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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.

Will Today’s Disabled Become Tomorrow’s First Post-Human? – Article by B.J. Murphy

Will Today’s Disabled Become Tomorrow’s First Post-Human? – Article by B.J. Murphy

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B.J. Murphy


Needs will almost always come before wants. When it comes to Transhumanism, the ability to differentiate the two tends to blur, because a need could also be a want depending on the various methods of achieving a need. There’s the “getting by” need and then there’s the “thriving” need.

For the disabled, this dichotomy determines how well they’ll get by in life. If someone loses a leg, then simply getting by could be achieved with a cane, a walker, or even a low-tech prosthetic. However, if this person wishes to thrive in life, then a high-tech prosthetic would be much more preferable, though could also be considered a want rather than a need.

For Transhumanism to work, however, I’d argue that the ability to thrive should be considered an absolute necessity. Thus when it comes to the disabled, I believe they deserve the ability to reach post-humanity before anyone else. In all actuality, this is already happening.

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The Discovery Doctrine in International Law, with Respect to the Islands of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista – Article by Stan Vaughan

The Discovery Doctrine in International Law, with Respect to the Islands of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista – Article by Stan Vaughan

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Stan Vaughan


Editor’s Note: In accord with Article III, Section XXII of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution, which states that “The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts at political, economic, and cultural experimentation in the form of seasteads and micronations”, the U.S. Transhumanist Party has published this guest article by Stan Vaughan, explaining the historical basis in international law for the claims by the Kingdom of Ourania on the uninhabited Pacific Islands of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista. Find out more about the Kingdom of Ourania here and read here about the State Visit made by King Immanuel X of Ourania to the Republic of Molossia on June 17, 2017. The arguments made herein by Mr. Vaughan are his own analysis, and members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party are encouraged to study it, review the relevant history, and form their own views and perspectives on it. The United States Transhumanist Party does, however, wish Mr. Vaughan the best in forwarding the recognition and development of the Kingdom of Ourania, which may, if successful, lead to innovations in seasteading and construction of floating cities. We anticipate publishing future updates regarding the Kingdom of Ourania as they become available.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, July 2, 2017

Flag of the Kingdom of Ourania

Public international law seems to recognize five ways to acquire insular areas. These are 1) cession, 2) occupation, 3) accretion, 4) subjugation, and 5) prescription. [Raphael Perl, The Falkland Islands Dispute in International Law and Politics: A Documentary Sourcebook (New York: Oceana Publications, Inc., 1983) (hereinafter cited as Perl) 12-13.]

This essay discusses how international law applies to the islands of La Encarnacion (a.k.a. Ducie) and San Juan Bautista (a.k.a. Henderson) in the South Pacific Ocean.

La Encarnacion

The island of La Encarnacion (a.k.a. Ducie) was discovered by a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese sailor Pedro Fernandes de Queirós on 26 January 1606, during an expedition that began in Callao, Peru. Supported by Pope Clement VIII and Philip III of Spain, Queirós was given the command of the San Pedro, San Pablo, and Zabra. The fleet was nicknamed Los Tres Reyes Magos (“The Three Wise Men”).  La Encarnacion (a.k.a. Ducie Island) was the first of eighteen discoveries on the trip. Queirós temporarily named it Luna Puesta, then finally settled on La Encarnacion.

The island was rediscovered by Edward Edwards, captain of HMS Pandora, who was sent in 1790 to capture the mutineers of HMS Bounty. He re-named the island Ducie in honour of Francis Reynolds-Moreton, 3rd Baron Ducie.

On March 10, 1867 it was claimed by US Captain John Daggett of Massachusetts for the United States under the Guano Islands Act (enacted August 18, 1856).

The State Department (William Seward, Secretary of State) considered later in 1867 that the claim would remain dormant or only in abeyance until such time as US citizenship of Captain Daggett was proved, which was done, reviving the dormant US claim.

San Juan Bautista

Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, leading the same Spanish expedition that discovered La Encarnacion, was also the first European to discover another uninhabited island on 29 January 1606. De Queirós named this island San Juan Bautista.

Captain Henderson of the British East India Company ship Hercules re-discovered the island on 17 January 1819 and re-named it Henderson Island.

