Rachel Haywire Johannon Ben Zion Charles Holsopple Moderated by Gennady Stolyarov II
Watch highlights from the first virtual debate among U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP) candidates for President of the United States, which took place on Saturday, July 6, 2019, at 3 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time.
Candidates Rachel Haywire, Johannon Ben Zion, and Charles Holsopple provided their introductory statements and discussed how their platforms reflect the Core Ideals of the USTP.
This highlights reel was created by Tom Ross, the USTP Director of Media Production. Watch the full 3-hour debate here.
On June 28, 2019, two of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party Presidential primary candidates, Rachel Haywire and Johannon Ben Zion, conversed about the juxtaposition of techno-progressive and public-health goals, policy-making, and organizing.
This thoughtful and constructive policy-oriented discussion is a worthy precursor to the forthcoming July 6 Virtual Debate (which the public can watch here), where candidates including Johannon Ben Zion and Rachel Haywire (as well as Charles Holsopple and Dan Good) will be articulating their visions of transhumanist policy to the public. The caliber and civility of discourse in the Ben Zion / Haywire conversation stand out as being immensely higher than what was observed during the Democratic primary debates, where it seems that many of the candidates were at one another’s throats. Once again, transhumanists have shown that they can do better. This discussion is a valuable building block for the outcome that we hope will happen once the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party Electronic Primary is concluded in mid-August – that all of the candidates will collaborate with the nominee, no matter who wins, and work toward maximizing the influence and impact of transhumanist ideas and policy proposals.
The Transhumanist Party Presidential Process Can Change the World – Post by Zoltan Istvan
As the 2016 U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential candidate, I encourage everyone to take part in the USTP’s 2019 process for selecting its 2020 nominee for the office of President of the United States. Please take the time to learn about the candidates, support the ones you favor most, become a member of the USTP for free, and help put science, health, and technology at the forefront of American politics!
I can attest to the effectiveness of transhumanist political activism as the candidate who trafficked 5th or 6th in the media for large swaths of the end of 2016 elections, making an enormous difference to life extension, which coincidentally now has many billions of dollars flowing into it – far more than when I started my campaign. One of these candidates above can win the Presidency and bring the Transhumanist Party to power as well along the way.
I would like to counter the critics who accuse the Transhumanist Party Presidential process of being “distractive nonsense” – and yet “distractive nonsense” is exactly what those critics are preaching. People have a right to push forward their ideas and political values regardless. And we may just find that it was the Transhumanist Party and its candidates that changed the world far more than the 4 or 8 years of Trump.
We are going to run into a lot of people who aim to deny Americans their right to vote and support whom they want to choose. I want everyone to know that the Transhumanist Party candidate can be powerful and historic. We must always maintain the right to support whom we want, win or lose. I absolutely despise this idea we are stuck with only left or right. There are many reasons to run for the Transhumanist Party – reasons that could prove far more important than a single Presidency.
This is really important in 2020. The Libertarians, Greens, Transhumanist Party folks, and other third parties and independents have as much a right to win the Presidency as anyone. That’s what America is about. In 2020, because of what happened in 2016, this will be a big topic. We must defend our right to exist and thrive as much as possible. We must fight to keep America free and politically diverse.
Zoltan Istvan is the founder of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and its former Chairman (October 7, 2014 – November 16, 2016) and 2016 Presidential candidate. In 2018 he ran as a Libertarian for Governor of California. Zoltan Istvanis a renowned journalist, entrepreneur, and transhumanist. He writes transhumanist-themed columns: “The Transhumanist Philosopher” – a blog for Psychology Today, and “Transhumanist Future” for Vice’s Motherboard. He has also worked as a reporter for the National Geographic Channel and is a blogger of futurist, transhumanist, and atheist topics for The Huffington Post. He is the author of The Transhumanist Wager, a philosophical science fiction novel.
