The “Monkey Suit” is a term used in jest (and absurdism) to refer to the human form.

As all humans are thrown into existence (Heidegger’s idea of Geworfenheit) without a say about their conditions, genetics, and surroundings, our existence is somewhat arbitrary.

We find ourselves in a “monkey suit” (or a flawed vessel) with:

  • Strange emotions and feelings that we generally don’t control (nostalgia, joy, jealousy, etc)
  • A physical body that can be harmed or destroyed by disease, physical trauma, etc – and which was born to grow old and feeble, and eventually die and turn into dust
  • An arbitrary set of senses (sight, hearing, touch, etc), presumably provided to us by evolution, and by what kinds of senses served our equally arbitrary ape ancestors
  • No real way to make sense of the universe or our place in it

Thus to “escape the monkey suit” implies either (a) enhancing one’s senses, creativity, knowledge, and capabilities with cognitive enhancements (tinkering with consciousness) of some kind, (b) upload one’s mind and expand one’s intelligence and sentience with artificial intelligence, or (c) dying (which might be argued to be the least preferable of the three).

The “Monkey Suit” is usually referred to in the context of a longing to do and be more than the human form permits – or simply to avoid the suffering and inevitable death that the default human form dooms us to. This suffering and death will be seen as less and less “acceptable” as transhuman ideas take root in society, and as technologies show the human mind and body (and intelligence itself) to be pliable.

Given a long enough time horizon, I believe that any human born into a world with superintelligent AI and massively enhanced human brains will see their default condition as paltry and stunted, and will move immediately towards enhancement, as children born into a world of cell phones and television gravitate and acclimate immediately to said technology as a baseline “norm”.

In other words, the Monkey Suit will, I believe – given a long enough time horizon – be seen as a vessel to be immediately overcome, not one to accept.


Header image credit: TheLiveMirror