Discount for RAAD Fest 2019 Registration Until January 31, 2019 – The U.S. Transhumanist Party Will Be There on October 3-6, 2019

Discount for RAAD Fest 2019 Registration Until January 31, 2019 – The U.S. Transhumanist Party Will Be There on October 3-6, 2019

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The U.S. Transhumanist Party will again have a presence at RAAD Fest in 2019 at the fourth RAAD Fest in Las Vegas during October 3-6, 2019. RAAD Fest has been an excellent venue for building alliances and collaborations among supporters of longevity, health, and technological advancement and interfacing with a multiplicity of perspectives on these areas and their relation to politics and policy.

To find out more and register, visit the RAAD Fest website at https://www.raadfest.com/. A 10% discount on the cost of registration applies until January 31, 2019.

Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s prior appearances at RAAD Fests in 2017 and 2018 below. You will want to be present for what we have planned in 2019!

RAAD Fest 2017

The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Pursuing a Peaceful Political Revolution for Longevity – August 11, 2017

Advocating for the Future – Panel at RAAD Fest 2017 – Gennady Stolyarov II, Zoltan Istvan, Max More, Ben Goertzel, Natasha Vita-More

RAAD Fest 2018

The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future – Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 21, 2018

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 21, 2018

U.S. Transhumanist Party Meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 22, 2018

Andrés Grases Interviews Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era – September 23, 2018

 

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018

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Gennady Stolyarov II
Ray Kurzweil


The Stolyarov-Kurzweil Interview has been released at last! Watch it on YouTube here.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II posed a wide array of questions for inventor, futurist, and Singularitarian Dr. Ray Kurzweil on September 21, 2018, at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, California. Topics discussed include advances in robotics and the potential for household robots, artificial intelligence and overcoming the pitfalls of AI bias, the importance of philosophy, culture, and politics in ensuring that humankind realizes the best possible future, how emerging technologies can protect privacy and verify the truthfulness of information being analyzed by algorithms, as well as insights that can assist in the attainment of longevity and the preservation of good health – including a brief foray into how Ray Kurzweil overcame his Type 2 Diabetes.

Learn more about RAAD Fest here. RAAD Fest 2019 will occur in Las Vegas during October 3-6, 2019.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form.

Watch the presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018, entitled, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future”.

Advocating for the Future – Panel at RAAD Fest 2017 – Gennady Stolyarov II, Zoltan Istvan, Max More, Ben Goertzel, Natasha Vita-More

Advocating for the Future – Panel at RAAD Fest 2017 – Gennady Stolyarov II, Zoltan Istvan, Max More, Ben Goertzel, Natasha Vita-More

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Gennady Stolyarov II
Zoltan Istvan
Max More
Ben Goertzel
Natasha Vita-More


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party, moderated this panel discussion, entitled “Advocating for the Future”, at RAAD Fest 2017 on August 11, 2017, in San Diego, California.

Watch it on YouTube here.

From left to right, the panelists are Zoltan Istvan, Gennady Stolyarov II, Max More, Ben Goertzel, and Natasha Vita-More. With these leading transhumanist luminaries, Mr. Stolyarov discussed subjects such as what the transhumanist movement will look like in 2030, artificial intelligence and sources of existential risk, gamification and the use of games to motivate young people to create a better future, and how to persuade large numbers of people to support life-extension research with at least the same degree of enthusiasm that they display toward the fight against specific diseases.

Learn more about RAAD Fest here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form.

Watch the presentations of Gennady Stolyarov II and Zoltan Istvan from the “Advocating for the Future” panel.

Transhumanism and a Cure for Depression – Article by Arin Vahanian

Transhumanism and a Cure for Depression – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


In the quest to transcend humankind’s limits and take humanity to its next level of development physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, much is written and discussed about topics such as life extension and human augmentation. And this is for good reason, as humans have strived, since the beginning of time, to overcome their limits, do more, and be better. This includes, of course, living longer and healthier, which is among the most noble of all human goals.

However, in the midst of all this, there is a topic that is seldom discussed in Transhumanist circles, and that is the topic of depression, a condition which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), affects more than 300 million people worldwide.

Making matters worse is the fact that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, a major contributor to disease, and in some cases, leads to suicide.

Given these facts, one would think more should be done to combat the plague of depression, but alas, we appear to be stuck with outdated treatments for a condition that cripples large segments of humanity and for many, threatens the very possibility of living longer and healthier.

Contrary to what many people may believe, an individual suffering from depression cannot simply “snap out of it,” and there is, as of yet, no established cure for depression, as there is for diseases such as smallpox. Indeed, depression is a particularly thorny problem to solve for many reasons, which include the fact that diagnosing it isn’t as cut and dried as other conditions, but also that the treatments for it have thus far not been very efficacious.

Those treatments include pharmacological (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft), non-pharmacological (cognitive behavioral therapy), and technological (cranial electrotherapy stimulation) solutions. However, if we are honest with ourselves, the data reveals that what we have been doing hasn’t been very effective, given that depression is on the rise worldwide. According to the WHO, the total estimated number of people living with depression worldwide increased by 18.4 percent between 2005 and 2015 to 322 million. Even if this increase is due to better and more accurate diagnoses, the incidence of depression isn’t decreasing, which is cause for concern.

Given these statistics, it is time to do something other than what has been done before. It is time for a new approach and a new way of thinking when it comes to treating and curing depression. Transhumanism may offer that light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, Transhumanism may very well be humanity’s best hope for a cure for depression, because it leaves no stone unturned in the quest to live a life of fewer limits, as well as improved health, and greater happiness and fulfillment. Imagine what could be done to solve depression if we approached treatment and a cure not in the standard ways, but by harnessing the full power of science and technology to do whatever it takes to assist the hundreds of millions of people who are suffering.

