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In Support of “Unfit for the Future”: When the Vessel is Unfit for the Task – Article by Sarah Lim

In Support of “Unfit for the Future”: When the Vessel is Unfit for the Task – Article by Sarah Lim

Sarah Lim


This essay has been submitted for publication to the Journal of Posthuman Studies.

This essay is written in support of the ideas presented by Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson in their book Unfit for the Future: the Need for Moral Enhancement. I will argue that Savulescu and Persson’s arguments for moral bioenhancement should be given more serious consideration, on the grounds that moral bioenhancement will most likely be humanity’s best chance at ensuring its future ethical progress, since our current achievements in rapid ethical progress have been highly contingent on economic progress and an increasing quality of life. As a vehicle for for ethical progress, this is becoming increasingly untenable as the world enters a new period of resource scarcity brought about by the ravages of climate change. This essay will also respond to some of the claims against human genetic enhancement, and transhumanism in general, made by critic John Gray. Finally, the concluding remarks of this essay will examine a possible long-term drawback to moral bioenhancement which has not net been raised by Savulescu’s critics thus far – namely, that genetically altering future human beings to be less aggressive could unintentionally result in them becoming complacent to a point of lacking self-preservation.

Maslow and Malthus

Ethical philosophers in Steven Pinker’s camp may argue that the consideration of moral bioenhancement is absurd because moral education has apparently been sufficient enough to bring forth radical moral progress in terms of civil liberties in the 20th and 21st centuries. The 20th century heralded in never-before-seen progress in terms of the civil rights granted to women, ethnic minorities, LGBT+ people, and the working class. As Pinker points out, crime rates plummeted over the past 150 years, and so has the total number of wars being fought throughout the world. Savulescu admits that this is a valid point.

However, Savulescu’s main point of contention is that while the overall rates of violent crime have been drastically reduced, rapid advancements in technology have enabled rouge individuals to inflict more mass damage than at any other point in human history. While overall rates of interpersonal violence and warfare are decreasing, advancements in technology have exponentially increased the ability of individual actors to inflict harm on others to a greater extent than at any other point in human history. It takes just one lone Unabomber-type anarchist to genetically engineer a strain of smallpox virus in a backyard laboratory, to start a pandemic killing millions of innocent people, argues Savulescu. A statistic he constantly cites is that 1% of the overall human population are psychopaths. This means that there are approximately 77 million psychopaths alive today.

I would like to raise a further point in support of Savulescu’s argument. I would argue that the exceptional progress in ethics and civil rights that the developed world has witnessed in the last century has been the result of unprecedented levels of economic growth and vast improvements in the average quality of life. The life spans, health spans, and accessibility of food, medicine, and consumer goods seen in developed economies today would have been an unbelievable utopian dream as little as 250 years ago. One of X Prize Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis’s favorite quips is that our standard of living has increased so exponentially that the average lower-income American has a far higher quality of life than the wealthiest of robber barons did in the 19th century.

As Pinker himself points out, the first moral philosophies of the Axial Age arose when our ancestors finally became agriculturally productive enough to no longer worry about basic survival. Once they had roofs over their heads and sufficient grain stores, they could begin to wax lyrical about philosophy, the meaning of life, and the place of the individual in wider society. Arguably, the same correlation was strongly demonstrated in the post-World War II era in the developed economies of the world. Once the population’s basic needs are not just met, but they are also provided with access to higher education and a burgeoning variety of consumer goods, they’re much less likely to be in conflict with “out” groups over scarce resources. Similarly, incredible advancements in maternal healthcare and birth control played a major role in the socio-economic emancipation of women.

Our ethical progress being highly contingent on economic progress and quality of life should concern us for one major reason – climate change and the resource scarcity that follows it. The UN estimates that the world’s population will hit 9.8 billion by 2050. At the same time, food insecurity and water scarcity are going to become increasingly common. According to UNICEF, 1.3 million people in Madagascar are now at risk of malnutrition, due to food shortages caused by cyclones and droughts. There could as many as 25 million more children worldwide suffering from climate-change-caused malnutrition by the middle of this century. This is on top of the 149 million malnourished children below 5 years old, who are already suffering from stunted growth, as of 2019.

This is the worst-case scenario that climate-change doomsdayers and authors of fiction revolving around dystopian civilizational collapse keep on warning us of. There is a legitimate fear that a rapid dwindling of access to food, medical care, and clean water could lead currently progressive developed economies to descend back into pre-Enlightenment levels of barbarism. Looting and black markets for necessities could flourish, while riots break out over access to food and medical supplies. Ostensibly, worsening scarcity could encourage the proliferation of human trafficking, especially of females from desperate families. The idea is often dismissed as wildly speculative alarmist screed by a considerable number of middle-income city dwellers living in developed nations. Food shortages caused by climate change have mostly affected the sub-Saharan Africa and India, where they’re far out of sight and out of mind to most people in developed economies.

