What is Transhumanism? – Graphics by Luis Arroyo

What is Transhumanism? – Graphics by Luis Arroyo

Luis Arroyo


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this set of graphics by our member Luis Arroyo to bring attention to an interesting and worthwhile outlook on transhumanism. This is meant as a brief but informative overview of some transhumanist ideas as well as the diversity of thought within the transhumanist movement. Also, these graphics are effective for sharing on various social-media platforms.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, August 26, 2021


References

[1] Agence France-Presse. “Paralysed man walks using mind-controlled exoskeleton”. 4 October 2019. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/04/paralysed-man-walks-using-mind-controlled-exoskeleton

[2] Katie Tan. “Duke surgical team successfully implants new generation artificial heart in patient, first in U.S.” The Duke Chronicle. 29 July 2021. Available at https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2021/07/duke-university-hospital-health-artificial-heart-transplant-research-study-carmat

[3] Saqib Shah. “A magnetic helmet shrunk a deadly tumor in world-first test”. Engadget. 26 July 2021. Available at https://www.engadget.com/magnetic-helmet-tumor-093523598.html

[4] American Friends of Tel Aviv University. “Tel Aviv University study finds hyperbaric oxygen treatments reverse aging process”. EurekAlert! 19 November 2020. Available at https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/667837

[5] The Washington Post. “His voice silenced for years, a man can now communicate using only the electrical impulses from his brain”. 14 July 2021. Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/paralyzed-man-can-communicate/2021/07/14/3a9ce638-e4b5-11eb-8aa5-5662858b696e_story.html

[6] Phys.org. “Scientists create embryos to save northern white rhino”. 30 July 2021. Available at https://phys.org/news/2021-07-scientists-embyros-northern-white-rhino.html

 

The Boredom Objection to Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Boredom Objection to Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


One of the most widely used yet most baseless objections to life extension is the idea that if people had longer lifespans, they would somehow be bored, or, that they would not be motivated, since the finite amount of time each person has is what is supposed to make them more motivated. Indeed, when this objection is uttered, images of people watching hours of television every day while drinking soda, eating junk food, and being unproductive, come to mind. However, as I will demonstrate below, boredom and motivation are not related to the length of life, but rather, are based on other factors.

The reality is that there are already plenty of people who claim to be bored, or who struggle with motivation. Therefore, shortening their lives or preventing them from living longer and healthier is not likely to make them less bored or improve their motivation. In fact, it is likely to do the opposite – to result in the person becoming demoralized, and, more than likely, very depressed, knowing that their life expectancy has been decreased, that there is no hope for rejuvenation, and that the end is closer still.

Being bored or unmotivated isn’t related to the length of one’s life; it is related to a person’s mindset, thoughts, beliefs, actions, life situation, and other factors that are not related to lifespan.

I can speak for myself and say that I would do plenty of things if I had a longer lifespan, including, but not limited to, starting new hobbies, enjoying the additional time with friends, family and loved ones, performing charity work, delivering even more value to others, and more. Wouldn’t you like to have a few extra years of a healthy life so that you could spend it with the people you love, doing things you enjoy?

Life being short isn’t a good thing, just like failure isn’t a good thing, and just like going bankrupt isn’t a good thing. The difference here, though, is that if you fail, you can probably try again, just like if your business goes under, you can probably try again at some point. In those scenarios too, one could make the argument that you might learn something from the failure or bankruptcy. However, if you die, you can’t try again, and there’s nothing to learn from it. It’s all over.

Just because some people believe that a longer lifespan would result in lethargic, lackadaisical behavior in certain people, doesn’t mean we have to damn all of humanity to a short, brutish lifespan full of disease and suffering, especially in the last few years or decades of life. Therefore, even if some people waste the time that they have, this does not mean the rest of us who do cherish the time we have should have less of it available to us.

Indeed, there are more hobbies, activities, educational tools, opportunities for personal development, and forms of entertainment available to us, than ever before. Therefore, if someone is truly bored, the boredom is more than likely not related to the length of their life, but rather, the quality of their life. It seems difficult to argue that an enthusiastic, passionate, and motivated person would all of a sudden become demotivated if they had more years of a healthy life ahead of them. On the other hand, it may very well be true that an unmotivated or depressed person would not be helped by having a longer life. However, this does not mean that the longer life is the reason for their boredom. There has been much research conducted on motivation, and the research seems to suggest that motivation is driven by intrinsic factors, such as purpose and the opportunity for self-improvement, and not necessarily by the length of life. Given these factors, it would be difficult to argue that adding a few years of healthy life would suddenly make someone demotivated.

Someone who feels bored or unmotivated with the valuable gift of life is calling out for help. We should help them come to a better understanding of what it means to be alive, what it means to be human, and, if possible, help them develop a purpose and goals in life so that they feel more motivated on a daily basis. Shortening the length of their life is unlikely to help them feel less bored, or more motivated. In my view, instead of attempting to prevent progress, opponents of life extension would be better served by spending their time helping others find meaning or purpose in life.