For instance, why is the technology of deep brain stimulation approved for treating Parkinson’s Disease, which, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation, affects 10 million people worldwide, but not approved for treating depression, which affects more than 300 million people globally? Scientific and technological breakthroughs should be leveraged to relieve the suffering of all people, and not just a few. This is the promise of Transhumanism – that all humans are worthy of a cure for what ails them, and therefore, all people inflicted with depression should get the help they need so that they can transcend the condition that threatens to wreck their lives.

Why is it that the most commonly-prescribed treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are the SSRIs Paxil and Zoloft, require daily dosing for many weeks to months, and have little to no effect in curing PTSD? On the other hand, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has been proven to treat PTSD successfully in two to three sessions, yet it remains illegal as a Schedule 1 drug. This is the promise of Transhumanism – that we should look for creative, out-of-the-box ways to relieve suffering, which includes pharmacological, non-pharmacological, technological, and scientific methods.

If we are really serious about curing depression, as opposed to just putting bandages on a gaping wound in humanity’s well-being, we will have to do much more than we are doing right now, and we will have to reassess the way we are treating depression.

But why focus on depression, besides the fact that it destroys the lives of many millions of people and the treatments so far have been ineffective in curing it? Because depression does not care whether you are young or old, whether you are black or white, whether you are rich or poor, and whether you are physically healthy or not. Depression is an equal-opportunity destroyer of life. While heart attacks and pancreatic cancer may end lives quickly, depression ends lives slowly, ruthlessly robbing people of their happiness, sadistically stripping away their dignity, and mercilessly beating and drowning them in a dark, dreary swamp with little hope for a better future.

It is inhuman to ignore the plight of those suffering from depression and to give up the fight for a brighter, happier future for every individual on Earth. Transhumanism not only offers hope for a better future through inspiring and motivating humans to transcend their limits, but it also encourages us to look at problems from many different angles, and to dedicate our efforts toward actually resolving the challenges that humanity is facing.

Many Transhumanists are, understandably, focused on life extension and reversing aging, since life is the most precious thing we have. But life is a lot less beautiful when one is trapped in an inescapable labyrinthine nightmare, enfeebling one’s mind and tormenting one with endless movie-like scenes of their perceived past failures. In a sense, some people with depression feel there is not much point in attempting to extend their lives when they are continuously engulfed in profound sadness.

But the truth of the matter is that it is not people suffering from depression who have failed; it is we as a society who have failed them.

One of the ways we can rectify this situation and offer a real solution for those battling depression is by advocating for and creating breakthrough technologies and medicines that will successfully treat and cure this dreadful condition that has ruined so many precious, promising lives. Transhumanism is not just about advocating for life extension, it is also about advocating for a better quality of life through leveraging advances in science and technology to treat conditions such as depression.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Consumerism Qua Materialism: A Modern Confusion – Article by Kaiter Enless

Consumerism Qua Materialism: A Modern Confusion – Article by Kaiter Enless

Kaiter Enless


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party has published this article by our member Kaiter Enless, originally posted on the Logos website,  to illustrate the importance of clarity in the use of philosophical terms. Mr. Enless articulates a distinction between materialism and consumerism that is often missing from contemporary discourse; this is particularly needed, as popular thinking regarding materialism indeed tends to be quite muddled and too often associates materialist philosophical frameworks with the kind of consumerism that is alleged to be problematic. Many transhumanists are ontological materialists and seek to more effectively harness the material world and its workings for human benefit. If the false equivalency between this approach and stereotypical consumerism can be dispelled, this would assist with the public acceptance of the transhumanist worldview and aspirations. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, January 9, 2019


Materialism has become a rather dirty word, principally through its connection to consumerism. Indeed materialism seems to have become so thoroughly conflated with consumerism as to be wholly indistinguishable. For example, in the study, Changes In Materialism, Changes In Psychological Well-Being: Evidence For Three Longitudinal Studies & An Intervention Experiment, the authors write: “Studies 1, 2, and 3 examined how changes in materialistic aspirations related to changes in well-being, using varying time frames (12 years, 2 years, and 6 months), samples (US young adults and Icelandic adults), and measures of materialism and well-being.”

It would be mistaken to conflate a philosophy of materialism, with mere consumerism as behavioral practice. I am not here suggesting that this is what the authors of the document have done (indeed, it appears as if they are simply using ‘materialism’ as a placeholder for ‘material object; principally, those objects manufactured and distributed in modern western society’), however, at first glance, it is difficult to tell and this is the crux of the problem. When one word is conflated with another, after a sufficient period of usage the two become implicitly associated, regardless of whether they are actually interlaced in any meaningful way. Thus, when one deploys the term ‘consumerism’ one instantly thinks of ‘materialism’ and vice-versa. This, I shall argue, is wholly mistaken; however, before proceeding, let us define our terms.

Consumerism is a term which rose to prominence in the 20th Century with the advent of mass production and denotes a social order wherein goods are purchased and used (‘consumed’) in ever increasing quantities. It has a few other more technical definitions, however, this is generally the explicit meaning of the term when it is negatively deployed (and it is almost always negatively deployed, at least, as of this writing, though positive variations of the term were used, such as by J. S. Bugas who deployed the word to refer to consumer sovereignty). In this negative characterization, consumerism is keeping-up-with-the-Jones or Patrick Batemanism — normative behaviors which privilege non-noetic objects over noetic ones with the exception of the referent consumer (the individual who is consuming the non-noetic objects, who naturally does so, not because they care solely about the objects themselves, but because they gain something from the consumption of those objects).

