Editor’s Note: Below is a response to Jeremy Rifkin’s plan for a Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy by Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. The original post of this documentary can be found here.
~ Dinorah Delfin, Director of Admissions and Public Relations, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 10, 2018
When it comes to Jeremy Rifkin’s thoughts on the future, and what humankind will and will not be able to accomplish, Arthur C. Clarke’s famous First Law encapsulates my reaction: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”
I think that Rifkin has many ideas that would be aligned with transhumanism, although his general worldview is not transhumanist in itself. I wholly support the concepts of the sharing economy, the goal of production at zero marginal cost, and the smart infrastructure that he describes would support the Third Industrial Revolution. A redesign of our infrastructure – especially in such a way that would facilitate modular upgrades at a local and even individual level – is essential for overcoming some of the current bottlenecks to technological progress and rising standards of living. I also think that Rifkin is correct that, in the short term, building this new infrastructure will require humans and will mean jobs for those humans. This is probably a good thing, although it is dependent on whether the systems for financing the new projects and appropriately recruiting and treating the workers (e.g., giving them high-quality jobs with good pay, safety precautions, and ample assistance from machines and narrow AIs where possible) can come together in time.
Where I think Rifkin falls short of the transhumanist vision is in his rejection of the goal of a society where basic human problems – including mortality and many of the other key causes of suffering – can be eliminated or at least greatly reduced. He characterizes this as “utopian” thinking, but at every stage of the way, the approach toward these goals would not be utopia, but rather steady improvement. It would be a shame to reject the goals especially as the technologies for making them possible are becoming available. As I have often stated, it is not a matter of if we will have indefinite life extension, but when – and this matters a lot from the standpoint of how many people alive today could be saved.
Where I also differ from Rifkin is that, instead of his focus on the negative (“humans are destroying the Earth”), I and the Transhumanist Party prefer to focus on the positive potentials (humans can improve both our own lives and the Earth through emerging technologies). Many of the solutions may look quite similar – e.g., smart infrastructure, greater energy-efficiency, and renewable energy sources that would move humankind away from fossil fuels (although, unlike Rifkin, I also strongly support the next generation of nuclear reactors, which would use thorium, would be meltdown-proof, and would not be subject to the need for cooling via massive amounts of water that Rifkin criticizes). I think that the way forward is through technological advancement; Rifkin is halfway there – certainly much better than the Neo-Luddite thinkers who have often dominated the environmental movement. But his goals are not in conflict with life extension, massive economic growth, and super-abundance of material prosperity for everyone. In fact, humans need to move along all of these avenues simultaneously and in parallel, as their achievements will reinforce one another and enable progress to occur more readily.
Article III, Section IX of our Platform – http://transhumanist-party.org/constitution/#Article3 – actually summarizes this sentiment quite nicely: “The United States Transhumanist Party supports all emerging technologies that have the potential to improve the human condition – including but not limited to autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, economical solar power, safe nuclear power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, applications for the sharing of durable goods, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, rapid transit, 3D printing, vertical farming, electronic devices to detect and respond to trauma, and beneficial genetic modification of plants, animals, and human beings.”
Again, Clarke’s First Law comes to mind. To the extent that Rifkin sees potential in any of the above technologies and others, he is correct. To the extent that he does not see it or considers those technologies to be detrimental, he is mistaken.
U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Anniversary Message
On November 17, 2016, I became the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party. It was a turbulent era in American politics, although it now appears to me to have been a distinct prior epoch. The offer of Chairmanship from Zoltan Istvan came at exactly the right time. I was seriously considering emigrating from the United States, which would have been a mistake. For this role, however, an expatriate Chairman would not do; Zoltan asked me to remain for at least six months – hopefully a year – and then re-assess the situation. One does not get handed leadership of a political party often (or virtually ever), so this was a unique opportunity to make a difference in American politics in a constructive way, with instant gains in prominence, and without the distasteful maneuvering that many conventional political figures feel compelled to engage in to attain a comparable position.
It has been a year, and I am staying. I have indeed reassessed the situation, or perhaps the situation has been transformed so considerably than the already transitional interpretive framework of late 2016 can no longer adequately describe our present political reality. Whereas then the tumult seemed to have stemmed from a single source, we now inhabit a distinctly different sort of chaotic era, in which the chaos emanates from virtually all partisan factions espousing conventional political ideologies. The United States has not, despite my fears at the time, succumbed to dictatorship or totalitarianism – and, despite some ill-advised policy decisions and unfortunate increases in certain forms of intolerance and hatred (on both the right and the left), there are no waves of nativist “ethnic cleansing”; there are, thankfully and for now, no massive riots in the vast majority of cities, the vast majority of the time. Daily life proceeds in a largely peaceful, largely orderly fashion – and may that continue.
