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Proposal to Establish a Legislative Action Framework – Post by R. Nicholas Starr

Proposal to Establish a Legislative Action Framework – Post by R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr


In light of recent legislative action pursued by the United States Transhumanist Party (USTP), and the urgent need for response on a topic that could have been identified much earlier, I propose the establishment of a legislation tracking and analysis structure as detailed below. The goal is not necessarily to write new legislation (we have no members currently serving in government positions), but to act as a think tank or watchdog organization as legislation is presented in federal or state governments.

Core requirements:

  • Compilation of a comprehensive topic/keyword database, sorted into issue groups
    • If possible, the creation of a legislative keyword tracking program made available to analysts in a cross platform or web based architecture
  • A chain of command detailing positions and the responsibilities their responsibilities 

Chain of Command

Chairman
|
Legislative Director ————> Expert Advisors
^
/
  Issue Analysts

Issues may include, but are not limited to:

• Artificial Intelligence
• Biohacking hardware
• Biomedical research and practical application
• Computer and data sciences
• Education
• Environment and ecology
• Existential risk
• Foreign policy
• Life extension
• Privacy, surveillance, and security
• Robotics
• Science and exploration

Keywords shall be gathered for each issue, and analysts should be provided with a thorough and frequently updated list from which to search all available resources (legislation trackers, search engines, government databases, etc.). Eventually, understanding the massive amount of work this would require, we should develop our own legislation tracking system to streamline operations and increase effectiveness.

The Legislative Director would ideally have a background in law/policy making. It would be the responsibility of the Legislative Director to inform the Chairman of all relevant legislation on a state and federal level as provided by analysts or personal observation. It would also be the Legislative Director’s responsibility to identify national policy trends and make suggestions for yearly priorities. The Legislative Director should, when necessary, reach out to our expert Advisors as listed on the USTP Advisors page.

Analysts would ideally have knowledge of/passion for the issues they desire to monitor. There should be no limit to how many analysts cover any particular issue, and individual analysts can cover multiple issues if they desire. Before an analyst submits a legislative report to the Legislative Director, they must provide a link to the legislation and try to answer the following:

  • How urgent is the matter?
    • Could this cause harm to an individual’s physical/mental health or civil rights?
  • Which article of our Platform does this pertain to?
    • If none, please explain its relevance. 
  • Does this apply to other issue groups?
  • What do you propose the Party do?
    • Provide evidence to support your position.

Many of these issues will overlap each other, which is ideal, as it may provide different analyst perspectives on a particular issue. Many of these issues may also have other prominent organizations (ACLU, EFF) that may be better equipped to address a particular issue. In such cases it is important that we identify to what extent the topic impacts our platform and whether or not it relates to future technology/advancements or present-day capabilities.

This is by no means an exhaustive recommendation, and the nature of this body should be flexible to meet the USTP’s current and future needs. Please provide your comments, recommendations, and criticisms below.

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and the founder of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Intro + Part 1) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Intro + Part 1) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

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Ojochogwu Abdul


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Introduction

In 2010, James Hughes, Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), having then just stepped down from the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association (presently known as Humanity+), took up an interesting challenge during the Spring of that year to reflect on the current state of transhumanist thought and determine what the questions were that the transhumanist movement needed to answer in order to move forward. Introducing a series of articles with which he hoped to navigate through a number of heady ideas and issues concerning transhumanism, Hughes opens by posing: “What are the current unresolved issues in transhumanist thought? Which of these issues are peculiar to transhumanist philosophy and the transhumanist movement, and which are more actually general problems of Enlightenment thought?” Further, he queried, “Which of these are simply inevitable differences of opinion among the more or less like-minded, and which need a decisive resolution to avoid tragic errors of the past?”

Some clarification is made by Hughes on the “Enlightenment” as referring to a wide variety of thinkers and movements beginning in the seventeenth century, continuing through the early nineteenth century, and centered in Britain, France, Germany, and as increasingly demonstrated by recent scholarship, manifesting on a global dimension with significant contributions from thinkers and movements across Europe, North America, and the Caribbean. Hughes points out further the relevance of these thinkers and movements in terms of their endeavour in broadly emphasizing the capacity of individuals for achieving social and technological progress through application of critical reason to investigate nature, establish new forms and institutions of governance, and transcend such stagnating (or even retrogressive) forces as superstition and authoritarianism.

The engagement Hughes then sets for himself as he proceeded forward were a set of reflections which he was to structure around two general questions:

  1. An attempt to parse out which unresolved problems transhumanism has inherited from the Enlightenment; and
  2. How transhumanist technological utopianism has both inspired and delayed scientific and political progress over the last 300 years.