However, the World Bank estimates that 140 million people could become refugees by 2050, as a result of climate change. These populations will predominantly be from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, but it is likely that a significant percentage of them will seek asylum in Europe and America. And developed Western economies will only be spared from the worst effects of climate change for so long. North Carolina has already been afflicted by severe flooding caused by Hurricane Florence in 2018, just as it was  affected by Hurricane Matthew which had struck two years earlier. Climate journalist David Wallace-Wells has gone so far as to claim that a four degree increase in global temperature by 2100 could result in resource scarcity so severe, that it will effectively double the number of wars we see in the world today.

Savulescu argues that the fact that we’ve already let climate change and global income inequality get this bad is itself proof that we’re naturally hardwired towards selfishness and short-term goals.

A Response to John Gray

As one of the most well-known critics of transhumanism, John Gray has said that it is naive to dream that humanity’s future will somehow be dramatically safer, more humane, and more rational than its past. Gray claims that humanity’s pursuit of moral progress will ultimately never see true fruition, because our proclivities towards irrationality and self-preservation will inevitably override our utopian goals in the long run. Gray cites the example of torture, which was formally banned in various treaties across Europe during the 20th century. However, this hasn’t stopped the US from torturing prisoners of war with all sorts of brutal methods, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gray claims that this is proof that moral progress can be rolled back just as easily as it is made. Justin E. H. Smith makes similar arguments about the inherent, biologically-influenced cognitive limits of human rational thinking, although he does not explicitly criticise transhumanism itself. And Savulescu agrees with him. Throughout their argument, both Savulescu and Persson hammer home the assertion that humans have a much greater predilection towards violence than altruism.

But here Gray is making a major assumption – that future generations of human beings will continue to have the same genetically-predisposed psychology and cognitive capabilities as we currently do. Over millennia, we have been trying to adapt humanity to a task that evolution did not predispose us towards. We’ve effectively been trying to carry water from a well using a colander. We might try to stop the water from leaking out from the colander as best we can by cupping its sides and bottom with our bare palms, but Savulescu is proposing a radically different solution; that we should re-model the colander into a proper soup bowl.

It seems that Gray is overlooking some of his own circular reasoning which he uses to perpetuate his arguments against transhumanist principles and genetic enhancement. He argues that humanity will never truly be able to overcome our worst proclivities towards violence and selfishness. However, he simultaneously argues that endeavoring to enhance our cognitive capabilities and dispositions towards rationality and altruism are a lost cause that will be ultimately futile. Following Gray’s line of reasoning will effectively keep humanity stuck in a catch-22 situation where we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Gray is telling us that we need to resign ourselves to never being able to have a proper water-holding vessel while simultaneously discouraging us from considering the possibility of going to a workshop to weld the holes in our colander shut.

Windows of Opportunity

There is one final reason for which I will argue for greater urgency in considering Savulescu’s proposal seriously. Namely, we are currently have a very rare window of opportunity to execute it practically. If Gray is right about the likelihood that moral progress can be rolled back more easily than it is made, then he should acknowledge that we need to take full advantage of the current moral progress in developed economies, while we still have the chance to. Rapid advancements in CRISPR technologies and gene-editing are increasing the practical viability of moral bioenhancement without the consumption of neurotransmitters. Savulescu argues that we need to strike while the iron is hot; while the world economy is still relatively healthy and while STEM fields are still receiving billions in funding for research and development.

If nothing else, a rather intellectually sparse appeal to novelty can be made in defence of Savulescu’s proposal. Given that climate change could be the greatest existential risk humanity has ever faced in its whole history to date, we should begin considering more radical options to deal with its worst ravages. The limited faculties of rationality and altruism which nature has saddled us with have brought us millennia of warfare, genocide, radical inequality in resource distribution, and sexual violence. We keep on saying “never again” after every single cataclysmic man-made tragedy, but “again” still keeps on happening. Now is as good a time as ever to consider the possibility that humanity’s cognitive faculties are themselves fundamentally flawed, and inadequate to cope with the seemingly insurmountable challenges that lie ahead of us.

A Possible Future Negative Consequence of Moral Bioenhancement to be Considered

Multiple objections to Savulescu’s proposal have been raised by authors such as Alexander Thomas and Rebecca Bennett. I would like to raise another possible objection to moral bioenhancement, although I myself am a proponent of it. A possible unforeseen consequence of radically genetically reprogramming homo sapiens to be significantly less selfish and prone to aggression could be that this will simultaneously destroy our drive for self-improvement. One could argue that the only reason human beings have made it far enough to become the most technologically advanced and powerful species in our solar system was precisely because our drive for self-preservation and insatiable desire for an ever-increasing quality of life. You could claim that if we had just remained content to be hunter-gatherers, we would never have gotten to the level of civilization we’re at now. It’s more likely that we would have gone extinct on the savannah like our other hominid cousins, who were not homo sapiens.

