The Development of Transhumanism in China – Article by Peter Wang
1. Historical Development of Chinese Transhumanism
Ancient Chinese society was dominated by feudalism. The economy was dominated by agriculture, and the development of science and technology was slow or even suppressed. The main achievements of this era were the four major inventions of China: papermaking, gunpowder, the compass, and printing. Why was this so? For an ancient civilization with a history of several thousand years, why was the development of science and technology so backward? The fundamental reason was the idea of imperial power. Ancient China was centered on the emperor, and everything on the Chinese land was owned by the emperor, including the farmers on that land. The emperor was afraid of a peasant revolution and was afraid that others would take the emperor’s place, and as a result successive emperors would use the policy of fools. Instead of allowing farmers to read books, the emperors just wanted the farmers to plant the land every day, like slaves, so that the farmers would have no ability to overthrow the rulers. This idea of imperial power had greatly suppressed the development of science and technology.
In 1949, Mao Zedong established the first democratic, self-improving, unified China in Chinese history: The People’s Republic of China, a stable country; a country without feudal ideas; and a country that serves the people. Only then did China begin to truly develop its own education, technology, and industry. It was aimed for ordinary people to have food to eat, houses to live in, and books to read, and it was also intended for them to be more involved in technology and democracy. However, Chinese politics had hindered the development of science and technology (superhuman science), such as the Great Leap Forward, which severely reduced China’s productivity and starved many people; the Cultural Revolution had destroyed China’s economic development, education, and technology, bringing China back to pre-liberation overnight. These events were relatively unfortunate. Political struggles have severely hindered the development of science and technology (superhuman science) in China.
In 1978, China began reform and opening up. This phase of reform and opening up was China’s greatest era. China has changed from a closed country to an open country. Deng Xiaoping formulated a basic national policy centered on economic construction, which has enabled China’s economy to develop rapidly. At this time, China attaches great importance to the development of education, science and technology, and the economy. At the same time, special attention is also paid to foreign exchanges, and advanced education and technology have been introduced from abroad. In education, a large number of international students are sent to study in developed countries such as the United States, which has cultivated a large number of scientific and technological talents for China; economically, a large number of foreign companies have been introduced to optimize state-owned enterprises and support for private enterprises, so China’s economy has developed rapidly. China’s science and technology, the introduction of advanced Western technology, and scientific and technological talent have all been vigorously developed. While China, which is in line with international standards, has experienced such rapid development in science and technology, China does not yet have transhumanist ideas and corresponding organizations.
In ancient and modern China, there was no transhumanist thought and corresponding organization, mainly because the political thought and system at that time severely hindered the development of science and technology (transhuman science). I believe this will be optimized in the future.
2.The Status Quo of Chinese Transhumanism
Transhumanism has developed very well abroad, with examples such as Google’s artificial intelligence, Tesla’s driverless cars, Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface (Neuralink), and some biological sciences that could extend human life. Compared with foreign countries, the development of transhumanism in China is far behind and is still in its infancy. Most Chinese have not heard of transhumanism, let alone have a corresponding organization. The main reasons are as follows:
1. Lack of information on transhumanism.
There are no media in the country that specifically report on transhumanism. Some mainstream media have no reports in this regard, such as CCTV and local TV stations. Other online media, such as NetEase and Tencent, have reported very little. Some tech media report slightly more points regarding transhumanism, such as 36KR. The lack of transhumanism-related information and articles makes it difficult for the Chinese to understand this new movement. I think it is necessary to establish our own community and write articles to promote transhumanism. Let more people know us and join us.
2. There are few transhumanism-related companies.
Chinese enterprises are mainly state-owned enterprises, and many foreign companies have been introduced. The development of these companies does not rely on innovation and R & D, but on low labor costs in China and government subsidies. There are no biotech companies in China, and there are no technology companies that study human life. Baidu has the best development in artificial intelligence, but it is also a lot worse than Google; Xiao Peng’s driverless car cannot be compared with Tesla’s driverless car. I think that enterprises are the new force for the development of transhumanism. Enterprises use products to improve people’s quality of life, and they use products to spread transhumanism. In the process of transhumanism’s development, the development of transhumanism-related enterprises is very important.
