Transhumanism and Morality: Reactions to Enhancing Human Abilities with Technology

[Speaker] Newman, David T:1
[Co-author] Fast, Nathanael J:1, Graham, Jesse:1
1:University of Southern California (United States of America)

Technology is developing at an accelerating pace and rapidly transforming human civilization. Across three studies, we use Moral Foundations Theory to examine the influence of moral psychology on reactions to transhumanism, a cultural and intellectual movement that advocates integrating humanity with advanced technology to transcend our biological limitations. In Study 1, we found that negativity toward transhumanism is most associated with endorsement of the Purity foundation. In Study 2, we found that transhumanism is perceived as more immoral when framed as augmentative (enhancing human abilities beyond normal) compared to restorative (helping people with deficits reach the human baseline). Study 3 shifted the focus to a specific transhuman technology: transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). We found that augmentative tDCS was perceived as more immoral than restorative tDCS, embeddable tDCS was perceived as more immoral than wearable tDCS, and the interaction of augmentation and embedment caused the greatest increase in perceived immorality.
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