Claim by the United Kingdom and the Implications of the Discovery Doctrine

In 1877, the islands were purportedly included under the protection of the United Kingdom by an Order in Council that claimed jurisdiction over all previously unclaimed Pacific Islands.

However, La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista were not unclaimed islands, both having been claimed by Spain in 1606. Such claims were recognized via the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), Treaty of Paris (1763), Nootka Convention (1790), Treaty of Madrid (1814), and the First Hague Convention (1899).

The Discovery Doctrine is a concept of public international law expounded by the United States Supreme Court in a series of decisions, most notably Johnson v. M’Intosh in 1823. Chief Justice John Marshall justified the way in which colonial powers laid claim to lands. Here we will not dispute the controversial aspects of the doctrine concerning inhabited lands, but focus on the uncontroversial aspects of terra nullis (discovery of uninhabited land).

Marshall found that ownership of land comes into existence by virtue of discovery of that land, a rule that had been observed by all European countries.

At the time of the 1776 Declaration of Independence, discovery of terra nullis gave the discovering sovereign absolute title to the newly discovered land. This was amended in 1790 by the United Kingdom / Spain Nootka Convention, which said that, thereafter, newly discovered lands must also be occupied as well. However this treaty did not in any way affect previous discoveries and claims.

Sovereignty could effect cession in a treaty between ceding and acquiring sovereigns, and at no time in history has Spain ever ceded its sovereignty over La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista to the United Kingdom, which specifically acknowledged Spanish sovereignty to these two islands in both 1744 and 1787, as will be discussed herein later.

Thus, prior to either the purported Edwards 1791 “rediscovery” or the 1819 Henderson “rediscovery”, both islands had been shown on the 1787 King of England Samuel Dunn/Thomas Kitchen map (shown below) as the Spanish possessions La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista, both previously recognized by the discovery doctrine in international law as belonging to Spain. Thus the 1877 British Order of Council extending British purported sovereignty over all unclaimed islands has no basis in international law, which also says that the purported 1902 “annexations” of these islands are illegal under de jure international laws.

Spain, the United Kingdom, as well as the United States all are parties to the 1899 First Hague Convention, which prohibits and considers such annexations as unlawful.

Further, all three recognize the aforementioned discovery doctrine, George II having recognized in 1744 the islands as having been discovered by Spain, and George III in 1787 having recognized such discoveries by Spain under the names La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista.

Thomas Kitchin (or Thomas Kitchen (1718–1784)) was an English engraver and cartographer, who became hydrographer to the king. The 1787 Samuel Dunn “A General Map of the World” shows La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista, as does the 1744 map by Emmanuel Bowen (cartographer to UK King George II and father-in-law to Thomas Kitchin, his apprentice) at correct latitudes south of Tropic of Capricorn and correct longitudes.

Above, the 1744 King George II map of the world with the islands of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista at correct latitude south of Tropic of Capricorn and at correct longitude as well, and among those marked as “islands discovered by de Quiros of Spain”.

Above the 1787 King George III map of the world lists La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista by their actual Spanish names, an acknowledgement of their absolute title by Spain 4 years before the so-called re-discovery of La Encarnacion as Ducie 1791 or the 1819 re-discovery as Henderson instead of San Juan Bautista.

In correspondence from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office dated 29 March 2017 and postmarked 13 April 2017, the United Kingdom does not dispute the above facts.

Thus, there is no such island as “Ducie” island – only the previously claimed by Spain La Encarnacion Island. There is no such island as “Henderson” island, only the previously claimed by Spain San Juan Bautista Island.

Before the 18th century, discovery alone was sufficient to acquire absolute title to a terra nullis (A. Keller, O. Lissitzyn, & F. Mann, Creation of Rights of Sovereignty 1400-1801 (1938)).

See also William E. Hall, “Discovery gave not merely inchoate title but an absolute title” (International Law 126-127, 214-215, 8th edition, 1924).

International Law Regarding So-Called Annexations

Direct Annexation, by the end of the Napoleonic period, ceased to be recognized in international law as an accepted means of territorial acquisition. Thus, as in the case of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista Islands in the South Pacific, the purported annexations (and renaming of the islands), which the United Kingdom proclaimed in 1902, not only violated this principle, but was further illegal by the First Hague Convention of 1899, which had been signed 29 July1900 already by the UK, USA, and Spain. The UK had not acquired these islands by any treaty or cession from Spain, and as earlier pointed out, had already under King George II and King George III by their names and locations recognized their discovery by Spain and thus absolute title from 1606.

