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

U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for July 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 July 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.

24 thoughts on “U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for July 2017

  1. Do you think , that the rule of money and private ownership is sustainable ?? Can we create a humanitarian ( or good ) world while money and private ownership have an overwhelming force above everything ?? At the same time , can we secure a good world by absolute pacifism and without any military force ??

  2. I’ve thought long and hard on this plank proposal. I know that many US citizens value the second amendment a lot, and as such are weary of any infringement on their ability to bear arms, much more than I understand this desire.

    Hence, I felt that the challenge was to craft a means to improve safety, and control of firearm ownership for the owner of said firearm, with the possibility to provide the means for law enforcement to find stolen firearms with permission from the owner, while maintaining privacy for the owner of the firearm when it is not lost or stolen.

    The following Plank Proposal is threefold;
    The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports efforts to mandate that new firearms will be produced with an embedded registration chip, as well as the registration number engraved in the firearm. The chip would have a registration number, a ‘trace online’ code, and a ‘lost or stolen’ code. The firearm would be accompanied by a physical and digital certificate of ownership with registration number, the ‘trace online’ number and the ‘lost or stolen’ number. The embedded chip would make it much harder to make the firearm untraceable. Of course the number and codes would have to be unique identifiers.

    When a firearm would be lost or stolen, the owner of the firearm and holder of the certificate would report the firearm to the authorities as lost or stolen using the ‘lost or stolen’ number. The intent of having a separate reporting number is to ensure that in the event that a firearm is stolen or taken without consent that the offender cannot report the firearm as stolen, or as found again. When a firearm owner suspects the firearm is simply mislocated, for example in the car or in the house, or perhaps taken by a family member, the owner could trace the firearm online via GPS on an online map (something like Google Maps for example) using the ‘trace online’ code. The ‘trace online’ code would never be revealed to law enforcement.

    Law enforcement would have a device that can confirm the registration number of a firearm in close proximity, similar to contactless payments. On the other hand the detection range would be greater when a firearm has been reported lost or stolen by the owner of the firearm in question with the ‘lost and stolen’ number. A firearm that would not have been reported lost or stolen to law enforcement by the owner of the firearm with the ‘lost or stolen’ number would not be traceable from a greater distance by law enforcement.

    This would ensure the privacy, safety, and peace of mind of firearm owners who might otherwise feel law enforcement would trace firearms without legal justification. While at the same time decreasing the possibility of stolen firearms never to be found, and possibly ending in the hands of people with ill intent.

    Context; From the perspective that a firearm is an item produced, and to be used with the purpose to threaten or intent to damage objects or living beings, specifically with the possibility to inflict such damage well outside of arms-length of a person’s immediate vicinity. In this sense firearms differentiate from, for example, knives or brass-knuckles where a person has to be in close proximity to the object or person to threaten, damage or harm, and as a result, in case of a living being, the possibility to evade or get out of harm’s way is much more likely. As such nearly every object has the potential to inflict damage or do harm, but is not intended as such.
    For example; A stolen TV will most likely end being used to watch television, while a stolen firearm is much more likely to be used to threaten, inflict damage, or harm.
    Over time, as this would take years and possibly decades, the number of stolen firearms used in crimes, as less would be in circulation, would decrease.

    1. Perhaps a more abstract version would be;
      The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports efforts to improve accountability and trackability by firearm owners of their firearms, and the possibility to report missing firearms to law enforcement in a manner that provides them the option for limited tracking.

    2. I would be incredibly hesitant to promote the idea of tracking anything. Tracking an item is just another way to track a person, an invasion of our 4th Amendment rights. It’s easy to abuse and create circumstances for favoritism or harassment.

      1. This is exactly why I wrote the extensive idea which would keep the ‘tracking’ in hands of the owner of the firearm. The RFID/ contactless check would mean a scanning device would basically have to touch a firearm to work. The ‘online trace’ option would be the akin to what we can do with smartphones. Does that make sense?

        1. I understand the rfid part (that’s why I’m not afraid of big brother reading the one in my hand). But any effort to use an online system for tracking can and will be abused, hacked, or loopholed. I also see the desire for future legislators to amend that language to allow tracking.