Our inability to be satisfied with the naturally-determined status quo is the very reason the transhumanist movement itself exists. What happens, then, if we genetically re-dispose homo sapiens to become more selfless and less aggressive? Could this policy ironically backfire and create future generations of human beings who become complacent about technological progress and self-improvement? Furthermore, what happens if these future generations of morally bioenhanced human beings face new existential threats which require them to act urgently? What happens if they face an asteroid collision or a potential extraterrestrial invasion (although the latter seems to be far less likely)? We don’t want to end up genetically engineering future generations of human beings who are so devoid of self-preservation that they accept extinction as an outcome they should just peacefully resign themselves to. And if human beings become a space-faring species and end up making contact with a highly-advanced imperialist alien species bent on galaxy-wide colonization, our future generations will have to take up arms in self-defence.

This raises the question of whether it might be possible to simultaneously increase the human propensity towards altruism and non-violence towards other human beings, while still preserving the human predisposition towards ensuring our overall survival and well-being. If such a radical re-programming of humanity’s cognitive disposition is possible, it’s going to be a very delicate balancing act. This major shortcoming is one that proponents of moral bioenhancement have not yet formulated a plausible safety net for. Techno-utopian advocates claim that we could one day create a powerful artificial intelligence programme that will indefinitely protect humanity against unforeseen attacks from extraterrestrials or possible natural catastrophes. More serious discussion needs to be devoted to finding possible ways to make moral bioenhancement as realistically viable as possible.

Conclusion

The arguments put forth by Savulescu in Unfit for the Future should be reviewed with greater urgency and thoughtful consideration, and this essay has argued in favour of this appeal. We cannot take the great strides in civil rights made in the last 100 years, which have been heavily dependent on economic development and the growth of the capitalist world economy, for granted. As resource scarcity brought about by climate change looms on the near horizon, the very system which the 20th and 21st centuries’ great ethical progress has been contingent upon threatens to crumble. Gray is right in arguing that the human animal is fundamentally flawed and that repeated historical attempts at better models of moral systems have failed to truly reform humanity. And this is where Savulescu proposes a controversial answer to Gray’s resignation to humanity’s impending self-destruction. We must consider reforming the human animal itself. As the field of gene-editing and the development of impulse-controlling neurotransmitter drugs continue to show great promise, world governments and private institutions should begin to view these as viable options to creating a less short-sighted, less-aggressive, and more rational version of homo sapiens 2.0. There are only so many more global-scale man-made catastrophes that mankind can further inflict upon itself and the planet, before this radical proposal is finally undertaken as a last resort.

Sarah Lim is a fourth-year political science major at the National University of Singapore. She is a proud supporter of the transhumanist movement and aims to do her best to promote transhumanism and progress towards the Singularity.

Advocating for the Future – Panel at RAAD Fest 2017 – Gennady Stolyarov II, Zoltan Istvan, Max More, Ben Goertzel, Natasha Vita-More

Advocating for the Future – Panel at RAAD Fest 2017 – Gennady Stolyarov II, Zoltan Istvan, Max More, Ben Goertzel, Natasha Vita-More

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Gennady Stolyarov II
Zoltan Istvan
Max More
Ben Goertzel
Natasha Vita-More


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party, moderated this panel discussion, entitled “Advocating for the Future”, at RAAD Fest 2017 on August 11, 2017, in San Diego, California.

Watch it on YouTube here.

From left to right, the panelists are Zoltan Istvan, Gennady Stolyarov II, Max More, Ben Goertzel, and Natasha Vita-More. With these leading transhumanist luminaries, Mr. Stolyarov discussed subjects such as what the transhumanist movement will look like in 2030, artificial intelligence and sources of existential risk, gamification and the use of games to motivate young people to create a better future, and how to persuade large numbers of people to support life-extension research with at least the same degree of enthusiasm that they display toward the fight against specific diseases.

Learn more about RAAD Fest here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form.

Watch the presentations of Gennady Stolyarov II and Zoltan Istvan from the “Advocating for the Future” panel.

Improving Schooling – Ideas to Move Away from the Assembly-Line Method – Article by Lev Polyakov

Improving Schooling – Ideas to Move Away from the Assembly-Line Method – Article by Lev Polyakov

logo_bgLev Polyakov


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this guest article by Lev Polyakov to advance the objectives of Section XII of our Platform, which reads, in part, “The United States Transhumanist Party holds that present and future societies should provide education systems accessible and available to all in pursuit of factual knowledge to increase intellectual acuity; promote critical thinking and logic; foster creativity; form an enlightened collective; attain health; secure the bounty of liberty for all sentient entities for our posterity; and forge new ideas, meanings, and values.” It is clear that contemporary systems of mass education are broken in that they fail to encourage creativity, critical thinking, and even the acquisition and retention of knowledge. However, the ideas provided by Mr. Polyakov – which combine an Internet meritocracy with individualized attention to students and the ability of students to take charge of their learning – offer some promising options for elevating the quality of education and reaching more young minds at crucial formative stages. The U.S. Transhumanist Party encourages its members to consider these ideas and to offer their own perspectives. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 23, 2018


Today’s kids have outgrown the top-down-style assembly-line schools, and many rightfully hate them. While I don’t have exact numbers to quote, I can tell you I was not a fan of this approach for sure, and a change would be especially good for most boys who are missing the male role models they would have been able to get were this whole thing to have been structured differently from the bottom up.

