The Great Transhumanist Game – How to Win; How to Play and Not to Play – Videos by Gennady Stolyarov II

The Great Transhumanist Game – How to Win; How to Play and Not to Play – Videos by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


This two-part video series was created by Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, to serve as pieces in the Great Transhumanist Game orchestrated by Professor Angel Marchev, Sr., Ph.D., of the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The Great Transhumanist Game – Part 1 – How to Win

What would it mean to win in the Great Transhumanist Game? Mr. Stolyarov answers that winning would be inaugurating the next great era of human civilization, and living to see it.

The Great Transhumanist Game – Part 2 – How to Play and Not to Play

Now that we know what it would mean to win the Great Transhumanist Game, how do we get from here to there? Mr. Stolyarov discusses the importance of knowing which game one is playing, and whose, and abstaining from playing the wrong, counterproductive political or insurrectionary games.

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“The Singularity is Here” – Paintings by Leah Montalto

“The Singularity is Here” – Paintings by Leah Montalto

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Leah Montalto


Left-click on the thumbnails below to see a higher-resolution, downloadable image of each painting.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party is pleased to feature art by painter Leah Montalto, inspired by the concept of the Singularity. These paintings were originally exhibited at the Reis Experimental Gallery in Long Island City, NY, during March 23-25, 2016. See the page for the original exhibit, “The Singularity is Here“.

The paintings are a celebratory valuing of life. They are symbolic of the wonder inherent in the art of creation and building, alluding to the potential for the advancement of civilization.  The paintings celebrate the impulse toward reason, innovation, creation, and liberty.”  – Leah Montalto         

Description from “The Singularity is Here” Exhibit: 

In her large-scale paintings, Leah Montalto explores the visible and the invisible, the physical and the metaphysical, envisioning an expansion in both material and inner dimensions. With a masterful deployment of color, and a dynamic sense of motion, her paintings defy convention by simultaneously revealing two paradoxical perspectives.

From one perspective, Montalto’s paintings are classical landscapes, inspired by the tradition of the Hudson River Landscape School.   Montalto creates futurist landscapes, taking the viewer on a three-dimensional journey through outer space, and through imagined nanotech creation scenes in scales both massive and miniature.  Structures break apart, coalesce, and reform as she evokes the spirit of creation, transformation, and reconstruction.

From a second perspective, Montalto’s paintings are two-dimensional abstract paintings, evoking the physiological effect of gazing at a Tibetan mandala, offering an entry to an internal space of reflection, contemplation, and illumination.

With these paradoxical yet simultaneous perspectives – alternating between three-dimensional space and internal vision, Montalto’s paintings evoke an exhilarating sense of the potential of new worlds and new ways of thinking.  Montalto’s paintings present an optimistic view of the future, of transformational possibilities, and of a merging of the material environment and the psyche, and of nature and technology.

Leah Montalto was born in Boston, MA in 1979.  She lives and works in New York City and Queens, NY.  Montalto holds an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art.   She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Academy Museum of Fine Art’s Hallgarten Prize for Excellence in Painting, and a New York City Cultural Commission Individual Artist Grant.   Exhibitions of her work include shows at the National Academy Museum of Fine Art in New York City, Priska Juschka Fine Art Gallery in New York City, Reis Experimental Gallery in Queens, University of Michigan Gallery in Ann Arbor, and the Korea Biennial.  Montalto has taught painting at Sarah Lawrence College, State University of New York at Purchase, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Connecticut, and Rhode Island School of Design.

 

A “Disease” Approach in Life-Extension Advocacy Can Facilitate Communication with the General Public – Infographic by Elena Milova and Keith Comito

A “Disease” Approach in Life-Extension Advocacy Can Facilitate Communication with the General Public – Infographic by Elena Milova and Keith Comito

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Elena Milova and Keith Comito


The U.S. Transhumanist Party is pleased to share this infographic from our friends at the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF), one of the Transhumanist Party’s most active Allied Organizations. Life-extension advocates Elena Milova and Keith Comito have compiled a set of tips for communicating ideas regarding the progress of medical science and technology, for the pursuit of healthy life extension, in such a manner as to enable many in the general public to understand and sympathize with our goals and the science behind them. We encourage you to distribute this infographic to any activists and advocates who you think would benefit from the advice therein.