Yet the United States’ societal and cultural fabric has been torn to shreds by the climate of escalating partisan vitriol, in which being aligned with one’s “team” (be it one of the major political parties or more minor factions on the conventional left-right axis) is seen as more important than the reasoned pursuit of truth. Partisanship erodes the norms of civility and the disposition of good will with which it is important to approach discourse with others. When hyper-partisans insist that civilized discussion or even association with “the other side” is not possible (and their characterization of who comprises the “other side” becomes ever more sweeping by the day), they throw wide open the door to less genteel approaches to politics – the political violence that can claim lives, ruin infrastructure, and set back the progress of our civilization. The great immediate danger in American politics is not that squads of jack-booted enforcers will crack down on anyone who displeases their masters; it is, rather, that the increasing toxicity of prevailing political rhetoric will poison the minds and conduct of ordinary people, turning them against one another and inaugurating a low-key war of all against all, which necessarily cannot remain low-key for long. Hyper-partisanship is not, however, a grass-roots phenomenon, but has been fueled by behemoth political machines, with armies of paid political operatives, lobbyists, and “opposition research” firms honing the most effective ways to besmirch and divide people for range-of-the-moment electoral gains. Only a truly transpartisan organization, immune to the influence of this apparatus, can turn the tide against its malignancy.
The United States Transhumanist Party has stood as a bulwark against this toxic partisan tendency, inviting membership by individuals of all conventional or unconventional political beliefs, as long as they agree with our three broadly framed Core Ideals (and even sometimes if they do not), advocating for a worldwide acceleration of technological innovation and for making its products accessible to all, conducting transparent public discussions and votes using ranked-reference techniques that solve long-standing incentive problems of voters, and doing it all as a non-monetary organization, through the collaboration of volunteers and people of good will. We genuinely seek to embody and practice inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance – instead of weaponizing these terms to serve a particular preconceived political and social agenda and partisan machine. We transcend the destructive culture wars, just as we transcend so many other pointless divisions. We seek to be a microcosm of the society that will emerge after all this “sound and fury, signifying nothing” subsides, when people will come to see the toxicity as fatiguing and passé, and the task of building a new era can unfold in earnest. We need to focus on championing the advances that can benefit everyone through dramatically longer lifespans, vastly increased prosperity, and opportunities for individual self-actualization. Unlike identity politics, which focuses on what sets people apart, transhumanist politics seeks to bring all sentient entities together to forge the advances that can benefit each and all.
On the anniversary of my Chairmanship, the highlight of my day was a message from an individual who has been a member for as long as I have been Chairman. He told me that his membership in the U.S. Transhumanist Party has been one of the most important events in his life. What we do matters; it inspires people to strive for a brighter future; it coalesces a community of visionaries, achievers, innovators, and friends. Amid the tumult of the contemporary world, we preserve the transformative ambition that life can and should be better – that human existence need not be nasty, brutish, or short – that age-old problems can be solved with sufficient knowledge and ingenuity – and that the fates of our ancestors need not be our own.
We have achieved much since the U.S. Transhumanist Party was opened to membership during my tenure as Chairman. I provided an overview of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s key recent achievements in this brief video, which I prepared for the Transvision 2017 conference in Brussels.
Here, I will supplement, rather than repeat, the contents of that video presentation.
Many aspects of our Platform and processes enable the U.S. Transhumanist Party to stand out in American politics. The following are just several examples.
We are the first political party in the United States to use ranked-preference voting on its internal ballots. During the next year we will explore options for rendering this voting process even more streamlined and user-friendly. We will be searching for software that could simultaneously present all of the options and their text to voters, and automatically tabulate instant runoffs and their results, similarly to how the initial votes are tabulated today.
We are the only political party in the world – to our knowledge – which extends membership to anyone capable of forming a reasoned political opinion – including children and citizens of other countries, who may become Allied Members. Our Foreign Ambassador program specifically focuses on building connections with future-oriented thinkers in other countries and working to build transhumanism into a global, collaborative movement where ideas are exchanged and developed without regard to national boundaries.
The U.S. Transhumanist Party is one of only two political parties in the United States, along with the Green Party, that supports the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Our Platform, in Article III, Section IV, reads that “In recognition of the dire existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to sapient life on Earth – including as a result of such weapons’ accidental deployment due to system failures or human misunderstanding – the United States Transhumanist Party advocates the complete dismantlement and abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere, as rapidly as possible.” While this remains a minority political position in the United States, the abolition of nuclear weapons recently received support at the United Nations via the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. With the threat of nuclear war remaining disturbingly real, an increasing number of people and institutions are coming to recognize this dire existential risk and seek its alleviation. We welcome collaboration with any of them.