Furthermore, imagine not conducting valuable research into longevity just because of the objection that people would be bored with a longer life. While there is really no way to quantify just how damaging this objection could be to performing research into life extension, I imagine it has prevented some progress in treating aging-related diseases. Could you imagine the ensuing outrage if our teachers, business leaders, medical professionals, and parents came out publicly and said that we should stop treating or trying to cure illnesses? Similarly, we should be outraged by simplistic arguments against life extension, especially if they are not backed up by solid evidence. And, of course, we should certainly be glad that the men and women who have dedicated their lives to improving the human condition and curing devastating illnesses did not succumb to boredom or a lack of motivation.

Let’s be clear – death does not give life meaning any more than tearing down a house gives meaning to the house. Therefore, when we hear the objection that life extension would lead to boredom and demotivation, we should call it for what it is: an insult to the sanctity of life and something to be banished for eternity, just like the plague of aging and disease.

Arin Vahanian is the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

 

Transhumanist Art by Luis Arroyo

Transhumanist Art by Luis Arroyo

Luis Arroyo


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this set of three artworks by our member Luis Arroyo in order to highlight the creative variety and diversity in political views that exist among our membership base. Luis Arroyo’s work combines influences from art history, transhumanist philosophy, and political thought with an aspiration to achieve a transhuman future. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, July 26, 2021


Transhumanism – Digital Artwork by Luis Arroyo

Description by the Artist: Some basic edits along with the term “transhumanism” in front of a black blocked like background; the  the sculpture of the statue is David Prime by Imagine Lion.

 

FM-2030 – Digital Artwork by Luis Arroyo

Description by the Artist: “A photo of the Iranian-American FM-2030 as indicated by the texts with some basic edits over it. FM-2030 is most notable for his book Are You a Transhuman?

Let’s Seize the Newest Means – Digital Artwork by Luis Arroyo

Description by the Artist:This photo was made from a very leftist perspective hinting towards the possibilities if today’s technologies were used for the sustaining and prosperity of the human species instead of the maximization of profit, reasonably one can expect such policies that transhumanists could support to be passed given the general human notions to advance ourselves and society.

Evolution Won’t Stop Aging Any Time Soon, but Medicine Might – Article by Sedeer el-Showk

Evolution Won’t Stop Aging Any Time Soon, but Medicine Might – Article by Sedeer el-Showk

Sedeer el-Showk


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party publishes this article by Sedeer el-Showk, originally featured by our allies at Lifespan.io, in order to highlight the fallacious nature of many media outlets’ responses to a recent study about the “invariant rate of aging”. As Mr. el-Showk eloquently explains, this study does not refute or undermine the possibility of pursuing the reversal of biological aging, but simply suggests that this needs to be done through medical and technological means, and that without such means, overcoming the limitations of the current maximum human lifespan would not be feasible. Many of us in the longevity advocacy community have known this for a long time already, but it is important to spread accurate information to prevent an unjustified decline in public confidence in the feasibility of radical life extension.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, July 25, 2021


Aging is not unstoppable, despite misinterpretations of the new study.

A new study [1] about the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ has led to reports that aging is unstoppable and that we cannot cheat death. However, this reporting is based on a misunderstanding of what the study actually says.

The misinterpretations

The study shows that “immortality and everlasting youth are the stuff of myths,” according to The Guardian. The article goes on to say that “an unprecedented study has now confirmed that we probably cannot slow the rate at which we get older because of biological constraints.” Other outlets published similar conclusions, with Futurism saying that the study shows “an ‘invariant rate of aging’ that won’t slow down”.

These reporters seem to have gotten tripped up on the idea of an ‘invariant rate’, which has the key implication that biological constraints determine the rate of human aging. This led to the conclusion that aging is fixed, inevitable, and immutable, but that’s not at all what the study shows, as the paper itself directly says.

What the study actually says

The study aimed to investigate the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis, which proposes that the rate of aging is fixed within a species. The idea is that aging has evolved in concert with a suite of other traits, such as birth rate and metabolic rate, and this concerted evolution has led to the rate of aging being relatively fixed within a species.

In this context, ‘fixed’ is used as the opposite of ‘plastic’. It doesn’t mean ‘set in stone’. It means there’s relatively limited variation in this trait within a species because biological factors have a stronger effect on it than environmental factors. A good example might be the number of digits on a limb – environmental factors don’t really affect it, and there’s very little (but some) variation.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers created a statistical model of the age-specific risk of death in species from seven primate genera. They used data from various studies to set the parameters of their model, which is how they tested the amount of variation.

The model included parameters for infant and juvenile mortality, age-independent mortality, and senescent mortality. Variation in the biological rate of aging would be reflected in the senescent mortality parameter, since it captures what we normally think of as ‘aging’, while the infant and juvenile morality parameter reflects the misfortune of dying young.

The study’s first finding is that most of the gain in human lifespan so far has come from reducing mortality at younger ages. There’s also variation in the infant and juvenile mortality parameter, both between societies and at different times.

This also shows up in the relationship between life expectancy and lifespan equality. Media reports generally got this part of the study right, and you can look at the report on SciTechDaily to get more details about these findings.

Unlike the infant and juvenile mortality parameter, the senescent mortality parameter varied very little within each species. In fact, changing this parameter in their model shifted the mortality and demographic data of one species to look like another.

Changing the other parameters led to minor shifts in age distribution, but changing senescent mortality made it look like data from a different species. What this means is that within a given species, biological factors are the ultimate determinants of longevity.

