The whole 666 Number/Mark of the Beast thing and the fact that I’m reading Peter F. Hamilton at the moment has got me thinking about biochips and the future of other technological augmentations of the human body, and how those technological advances will be received in society at large.
Hamilton’s futurist novels revolve around the idea of transhumanism, which is the use of genetic engineering and artifical implants (augmenting memory, strength, endurance etc or enabling electronic interfaces to datanets) to enhance chosen human capabilities. He speculates about artificial intelligences (AI), longevity/rejuvenation treatments, interplanetary travel methods, human/AI symbiosis, megascale engineering, terraforming, contact with alien spacefarers and threats of human extinction.
Into this fairly standard science fiction (almost space opera) mix Hamilton throws deeper themes like life after death, genocide and the question of the borders between humanity, transhumanity and possible posthumanity. Definitely epic and more complicated than most, but an excellent read.
As one might imagine considering the huge level of individual and societal change that would be involved, there are a lot of critics of the transhumanist ethos, both on practical and ethical grounds.
So, I’ve got two questions:
A) If someone invents a biochip implant that can interface with external ethernet wireless systems to do at least everything your PDA/mobile phone does, with the capacity for upgraded functionality typical of the electronics industry we see today, that runs off your own body’s nerve impulse energy and is proven medically safe over a lifetime, how many here would go for it?
B) Hamilton managed to pull together the wandering strands of his sprawling epic yet again in the conclusion to Judas: Unchained, in a satisfying fashion, but for me it didn’t have the “wow, how the hell did he pull that off” factor that the conclusion of the Night’s Dawn trilogy did. Was it just that I was expecting him to pull it all together again, so I was a bit jaded, or did he genuinely struggle this time so that the warp and weft was more obvious? (Obligatory spoiler alert: plot details may be revealed in the comments thread)
Crossposted at Larvatus Prodeo