Combine an Internet meritocracy (master instructors from anywhere) with smaller groups of kids assigned to an apprentice instructor who learns from the master instructors. Instead of sitting in desks facing one direction, the arrangement could be a circle, whose exchange of information the kids can look forward to. Weather permitting, many classes can take place outdoors, and if a kid doesn’t want to participate, he can go and play with some twigs. Eventually, were the class group itself worth being in more than the twig, he’ll come back to the group. The point here is to have these small circles engaging to the curiosity the kids have. And most kids, if they are younger and less jaded by normal school, will have this curiosity. If you don’t put in the effort on your end, the twig wins.

For apprentices new to teaching a group, they would first be the apprentices to a master teacher who would be teaching kids face to face instead of through the Internet. This would involve some travel for the prospective apprentice, depending on how many of these master teachers are in their area. But the understanding is that with time, the apprentice will become the master, and finding a local master teacher in your area will be easier.

These apprentices will also earn various markers based on their performance and what they learn, which will make them more sought after. Certain strengths of theirs can complete a particular neighborhood’s need for this strength. For example, someone good at math in Neighborhood A could more become aware that he or she is needed in Neighborhood B which already has people good at science and geography.

As far as money is concerned, there can be various methods tried out, but in the end, I think it makes sense to have the remuneration be based on the merit of the teacher and results. Perhaps the compensation could even be based on results measured in the long term, as far as the kids giving testimonials about the teachers when they are older, though how this would result in more money is still not clear.

Lastly, classes would start later (giving more time for kids to sleep).


Follow Lev Polyakov’s Twitter account: https://twitter.com/levpo

Visit the video channel co-hosted by Lev Polyakov and Jules Hamilton, “Lev and Jules Break the Rules“. U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II was recently honored to be the first guest ever interviewed on “Lev and Jules Break the Rules”. Watch this interview here

Lev Polyakov is an award-winning independent animation director and conceptual artist, whose films were featured on WNET 13, Channel Frederator, and ShortsHD.

Lev Polyakov has been active in the animation world since 2004, starting as an intern for Signe Baumane, one of New York’s most prominent independent animators, and proceeding to write and direct his own animated films. His first short, Piper the Goat and the Peace Pipe, won the first place at the 2005 Ottawa Animation Festival. For his next film, Morning, Day, Evening, Night… and Morning Again, Lev was awarded a grant and an honorary membership from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. During his junior year at SVA, Lev directed and produced Only Love, a 15-minute animated short that premiered at the prestigious Woodstock Film Festival, and has been shown at more than 30 film festivals around the world, winning many first-place awards.

Lev has done work visually appealing character-driven commercial work such as character design, storyboarding, and animation for Giants Are Small’s “Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood” iPad app in partnership with Universal Music; and for the virtual reality studio, The Glimpse Group.

Lev is currently chair of the Art and Technology Committee at the National Arts Club in New York City.

You can see Lev’s work at http://youtube.com/levpolyakov

Follow Lev Polyakov’s Instagram account: https://instagram.com/levpolyakov/

Fifth Enlightenment Salon – Discussions on Longevity, Gene Therapy, Overcoming Disabilities, Animal Lifespans, Education, and Privacy

Fifth Enlightenment Salon – Discussions on Longevity, Gene Therapy, Overcoming Disabilities, Animal Lifespans, Education, and Privacy

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Gennady Stolyarov II
Bill Andrews
James Kohagen
Bobby Ridge
John Murrieta


On October 13, 2018, in the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment and its furtherance today, Gennady Stolyarov II, Bill Andrews, James Kohagen, Bobby Ridge, and John Murrieta met for the fifth interdisciplinary discussion – hosted by Mr. Stolyarov – on science, culture, education, advocacy, and policy. Subjects discussed included the following:

– The recent RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego
– Developments in the field of gene therapy
– Advances in epidural stimulation for treating and overcoming spinal-cord injuries
– Long-lived organisms and their similarities and dissimilarities to humans
– How animal experiments can become more humane
– How contemporary science still has far to go to accumulate even fairly basic information about certain organisms
– How the study of lifespans can be included in educational curricula starting at early childhood
– Whether privacy will remain in a more technologically interconnected future.

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside by filling out an application form that takes less than a minute.

Find out about Death is Wrong – the illustrated children’s book on indefinite life extension.

Andrés Grases Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era

Andrés Grases Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era

logo_bgGennady Stolyarov II
Andrés Grases


Andrés Grases, the publisher of the Transhuman Plus website (http://transhumanplus.com/) interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, CA, on September 23, 2018. During the course of this conversation, both the contemporary state of transhumanist politics and future directions are covered – along with the challenges to reforming the educational system, the need to create open access to academic works, the manner in which the transition toward the next era of technologies will occur, the meaning of transhumanism and its applications in the proximate future – including promising advances that we can expect to see during the next several years.