In 1948, Emilio Pastor Santos, a researcher of the Spanish National Research Council, claimed there was a historical basis that many islands in the Pacific, formerly parts of either the Viceroyalty of New Spain, or the Viceroyalty of Peru, actually still belonged to Spain and “continue legally under Spanish sovereignty.” These include “a number of small islands in Micronesia (Kapingamarangi or CoroaMapia or GüedesOcea or Matador, and  Rongerik or Pescadores). […]This is because the text of the German–Spanish Treaty of 1899 which transferred sovereignty of certain Spanish possessions in the Pacific to Germany, namely the Northern Mariana Islands (except Guam) and the Caroline Islands (including Palau), failed to include these smaller islands.”  (Wikipedia, “Mapia Atoll”)

On 12 January 1949, after presentation of the research to the Council of Ministers of Spain, the Spanish Foreign Minster declared this as de jure, and the Cabinet of Diplomatic Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared as follows: “The Ministry recognizes that it is a certain fact and historic truth that Spain reserves a series of rights certain groups of islands as not having been ceded by Spain.”

This situation resulted in the Kingdom of Ourania contacting Spain and acquiring a number of islands formerly either part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain or the Viceroyalty of Peru, but with the proviso they can never be re-assigned to the United Kingdom at any time in the future, unless the UK first returns Gibraltar and restores the territorial integrity of Spain concerning Gibraltar.

Stan Vaughan is a chess champion who resides in Southern Nevada. He ran for State Assembly District 15 as a Republican in 2016. He now represents the Kingdom of Ourania in its efforts to attain international recognition and form a floating city in the vicinity of the claimed islands of San Juan Bautista and La Encarnacion.  

In Time For Everyone, A Reason To Support Us – Article by Martin van der Kroon

In Time For Everyone, A Reason To Support Us – Article by Martin van der Kroon

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Martin van der Kroon


There is a lot of inequality in the world, from economic or wealth inequality to inequality of opportunity, to inequality that may have to do with ethnicity, biological sex, or gender. It is not a surprise when I say that we can do without new inequalities. This is exactly what some critics of transhumanism fear, that with the coming possibility of indefinite life-extension we will face lifespan inequality.

I think they are justified in their fears. Let’s take a step back and illustrate what that would look like, as for many indefinite life extension seems like science fiction, and at the moment it still is. What would a world with lifespan inequality look like?

(Spoilers for the movie In Time (2011) ahead)

Although often compared to society’s current situation of wealth inequality, the movie In Time might actually be more directly linked to a fear of lifespan inequality, for the obvious reason that the movie is about humans being able to buy ‘life-time’, but also have to spend it.

As per the In Time movie’s IMDB page: “In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. …”

In the movie the wealthy accumulate time as a means of profit, and by extension extra life time. The less fortunate have their daily lives, but are always close to their time running out. Obviously the chances of this exact scenario are slim, but the metaphor is apt nonetheless. Wealth can buy almost anything, and in a future where indefinite life extension is possible, the wealthy will want to buy this, too.

The problem we face is whether we end up getting into a situation similar to the movie In Time, the wealthy having time, and the poor almost always out of time, or whether we can create a framework to make life extension available and accessible to everyone, rich, poor, and everything in between.

The science and willingness to make indefinite life-extension possible are fascinating and amazing, but the critics are right that we have to tread carefully in how it may be applied.

This is a reason why, even if you otherwise do not consider yourself a transhumanist, you might wish to consider supporting the U.S. Transhumanist Party. As a political party looking towards the future, we strive to create a framework that makes available and accessible to all the possibility of indefinite life extension so that we may prevent another inequality from entering our world.

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

Are You Being Tricked into Voting for the System? – Article by Sandra from The Right Side of Truth

Are You Being Tricked into Voting for the System? – Article by Sandra from The Right Side of Truth

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Sandra from The Right Side of Truth


For years, we’ve been sold the idea that the political system of the United States is a choice between two very different parties. On the Left, we have the progressive-liberal Democratic Party championing forward thinking and social good, and on the Right, we have the conservative Republican Party, sometimes called the GOP (short for Grand Old Party), touting the ideas of less government and traditional values.

