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This Was No Victory – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

This Was No Victory – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party has published this dissenting view by our member R. Nicholas Starr, in response to the USTP’s efforts to mitigate the harms of the proposal in Nevada’s Assembly Bill 226 (AB226) to ban participation in voluntary programs for the implantation of microchips. The USTP issued a statement regarding the success of our efforts here. We would recommend that our members read both the USTP’s statement and Mr. Starr’s dissenting point of view and arrive at their own thoughts as to the extent to which, if any, AB226, as amended, would continue to pose barriers, risks, and/or inconveniences to research efforts and attempts at personal self-improvement through technology which the USTP wholly supports. It is also noteworthy that AB226 has not yet been enacted into law. It will still need to come before a vote of the full Assembly Floor Session, after which the bill would move to the Senate, where a public hearing and a Senate Judiciary Committee work session would need to be held before a full Senate vote. The public hearing in the Senate would be the opportunity of those with remaining concerns to testify on AB226. Furthermore, the Nevada Legislature website allows members of the public to submit their opinions about specific bills, and it is also possible to contact Assemblyman Richard “Skip” Daly,  the sponsor of AB226, as well as the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee to express one’s views. AB226 can also be monitored on NELIS, the Nevada Legislature’s online informational system.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, March 17, 2019


TL;DR- Nevada still intends to ban voluntary NFC/RFID implants.

On March 15, 2019, the USTP claimed victory against legislation intended to ban all “microchip” implants. And while our last-minute action produced a result, it wasn’t one of any substance. If anything we fell victim to smart political wordsmithing, and I guess we’re supposed to be happy about that.

Nevada AB226 is a bill that, when it was first introduced, banned forced implantation of RFID/NFC tags, which they like to call microchips. On March 4th the bill’s original author, Skip Daly (D – Sparks), added an amendment banning voluntary implantation as well. This bill went to an Assembly Work Session on March 15th, where the amendment was modified, accepted, and passed out of Committee for vote on a later date. But to be clear, the modification of the amendment did nothing to stop a ban on voluntary NFC/RFID implants. Let’s examine the new language, which is contained in Subsection 3.

3. For the purposes of this section “microchip implant” means a near field communication technology that allows wireless communication of electronic devices over short distances where the device is intended to act as an identification marker.
(a) The term does not include any non-transmitting device, implant or marking for medical or for self-expression purposes or;
(b) Any transmitting medical device or implant provided the transmitting medical device or implant is not used as an identification marker and records or sends only the information necessary to carry out the primary purpose of the transmitting medical device or implant.

At the top of this section we see their definition for a microchip implant; that’s a pretty standard definition. The exception for medical devices in paragraph (b) also seems fairly well-thought-out and provides no issues. Subsection A is where the problem lies. It clarifies an exemption for NON-TRANSMITTING devices, implants, or other markers for medical or self expression purposes. Why are we talking about non-transmitting implants in a bill that is specifically about transmitting implants?

It’s a clever attempt by the author to placate naysayers with something that looks like a concession, if you skim past key words. And judging by the reaction of many over the past several days, it worked. The State of Nevada doesn’t have a problem with voluntary implants that don’t transmit anything. Just visit any strip club in the state if you want graphic proof of that. What is a non-transmitting implant? Breast augmentation, silicone horns, transdermal piercings… you get the idea. Inert stuff that we have been shoving under our skin for aesthetic purposes for a very long time now. These are all already legal and have their own regulations. They didn’t need to be included in the bill. The only purpose of adding this “exception” was to distract from the fact that they still want to ban implantable RFID/NFC tags.

And lots of transhumanists have these tags, myself included! We get these tags because they transmit a signal, given power by a reader, to complete various tasks. Many of us in the Party are actively using and developing this technology, and on March 15 the Party failed them – not for valiantly trying to stop the amendment, but for claiming victory over meaningless words that changed nothing. This was not a victory, and I’m embarrassed that anyone would say so. We got played.