U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Second Anniversary Message
It astonishes me that two years have elapsed since I became Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party on November 17, 2016. Nonetheless, in retrospect, it seems that we are living in a different epoch from the one in which I stepped into this leadership role. In this epoch, transhumanism is no longer a fringe extreme; while we are a small political party, we occupy the sensible moderate ground – the civilized center of political discourse – precisely because we reject the downward spiral of toxicity, tribalism, political violence, and zero-sum partisanship which characterizes both the Democratic and Republican Parties today. Many people beyond the historic core transhumanist constituencies ought to find our message appealing, if they only knew about the Transhumanist Party and what it actually stands for.
While 2017 was a year of focusing on developing our now-extensive Platform, 2018 was characterized by increased outreach, more frequent events and interviews, steady membership growth (doubling our membership to 1,187 as of this writing), and the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s first foray into electoral politics under my Chairmanship. For a summary of our achievements in 2018, I encourage you to watch my speech at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, CA, entitled “The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future” and attended by over 1,000 people.
We endorsed two candidates during this election season, James D. Schultz and myself. While Mr. Schultz fell slightly short of the 1,500 petition signatures required by New York law for ballot access, he did obtain 1,239 signatures, which shows that transhumanism can attract supporters in the four-figure range with diligent advocacy.
My own campaign for the Board of Trustees of the Indian Hills General Improvement District (IHGID) in Nevada was able to proceed to the general-election stage, since ballot access was available without the need to submit petitions. I ultimately obtained 520 votes out of 2,024 residents who cast their ballots. While I did not win a seat on the Board, 25.7% – more than a quarter – of the voters cast affirmative ballots in my favor.
While I would have preferred to win, this outcome still shows that my campaign – on which I spent no money but rather utilized social media, in-person appearances in public places, videos, and word of mouth – enabled me to reach more than a quarter of the residents after beginning with essentially zero name recognition in the area. Transhumanism, when articulated in a mainstream-friendly manner, can elicit support from people across the political spectrum and in all walks of life. We just need to continue to spread our message with determination and deliberate regarding ways of reaching constituencies who might not have become aware of transhumanism yet – perhaps because our methods of communication have not yet overlapped with their preferred media and social circles.
I am not particularly disappointed regarding the outcome of the IHGID Board election, since even getting to the stage where a Transhumanist-Party-endorsed candidate appeared on the ballot and received 520 votes constitutes major progress, since even Zoltan Istvan in 2016 had to campaign as a write-in candidate and so did not receive an official count of the votes cast in his favor. Furthermore, in my experience, the IHGID Board of Trustees is extremely open to resident input. As a resident, I have always been able to speak my mind at the Board meetings and make suggestions that have had substantive impacts. I am confident that the elected Board members are good people who have the well-being of the residents in mind, and that each of them will be receptive to at least a significant portion of my ideas in the future. Furthermore, I think this campaign helped me incrementally in the longer term to build ties with people in my community and to become more involved and able to have a voice in the many ongoing interesting developments that affect it.
From the standpoint of improving the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s political acumen, however, with a result such as the outcome of the IHGID vote, it is important to understand what happened and why and to see what this can teach about politics, the spread of information, and human dynamics more generally.
What factors could explain this outcome, to the best of my knowledge? Some of the electoral dynamics involved surprised me. Residents were able to choose up to three candidates, and it seems rather unusual to me that so few did. My calculations (which I am happy to share in greater detail upon request) indicate the following:
Of those IHGID residents who voted in 2018 at all:
– 878 voters did not make a selection.
– 605 voters only made 1 choice.
– 1,281 voters only made 2 choices.
– 138 voters made 3 choices. (I am one of those voters.)
It is possible that some voters did not understand that they could select multiple candidates. I expected that my best outcome would arise in a situation where I would be seen as a “consensus candidate” whom other candidates would be agreeable to supporting. However, this situation could only materialize if most, or at least many, voters voted for three choices.