U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for August 2017

U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for August 2017

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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 month. This comment thread pertains to the month of August 2017.

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.

Panel – Artificial Intelligence & Robots: Economy of the Future or End of Free Markets? – Michael Shermer, Edward Hudgins, Zoltan Istvan, Gennady Stolyarov II, Eric Shuss

Panel – Artificial Intelligence & Robots: Economy of the Future or End of Free Markets? – Michael Shermer, Edward Hudgins, Zoltan Istvan, Gennady Stolyarov II, Eric Shuss

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, participated in the panel discussion at FreedomFest in Las Vegas on July 21, 2017, entitled “AI & Robots: Economy of the Future or End of Free Markets?” The panelists presented a set of realistic, balanced analyses on the impact of artificial intelligence and automation.

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For this event there was an outstanding speaker lineup, with moderator Michael Shermer, followed by Edward Hudgins, Peter Voss, Zoltan Istvan, Gennady Stolyarov II, and Eric Shuss.

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The general focus of Mr. Stolyarov’s remarks was to dispel AI-oriented doomsaying and convey the likely survival of the capitalist economy for at least the forthcoming several decades – since narrow AI cannot automate away jobs requiring creative human judgment.

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The video was recorded by filmmaker Ford Fischer and is reproduced with his permission.

Visit Ford Fischer’s News2Share channel here.

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free by filling out our membership application form here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Facebook page here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Twitter page here.

Gennady Stolyarov II Discusses Artificial Intelligence with Ford Fischer

Gennady Stolyarov II Discusses Artificial Intelligence with Ford Fischer

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Gennady Stolyarov II


U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II discusses why artificial intelligence is not a threat to humanity’s existence or to jobs in many professions in the proximate several decades.

This discussion was recorded as part of a larger interview with filmmaker Ford Fischer on July 21, 2017. It was intended to preview and elaborate upon some of Mr. Stolyarov’s remarks at the discussion panel later that same day, entitled “AI & Robots: Economy of the Future or End of Free Markets?”

The video is reproduced on Mr. Stolyarov’s YouTube channel with permission from Ford Fischer.

Visit Ford Fischer’s News2Share channel here.

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free by filling out our membership application form here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Facebook page here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Twitter page here.

Bioquark, Inc., and Lakmus LLC Announce Research Collaboration to Study Novel Biopharmaceuticals for Healthy Longevity Enhancement – Press Release by Ira Pastor

Bioquark, Inc., and Lakmus LLC Announce Research Collaboration to Study Novel Biopharmaceuticals for Healthy Longevity Enhancement – Press Release by Ira Pastor

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Ira Pastor


Bioquark, Inc., and Lakmus LLC, announce a multi-disciplinary research collaboration to study age-reversal / longevity-enhancing bio-pharmaceutical development with the FSBI Zakusov Institute of Pharmacology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Bioquark, Inc., (http://www.bioquark.com) a life sciences company focused on the development of novel bio-products for regeneration, disease reversion, and healthy aging, and Moscow-based Lakmus LLC, a diversified investment company with business interests in pharmacies, restaurants, and real estate, announced a multi-disciplinary research collaboration with the FSBI Zakusov Institute of Pharmacology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences (http://www.academpharm.ru/), and the Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (http://www.infran.ru/), to jointly study the pharmacotherapeutic longevity-enhancement properties of its combinatorial regenerative biologic candidates.

“We are very excited about this continued collaboration with Lakmus,” said Ira S. Pastor, CEO, Bioquark Inc. “The disciplined development of our combinatorial biologic candidates (Bioquantines) for healthy longevity enhancement, represents another important step in our continued evolution as a company focused on a broad range of therapeutic products and services in the regenerative healthcare space.”

Throughout the 20th century, natural products formed the basis for a majority of all pharmaceuticals, biologics, and consumer healthcare products used by patients around the globe, generating trillions of dollars of wealth. However, many scientists believe we have only touched the surface with what the natural world, and its range of organisms, which from a health and wellness perspective are much further advanced than human beings, has to teach us.

