Le transhumanisme en chair et en os



Le journaliste Mark O’Connell sonde la fascination des mortels pour l’éternité radieuse promise par les nouvelles technologies. Son reportage en immersion auprès d’apprentis sorciers 4.0. vaut mille analyses sur le sujet.

«S’il te plaît, Google, résous le problème de la mort»: c’est munis de cette pancarte que des convertis au transhumanisme ont manifesté devant le siège de Google, peu après que cette entreprise eut investi, en 2014, des centaines de millions de dollars dans le groupe Calico, spécialisé dans les biotechnologies. Ce fut la première action de rue transhumaniste sur sol américain. Le slogan des manifestants résumait bien le cœur de leur doctrine: nous délivrer de la mort par le moyen des nouvelles technologies, raison pour laquelle la Silicon Valley est le berceau naturel de ce nouveau credo.

Beaucoup de choses ont été dites, et depuis de nombreuses années, sur ce techno-utopisme adossé au capitalisme du vivant. Nous en avons, ici même, souvent rendu compte. Mais le livre de Mark O’Connell qui paraît aujourd’hui en traduction aux Editions L’échappée, Aventures chez les transhumanistes (l’original a paru en 2016), se distingue résolument du lot. Mark O’Connell est un ancien professeur de littérature anglaise irlandais reconverti dans le journalisme. Esprit curieux, il est manifestement armé, aussi, d’un solide bon sens. Et il a voulu aller voir. Aller rencontrer ces prophètes et défenseurs de la «suspension cryonique» (la congélation des cadavres, en attente de leur résurrection lorsque la science le permettra), de «l’émulation complète du cerveau» (la promesse de téléchargement de l’esprit) ou de «l’extension radicale de la durée de vie» (l’immortalité). Le résultat de ce voyage en transhumanie est ébouriffant.

Bande de joyeux lurons

Aventures chez les transhumanistes retrace donc les rencontres et séjours dont cet enquêteur du futur a été le témoin pendant quelque dix-huit mois. On y retrouve, prenant leur petit-déjeuner ou faisant visiter leur laboratoire, en chair et en os, donc, ceux dont les noms jalonnent la littérature transhumaniste depuis une quinzaine d’années. Une galerie de portraits où se croisent le philosophe Nick Bostrom (thuriféraire récemment déçu, d’ailleurs), les neuroscientifiques Randal Koene ou Miguel Nicoledis, dont on apprend au passage qu’il trouve aberrant le Human Brain Project dont le siège est à Lausanne. On y rencontre aussi une bande de joyeux lurons qui expérimentent le futur de l’humanité à coups de puces, de capteurs et de boîtiers implantés sous la peau. Il ne manque au tableau que Ray Kurzweil, l’ingénieur en chef de Google et pape du transhumanisme. C’est dommage.

Mais deux portraits retiennent particulièrement l’attention, où le pittoresque le dispute au pathétique. D’abord, celui de Max More (un pseudonyme qui est identiquement un programme; sa femme s’appelle Vita-More, plus de vie), connu de tous les transhumanistes pour avoir rédigé en 1999 une Lettre à Mère Naturequi est devenue un véritable manifeste du mouvement. Ce philosophe de formation est aujourd’hui reconverti dans une entreprise de cryonie (congélation) qui conserve les cadavres pour 200 000 dollars et les «céphalons» (entendez: les têtes découpées du corps) pour 80 000 dollars. «Et voilà aujourd’hui où cet homme brillant en était: il passait ses journées dans un petit bureau de la banlieue de Phoenix, à l’intérieur d’un bâtiment situé dans la zone industrielle, encerclé par la mort. Il y cultivait l’espoir, aucun doute là-dessus, mais sa fonction n’avait rien de glorieux. C’était un gestionnaire de corps, un conservateur de dépouilles: le nécrocrate en chef.» Désormais, le problème de ce théoricien du transhumanisme est d’élargir la base de sa clientèle. Sa femme partage son rêve: troquer son enveloppe actuelle «pour une multitude de corps physiques et virtuels».


Cercueil géant

Changement de décor avec l’inénarrable István Zoltán, candidat à la dernière élection présidentielle américaine ayant traversé les Etats-Unis d’ouest en est à bord de son «bus de l’immortalité», un vaste camping-car customisé en cercueil géant. Il ne voulait pas se faire élire, mais faire avancer sa cause, pour que le gouvernement américain dépense plus d’argent au profit de la recherche pour l’extension de la durée de la vie. Mark O’Connell parle avec une certaine tendresse de ce fils de réfugiés hongrois ayant tout fait pour entrer dans le club des très riches, avant de se vouer à la résolution du problème de la mort.

Au fil des pages, O’Connell suggère que ce nouvel espoir relève d’un instinct fondamentalement religieux. La thèse mérite en effet discussion. Mais on l’a compris, ce livre n’est pas un livre théorique; c’est plutôt un reportage en immersion. Il nous en apprend pourtant beaucoup plus que nombre d’essais philosophiques sur la question.

Source: Le Temps

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