In the next fifty years, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and other technologies will allow human beings to transcend the limitations of the body. Life spans will extend well beyond a century. Our senses and cognition will be enhanced. We will have greater control over our emotions and memory. Our bodies and brains will be surrounded by and merged with computer power.
Hughes asserts that "transhuman" technologies that push the boundaries of humanness can radically improve our quality of life if they are safe and made equally available in a liberal society. He writes...
Rejecting the two extremes of bioLuddism and libertarian transhumanism, Citizen Cyborg argues for a third way -- democratic transhumanism. The democratic transhumanist approach contends that we achieve the best possible posthuman future when we ensure technologies are safe, make them available to everyone, and respect the right of individuals to control their own bodies.
It's hard for us to argue with that approach, although we are well aware that others have strongly different opinions. But the discussion is improved when writers like Hughes, Ramez Naam, and Ray Kurzweil make these controversial ideas available in an accessible format. It won't be that long until the issues they raise will confront us directly.
In his review of Citizen Cyborg, author Cory Doctorow says the book was "genuinely surprising, engaging and engrossing."
Hughes's remarkable achievement in Citizen Cyborg is the fusion of social democratic ideals of tempered, reasoned state intervention to promote equality of opportunity with the ideal of self-determination inherent in transhumanism. Transhumanism, Hughes convincingly argues, is the sequel to humanism, and to feminism, to the movements for racial and gender equality, for the fight for queer and transgender rights -- if you support the right to determine what consenting adults can do with their bodies in the bedroom, why not in the operating theatre?
Doctorow, whose BoingBoing blog is widely read, says "the analytical tools this book has provided me with have made me re-examine my own political identity." We think re-examination of our ideas and identities is a healthy thing to do on a regular basis. If this book causes others to make such deeply introspective evaluations, then its impact can only be seen as positive.