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

U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for April 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 U.S. Transhumanist Party will endeavor to open one of these general comment threads per month. This comment thread pertains to the month of April 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.

15 thoughts on “U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for April 2017

  1. Hello reader,

    First of, thank you Gennady for creating this discussion thread!

    Let me kick of with, what I think is a fairly controversial topic.
    The thought process is that in order to further development as a species, aside from improving the education system and such, a key factor, and the first point for educational development is done by parents.
    I will be completely frank here, I have witnessed some highly questionable parenting efforts in my immediate surrounding. On the other hand I have also witnessed more skilled parenting, parents with a pedagogic background.

    What will be our stance on parenting, and having children? Do we place the right of the child over the right to parent?
    Do we encourage efforts to educate people, for example high schoolers, on the tremendous responsibility that befalls parents?
    Do we encourage efforts for people to seek pedagogic education by themselves (perhaps through a subsidy for example), before during or after pregnancy, or do we perhaps even encourage it to be incorporated into high school, or college education?

    I mentioned high school, not because I’m a proponent of teens becoming parents per se, but rather because the number of teen pregnancies in the US is the highest in any Western nation.

    Something else we might wish to consider is the definition of ‘parent’ to include a baby born through an entirely artificial means, perhaps without even directly sharing DNA with the parent. Another option would be to redefine ‘surrogate mother’ to include artificial wombs.

    Thanks for reading, and hope we can have a constructive discussion.

    1. While it’s true that parents contribute a great deal to a child’s education, the onus should be on schools to provide all necessary resources and opportunities for a child to have a safe, effective learning environment. After all, despite its potential for effective utility, government control of schools in the United States is already a tenuous subject among American citizens. I don’t think it would be feasible, let alone well-received, to try to apply a similar program to parents.

      1. I agree with your statements. Regarding stimulating, I was more thinking along the lines informing, perhaps in a way similar to ‘Only you can prevent forest fires’. Mandating or forcing is out of the question, and even incentivizing in any form will be met with resistance I believe. I actually think that this is such intervention is something we should oppose. The idea of incorporation some form of pedagogy or informing students on parenting was to provide them some knowledge before they might become parents.
        I also agree that efficiency of government bodies, including education should be tremendously improved. Despite many of us probably not being experts on the working of bureaucracy and the complexities that come with it, I think it would at the very least be a good thought experiment to exchange ideas on how we may view increased efficiency.

        1. That makes more sense, yes. I may have initially misunderstood your original statement: I had thought that you wanted to prioritize the education of children from their parents rather than from formal academic institutions. Education of youth prior to, and in preparation for, their lives as parents would certainly be optimal.

          Regarding efficiency, I must disclose my lack of expertise on the structure and study of education. However, as a participant in the contemporary American education system, I can say that the following should be reformed and improved:

          1. A new public education model emphasizing growth over proficiency. These terms are used in the field of education to refer to the relative amount of improvement that each student undergoes during their academic career versus their ability to conform to a preconceived standard (e.g. grades, standardized tests, etc.).

          2. A periodically, perhaps annually, revised curriculum focusing on which subjects are most helpful to people in the workplace. The base categories, e.g. quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, verbal and nonverbal communication, etc. would remain the same, but trigonometry and calculus, for instance, would be replaced with data analysis and finance to better prepare students for the working world.

          3. Embracing increased use of technology in schools. While current education technology has frequently been criticized and is occasionally hazardous to the well-being of students, increasingly state-of-the-art technologies could turn this perception on its head. If students were fitted with cranial chips that allowed them to download information directly into their brains, with an intranet connection rather than an open Internet connection to prevent hacking, they would be able to use their brains for other things, such as social skills and friendship–vital skills that are not and often cannot be taught in schools but may be gained intuitively. Moreover, it’s been documented that impairment of social skills of American children is increasing annually.

          1. My apologies that my previous comment didn’t make that clear. You phrased it really well with “Education of youth prior to, and in preparation for, their lives as parents would certainly be optimal.” Hopefully this would lead to a generation of parents that would have more knowledge of raising a child, which in turn would benefit the child.