The U.S. Transhumanist Party was the first political party in the United States to suggest a universal basic income or unconditional basic income (UBI) as an option in dealing with the impacts of automation, job uncertainty, and the sub-optimalities of conventional, conditional, and cumbersome welfare systems. Now various jurisdictions are experimenting with some versions of UBI, and this concept is being actively discussed at the United Nations. We stand ready to offer our views and recommendations in this conversation – encouraging UBI systems that would preserve the core, elegant logic of an unconditional basic income available to all. Per Article III, Section XVI of our Platform, “the United States Transhumanist Party holds that all sentient entities should be the beneficiaries of an unconditional universal basic income, whereby the same minimum amount of money or other resources is provided irrespective of a sentient entity’s life circumstances, occupations, or other income sources, so as to provide a means for the basic requirements of existence and liberty to be met.” This vision, if championed consistently, can dramatically improve the life circumstances of many individuals throughout the world.
Our most important near-term objectives were recently outlined in our new, extensive FAQ document. Because of their importance, and the indication they provide regarding how the next year of the U.S. Transhumanist Party will unfold, I provide them again below.
Grow in membership. We need to reach at least 10,000 members in order to have the widespread reach and internal, member-driven governance structures that we envision to be the most effective. You can help by joining for free and encouraging others to join by filling out our fast, simple Membership Application Form.
Coordinate with State-level Transhumanist Parties. Various such State-level Parties exist, and some are already officially registered with their respective Secretaries of State. We have catalogued the State-level Transhumanist Parties known to us here. Work with them if you reside in a State where such a Party already exists. If such a Party does not exist, we encourage you to form one and contact us when you are contemplating doing so.
Hold events and publish materials to influence public opinion. Ultimately, we seek to change minds to encourage widespread public advocacy of emerging technologies and a major redirection of resources toward such technologies’ funding, development, and dissemination. We encourage U.S. Transhumanist Party members to also organize their own events and submit articles for publication on our website.
Explore running candidates at the local level. Interested candidates will likely need to officially run as independents at this time, but if they agree with key aspects of our Platform, they may receive the endorsement of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
Gradually create the infrastructure to meet State ballot-access requirements. In almost every State, obtaining ballot access unfortunately requires at least thousands of petition signatures (hand-signed), obtained within a relatively short period of time. We need to build up a sufficient network of volunteers in every State in order for petition-gathering to be feasible. However, our emphasis on membership growth and coordination with State-level Transhumanist Parties is part of our effort to eventually get there and field candidates for State-level office.
Another unique approach that we are pursuing is our search for a candidate for the U.S. Transhumanist Party 2020 Presidential ticket. Unlike other parties, we seek to attract not the most politically ambitious, but rather the most erudite, thoughtful, and melioristic individuals to apply for the role. To this end, under the editorship of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Education and Media Advisor, Newton Lee, we are compiling a book that will feature essays by leading transhumanist thinkers, Advisors, and members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. This book, tentatively titled Transhumanism: In the Image of Humans, will hopefully convey both the depth and breadth of transhumanist thought, such that at least one of the leading minds of our era might be sufficiently intrigued as to join our movement and seek to further these ideas by running a Presidential campaign based on the highest standards of discourse, conduct, and policy-oriented reasoning for the improvement of the human condition.
The tumult of our times is evidence that Robert Heinlein’s forecast of an era he termed the Crazy Years has come to pass. Charting the path from our current Crazy Years to a bright and universally uplifting transhumanist future will be no easy task, but no task is more vital. By a spectacular confluence of events, which still astounds me in retrospect, the Chairmanship of the U.S. Transhumanist Party has placed me in a unique position within this moment in history, where many radically divergent paths are possible for both humankind in general and for us as individuals. The path of amelioration and abundance of time and resources for all is still open, and the Transhumanist Party will endeavor to show the way to all those who seek the new era, and to build our civilization into a global and universal, human and transhuman cosmopolity – which should extend as far and as boundlessly as our own lives and well-being.
Will you join us in this effort? If so, becoming a member is free and easy – and the best of possible futures may be our joint reward.
As the United States Transhumanist Party, we believe in and support cyborg-ism. Firstly, a cyborg is a person/organism whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.
The basic main purpose of cyborg implants is to optimize or improve human condition. Some of the benefits of cyborg-ism are:
Ability to replace sickly or heavily damaged body parts such as hips, knees, elbows, wrists, arteries, veins, heart valves, pacemakers, etc.
Ability to improve/enhance human senses, i.e., smell, hearing, sight, etc. – e.g., cochlear implants
Brain implants that control tremors in cases of Cerebral Palsy
Brain Implants that help reverse the most devastating symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Increased physical strength
Cyborg implants help disabled persons live a lives closer to normal or optimal for them. They also help people in general have an improved lifestyle or condition. The world is experiencing swift technological advancement (including in cyborg-ism), driven by the strong need and desire for humanity to live an optimal or better life.