By addressing these questions, Hughes proposed to challenge a prevailing anti-utopian sentiment and hopefully furnish awareness of the way that dynamic optimism about transcendent possibilities motivated scientific innovation and democratic reform through the work of such thinkers and proto-transhumanists like the Marquis de Condorcet, Joseph Priestley, and J.B.S. Haldane. Indeed, for Hughes, transhumanism and techno-utopianism are part of the family of Enlightenment philosophies, both of which could be traced back to the original Enlightenment thinkers 300 years ago. The ideological conflicts within transhumanism today are, therefore, as Hughes would argue, to be understood by transhumanists as but the product of some 300-year-old conflicts within the Enlightenment itself.

The outcome of this effort, thankfully undertaken by Hughes, was a series of six essays grappling with diverse transhumanism-related issues ranging from problems surrounding the unsustainable autonomy of reason/rationality, and the belief in progress in contrast with rational uncertainty, to matters of deism, atheism and naturalist theology, from liberal democracy and technological absolutism to moral universalism and relativism, and from ideas concerning liberal individualism to the (threat of) erosion of personal identity.

Hughes titled this series of essays “Problems of Transhumanism”, each with its distinctive sub-title. And if one thing at least is to be appreciated from reading these articles, it is, in my modest opinion, the success with which they present the modern transhumanist project as bearing within its character and objective “the unfinished internal contradictions of the Enlightenment tradition.” The author, of course, emphasizes from the onset a yet important motive to his attempt which was to make clear which criticisms of transhumanism are internal contradictions, and which proceed from “external, non-Enlightenment predicates.”

Over the next week or so, I’ll be doing a review of these articles serially, starting with Part 1 below, while also incorporating some relevant views from a number of other thinkers as may be necessary, to aid commentary or analysis of Hughes’ arguments. This exercise, on my part, is essentially intended and hopefully geared to serve as an expository approach towards highlighting the contemporary philosophy and cultural movement of transhumanism whilst encouraging further discourse on the subject.

I invite and would be glad to have as many that may be interested in working through these ideas and issues with me, even as I endeavour, with these series of articles, to open conversations about them.

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The U.S. Transhumanist Party’s First 1,000 Members: An Aggregate Demographic Analysis

The U.S. Transhumanist Party’s First 1,000 Members: An Aggregate Demographic Analysis

Gennady Stolyarov II


On July 7, 2018, the United States Transhumanist Party finally reached its major milestone of 1,000 members.  The U.S. Transhumanist Party collects extremely limited information on its members as a way of respecting their privacy; generally, we only request enough information to be able to contact our members and identify where (in terms of general jurisdiction) they are located. However, it is still possible to derive some general, aggregated insights from overall membership data without compromising any individual member’s privacy. The U.S. Transhumanist Party makes such aggregated data available for the purposes of providing insights as to the composition of the largest transhumanist political organization in the world, which may indirectly (though not precisely) shed insights into the composition of the broader transhumanist movement – at least in terms of identifying where transhumanists tend to be concentrated and areas where the movement is making inroads, as well as continued challenges in reaching certain areas and demographics. Caution should be exercised, however, in considering this information to be “set in stone”, as it is merely a snapshot in time of membership composition, which itself will evolve as new members are added. Furthermore, it is possible that the proportion of individuals who have thoughts or sympathies that could be broadly construed as transhumanist would differ from the proportion of members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party – even based on incidental elements such as the current reach of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s social networks and media presence, which may be uneven across various constituencies, but which we are always striving to improve.

Members by Type (United States or Allied)

United States Members (Eligible to vote in U.S.): 704 – 70.4%
Allied Members (Anyone else capable of holding a political opinion): 296 – 29.6%

Commentary: As was anticipated by U.S. Transhumanist Party leadership prior to this analysis, approximately 70% (70.4%) of members are eligible to vote in U.S. elections, and those members largely reside in the United States, while 30% (29.6%) of members are Allied Members – either U.S. residents who are not eligible to vote in U.S. elections, or transhumanists residing in other countries. All members, including Allied Members, are eligible to take part in the internal votes and deliberations of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, as we pride ourselves on our cosmopolitan, international character and see the future of humankind as gradually rendering national distinctions ever less relevant, since the transformative impact of technological progress transcends all national and ethnic boundaries and will hopefully benefit all humankind to the maximal extent possible.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party began to collect information about members’ specific jurisdictions in December 2017. This information was supplemented in the present analysis by additional information known directly to U.S. Transhumanist Party leadership regarding particular members’ jurisdictions of residence. As a result, 437 out of 1,000 members were able to be matched with a particular jurisdiction of residence, which is at presently utilized for aggregate data-analysis purposes only. The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not collect more granular residence information about its members, other than their U.S. state or non-U.S. country of residence.

Members by U.S. State
(Only members who identified their state or otherwise were known to reside there were tabulated.)