            To respond to your points:
            1: I agree with this basic idea that there should be more focus on progress than grades. I do think that there will be some form of standardization though so that everyone has a set of knowledge roughly equal based on curricula of universities. A problem I could see is that the standards would gradually be lowered to suit the lowest common denominator.

            2: Yes, and no. I agree that Curricula should be adapted, as soon as possible to be useful for students after they leave school. Currently that is impossible due to the slow paced change of crawling educational monoliths. In the future, even after making the educational system more nimble, it would become increasingly difficult due to the increased pace of change, technology is the most common example. What I see happening, is that universities will focus more on basic skill-sets such as: critical thinking, basic math, reasoning, etc..and offer languages. Most other things will either become more specialized fields, or be more in line with a Coursera or EdEx type model, and possibly combined with working in the field of study.

            3: This is something the U.S. Transhumanist Party already supports. I’m in favor of utilizing such technologies too. The main concerns here will most likely be ethical and societal. Will it initially be considered cheating? What if poor people can’t afford it, which would leave them at even more of a disadvantage? What if a person takes an action based on something ‘learned’ but this implant was malfunctioning, who’s fault will it be? (it’s a bit like the DNA-did-it argument that we now face).
            The declining social skills could be an issue, but maybe they are merely changing in a form that we aren’t used to seeing. Social norms and interactions change all the time, the increasing speed of innovations combined with increased interconnectedness may simply be making it more visible.

  2. Hello Reader,

    I’ve been working on an idea for a Party Code of Conduct. I fully understand that this is not complete, nor perfect. There might also be parts that would better be suited within a set of Party rules, or perhaps as planks. I hope by reading this draft idea it becomes clear that at this point I have mainly focused on ensuring and maintaining integrity. I have no reason to believe this to be at odds at anytime, but I reasoned that, aside from being a good to fall back on that it could also serve to showcase to the public that we attempt to improve based on criticisms made, mainly towards the more established parties. I would love to hear, and possibly debate and discuss comments and criticism.
    One last thing, I’m not a lawyer, but did my best to write as thorough and comprehensive as possible. Maybe there are also some redundancies to be resolved.

    U.S. Transhumanist Party Code of Conduct (CoC)

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party shall not engage, or participate in unlawful or criminal activity.

    The U.S. Transhumanist shall not interpret its Code of Conduct or parts thereof in such a manner that would, to a reasonable layman be considered a perversion of the intent of the CoC, including lawyering interpretations of the CoC to circumvent its intended meaning or function.
    Any serious doubt or disagreement regarding the interpretation or parts thereof shall be discussed at the nearest available party meeting. The different interpretations shall be elaborated upon and written down, followed by presenting party member a ballot vote with the different interpretations. The preferred ballot type would be a stacked tally vote (the preference 1 – some number)

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party shall not accept donations from, or participate in favor exchange with private companies, corporations, or a Super-PAC.

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party shall not accept support, including donations from individuals in exchange for favors, such as positions within the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
    This is to ensure the integrity of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s positions, and prevent accusations of being beholden to third party wishes.

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party shall not engage in actions towards politicians, or political candidates reasonably considered to be ‘smear campaigns’. The U.S. Transhumanist Party may, as it wishes, respond with thoughtful communication, based on information available, and acknowledge when gaps of information exist to make definitive statements. The U.S. Transhumanist Party stands for reason, and as such ought to act accordingly.

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party shall not participate, support, endorse, or facilitate any person engaging in violence, threats, intentionally preventing people of a different political view from peacefully assembling, attempt to silence others opinions [possible additions needed] claiming to be a member of, act on behalf of, or in accordance with the U.S. Transhumanist Party. The U.S. Transhumanist Party will distance itself from such individuals, and condemn such actions of irrational behavior.

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party shall lead by example regarding its view on reasoned, rational, constructive, and critical thought, action, and debate. The U.S. Transhumanist Party shall positively acknowledge others regardless of their political position, that engage in reasoned etc. thought, action, and debate.

    If you’ve made it all the way down, thank you very much for your patience and interest.

    Kind regards,
    Martin

    1. Two more proposals for the USTP CoC:

      The U.S. Transhumanist Party shall not dismiss or disregard ideas based on a potential or assumed affiliation with an ideology or religion, but consider ideas based on the merits of the arguments made.