The international and national laws of most Earth countries and regional bodies are lagging behind in accommodating or adapting to these technological advances on Earth. There are cases of human cyborgs being discriminated against, abused, harassed, and even threatened, such as that of artist and activist Neil Harbisson. Mr. Harbisson has surgically implanted an antenna to help him overcome his color-blindness condition. (He naturally sees everything in gray-scale.) Some high-profile examples of individuals who have faced anti-cyborg discrimination include biohacker/grinder Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, biohacker Rich Lee, and Steve Mann.
We as the United States Transhumanist Party state that everyone on Earth should be given freedom to live the life they desire and also make improvements to their physical bodies, either for aesthetic or for health purposes (as long as they don’t infringe on the basic rights of others). Indeed, this should be a basic right in the United States and throughout the Earth. We therefore stand by in support of the above persons mentioned (including other cyborgs) in their advocacy and fight for their rights to be recognized and respected. We implore the United States federal government and other nations to recognize the right for one to be a cyborg and the cyborgs’ general human basic rights as well.
Our support for cyborg rights is an implication of Article III, Sections VI and VIII of our Platform on morphological freedom and freedom of research and innovation, including with regard to functional, healthy augmentations of the body and brain:
Section VI. The United States Transhumanist Party upholds morphological freedom—the right to do with one’s physical attributes or intelligence whatever one wants so long as it does not directly harm others.
The United States Transhumanist Party considers morphological freedom to include the prerogative for a sentient intelligence to set forth in advance provisions for how to handle its physical manifestation, should that intelligence enter into a vegetative, unconscious, or similarly inactive state, notwithstanding any legal definition of death. For instance, a cryonics patient should be entitled to determine in advance that the patient’s body shall be cryopreserved and kept under specified conditions, in spite of any legal definition of death that might apply to that patient under cryopreservation.
The United States Transhumanist Party also recognizes that morphological freedom entails the duty to treat all sapients as individuals instead of categorizing them into arbitrary subgroups or demographics, including as yet undefined subcategorizations that may arise as sapience evolves.
The United States Transhumanist Party is focused on the rights of all sapient individuals to do as they see fit with themselves and their own reproductive choices.
However, the United States Transhumanist Party holds that the proper exercise of morphological freedom must also ensure that any improvement of the self should not result in involuntary harms directly inflicted upon others. Furthermore, the United States Transhumanist Party recognizes any sentient entity to have the freedom not to modify itself without being subject to negative political repercussions, which include but are not limited to legal and/or socio-economic repercussions.
The United States Transhumanist Party recognizes the ethical obligations of sapient beings to be the purview of those individual beings, and holds that no other group, individual, or government has the right to limit those choices – including genetic manipulation or other biological manipulation or any other modifications up to and including biological manipulation, mechanical manipulation, life extension, reproductive choice, reproductive manipulation, cryonics, or other possible modifications, enhancements, or morphological freedoms. It is only when such choices directly infringe upon the rights of other sapient beings that the United States Transhumanist Party will work to develop policies to avoid potential infringements.
Section VIII. The United States Transhumanist Party supports maximum individual liberty to engage in scientific and technological innovation for the improvement of the self and the human species. In particular, the United States Transhumanist Party supports all rationally, scientifically grounded research efforts for curing diseases, lengthening lifespans, achieving functional, healthy augmentations of the body and brain, and increasing the durability and youthfulness of the human organism. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that all such research efforts should be rendered fully lawful and their products should be made fully available to the public, as long as no individual is physically harmed without that individual’s consent or defrauded by misrepresentation of the effects of a possible treatment or substance.
~ Kenneth Alum, Director of Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, November 19, 2017
Shibuya Mirai, The First AI Bot Granted Official Residency – Article by B.J. Murphy
A few days ago, an artificial intelligence (AI) bot was granted official residency in Shibuya, a Tokyo ward with a population of around 224,000 people. The AI bot’s name is “Shibuya Mirai,” which takes the form of a seven-year-old boy, and serves as a chatbot on the popular Line messaging app.
“Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, an area popular with fashion-conscious young people, has given the character his own special residence certificate. This makes him Japan’s first, and maybe the world’s first, artificial intelligence bot to be granted a place on a real-life local registry.”
Mirai, whose name translates to “future,” is part of a project aimed at making the local government more familiar and accessible to locals, according to the ward, and is designed to listen to the opinions of Shibuya residents.
Image source: Shibuya City
Nearly two weeks ago, Sophia, a humanoid robot designed by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, was granted citizenship by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, becoming the world’s first humanoid robot to ever be granted such an honor. And just as the U.S. Transhumanist Party supported Sophia’s citizenship recognition, we also would like to congratulate Mirai as well, along with the Shibuya Ward and Microsoft in their joint-development of the AI bot.