Watch the video here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply online here in less than a minute.

Why I Believe in Transhumanism – Article by Arin Vahanian

Why I Believe in Transhumanism – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


Someone asked me why I decided to join the Transhumanist Party, and indeed, why I support a movement, which, at first glance, appears to be a fringe movement with members who are out of touch with the needs of the general public.

The truth, however, is far different from what is reported in the media, in books, or even in scholarly articles. Because Transhumanism is the only movement that cares enough about improving the human condition and about building a better future to dedicate itself completely to these monumental tasks. Being human, the human condition is all that we have, and as such, we should cherish and treasure it. Further, the future will be built, but unless we build it in such a way that reflects our values and ethics, we may not be happy with the outcome. This is far too important an outcome to leave to chance, and that is why Transhumanists are so passionate about building a better future.

Going back to the topic of this article, the reason I joined the Transhumanist movement is simple: I love life, and I am dedicated to helping increase the quality of life for every human being on Earth. This is the single most important purpose for me to be working on right now.

Despite what you may have heard, Transhumanism isn’t about becoming a machine; it’s about becoming a better human being.

Since joining this movement, I have been struck by how optimistic, open-minded, and welcoming everyone has been to me. I’ve been accepted with open arms, and people have gone out of their way to help me. It’s a tight-knit community full of passionate, intelligent, and dedicated people who want to work on resolving problems that plague humanity. What could be a more noble purpose?

Despite the negative coverage our movement has received in the media and books, one characteristic that is so consistent across our movement is that our members absolutely adore the sanctity of life. When someone asks me why I am so obsessed with goals such as reversing aging, increasing the human lifespan, dramatically increasing investment in medicine and science, and expanding the human consciousness and intellect, I reply that I am completely and utterly in love with the human experience.

But why do we Transhumanists persevere with such goals?

Because it is cruel and dishonest to say to a person with Stage 4 cancer that soon they will no longer be able to hold their son or daughter in their arms, nor hear their sweet laughter, ever again.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell a quadriplegic that they will never walk.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell someone suffering from severe depression that they should accept a dark, brooding cloud of misery hanging over their head for the rest of their life.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell a child born with a birth defect that they will never live a normal life.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell a student with a learning disability that they should make do with what they have and call them a “special needs” student.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell someone they will never make love to their spouse again, nor hear their voice, nor feel their touch, due to a rare illness that will claim their life far too soon.

In short, I believe it is wrong to be so utterly pessimistic about life and about improving the human condition.

We believe in values such as pacifism, expanding the intellect through increased investment in education, improving the quality of life through science and technology, and improving health services and increasing the human lifespan. How on Earth is any of this fringe?

We must have the courage to proclaim our convictions in front of the rest of the world, because these goals are far too important to leave to chance, and because people all over the world genuinely do want to see progress in these areas.  

The fact is that Transhumanism is the movement that is most in touch with the needs of the general public, because most people, unless they are completely insane, would want to live healthier, be disease-free, increase their intelligence, and build a better future for their children. No, we are not a fringe movement. We are the human movement. After all, Transhumanism has the word “human” in it. And that to me means being a better human.

It is wrong to be defeatist and throw our hands up in resignation, because nothing of significance was ever accomplished by being pessimistic, capitulating, or quitting prematurely. Amazing inventions, advances in medicine, and improvements in quality of life came about precisely because we, as humans, did not give up, but rather, fought for what was right. And increasing the quality of life for all humans is right.

I am a Transhumanist because I am a human being, and because I love the human experience. And this is something I will never apologize for. In fact, this is something I will continue to fight for as long as I am alive. Which, hopefully, will be for a very long time.

Why am I a Transhumanist? Because simply put, I love life too damn much.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Andrew Yang, Dreams, and Tacos – Meeting with the Technoprogressive 2020 Presidential Candidate – Article by Keith Yu

Andrew Yang, Dreams, and Tacos – Meeting with the Technoprogressive 2020 Presidential Candidate – Article by Keith Yu

logo_bgKeith 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 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.

Mission complete.

Keith Yu is a Bay Area-based research scientist working within the biotech industry.

Proposal by C.H. Antony on a U.S. Transhumanist Party Working Group on Universal Basic Income (UBI) Implementation

Proposal by C.H. Antony on a U.S. Transhumanist Party Working Group on Universal Basic Income (UBI) Implementation

logo_bgC. H. Antony


The United States Transhumanist Party seeks any willing individuals to participate in the discussion of a proposal by Mr. C.H. Antony to craft detailed ideas for achieving the implementation of an unconditional Universal Basic Income (UBI) system. To indicate your interest and provide ideas in relation to Mr. Antony’s proposal, please post in the comments below.