However, the majority of those who voted actually selected two options rather than three. This suggests that they knew their prerogatives – so the possibilities are (a) they only voted for candidates whose names they recognized; and/or (b) there could have been a coalition between some two of the candidates (I do not know which two and would have no way of knowing), who informed their supporters to support both of them but not select a third.
However, the most disappointing explanation possible (if true) is this: names were arranged in alphabetical order by last name on the ballot, and some voters might have just picked the first name or the first two or three names. This could indeed have happened in an election which was not all that controversial, where there were no “hot-button” issues, where all the candidates were on friendly terms, where very little money was spent (none on my end), and where probably many voters only minimally informed themselves about the candidates.
My campaign, based on all indications, dominated on the Internet and social media – yet there are many residents of the District who do not appear to use the Internet or social media to any great extent. All of my interactions with residents who knew of my campaign have been extremely positive, but I posit that there exists a large demographic whom my efforts did not reach because there was not any online medium to even facilitate an in-person interaction (e.g., they did not see my announcements on Nextdoor.com and did not watch the candidate videos; also, their in-person activities do not overlap with mine). How to reach such constituents is a perpetual challenge, especially because I only practice genteel campaign tactics – e.g., no door-to-door soliciting or other intrusive messaging; I let people process information at their own convenience. I hypothesize that the only real way to attain recognition from non-Internet users is to build a reputation over many years of participation in in-person community activities. The contemporary world is quite fragmented, so those activities have been rarer than I would like – but there may be more opportunities over the coming years. I raise the more general question of how transhumanists can be more effective in reaching constituencies that are not as active online as most of us technology enthusiasts. What tactics can work to build both name recognition and good will? Comments and suggestions are most welcome.
For me, my next proximate political area of focus will be continuing to build the U.S. Transhumanist Party in its national and international presence and intellectual influence. There is much effort that could be put forth in this area in the immediate future.
We have already opened a new exposure period to consider clarifying amendments to the Transhumanist Bill of Rights. While the Transhumanist Bill of Rights is achieving significant media coverage, we need to be vigilant against basic factual inaccuracies regarding the representation of its contents. These amendments will enable us to steer the narrative toward what transhumanists actually think and value, rather than unwarranted assumptions and associations made by persons whose agendas often steer them in the direction of manufacturing straw-man positions that transhumanists do not, in fact, espouse.
In early 2019 we will conduct the selection process for the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s 2020 Presidential candidate. Unlike the major political parties, we will have a short campaign season for contenders and an electronic, ranked-preference primary held during the same timeframe for all members, no matter where they reside. This will be a practical implementation of Sections XXVIII, XXIX, and XXX of our Platform. We are still looking for potential candidates for political office at any level in 2020, but having a Presidential candidate will be important as a high-profile educational approach to expose vast numbers of people to transhumanist ideas and aspirations. For this role we are seeking an erudite, articulate, scientifically literate individual with sufficient resources to self-fund a campaign and an absolute commitment to carry such a campaign through to Election Day in November 2020.
We need to continue to press toward our crucial threshold goal of 10,000 members. Membership is free and quick to acquire, and now brings several additional benefits with it. Please persuade as many people as you can to go to our free Membership Application Form at https://transhumanist-party.org/membership/ and sign up in less than a minute, no matter where they reside.
We need existing members to organize grassroots initiatives – which can include meetups, presentations, writing of articles and policy papers, and outreach within their local communities. If you engage in activism on behalf of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, please contact me and let me know what you wish to do or have done already, and we will publicize it as an example to other members of what is possible. No matter what your skill set, there are many constructive possibilities for you to contribute to our movement and the public’s recognition of it. An active presence in public discourse matters most of all at this stage. Be creative in how you bring that active presence into being!
We need to create State-level Transhumanist Parties in every State. If your State is not represented on our list of State Parties, you are welcome to form a State-level party yourself and contact me about doing so. While you explore the relevant requirements for official formation, even beginning a Facebook group for coordination among the members of the embryonic State-level Transhumanist Party would be a major step forward.