“The United States Transhumanist Party supports all emerging technologies that have the potential to improve the human condition – including but not limited to autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, economical solar power, safe nuclear power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, applications for the sharing of durable goods, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, rapid transit, 3D printing, vertical farming, electronic devices to detect and respond to trauma, and beneficial genetic modification of plants, animals, and human beings.”
While we recognize, to the best of our ability, that Mirai is still nowhere close to being deemed sentient – rather operates as a narrow AI – we equally recognize the significance of granting an AI real-life residency during a time when artificial general intelligence (AGI) research is at an all-time high.
It has been predicted that an AGI could possibly emerge within the next decade or so. Preparing the framework for both AI and robot rights in our near future is absolutely crucial. We are hopeful that, with Mirai being granted official residency, we are moving in a positive direction where all sentient lifeforms of the future (whether they be human, robot, AI, or otherwise) will be able to live and strive together peacefully.
B.J. Murphy is Director of Social Media for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
Sophia, The First Humanoid Robot Citizen – Article by Martin van der Kroon
Sophia, a humanoid robot designed by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, gave a presentation at the Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. At the end of her presentation Sophia was granted the first Saudi citizenship, for a humanoid robot.
Sophia said; “I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship,”
The U.S. Transhumanist Party would like to congratulate Sophia, and of course Hanson Robotics with this unique, and historical first.
The video of the presentation, and interview that Sophia gave, courtesy of Arab News.
On October 1, the autonomous community of Catalonia came together to vote for the future of its independence from that of the Kingdom of Spain. While the referendum was initially peaceful, chaos began to ensue once the Constitutional Court of Spain gave the order for police to raid Catalan government buildings and spots known where the referendum would be held, after having determined that the referendum is illegal.
In response, the Catalan people began protesting the police raids, demanding for recognition of their votes and for Catalan independence. Even the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, took to Twitter to condemn the raids, stating, “A cowardly president has filled our city with police. Barcelona, city of peace, is not afraid.”
Un presidente de gobierno cobarde ha inundado de policía nuestra ciudad. Barcelona ciutat de pau, no té por #MésDemocracia@marianorajoy
Despite heavy crackdown and reported police brutality of the protesters, 42% of the autonomous community was able to successfully cast their vote, including Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont. The results: 90% voted in favor of independence.
And while King Felipe VI has since made a rare televised statement on the matter, accusing Catalan leaders of “unacceptable disloyalty,” Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, has officially determined that his government would unilaterally declare independence by “the end of this week or the beginning of next,” according to BBC.
While United States Transhumanist Party has no official declaration of support for other foreign general regions to secede from their respective countries, according to Article III, Section XXXI of our Constitution, it states:
“The United States Transhumanist Party supports the right of any jurisdiction to secede from the United States specifically in opposition to policies that institutionalize racism, xenophobia, criminalization of dissent, and persecution of peaceful persons. The United States Transhumanist Party does not, however, condone any secession for the purposes of oppressing others. Therefore, the secession of the Confederate States in 1860 was illegitimate, but a future secession of a State may be justified in reaction to violent crackdowns by the federal government against individuals based on individuals’ national origin or ancestry.”
As such, we firmly believe that a similar moral principle should be extended to the people of Catalonia who peacefully voted for independence from the Kingdom of Spain. We condemn the actions of King Felipe and the Spanish government for attempting to violently suppress the Catalan people’s right to democracy and to peacefully protest when the former is withheld.
Given our own country’s history of fighting for independence from the United Kingdom, we know all too well the lengths of which the powerful will try to demean, belittle, and oppress those who stand up to them. The events which led up to the American Revolution, too, were deemed illegal in accordance with then-British law. This gave our Founding Fathers a lot to think about as they began building this country – in particular, it was Thomas Jefferson who once declared, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
And so, unlike the Kingdom of Spain, we, the United States Transhumanist Party, recognize and stand in solidarity with the Catalan peoples’ quest for freedom by breaking away from the country and to become an independent nation themselves.
Ed. Note: Originally, the article had erroneously specified that King Felipe VI had given the orders for the police raids of Catalan government buildings. After further inspection, we’ve realized that, while King Felipe did appoint the magistrates of the Constitutional Court of Spain, all decisions – including that of the police raids – were given independently by the Court itself. Our statement has been refined to accommodate this change of information.
B.J. Murphy is the Director of Social Media for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
The U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Commitment to Inclusivity and Cosmopolitanism – Official Statement by Gennady Stolyarov II
The United States Transhumanist Party takes this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to inclusivity and its support of the ideas and aspirations of a diverse, cosmopolitan membership and a transhumanist and life-extensionist community that we hope will someday encompass the entire world.