But you know what? This does prove something that every transhumanist should consider. Providing remarks during public comment is not enough. We need active politicians who can use legislative tools and face-to-face debate to identify and stop attempts to placate us with empty words. Force them to look at the facts and stop them from doing damage to an individual’s freedom, especially in fear-based preemptive bills like this. To take a step in that direction, I have developed a Proposal to Establish a Legislative Action Framework on which I encourage input from our members.

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

Bait and Switch on Nevada AB226 – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

Bait and Switch on Nevada AB226 – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr


TL;DR – Nevada Assembly Bill 226 is an attack on bodily autonomy hidden in a good idea.

On February 22nd, 2019, Assemblyman Skip Daly (D-Sparks) presented AB226 for review and debate. The act, in its original form, is a good thing. It prevents against forced implantation of a “microchip or other identifying marker”, punishable as a class C felony (up to 5 years in prison and/or $10,000 fine). Fantastic! No one should be forced to do anything to their bodies they don’t want to do! But on March 4th Daly proposed an amendment  to his own bill that also bans VOLUNTARY implantation. This is a staggering attack on bodily autonomy and self determination. To be clear, the exact language of the bill and amendment is below.

1. An officer or employee of this State or any political- subdivision thereof or any other person shall not~

(a- original language) Require another person to undergo the implantation of a microchip or other permanent identification marker of any kind or nature. 

(b- amendment) Establish or participate in a voluntary program for the implantation of a microchip or other permanent identification marker of any kind or nature.

2. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

3. Each day or part of a day during which a violation of this section is continued or repeated constitutes a separate offense.

First of all, I find this amendment suspicious. Why would the original author amend his own bill that he said was inspired by a company’s voluntary program? It appears to me that the amendment’s ban on voluntary implantation was always the intent, but Daly knew that it would never pass on its own. And he’s right! Such a blatant attack on a person’s bodily autonomy, even under the pretense of privacy concerns, would certainly create resistance. And let’s be clear, today’s implants pose no privacy threat. They actually help maintain an individual’s privacy and data security. We also aren’t talking about dangerous devices or chemicals. These implants are extensively tested and biosafe. Any attempt to say otherwise is either deliberate, or ignorant, fear mongering.

The consequences of violating this act, in its amended form, are also extreme. I certainly support felony charges against a person forcing implantation on another. But voluntary implantation carrying the same punishment? That is beyond extreme. Let’s examine Sections 2 and 3 in a realistic scenario. DEF CON, an annual conference held in Las Vegas, has hosted biohacking and implantation during the event since 2015. Indeed, many have traveled to the conference to get their implants. If each implant is a separate offense, and each offense carries a maximum prison sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, the person performing the implantations could effectively earn a life sentence by lunch! All for agreeing to implant a biosafe tag in a person who volunteered and given their informed consent. 

Bodily autonomy and free determination: these are human rights that guarantee control over your own body. Getting “chipped”, or not, has always been a choice left to the individual with zero known incidents of forced implantation. Mr. Daly’s concern, while appearing noble on the surface, has no basis in reality, but rather arises out of fear and fiction. Sadly, those are two things easily sold these days. Let’s make sure we set the record straight and prevent a crisis where it doesn’t exist.

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

 

Cyborgs: Their Rights and Recognition – Statement by Kenneth Alum

Cyborgs: Their Rights and Recognition – Statement by Kenneth Alum

Kenneth Alum


 Image source: http://www.harbisson.com/

As the United States Transhumanist Party, we believe in and support cyborg-ism. Firstly,  a cyborg is a person/organism whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.

The basic main purpose of cyborg implants is to optimize or improve human condition. Some of the benefits of cyborg-ism are:

  • Ability to replace sickly or heavily damaged body parts such as hips, knees, elbows, wrists, arteries, veins, heart valves, pacemakers, etc.
  • Ability to improve/enhance human senses, i.e., smell, hearing, sight, etc. – e.g., cochlear implants
  • Brain implants that control tremors in cases of Cerebral Palsy
  • Brain Implants that help reverse the most devastating symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Increased physical strength

Cyborg implants help disabled persons live a lives closer to normal or optimal for them. They also help people in general have an improved lifestyle or condition. The world is experiencing swift technological advancement (including in cyborg-ism), driven by the strong need and desire for humanity to live an optimal or better life.

