H-: Wrestling with Transhumanism
Transhumanism for me is like a relationship with an obsessive and very neurotic lover. Knowing it is deeply flawed, I have tried several times to break off my engagement, but each time it manages to creep in through the back door of my mind. In How We Became Posthuman,1 I identified an undergirding assumption that makes possible such predictions as Hans Moravecâ€™s transhumanist fantasy that we will soon be able to upload our consciousness into computers and leave our bodies behind. I argued that this scenario depends on a decontextualized and disembodied construction of information. The disembodied information Claude Shannon formalized as a probability function, useful for specific purposes, has been expanded far beyond its original context and inappropriately applied to such phenomena as consciousness.2 With this argument, I naively thought that I had dismissed transhumanism once and for all, exposing its misapprehensions to my satisfaction and delivering a decisive blow to its aspirations. But I was wrong. Transhumanism has exponentially more adherents today than it did a decade ago when I made this argument, and its influence is clearly growing rather than diminishing, as this workshop itself testifies.
There are, of course, many versions of transhumanism, and they do not all depend on the assumption I critiqued. But all of them, I will argue, perform decontextualizing moves that over-simplify the situation and carry into the new millennium some of the most questionable aspects of capitalist ideology. Why then is transhumanism appealing, despite its problems? Most versions share the assumption that technology is involved in a spiraling dynamic of co-evolution with human development. This assumption, known as technogenesis, seems to me compelling and indeed virtually irrefutable, applying not only to contemporary humans but to Homo sapiens across the eons, shaping the species biologically, psychologically, socially and economically. While I have serious disagreements with most transhumanist rhetoric, the transhumanist community is one that is fervently involved in trying to figure out where technogenesis is headed in the contemporary era and what it implies about our human future. This is its positive contribution, and from my point of view, why it is worth worrying about.
How can we extract the valuable questions transhumanism confronts without accepting all the implications of transhumanist claims? One possibility is to embed transhumanist ideas in deep, rich, and challenging contextualizations that re-introduce the complexities it strips away. The results re-frame the questions, leading to conclusions very different than those most transhumanists embrace. In these encounters, transhumanism serves as the catalystâ€”or better, the irritantâ€”that stimulates a more considered and responsible view of the future than it itself can generate.
As a literary scholar, I consider the locus classicus for re-framing transhumanist questions to be science fiction and speculative fiction, jointly signified by SF. To initiate my inquiry, I will focus on the critical area of reproductionâ€”reproduction of individuals through children, reproduction of the species through technology as well as biology, and reproduction of psychological, philosophical, social and economic institutions that facilitate and/or threaten the continued existence of humans as a species. To see why reproduction is at the center of transhumanist concerns, we need only consider the rhetoric of the â€œsingularity,â€ a term introduced by SF writer and mathematician Vernon Vinge to indicate a decisive break in which advanced technology catapults us into a future qualitatively different from all previous human experience. Within a few years, Vinge predicts, we will confront a change comparable to the rise of life on earth; â€œthe precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence.â€ 3 So different will our future be, the story goes, that it is impossible for us accurately to predict it from our position on this side of the break. Insofar as reproduction implies continuities between past and future, it challenges the idea of a cataclysmic break, while simultaneously acting as a privileged site for visions of radical ruptures and transformations. Reproduction, then, is where the rubber hits the roadâ€”where issues of what will change and what will endure are imagined, performed, and contested.
Before demonstrating that SF re-contextualizes crucial issues surrounding reproduction, I will find it useful to review briefly the ideologies implicit in transhumanist rhetoric. Transhumanism, sometimes signified by <H or H+, is an international movement dedicated to the proposition that contemporary technosciences can enhance human capabilities and ameliorate or eliminate such traditional verities as mortality. It holds that human evolution is incomplete and, moreover, that we have a responsibility to further our evolution through technology. As a sample of transhumanist rhetoric, consider the following passage from Max More, a prominent movement spokesperson:
We seek to void all limits to life, intelligence, freedom, knowledge, and happiness. Science, technology and reason must be harnessed to our extropic values to abolish the greatest evil: death. Death does not stop the progress of intelligent beings considered collectively, but it obliterates the individual. No philosophy of life can be truly satisfying which glorifies the advance of intelligent beings and yet which condemns each and every individual to rot into nothingness. Each of us seeks growth and the transcendence of our current forms and limitations. The abolition of aging and, finally, all causes of death, is essential to any philosophy of optimism and transcendence relevant to the individual.4
Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University and one of transhumanismâ€™s more thoughtful practitioners, gives a two-fold definition on the World Transhumanist Association website:
(1) The intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. (2) The study of the ramifications, promises, and potential dangers of technologies that will enable us to overcome fundamental human limitations, and the related study of the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies.5
As these examples illustrate, transhumanist rhetoric concentrates on individual transcendence; at transhumanist websites, articles, and books, there is a conspicuous absence of considering socioeconomic dynamics beyond the individual. Bostrom, for example, writes of â€œmaking widely available technologies to eliminate ageing,â€ but what this would do to population growth, limited resources, and the economics of the young supporting the old are not considered.