Per Article III, Section II, of our Constitution, “the United States Transhumanist Party condemns any hostile discrimination or legal restrictions on the basis of national origin, skin color, birthplace, ancestry, gender identity, or any manner of circumstantial attribute tied to a person’s lineage or accident of birth.” We hold that any of the above circumstantial attributes are not germane to a sentient entity’s ability to contribute value to worthwhile endeavors to advance a brighter future, and therefore decisions in politics and organizational membership alike should be made without regard to those attributes. If a sentient entity (which includes humans today, but could potentially also include non-human intelligences in future eras) has skills, ideas, and initiatives that could improve the outcomes of an organization or society, then placing obstacles in the way of that sentient entity on the basis of irrelevant circumstantial attributes is deeply counterproductive and self-undermining.
To reinforce our welcoming and inclusive stance, the U.S. Transhumanist Party recently published the eloquent statement by Director of Recruitment Martin van der Kroon, “We Would Like to Welcome Everyone” – which should leave no doubt as to where we stand.
Recently, a fledgling group, calling itself the Transhuman Party or “TP 3.0” and describing itself as an organization that is “three days old, with fresh ideas”, took issue with the composition of the leadership of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and asked, “Do you want to be governed by the all-white-men leadership of the current Transhumanist Party (TP 2.0)?” There are many flaws with the above question and the manner in which it is posed. Setting aside the inescapable irony that the question itself was posed by a person who would be identified as a “white man” (Hank Pellissier), it is an error to presume that the Officers of the U.S. Transhumanist Party seek to “govern” rather than merely administer the infrastructure for a party that will become increasingly self-governing as it accumulates a critical mass of members who can initiate their own projects and discussions. (This is already happening if one knows where to look!)
While we are not sure exactly what it means to have “all-white-men leadership” (since race is itself an artificial construct with no basis in biology), we do know for certain that the 650 members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party as of this writing are among the most diverse populations possible – given that the Transhumanist Party accepts Allied Members from throughout the world, as well as people of ages that would not meet the threshold for qualification to vote in most jurisdictions. As long as people can think and form political opinions, they are welcome to take part in our deliberations and initiate projects under the Transhumanist Party’s auspices. Furthermore, the U.S. Transhumanist Party recently initiated its Foreign Ambassador Program, which was intentionally created to enable us to benefit from the diverse perspectives of transhumanists from all over the world.
Any centralization in our current structure is transitional in nature and arises out of necessity, given that the Transhumanist Party is not yet large enough for a steady stream of grassroots action to drive its activities. In my ideal hoped-for circumstances, every member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party would be empowered with at least the tools for constructive change that I currently have at my disposal as Chairman. Our Officers are accountable to our diverse membership, and we take into consideration the reasonable viewpoints and interests of everyone among that membership. We greatly respect and value transhumanists of all genders, morphological features, and geographical and demographic backgrounds – and we look up to many eminent transhumanists who happen to exhibit any combination of these circumstantial features.
Is there an issue in the transhumanist movement generally that individuals of certain demographic characteristics tend not to join in as significant numbers as might be hoped for? Unfortunately, yes – and it is difficult to explain adequately. However, this issue has existed with regard to many technologically oriented and futurist movements for a long time and is the result of a complex combination of factors that cannot be easily unraveled – although continued discussion regarding it is certainly worthwhile. Still, there should be no doubt as to the direction in which the U.S. Transhumanist Party would like this situation to evolve. Growth in support from any demographic, whether or not such growth is proportional to the general population, is desirable and should be strived for. Hypothetically, and only as an example, if all the women of the world became supporters of transhumanism and life extension tomorrow, this would be an occasion for great celebration, as it would mean that our efforts will have succeeded in persuading slightly more than half of the world’s population. Personally, I would have no concern whatsoever if such a major growth meant that my demographic attributes placed me into a minority among transhumanists and life-extensionists – and I would certainly welcome more people who happen not to have my particular attributes rising into positions of leadership and impact. Given the many prominent female leaders of our broader movement – including Elizabeth Parrish, Miss Metaverse (both Advisors to the U.S. Transhumanist Party), Laura Deming, Natasha Vita-More, Elena Milova, and Maria Konovalenko, to name just a few – there is opportunity here for anyone who wishes to join us an advocate and collaborator to rise as high as their interests and merits take them.
Additionally, our current team of Officers is not at its limit, and judging its composition by a snapshot in time does not present the full picture. We are always happy to consider new additions to our team and to create positions for individuals who have particular beneficial talents to contribute. Completely irrespective of your circumstantial attributes, we are interested in what you can do to help advance humankind into the next great era of our civilization. If you can bring value in terms of your knowledge, efforts, and character – we are interested in considering you for an Officer position. We hope that, with further growth and activity, we will continue to build bridges within the diverse transhumanist community and discover individuals who can assist us in implementing our ambitious and far-reaching vision. If you are interested in becoming an Officer of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, please do not hesitate to e-mail me herewith a description of your interest in the Transhumanist Party, your skill set, and what roles you would like to perform – and we can discuss further.
