Crossing the Chasm: On Practical Limits of Transhumanity

How far will you go in your personal journey into transhumanity? How quick are you to jump?

In « Crossing the Chasm » (Harper Business Essentials 1999), Geoffrey Moore argues that, on a new technology’s path to widespread adoption, the technology must “cross a chasm” that separates “early adopters” from the “early majority”.

The first segment of the population to adopt the new technology, the “innovators”, does so simply by virtue of the technology’s novelty. This small group’s cost–benefit analysis emphasizes the desire to remain ahead of the curve and disregards much of the inherent risks of living at the cutting edge.

Following innovators, early adopters will jump onboard when the new technology shows more rational promise. This segment exhibits some concern for the inherent risks of innovation but places overall greater value on the rational benefits.

Many new technologies die before reaching a critical third segment: the early majority. This group behaves with greater aversion to the inherent risks of innovation, but the moment a new technology has settled sufficiently to mitigate the risks, the early majority will join the movement. A new technology’s adoption by the early majority practically ensures the technology’s long-term survival, including eventual penetration into trailing segments of the market.

Many practitioners of transhumanity likely live within the “innovators” and/or “early adopters” segments of the population. But others—who share no less enthusiasm for the transhumanist vision—can rationally choose to wait for the elimination of transhumanity’s inherent risks.

We must remember that transhumanity is something of a “big tent”—transhumanists tolerate transhumanity’s inherent risks to different degrees. We can hasten the widespread penetration of transhumanity less by pushing novelties than by thinking through the technological and philosophical issues that still create a chasm between transhumanity’s early adopters and the greater population’s early majority.

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