Changing the environment to reduce mortality at younger ages (as we have in most parts of the world) affects demographics, increasing life expectancy and lifespan equality. However, accomplishing more than that will require tackling the evolved biological constraints on lifespan.

This study, therefore, doesn’t show that the rate of aging cannot be changed; it shows that there’s a limit to how much change can be realized without biological interventions, which is precisely the challenge that longevity research aims to overcome.

The paper itself closes on that note, though you wouldn’t know it from the way it’s been covered: “It remains to be seen if future advances in medicine can overcome the biological constraints that we have identified here, and achieve what evolution has not.”

Abstract

Is it possible to slow the rate of ageing, or do biological constraints limit its plasticity? We test the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis, which posits that the rate of ageing is relatively fixed within species, with a collection of 39 human and nonhuman primate datasets across seven genera. We first recapitulate, in nonhuman primates, the highly regular relationship between life expectancy and lifespan equality seen in humans. We next demonstrate that variation in the rate of ageing within genera is orders of magnitude smaller than variation in pre-adult and age-independent mortality. Finally, we demonstrate that changes in the rate of ageing, but not other mortality parameters, produce striking, species-atypical changes in mortality patterns. Our results support the invariant rate of ageing hypothesis, implying biological constraints on how much the human rate of ageing can be slowed.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this wasn’t a study about longevity or the inevitability of aging. It was research to understand what affects the rate of aging – how much it results from evolved biological processes versus the effects of the environment. That’s important science not only for longevity research but also for evolutionary biology. It’s undoubtedly valuable, but unfortunately, its message has been misconstrued.

Far from showing that aging is inevitable, this research instead demonstrates that, ultimately, we’ll run out of environmental improvements and will have to turn to biological interventions to affect aging.

Literature

[1] Colchero, F. et al. The long lives of primates and the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis. Nature Communications (2021), doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-23894-3

Sedeer el-Showk became a professional science writer after finishing a degree in biology. He also writes poetry and science fiction and fantasy, and somehow juggles an ever-growing list of hobbies from programming to knitting to gardening. Eternal curiosity and good fortune have taken him to many parts of the world, but he’s settled in Helsinki, Finland for the moment. He hopes he’ll never stop learning new things.

The Unnatural Objection to Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Unnatural Objection to Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


Of all the objections to life extension, perhaps the most banal one yet is the argument that it is not natural for humans to want to live longer and healthier than they currently do. Of course, not only does this actually go against human nature itself, but it is also an insult to the immense progress we have made in improving the human condition throughout the course of history. In fact, this opposition to life extension also flies in the face of the entire medical industry, which is focused on keeping people alive, and any other industry that contributes to the betterment of the human condition, of which there are many. The fact is, opposing life extension is what is unnatural, because it is a natural human desire to want to survive, and to continue living in a healthy manner.

And let me be clear – just because something is natural does not make it good. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that getting poisoned by a plant, mauled by a wild animal, drowned by a tsunami, or crushed by a landslide are scenarios that are to be avoided at all costs. That these sorts of events are now relatively rare speaks volumes about the progress we have made in battling the destructive forces of nature.

Similarly, cancer, heart attacks, and strokes are natural too, yet no one would say that these conditions are desirable or good. In fact, many billions of dollars and resources are spent on finding a cure for these diseases, and for good reason – these diseases are deadly and contribute to massive suffering and pain.

To be sure, the environment is precious and should be protected. After all, to be able to walk through a forest and appreciate the flora and fauna is refreshing. Being able to visit a beach and feel the cool ocean breeze on one’s skin on a late summer afternoon is lovely. However, we should also be very wary of romanticizing nature, mostly because nature is entirely indifferent to the human condition. Indeed, nature does not care one bit about our happiness or fulfillment. Earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and hurricanes are part of nature, but no sane person would argue that these events are positive or that we should experience more of them.

Just because something exists in nature does not make it desirable or good. Conversely, just because something was developed outside of nature does not make it undesirable or bad. In fact, more often than not, science and technology have contributed to massively improving the quality of life for human beings. Imagine how much worse life would be without electricity, life-saving medicines, medical procedures, and computer technology.

How many people now would say that the tuberculosis vaccine, stents, or pacemakers are bad and should be abolished? Of course, all these discoveries were “unnatural,” but no sane person would wish to be inflicted with a deadly infectious disease or suffer a heart attack.

But going back to talking about the environment, climate change is a very real threat to planet Earth and humanity, and we should do all we can to protect our planet, the human race, and members of the animal kingdom. However, the solution to climate change is not going to arrive automatically as part of a natural process. Neither is the answer to stop evolving as a species or to stop all technological innovation and progress and revert to the Dark Ages, and in turn have humanity experience economic collapse and widespread suffering. In fact, humanity’s best hope for battling climate change will likely come from science and technology.

Further, attempting to control nature is what has allowed us to come up with inventions such as indoor plumbing, safe and comfortable shelter, and weather forecasts, all of which have improved the quality of life dramatically. Suppose that we had just let nature run its course in these scenarios. I don’t think I need to spell out what would have happened to humans had we allowed that to happen.