Non-U.S. Members by Country
(Only members who identified their country of residence or otherwise were known to reside there were tabulated.)

Commentary: The plurality of United States Members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party reside in California, while other states of prominent member presence include New York, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, and Washington. This is not surprising, given the concentration of technologically oriented businesses in California, as well as the high population numbers in many of the other listed states. Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon, however, appear to have higher concentrations of Transhumanist Party members relative to their populations. Allied Members have a widespread international presence and representation on almost all continents. Among non-U.S. members, the largest numbers appear to be in the United Kingdom and Canada – where transhumanists often closely interact with their counterparts in the United States – as well as India, where we attribute the prominent member presence to interest in technology, a rapidly changing society and economy, strong ties with the West through immigration and educational exchange, as well as the fact that India is now the world’s second-most populous country.  Unfortunately, the world’s most populous country, China, is only represented by one member (who recently immigrated there). We attribute this to the lack of political freedom in China and the restrictions on information access imposed by the Chinese government. While the Chinese government has numerous favorable attributes – including a pragmatic, pro-economic-growth, generally pro-technology outlook, the unfortunate inclination toward authoritarian control of the social and political spheres prevents what would have been many otherwise highly beneficial collaborations between the U.S. Transhumanist Party and residents of China.

Members by Gender

Commentary: The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not directly inquire about any member’s gender – nor does the U.S. Transhumanist Party take any position on gender issues, the origin of gender, post-genderism, or related matters – other than to affirm its commitment to inclusivity and openness to all individuals who share our Core Ideals, irrespective of their gender, gender identity or expression or lack thereof, or specific views on gender issues. However, an aggregate analysis of member composition by gender may be informative as to the extent to which the U.S. Transhumanist Party could continue to expand its reach and the effectiveness of its message.

For most members, it was possible to discern their gender by considering their names – since names are most often gender-specific – or, if the members happened to be personally known to leadership of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, this information was also utilized to accurately determine those members’ genders. For some members such a determination was not possible based on the information provided, so they were classified as “Unknown” for purposes of this analysis. This is a sufficiently small category that it was grouped with those members who are known to specifically identify as agender or non-gender.  The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not guarantee the complete accuracy of this analysis, but we are reasonably confident that at least 95% of the members’ gender was identified accurately. Based on this confidence, we can also posit that the material conclusions of the analysis would not be affected if additional or revised information about a small number of members’ gender were made available.

Male Members: 854 – 85.4%
Female Members: 133 – 13.3%
Agender Members and Members of Unknown Gender: 13 – 1.3%

There is nothing gender-specific about transhumanism, and the aspirations and values of transhumanism are aimed at benefiting all humans and other sentient entities – so, at first glance, it is rather difficult to understand why a significant apparent proportional difference by gender exists in U.S. Transhumanist Party membership counts. There is no single definitive hypothesis as to why this is presently the case. However, the existence of this difference was anecdotally known to U.S. Transhumanist Party leadership prior to this analysis, and a heuristic figure of 80% male / 20% female composition for the transhumanist movement as a whole was used in communications on this issue. It is noteworthy that, while the actual proportions are possibly closer to 86% male  /14% female, the composition of newer members (those who signed up in 2018) has been 83.4% male / 15.2% female / 1.3% unknown, so it is possible that proportionally more individuals who identify as female are becoming aware of and interested in transhumanist ideas and the work of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Furthermore, many female members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party are prominent public figures whose work appears regularly on our website and whose contributions to the actualization of our goals are highly valued.

One possibility is that the initial gender difference in U.S. Transhumanist Party membership composition is an artifact of a similar gender difference in the “tech” industry, with which many (though not all) transhumanists happen to have some association. Any gender disparities in the “tech” industry existed prior to the emergence of transhumanism and arose completely independently of transhumanism or transhumanist projects or activism. It may simply be the case that individuals in the “tech” industry are more likely to be aware of transhumanism and developments in Transhumanist politics in the first place, and it takes additional work to reach constituencies outside of the “tech” industry. Fortunately, if this interpretation is accurate, then the U.S. Transhumanist Party is one of the best available vehicles for undertaking this task, since its leadership is predominantly not culturally or organizationally tied to large technology companies or the norms of Silicon Valley, but rather tends to be substantially more diverse and independent in terms of backgrounds, skill sets, and outlooks.

Ultimately, we seek to grow our membership everywhere and work toward an entire world which identifies as transhumanist. With this, we encourage everyone, of all genders, countries, backgrounds, and skill sets, to sign up for absolutely free membership in the U.S. Transhumanist Party and begin to contribute to the progress of our mission to put science, health, and technology  at the forefront of politics and thereby create a world of indefinitely long life, universal abundance, rational and policy-oriented politics, and protection against all existential risks. The composition of our membership going forward can be affected by you.