How Transhumanism Cured My Existential Depression

How good philosophy addressed my depression from too much philosophizing

Kevin Ann
7 min readOct 16, 2019


I have a rule for myself never to think of Cosmology late at night and alone.

It arose from the deep despair I felt while contemplating the vastness of the cosmos itself or compared to myself, or even all of humanity on Earth. I just felt so small and insignificant. Even if I spent the rest of my entire life traveling in Space with current technology or foreseeable technology, I would barely get anywhere. Why do my life and subjective experience matter?

It just seems so meaningless. Even the entire cosmos itself seems so meaningless. Why is there “something” instead of “nothing”? What actually is “nothing”?

The only thing that balanced this feeling of meaninglessness was the terror think of death, about how it would be to have a permanent shut off. So I added thinking of death as something not to think late at night or alone.

I’m not religious. I believe that religion is simply a human-made construct that helps in the organization and functioning of society based on evolved mechanisms in the brain that tends to imbue agency on inanimate objects or nature. (This agency arose from evolutionary contexts: hear a rustle in the bushes and run, you pass on your genes. Hear a rustle in the bushes and falsely think it’s safe, may get eaten and don’t pass on genes). Thus I could find no comfort in the vast literature and customs of religion.

God, however, I can’t really make a definitive statement, since I think of it as any power that exists far beyond my own capabilities or ability to understand.

In principle, it doesn’t matter if the nature of God is from a supernatural origin or if it was just a much more technologically advanced being or civilization that was just a more evolved version of humanity, since I can’t tell the difference in the way that a cockroach couldn’t tell the difference if I were simply a far more advanced life or whether I had some supernatural origin if I could simply step on it to snuff out its life.

I will detail here how I found out these personal issues I had was known as “Existential Depression” and how I originally coped. Then how after I discovered the ideas of Transhumanism, I was able to cure my existential depression.

Existential Depression


The uneasy state of mind I was in could be classified by American psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom as “Existential Depression”, which stems from the following four ultimate concerns of existence.

  • Death
    Self-explanatory and intuitive since everything we see, hear, feel, taste, touch, and think about will someday end.
  • Freedom
    Not in a political sense, but in an existential sense of lack of external structure. We must create our own reality and by imposing structure on the world.
  • Isolation
    This basically says that no matter how close we get to others, there will always remain a gap and we are alone
  • Meaninglessness
    Related to the first three in that if death is inevitable, we create our own, and we will always be alone, then what is the point of it all?

Coping Mechanisms

It is terrifying indeed to consider these issues of Existential Depression and I had two main ways of coping.

  • The first method of coping was simply not thinking of these issues.
    Whenever I felt myself starting to think of how meaningless all of it was or started to fear death, then I would just stop the line of thought and go do something else.
  • The second method of coping was to distract myself.
    I could do this by focusing on artificial daily issues like losing myself in video games in particular or pursuing money in general.

These coping mechanisms worked pretty well over the course of my adult life for years. However, the problem was that it was not a positive outlook in life, but rather avoiding a negative outlook. This is similar to running away from a problem that I’d have to confront again sooner or later when I got older.


As I became more well-read, I discovered Transhumanism and the interesting ways that we could use technology to extend human life and generally improve the human condition.

In many ways, this is what humanity has been doing all along before it was officially named Transhumanism, so there’s really nothing new here. The only reason it feels different now is that we can “feel” that our technology is so far advanced relative to any other time in history, and crucially that since much of it is based on information technology, it is advancing so rapidly and at an exponential or super-exponential pace.

The concept of augmenting our brains with neural prostheses, or even uploading our minds altogether, before undergoing more tech-enabled advancement at the exponential speed of information technology improvement was just a mind-boggling concept.


When people first encounter Transhumanism, or if they go too far extreme, it’s important that it may start to become yet another religion.