But even after we have thoroughly debunked this ridiculous objection to life extension, critics may then move on to other objections, such as the idea that a human life is already long enough, or that we may become bored if we were to live longer, or that the Earth will become overpopulated. Fortunately, we have answers to these objections as well. And what about the argument that sickness and death are inevitable and that we should just accept things the way they are? This topic deserves its own discussion, but for the moment we can respond by saying that catching an infectious disease and dying at the age of 20 or 30 was once the way things used to be, but it is fortunately no longer the case.

The fact is that it is entirely natural for humans to want to live longer and healthier. Indeed, it is what we have been trying to do since the dawn of time. It is human nature to want to survive and thrive. For the first time in human history, we have the potential to overcome nature itself. Limiting ourselves to what is natural means we deny ourselves the opportunity to be better and to do better. Dying at 20 years of age due to cholera, measles, or malaria wasn’t our destiny as human beings, and therefore we overcame infectious illnesses and significantly increased our life expectancy. Now, we are at a crossroads where we get to decide if we wish to continue suffering for years and then dying due to aging-related illnesses such as dementia, heart disease, and cancer, or, whether we will dedicate this next stage of human development to overcoming these horrific illnesses.

Of course, even after admitting that aging-related illnesses and natural disasters are devastating and should be avoided at all costs, opponents of life extension may still argue that they are entitled to oppose life extension. Of course, they are entitled to their beliefs, no matter how faulty their reasoning and logic may be, but we supporters of life extension are also entitled to advocate for the defeat of aging-related illnesses and to improve the human condition through advancements in science and technology, even if these advancements are not part of nature.

I would urge those who oppose life extension technologies because they are unnatural to revisit their stance after burying a loved one who dies from cancer, or after witnessing a calamitous natural disaster that destroys entire towns and kills thousands of people.

If nature held all the solutions to life, then we would not need to build earthquake-resistant buildings, we would not need to develop anti-cancer drugs, and we would not need spend money, time, and resources on reducing human suffering and improving the human condition.

Nature is how we started as human beings, but nature is not where we need to end.

Arin Vahanian is Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Pasteurizing the Conclusions of an Anti-Vaxxer – Article by Zach Richardson

Pasteurizing the Conclusions of an Anti-Vaxxer – Article by Zach Richardson

Zach Richardson


I had an unfortunate encounter with a friend of a U.S. Transhumanist Party member who was conducting on his page what I call an “anti-vaxxer drive-by”: shooting out some quick chart with poorly interpreted data that seemingly supports the idea that vaccines make you sick / don’t work / are Bill Gates microchips, etc.

The graphic in question was this one:

The chart in question shows a rise in infection at equal rates from those who got both vaccines, and those who did not receive a vaccine at all. The green bar shows amount of cases where no vaccine was received, and the blue bar amount of cases who again tested positive two weeks after the vaccine. What is the implied conclusion, then? The creator of this graphic wants to convey the message: “Why even get the vaccine, if the rates of infection are just as high 20 days after getting it as they are if you don’t get one at all?”

This post is about why his conclusion is wrong, why his analysis is wrong, and why his ilk are not to be trusted.

I was very lucky to find myself with several free hours of time today, as digging into this took some time. I had to type the source link into the browser a few characters at a time, since it was from an image, and the site itself was in Hebrew. I was pleased to find though, that the site did have the data available for download in a CSV format, which is easily importable into Google Sheets.

The data showed weekly stats on 9 age groups, and how many cases there were in three time periods: one to six days from vaccination, seven to thirteen days from vaccination, thirteen to twenty days from vaccination, and cases from vaccinations more than twenty days ago. This sequence is repeated for cases after dose two of the vaccine. Here is the spreadsheet:

I’ve included the last two weeks in this screenshot, and would like to direct the reader to notice a few things that should stick out sorely after a few moments’ study.

1. For the age range 0-19, the number of youths who reported cases was forty times as high as those who did not.

– Were children perhaps just 40 times as susceptible to infection? This would have been interesting for the person looking at the chart to know.

2. The age range 0-19 actually makes up one-half of the total amount of cases reported.

– Maybe it was just that those who signed up for this study all happened to be children who needed pocket money? That can’t be right…

3. For week the week of June 27 (2021-06-27), excepting the youth group for vaccine 1, not a single case was reported during the weeks 1-20 for any group. The next week never had more than five cases for an age group.

– Ah, good news! Perhaps the vaccine was super effective, if only for 20 weeks.

4. It is not reported how many people total got the vaccine who were NOT sick after 20 days.

-Perhaps the data account for all cases, and all those in the study eventually got reinfected?

There are some big problems with this chart, and the first is that this is a HUGE instance of what we call “self-selection bias”.

Unlike lab rats who have no choice in the matter, humans get to choose whether to participate in studies or not. Adults can easily choose to not report when they are sick; people had to voluntarily “select” themselves to be included in this dataset. Children have less choice. Children are in school, and vaccine testing can be conducted just the same way standardized knowledge testing is: get all the students in the same building, line them up, assign each a number, and have every single one tested. I think this is why youth aged 0-19 outnumber those aged 20-90 combined.

Even more important than that, we do not know how many people got the vaccine who did NOT get sick vs those who did not get the vaccine and did not get sick. Assuming Israel gives out 9,000 inoculations a day, the 30-39 year olds in week 07/04 could have been 248 vaccinated people infected out of tens of thousands who received the vaccine. We don’t have a way of knowing and don’t have that data.