Materialism, broadly, briskly and vulgarly speaking, is a philosophical position generally characterized by substance monism, which holds that because everything which has been observed is energy and matter, it is rational to conclude everything that exists is (or is likely to be) composed of energy and matter (the same inductive reasoning is at work in expanding the theory of gravity to all places in the universe, even those wholly unobserved). As a school of thought, it has gone through numerous incarnations ranging from Democritus the atomist, to the cosmic mechanists prior to Newton, to the scientistic physicalists of the modern age (such as Hawking, Krauss and Dawkins).

More rigorous, sophisticated and logically defensible forms of ontological naturalism (sometimes referred to as ‘realism’ in contradistinction to ‘idealism’) which have been referred to as various materialisms can be found in the work of such philosophers as Wilfrid Sellars, John McDowell and Jeremy Randel Koons, and the neuroscientist, Paul M. Churchland.

Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the ontological assertions or arguments of any variation of materialism – atomist, mechanist, Sellarsian or eliminativist – it should be clearly noted that consumerism is a descriptive set of social practices, not a holistic formal ontology. One may be a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or Daoist and still be a consumerist. Indeed, the vast majority of those who have ever lived western consumerist lifestyles within modern society have been Christians (principally Catholics and Protestants), not scientistic materialists (as is sometimes alleged); this is demonstrable simply by reference to religio-demographic composition, as most consumer societies were, from their inception, constituted by Christians who are, obviously, non-materialists (philosophically speaking). Of course, it is perfectly possible to be a stalwart materialist (in the philosophical sense) and still be a consumerist, but it is not intrinsic to the position.

Drawing a clear distinction between materialism and consumerism is important given that because consumerism has become so thoroughly disdained, referent to it likewise besmirches any materialist ontology through negative moral assignation, RATHER than through rigorous logical refutation, thus engendering an impairment, not only of the thorough-going materialist diagrams, but also of critical, logical thought itself.

Kaiter Enless is the administrator and principal author of the Logos website and literary organization.

Fractal of 85 – Art by Gennady Stolyarov II

Fractal of 85 – Art by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II


Fractal of 85 – by Gennady Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

This fractal was created by U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II as a present from one mathematician to another, based on 85-fold rotational symmetry for the 85th Birthday of his grandfather and namesake, Gennady Stolyarov I, on October 24, 2018. Notice how the rings can continue to stack along their orbit.

Gennady Stolyarov I, upon seeing the fractal, remarked that it illustrated to him that an entire lifetime is indeed long. However, in the view of Gennady Stolyarov II, it should be made even longer!

This digital artwork was created by Mr. Stolyarov in Apophysis, a free program that facilitates deliberate manipulation of randomly generated fractals into intelligible shapes.

This fractal is an extension of Mr. Stolyarov’s artistic style of Abstract Orderism, whose goal is the creation of abstract objects that are appealing by virtue of their geometric intricacy — a demonstration of the order that man can both discover in the universe and bring into existence through his own actions and applications of the laws of nature.

Fractal art is based on the idea of the spontaneous order – which is pivotal in economics, culture, and human civilization itself. Now, using computer technology, spontaneous orders can be harnessed in individual art works as well.

The First Step Toward Reversing Aging and Curing Disease – Article by Arin Vahanian

The First Step Toward Reversing Aging and Curing Disease – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


The dawn of every new year brings renewed hope and numerous promises made by individuals across the world to improve their lot in life, whether through increased exercise, a new diet, or a career change. However, according to extensive research conducted on the topic, most of these resolutions are seldom kept long-term, and many people eventually revert back to old habits and modes of thought.

While failing to keep a promise to oneself to find a new job may not have catastrophic consequences for that person, an entire society or parts of the world falling short of goals such as reversing climate change may have disastrous implications for the rest of the world.

However, this article isn’t necessarily about saving the world. It’s about a topic that is very near and dear to me; specifically, personal responsibility, especially when it comes to longevity.

Whether we read about this topic, discuss it with others, watch interviews with experts and laypeople, or read polls, almost everyone would agree that the idea of living longer and healthier is very appealing to them.

Why is it, then, that observing people’s actions reveals that many of us do things that will prevent us from living longer and healthier? Why do so many people who claim longevity is important to them turn around and engage in behaviors such as overeating, smoking tobacco products, not exercising regularly, and so on?

Thankfully, there are some people out there who take longevity and health seriously, and these individuals eagerly follow new developments and hope for the scientific breakthroughs that will finally reverse aging and cure debilitating diseases that have plagued humankind for so long.

However, the first step toward curing disease and reversing the process of aging does not start with the chemists who come up with new medicines or the gerontologists who study aging or the governments that fund projects; it starts with the individual.

If you don’t believe me, simply take a closer look the next time you are at a restaurant or supermarket and observe what many people are purchasing and putting in their bodies. You may well be shocked at the sorts of things we are consuming on a daily basis. Several decades ago, there was a fear that humanity would face starvation on a global scale, but that threat never materialized. In fact, we now have far more food than we know what to do with. Indeed, our problem isn’t that we do not have enough food, it is that we have too much food, and too much of what we consume is unhealthy, thus reducing our life span and health span.

Even if we may not want to admit it, the first step toward living a longer and healthier life is entirely in our hands.  The actions we take on a daily basis determine, in no small part, whether we can put ourselves in a situation to take advantage of the advances in medicine and technology that may cure us of disease and reverse the process of aging in our bodies and minds.