Transhumanists recognize, of course, that contemporary technoscience is not an individual enterprise, typically requiring significant capitalization, large teams of workers, and extensive networks of knowledge exchange and distribution, but these social, technoscientific, and economic realities are positioned as if they are undertaken for the sole benefit of forward-thinking individuals. In addition, there is little discussion of how access to advanced technologies would be regulated or of the social and economic inequalities entwined with questions of access. The rhetoric implies that everyone will freely have access (as in the quotation cited above), or at least that transhumanist individuals will be among the privileged elite that can afford the advantages advanced technologies will offer. How this will play out for the large majority of people living in developing countries that cannot afford access and do not have the infrastructure to support it is not an issue. Indeed, the rhetoric often assumes that, as Iain Banks puts in his transhumanist far-future novel Look to Windward,6 the Age of Scarcity is a passing phase in human evolution that our descendants will leave far behind, with death, hunger, disease, and other afflictions brought under control and subject to the whim of individual choice.
Resisting these utopian visions are the sociological, philosophical, and psychological complexities (a constellation that Iain Banks has usefully called â€œmetalogyâ€ ) that operate at their most fraught with reproduction. Consistent with the transhumanist emphasis on the individual, reproduction typically figures in transhumanist rhetoric as the reproduction of the individual through cloning, cryogenic suspension, radical life extension, and uploading human consciousness into a computer. In all these versions, the rhetoric assumes that the individual will maintain his identity intact. As Hans Moravecâ€™s fantasy scenario of uploading in Mind Children makes clear, not only is identity is preserved, but the uploaded consciousness is represented as seamlessly continuous with the embodied mind.8 Whether a reproduced consciousness would in fact be identical (or even similar) is a point of intense interrogation in SF. In Greg Eganâ€™s Permutation City, for example, an uploaded consciousness finds the awareness that it has become a computer program unbearable, and all such consciousnesses commit suicide (or try to) within fifteen minutes of coming to awareness.9
Equally controversial are issues surrounding the reproduction of the species. Transhumanist rhetoric assumes that â€œweâ€ will become citizens of a transhuman future, an assumption existing in uneasy tension with the decisive break implied by the singularity. Who or what will be left behind, and what global conflicts might result from class and economic disparities, are seldom discussed. When such issues are entertained, as in Moravecâ€™s claim that intelligent machines will be our evolutionary successors and that we will embrace them as â€œmind children,â€ the rhetoric implies that these silicon progeny will inspire the same emotional investment, love, and pride that (sometimes) accompanies biological reproduction. Whether deep-seated responses evolved through millennia of biological reproduction would map seamlessly onto intelligent machines created through entirely different mechanisms is typically not a concern.
The metalogical (i.e., the psychological, physiological, and philosophical) contextualizations SF performs draw thee assumptions into question. In Philip K. Dickâ€™s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the issues surrounding reproduction are enacted in multiple ways, including through the surrogacy of animal procreation.10 Rick Deckardâ€™s argument with his neighbor about whether it is immoral to own more than one animal when others (like him) own none is precipitated by the neighborâ€™s announcement that his Percheron mare is pregnant. A similar dialogue occurs when Deckard negotiates with Rachel Rosen for part of Scrappy the owlâ€™s broodâ€”until he realizes that the owl is a mechanical replica, biological owls having been extinct for decades. These minor incidents serve as a backdrop to the major issue of human reproduction. Deckard dons a lead codpiece when he goes outside to protect his gonads from the radioactive dust that has covered the planet since World War Terminus. He undergoes regular testing and has so far managed to maintain a sperm count that allows him to be classified â€œnormalâ€ within the limits defined by law, but thousands fail each month as their reproductive (and intellectual) capacities plummet below the line, condemning them to the category of â€œspecials,â€ who are not allowed to emigrate off-planet and can look forward only to further decline. The biological reproductive future of humankind appears doomed; their evolutionary successors will clearly be the androids, now so sophisticated and intelligent that they already surpass human capabilities in many respects.