The real plot twist though, comes after one digs into the “README” file attached to the study data right next to the CSV file. Here is the relevant excerpt Google translated:

vaccination_without_positive_Sum – number of verified people detected per week and age group Relevant, and who did not receive any vaccine dose. It should be noted that vaccinated who received the vaccine dose The first on the same day that a positive result was obtained are included in this column.”

What does this mean? It means that the “unvaccinated” group were those who ran to the doctor after they got sick, got the vaccine themselves, and were only THEN added into the dataset. They got the vaccine too!

The charlatan that made that chart was trying to make it seem like he was comparing data from two groups in a randomized controlled trial, and concluding that the data showed you were equally as likely to get sick when taking the vaccine as not. What the data really showed is that it is very easy to test children who are stuck doing what their teachers tell them for eight hours a day, and also that when the chips are down and the unvaccinated finally do get sick, they change their mind and run to the doctor to get the vaccine anyway.

As Director of Publication for the USTP, I would like to reaffirm the Transhumanist Party’s strongly-held pro-vaccine stance. There is far too much of this junk science flying around, and I certainly can’t spend the better part of the afternoon each day playing “debunker”, but you can be sure to expect a series of pro-vaccine material to be republished under the Infinity Banner.

Zach Richardson is Director of Publication for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Jennifer A. Huse Certified as Candidate in Mayoral Election in Camden, New Jersey

Jennifer A. Huse Certified as Candidate in Mayoral Election in Camden, New Jersey


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, June 14, 2021

Contact: Jennifer A. Huse

Email : info@jahformayor.com

Phone: 856-729-0272

Website www.jahformayor.com

Jennifer A. Huse, Independent Candidate for Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, has been certified by the Office of the Camden County Clerk’s Election Division to run on the ballot in the upcoming Mayoral election on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. 

Ms. Huse and her husband have each studied social system, city, and community design for over a decade. They have been personally mentored by the world’s foremost futurists and social engineers and she is excited to apply their knowledge to governance of our city.

Ms. Huse has a background and education in Cell and Molecular Biology, Exercise Science, Social Media Management, Communications, Marketing, and Business Management. Both Ms. Huse and her husband currently work in home renovations in our city. In addition to both of their social system design studies, this diverse background gives her a unique perspective in being inclusive of all people in proposals and improvements applied to governance of our city.

Ms. Huse states, “It is an honor to place my name forward as an Independent candidate for the city of Camden mayoral seat. I look forward to productive, one-on-one conversations in the next few months with the people of Camden and am pleased to present my extensive list of proposed changes to better the lives of all who live in Camden.”

She continues, “While gathering signatures, I was so encouraged and impressed with all whom I met, both the people who live and work here, and so happy to see how many persons want real change for their city. I am pleased to be offering a new, fresh approach to the governing of Camden.”

Ms. Huse’s extensive proposal list includes but is not limited to: housing for all, new employment opportunities, food security for all, education for all, new city revenue sources, ending the war on drugs, decriminalization of sex work, participatory governance, expansion of the arts and sciences, healthy life extension initiatives for all, and a Center for Scientific Solutions to problem-solve the issues we face in our city. She is the first mayoral candidate to include life extension initiatives in her platform proposals.

Ms. Huse concludes, “All people of Camden deserve a healthy and meaningful life in our beautiful city. Our administration looks to constantly improve and bring all people in Camden to the highest quality of life possible. I ask for your vote on November 2nd for the betterment of all.”

Note from the U.S. Transhumanist Party: Jennifer A. Huse was endorsed by a vote of the U.S. Transhumanist Party members on May 2, 2021, and accordingly the U.S. Transhumanist Party supports her run for Mayor of Camden, New Jersey. On May 2, 2021, the U.S. Transhumanist Party also held a Virtual Enlightenment Salon with Jennifer Huse, where we discussed her campaign initiatives in depth for nearly four hours. 

Why Transhumanism Needs More Positive Science Fiction – Article by Rykon Volta

Why Transhumanism Needs More Positive Science Fiction – Article by Rykon Volta

Rykon Volta


In the modern Age of Accelerating Returns, more commonly known as the Information Age, technological growth is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Never before in the history of humanity has technological growth shown itself so clearly to the human race. As noted by famous futurist Ray Kurzweil, the trend of exponential growth in technology follows a double exponential curve.

One famous example of this exponential growth that you might be familiar with if you are into the world of tech is, of course, Moore’s Law, but in The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil demonstrates that other technological fields, including medicine, have been accelerating as well. Ray Kurzweil shows that technology has actually been accelerating since before the Stone Age, although a man in the Roman Empire would not have noticed any ramifications of progress considering that his grandchildren would not live in a very different society from the one his grandfather and he inhabited. For the first time in recorded history, we are commonly thinking about where we will be in 100 years, where we will be in 50 years, and now we are even thinking about where we will be in a decade as technology progresses into the 21st Century. If Ray Kurzweil is right, machines will have sentience, and AI, or artificial intelligence, will be greater than human intelligence, resulting in a hypothetical event known as an “intelligence explosion” or “technological singularity”. After this point, machines will be much smarter than average human beings and will be able to carry on progress much faster than we can even begin to comprehend with our natural brains.