There are actually many mappings from religion to Transhumanism as follows:

  • God can be mapped to far advanced artificial intelligence or technologically advanced civilizations
  • Divine spirit can be mapped to technology
  • Heaven can mapped to after the “Singularity”
  • Rapture (for nerds) can be mapped to mind uploads or eternal life through technology
  • Prophets can be mapped to leading Transhumanism authors or popularizers such as Ray Kurzweil

Despite all these mappings, there’s great value in Transhumanism if we’re careful not to consider Transhumanism as just another religion tailored for the modern world of convergent and accelerating information technology.

Value of Transhumanism

The great value derived from Transhumanism is that I can consider the four ultimate concerns of existence in terms of future technology that may include the transformation of my body and society itself.

I will now consider each of the four ultimate concerns and explain how thinking of them through Transhumanist lenses has cured me of existential depression.

Ultimate Concerns of Existence Via Transhumanism


There are three ways that death has been addressed by Transhumanist philosophy.

  • Biological Immortality
    This means that technology comes that may cure us illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, and extend our lives so that each day that passes our life expectancy increases by more than one day, which is also known as Longevity Escape Velocity. We can live forever not because we can’t die, but because we are free from natural causes of death like disease and complications from old age.
  • Mind Uploads
    This will allow us to escape death and live forever. I don’t think it’s impossible because it doesn’t violate any physical law, but it’ll require the most groundbreaking Science and advances in engineering.
  • Protection from a Sadistic Artificial Intelligence
    Finally, if biological immortality or mind uploads don’t work to achieve immortality, then death actually might be a much better alternative than being subjected to trillions of years of torture by a sadistic AI.

Of course, none of these are possible nor concerns at the present moment. However, there exist indications that in the coming years and decades, they may be possible and increasingly pertinent.


As stated before, freedom in the existentialist sense concerns the lack of structure in the external world and not political freedom. Because there is a lack of structure, we create our own structure.

The important structure I imposed on my own life is that I must act to maximize the probability of survival so that I can transition to a more advanced type of life through technology, perhaps in a post-biological form after mind uploading.

To me, this may mean experiencing a transition into a post-biological state and perhaps experiences new vistas of consciousness I have not or could not experience while “stuck” in this human body. From that post-biological state, it would be onwards to a more advanced descendant species.

If we cannot easily create our structure for ourselves now, it may be analogous to how an infant may not be able to impose structure onto the world in that they might not have developed enough.

But once the infant ages into an adult human being, there may be many ways it could impose structure on the world to construct its own reality.


Through technology, we’re able to connect with others continuously now so we can reduce our feelings of isolation.

With far advanced technology, it might even be able to merge the data processing in our brains across neural prostheses so that we can share thoughts and thus always be in the presence of others so that we can no longer experience isolation.

Although, this doesn’t refer to the case of feeling isolated even in the presence of others. Perhaps we can engineer the feeling of isolation itself away.


Finally, meaningless is addressed by the understanding that if we aren’t able to derive much meaning out of life, it may be just because we are not yet developed enough with our present brains.

Through the process of augmenting our brains with neural prostheses or even full mind uploads, we may evolve to more advanced neural architecture where we can get an enhanced sense of meaning.

It may entail philosophy-related types of meaning, but it may also involve the experience of greater pleasure or states of consciousness if we can experience via new artificial neural receptors and types of neurotransmitters. For example, imagine what it would feel like to experience tech-enabled DMT high of greater intensity? The possibilities are truly mindblowing.

In these ultimate concerns of existence, we can just defer to a later stage where we can exist as augmented human beings, rather than getting definite resolution in our present form with all the limitations of our brains. The mistake was thinking that our current state of evolution is the last state, when it may simply be a transitional state to a much more advanced state with far greater possibilities of subjective experience.

Life Is Good

Transhumanism has provided me a positive and hopeful outlook in life rather than merely avoiding a negative and hopeless outlook, and Transhumanism has been a cure to the existential depression I felt.

Hopefully, those reading this can take something away from my own journey out of existential depression.



Kevin Ann

AI/full-stack software engineer | trader/investor/entrepreneur | physics phd