In sharp contrast to Moravecâ€™s vision of a humanity that embraces its postbiological successors, humans in Dickâ€™s novel cling to every possible vestige of superiority, however spurious, and ruthlessly oppress the androids, condemning them to lives of slavery in the hellish conditions of Mars and other off-world colonies. Humans will not, it appears, go gently into that good night. Ridley Scottâ€™s brilliant film adaptation11 picks up on this theme, representing Roy Baty, leader of the rebellious androids, as the errant son of Tyrell, CEO of the company that created him and the other Nexus-6 androids. Although the androids do not manage to wrest a longer life span from their â€œfatherâ€ and eventually are all killed, as they are in Dickâ€™s novel; the novel makes clear that this postbiological species will nevertheless triumph as humans fade from the scene, victims of their own environmental folly.
The empathic (and viscously competitive) bond in the film between father and postbiological child plays out differently in the novel, with empathy partitioned among species and alleged to be possible only with humans and animals, with androids positioned outside and exterior to this privileged emotion. This ideological configuration, promoted by the government as a justification for human superiority and android oppression, is confounded when Deckard realizes he feels empathy for at least some androids. The resulting ethical and psychological complexities entwine reproduction with political ideology, species identification with cross-species empathy, and the individual with global dynamics that dictate the outcome of the war, regardless of individual contests such as those waged by Deckard.
When the child is not an android but a biological progeny, the prospect of a transhuman future is, if possible, even more contentious. Novels exploring the parent-biological child relationship range from Arthur C. Clarkeâ€™s Childhoodâ€™s End,12 in which the children become a successor species, to Vernon Vingeâ€™s near-future world in Rainbows End,13 where the generations are separated only by technological expertise and quickness in adapting to it. At the passionate end of the spectrum is Greg Bearâ€™s Darwinâ€™s Radio and the sequel, Darwinâ€™s Children 14 Rather than imagine a future in which technology creates a postbiological future, Bear speculates that the human genome can function as a non-conscious genetic engineer of sorts, responding to global factors such as â€œstressâ€ by activating an ancient human endogenous virus (significantly nicknamed SHEVA) that causes genetic mutations in fetuses. In ironic inversion of the AIDS virus, SHEVA infects only couples in monogamous committed relationships and has its epicenter in the US and Europe, while Africa is not hit nearly as hard hit. With the threat looming close to home, emotional tensions are exacerbated when the mutational process causes a two-step pregnancy. The first fetus, initially mistaken as the virusâ€™s final product, is horribly malformed by conventional standards, with virtually no brain, rudimentary appendages, a Cyclopean head formation, and a functional ovary. It invariably aborts at the end of the first trimester, and images of the miscarried fetuses cause worldwide panic among pregnant women and their partners. The first fetusâ€™s purpose, it turns out, is to release an egg that initiates a second pregnancy without further fertilization from sperm. The emotional thumbscrews are tightened when male partners refuse to believe that their women could become pregnant for a second time without having sex with other men, and violence against women spikes worldwide. Further complicating these dynamics is the possibility, trumpeted by the dangerously ambitious governmental functionary Mark Augustine, that the SHEVA virus is activating other ancient retroviruses in the human genome, releasing a pandemic of diseases unknown for millennia. The resulting world-wide riots, corporate intrigue, and global panic lead to unprecedented crises in which the civil rights of SHEVA children and their parents are shredded.
Against this backdrop is set the drama of Mitch and Kaye, who knowingly have a SHEVA child, Stella Nova (the new species, they decide, should be named Homo sapiens novus). Stella evokes from them the traditional desire to protect, nurture, and love her, so the tension here is not so much between the parents and child as between the family unit and the society that fears, stigmatizes, and hunts them. Although Bear could be accused of sensationalism, insofar as he relies on the raw emotional impact of aborted fetuses, children born dead with monstrous deformities, and societal witch-hunts, he nevertheless recognizes the inherent tensions, conflicts, and social upheavals that would be unleashed by the appearance of a new generation of children so superior to their parents that they will obviously be the successor species, spelling the eventual doom of Homo sapiens sapiens.