In my humble opinion, it is irresponsible for someone to neglect their health and well-being while at the same time waiting and hoping for a cure for aging or disease. There is, currently, no magic pill one can take that will cure them of poor health or magically reverse aging. Thus, the impetus is on each person to do all they can to take care of themselves and their health, while the organizations and individuals that are working on curing disease and reversing aging come up with the requisite scientific and technological breakthroughs. In fact, we could even argue that in addition to managing one’s health and diet very closely, we should do more to support the organizations and individuals dedicated to curing disease and reversing senescence, but that is perhaps another topic for another time.

Of course, by focusing on personal responsibility, I do not wish to ignore the numerous situational and socioeconomic factors that may contribute to people being unable to fully take responsibility for their health. Some people, due to conditions such as extreme poverty, are not in a position to take control of their lives in the way those of us in developed countries are able to. Similarly, though, I do not wish to ignore the plight of many residents of developed countries who face hardships (of the medical variety or otherwise) every day that prevent them from fully taking the advice in this article. Life is not black-and-white, but rather, gray, and I would never advocate for the law of the jungle in any society.

Thus, I also want to make clear that we as a society should do whatever we can to ensure that people who need medical care receive the care that they need, in a cost-effective and dignified manner. In a world of abundance, there is no reason why people suffering from curable conditions (or otherwise) should go untreated, and no reason why anyone should be bankrupted by medical bills. However, these are not the persons I have dedicated this article to. A tragedy of modern life is that so many people are easily able to make changes in their life that would lead to a healthier and longer life, but instead choose to not do so, and continue engaging in destructive behaviors.

Regardless of your views on disease and aging, it is not unreasonable to say that we should, at the very least, do whatever is in our power to take care of our own health.

Therefore, the next time you think about gorging yourself on donuts and guzzling the soda offered at the next company party, you might want to reconsider, because what many people are eating and drinking is literally killing them.

The next time you decide to sit at home and watch TV instead of doing 20 minutes of light exercise at the park or the gym, remember that lethargy has consequences.

The next time you tell yourself “I’ll quit smoking someday,” or “I’ll start exercising when I have more time,” please pause for a moment and ask yourself whether you are really being honest.

I do not wish to insinuate that we should try to be perfect all the time when it comes to health, diet, and exercise. Indeed, there is no way to get it right all the time, and the occasional piece of cake or glass of beer won’t derail your journey toward good health if you’re consistently and methodically taking good care of yourself. Rather, what I believe we should strive for is doing the best that we can on a daily basis, and if we need to make minor changes, to take small steps toward improvement every day.

There is a famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi that goes, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I agree wholeheartedly, and would add that we must be the change we wish to see in ourselves. Because no one is more responsible for your own personal well-being than you. And no one can do as much for your own longevity as you can.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Blockchains Instead of Beggars: Could Cryptocurrencies Unleash Universal Basic Income? – Article by Nicole Sallak Anderson

Blockchains Instead of Beggars: Could Cryptocurrencies Unleash Universal Basic Income? – Article by Nicole Sallak Anderson

Nicole Sallak Anderson


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by Nicole Sallak Anderson as part of our ongoing integration with the Transhuman Party. This article posits a creative approach toward fulfilling one of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s objectives – the achievement of a Universal Basic Income (which is advocated for in our Platform and in the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 3.0). We advocate a wide variety of emerging technologies, including cryptocurrencies, as well, and we endeavor to contemplate ways in which such technologies can solve deep-rooted societal problems by altering people’s incentives, hopefully in positive directions. This article was written in February 2018, just past the peak of the cryptocurrency bubble, but it looks beyond that bubble and envisions more sustainable functions for cryptocurrencies beyond speculation – for instance, achieving the goal of providing a basic income and integrating activities that create external value in the community with rewards for the individuals who engage in such activities. We continue to encourage our members to contemplate possibilities for implementing a Universal Basic Income in realistic ways that would harness new technologies for incremental progress toward the goal and would not require revolutionizing the entire world at once. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, January 6, 2019


Cryptocurrencies are America’s latest capitalist playthings—from Bitcoin’s Christmas surprise of over $14K per coin, to the Bitcoin Cash fork of August 2017 and BitFury’s success in negotiating blockchain contracts in both Georgia and Dubai, cryptocurrencies, and the technology that powers them, went from being anarchists’ obscure hobby to the latest shiny object that the financial markets are drooling over. While cryptocurrencies are still a ways off from becoming actual currencies that can be used to exchange goods, they have proven to be valuable assets in today’s markets. Moreover, the blockchain technology that underpins said currencies has begun to gain momentum as an advanced application for the encryption and storage of data. Many see it as the natural evolution in the digital age.

For those of you who don’t know what blockchain technology is read here, or if you’re interested in cryptocurrencies in general, read here. People much savvier than I can teach you the technical details. Today I want to discuss practical implementations.

In the past two years, cryptocurrencies have made a lot of young people, and already rich old people, very rich. Cryptocoins and blockchain applications are the latest innovation to encourage the American rags-to-riches mythos, and I don’t see their bubbles popping anytime soon. Yet is seems like all of this is creating just another set of 1% who are wealthy, while most miss the boat completely, and this is the complete opposite of what many of the early adopters had envisioned—rather than creating a new cryptoclass, the blockchain was supposed to emancipate humanity.

