Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Marquis Scholar and mathematics major Ryan McCall ’07 (Seneca, Pa.) will lead this week’s McKelvy House discussion on transhumanism. Mediterranean vegan food will be served Sunday at 6 p.m. with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m. The house is located at 200 High Street.

According to Wikipedia, transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, cognitive science, and hypothetical future technologies such as simulated reality, artificial intelligence, mind uploading, and cryonics, to increase human physical and cognitive abilities and improve the human condition in unprecedented ways.

Transhumanism also refers to the academic study of the possibilities and consequences of developing and using human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies.

“Transhumanists are aware of the radical changes that will come from the accelerating technological progress of the next few decades and work to shape a safe future,” says McCall, who identifies himself as one.

The discussion will focus on the following questions:

  • What reactions do you have towards transhumanism?
  • Most of the opposition to transhumanism asserts that human enhancement violates human dignity and that such change would be unnatural. Can we say what is and isn’t natural regarding such actions?
  • Would you use technology to directly improve yourself? Where would you draw the line (i.e. life extension to 100 years only)? Would you upload your consciousness into a computer?
  • Is humanity better off playing it safe with new technologies or do we run a greater risk by being overly cautious?
  • Would you advocate or oppose transhumanism? Why?

In addition, McCall asks if transhumanist values will be adopted by an explicit movement or will society gradually acclimate itself to more and more radical technologies.

“I posit that there will always be early-adopters of technology and once the early-adopters create a trend the majority will follow so that your future selves will choose to become something other than human, he says.”

Links to suggested readings for this topic and more information about the McKelvy House Scholars program, as well as downtown Easton businesses, are available on the group’s blog web site.

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Weekly Sunday and occasional Wednesday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Previous discussions:

March 26 – Meaning of Life
March 5 – Fashion as Expression of Identity
Feb.19 – Social Darwinism
Feb.12 – Stereotypes
Feb. 5 – Reading as a Virtue
Jan. 29 — Sexuality
Nov. 20 — Value of Performing Arts
Nov. 13 – Blogging
Nov. 9 – Neoconservatism
Oct. 30 – Christian Right
Oct. 26 – Social Groups
Oct. 23 – The Shape of Things
Oct. 19 – Women in Creating and Sustaining Peace
Oct. 16 – “Slow Food” Movement
Oct. 12 – Hugo Chavez
Oct. 9 – Molecular Nanotechnology
Oct. 5 – Folk Music as Vehicle for Social Change
Sept. 25 – Freedom and Other Remembrance Issues
Sept. 20 – The Powerful Thrust of Language on Civic Arousal
Sept. 14 – Apathy
Sept. 11 – Why Do We Care about One Another?

Categorized in: Academic News