Perhaps the most explicit SF confrontation with transhumanist philosophy occurs in Nancy Kressâ€™s novella â€œBeggars in Spain,â€ later expanded to a novel and a sequel. Kenzo Yagai is the textâ€™s philosopher-economist who serves as the fictional counterpart to Ayn Rand, often cited on transhumanist websites as one of the founding thinkers of the movement.15 Initially infatuated with Randâ€™s extreme individualism, its concomitant ideology of free-market capitalism unhampered by regulation, and a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest in which the fit are those who can most effectively exploit the free market, Kress became disenchanted with Randâ€™s Objectivist philosophy and wrote â€œBeggars in Spainâ€ in rebuttal.17 In Yagaiist philosophy,18 the contract freely entered into by individuals is seen as the basis for a good society, in part because it is an advance over social systems based on coercion. The premise is tested by embedding it in a reproductive context in which Roger Camden, self-made millionaire and confirmed Yagaiist, arranges for a genetic intervention that will yield a daughter (intelligent, blond, long-legged, attractive) who will not need to sleep. Unexpectedly, however, his wife (a bit player in Camdenâ€™s life) conceives twins: Leisha, the engineered baby, is one of the Sleepless, while Alice is a â€œnormalâ€ child who requires sleep.
The match-up allows the effects of this seemingly minor genetic alterationâ€”eliminating the need for sleepâ€”to be explored and dramatized. While Alice progresses at the usual rate, Leisha, apple of her fatherâ€™s eye, zooms ahead of her twin intellectually. She is Camdenâ€™s â€œspecialâ€ (i.e.. â€œrealâ€) daughter not only because he paid for her genetic alteration but also because she buys in wholeheartedly to her fatherâ€™s Yagaiist doctrine of individual achievement, allowing him to reproduce ideologically as well as genetically. As with other SF interventions, Kress does not allow the narrative to remain focused entirely on the individual but rather sketches a broader social context. The Sleepless form networks among themselves as they encounter increasing resentment and sanctions from the majority Sleepers, who contend that the Sleepless have unfair advantages because they have, in effect, 33% more time at their disposal in which to study, learn, and achieve. The social landscape in which Leisha grows up is rife with conflicts between â€œnormalâ€ humans and the transhuman Sleepless, who as they grow up prove to be not only highly intelligent and high-achieving but also resistant to aging, with life expectancies measured is hundreds rather than decades of years. Already numbering in the hundred thousands, the Sleepless in a dozen generations appear to be on track to become the successor species to Homo sapiens sapiens (perhaps as Homo sapiens sleepless).
Despite the growing tensions, Leisha struggles to retain ties to Sleepers, including her sister Alice. The eponymous â€œbeggars in Spainâ€ represent a strong challenge to that desire. Her Sleepless friend Tony argues that high-achieving Sleepless have more to offer than Sleepers and, in the face of increasing prejudice against them, should withdraw to form their own society. He asks her if she would give money to a beggar in Spain; Leisha says yes. Then what about two beggars, three, a hundred, a thousand? The lesson Tony means to teach is to show that the basis for a shared societyâ€”that is, the contract that reciprocally benefits both participantsâ€”breaks down when those who have nothing to give outnumber those who have much to give, for any contract must then be unequal and hence unfair to the privileged.
Of course, there would be other ways to interpret the conundrum, for example deciding that it shows the limitations of the contract as a basis for social interactions. This is the interpretation Leisha eventually chooses, replacing the contract, and the individualistic ideology that underwrites it with an â€œecology of helpâ€ in which assistance is extended even to those who cannot reciprocate in kind. This modest intervention stops short of a wholesale critique of Randâ€™s Objectivism, however, for in this view society is still be based on exchanges between willing partners, with the modification that the exchange may be be unequal and indirect, circling through a network before benefits are returned to the giver. That the system might be based on entirely different principles than exchange remains unthought and unarticulated. Despite this limitation, the story, poignantly conceived and skillfully written, shows that reproduction is deeply enmeshed with visions of a transhumanist future and the ethical and social issues it raises.