The integration of a complex set of newer research disciplines, including interkingdom signaling, semiochemical communication, and evolutionary biology, as well as significant recent activity in the areas of the microbiome, are highlighting a myriad of new ways that non-human bio-products can affect the human genome for positive transitions in health and wellness dynamics.

“Bioquark has spent several years studying the natural ability of many species to turn back biological time in order to maintain health, fitness, and survival, developing a broad understanding of the combinatorial biochemical approaches they use to control nested hierarchies of disease (i.e., gene, cell, tissue, organism, environment),” said Dr. Sergei Paylian, Founder, CSO, and President, Bioquark Inc. “This research initiative is one more step in the path in allowing humans to recapture these capabilities to effectively counter our unfortunate progression into aging, disease, and degeneration.”

About Bioquark, Inc.

Bioquark Inc. is focused on the development of natural biologic based products, services, and technologies, with the goal of curing a wide range of diseases, as well as effecting complex regeneration. Bioquark is developing both biological pharmaceutical candidates, as well as products for the global consumer health and wellness market segments.

Read about Mr. Ira S. Pastor here.

The Cure For Everything – Article by Nicholas Huerta

The Cure For Everything – Article by Nicholas Huerta

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Nicholas Huerta


Note from the Editor: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by the student writer Nicholas Huerta to illustrate the growing interest in the transhumanist movement among college and university students. While the positions in this article are not necessarily the positions of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, there are some similarities, and the article is intended to provoke thinking and discussion about how to motivate transformations in societal attitudes toward the embrace of emerging technologies. ~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, U.S. Transhumanist Party, July 26, 2017

If you or a loved one had cancer and someone offered you the cure, would you take it? Colloquial society would answer “yes”. Cancer is one of the many problems facing our society today. Other such problems include socioeconomic issues, hunger, natural disasters, climate change, and inept leaders leading an inept society. Through our research, we hope to show society what true epistemology entails and the realm of possibilities it opens up for the advancement of mankind. The scientific method (SM) is the closest we can get to determining truth, which is substantiated by thinking about another method. Attempting to disprove the SM would require its use, resulting in circular reasoning. The SM can be of great value to humanity outside of traditional science. Using data to support or reject a claim should be used throughout society. Life must observe the environment in order to survive and humans are conscious beings, with the capacity to think about these observations more so than other species. Since the dawn of the scientific age 400 years ago, society has been against science (observe the opposition to facts regarding 4.5 billion-year-old earth, heliocentrism, round earth, genetically modified organisms, and climate change, to name a few). I have not yet discovered the reason for this, but it may be due to many people’s inability to comprehend the scientific method, which ultimately results in changing conclusions / truths / beliefs based off of ever-changing data and observations. This means the SM is rather progressive in nature, and many people tend to dislike change or unfamiliarity. Many scholars will say the SM does not yield truth, but simply provides data to confirm or reject a hypothesis with an infinite number of null hypotheses. A truth entails no change. I posit that the SM yields objective facts. It may also be due to a group of powerful individuals suppressing society similar to the way the Catholic Church (and historical societies in general) condemned new scientific ideas, such as heliocentrism, rather than test them. They are not particularly suppressing science, but rather epistemology. For example, governments do this to citizens through lack of transparency, which hinders data collection (Snowden and WikiLeaks are glimmering examples). Contemporary society fails to realize how far modern science has gotten our species in the last 400 years, and especially in the last 20 years, while we enjoy the comforts of being able to walk into a store and buy food rather than hunt for it.