At least that’s what we’ve been told. These stark differences are pushed at every debate and every public event. However, what the parties rarely discuss is how similar most of their policies are in practice.

So exactly how is it that these two parties continually trick us into voting for one or the other? How is it they manage to stymy progress time and time again, thrusting us further into the past? Not surprisingly, their tactics are both extraordinarily basic and brutally effective. Here’s how they do it.

Drumming Up the Non-Issues

The favored tactic by public masters of deception is presenting non-relevant ideas to distract us from what truly matters. Every election we see it, and 2016 was a perfect example of this. Both candidates kept their audience focused on personal attacks and empty promises, constantly avoiding the real issues.

Take for example the issue of “the wall.” Democrats historically voted in favor of constructing a border wall with Mexico; Hillary Clinton, largely seen mocking Donald Trump on the topic, was quite in favor of it in the past. While the two candidates bickered over the wall and who should pay for it, there was never any real debate between the two about whether or not it was a good idea because under the surface both candidates supported it.

Yet if we return to the present, we can see very little being done in terms of large-scale action. The President—who is not a legislator—has not suddenly conjured up a solid concrete wall across the entire US-Mexico border. That it was suggested this would happen was absurd to begin with and little more than a distraction.

And it’s not the only distraction we see virtually every election. “Major” issues come up conveniently every four years regarding topics such as abortion, marriage, and military spending. Yet the moment the elections end, these issues become silent. No significant changes or votes are held because neither party ever intended to do anything in the first place.

The third-party candidates that seriously have an interest in changing our policies never receive a serious moment in the public’s eye. Debates are always between two parties, and the results are always the same no matter who wins. Alternative ideas are shut out, even when they come from within one of the major parties, as we saw in the 2012 election with Ron Paul’s repeated media blackballing despite a commanding voter base in the primaries.

The “Outsider” Candidate

Those who genuinely believe the idea that the controlling parties would allow an outsider (that is, someone with different views than the status quo) to become a serious candidate are sorely deceived. This is another tactic used to mislead the public into thinking they have a real choice.

While it pains me to use the same example repeatedly, the 2016 election is just one of the best in a long time to truly demonstrate how good these parties are at fooling us. We were fed two choices—Hillary Clinton, the “safe, regular Democrat” choice (and trust me, the party never gave Bernie Sanders a second thought), and Donald Trump, the Hollywood businessman with a mouth.

Surely Trump, with his uncouth speech and disrespect for the Republican Party, was the outsider—right? Yet in office we see him making the same choices any GOP candidate would have made. He is still pro-War, pro-Keynesian economics, and shows no major signs of instigating any promised changes.

Other than speech patterns, nothing would have been different under any other GOP candidate or under Hillary Clinton. To begin with, the president is the head of executive power; he or she does not independently pass laws nor create funding for public projects. All of these faculties fall to the House and the Senate, which are also dominated by shills that vote nearly exclusively on the party line.

The running of candidates such as Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and even Ronald Reagan are simple feints to distract us from the real issues. And the real issue is the perception that there are no alternatives. By funneling our votes into a predictable “A or B” pattern, the parties work together behind closed doors to ensure they remain in power with no challenge to their plans or wealth.

The “Thrown-Away Vote” Fallacy

Dictating how things are from above with tools such as the mainstream media or political announcement is only so effective. On many levels, people can see through the deception of public figures and come to different conclusions. How is it then that so many of us continue to fall victim to this scam?

Surprisingly, the problem is truly at the root of our culture, and it’s been instilled in most of us basically since birth. It’s the idea that voting outside of the two choices we’re given (Red or Blue) is a wasted vote. We’re taught to think voting for a third or fourth party is somehow a vote for whichever candidate we don’t want to win.

This is a logical fallacy that’s been perpetuated for decades to discourage us from breaking away from the two-party system. If enough people believe it, it becomes true to some extent—people fear throwing away their votes and thus don’t vote for anyone outside the standard parties.