3. The government invested fewer resources.
Compared with foreign investment in high technology, China has invested less, and China has devoted more social resources to politics and people’s livelihood. Of course, the Chinese government has realized this problem over the years, and has begun to increase investment in high-tech fields and encourage people to innovate and start businesses. Many policy benefits, tax benefits, and talent subsidies were given. As a result, Chinese startups and VCs have developed rapidly. The government has also invested many resources in high-tech fields, such as nanotechnology, biopharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence, and high-speed rail. Compared with foreign investment, there is still a gap between these investments, but this situation is expected to improve.
4. There are few transhumanist talents.
The fundamental reason for the lack of transhumanist talents in China is that people do not have access to information about transhumanism, because China lacks writers who can write articles about transhumanism. There are many well-known scientific and technological people in China who are interested in transhumanism, but they lack the time to understand transhumanism. These people are often busy, such as Alibaba’s founder Ma Yun, Baidu’s founder and CEO Li Yanhong, and Tencent’s founder and CEO Ma Huateng. Fewer workers are engaged in this area than could be. First, high-tech work is needed in this area, and transhumanism needs to be recognized. China is a country with a large population, and many people have received university educations. As long as we strengthen the propaganda of transhumanism, I believe there will be more and more transhumanist talents.
5. There is no corresponding organization to lead and promote.
There are no transhumanist organizations in the country. One reason for this is the lack of information in this area, and the other is the lack of talent in this area. I will establish a Chinese transhumanist community and community in the near future to promote transhumanism. As for China’s Transhumanist Party, because of the restrictions of the Chinese government, it can only wait for the right time to be established. Our communities and societies are of great benefit to the promotion of transhumanism in China.
6. The Chinese lack sufficient knowledge of transhumanism-related technologies.
Although China is a big manufacturing power, it is not a strong manufacturing power. A strong country needs innovation and high-end technology to support it. For the research and development of high-end technology, it often needs to invest a lot of resources, but the return rate is very low. Therefore, the research and development of high-end technology in China is often concentrated in the government, the military, and some large companies. Without enough technology and products, ordinary people have little knowledge of transhumanist technology (artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, driverless vehicles, etc.). In this regard, China still needs to work hard.
All in all, China’s transhumanism is still in its infancy and faces many problems and difficulties. However, we believe that transhumanism will develop rapidly in China, because the Chinese are more able to accept new things without the constraints of religious thought. China’s economy ranks second in the world, China’s population ranks first in the world, and China’s science and technology can rival Silicon Valley. Based on this, we believe that transhumanism will develop rapidly in China.
3. The Future Development of Chinese Transhumanism
All in all, I am optimistic about the development of transhumanism in China.
First of all, it is an inevitable trend to have transhumanism-related technologies to improve people’s living standards! People need transhumanism!
Secondly, from the perspective of the development of social civilization, human society has experienced primitive society, slave society, feudal society, capitalist society, socialist society, and will definitely enter the superhuman society!
Well-known scholars in China support transhumanism. Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and many well-known persons such as He Chuanqi, the director of the China Modernization Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, attach great importance to transhumanism. With the promotion of these people, transhumanism will certainly develop quickly.
Chinese culture is conducive to the spread of transhumanism. China is an open country and likes to learn new things, so the development of transhumanism in China has no cultural hindrance. Coupled with the fact that the Chinese do not believe in religion, do believe in science, and have no obstacles in the form of religious dogmas, the cultural soil is better than in the West. Many Western religious denominations, because of influence by extreme religious forces and anti-intellectual forces, will oppose the development of transhumanism.
China is increasing its investment in high-tech R & D. From 2003 to 2013, China’s investment in research and development has increased significantly, with an average annual growth rate of 19.5%, far exceeding that of the United States.
UNESCO’s “Science Report 2015: Facing 2030” at Paris headquarters shows that the United States in 2015 accounted for 28% of the world’s investment in research and development, and is still in a leading position, followed by China (20%). There are currently approximately 7.8 million scientific researchers worldwide, an increase of more than 20% by 2015 compared to 2007, of which the European Union accounted for the largest proportion, reaching 22%, followed by China (19%) and the United States (16.7%).
With so many resources and talents invested, I believe that transhumanism will develop rapidly in China! Transhumanism can lead to making better products, and these products can greatly enhance human beings. So, for smart and practical Chinese, they will definitely choose transhumanism!
Peter Wang is the U.S. Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in China.