes, let’s aspire to do better, stretch further, live more healthy lives. But politics is about reality. And in reality we are not going to be freed from our biology. We may have great tools that stretch our capabilities, we may build medical and therapeutic technologies that enable us to overcome disease and push death further down the line. And if that is what he means by overcoming our biology, then we are all transhumanists. But the idea of pushing so far that we leave our biology behind in history, step out of our evolutionary roots and take on a new existence as homo techno is too far-fetched to take seriously.