In the wake of the recognition of these future possibilities, many science-fiction authors and script writers have created a plethora of media to warn us that AI and future genetic augmentation pose many existential threats to the human race. Examples that now dominate the mainstream media include Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, and many more that warn us that AI might kill us all. Gattaca expresses the great fear of an unfair society of elitism in a genetically enhanced world where a man who was born naturally is unable to get his dream career because he wasn’t born with genetic modifications. In parallel, people demonize the idea of genetic modification by ruthlessly attacking GMOs and saying that they’re bad for us when GMOs have in fact solved famine in some parts of the world due to higher yields. People are always fearful of something they do not understand.

In the Golden Age of Science Fiction, a period during the mid-20th Century that saw many sci-fi works hitting the stage, spreading optimism and futurism, science fiction had a brighter outlook on the future. Isaac Asimov imagined future Spacer societies and a Galactic Empire in his Robot Series and Foundation Series. Gene Roddenberry took us on fantastic voyages across the stars in the Enterprise alongside Captain James T. Kirk and Spock. Other authors inspired visionaries to have a brighter outlook on the future as the Space Race sent the first humans to the Moon.

Today, we have, in a way, a form of cultural stagnation. While some still see the future in an optimistic light, it seems much more popular today to look at the future as a dystopia, and New Age movements all over the place actually act like demonizing technology is some kind of “morally right” position. Despite the trends of growth continuing to accelerate, mainstream culture seems to be propagating more fear of the future than hope and inspiration. Why are we doing this? While I agree that dystopian sci-fi has it’s place and that we should in very deed analyze and contemplate existential risks in our future that we might steer clear of, progress is going to happen and we are going to try everything we can to “play god”, as the enemies of transhumanism like to say transhumanists are trying to do. To them, of course, I say, “Were we not created in God’s image? Did God not give the Earth to mankind? Were we not meant to achieve our full potential, to subdue the Earth and conquer it, bending it to our will?” Indeed, this phrase in Genesis seems to be divine permission to modify our bodies and accelerate a brighter future. However, this is mainly an appeal to my fellow religious folks who may be averse to progress. We are not playing God because, quite honestly, God would not even make that possible. We are just using our God-given talents to hack our own genetic code and modify the machinery of our initial, still quite wonderful creation. To those Christians who say that we are insulting God and telling him “You didn’t make me good enough”, the beauty of mankind is that we were in fact created with the ability to modify ourselves. Don’t modify yourself with the intention of insulting your creator, but with the intention of becoming closer to your creator. Why would he give us the ability for self-modification if he didn’t intend for us to use it? It’s like saying that we shouldn’t work out because self improvement is some kind of blasphemy against God. Do you really believe God wants us to intentionally limit ourselves from our full potential?

Others may fear the coming of AI as a usurping of humanity as the apex predator upon this planet, and they may be afraid of a Skynet scenario where a rampant AI destroys us all. I argue that the solution is to merge ourselves with the machines, allowing us to cause ourselves to evolve. Ray Kurzweil and many other singularitarians would make the same argument. By evolving our own bodies and replacing our cells with nanobots whereby we can enhance our brains to the point where neural signals travel at light speed, we will be able to keep up with AI in the evolutionary arms race to come. You can choose to live in fear in the face of the Singularity that is coming, getting left behind in its wake, or you can step boldly and bravely forward into the new world that it will create, surpassing all your physical, mental, and morphological limitations and ending your mortality fully.

As I have written before, mainstream media is overwhelmingly sending out negative signals and warnings about the future, painting into the memespace, or ideaspace, of mainstream culture the notion that technology is a negative influence and that it should be contained and controlled. Society is largely crying for a return back to the caves because many people are fearful of what they don’t understand. This trend needs to cease. People need to see that the light of the future is much brighter than they think. AI is coming, and the technological Singularity is coming, and it’s going to be better than anyone can imagine. This is a call to arms; artists and sci-fi writers who see the ramifications of the future and how it can create an abundant, prosperous utopia, I urge you to write science fiction that portrays AI not in a negative, but rather in a positive manner. Show AI in a benevolent form and show how it can aid humanity in its future quest for survival. Show how it can solve global problems like hunger and global warming and cure disease. Stories that put the Neo-Luddites in their place, and show that the pseudo-religious zeal of anti-progress-minded people is ultimately a negative factor only holding us back from creating a better world in the long run. Know and understand that the content in the mainstream media has a huge effect on the minds of the people, and indeed much of culture is shaped by what is put out there and consumed by the masses. Transhumanism needs more positive science fiction to help gain support for the movement and to inspire the next generation of scientists and inventors to design the future we all desire!

Rykon Volta is the author of the novel Arondite, Book I of The Artilect Protocol Trilogy. Arondite is available on Amazon in hard-copy and Kindle formats here. Visit Rykon Volta’s website here

Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party Virtual Enlightenment Salon of  July 19, 2020, when Rykon Volta was the guest of honor and discussed science fiction, his novel Arondite, and the ideas surrounding it with the U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers.

 

“The FDA Almost Killed Me” – A True Story

“The FDA Almost Killed Me” – A True Story

Daniel C. Elton, Ph.D.


Author’s Note: This article is cross-posted from my Substack.