The SM has brought us civilization, democracy, farming, and industry. How do we know the scientific method works? Richard Dawkins put it very simply when he said, “Planes fly, cars drive, computers compute. If you base medicine on science, you cure people. If you base the design of rockets on science, they reach the moon. It works.” Does it not make sense to build policy and beliefs using the same methods scientists use to test their ideas? If it was not for the SM, we would still be hunting and gathering, living like wild animals (which also use the SM in a much more primitive manner) in a much harsher lifestyle. However, we enjoy comforts of technology so we do not have to live how biological evolution forged us to live. This is posing a whole new set of problems because natural biological processes necessary to survive in the wild as hunter-gatherers are not physiologically active, or, are overactive in modern human bodies, leading to disease and death (diabetes, obesity, coronary artery disease, etc.). Cultural evolution is now playing a major role in shaping the population and will lead us to reach (or not reach) a Type I, and eventually, a Type III society on the Kardashev scale. Our goal is to use artificial selection to cure society of its problems and push past parochialism to a species that can utilize the SM to solve any problem. We hope to show every person the epistemological capabilities of the SM. Essentially the emphasis is placed in current brain power and neuroplasticity.

We have recently concluded that current leaders, along with general society, are incompetent. This is exemplified by holding conservative (unchanging) beliefs and placing time and effort into dangerous and short-sighted pursuits that have implications of ultimately damaging society (climate-change denial, war, exclusive focus on fossil fuels, nuclear weapons, localization, intolerance to valid beliefs). This has led contemporary societies to have unchanging, yet solvable problems. Change must occur for society to advance and for problem-solving to take place. Imagine if all of humankind held unchanging beliefs and were unable to mold their beliefs based on ever-changing observations and data. We would be stuck in the Dark Ages! It is clear that contemporary societies generate prevailing notions of truth from opinions and closed-mindedness rather than obtaining data and reaching valid conclusions. The SM can advance society because it is progressive to its core. It leads to conclusions being reached from evidence and the ability to change conclusions based off of current data and statistical analysis. The SM also relies on peer review. Peer review is an essential component because the same conclusions are true for everyone in regards to data leading to said conclusions. This integral peer-review component prevents data from being fabricated by individuals with special interests. Imagine where society would be if everyone was capable of utilizing the scientific method, and the only factor influencing policy and beliefs was truth (as close as we can get to it). This would be a world where astrophysicists who truly understand the devastation that can occur from nuclear weapons held nuclear launch codes, rather than a politician who has no understanding of basic nuclear principles. This would be a world where factual climate change was widely accepted and people realized mass extinctions have occurred multiple times throughout geologic history. This would be a world where every individual understood our atmosphere is forever changing, where people understand Homo sapiens are not the pinnacle of intelligence, where more money was spent on research rather than defense and war, where people were not constantly consuming carcinogenic “food” and foods contributing to obesity and disease, where someone who has a disease would be researching primary literature to try and find a cure. I have become recently concerned, because as I have been exposed to the world, I see age-old problems that should have been solved long before now, but unchanging beliefs have prevented problem-solving. The past is the present, the present is the present, and the future is the present.

I have always dreamed of creating something meaningful for society and to contribute to our species in an altruistic (or selfish, according to Dawkins) manner, minutely comparable to Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Watson, Crick, Mendel, and other great thinkers. Through my understanding of modern science, I know what we are capable of as a species (interplanetary travel, sustainable energy, life expectancy of 150+ years, curing genetic diseases, ending animal farms – to name a few achievements possible in the next 10 years). It is blatantly obvious that our advancement into the next great technological age, free of ignorance and solvable problems, is hindered due to corrupt, inept policy makers and an inept population that does not use epistemology to solve problems. This claim is most heavily supported by contemporary society’s reliance on oil, even though the data shows it contributes to climate change that can be detrimental to our species (sulfur dioxide and respiratory problems, nitrous oxides and smog, carbon dioxide and global warming). It can most literally kill us. We rely on this unsustainable product while there are many alternatives being suppressed by the hold Big Oil has on government (it was the 6th-largest lobbying industry in US from 1998 to 2016). It is utter ignorance to believe we need oil for transportation when entities are obtaining successful results using solar energy, wind energy, hydrogen energy, electric energy, and electromagnetic energy (EM Drive, Hyperloop One). I do not blame the policy makers or society for their current predicament. Man does not see things because “he himself is standing in the way: he conceals things” (Nietzsche). My posit, known as Ant Theory, is supported by Nietzsche’s quote. Ant Theory suggests that humans are not capable of comprehending or observing all of the current phenomena in the universe. Would we spend time trying to teach arithmetic to ants? No! They are clearly not capable! It is important for humans to realize this about our species and then realize what humanity is still capable of. We are not the pinnacle of life. Evolution has forged many great organisms, some of which are better than humans at tasks such as memorization or detecting sound or light. Humans today are a product of not only Darwinian evolution, but also cultural evolution based in ignorance, money, greed, and false promises. Through my pursuits, I hope only to convince you of the importance of the SM and that the failure of utilizing it results ultimately in death of our species. We are the most powerful species because of our ability to solve problems. However, we see people and politicians avoiding the SM day in and day out when they spout off incoherent claims with no evidence for support. The first part of the SM is already done for us. Everyone observes the problems plaguing society. We simply need to hypothesize why these problems occur and then experiment with different ways to solve these problems. Only by obtaining data to support conclusions and hypotheses will these problems ultimately be solved.