More startling in its probing implications is James Patrick Kellyâ€™s novella, â€œMr. Boy.â€19 This fine example of SF grotesque inverts the usual perspective; rather than exploring the dynamics between a parent and transhuman child, it focuses on the tensions between a transhuman parent and child. The protagonist is a twenty-five year old male who, at his motherâ€™s behest, has his genes periodically â€œstuntedâ€ so that his body remains, emotionally and physically, that of a twelve-year-old boy. Situated in a posthuman future in which his constant companion is a robot and his best friend has had himself â€œtwankedâ€ so that he resembles a dinosaur, Mr. Boy inhabits the site of the motherâ€”literally. She has had her body transformed into a three-quarter scale replica of the Statue of Liberty, and Mr. Boy resides within the multistory edifice. He communicates with his mother via her â€œremotes,â€ robots that carry out specific functions indicated by their names, â€œNanny,â€ â€œCook,â€ â€œGreeter,â€ and the sex couple, â€œLoveyâ€ and â€œDear,â€ who express and perform Momâ€™s erotic urges in a room wired to Libertyâ€™s head, presumably the site of her conscious (and unconscious) thoughts.
In this grotesque tale, life and death are systemically confused, each blending into and contaminating the other. Mr. Boy calls the hospital staff people that oversee his stunting â€œstiffs,â€ and his prized porn collection consists entirely of images of the deadâ€”preferably with their teeth showing. While his friend Stennie practices for his first real-life romantic encounter with a girlfriend by having sex with â€œLovey,â€ Mr. Boy, who sets up with encounter with his motherâ€™s remote and watches while it proceeds, confesses â€œI had always found sex kind of dull.â€ Turning instead to his corpse porn, he associates the â€œsoft wet slap of flesh against fleshâ€ with â€œmy motherâ€™s brain, up there in the head where no one ever wentâ€ (179). The mother is thus both eroticized and â€œboring,â€ absent and present, permissive and imprisoning, presumably alive and yet inanimate. The conflicted and perverse contexts of reproduction represented here point to the ways in which advanced technology has been (mis)used to disrupt the age-old order of things: the mother, instead of watching her son grow up, intervenes to keep him forever on the child side of puberty; the man, trapped within a boyâ€™s body, finds excitement in the dead and is bored by procreation; the separation in which the man leaves the mother behind to find a mate is forestalled because he continues literally to live within his motherâ€™s body, as if still in the womb.
Weary of being stunted, Mr. Boy begins to see his life in a different perspective when he meets Tree, a young woman whose parents are â€œrealists,â€ hard-core resistors who reason that â€œfirst came clothes, then jewelry, fashion, makeup, plastic surgery, skin tints, and hey jack! here we are up to our eyeballs in the delusions of 2096â€ (172), careening down the slippery slope to gene twanking and uploading consciousness into a computer. The irony of being trapped within Liberty comes to a head (so to speak) when Mr. Boy discovers there is nothing in the head; his mother had died years ago and has been running her operation as an uploaded consciousness. After a final confrontation with Mom, Mr. Boy takes back his given name â€œPeterâ€ and finally leaves her, preferring to walk away rather than go through the court proceedings that would enable him to claim his family inheritance by declaring her legally dead, uploaders not being considered persons and so having no legal rights.
One need not agree with Francis Fukuyama that transhumanism is â€œthe worldâ€™s most dangerous ideaâ€ to appreciate the critiques of transhumanism enacted in these SF fictions.20 When advanced technologies come together with reproduction to reconfigure metalogical dynamics at every level, from the individual to the family to the nation-state and globalized society, it is impossible to predict accurately all the consequences or to trammel them up, as transhumanist rhetoric implies, using reason, technology, and science. As the SF fictions interrogated have shown, evolution has twisted together biology and culture in strands of enormous complexity, and cutting some of strands with advanced technologies or rearranging them into pattern altogether different almost certainly will entail unanticipated consequences and corollary changes in other areas whose association with the primary changes were not even known. At issue are the emotional dynamics of population change as people confront the possibility that Homo sapiens sapiens may not be the terminys of evolutionary processes; of parents engendering children so different from them they can scarcely make contact over the generation gap; of children contemplating parents whose closely held assumptions are no longer viable in a posthuman future. Each of these scenarios involves complexities for which the transhumanist philosophy is simply not able to account or to understand, much less to explain. Reason is certainly needed, but so are emotion, systemic analysis, ecological thinking, and ethical consideration. As Pynchonâ€™s narrator in Gravityâ€™s Rainbow observes, â€œEverything is connected.â€
I do not necessarily agree with Fukuyamaâ€™s argument that we should outlaw such developments as human cloning with legislation forbidding it (not least because he falls back on â€œhuman natureâ€ as a justification), but I do think we should take advantage of every available resource that will aid us in thinking through, as far as we are able, the momentous changes in human life and culture that advanced technologies make possibleâ€”and these resources can and should include SF fictions. The framework in which transhumanism considers these questions is, I have argued, too narrow and ideologically fraught with individualism and neoliberal philosophy to be fully up to the task. It can best serve by catalyzing questions and challenging us to imagine fuller contextualizations for the developments it envisions. Imagining the future is never a politically innocent or ethically neutral act. To arrive at the future we want, we must first be able to imagine it as fully as we can, including all the contexts in which its consequences will play out.