Preface: It’s well known that stories of people who suffer while waiting for drugs to be approved rarely get attention, while the stories of those who suffer from unexpected side effects often end up in the news and congressional hearings. There are many reasons for this. One of them is the act-omission distinction. Intuitively people tend to place much more blame on actions that result in harm rather than omissions that result in harm. Rationally though, the distinction doesn’t amount to much — a doctor that withholds a life-saving medicine, while processing knowledge that it is likely to help a patient, still commits a grave ethical injustice even if they didn’t directly cause harm. Another reason is that patients are often not aware of drugs in the pipeline that have a good chance of helping them.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though. I strongly believe those who have suffered under FDA regulatory delay should have their stories heard and appreciated. That’s why I’m so happy John Bennett attended my second #ApproveAstraZeneca #UnclogTheFDA protest outside the FDA. When I heard John’s story, I knew it deserved to be told to a wider audience. So, I had him retell the story to me so I could tell it to you here. I really appreciate John taking the time to tell me his story and proofread my writing.

 

John at a February 14th protest outside the FDA, organized in conjunction with the DC Transhumanist Party, where we protested the FDA’s failure to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine while millions of doses languished in a factory in Baltimore and thousands died daily from COVID-19.

When John was only around nine years old, he started experiencing joint pain. Initially his doctors thought he might have juvenile autoimmune arthritis. Around age ten, however, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Later his doctor would tell him that after that initial diagnosis he estimated his life expectancy was only nine more years.

Crohn’s disease is not just “digestive problems”. The disease affected all aspects of John’s life, and he spent much of middle and high school in and out of a wheelchair. In 2001 he started receiving infusions of the monoclonal antibody Remicade every six weeks. Due to Remicade, he started to be able to walk again and was able to live a mostly normal life. That all changed suddenly and unexpectedly in 2005 when his throat closed up after his injection. Unfortunately, as happens to many long-term Remicade patients, his body had developed an immune response to the drug. In response doctors switched him to a similar monoclonal antibody drug, Humira. However by 2013 his immune system had started rejecting the Humira as well. In response his gastroenterologist tried several general immune suppressors but at this point John was running out of good options.

Fortunately there was a new drug with a lot of clinical trials data to support it, Entyvio. Unlike Remicade and Humira, which are TNF-alpha antagonists developed for rheumatoid arthritis, Entyvio was developed specifically for Crohn’s disease and a similar disease called ulcerative colitis. Entyvio was specifically studied in Crohn’s disease patients like John who either could not tolerate or did not benefit from conventional therapy and TNF-alpha antagonists. A peer-reviewed Phase II study from 2008 showed a dose-dependent beneficial effect of Entyvio. Four Phase III studies followed. By February 2013 enough studies had been completed on Entyivio that a review article in Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy concluded the drug was “an effective and well-tolerated drug that is an important advance for the treatment of Crohn’s Disease.” Takeda Pharmaceuticals filed the paperwork for approval with the European Medicines Agency on March 7th, 2013 and filed with the FDA on June 21st, 2013.

This is where the story starts to get really dark. Throughout the summer and fall of 2013, John suffered from fatigue, joint pain, and stomach pain. His symptoms came and went in unpredictable waves, so he was never sure if he would be able to attend any social events or be able to go into work. He had to start taking a lot of leave from work, some donated from co-workers, and some unpaid.  Eventually the pain got so bad he started going to a pain clinic every two weeks, which started him on Vicodin and Percocet. His intestine was so inflamed it was shot through with holes. A persistent infection developed. His neck felt like it was in a vice and was so difficult to turn he had trouble driving.

Given John’s condition, his doctor knew he was in a race against time and that he needed Entyvio as soon as possible. As a member of the FDA’s Gastrointestinal Drugs Advisory Committee, John’s doctor had an inside view on the agency and predicted he should be able to get the drug by the end of the year. Indeed, on December 9th, 2013 the Committee voted 21-0 in favor of approving the drug for Crohn’s disease. Under normal circumstances, an approval would follow shortly thereafter. Unfortunately for John (as well as many other patients), this isn’t what happened.

Even though the FDA had granted Enyvio Priority Review Status, for the next five months the FDA kept John (and undoubtedly many others) suffering as they debated the wording for the warning label. Since the approval of earlier monoclonal antibody drugs such as Remicade and Humira, scientists learned that in the long term some patients can develop allergic reactions to treatment. The FDA wanted to put a warning about the possibility of a severe allergic reaction on the label. The problem was that the drug had been designed specifically to avoid the allergic reaction rejection problems that occurred with Remicade and Humira, drugs which did not contain such a warning. A warning about allergic reactions would make Entyvio look less safe, something that the company rightly took objection to.

Another possible reason for the delay might be related to the fact that the FDA claimed that Entyvio put patients at risk for progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, (PML) an often fatal brain virus. In over a decade of trials however no patient who had taken Entyvio had ever developed PML. Still, the FDA pointed to a similar drug, Tysabri, which carries a “black box” label warning of the risk for PML. The company disputed this – pointing to established mechanistic differences in how the two drugs worked, but the FDA wasn’t convinced. In the end, the FDA decided to include a warning about PML on the label and require post-market surveillance.

