Volume 1, Issue 1
1st Quarter, 2006

Forms of Transhuman Persons and the Importance of Prior Resolution of Relevant Law

Martine Rothblatt, J.D., Ph.D.

This article was adapted from a lecture given by Martine Rothblatt, J.D., Ph.D., founder of Terasem Movement, Inc., at the 1st Annual Colloquium on the Law of Transhuman Persons, December 10, 2005, at the Space Coast Office of Terasem Movement, Inc., Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Editor's Note: Rothblatt poignantly explores definitions and issues relating to transhumans; not entirely dependant upon DNA, but also thought and attitude. Inspired by the ongoing Colloquia on the Law of Outer Space, which began in 1958, Rothblatt discusses the need for a communion of technological and legal experts to address issues of transhumansim and draft treaties and laws that can guide the field. She acknowledges that the results must be flexible in order to deal with the evolution and diversities inherent in life, death, artificial intelligence and immortality.


What exactly is a transhuman? In fact, there are many definitions of transhuman. I’ve included a few in the following list, including that of the Extropy Institute, which is considered the founder of the transhumanist movement:

In the Terasem Movement’s definition above, “noetically synthetic” implies the intrinsic and or extrinsic use of electronics for thought. The Terasem Movement also believes that the word “human” depends on thoughts, not DNA.

Amidst this wide variety of definitions is the common theme that a transhuman is something other than what we have considered, for several millenia, to be a typical biological human. A transhuman is something beyond that.

If you examine these definitions, you will notice that their emphasis varies. Some of them concentrate on the form of the entity, while others focus on the entity’s attitudes. This is an interesting way to explore the scope that’s provided by the term transhuman and the ambiguity – the constructive ambiguity - that is contained within that term.

For example, definitions that categorize transhuman as superhuman tend to be more about the form of the transhuman. They envision a post-human, something that has a tremendously different body and fantastically greater powers or a different mind.

On the other hand, definitions of transhuman that resemble the Terasem Movement’s example emphasize the receptivity of the individual to transbiological unity. These are more about attitude. Within this scope, anyone and everyone could themselves say, “I, too, am a transhuman”. This is because the ability to be a transhuman depends on whether you are receptive to being transbiological.

Image 1 parses the definitions of transhuman on a scale of form versus attitude.

Form versus Attitude
Image 1

There are many opportunities to challenge even this span of definitions. How are brain-enhanced nonhuman animals considered within the definitions? What about Kamira[1] or sideways evolution? This is a very interesting topic to explore.

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Footnote (back to top)
In Greek mythology, Kamira was a daughter of Danaus who was worshipped on the Greek Island of Rhodes (originally one of the “seven wonders of the world”). Principally, she was venerated in Kamiros, which was named after her. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamira   (January 5, 2006 2:15 P.M. EST)

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