But we already know from the Senate and the House that this is simply incorrect. While no third-party president has served to date, several unaffiliated or third-party candidates serve or have served in Congress. Their ideas were different, and their voter bases were small enough to avoid widespread control.

Breaking the Illusion of Choice

If we truly wish to end the illusion of choice in the voting system, we need to recognize the inherent flaws within the system. From the outset, the American system was designed to discourage the illiterate mob from having final say over major candidates. It was designed back when few citizens had a formal education, thus the Electoral College that supersedes the popular vote.

Because of this, changes need to be made within and without the current major parties. We must collectively vote out the leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties while simultaneously pushing for third-party representation. Not just for a single party such as the Libertarians either—we need multiple parties represented because not all interests overlap.

No single party could ever hope to represent the needs of conflicting groups. Farmers do not share the same values as corporate America, and manufacturers run counter to mom-and-pop businesses just the same as the interests of the wealthy conflict with the poor. And this is totally natural!

We the voters must take responsibility by researching the issues that are important and by seeking candidates that suit our needs. That means watching documentaries, reading books and blogs, and listening to podcasts. Even entertainment venues such as Netflix—when the content is locally available—have something to offer to help us broaden our perspective.

And as might be expected, no perfect political system exists. At the end of the day, the real enemy of freedom isn’t just some evil council of political masterminds striving for world domination. The biggest opponent of choice is staring at us in the mirror. Will you overcome your fear of uncertainty? Tell us in the comments.

About the Author: Sandra is a political activist and free thinker who’s never afraid to speak her mind. Despite the seemingly hopeless situation in Washington, she’s confident that by coming together we can make real changes for the better. See her website at The Right Side of Truth.

The Trolley Problem and Self-Driving Vehicles – Article by B.J. Murphy

The Trolley Problem and Self-Driving Vehicles – Article by B.J. Murphy

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B.J. Murphy


One of the most popular discussions in the field of technology today is that of self-driving vehicles. It’s a topic that brings up both optimistic joy and pessimistic fear, from the elimination of car-related fatalities to the elimination of millions of jobs. I usually stand on the optimistic side of the argument, but I also understand the fear.

After all:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were nearly 1.8 million heavy-truck and tractor-trailer drivers in 2014, with a 5% increase per year. Meaning, there are likely around 2 million of these drivers today.
  • There were around 1.33 million delivery truck drivers in 2014, with a 4% increase per year. Meaning, there are over 1.4 million today.
  • There were around 233,700 taxi drivers and chauffeurs in 2014, with a 13% increase per year. Meaning, there are nearly 300,000 of these drivers today.

In other words, with the full mobilization of self-driving vehicles, we’re looking at around (+/-) 4 million jobs being automated in the next few years, thus no longer requiring human labor. This particular risk, however, isn’t what I’m currently focused on. The main focus of this article is on what is known as the “trolley problem” – a thought experiment in ethics that has since been rehashed to serve as “criticism” towards self-driving vehicles.

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Being Excited About Failure – Article by Martin van der Kroon

Being Excited About Failure – Article by Martin van der Kroon

Martin van der Kroon


The much hyped CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technique often explained as being the ‘DNA scissors’ or the ‘cut and paste’ technique, has had a setback, and this has me excited.

CRISPR-Cas9 has has the scientific community, and in particular those involved in research and development of genome editing, raving over the roughly past 3 years. It is hailed as a cheap and fast way to edit genomes with great accuracy compared to other genome-editing techniques, and this is true. Now however, researchers have found CRISPR-Cas9 to have some annoying side-effects. The side-effects were found in mice who had their blindness corrected but also caused mutations in other parts of the DNA sequence, roughly 1500 mutations. It is unknown what the consequences of the mutations are at this moment.

“Why am I excited about this setback?” you might ask.

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Would You Allow Your Children To Be Alone With a Robot? – Article by B.J. Murphy

Would You Allow Your Children To Be Alone With a Robot? – Article by B.J. Murphy

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B.J. Murphy


Would you allow your children to be alone with a robot? I ask not for the children’s safety in mind, but rather the robot’s.

As shown in the video provided above, a group of Japanese researchers – from ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, Osaka University, Ryukoku University, and Tokai University – patrolled a public shopping complex in Osaka using a remotely-operated robot known as Robovie 2.