The international and national laws of most Earth countries and regional bodies are lagging behind in accommodating or adapting to these technological advances on Earth. There are cases of human cyborgs being discriminated against, abused, harassed, and even threatened, such as that of artist and activist Neil Harbisson. Mr. Harbisson has surgically implanted an antenna to help him overcome his color-blindness condition. (He naturally sees everything in gray-scale.) Some high-profile examples of individuals who have faced anti-cyborg discrimination include biohacker/grinder Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, biohacker Rich Lee, and Steve Mann.

We as the United States Transhumanist Party state that everyone on Earth should be given freedom to live the life they desire and also make improvements to their physical bodies, either for aesthetic or for health purposes (as long as they don’t infringe on the basic rights of others). Indeed, this should be a basic right in the United States and throughout the Earth. We therefore stand by in support of the above persons mentioned (including other cyborgs) in their advocacy and fight for their rights to be recognized and respected. We implore the United States federal government and other nations to recognize the right for one to be a cyborg and the cyborgs’ general human basic rights as well.

Our support for cyborg rights is an implication of Article III, Sections VI and VIII of our Platform on morphological freedom and freedom of research and innovation, including with regard to functional, healthy augmentations of the body and brain:

Section VI. The United States Transhumanist Party upholds morphological freedom—the right to do with one’s physical attributes or intelligence whatever one wants so long as it does not directly harm others.

The United States Transhumanist Party considers morphological freedom to include the prerogative for a sentient intelligence to set forth in advance provisions for how to handle its physical manifestation, should that intelligence enter into a vegetative, unconscious, or similarly inactive state, notwithstanding any legal definition of death. For instance, a cryonics patient should be entitled to determine in advance that the patient’s body shall be cryopreserved and kept under specified conditions, in spite of any legal definition of death that might apply to that patient under cryopreservation.

The United States Transhumanist Party also recognizes that morphological freedom entails the duty to treat all sapients as individuals instead of categorizing them into arbitrary subgroups or demographics, including as yet undefined subcategorizations that may arise as sapience evolves.

The United States Transhumanist Party is focused on the rights of all sapient individuals to do as they see fit with themselves and their own reproductive choices.

However, the United States Transhumanist Party holds that the proper exercise of morphological freedom must also ensure that any improvement of the self should not result in involuntary harms directly inflicted upon others. Furthermore, the United States Transhumanist Party recognizes any sentient entity to have the freedom not to modify itself without being subject to negative political repercussions, which include but are not limited to legal and/or socio-economic repercussions.

The United States Transhumanist Party recognizes the ethical obligations of sapient beings to be the purview of those individual beings, and holds that no other group, individual, or government has the right to limit those choices – including genetic manipulation or other biological manipulation or any other modifications up to and including biological manipulation, mechanical manipulation, life extension, reproductive choice, reproductive manipulation, cryonics, or other possible modifications, enhancements, or morphological freedoms. It is only when such choices directly infringe upon the rights of other sapient beings that the United States Transhumanist Party will work to develop policies to avoid potential infringements.

Section VIII. The United States Transhumanist Party supports maximum individual liberty to engage in scientific and technological innovation for the improvement of the self and the human species. In particular, the United States Transhumanist Party supports all rationally, scientifically grounded research efforts for curing diseases, lengthening lifespans, achieving functional, healthy augmentations of the body and brain, and increasing the durability and youthfulness of the human organism. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that all such research efforts should be rendered fully lawful and their products should be made fully available to the public, as long as no individual is physically harmed without that individual’s consent or defrauded by misrepresentation of the effects of a possible treatment or substance.

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, November 19, 2017