The cure for cancer is out there, we just need a society willing to use the scientific method to find it. We need to pursue endeavors that advance our species. It starts with education and learning how to reach valid conclusions and make decisions based on observation and analysis. I am not advocating for all of the population to study science. I am advocating for the population to use what science has given us – hypothesizing about current problems and using evidence-based reasoning in reaching conclusions about these problems. I am advocating for the importance of the scientific method in everyday life and the importance of using it to solve the world’s problems. Martine Rothblatt is a visionary whose child was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Through her resources (she held no background in biology), she was able to create a cure and save her child. Imagine allocating resources towards studying societal problems and finding solutions, towards technology, towards finding cures and placing people on Mars. We should be reaching for the longevity escape velocity, not perpetuating unnecessary issues such as war, walls, and exclusive reliance on oil, which cause a myriad of other problems. Racism was law just 60 years ago; what will society look back on 60 years from today and be ashamed of? It takes visionaries who truly believe in the capabilities of the human species to lead and show laymen what we are capable of. It takes visionaries influenced by hope and facts to make policies, which ultimately fosters the societal change required to make these advances. Human nature has led our society into many of our problems. Using the SM, we must transcend human nature and reach our true potential! The adoption of this philosophy comes with many implications I have only begun to ponder. However, if adopted, this philosophy would lead humankind into the next great age of peace, technology and creation.

Nicholas Huerta is a student at California State University – Sacramento, who is studying cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, and philosophy. Mr. Huerta can be contacted here

A Word on Implanted NFC Tags – Article by Ryan Starr

A Word on Implanted NFC Tags – Article by Ryan Starr

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Ryan Starr


TL;DR – CALM DOWN. No one is forcing you to be chipped and you can’t be tracked or hacked.

So, I’ve seen a lot of people lose their minds over a Wisconsin company, Three Square Market (32Market), implanting NFC tags in their employees. Everyone just stop and a take a deep breath. You likely have no actual understanding of what the tag is or how it works, so let me tell you. I got one last year – an xNT, the original implantable NFC tag, from the company Dangerous Things (www.dangerousthings.com). It is exactly the same as what Three Square Market is offering to their employees. I know what it is and is not capable of doing. But let’s back up for a second.

First, the company is not forcing any employee to get it. There are several companies around the world who have offered the same thing (no, they are not the first) and no one has ever been forcibly implanted. Period. EVERYONE I have come across in the biohacking community is vocal about this NOT BEING MANDATORY. It is a choice, and we want to keep it that way. Furthermore, there is a growing political movement that specifically addresses concerns about bodily autonomy and preventing implants from becoming mandatory.

Now, to the most common concerns I’ve seen:

Can your tag be tracked?

NO. It is not a GPS device or even an active piece of electronics. It is a passive chip and antenna that pulls power from the device used to read it. The tag is the size of a grain of rice, and even if we wanted to cram active electronics in there, we can’t.

Can your tag be hacked?

NO. As I said above, these are passive devices that require power from a reader. In order to do so, the reading device essentially has to be placed directly on your tag (typically implanted in the hand) and held there still for several seconds. Also, some readers don’t read very well because of antenna differences. If someone really wanted to steal your stored data, they would have to physically attack you, restrain you, and then read your tag. If that were the case, you have bigger problems than someone reading your 800 bytes of information. But in the very unlikely event that someone did try to do that to you, don’t worry, because you can password-protect your tag.