          Sorry, but I see this as the first drop of a very dangerous waterfall.

          1. I understand the fear of future legislation amending an idea such as this. We should however be aware of fearing a slippery slope, as that argument can effectively block any attempt to improve or innovate. I do however understand that we ought to take care when implementing any perceived improvements.

            As for hacking, this is possible with nearly everything, yet most of us utilize a great many online services (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, to name a few) some of which we are totally comfortable with to give location information.

            We should also not underestimate the resistance to any addition to laws pertaining to firearms. As well as the historic resistance against any direct tracking by the government in the US. This is for example why the SSN is different from a passport ID number, which now in many European countries is the same thing.

            To be clear, I’m totally in favor of people being responsible for themselves, and the vast majority of firearm owners are law abiding citizens. Unfortunately it is fairly undeniable that the number of homicides in the US where a firearm was involved is higher than the total number of homicides in the EU, whereas the population of the EU is nearly double that of the US. (I’ll post the statistics a bit later, I’m on mobile right now). However, as mentioned before, I know the second amendment is dear to many Americans, and as such my reasoning was that if we can start to take stolen firearms out the equation it becomes much clearer what we end up with…

    3. Hi Martin,

      I actually have my own reservations on this idea, despite the fact that I’ve been a long-time advocate of either reforming or altogether abolishing the second amendment. Witnessing the emergence of certain technologies, I’ve since begun re-looking at my own position on this particular topic.

      I’d actually written a semi-lengthy post about this on Facebook, of which I’d like to share below and get your thoughts on it:

      Let’s talk about the Second Amendment right quick. Most right-wing conservatives, and a tiny minority of left-wing liberals, have been die-hard advocates for what the Second Amendment is supposed to represent – that is, to allow the everyday citizen to foment revolution against a perceived tyrannical government.

      The problem, however, is in just how vague such an idealistic construct really is. What is tyranny? Depending on who you ask, the answer to that question may be radically different from another’s. Like beauty, our understanding of tyranny is really in the eye of the beholder.

      To someone who is left-wing, tyranny could be a government that takes away women’s reproductive rights; tyranny could be a government that makes it nearly impossible for people of color and low economic status from being able to vote. To someone who is right-wing, however, tyranny could be a government that tries limiting one’s access to certain weapons and ammunition; tyranny could be a government that forces their citizens to pay a small portion in taxes to help pay for medical healthcare for all.

      Therein lies the problem with the Second Amendment. It does not provide an actual definition of what is to be considered tyranny. And thus leaves it to the imagination of its citizenry – the very people of which the Second Amendment allows to become armed and violent under the vague justification of what they perceive to be tyranny.

      However, there’s nothing we can really do about it now. As much as I’d want to abolish the Second Amendment, in the 21st century, the Second Amendment has become cemented and solidified via the emergence of additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing).

      Before 3D printing made its way into the consumer mainstream, abolishing the Second Amendment could’ve been easily achieved. Guns and ammunition would instead be exchanged via the black market at a price so high that the vast majority of people wouldn’t be able to afford them. And yet, with 3D printing, gun manufacturing and sales have now entered the same realm as that of film and music exchange via torrents. One’s access to guns is now simply one click away.

      And when it comes to ammunition, well, that all depends on how you define “ammunition.” The power of 3D printing has opened up a whole new mode of “imagination engineering.” The world of tomorrow’s weapons and ammunition are going to be radically different from what we consider weapons and ammunition today.

      This is the age we live in now. It doesn’t matter whether today’s extremist was left-wing or right-wing; it doesn’t matter if it was simply one man with a gun. Tomorrow’s extremist(s), whether they be left-wing or right-wing, will have highly specialized access and understanding of the Internet; tomorrow’s extremist(s) will have highly specialized access and understanding of 3D printers; tomorrow’s extremist(s) will have highly specialized access and understanding of drones.

      Yes, today’s extremist was merely one man with a gun. But tomorrow’s will be able to print their guns in the same way we download music today; they’ll use drones to drop DIY bombs from our airspace, and they’ll use the Internet to gain access to our vulnerable power grid and collapse our entire socio-economic foundation at the single stroke of a keyboard.