We need to expand our Foreign Ambassador program to as many countries as possible. The U.S. Transhumanist Party is proud of its international membership and the many fruitful ways in which we have coordinated with transhumanists in other countries. The more representatives we have abroad, the more opportunities there will be for transhumanism to become an integrated global phenomenon that guides the policies of all nations in pro-technology, pro-life-extension, pro-reason directions. To apply to become a Foreign Ambassador, fill out our application form here.
We need to continue improving our internal infrastructure, from developing a more efficient voting system (while preserving the ranked-preference method, but hopefully automating the instant runoffs and the publication of results) to adding more features to our website to encourage members to visit it more frequently and participate in discussions and other initiatives available through it. If you have not actively participated on the U.S. Transhumanist Party website yet, we would be interested to know why not, and what additional elements of the website might encourage you to participate in the future.
If you were to retain only several key insights from this message, they would be the following:
Attaining basic public awareness remains the major challenge of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and of transhumanism in general.
Growth in active members who operate at the grassroots level is the key to overcoming this challenge. Encourage others to sign up for free here.
Our message is appealing to the mainstream when properly articulated, but to succeed in doing so, we need to be in control of the narrative and speak for ourselves, instead of letting the media and intellectual opponents portray us as caricatured straw-men.
The moment the general public becomes tired of the partisan toxicity of the major political parties to the extent of actually creating a political vacuum, we need to be ready with a constructive alternative. We already have the conceptual alternative prepared; now we need to prepare the infrastructure to deploy and expand it.
There is much that you as an individual can do. Do it!
May the next year of my Chairmanship see the U.S. Transhumanist Party attain many of its goals and achieve unprecedented growth and impact for the transhumanist movement. If this happens, it will be because you, our members, will have made it happen.
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by Keith Yu as part of its ongoing integration with the Transhuman Party. This article was originally published on the Transhuman Party website on June 1, 2018, and discusses Mr. Yu’s experiences meeting with Democratic technoprogressive Presidential candidate Andrew Yang. The U.S. Transhumanist Party has not endorsed Andrew Yang as of this publication and would not endorse a candidate running for either of the major U.S. political parties, but we do consider our website to be a place where members can discuss political issues and candidates relevant to transhumanism from a multiplicity of viewpoints so as to encourage conversations about desirable policies as well as which candidate(s) the U.S. Transhumanist Party could consider endorsing for the 2020 election season.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 29, 2018
I walk into the back room of the San Francisco Mission district’s Tacolicious Wednesday evening with a purpose. I am here for a meet and greet with 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang and I am armed – with questions. Questions derived from the past few months researching this man whose values seem to so naturally align with my own. Questions from myself as well as from the Transhumanist community at large.
Andrew greets me with a warm smile and a hand. Keith Yu, I introduce myself, of the Transhuman Party. He is interested, but inquisitive, and asks me what Transhumanism is about. I tell him that we envision a future-proofed human race that will thrive as we head towards the future.
“Would you call me a Transhumanist?” he asks. But I think this is something that he needs to decide for himself. He is, however, definitively technoprogressive. The primary plank on his platform, his “Freedom Dividend” (named thus, he jokes, because it tested well with people on all sides of the political spectrum) of $1000 a month to all adult citizens, is a direct response to the job losses caused by automation, now, and in the near future. Indeed, the reason for his bid for presidency is due to the lack of a plan to address these concerns in DC. “I will become the plan,” he says. Beyond the Freedom Dividend, many of his other policy positions put an emphasis on investing in technology and especially, understanding technology’s effects on people – a cautious optimist, as far as technology is concerned.
People filter in slowly, most giving Andrew hugs, a few, handshakes. Most attendees of this small gathering, it seems, are friends. Servers wander around and between mingling groups, ceviche tostadas and bruschetta at the ready. A margarita bar sits in the corner of the room, and specialty tacos adorn a table along the wall. We are soon gathered in a semicircle around the room as Andrew takes the stage.