So what are they good for?

PRIVACY AND SECURITY. Yes, you read that correctly. When I first saw NFC tags being implanted, I had many of the same privacy concerns that many of you do. But then I started actually researching the technology. NFC tags (implanted or not) can be used to lock and unlock devices and are more secure than a password or a fingerprint. Of course, implanting one means you’ll never lose it, and it will never get stolen. You can unlock your android phones, unlock your doors, safes, and padlocks (with specific NFC enabled hardware), and if you’re particularly good with electronics, you can rig up many Arduino or Pi-based devices that read and respond to your tag.

There are other cool things you can do. You can store links, digital business cards, Bitcoin wallets, or just generic text. But also understand that this technology is fairly new, and associated hardware are even newer. This is ground-level development going on, and because of that we can steer the development to ensure privacy and safety for the user. There is not a greedy corporation running the industry, just passionate hobbyists who are just as concerned about privacy as you are.

If you want more information, I highly suggest just asking someone who actually has an NFC tag or visit www.dangerousthings.com.

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is the is the leader of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado and founder of the Transhumanists of the Sierras

Is Reality Winner “One of Us”? – Article by William Sims Bainbridge

Is Reality Winner “One of Us”? – Article by William Sims Bainbridge

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William Sims Bainbridge


This article originally appeared on the website of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) and is republished here with Dr. Bainbridge’s permission. 

Amidst the raging chaos in modern advanced nations, aggravated or rendered more visible by emerging technologies, an occasional individual person stands out, now notably Reality Winner.  Her Wikipedia page begins: “Reality Leigh Winner (born December 1991) is an American intelligence specialist employed by Pluribus International Corporation. Winner was arrested on June 3, 2017, on suspicion of leaking an intelligence report about Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections to the news website The Intercept. The report suggested that Russian hackers attacked a U.S. voting software supplier.”  Despite considerable journalistic attention, we cannot be sure we know exactly what Reality did, what its legal implications really are, and how her fate may be decided.  Yet today is not too early to consider the possible meaning of her remarkable story.

As soon as I learned about her arrest, I explored her Facebook page, and saw much that resonated with the humanistic values of future-oriented scholars and techno-visionaries, but soon that page vanished from public view.  Intense exploration of a host of online commentaries and information sources raised a profound general question illuminated by her specific case: Can futurists gently guide existing social institutions toward progress, within the context of conventional norms, or have we reached a grim point in history at which we must risk building a replacement for the civilization that is collapsing around us?

Reality Winner’s Facebook page was not awash in political radicalism, but presented a thoughtful person who was intensely dedicated to perfection of herself.  The five public Facebook groups to which she belonged were all real-world organizations promoting personal improvement in physical fitness.  CrossFitters of Augusta and CF 10-10 Members Group were local chapters of CrossFit, a network of organizations promoting a physical exercise philosophy advocating high-intensity training.  Another group was more specialized, GB Handstand Challenge, in which GB stands for Gymnastic Bodies.  The fourth of her public groups was vegetarian:  Vegan Recipes for Everyone.   During the brief time it was still visible, I checked Reality Winner’s Facebook page for “vegan” and saw that she used “#veganlifters” as a hashtag for an Instagram message she had posted at 6:10 AM on May 22, 2017: “Those days when you remind yourself the sacrifices you made to be here, now, every day.”  It struck me that her values seemed very similar to those of Transhumanism, seeking to attain human perfection, but through investment of personal effort and commitment to achieving difficult goals, rather than passively adopting some new technology.  Indeed, these four groups were technological, but advocating techniques that required well-disciplined human action, rather than taking some hypothetical nanotechnology vitamin pill.

The fifth group was a martial arts movement, Krav Maga Maryland, dedicated to “a military self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces (Shin Bet and Mossad).”  Wikipedia summarized the public information currently available about Reality Winner’s military career: “Winner served in the United States Air Force from 2010 to 2016, achieving the rank of senior airman with the 94th Intelligence Squadron.  She worked as a cryptologic linguist, and is fluent in Farsi, Dari and Pashto.  Winner was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal.”  Farsi is the Persian language of Iran; Dari is a dialect of Farsi spoken in Afghanistan, and Pashto is the language of a major Afghan ethnicity.  Of course, we are not able to administer college advanced placement tests to Reality Winner, given her current incarceration, but she seems to invest the same energy and dedication into intellectual development, with respect to other cultures, as she does in physical fitness.