This has me thinking…how could blockchain technology be used to create currencies that support a universal income? I’ve written before about universal basic income, from both a practical perspective and a feminist perspective. Most people argue there isn’t enough money out there to create a sustainable world where everyone is fed. I’ve long called bulls**t on this. Technologically we can now feed the world, so what’s holding us back? The food can be farmed in labs and it can be distributed to the most remote locations on Earth. Why then, does much of it rot in holding areas? Or never even get planted, while children die of starvation in our streets? Even in America, child poverty is rising with 30.4 million children daily in our country using the National School Lunch Program in their schools.

To me, the growing poverty in the “Land of Opportunity” is a universal lack of love on every citizen’s part, not a money problem. However, if everyone’s convinced that there aren’t enough American dollars to go around so that we can guarantee housing, food, and clothing to our fellow brothers and sisters, then perhaps it’s time to make more money, and not the kind you can hold in your wallet.

The way to create a new economy based on care and commonwealth may be to create a new currency with community as its only goal, rather than profit and greed, and what better way to do this than with a cryptocurrency? Why not build a crypto-token that is secure, hard to hack and trackable, whose purpose was to provide liquid resources to the most vulnerable members of society?

This last feature – traceability – is very important.  In principle it would be a clear advantage over fiat currency welfare systems, since the cash economy is only partially measurable in terms of mapping demographic groups to purchase/usage patterns. For fun, let’s call the new currency, LifeCoin, created not to get a bunch of miners and traders rich, but instead to be shared from person to person, growing as we all grow in wealth, a true peer-to-peer network both technically and socially.

A currency whose aim is to provide a universal basic income would need to have the following properties:

1)      It would need to be easily distributed to all citizens in the network 18 and over. Thus, a wallet that accepted LifeCoin, identifiable by the currency platform would need to be created.

2)      It would need to be accepted by all businesses that provide shelter (banks, landlords, etc.), food, clothing and healthcare. Thus a networked payment system that accepted LifeCoin and linked up to user’s wallets would need to be created. It needs to be seamless and provide incentives to services providers for honoring the LifeCoins as currency, thus the traditional fee structures in place for money exchange would need adjustment.

3)      It would need the ability to be changed into other currencies at the owner’s discretion. Thus the LifeCoin would need to be accepted on a decent number of exchanges.

This is a minimum list of technological needs, but at its most basic, a currency needs to be able to flow throughout the society if it’s going to be a true universal basic income solution.

Essentially there are two ways the LifeCoin could be created, either by the government, or by us, the citizens in an act of goodwill.

How could a government create and issue LifeCoin responsibly? There are probably many answers to this, but I think LifeCoin could be implemented by local governments that are looking to use blockchain technologies to manage and secure their data. Governments collect more than taxes, they’ve long been keeping track of our data, such as births, deaths, marriages, land titles, county employee information, driver’s license information, school information, health information and even voting registration and ballots. All of this information needs to be managed, and many governments are starting to consider using blockchain technology to do just that. Take the country of Georgia, who has uploaded over 100,000 land titles to a blockchain network created by BitFury. They have decided that using blockchain smart contracts will help them prove land ownership as Russia slowly begins to occupy more and more of their land. Dubai has also decided to use the Ethereum architecture to manage its data and bring their country into the 21st century.

Many other countries have taken notice. In Haiti, for example, after the earthquake in 2010, the first building to fall into ruin was the building that held all of their public records. In seconds, all the paperwork that documented who owned what land was gone. My own town of Santa Cruz, CA, is always under earthquake threat, could moving their local government data to a blockchain system help them in the long run? Of course it can.

Money will be saved by adopting these new technologies for data management. According to an article in August 2017, the government of Dubai expects to, “Reduce the cost of document processing by billions of dollars through eliminating manual processing of residencies, passport documentation and visas through a partnership with ConsenSys.

Billions of dollars, eh? And what to do with those savings? Why not redistribute them back into the community as a universal basic income? This can be done by tokenizing the endeavor, and backing the initial release of the coins with the savings the governmental entity receives.

As governments begin to implement various blockchain schemes to manage their data it is the ideal moment for them to tokenize the blockchain ledger they’re creating and distribute those tokens to their citizens as a universal basic income.

Consider Santa Cruz. Recently named the fourth most expensive place to live in the nation, it is estimated that our cost of living is 81% higher than the national average and our housing costs are 208% higher than the national average. When I drive down the street near town, I see tents nestled in along the highway, back near the fences and hidden in tall grasses. At night, when you pass our city hall, the courtyard is filled with people in sleeping bags, trying to find a place to sleep. Beggars line our downtown mall. Truly if any town needed a universal basic income, it’s ours.

Perhaps UBI begins at home with our local city council opting to invest in building a blockchain ledger using Ethereum to manage all contracts regarding land in the county as well as all legal documentation and contracts stored in the courthouse. The project includes tokens that are backed by the city at first with the monies annually saved by efficiently managing and securing their data. These tokens are distributed evenly to every citizen over 18 on a monthly basis.

As time goes on, more data can be added to the ledger and with each savings by switching from the manual handling of the data to digital networks doing the job, that money is used to issue new coins to citizens. The basic income could start at one number, say $500/month with the intention of growing to a final amount that can sustain a human being within the county.

In addition, more tokens are created as incentives to encourage people to enter the system as miners to help maintain the ledger. This is the decentralization aspect, the data is stored across hundreds of servers rather than just one. Thus everyone gets a set amount, but those who mine create more coins that they can use to purchase items in the community, or trade on the exchange, thus increasing the value of the tokens. Tokens can also be given to businesses as a means of encouraging them to accept LifeCoin as payment for their goods and services. With time, the currency spreads throughout the city and county, and as a result is accepted at more and more locations. None of this is because we “took” money from somewhere else. Using blockchain technologies, money was freed up to invest in a new currency, one that exists for the sole purpose of providing a living to our citizens.