      The U.S. Transhumanist Party envisions that technological innovations and medical advancement are likely to happen at an increasingly accelerated rate regardless of any influence by the U.S. Transhumanist Party. The U.S. Transhumanist Party, however, does not hold ideological constraints limiting the openness to possibilities, and will labor to prevent falling into an ideological trap.

    2. Greetings, Mr. van der Kroon.

      Thank you for your suggestions. These are the kinds of ideas we will consider in voting on a governance structure, once we have established a reasonably stable Platform and have achieved additional membership growth to begin thinking about Officer elections (that is, once the membership becomes sufficiently large that it can be considered reasonably representative of the broader transhumanist/life-extensionist/futurist/techno-positive communities – probably a threshold of around 10,000 individuals). I may, however, consider a modified version of your suggestions as a less formal statement of intent or set of guiding principles that I could express in the coming weeks regarding my view of the intended conduct of the Transhumanist Party during the Transitional Period. This would be less “set in stone” than a formal Code of Conduct – the latter of which makes more sense if there is a vast membership and an elected Officer group which needs to receive a set of guidelines in advance. In the meantime, however, we can always aspire to behave ethically, civilly, and rationally, and to articulate the same.

      In the meantime, the ideas you have articulated in your proposed Code of Conduct are largely followed today, with the exception that the Transhumanist Party does not hold party meetings (since we believe in location-independent decision-making that is also more open-ended in terms of the time taken to make decisions – hence our multi-day exposure periods and voting periods, which enable members to participate at their convenience).

      The U.S. Transhumanist Party is currently a non-monetary organization, so we do not accept donations as an organization from any entity – thus the concern about improper influence through donations is addressed at present (until and unless we develop an infrastructure to accept donations – but that would not occur for the foreseeable future).

      The U.S. Transhumanist Party seeks to be civil in its conduct and thus seeks to avoid “smear campaigns” as a matter of course. It is important, however, to preserve the ability to criticize a particular politician, agenda, movement, or set of proposals – and I would seek for any such statement regarding “smear campaigns” to also include a strong endorsement of freedom of speech and freedom to criticize. I agree that it would be best done civilly and rationally, with recourse to evidence and willingness to acknowledge any merits of the side / person / position that is the subject of criticism. It is best to avoid engaging in “flame wars”, tribal politics, ad hominem attacks, or political witch hunts. The key issue is how to express this without suppressing legitimate debate, dissent, and disagreement (including passionate disagreement, where justified) with existing political figures.

      The U.S. Transhumanist Party already formally disavows violent action via Article I, Section III, Operating Principle 2, which is considered an immutable portion of our Constitution and which states, “The Transhumanist Party renounces all violence, except in self-defense against a clear, immediate act of physical aggression. In particular, the Transhumanist Party holds that violent political activism is never permissible or just. The Transhumanist Party commits to always pursuing its goals in a civil, law-abiding manner, respecting the legitimate rights of all persons. The Transhumanist Party shall not condone and shall necessarily and automatically disavow all violent criminal acts. Any person who commits a violent criminal act is automatically disassociated from the Transhumanist Party in all respects until and unless that person has made appropriate restitution or has fully undergone the appropriate penalties pursuant to applicable law. However, this commitment to exclusively peaceful action does not preclude the Transhumanist Party from criticizing any ideas or behavior which are contrary to reason, morality, common sense, or the principles and objectives of the Transhumanist Party Core Ideals and Platform.”

      Regarding the last three statements you articulated, I agree with you in principle and will likely express them as consistent with my own intentions (probably with a few wording tweaks and elaborations, but substantively consistent with what you wrote).

      Thank you again. You should see an announcement from me in relation to these ideas sometime during the month of May.

      Sincerely,
      Gennady Stolyarov II,
      Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

  3. An entirely different matter.
    On the U.S. Transhumanist Party Facebook Page someone asked how soon we would be able to be on the ballot of all 50 States, and if we could do it within 20 years like the Libertarian Party. In prior times this could have been a normal time frame, but I think now this would be way too long, given the increasing pace of change and innovation.