What about her humanity?  Many news websites copied the picture Reality Winner had posted on her Facebook on May 29, showing her overlooking Mayan ruins.  The day before, she had sent via Instagram another picture from the same archaeological site, with this comment: “Carved head at Lamanai, Belize, 100bc. This has been such a spiritual journey for me.”  We may all find spiritual significance in ancient ruins, but news reports mentioned that her father had died just a few months earlier, and she posted this touching paragraph on her Facebook page:  “There is nothing that can fix the hole in my heart that you left behind. I still don’t know who I am without you here or how to keep moving forward without the one person who believed unconditionally in everything I want to do in life. Old habits die hard, I still find myself making time to call you in the evenings or jotting down notes or stories to tell you next time we speak. Somehow, though, I feel like you are a little closer, here, among the pyramids you used to endlessly tell us about, and always hoped to see. It’s like I have a little piece of you here with me. I miss you, Dad. You would have loved to be here, though I’m sure you would have been bitching about the hot weather every minute.”

There is ample room to debate what punishment, if any, Reality Winner deserves for releasing classified US government information.  Many other people are currently leaking secret government information, and we may note that prominent people like former CIA director David Petraeus do not seem to suffer much when they commit similar acts.  There is some concern that Reality Winner will be given a harsh prison sentence, not because she deserves it, but to deter others from releasing damaging information, and to express the anger of the US President.  Her family seeks help in defending her through a Facebook group, named Friends of Reality Winner, and an online fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/2d9rnm64 that has not yet reached its modest goal to hire a good lawyer.

A number of political action groups briefly used her case in their campaign against the US President, and the document she made public is directly relevant to concerns about the election outcome.  However, it may be a mistake to blame one gang of politicians for our problems, investing false hopes in a competing gang who are not any better but employ different rhetoric and tactics.  Politicizing Reality Winner’s situation may only increase the harm she may suffer.  Following her family’s request to send her good wishes and contribute to her defense would seem to be the most immediately beneficial course, yet not satisfying our long-term ethical obligation.

Can current laws be changed to provide better protection for “whistleblowers” and others who provide information to journalists, scientists, and the general public that is needed for careful decision making?  Perhaps the secrecy laws should be changed so that they are strict only during the period of a formally declared war, which has not been the case for the US since 1945.  Whether from incompetence or corruption, both major US political parties fed false information to the public in escalation of the Vietnam War and the Second Iraq War.  It is hard to know the extent to which current public debates are poisoned by the desperation felt within the dying old-fashioned news media, as the information technology revolution erodes their influence and profits.  Yet there seems good reason to believe that the general public really should not trust the government that currently holds Reality Winner captive.  We are all journalists now, in the era of Facebook, Instagram, and the IEET website, so Freedom of the Press should be defined much more broadly, now that printing presses are obsolete.

This brings us to the most difficult pair of questions: How can we design a better civilization?  How could we bring that dream to reality?  Perhaps the answers cannot be based upon a hope that somehow progress in science and technology will automatically achieve such goals.  We may need to work exceedingly hard, as Reality Winner did in her self-improvement campaigns, transcending our human limitations through directed personal effort as much as through collective technical innovation.  We will need to reinvent modem culture, which requires honestly experimenting with many alternatives, not merely marching in lockstep to a single drummer.

Information technologies are having uncertain impacts on human societies, and the case of Reality Winner raises a host of related ethical issues, while calling into question our ability to extrapolate from the past, and asking for new policies.  Oh, those are the four principal questions raised by IEET!

Yes, Reality Winner is One of Us.

William Sims Bainbridge, Ph.D. is an IEET Senior fellow, and a prolific and influential sociologist of religion, science and popular culture. Dr. Bainbridge serves as co-director of Human-Centered Computing at the NSF.