I think their hold on the public imagination is in serious decline. Most people have lost hope in technological salvation...
To this, I replied:
I hope you are right, but I don't think you are.
I see serious institutional consolidation happening in the superlative futurological archipelago -- less splash, but far more cash.
The suave eugenicisms stealthed and/or celebrated co-dependently by transhumanists and bioconservatives the last two decades (with a long pre-history) always provided clarifying symptoms and reductios of more prevailing attitudes and policy discourses, but were no more threatening or revolutionary than Lady GaGa is now as she splashily re-enacts these themes on YouTube. (At least now it's got a good beat and you can dance to it.) So, too, Cryonics captured the mass mediated Spectacular/Culture Industrial "imagination" enough to become a pop culture commonplace and yet it's just as true as ever that nobody is getting their heads frozen.
However, the intrusion of BigPharma salvation-peddlers and techno-hype fraudsters into the doctor patient relationship via tee vee commercials is incomparably more dangerous and belies what might be pitched at first as a story of futurological decline.
Extropians and Cypherpunks were charismatic nutters, I guess you could say, the futurological froth on the neolib/neocon kettle of the 90s. However, the danger posed by the wonk-poseurs of geo-engineering futurology (which seems to me indispensably indebted via Stewart Brand and his ilk to the libertopian and immaterialist conceits incubated in California hot-tubs that amounted to Extropian and Cypherpunk soup bowls), right here, right now is to my mind orders of magnitude more dangerous, literally, to the prospects of earthly survival.
Mainstream futurology and neoliberal immaterialism is of course just as palpably wrongheaded as fraudulent as it ever was, and this wrongheadedness and fraudulence is still most conspicuous at the superlative margins of its discursive and organizational life in the Robot Cult archipelago, where PR hype screeches into the register of transcendental religiosity.
But zombie lies don't die just because you debunk them or make them ridiculous and then they get abandoned by would be avant-gardists, just look at the conceits of neoliberalism and its neoconservative dance of death partner: these formulations and frames just become comfy couches ready at hand to be endlessly cited and recirculated by the thoughtless and the opportunistic long after they cease to inspire or illuminate anyone or anything in any kind of genuinely provocative way.
This, I have to suppose, is a large part of what Michael Anissimov is celebrating in his various recent "transhumanism has won" pieces, for example.
Newcomers to the topics of Robot Cults, neo-eugenics, and superlative futurology more generally are encouraged to read my Condensed Critique of Transhumanism for a schematic overview. Newcomers to the topics of neoliberal immaterialism, and the futurological greenwashing of geo-engineering are encouraged to read my Futurology Against Ecology.