By April 2014 John’s condition had gotten so bad that John’s doctor started filling out compassionate use paperwork. The FDA told him not to bother and to wait for the approval. In retrospect, he probably should have tried anyway. When the drug was finally approved on May 20th, 2014, the initial doses the drug company had made had expired. The company had to manufacture new doses, leading to a delay in commercial availability. It wasn’t until September 2014 that John got the drug. By that time John was in precarious health. Although he now had the drug in his system, it was too late to help. In January 2015 his doctor sent him to the ER where he stayed in an ICU for several days fighting an infection. John had to have two major surgeries that ultimately removed his large intestine altogether.

The story illuminates many areas for improvement in the FDA approval process. First, it took five and a half years after promising Phase II results for the drug to become available to patients. Other different regulatory approaches like Free to Choose medicine or adaptive licensing could have made Entyvio available to patients faster and at lower cost. But even if you remain convinced that pre-market Phase III trials are a necessity, there are still major areas for improvement highlighted by this case.

Ideally, after the company reached their endpoints in their Phase III trials the drug would be rapidly approved within a month or two. In reality, John suffered for well over a year waiting for Entyvio to be approved by the FDA. Even after the FDA’s board unanimously voted in favor of approval, John suffered for another five months waiting for approval (the FDA could have figured out the proper warning label much earlier, for instance in the five years during which the Phase III trial was running). Even after approval, John had to wait another four months before he finally got his first dose since the initial doses had expired.

As a result of over a year of completely unnecessary delays, John became dependent on opioids, ended up in the ICU with a major infection, and had to undergo several risky surgeries. In the end though, he was lucky to have survived the ordeal. One wonders how many patients like John there were who also suffered from the delay, and how many died as a result.

Dan Elton, Ph. D., is Director of Scholarship for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.  You can find him on Twitter at @moreisdifferent, where he accepts direct messages. If you like his content, check out his website and subscribe to his newsletter on Substack.

Nevada Senate Bill 292 and the Democratic Party’s Anti-Democratic Hypocrisy on Voter Rights – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

Nevada Senate Bill 292 and the Democratic Party’s Anti-Democratic Hypocrisy on Voter Rights – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


While the Democratic Party often postures as championing voter rights and opposing voter suppression, it frequently engages in voter-suppression tactics of its own, particularly aimed at restricting voters’ ability to choose minor political parties on the ballot. Senate Bill 292, advanced by prominent Democratic Legislators despite overwhelming public opposition, is a case in point.

SB292 is sponsored by former Nevada Democratic Party Chair, now Senator, Roberta Lange. Many have already identified the flaws with SB292’s attempt to implement “straight-party-ticket” voting – an option that discourages thoughtful consideration of individual candidates on their merits. But the largely overlooked Section 2 of SB292 would be much more insidiously damaging in shutting minor political parties out of realistic ballot access by imposing a requirement that petition signatures gathered by minor parties seeking ballot access be “equally apportioned” among the four Congressional districts in Nevada.

The number of petition signatures required in Nevada is already immensely high; one percent of the voters for U.S. Representative at the last general election must sign a minor party’s petition for the party to qualify for ballot access. No party has been able to meet this onerous threshold since 2011. Yet, even if a party is able to surpass it through herculean efforts, the requirement of equal apportionment would mean that the Democratic Party could challenge the minor party’s petition if just one more signature comes from one district than from another. For example, even if a minor party were spectacularly successful and somehow gathered signatures from all the registered voters in Nevada’s most populous 3rd Congressional District, the Democrats could attempt to disqualify that petition on the technicality that an “equal” number of signatures from the other, less populous districts were not attained. SB292’s Section 2 would empower Democrats to thwart every minor party’s petition forever.

Because of the additional coordination required to even attempt to gather petition signatures “equally” by petition district, rather than simply trying to gather as many signatures as possible, one would expect the petitioning effort to be more time-consuming than previously. However, Section 2 of SB292 reduces the time available to a minor party, moving the compliance deadline from the third Friday in June to June 1, thereby further lowering the probability of meeting all requirements. The United States District Court for the District of Nevada in 1992 already struck down a slightly less burdensome deadline of June 10 in the case of Lenora B. Fulani et al. v. Cheryl A. Lau, Secretary of State. A June 1 deadline could be challenged on the same grounds, but the proponents of SB292 wish to impose it regardless.

In Nevada, prominent Democratic Party Legislators seem determined to limit voters’ options at the ballot box. The Green Party, whose nominee finished fourth in the past three U.S. Presidential elections, failed to qualify for ballot access in Nevada in 2012, 2016, and 2020, because of the unreasonable existing petition threshold and significant Democratic Party efforts to disqualify petition signatures in 2016. Nevada is also one of only five states that lack a write-in option, further reinforcing the imperative to relax ballot-access requirements instead of imposing additional ones. At present, minor political parties without access to vast funds, such as the all-volunteer Transhumanist Party, are shut out by intentional barriers to entry imposed at the behest of the major parties.

Do Democrats in power only wish to improve the ease of voting for Democrats, while excluding other options by establishing insurmountable barriers to ballot access? Or will enough Democrats take a stand for their stated principles, support genuine voter choice, and thwart anti-democratic legislation such as SB292?

Senate Bill 292 will be heard at 4 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections. This will be our last chance at direct input to the Legislators regarding this bill. Follow the link above and click on the button to “Participate” in order to register for call-in information. You can also e-mail your written comments to . Be civil and respectful but firm in your opposition to this attempt to severely limit voter choice!

Gennady Stolyarov II is the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party and the Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party.