He gestures to the screen behind him and an introduction video begins to play.
Andrew speaks at length about his universal basic income (UBI) policy as well as his slogan, “Humanity First”, and how it translates into his policy platform. Andrew plans to change the way America measures its progress by adopting such measurements as childhood success, median wealth, incarceration rates, and more, on top of the existing measurements of GDP and job statistics. He also plans to implement a system of digital-social currency for “doing good things that normally don’t have dollar values”, such as volunteering for one’s community or starting a book club. The credits can then be used redeem discounts or experiences in much the same way that credit card points are used. He believes that this credit system will help improve social cohesion and increase civic engagement.
But I have seen all of this before on his website and have even explored it in another article. I came here for a purpose, and as the floor is opened up for questions, I seize my chance.
“What are your views on longevity research?” I ask.
Andrew Yang responds. He is supportive of longevity research, but believes that it does not need much public support. Citing the efforts of Silicon Valley elites, he asserts that private interests will support longevity research naturally.
“And what are your views on the regulations around illegal and controlled substances for the purpose of research?”
Andrew initially misunderstands this question as a question about marijuana (which he supports for recreational and therapeutic use). Having botched the question initially, I follow up with him afterwards, mentioning the difficulty that researchers run into with the National Institute on Drug Abuse when trying to acquire controlled substances for their research. He tells me that he is very much supportive of research and is strongly against blanket criminalizations.
With the questions that I had come to ask out of the way, I wander over to the bar in the corner of the room and grab a margarita.
Keith Yu is a Bay Area-based research scientist working within the biotech industry.
Andrew Yang: 2020 Presidential Candidate with Transhumanist Values – Article by Keith Yu
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by Keith Yu as part of its ongoing integration with the Transhuman Party. This article was originally published on the Transhuman Party website on March 24, 2018, and discusses Mr. Yu’s perspectives on Andrew Yang’s candidacy. The U.S. Transhumanist Party has not endorsed Andrew Yang as of this publication and would not endorse a candidate running for either of the major U.S. political parties, but we do consider our website to be a place where members can discuss political issues and candidates relevant to transhumanism from a multiplicity of viewpoints so as to encourage conversations about desirable policies as well as which candidate(s) the U.S. Transhumanist Party could consider endorsing for the 2020 election season.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 29, 2018
“Let’s Put Humanity First” is the slogan for 2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang. As an entrepreneur and businessman, Yang deeply understands the threat that new technologies – robotics, software, artificial intelligence – have on many Americans. With millions of jobs already lost to automation and millions more on the line, Yang wants to put Humanity First by directing these new technologies towards improving human welfare, rather than towards the pure business goal of maximizing profit.
Although he has not identified himself as a transhumanist, Yang’s policy positions strongly identify with technoprogressive Transhumanism. As such, I – as a member of the Transhuman Party – am promoting Andrew Yang for consideration as a potential transhumanist candidate for the 2020 Presidential election.
“Andrew’s Big Three Policies”
Yang’s top three policies are all related to improving the human condition. However, the one that he emphasizes as the most important is his “Freedom Dividend”, a form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) of $1000/month for every American adult between 18 and 64, independent of work status or any other factor. This would be paid for by consolidating existing welfare programs as well as by adding a “value-added” tax on goods and services produced by businesses. The Freedom Dividend is a direct response to the onset of automation and the massive job loss that is occuring as a result. By providing UBI of $1000/month to every American adult, Yang hopes to immediately improve every citizen’s quality of living, directly combat poverty, and mitigate the effects of job loss caused by automation.
