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A Dialogue on the Simulation Interview with Dan Faggella: A Case for Responsible Stewardship – Article by Dinorah Delfin

A Dialogue on the Simulation Interview with Dan Faggella: A Case for Responsible Stewardship – Article by Dinorah Delfin

Dinorah Delfin


Voice by Terence McKenna

Last week I published an article, Programmatically Generated Everything – The Intelligence/Love Paradox” in response to an interview with Dan Faggella for Allen Saakyan’s Simulation series.

Dan’s thoughtful response to my article was highly stimulating as he was able to mindfully elaborate on, and critique my thoughts. So grateful for the opportunity to have this exchange of insights – Thank you!

Dan hypothesizes that human civilization might be heading towards a future subordinated by “substrate digital monopolies”, and as a result, becoming more disconnected from real human interactions, nature, and a truer sense of reality.

From this exchange, we expressed agreement on three fundamental areas:

1. A future controlled by substrate digital monopolies is one we don’t want, and therefore should mitigate.

2. We need to agree on a global set of values to enable responsible and sustainable technological development.

3. Emerging technologies such as virtual realities (VR), brain-computer interfaces or brain-machine interfaces (BMI), and artificial general intelligence (AGI) will benefit humanity and all sentient life, if used responsibly.

1. Predicting undesirable futures

For the record, this world of substrate monopolies is not something I hope for, strive for, or wish for. Rather, I consider it likely (read the full essay on the matter). It’s a hypothesis – and more than anything – a warning against a kind of power conflict that I fear. Such virtual worlds could be amazing and beneficial, but the conflict of controlling the substrate is a reality I foresee to be likely, not a reality I foresee to be preferable.” — Dan Faggella

Given our global market dynamics, sadly, substrate digital monopolies are likely to happen. The greater the disconnect between meaningful human interactions and nature, the longer we’ll perpetuate the destructive narcissism and lack of care driving society to an accelerating ecological and moral crisis. Could it be that a greater disconnect from a Truer sense Self and of Reality could put at odds the stability of all natural systems – including intelligent life itself?

Though I embrace the idea that we, technological creatures, have an inherent right to have full sovereignty over our individual evolution and senescence through the means of science and technologies, I’m also aware that many things can and will probably go wrong if we don’t properly educate ourselves or have the right policies in place.

How could we redirect the destructive forces of a global arms race for digital dominance towards instead a thriving technological era of creative and ecological flourishing? What would it take for market forces to adopt systems that are in service of all stakeholders?

By understanding where we come from – historically, biologically, and energetically – we will be better equipped at thinking and solving problems holistically and sustainably.

2. On the issue of context and values

During my years in Business School at Baruch College N.Y., a class that had the most impact on my education was “Social Entrepreneurship”.

As we become more dependent on automated processes, we ought to also device outlets for people to participate in Creative Processes that involve both the fulfillment of drives and pleasures and the accumulation of virtues and sound moral values. The better we are at mastering Self-Leadership, the better we will be at designing social systems that operate under the Highest Ethical Standards.

How can businesses and corporations profit from making the world a better place? How can we inspire young entrepreneurs to find True meaning in Life so that our drives and intentions are aligned with maintaining a more Harmonious Universal Ecosystem?

“Most of what we believe to be moral tenets and insights are contextual”, says Dan. I agree. It is a postmodern sensibility based on the universal natural principle of Relativism, which means, everything is essentially an opinion and nothing could be iron truth.

Some things are More truthful than others however, for example, when supported by empirical evidence. Context isn’t fixed. A set of values need not be static. (The USTP’s Bill of Rights, for example, is a living document which can be amended via votes by the U.S. Transhumanist Party members.) 

In response to last week’s article, fellow USTP Officer, Ryan Stevenson, shared the following observations:

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues you raise about the relationship between human intelligence/reason/technology and goodness recently, and what you’ve written here is really insightful. It seems that’s it’s rather easy to forget that technology isn’t a panacea, and there must be (as you put it) ‘humane’ intentions guiding its use.  

A number of the distinctions you put forward reminded me of an early Christian philosopher, Maximus the Confessor. Maximus was one of the first individuals in Western thought to grapple with the nature of technology and, unlike his fellow Christians, saw its potential for making human beings more human.  Obviously, his thought exists in a theistic context, but maybe Maximus belongs in our list of Transhumanist forebears. If you’re interested, here’s an article that touches on some of his philosophy dealing with techne…

I also support advocating for a proactive policy with regards to BMI and VR at international bodies like the UN.  Building a transorganizational coalition with other groups would be a good step forward – labor and time-intensive, but important and doable.  It would be great to get that conversation going.” 

Maximus the Confessor’s theistic approach to this early reference to critical and ethical Transhumanism is a compelling reminder that one of the most fundamental uses of technology is to help humans become More Humane. In this article, it is argued that technology is meant to assist us in “stewarding creation across the cosmos” and that the tradition of “natural law reasoning” can help “ground a global ethic for sustainable and integral development”.

Could natural law reasoning based on empirical evidence be a viable tool to articulate norms and ideas of universal understanding?

Growing up as a Christian, for example, I often wondered about the meaning of the “holy spirit”. Devoid of mythology, the concept is one of transition towards self-awareness – Ape-to-Human – the idea of “self” becoming apparent to “sinless” primates whose awareness might have increased from introducing bone marrow and mushrooms to their diet, leading to an miraculous evolutionary transition from fearful subjects of nature’s will, to responsible masters and designers of our individual and collective destiny. 

The un-learning of one’s convictions to exercise novelty and expanded new perspectives (the dissolution of limiting beliefs) is one of the most challenging of human endeavors, but the only way to true freedom and collective harmony.