      1. That is a very interesting perspective to take into account, and one I previously hadn’t considered!

        On part of the vague definition of ‘tyrannical’; This, I think is something we can’t do much about from a regulatory standpoint, for example defining what is and isn’t tyrannical, as this would be exactly what people, including myself, fear and have a lot more harmful potential to be abused, or otherwise said to have a slippery slope effect. I think, but would like to know, that Ryan would agree on this.

        On this same topic there are two things that can help alleviate people’s sense that they need guns. One; making government more accountable and trustworthy to work for, and in the best interest of people, and second to lower the feeling that one needs guns to defend against ‘criminals’, however that may take shape.

        The 3D printing part of your article is very interesting, and made me wonder; Does a US citizen have the right to create arms (without some form of licence)?

        In any case, I think we should work on creating a plank regarding what our position might be on 3D printing of weapons (firearms, etc.). As this is not widespread yet, but could well be, we should think about this (since no one else really does it in politics).
        Some aspects we might consider; the safety of 3D printed firearms. Regular firearms undergo extensive testing.
        Can a 3D printed firearm be legal if it doesn’t have a serial number?
        In States when a firearm licence is required, is one required for owning a 3D printed firearm?

        On a different note; I think ultimately, the issue of firearm incidents in the US does, in many cases lie with mental health, but in a much broader sense than what is usually referred to, namely overall societal stress, with common people having many worries regarding how to pay the bills, debt, if they can get medical treatment without instantly going broke, Strenuous work weeks, and if they can provide for education for their children without putting them in crippling debt.

        1. The thing about it for me is that, even if we were to take on a stance where, say, we’d oppose the illegal manufacturing of weapons without serial codes and other regulatory standards, so what? That would be akin to us taking a stance against pirated music and films today.

          It doesn’t really matter if it’s legal or not; it’s still going to happen, whether we like it or not. That’s the power of a proliferated, open-source Internet.

          1. That is a sound sentiment. I do think that a self-produced firearm is fundamentally different thing than a copied song or movie.
            I do however understand that it will be near-impossible to control self-made firearms.
            May we agree that based on the number of incidents involving firearms resulting in death, that we should, at the very least think of how we may reduce such incidents. This especially considering that the U.S. Transhumanist Party values life, and life-extension.
            So in that case my question would be; In what way can we stimulate the reduction of homicides in general, and in particular with firearms, without involving ‘weapons’ by themselves?

          2. I think we already have that answer. Fact of the matter is, we’ve been witnessing a steady decline in gun-related violence and deaths over the last couple of decades, despite an increase in gun purchase and sales.

            At least, that’s what this Pew report said a couple of years ago: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/21/gun-homicides-steady-after-decline-in-90s-suicide-rate-edges-up/

            Which raises multiple questions:

            1. Are we still seeing a steady decline in gun-related violence since 2015? and
            2. What is the reason for why many people believe gun violence is higher than ever when the data says otherwise?

            I’m not sure what the answer is for #1, but to answer #2, I’d argue this is due to another exponentially-growing technology that is at everyone’s disposal – online mass media.

            Whether it’s independent or state-funded news organizations across the world, DIY YouTube reports, social media, etc., people today have greater access to the world’s information and daily (minute by minute) news that our perception of violent crime has dramatically increased, despite the fact that violent crime in and of itself has decreased.

  3. Per the discussion on last month’s thread, I think we need to add/amend language to section LIX. A civilian organization outside of the justice system must be the investigating authority in matters of negligence/malpractice/abuse/crime by police officers, district attorneys, and judges. This will help prevent “blue culture” favoritism, which stretches beyond jurisdictions.

  4. The US Transhumanist Party is a forward thinking organization dedicated to expanding civil and human rights. As such we need to develop a mechanism to ensure that even the poorest and marginalized people in our country have full access to our justice system regardless of their ability to pay. I recommend policy language that creates supports a PUBLIC CIVIL RIGHTS PROSECUTOR.

    Our current justice system is flawed. Only people with substantial wealth can afford lawyers to take legal action against those who attack a person’s rights. While there are organizations like the ACLU who offer help for some cases, their ability to do so is severely limited and typically non-existent in the lower courts. A public rights prosecutors office will help guarantee that, no matter who you are or the position of the offending party, your rights cannot be assailed without consequence.

