Advances in science and in technology oblige we human beings to set new questions about what being human means. Not only do we have to answer metaphysical questions about who we are, we must also ask ourselves who we want to be. As the possibility of using brain implants becomes increasingly nearer, competition and collaboration with artificial intelligence, the chances of extending life while ending many of the inconveniencies of old age, genetic editing, and the capacity to exist on other planets are all realities which require us to take a fresh and profound look at such issues.
Axiological concerns about humanity and its technical creations, as well as the hypothetical conceptual antagonism between the natural and the artificial, have accompanied western thought since at least ancient Greek times. Biology and technology force us to consider this matter in a more complex way, for example, to think about the relationship between humans and machines. Before Alan Turing (1954) conceived his famous test, which was theoretically capable of differentiating humans from computers, Descartes critically pointed out, in his celebrated Discourse on Method (1637), certain divergences between humans and machines, and made a first analytical attempt to differentiate between them.
More recently, the end of the 20th century saw the emergence of the concept of the extended mind (Clark & Chalmers, 1998). According to this thesis, some mental processes occur outside of the brain (and of the body) of the biological subject which triggers them. This view of the mental implies that cognitive processes would no longer be exclusive to living beings- in addition to being strongly conditioned by the natural, technological and social environment – to the extent that we should review the traditional separation between the mental and the physical.
Bearing in mind that current advances in various branches of technology may converge in the creation of new bridges between real and artificial life, we need to rethink the basic categories of understanding life, of humanity and of the most fundamental ethical and political issues: Are humans about to transcend their own humanity? Are we on Earth on the cusp of new evolutionary leap? Will the boundaries between the living and the artificial cease to exist? Can machines emulate and reproduce human consciousness and intelligence? Where are the political and ethical standpoints concerning these perspectives of transformation? Is it licit to do everything which at first sight seems doable? These questions still have no clear answers, which is precisely why they cannot be put off any longer.