    How can we increase awareness of our existence as a Party?
    Is there a demographic that might be most interested like college students?
    Are there prominent people such as; artists, musicians, politicians, or visionaries that would be willing to publicly support or endorse us? Of course this should come from their belief that we have good ideas and such.

    Just as our ideas on policy look towards the future, so should we look towards the future on how to get the Party on every Ballot.

    I’d love to hear ideas, comments, suggestions?

    1. Greetings, Mr. van der Kroon. I have reposted this comment of yours on the General Discussion Thread for May 2017 in hopes of attracting more attention from other members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. It can be found at http://transhumanist-party.org/2017/05/01/5-2017-general-discussion/#comment-786.

      I may provide input of my own in the coming days, but I am also particularly interested in what ideas others may come up with.

      Sincerely,
      Gennady Stolyarov II,
      Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

  4. A few other Plank proposals:

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports efforts to have bills proposed without unrelated sub-sections or provisions. This would accomplish three things namely; simplifying a bill making it more accessible and less convoluted, a focused vote for or against a bill without the possibility of having to accept or reject a provision, and lastly prevent an unrelated provision being buried within a bill as a possible tactic to have it passed.
    (Not necessarily to be added in a Plank proposal: Among the more famous example is: H.R. 933, a continuing resolution spending bill, has on page 78 within the bill a provision that protects biotech corporations from litigation.)
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-protection-act-signed-by-obama-gmo-bill-written-by-monsanto-signed-into-law/5329388

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports efforts to limit protectionism, and subsidizing of an industry or group of companies. The exception to this would be that of extenuating circumstances such as natural disasters or catastrophes, in which case a limited window of support could be approved. The U.S. Transhumanist Party understands that in a free market society, private businesses ought to adapt to market changes above being shielded from such changes to continue their existence.

    The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports efforts to increase autonomy of individuals to decide over their own bodies, including gender reassignment, hysterectomies, vasectomies, technological augmentation, cosmetic alterations, genetic enhancements, and physical supplementation at the age of 18 years, as long as this does not create health hazards or threats to other individuals.

    1. To the last plank proposal regarding autonomy, I would like to add ‘and decide on the continuation of one’s own life’. This in particular in the possible future of having, by current standards, extremely long lives or perhaps even immortality. I envision that a side effect will be better guidance for those considering suicide/euthanasia which gives an opportunity to have it better thought through and a possible conversation, but also for people who are in extreme pain or are terminally ill.

      1. Greetings, Mr. van der Kroon.

        This could be a modular option to be considered by members in voting on its own terms. I think there would be some differences in perspective on this one (whereas the recognition of other practices you listed would follow rather straightforwardly from the principle of morphological freedom).

        With regard to my own views, while I do not believe that suicide should be criminalized, my major concern with legalizing any kind of assisted suicide is that this would create a special-interest lobby of practitioners with an incentive to “steer” people toward life-ending choices, including through legislation that might favor such “choices” in not-quite-voluntary situations. One component of discussion on this issue should be what safeguards can prevent such an outcome from arising. Another component should be that – even if assisted suicide is an option (and voluntary refusal of medical care would also always remain an option, as it is today) – then we should consider what cultural changes we can favor to encourage people to freely choose more life over death. That is, if people are recognized as having this autonomy, we should still be interested in them deciding to preserve their irreplaceable lives instead of hastening their end.

        Sincerely,
        Gennady Stolyarov II,
        Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

        1. I completely agree with your views. I envisioned that in the future when we have near immortality, someone might simply be tired after 400 years or so. Which is actually another interesting thought; we have no idea how such ages might psychologically affect us.
          I also believe that there should be safe guards in place to prevent ‘less voluntary’ assisted suicides. To a degree we already proposed some safeguards in Ballot #4 regarding the possibilities of influence on the government by external parties.
          Indeed, we should not encourage people to die, that is ludicrous, and in fact I too think that we should attempt to help people however we can, and offer them any possible support we can.

    2. Greetings, Mr. van der Kroon.

      The U.S. Transhumanist Party will include all of these Platform proposals in its Platform Exposure Period #5, to be initiated in mid-May.

      Sincerely,
      Gennady Stolyarov II,
      Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

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