Now, this is a very basic sketch of the system, and one I’m not able to complete. I’m merely putting it out there as something to debate and discuss, with the hopes that minds much more crypto than mine can see that their work has this potential. And perhaps to get the political dialogue rolling. This has to start somewhere and we can’t wait for our federal government to help. I also realize that as with any monetary system, cryptocurrencies may not be able to address the potential inflation and deflation associated with a universal basic income.

My good friend and fellow Medium writer, John Eden, put it perfectly:

“My view is that the real worry about crypto-powered UBI has nothing to do with the power of the blockchain from a tech POV.  The problem is that any economic system with a fixed or variable amount of tokens can and will experience inflation and deflation.  To me, this basic economic fact can’t in any way to neutralized by blockchain.  The implication of this is that the token one designs for UBI must be created in partnership with some pretty thoughtful economists so that a method of adjusting the value of the token relative to the wider economy is built into the token infrastructure.  After all, you don’t want to create LifeCoin only to see inflation ruin it’s core purpose – i.e., giving the most vulnerable members of society the ability to live a decent life.”

I’m not sure where we’d find those thoughtful economists. Can our local governments implement a token system to help the poor while keeping in mind the long term economic monetary policy goals? The blockchain might not save us from this issue, but the currency created can be set up with a new set of rules than our regular fiat, especially since it would be it’s own new market, individualized at the local level. We’ve been manipulating the markets forever, is it any different for a township to create it’s own currency to establish a standard of living?

We could also leave the government out of this and instead take responsibility as private citizens, creating a universal reward token ourselves. Private citizens can create a coin that is then given to those who need it. This work has already begun. GrantCoin was established in 2015 with the intent of providing a UBI to those who meet their criteria. However, this feels more like charitable handouts than a true UBI, for it’s still based on need, which requires judgement by a group of people who get to determine whether or not you really need it. Universal Basic Income is not only about providing the basics to all in a world of plenty, it’s also about freeing us from the judgments of others. We all receive a universal basic income, that’s what makes it universal, and we’re trusted to do what we should with it. Still, GrantCoin is a good start.

Another idea that caught my eye was the concept of gamifying cryptocurrencies as a means of deploying them. In an incredibly passionate plea to save cryptocurrencies from big business, author Daniel Jeffries writes,

By gamifying money distribution, we spread it far and wide across the playing field, as fast as possible, and guarantee that the system becomes viable. We bootstrap the system from banana republic to global powerhouse. That will bring powerful economic players into the system, who will then be incentivized to protect it and expand it.

If we move swiftly, we can unleash the true power of the blockchain to unlock the frozen reserves of human potential, rise from the ashes of our crumbling political systems and rocket into a whole new level of economic potential and development.”

He goes on to explain how by using a killer gaming app along with a universal reward token, one could possibly build a cryptocurrency that is completely decentralized with the possibility to not only fund life, but allow the movement to build into smart contracts and other aspects of civilization. Instead of the government initiating the move to the blockchain, private citizens do it for each other, via games so fun to play, we play them for a living. His article is a worthy read if this sort of idea floats your boat.

This may seem a bit pie in the sky, and on some level it is, but when thinking about the future of money we have the ability to write a whole new story, so why not base it upon joy and games?

Regardless, as financial firms explore the possibilities that platforms like Ethereum bring, it may benefit us to begin to probe our local governments into doing the same. However, instead of keeping the profits for themselves, they could the adventure to create new systems of money that promote life and health for all citizens.

Nicole Sallak Anderson is Computer Science graduate from Purdue University, and former CTO for a small Silicon Valley startup, turned novelist and blogger, focusing on the intersection of technology and consciousness. In addition to rebooting her eHuman series, she recently sold a historical fantasy trilogy about the Great Egyptian Revolt of 200 B.C. She currently lives in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains in California with her husband and teen-aged sons, where she raises goats and bees. She enjoys spinning, knitting, playing the bass, and dancing, particularly the tango. Visit her blog at eHumanity: The Intersection of Consciousness and Technology

The Singularity: Fact or Fiction or Somewhere In-Between? – Article by Gareth John

The Singularity: Fact or Fiction or Somewhere In-Between? – Article by Gareth John

Gareth John


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by our member Gareth John, originally published by IEET on January 13, 2016, as part of our ongoing integration with the Transhuman Party. This article raises various perspectives about the idea of technological Singularity and asks readers to offer their perspectives regarding how plausible the Singularity narrative, especially as articulated by Ray Kurzweil, is. The U.S. Transhumanist Party welcomes such deliberations and assessments of where technological progress may be taking our species and how rapid such progress might be – as well as how subject to human influence and socio-cultural factors technological progress is, and whether a technological Singularity would be characterized predominantly by benefits or by risks to humankind. The article by Mr. John is a valuable contribution to the consideration of such important questions.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, January 2, 2019


In my continued striving to disprove the theorem that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, I shall now proceed to ask one. What’s the consensus on Ray Kurzweil’s position concerning the coming Singularity? [1] Do you as transhumanists accept his premise and timeline, or do you feel that a) it’s a fiction, or b) it’s a reality but not one that’s going to arrive anytime soon? Is it as inevitable as Kurzweil suggests, or is it simply millenarian daydreaming in line with the coming Rapture?