    1. I agree that we should ensure that everyone can defend themselves, for example against corporate abuse or something else.

      In case of corporate missteps, the EU has a specific department of consumer protection, where citizens can report missteps, and this department in can take action. This would of course be in cases of systemic issues.
      By the way I do not agree with the way they operate at this moment.

      Perhaps we could also look at the reason for the many lawsuits in the U.S. as opposed to other western countries. Why do people need to file a lawsuit against others, whether individuals or corporations?

      What do you think?

  5. As transhumanists, we need to lower spending from the Department of Defense/military, which amounts to over $680 billion per year. The level of unchecked wastefulness is likely very high. This would free up money for more important goals, such as curing disease, which collectively kills way more people than military conflict or war by an exponential degree.

    We need to commit to bold medical research moonshot programs, such as the Human Genome Project, the “All of Us” campaign, or the Cell Atlas (this one largely funded by Zuckerberg-Chan), which take broad steps to fundamentally alter the paradigm of medical treatment and cure modalities. To create a world of universal fairness, unfair circumstances, such as being born with a terminal illness, must be eradicated. The only way to change everyone’s Deathist perspective is to make death a rare event. We do this by curing all diseases.

    1. Thank you for your comment and support. We fully agree with you that the military industrial complex could be made less costly
      We do have something to this extent regarding reducing military spending in the U.S. Transhumanist Constitution under Section Section XXXV, and more specifically point 2.

      Under Section V we state: “The United States Transhumanist Party supports concerted research in effort to eradicate disease and illness that wreak havoc upon and cause death of sapient beings. We strongly advocate the increase and redirection of research funds to conduct research and experiments and to explore life, science, technology, medicine, and extraterrestrial realms to improve all sentient entities.”

      We also support nuclear disarmament (which also costs a solid amount to maintain) under section IV
      http://transhumanist-party.org/constitution/#Article3

      Does this sufficiently address your concerns?
      If you wish to suggest a proposal more directly targeted towards lowering expenditure of the military, we welcome your input.

      Kind regards,

      Martin van der Kroon
      Director of Recruitment for the U.S. Transhumanist Party

  6. The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports efforts to hold institutions, corporations, and states accountable for usage of federal money with a specific intended purpose. When an entity has been granted any form of funding with a specifically intended purpose, such as disaster relief or specific educational funds, and these funds are misappropriated or used for other purposes well outside of the scope of what it was intended for, the entity in question ought to restitute the made available funding.

    1. I agree… for the most part.
      Viewing this from a public interest point, there is an argument to be made for such usage of data from medical devices.
      This particular case however, I think holds no value regarding public interest. The request for the data here is purely for an insurance case.
      I could envision the value of such data if people had been harmed, think murder, rape, mutilation (for example with arson). Here we could argue that it serves the public interest, especially if the person is thought to likely repeat such offenses/ crimes.
      I think it is a complex question on whether it is ‘self-incrimination’ or not. I also think I’m not well-versed enough in constitutional law to argue for or against.
      On part of using data from bodily devices such as pacemakers a.o., I think there should be something along the lines of an ethics committee (I imagine staffed by ethicists) that deals with such requests for data. This would weigh the individual privacy vs. public interest type questions. In case of murder for example, they would have to answer the hard question; ‘How many lives is one person’s individual rights worth?’

      What do you think?

      1. I still hold that 100% privacy is appropriate for this. On the topic of self incrimination, I think that it’s your body creating such data and it’s stored involuntarily, much like the human brain. I wrote an article on this topic at the very start of the site.

      2. I still think that data should be 100% private. For self incrimination… It’s involuntarily created and stored just like any bodily process, but instead of storing it in the brain, it’s stored in the implant. I doubt the man had much of a choice when he got the pacemaker. I posted an article at the very beginning of the website that would address my thoughts more clearly. As we merge our physical selves with our “digital self” we must extend all privacy rights to that digital self.

  7. This is more for relating an idea than discussion. But I recently started using the Replika AI/chat bot and I’ve started to input documents from the party. It might be worth while for those who have accounts to share articles/opinions from here to their replika. Just a geeky thought.

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