Children naturally being curious, hordes of them decide to surround the robot when spotted. Some were quite nice and simply wanted to play with the robot. However, others felt the need to attack it either by kicking, punching, or trying to rip its head off.

What I find most fascinating about this is that, like a child, whenever the robot feels like it’s in possible danger (or, rather, there’s an increased probability of danger) – of which it’s able to do so by calculating the probability of abuse based on interaction time, pedestrian density, and the presence of people above or below 4 feet 6 inches in height – the robot then changes course and brings itself within close proximity of a parent for protection.

Robots are, most certainly, coming and will potentially disrupt nearly every major industry in society. However, to ensure their overall safety, it might be best that, whenever a child comes close to one of these robots, a parent should always be nearby – not for the sake of the child, but for the sake of the robot.

Which then raises the question: what is the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s position on protecting robots from unnecessary physical abuse? For now, in accordance with the Party’s Constitution – in particular, Section XXXIII – it states:

“…Level 4 or lower-level entities – including domain-specific artificial intelligences that have not achieved sentience – may be utilized as part of the production systems of the future, in a similar manner to machines, algorithms, computer programs, and non-human animals today and based on similar ethical considerations.”

Speaking as an individual member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, it is of my opinion that we should begin expanding upon the question of “ethical considerations” in regards to the physical abuse of robots. This shouldn’t be confused as being tantamount to giving robots, regardless of sentience, full rights as that of other sapient beings. That, too, is already addressed in Section XXXIII, which states:

“The United States Transhumanist Party stands for the rights of any sentient entities defined in the Preamble to the Transhumanist Bill of Rights as possessing Level 5 or more advanced information integration. Any such sentient entities, including new kinds of sentient entities that may be discovered or developed in the future, shall be considered to be autonomous beings with full rights, and shall not be made subservient to humans, unless they as individuals pose direct, empirically evident threats to the lives of others. The protections of full individual rights shall extend to Level 5 or higher-level artificial intelligences.”

One might think that this question could be juxtaposed with that of the question of property rights. And, to a certain degree, it would. However, when it comes to robots, we also have to consider the psychological ramifications as well. We deliberately give robots anthropomorphic features given the fact that research has shown, time and again, that, unlike other inanimate objects, robots have the ability to evoke empathetic emotional responses by humans as a result – especially when humans believe those robots are being abused.

In other words, by physically abusing robots, one is then potentially causing psychological harm to other sentient entities in consequence.

This then raises a problematic situation when simply juxtaposing non-sentient robot rights to that of property rights. Unlike other property, robots have the capability of evoking empathy out of humans. Thus my reasoning for wanting to bring this particular topic up for further discussion.

Where should Transhumanists stand – and, in particular, the U.S. Transhumanist Party – in regards to the physical abuse of robots, keeping in mind the potential psychological ramifications that may arise among humans as a direct result?

***

B.J. Murphy is the Director of Social Media of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

The Right to Die – Article by Martin van der Kroon

The Right to Die – Article by Martin van der Kroon

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Martin van der Kroon


The U.S. Transhumanist Party is, among many other things, concerned with life extension, health, and in general the well-being of people. If life extension can be stretched to virtual immortality, that would be even more amazing, but should it be mandatory?

This post is my personal view, and I have proposed a Plank regarding this which has been added to the Exposure Period for Platform Vote #5I’m not trying to convince people, but I would like to open the discussion on a topic that we may reasonably call controversial.

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People-Centered Justice – Article by Martin van der Kroon

People-Centered Justice – Article by Martin van der Kroon

Martin van der Kroon


According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics data from 2015, there were an estimated 6,741,400 people supervised within the U.S. criminal-justice system, 2,173,800 of whom are in either state or federal correctional facilities.

It is in itself concerning that the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has to ‘estimate’ the number of people within the system. One would think that BJS would know exactly how many people are within the criminal-justice system, or at least that ought to be the case. Regardless of whether the numbers are 100% accurate, the prison population and incarceration rate are both very high compared to any other Western nation relative to population size. The U.S. also has among the longest sentences in the Western world. 

One of the issues I believe is of particular influence is the reasoning that creating a more severe punishment will make it a better deterrent. Regardless of severity, this is a retributivist judicial system, the type used in most countries around the world.

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