The second of Yang’s “big three policies” is single-payer healthcare in addition to changing the healthcare landscape as a whole. He sums up the rationale behind his position: “By providing holistic healthcare to all our citizens, we’ll drastically increase the average quality of life, extend life expectancies, and treat issues that often go untreated. We’ll also be able to bring costs under control and outcomes up, as most other industrialized nations have.” In addition to increasing access to preventative care and thereby lowering overall healthcare costs, Yang plans to emphasize “holistic” medicine, which recognizes the importance of mental health in addition to physical health. He also plans to change the doctor compensation model from the pay-per-service to salaried, disincentivizing such practices as ordering redundant tests and “churn[ing] through patient after patient”, and incentivizing innovative treatment methods and methodologies, such as the use of AI-supplemented college or Master’s program graduates as a new class of healthcare provider.
The last of the “big three policies” is a refocusing of our capitalist system in a movement Yang calls “Human Capitalism”, wherein the economy will be directed to work for humans, rather than the other way around. In action, this means that an airline would no longer be able to kick someone off of their flight because a last minute customer is paying more money, and drug companies would not be able to charge extortionate prices for life saving drugs because their patients are desperate. To manage Human Capitalism, Yang plans for the government to adopt such measurements as median income, life expectancy, average physical fitness and mental health, environmental quality, informational integrity (“fake news”), public safety, and many more in addition to the GDP and job statistics that we have today.
In addition to his big three policies, Andrew Yang’s platform consists of a deluge of other Transhumanist and technoprogressive positions.
Regarding technology, Yang writes, “Technological innovation shouldn’t be stopped, but it should be monitored and analyzed to make sure we don’t move past a point of no return. This will require cooperation between the government and private industry to ensure that developing technologies can continue to improve our lives without destroying them.” To do this, Yang plans to create an executive Department of Technology to monitor developments, assess risks, and create guidance. Initially, this department would focus on AI, moving on to other technologies as they develop. Yang would also work to understand the effects of emerging technologies on human health and behavior, such as in the case of the widespread adoption of smartphones. In addition, Yang plans to invest in modern infrastructure such as fiber-optic high speed internet, to support net neutrality, and to increase competition between internet providers.
Yang believes in improving the American education system by increasing teacher salary, hiring standards, and quality expectations, and by incentivizing teachers to continually improve. He also supports life-skills education, such as financial planning, physical fitness and healthy meal prep, interview skills, conflict management, and time management. He would control the costs of higher education, including reducing the price of community college classes, and promote vocational education. These changes would be funded by reducing the number of administrative layers currently in our education system.
To mitigate the effects of anthropogenic climate change, Yang plans to to regulate fossil fuels and support sustainable infrastructure in addition to investing in technologies that reverse the damage already done, such as carbon capture and geoengineering. He believes that nuclear energy can act as a sort of stepping stone energy source between fossil fuels and truly sustainable energy production.
As once-futuristic technologies become the norm, Yang takes a technoprogressive approach to monitoring developments and assessing risks. In a time when automation-caused job loss and disruption is already occurring at a rapid pace, with no sign of slowing down, 2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang believes that we should invest in a future where humans, rather than dollars, are the most valuable asset in our economy.
Keith Yu is a Bay Area-based research scientist working within the biotech industry.
California Transhumanist Party Leadership Meeting – Presentation by Newton Lee and Discussion on Transhumanist Political Efforts
Newton Lee Gennady Stolyarov II Bobby Ridge Charlie Kam
The California Transhumanist Party held its inaugural Leadership Meeting on January 27, 2018. Newton Lee, Chairman of the California Transhumanist Party and Education and Media Advisor of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, outlined the three Core Ideals of the California Transhumanist Party (modified versions of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Core Ideals), the forthcoming book “Transhumanism: In the Image of Humans” – which he is curating and which will contain essays from leading transhumanist thinkers in a variety of realms, and possibilities for outreach, future candidates, and collaboration with the U.S. Transhumanist Party and Transhumanist Parties in other States. U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II contributed by providing an overview of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s current operations and possibilities for running or endorsing candidates for office in the coming years.