So this is a post I’ve been waiting years to write: explaining the meaning behind the title of my series H+. Because throughout most of our six year process creating this series (even up to about a year ago), most people who saw the title were like, “Huh? Esoteric much?” It sounds a bit pretentious, I know, but it’s not as cryptic as you think. In fact, within the past year, there seems to have been a big explosion in public awareness of this two character symbol. Hopefully, that continues to grow as the series launches.
“Okay, so what is H+? I’ve still never heard of it.”
H+ is, quite simply, the globally recognized symbol for transhumanism.
“Okay, helpful. So what is transhumanism?”
I’m glad you asked. Well, let’s break it down like Crazy Legs, why don’t we: That’s trans (i.e. “in transit” somewhere) and humanism (i.e. the state/study/system of being human). So the symbol is basically “Human Plus”… which I guess suggests that transhumanism is always humanism in forward transit. And I think that has lead many to believe that transhumanism is basically humanism, only better… more premium features.
Let’s take a closer look. First of all, it’s important to note that H+ is actually a philosophical movement, not a scientific field of study; however, several sciences, technologies and working methods do serve as the basis of transhumanist theory. That’s to say, there’s a lot of research happening (in fact, has been happening for decades) and new breakthroughs in science that are also a part of transhumanism… even if the biologists and engineers responsible for those breakthroughs view them as advances solely within their individual fields.
So like, let’s imagine that back in 2004 a team of researchers at Brown University implanted a device into a paralyzed man’s head that allowed him to move a computer mouse cursor with his thoughs… they would have probably called that an advance in computer engineering… or a breakthrough in neuroscience, medical tech, etc. But it also fits into the larger story of transhumanism because that one technology is likely to grow into many others which will eventually find their way into everyone’s lives… if not their brains.
But transhumanism also suggests that we are in transit somewhere, right? Where exactly? Well that’s when we use the world posthuman.
Currently we are human. Right? We can all agree on that. And unless you believe in creationism, we were at one time pre-human (well, I guess even if you believe in creationism). And one day, what is human to us now will have become posthuman. What that’ll look like, we can only speculate. But it’s the basis of many transhumanist discussions.
Transhumanism is simply the path along all of that. In fact, we are technically transhumans already. Always have been. From an evolutionary standpoint, our humanity is constantly in transit. We were in transit long before we were human by our current standards. The difference now is that we control that progress and especially its pace. All of these breakthroughs in science are causing a rapid biological evolution. That evolution is transhumanism. That is H+. The human body, mind, and condition moving forward at a rapid rate of change. In fact, that last one, the human condition, is probably the most relevant to our series.
The aging process being slowed down. Lives extended.
Computer and network technology woven seamlessly into our own bodies and minds.
A collective world consciousness that doesn’t just rely on that technology anymore, but is defined by it.
How does all of that affect the quality of our lives. Our relationships. Our dreams.
Last year we had a panel at Comic Con and one of the members speaking with us was Phil Bowermaster. He is a pretty well known transhumanist thinker and writer. He runs a fun blog about the subject called The Speculist. You gotta check it out, because it’s super geeky and full of interesting facts about where he thinks we’re headed.
I remember, before we all went down to San Diego to speak, a bunch of our creative team got on the phone with Phil to go over what we were planing to discuss. At one point, we asked him how plausible he thought some of our predictions in H+ The Digital Series were. I’ll never forget his response.
“If you’re asking me how plausible is a world where we’re implanting tiny medical devices into people’s bodies to save their lives… where humans are living decades longer than they were before… a world where nearly every person is connected wirelessly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at home and abroad, to a massive global network that allows them to instantly communicate their thoughts to almost anyone anywhere… without even opening their mouths? Well then I’d say take a look at the world we live in today. Because all of that is here. The only leap you’re asking your audience to accept is the idea that these small devices that we currently carry in our pockets will one day be inside our own bodies. And if that still sounds too much like science fiction, then consider this: 20 years ago, if you had told the average person that one day they would be having full spoken conversations with robots in their daily lives, they’d have assumed you were watching too much Star Trek. But that’s exactly what we do whenever we call Bank of America or United Airlines or pretty much any large company. We have conversations with software.”
[Note this little chat happened months before the release of the iPhone 4S and commercials depicting Zooey Deschanel talking to Siri.]
I’ll have more fun stuff to share with you about transhumanism and posthumanism, but for now I’ll leave it here; let you do some of your own exploring, in the interim. Trust me, it’s way more than just brain implants.
“Hold on, there’s a bit more in that title than just H+, Cabrera.”
Okay, so let’s turn our attention to the second part, shall we? H+ The Digital Series. Rae Hanson once asked what a “digital series” was exactly. I told her it was a series made specifically for digital platforms… whereas the word “web” limits the series to the web or web browser. Was I being totally straight with, Rae? Of course not. She knew that. I knew that. We both knew that and decided we’d let it lie.
Truth be told, this is a web series. Meaning that at this point, it’ll primarily be viewed on the web. The thing is, the word “web”, particularly when it comes to media, is starting to get a little confusing. Sure, if you watch it at a website, in a browser, that’s a web series. No one can argue that. Even if you watch it on Facebook, it’s a web series, just being shared socially. Maybe you want to call it a social series. Go ahead, I won’t mind.
But what if it plays in an app on your tablet or phone? Is it a web series then? Or a mobile series? How about on your XBox or PS3 or Wii? A… console series? And that new smart TV you’re considering getting this Christmas; the one that has YouTube, Hulu, Netflix all at the touch of your remote? What then? Oh I know, I know! A smart TV series! Ooo, I like that.
The bottom line here is that our H+ is a series. So we figured the added descriptor “The Digital Series” would be a nice way to express that while simultaneously speaking to the digital themes of the story itself.
So there you have it… H+ The Digital Series… sometimes written as H+: The Digital Series… usually called H+ by me for short. Please, spread the word.