Background: The United States Transhumanist Party supports a major streamlining of fiscal policy, combined with a streamlining of the manner in which financial support is provided by government to individuals. Sections XVI, XXXV, and XXXVI of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform address, respectively, UBI, reduction of the U.S. national debt, and dramatic tax simplification. Our goal, therefore, is a government that has as little debt as possible, and whose revenues and transfer payments are as straightforward as possible.

Section XVI [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]: Given the inevitability of technology eventually replacing the need for the labor of sentient entities, 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.

Section XXXV [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]:  The United States Transhumanist Party considers it imperative to achieve reductions of the United States national debt in order to avoid calamitous scenarios of extreme inflation, default, and burdensome future tax increases on individuals. The United States Transhumanist Party supports the following measures to reduce the national debt:

  1. Elimination of wasteful federal spending on programs, goods, and services where equivalent positive results could be obtained through lower expenditures.
  2. Cessation of foreign military occupations and the return of American troops to be stationed exclusively on American territory. However, if a mutually appropriate defense treaty with another country requires the United States to station troops in that country, those troops would be allowed to remain there until the treaty obligations are fulfilled or reduced by mutual agreement with the affected country. If the United States continues to station troops in any country due to mutually appropriate defense treaties, the United States Transhumanist Party supports greater reciprocity in allowing military personnel from that country to be stationed in the United States for purposes of training and information exchange.
  3. Removal of barriers to technological innovation and technologically driven economic growth, in order that a surge in such growth could increase federal revenues so as to generate increasing surpluses, as long as federal spending does not materially rise from current levels.
  4. Elimination of the current cumbersome system of federal contracting, which favors politically connected incumbent firms whose advantage consists of navigating the system, rather than performing the best possible work. Instead, all federal agencies should be empowered to purchase supplies and equipment and to requisition projects from any entity capable of satisfying an immediate need at a reasonable cost. Exclusive and preferential contracts for particular entities should be prohibited, and all payments by federal agencies for work by non-employees should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Digitization of as many federal services and functions as possible – to eliminate the waste and expense of paperwork, physical queues, and legacy information technology systems.

Section XXXVI [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the elimination of graduated taxation and income taxation more generally. Instead, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates a flat percentage-of-sales tax applicable only to purchases from businesses whose combined nationwide revenues from all affiliates exceed a specified threshold. This tax should be built into the price of goods from such large businesses and should not impede transaction efficiency in any manner. Transactions pertaining to wages, salaries, gifts, donations, barter, employee benefits, and inheritances should remain completely untaxed, as should transactions involving solely individuals and/or small businesses, for whom the establishment of a tax-reporting infrastructure would be onerous. Furthermore, all taxes on land and property should be abolished.

The following proposal is not a final outline of solutions, nor is it, in its present form, a reflection of the positions of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Rather, it is a set of ideas put forth by Mr. Antony in a desire to elicit the expertise of those who are willing to contribute to a policy paper that the U.S. Transhumanist Party may develop in order to put forward a viable plan for making a Universal Basic Income a reality, beginning from today’s conditions. The specific content of that paper is to be determined based on the contributions and deliberations of any future working group. 


Discussion by C.H. Antony: I have a stepped plan based on my own limited knowledge that I think is the ticket, but I need to combine the work of individuals with expertise in the following fields:

  • Economics with an understanding of federal spending.
  • Corporate law with an understanding of the Constitution’s position on corporations.
  • A tax professional who can weigh the benefits/detriments within the previously described fields.
  • Someone who can discuss sociological matters pertaining to a UBI and who can show statistical models of the argument.

The following is the essence of my model.

I. Calculate the minimum necessary expense of the GDP necessary to fund a functioning government with regard to the following conditions:

  1. Fully automated IRS that only employs a handful of programmers and analysts to maintain and upgrade the automated systems and address potential or reported errors. Apply this model elsewhere in government where possible.
  2. Cancel all social programs with the intent of replacement with UBI (i.e., SSDI, SSI, Food stamps, VA Income, Tax Credits, etc.).
  3. Consolidate redundant government agencies and eliminate certain specialized enforcement branches. Examples: we don’t need five intelligence agencies when a single well-organized agency could perform all the same functions, BATF can be disbanded, etc.
  4. A fully funded modern military where no soldier’s family barely makes it above the poverty line.
  5. No foreign payments without a tangible financial return to the US in the form of goods or services.
  6. No federal pensions of any kind for any level of service. [Constitutionally, this would only be possible for new hires going forward.]
  7. Save and invest 18% for our own economic growth and to outpace global inflation.
  8. Apply AI and automation as liberally as possible where it can replace functionaries at all levels.

II. Eliminate all federal income tax on private individuals and small businesses and also eliminate income taxes at local and state levels. Determine a fair and sustainable Flat Sales Tax paid on all non-essential purchases that is paid directly into the UBI fund. Sales-tax-exempt items would be the following:

  1. Food stuffs.
  2. Water
  3. Sewer and waste services.
  4. Electricity and other domestic use fuels.
  5. Medical and health-related items.
  6. Educational items and services.
  7. Home and land purchases that are the primary residence; no annual property taxes.