1 N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).
2 Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication (Urbana: University of Illinois Pres, 1949).
3 Vernon Vinge, â€œVernon Vinge: The Singularityâ€ (1993), http://kuoi.com/~kamikaze/doc/vinge.html.
4 Max More, â€œTranshumanism: Toward a Futurist Philosophyâ€ (1996), http://www.maxmore.com/transhum.htm.
5 Nick Botrom, â€œWhat is Transhumanism?â€, FAQ, World Transhumanist Association, http://www.transhumanism.org/index.php/w/faq2.
6 Iain Banks, Look to Windward (New York: Pocket Books, 2000).
7 â€œMetalogical . . . is short for psycho-physio-philosophical,â€ Iain Banks, Look to Windward (New York: Pocket Books, 2000), p. 83.
8 Hans Moravec, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), pp. 109-10.
9 Greg Egan, Permutation City (New York: HarperPrism, 1995).
10 Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (published under the title Blade Runner, New York: Ballantine Books, 1982).
11 Blade Runner, directed Ridley Scott, released June 25, 1982.
12 Arthur C. Clarke, Childhoodâ€™s End (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, in conjunction with Ballantine Books, 1953).
13 Vernon Vinge, Rainbows End: A Novel with One Foot in the Future (New York: Tor Books, 2006).
14 Greg Bear, Darwinâ€™s Radio (New York: Ballantine Books, 1999); Greg Bear, Darwinâ€™s Children (New York: Ballantine Books, 2003).
15 Ayn Rand, writer and philosopher, is the author of The Fountainhead (1947), Atlas Shrugged (1953), and with Nathaniel Branden, The Virtue of Selfishness (1954). Having read Ayn Rand myself in college, I assumed that she would be ancient history to todayâ€™s college students, but I was surprised when most of my students (in a 100-person lecture class) had read her.
16 In â€œInterview with Nancy Kress,â€ Carina BjË†rklind asks Kress about Ayn Rand answers so: â€œThe thing about Ayn Rand, with whom I was enraptured when I was in my early twenties as so many people are, and who I eventually outgrew, as many people do, is that although thereâ€™s something very appealing about her emphasis on individual responsibility, that you should not evade reality, you should not evade responsibility, you should not assume that itâ€™s up to the next person to provide you with your life . . . but . . . pushed to its really logical conclusion, objectivism, Any Randâ€™s philosophy, lacks all compassion, and even more fundamental, it lacks recognition of the fact that we are a social species and that our society does not exist of a group of people only striving for their own ends . . . but groups of people co-operating for mutual ends, and this means that you donâ€™t always get what you want and your work does not always benefit you directly,â€ http://www.lysator.liu/se/lsff/mb-nr28/Interview_with_Nancy_Kress.html.
17 In the preface to the novel version of Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress writes that â€œI was nagged by the feeling that Leishaâ€™s story had only begun. I wanted to explore the long-range economic effects of creating a favored class of people in a United States becoming increasingly polarized between rich and poor. I also wanted to work out my reactions to other writersâ€™ philosophies: to Ayn Randâ€™s belief that no human being owes anything to any other except what is agreed to in a voluntary contract,â€ â€œPreface,â€ Beggars in Spain (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), xii.
18 For the novella, see Nancy Kress, â€œBeggars in Spain,â€ in The Best of the Best, Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels, edited Gardner Dozois (New York: St. Martinâ€™sGriffin, 2007), pp. 204-260.
19 James Patrick Kelly, â€œMr. Boy,â€ in The Best of the Best, Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels, edited Gardner Dozois (New York: St. Martinâ€™sGriffin, 2007), pp. 158-203.
20 Francis Fukuyama, â€œTranshumanism: The Worldâ€™s Most Dangerous Ideas,â€ Foreign Policy (September/October 2004). http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2667.