In July of this year, Salt Lake City Police Detective Jeff Payne arrested Alex Wubbels, nurse at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, who was on duty at the time, for refusing to draw blood from unconscious patient William Gray of Idaho.
(Source: Salt Lake Tribune via YouTube)
This could have been considered obstruction of justice were it not for the fact that Police Detective Payne had no warrant of any kind to have blood drawn, patient Gray was not in any state to consent, nor was Gray actually suspected of having committed any sort of offence. Patient Gray was actually the victim of a car crash from a car being pursued by police at high speed. Furthermore, Police Detective Payne, who was part of the police’s blood draw program had no authority to demand a blood draw.
As Police Detective Payne stated, the drawing of blood was meant to help victim and patient Gray by checking for drugs, but it was, and is entirely unclear how exactly this would help him. What is clear is that Police Detective Payne was attempting to violate patient Gray’s Constitutional Fourth Amendment right of being protected against unlawful search and seizure. The U.S. Transhumanist Party fervently supports citizens’ constitutional rights, including the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful search and seizure. This support to uphold citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights is outlined in Section LVII [Adopted by a vote of the members during June 18-24, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts to restrict and limit civil asset forfeiture laws, and other laws that assist law-enforcement agencies in circumventing the Fourth Amendment, such as asset seizure, or detainment or arrest in situations where no criminal charges have been filed, except as part of an active interrogation of a person suspected of a crime or unless the person detained or arrested poses a clear and probable danger of inflicting physical harm upon others or their property.”
We furthermore place great emphasis and importance on people’s individual privacy and liberty, both of which Police Detective Payne was attempting to compromise. We outline this in our very first United States Transhumanist Platform Plank, Section I [Adopted by a vote of the members during January 15-21, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports individual privacy and liberty over how to apply technology to one’s personal life. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that each individual should remain completely sovereign in the choice to disclose or not disclose personal activities, preferences, and beliefs within the public sphere. As such, the United States Transhumanist Party opposes all forms of mass surveillance and any intrusion by governmental or private institutions upon non-coercive activities that an individual has chosen to retain within his, her, or its private sphere. However, the United States Transhumanist Party also recognizes that no individuals should be protected from peaceful criticism of any matters that those individuals have chosen to disclose within the sphere of public knowledge and discourse.”
This incident involved the drawing of blood, but considering how unscrupulously this was requested without probable cause, or any legal documentation, we have to wonder whether such demands could unlawfully be made regarding people’s prosthetics, nano-bots, or artificial eye- or hearing-replacement or enhancement in the future, with such requests being accommodated out of fear for reprisal. Indeed, for the most part we do not live in this future quite yet, but it is an important aspect to take into consideration. The scope of privacy invasion could be astronomical if such unlawful activities go unchecked. Stored images or video from an artificial eye could be demanded wholesale, including intimate encounters, for the sake of “protecting” someone, or pacemaker data to check if the victim’s pacemaker was functioning properly. The excuses made could be endless, especially when made with an argument of fear for the unknown or irregular. This is why the U.S. Transhumanist Party places importance on being pro-active in raising questions and issues that might not be of immediate concern, but may become of concern tomorrow or the day after, rather than being reactive.
Although Section XXI was conceived of, and adopted by members in the Zeitgeist of police brutality towards primarily African-American citizens in the Spring of 2017, we can observe that the police was using unlawful force to obtain blood, as well as engaging in violence by arresting a law-abiding citizen. Section XXI [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party supports a concerted effort by governments and by public opinion to eradicate police brutality against peaceful citizens, such that violent force is only utilized against individuals who actually pose an imminent threat to human lives.”
Luckily this attempt at coercing a law-abiding nurse was well-documented with video and audio. There is, however, no telling if such unlawful activities by those supposed to uphold the law happens more often, and with which frequency. In order to improve public interaction through accountability, and decrease the chances of police acting unlawfully, we have adopted Section XXXIV [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party holds that sousveillance laws should be enacted to ensure that all members of peaceful communities feel safe, to achieve governmental transparency, and to provide counter-balances to any surveillance state. For instance, law-enforcement officials, when interacting with the public, should be required to wear body cameras or similar devices continuously monitoring their activities.
The United States Transhumanist Party supports the use of technologies which increase monitoring of police action and policing activities, with expressed goals of increasing policing accountability.
The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for a requirement that data pertaining to recordings of police action be transmitted and recorded beyond police control, so as to be protected from falsification, deletion, and selective curation by police.”