III. Further reduce the federal budget by saving on prosecuting victimless crimes (consensual prostitution, recreational narcotic use, etc.) and remove the state as an entity that may be called as a victim in a crime.

IV. Allow free air-time, equally disseminated, for any candidate running for political office. Social media and digital streaming are more than adequate in this era to give every candidate an equal voice for the people to hear and vote on. States should be directed to follow the same model.

V. Create a payment schedule whereby the national debt is paid in full as quickly as possible from the GDP alone.

VI. Restructure corporate taxes to be both competitive with the rest of the world and be useful to the UBI fund. Determine qualifications where a small business may incorporate that does not punish a successful small business, has clear advantages, and encourages growth within a new corporate structure.

VII. Create a fund whereby two years of field-specific education is available to every adult American citizen. Apply a nation-wide school voucher program to grades K-12, allowing schools to compete for students through quality and safety.

VIII. Create a fund that provides unlimited and free healthcare at a fair market value to all US citizens.

IX. Encourage a near-zero human labor manufacturing trend in the US with an eye on converting other nations into customers and partners for products of US companies.

X. Aim for an average of $52,000 per year for each adult American citizen (approximately 250,000,000 adult citizens).

I believe the above, when fleshed out and mathematically modeled, will serve as a succinct and presentable plan that we could, essentially, sell to voters causing representatives to take notice and have to discuss it publically.

This model in no way, I feel, reflects any form of socialism or communism, as it does not take a dime out of the pockets of any one higher-wage earner for the purpose of giving it to a lower-wage earner. It is self-scalable for inflation and deflation without affecting an individual’s quality of life. It in no way precludes anyone from seeking and obtaining opportunity and earning potentials beyond the UBI, thusly not endangering free market capitalism.

Also, I believe the easiest sell will be to corporations that are already having to maneuver the cost of human labor vs. automation. They can help push the reforms by leveraging lobbying power for us.

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

The Kyangende Community Secular Hub: Spreading Science, Education, and Health in Uganda – Post by Kiketta Tadeo

The Kyangende Community Secular Hub: Spreading Science, Education, and Health in Uganda – Post by Kiketta Tadeo

logo_bgKiketta Tadeo


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this guest post by Mr. Kiketta Tadeo of the Kyangende Community Secular Hub in order to bring attention to an effort from one of our allies in Uganda in spreading technology, education, and secular values. Core Ideal 2 of the U.S. Transhumanist Party “supports a cultural, societal, and political atmosphere informed and animated by reason, science, and secular values.” Sometimes even basic technological and educational advances, which are ubiquitously available in more developed countries, can lead to dramatic improvements in the length and quality of life of humans in certain parts of the world. Ultimately, the aim of transhumanism is to make the technologies of abundance universally available to all who desire them – so we commend the work of the Kyangende Community Secular Hub in advancing this goal in a place where the need for technological progress is great.

                        ~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, April 23, 2018


Kyangende Community Secular Hub is found in Kibalya Village, Mahango Subcounty in Kasese, Uganda, around 6 miles from the Kasese main town. This organisation was formed to help people in the rural community of Kasese to understand science and to enable people to understand their values as human beings in order to make a difference. The following are some of the objectives of this group:

  • Promoting health in the community. The area lacks hospitals to help get immediate service, especially to pregnant women who are delayed on the way, being carried on stretchers to hospitals in town, leading to the loss of many children.
  • Establishing health programs to fight malaria and provide first aid through the rural clinic.
  • Promoting education of girl children through supporting women and educating them on the importance of education.
  • Promoting talents through music, art, and culture among the women and youth.
  • Encouraging people to do good to their fellows as human beings.
  • Fighting bad beliefs by promoting science and technology.
  • Fighting domestic violence in families by forming groups and making songs that teach people good ways of keeping their families.
  • Promoting environmental conservation through tree planting.
  • Forming gardening projects to reduce famine and provide good nutrition.

Those are pictures of my community people fighting malaria using mosquito nets and holding meetings while planning other activities like goat keeping, piggery, and making songs.

 

For inquiries and ways to assist, contact Mr. Kiketta Tadeo:

E-mail: Kyangendec@gmail.com OR kikethaaa@gmail.com

Phone: +256701843124

U.S. Transhumanist Party Vote on the Question of Endorsing Candidate James D. Schultz for the New York State Assembly District 2

U.S. Transhumanist Party Vote on the Question of Endorsing Candidate James D. Schultz for the New York State Assembly District 2

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The U.S. Transhumanist Party will hold an electronic vote of the membership for a seven-day period ending on 12:01 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, on the question of whether to endorse James D. Schultz, who will be running for New York State Assembly District 2 in the 2018 general election. Registered U.S. Transhumanist Party members as of 12:01 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, would be able to cast their ballots on this question and will be sent their ballots via e-mail.