3. Love and god as universal natural phenomena; not as romantic ideas of love, or a culture’s perception of a “moral” “entity”.

In an age of powerful technology, it becomes poignantly obvious that while a personal and social ethic remain necessary—albeit altered to reflect emerging understandings of personhood and relationality—they are also increasingly not sufficient. If as humanity, as one global culture, we are to order complex ecological changes effected through human (and possibly even non-human) agency and manipulation, natural law reasoning must be more profoundly cosmological. This implies, that natural law must consider as much as possible, the ‘total ecology’ in view of its finality as New Creation, but also our human obligation to steward the flourishing of creation in all its rich, inter-dependent diversity. This ultimately is what Laudato Sì calls for when it promotes an ‘ecological conversion’ for an authentic integral flourishing.” Nadia Delicata, “Homo Technologicus and the Recovery of a Universal Ethic: Maximus the Confessor and Romano Guardini”, 2018.

Concepts of Order and Chaos are as deeply ingrained in Quantum Mechanics as in Theological, or Natural Law, reasoning. Quantum theory suggests there are many dimensions to reality, and the Noosphere has been referred to as a natural phenomenon of “transhuman consciousness emerging from the interactions of human minds.”

Love exists in many forms as the inherent “sacred”/“intelligent” programming driving natural systems towards reproduction and survival. Positive feelings like joy, love, care, trust, or instinctual arousal and mating, for example, all produce chemical reactions and high vibrational frequencies in the brain, linked to growth and a strong immune system. Stress, depression, anxiety, which make the body sick and susceptible to degenerative diseases, are linked to lower vibrational brain frequencies.

While we envision a future where sentient life blooms into higher forms of understanding and expression, I believe it is safe to say that the Transhuman Era we desire is one that encourages humanity to be more caring and to think more holistically.

Dinorah Delfin is an Artist and the Director of Admissions and Public Relations for the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party. 

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U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Second Anniversary Message

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Second Anniversary Message

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Gennady Stolyarov II


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.

Sincerely,
Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF
Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party
Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party
Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator
Author, Death is Wrong

Is the Soul Digital or Analogue? – Article by C. H. Antony

Is the Soul Digital or Analogue? – Article by C. H. Antony

logo_bgC. H. Antony


I am probably not the ideal Transhumanist; I do believe that I have a soul, that it is more the essence of me than the sum of my neurons and how they interact with each other to create my thoughts, and that it is an extremely fragile thing. Should I die and preserve myself to be revived at a later date, I fear that I would never know of the success or failure of that endeavor. That a living breathing thinking person who acts like me and reasons like me will rejoin society is not in question; I only wonder that I might miss it as my essence passes on into some other form of existence… or worse – not. I do not believe that a digital substrate will, in fact, carry my soul on uninterrupted.

I want to explore the question of the soul for a moment. In The Singularity is Near (2005), Ray Kurzweil stated that the Calculations Per Second of the human brain are in the vicinity of 10 to the 14th power, based on the assumption, and rightly so, that each neuron in the brain could be considered a digital on/off or 1/0. Around six years ago, we began seeing articles describing microtubules in the axons of the neuronal cells that seemed to have quantum properties I freely admit to not understanding. I cheerfully invite anyone to correct me on this, but it seems that while the neuron either fires or doesn’t as it communicates with the neighboring cell, the microtubule seems to exist in a sort Schrödinger-like state of possibilities – like a multiplexing wire that might convey one piece of information by doing so at a particular combination of wattage, voltage, and resistance, then convey a completely different set of instructions with another combination of the same. It seems to me that if every neuron is operating in a digital on/off state, then 1014  computations per second (CPS) are likely given the average number of neuronal cells in the human brain, and if that number might be horribly wrong because of what we now know of the activity within the axon – then this suggests that superposition state of neural activity might very well be the essence of our consciousness and, if interrupted, could be lost and what remains would be something else only a comfort to those we would have left behind.

I agree that an entirely biological existence is not only a seriously limiting factor in our future development, but also something we are destined to outgrow and will do so. However, I would say that my ideal manifestation of this is a seamless combination of man and machine. Medical technology could eliminate all the senescence we suffer to the point where the next logical step is enhancement over a timeless organic form. I, for one, would hate to live for hundreds of years and gather all the knowledge and experience of those times only to die because of some future equivalent of a drunk driver. That in itself is good enough reason to fortify my existence any way I can. If that means that my body must be replaced with an artificial one, so be it. But, I want to keep my squishy, limited, fragile brain! I want my cake and to eat it, gleefully, with a nearly indestructible form that doesn’t need the cake, won’t get fat from it, and still let’s me enjoy the flavors and textures as I do now. I want to enjoy all the many hedonistic joys freely and with only greater precision than my limited biological form can experience.

I believe we’re seeing this very trend emerge and that the collective instinct of man is far more ready to accept an enhanced human/cyborg than uploading oneself to a purely artificial substrate. Evidence of this can be seen in the amazing promise of Elon Musk’s Neuralink project, the recent X-Prize challenge for a robot avatar, and the many amazing advancements in prosthetic limbs and organs. As I previously stated, medical technology will soon overcome senescence, allowing our tissues to go on indefinitely, so to essentially cure our brain of degeneration, enhance it with a neural mesh, and go about our lives in a perfected cybernetic body akin to Ghost in the Shell: Altered Architecture is probably a pretty good direction to be steering ourselves as Transhumanists. It’s also the most likely Next Step, if you will, considering how well society is conditioned for these themes. I would certainly feel more comfortable with my own enhanced mind in a perfect and durable body that can be easily upgraded and modified as the centuries pass.

So now I ask the members of this community to bring their thoughts here. What is your ideal existence?

C. H. Antony is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. He may be contacted here