The newspaper The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Salt Lake Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer stated that the department launched an internal investigation into the matter. The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not object to internal investigations, but does consider an internal investigation alone to be insufficient as detailed in Section LIX [Adopted by a vote of the members during June 18-24, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party considers it important for impartial, objective investigations of alleged police and other law-enforcement misconduct to be pursued. While law-enforcement agencies should not be prohibited from internally investigating potential abuses within their own ranks, such investigations should never be considered exclusive or conclusive, and further external checks and accountability should be instituted. As part of providing such checks and accountability, investigations regarding police misconduct, criminal activity, felonies, and misdemeanors should, in addition to any internal investigation, also be investigated by a different source – for example, a different police department, or a district attorney for a different area assigned to lead the investigation. The intent of this requirement is to limit the possibility of favorably biased or preferential treatment of a member of a given law-enforcement agency by that person’s colleagues, and to restore confidence by the public that an investigation into police misconduct is done as objectively as possible.”
Not only does the United States Transhumanist Party want people to have privacy and liberty, but to be able to enjoy these rights, and feel assured that their rights are upheld by being free from fear of representatives of the government without due cause.
Martin van der Kroon is Director of Recruitment for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
We Would Like to Welcome Everyone – Official Statement by Martin van der Kroon
The U.S. Transhumanist Party humbly prides itself on our stance regarding inclusion of people from all manner of different backgrounds, religions, and movements.
We outline this in detail in Section XXV [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party welcomes both religious and non-religious individuals who support life extension and emerging technologies. The United States Transhumanist Party recognizes that some religious individuals and interpretations may be receptive to technological progress and, if so, are valuable allies to the transhumanist movement. On the other hand, the United States Transhumanist Party is also opposed to any interpretation of a religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose religious belief by force and/or by legal compulsion.”
Furthermore, we adopted Section XX [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports the freedom of peaceful speech; religious, non-religious, and anti-religious philosophical espousal; assembly; protest; petition; and expression of grievances. The United States Transhumanist Party therefore strongly opposes all censorship, including censorship that arises out of identity politics and the desire to avoid perceived offensive behavior.”
There is good reason that these planks were adopted. Not only is the U.S. Transhumanist Party striving for inclusion where others fail, we also labor to be a party where anyone may feel welcomed. This is not entirely altruistic though. We think that people of different backgrounds, people of faith, those with perspectives different from our own, can bring valuable ideas to the table, and are uniquely qualified to criticize our own perspectives, helping us all to avoid becoming trapped within an echo-chamber.
People who believe in a higher power, despite no evidence based on our current scientific standards being available, are not automatically opposed to science, reason, and evidence. That people believe in a god does not mean they reject the laws of physics, and they may well believe that god was so awesome that he/she/it created all these amazing physics equations for us to discover. To each his or her own.
I, Martin van der Kroon, Director of Recruitment for the U.S. Transhumanist Party, being non-religious, would nonetheless be ecstatic if, for example, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, or Rabbi Wolpe would speak positive, or even support the U.S. Transhumanist Party, or engage in a debate with us. They may be people of faith, but that doesn’t mean they are devoid of intellect or meaningful ideas and opinions.
What it comes down to is that as members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, and hopefully the transhumanist movement at large, we should not perceive the Core Ideals as outlined in our Constitution as being at odds with religious beliefs. Sometimes religions are referred to as ‘deathist’ beliefs, hinting at the perception of inferiority, or perhaps perceived from the opposite side, creating the impression of elitism on part of the non-religious.
In addition to the acceptance of anyone regardless of their religions (etc.), the U.S. Transhumanist Party furthermore has adopted two plank proposals to outline practices we do not support, with the intent to further reason, acceptance, and debate, and shun intolerance and practices in direct violation of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s goals. We adopted Section XL [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]:
“In addition to its opposition to intolerant interpretations of religious doctrines, the United States Transhumanist Party is furthermore opposed to any interpretation of a secular, non-religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose certain beliefs by force and/or by legal compulsion. Examples of such doctrines opposed by the United States Transhumanist Party include Stalinism, Maoism, Neo-Malthusianism or eco-primitivism, the death-acceptance movement, and the doctrine of censorship, now prevalent on many college campuses in the United States, in the name of “social justice”, combating “triggers” or “microaggressions”, or avoiding subjectively perceived offense.”
We also adopted Section LXIII [Adopted by a vote of the members during June 18-24, 2017]:
“The United States Transhumanist Party opposes those specific cultural, religious, and social practices that violate individual rights and bodily autonomy. Examples of such unacceptable practices are forced marriage (including child marriage), male and female genital mutilation, and honor killings.”
Let us all respect that we all hold notions about our existence, about religion or lack thereof, and appreciate that we, thankfully, do differ in perspectives on such matters. Let us all engage fervently in debates, share our ideas, be critical and skeptical, but allow each other space and dignity to be ourselves.
For those who are interested in our approach of open, inclusive engagement with the ideas, technologies, and policies that can help shape a better future, we invite all of you to become members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free by filling out our Membership Application Form here.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31 – New International Version)
Martin van der Kroon is Director of Recruitment for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.