According to Wikipedia (yes, I know, but I’m learning as I go along), the first use of the term ‘singularity’ in this context was made by Stanislav Ulam in his 1958 obituary for John von Neumann, in which he mentioned a conversation with von Neumann about the ‘ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue’. [2] The term was popularised by mathematician, computer scientist and science fiction author Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological advancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity. [3]  Kurzweil cited von Neumann’s use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann’s classic The Computer and the Brain. [4]

Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045 [5] whereas Vinge predicts some time before 2030 [6]. In 2012, Stuart Armstrong and Kaj Sotala published a study of AGI predictions by both experts and non-experts and found a wide range of predicted dates, with a median value of 2040. [7] Discussing the level of uncertainty in AGI estimates, Armstrong stated at the 2012 Singularity Summit: ‘It’s not fully formalized, but my current 80% estimate is something like five to 100 years.’ [8]

Speaking for myself, and despite the above, I’m not at all convinced that a Singularity will occur, i.e. one singular event that effectively changes history for ever from that precise moment moving forward. From my (admittedly limited) research on the matter, it seems far more realistic to think of the future in terms of incremental steps made along the way, leading up to major diverse changes (plural) in the way we as human beings – and indeed all sentient life – live, but try as I might I cannot get my head around these all occurring in a near-contemporary Big Bang.

Surely we have plenty of evidence already that the opposite will most likely be the case? Scientists have been working on AI, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, robotics, et al., for many years and I see no reason to conclude that this won’t remain the case in the years to come. Small steps leading to big changes maybe, but perhaps not one giant leap for mankind in a singular convergence of emerging technologies?

Let’s be straight here: I’m not having a go at Kurzweil or his ideas – the man’s clearly a visionary (at least from my standpoint) and leagues ahead when it comes to intelligence and foresight. I’m simply interested as to what extent his ideas are accepted by the wider transhumanist movement.

There are notable critics (again leagues ahead of me in critically engaging with the subject) who argue against the idea of the Singularity. Nathan Pensky, writing in 2014 says:

It’s no doubt true that the speculative inquiry that informed Kurzweil’s creation of the Singularity also informed his prodigious accomplishment in the invention of new tech. But just because a guy is smart doesn’t mean he’s always right. The Singularity makes for great science-fiction, but not much else. [9]

Other well-informed critics have also dismissed Kurzweil’s central premise, among them Professor Andrew Blake, managing director of Microsoft at Cambridge, Jaron Lanier, Paul Allen, Peter Murray, Jeff Hawkins, Gordon Moore, Jared Diamond, and Steven Pinker to name but a few. Even Noam Chomsky has waded in to categorically deny the possibility of such. Pinker writes:

There is not the slightest reason to believe in the coming singularity. The fact you can visualise a future in your imagination is not evidence that it is likely or even possible… Sheer processing is not a pixie dust that magically solves all your problems. [10]

There are, of course, many more critics, but then there are also many supporters also, and Kurzweil rarely lets a criticism pass without a fierce rebuttal. Indeed, new academic interdisciplinary disciplines have been founded in part on the presupposition of the Singularity occurring in line with Kurzweil’s predictions (along with other phenomena that pose the possibility of existential risk). Examples include Nick Bostrom’s Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University or the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge.

Given the above and returning to my original question: how do transhumanists taken as a whole rate the possibility of an imminent Singularity as described by Kurzweil? Good science or good science-fiction? For Kurzweil it is the pace of change – exponential growth – that will result in a runaway effect – an intelligence explosion– where smart machines design successive generations of increasingly powerful machines, creating intelligence far exceeding human intellectual capacity and control. Because the capabilities of such a super intelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is the point beyond which events may become unpredictable or even unfathomable to human intelligence. [11] The only way for us to participate in such an event will be by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating.

And I guess this is what is hard for me to fathom. We are creating these machines with all our mixed-up, blinkered, prejudicial, oppositional minds, aims, and values. We as human beings, however intelligent, are an absolutely necessary part of the picture that I think Kurzweil sometimes underestimates. I’m more inclined to agree with Jamais Cascio when he says:

I don’t think that a Singularity would be visible to those going through one. Even the most disruptive changes are not universally or immediately distributed, and late followers learn from the dilemmas of those who had initially encountered the disruptive change. [12]

So I’d love to know what you think. Are you in Kurzweil’s corner waiting for that singular moment in 2045 when the world as we know it stops for an instant… and then restarts in a glorious new utopian future? Or do you agree with Kurzweil but harbour serious fears that the whole ‘glorious new future’ may not be on the cards and we’re all obliterated in the newborn AGI’s capriciousness or gray goo? Or, are you a moderate, maintaining that a Singularity, while almost certain to occur, will pass unnoticed by those waiting? Or do you think it’s so much baloney?

Whatever, I’d really value your input and hear your views on the subject.

NOTES

1. As stated below, the term Singularity was in use before Kurweil’s appropriation of it. But as shorthand I’ll refer to his interpretation and predictions relating to it throughout this article.