See the Facebook page for Mr. Schultz’s campaign: James Schultz for State Assembly 2018.

Mr. Schultz would officially be running as an independent candidate, but New York law allows independent candidates to use a “political party designation” next to their names. If endorsed by the U.S. Transhumanist Party membership (a majority of those casting their ballots, excluding abstentions), Mr. Schultz would be able to use “Transhumanist Party” as his political party designation.

James D. Schultz

Statement by James Schultz: 

The reason I want to run as a Transhumanist is to expand the party brand and knowledge of its existence. I one day want to run a local chapter of the party. I believe this is the best way to expand.

My current stage is fundraising, and I am waiting for the legal opportunity to get ballot signatures.

James Schultz’s 8-Point Platform and Parallels in the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform

1. Legalization of Marijuana

Parallel in U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform [emphasis added]: 

Section XIV [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports an end to the costly drug war, which is often an infringement upon the lives and liberties of innocent citizens who do not use drugs but fall victim to militant enforcement of drug prohibitions. The United States Transhumanist Party supports legalization of mild recreational drugs such as marijuana.

2. Removal of Red-Light Cameras

Parallel in U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform: 

[No specific mention of red-light cameras, but the U.S. Transhumanist Party does oppose mass surveillance, and there is the possibility of red-light cameras being overly sensitive in identifying “violations” which may have been immaterial or necessary for safety purposes.]

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.

3. Government Funding of Student Laptops and Class Smart Boards

Parallel in U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform: 

Section XII [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]: The United States Transhumanist Party holds that present and future societies should provide education systems accessible and available to all in pursuit of factual knowledge to increase intellectual acuity; promote critical thinking and logic; foster creativity; form an enlightened collective; attain health; secure the bounty of liberty for all sentient entities for our posterity; and forge new ideas, meanings, and values.

The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts to reduce the cost of education while improving its access. In particular, the United States Transhumanist Party supports freely available, open-source, methods of learning, teaching, credentialing, and cultural creation that integrate emerging technologies into every facet of the learning process. The United States Transhumanist Party primarily advocates private innovation to deliver such educational improvements, but also advocates the application of these improvements to all publicly funded educational institutions. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that every person should aspire toward intellectual, moral, and esthetic enlightenment and sophistication and should contribute toward bringing about a new Age of Reason, where the highest reaches of intellectual activity are attainable and eagerly pursued by the majority of the population.

The United States has upheld basic education since the American Revolution. The United States Transhumanist Party believes, in keeping with what basic education was in the 1700s, relative to the state of technology given the advancement in society at the time, that ‘basic’ education should be defined as college, and that a key part of our agenda is to help encourage a more successful generation by paying for a ‘basic’ education up to and including college degrees.

4. Term Limits

[No specific mention in U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform.]

5. Environmental Protection

Parallels in U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform: 

[No generalized mention of environmental protection in U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, but there is mention of supporting alternative energy sources and protecting particular species of animals from killing and cruelty, as well as support of the environmentally friendly development of biologically identical meat products that do not involve the killing of animals.]

Section XXIV [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the promotion of animal welfare to the extent it does not conflict with human well-being. However, the United States Transhumanist Party opposes “animal liberation” movements that seek to return animals to the wilderness or espouse any attempts to separate domesticated animals from human influence. In particular, the United States Transhumanist Party supports the prohibition of cruelty to animals and a complete abolition of euthanasia of healthy animals by animal shelters. The United States Transhumanist Party supports a complete prohibition on the killing of non-contagious, non-aggressive dogs, cats, dolphins, whales, elephants, horses, tortoises, parrots, and primates. Furthermore, the United States Transhumanist Party supports the development and widespread consumption of artificially grown, biologically identical meat products that do not involve the killing of animals.

Section XXXVIII [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]The United States Transhumanist Party supports emerging alternative energy sources and their technological implementations. However, the United States Transhumanist Party opposes government subsidies for any energy source – including fossil fuels. Instead, the United States Transhumanist Party holds that superior, cleaner, and more efficient energy sources will also tend to become less costly and more broadly adopted under a system of unfettered market competition and innovation.

6. State Net Neutrality

Parallels in Positions Expressed by the U.S. Transhumanist Party:

Article XV of the U.S. Transhumanist Bill of Rights states,

“All sentient entities, with the exception only of those in legal detention, have the right to private internet access without such access being prohibited or circumvented by either private corporations or governmental bureaucracy.”

Read the statement by Martin van der Kroon, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party Supports Net Neutrality. Do You?

7. Mandatory Police Body Cameras

Parallel in U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform: 

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.

8. Reduced Ballot-Access Requirements

Parallel in U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform: 

Section XIX [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports an end to the two-party political system in the United States and a substantially greater inclusion of “third parties” in the political process through mechanisms such as proportional representation and the elimination of stringent ballot-access requirements. The United States Transhumanist Party also seeks to limit the influence of lobbying by politically connected special interests, while increasing the influence of advocacy by intelligent laypersons.