The Post-Humans

So I’ve been thinking about future human evolution…

Like most people, Baram’s life began with intensive surgery.

It was not a Cesarean section. The ova and spermatozoon that would become Baran had been extracted from his parents six moths previously and brought to term in a uterine replicator. When the generic machine could no longer keep the fetus alive, he was decanted and subjected to his first personally-tailored medical procedure. He was, in other words, born.

“Happy birthday, son,” whispered Welang, Baram’s father. He clasped hands with Baram’s mother and haptic sensors conveyed impulses from the prosthetic fingers to Welang’s brain. A tiny chem-jet printer in that brain began to manufacture the hormones associated with love and affection.

The surgeons working on Baram also had prosthetic fingers and prosthetic training modules, prosthetic executive overrides to make sure their decisions were good, and prosthetic empathy shunts so they could simulate human conversation. They would have been most offended if told they were not human, and disagreed with as much force and eloquence as their software could manage.

Baram’s father, too, would have taken umbrage at the suggestion that he was but a weak and stupid scrap of flesh floating in a mechanical shell. That the shell had taken over so much of his basic mental and physical functions that it had somehow become him.

Ridiculous. Those were the ravings of a Luddite cultist. The sort of monster who would deny their child such necessities as eye glasses or personality optimization. So what if his biological brain was only half the size of a 21st century pre-human’s? He did not  dwell in his brain any more than that pre-human kept their soul in their mitochondria.

To be human was to be a tool-user, and humans had never had a more intimate connection with their tools. Anyway, if Weilang were to do the unthinkable and leave his son out naked in the elements, Baram would only die slightly sooner than a pre-human infant. If you wanted raw survival skill in the absence of tools, you found a cockroach.

So when the surgeons placed the infant Baram in his first shell, great joy registered upon his father’s mental state monitor. The shell lay still for a moment, forging synaptic links, initializing, calibrating. Then it opened focused its cameras and wailed through its speakers.

Weilang could not be happier. This was because no emotion of greater intensity could be safely manufactured in his brain.

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