2. Carvalko, J, 2012, ‘The Techno-human Shell-A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap.’ (Mechanicsburg: Sunbury Press)

3. Ulam, S, 1958, ‘ Tribute to John von Neumann’, 64, #3, part 2. Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. p. 5

4. Vinge, V, 2013, ‘Vernor Vinge on the Singularity’, San Diego State University. Retrieved Nov 2015

5. Kurzweil R, 2005, ‘The Singularity is Near’, (London: Penguin Group)

6. Vinge, V, 1993, ‘The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era’, originally in Vision-21: Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering in the Era of Cyberspace, G. A. Landis, ed., NASA Publication CP-10129

7. Armstrong S and Sotala, K, 2012 ‘How We’re Predicting AI – Or Failing To’, in Beyond AI: Artificial Dreams, edited by Jan Romportl, Pavel Ircing, Eva Zackova, Michal Polak, and Radek Schuster (Pilsen: University of West Bohemia) https://intelligence.org/files/PredictingAI.pdf

8. Armstrong, S, ‘How We’re Predicting AI’, from the 2012 Singularity Conference

9. Pensky, N, 2014, article taken from Pando. https://goo.gl/LpR3eF

10. Pinker S, 2008, IEEE Spectrum: ‘Tech Luminaries Address Singularity’. http://goo.gl/ujQlyI

11. Wikipedia, ‘Technological Singularity; Retrieved Nov 2015. https://goo.gl/nFzi2y

12. Cascio, J, ‘New FC: Singularity Scenarios’ article taken from Open the Future. http://goo.gl/dZptO3

Gareth John lives in Mid-Wales; he is an ex-Buddhist priest with a MA in Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol. He is also a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party. 


HISTORICAL COMMENTS

Gareth,

Thank you for the thoughtful article. I’m emailing to comment on the blog post, though I can’t tell when it was written. You say that you don’t believe the singularity will necessarily occur the way Kurzweil envisions, but it seems like you slightly mischaracterize his definition of the term.

I don’t believe that Kurzweil ever meant to suggest that the singularity will simply consist of one single event that will change everything. Rather, I believe he means that the singularity is when no person can make any prediction past that point in time when a $1,000 computer becomes smarter than the entire human race, much like how an event horizon of a black hole prevents anyone from seeing past it.

Given that Kurzweil’s definition isn’t an arbitrary claim that everything changes all at once, I don’t see how anyone can really argue with whether the singularity will happen. After all, at some point in the future, even if it happens much slower than Kurzweil predicts, a $1,000 computer will eventually become smarter than every human. When this happens, I think it’s fair to say no one is capable of predicting the future of humanity past that point. Would you disagree with this?

Even more important is that although many of Kurzweil’s predictions are untrue about when certain products will become commercially available to the general public, all the evidence I’ve seen about the actual trend of the law of accelerating returns seems to be exactly spot on. Maybe this trend will slow down, or stop, but it hasn’t yet. Until it does, I think the law of accelerating returns, and Kurzweil’s singularity, deserve the benefit of the doubt.

[…]

Thanks,

Rich Casada


Hi Rich,
Thanks for the comments. The post was written back in 2015 for IEET, and represented a genuine ask from the transhumanist community. At that time my priority was to learn what I could, where I could, and not a lot’s changed for me since – I’m still learning!

I’m not sure I agree that Kurzweil’s definition isn’t a claim that ‘everything changes at once’. In The Singularity is Near, he states:

“So we will be producing about 1026 to 1029 cps of nonbiological computation per year in the early 2030s. This is roughly equal to our estimate for the capacity of all living biological human intelligence … This state of computation in the early 2030s will not represent the Singularity, however, because it does not yet correspond to a profound expansion of our intelligence. By the mid-2040s, however, that one thousand dollars’ worth of computation will be equal to 1026 cps, so the intelligence created per year (at a total cost of about $1012) will be about one billion times more powerful than all human intelligence today. That will indeed represent a profound change, and it is for that reason that I set the date for the Singularity—representing a profound and disruptive transformation in human capability—as 2045.” (Kurzweil 2005, pp.135-36, italics mine).

Kurzweil specifically defines what the Singularity is and isn’t (a profound and disruptive transformation in human intelligence), and a more-or-less precise prediction of when it will occur. A consequence of that may be that we will not ‘be able to make any prediction past that point in time’, however, I don’t believe this is the main thrust of Kurzweil’s argument.

I do, however, agree with what you appear to be postulating (correct me if I’m wrong) in that a better definition of a Singularity might indeed simply be ‘when no person can make any prediction past that point in time.’ And, like you, I don’t believe it will be tied to any set-point in time. We may be living through a singularity as we speak. There may be many singularities (although, worth noting again, Kurzweil reserves the term “singularity” for a rapid increase in artificial intelligence as opposed to other technologies, writing for example that, “The Singularity will allow us to transcend these limitations of our biological bodies and brains … There will be no distinction, post-Singularity, between human and machine.” (Kurzweil 2005, p. 9)

So, having said all that, and in answer to your question of whether there is a point beyond which no one is capable of predicting the future of humanity: I’m not sure. I guess none of us can really be sure until, or unless, it happens.

This is why I believe having the conversation about the ethical implications of these new technologies now is so important. Post-singularity might simply be too late.

Gareth

U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for the First Quarter of 2019

U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for the First Quarter of 2019

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The purpose of this post is to facilitate member comments pertaining to transhumanism and the U.S. Transhumanist Party, which might not specifically fit the subjects of any other post or article on the U.S. Transhumanist Party website. This is the place for members to offer suggestions or converse about any areas of emerging technologies and their political, moral, societal, cultural, and esthetic implications. The general discussion thread is also an ideal location to suggest or propose platform planks that may be considered for future platform voting.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party will endeavor to open one of these general comment threads per quarter. This comment thread pertains to the months of January, February, and March 2019.

Type in your comments below. Please note that, to protect against spambots, the first comment by any individual will be moderated. After passing moderation, a civil commenter should be able to post comments without future moderation – although we cannot guarantee that the technical aspect of this functionality will work as intended 100% of the time.