Brian Cooney, NEH Professor of Philosophy at Centre College, has written a new book titled "Posthumanity: Thinking Philosophically about the Future."
The book deals with foreseeable developments in artificial intelligence and biotechnology that will enable us to alter our minds and bodies in ways that will strain our concepts of what it means to be alive, conscious and human.
If we choose to keep our human nature, we will nevertheless have the capability to create machines with minds and bodies that surpass our own, Cooney explains. Would such machines be persons in the legal and moral sense? If so, wouldn't our attempt to control them amount to enslavement? Or would we be willing to cede control to them?
Cooney's 264-page book is a philosophical treatment of topics that have only been science fiction material until now.
"A lot of science fiction is like a laboratory for philosophical questions," Cooney says. "It reminds us of the many different ways that life and mind could have evolved here on Earth and elsewhere."