Browsed by
Tag: innovation

What President Trump Should Focus on Instead of the Border Wall – Article by Alex Lightman

What President Trump Should Focus on Instead of the Border Wall – Article by Alex Lightman

Alex Lightman


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party is home to many innovative thinkers who offer more forward-looking and far superior policy solutions than those pursued by either of the major political parties in the United States. This brief article by Alex Lightman, Campaign Director for the California Transhumanist Party, is an example of how even a few constructive, inspiring, big-picture ideas by transhumanists could revolutionize politics for the better and help us construct the next era of our civilization. What could Donald Trump be focusing on instead of his brinksmanship over an unnecessary border wall? Mr. Lightman explores the alternatives here.  

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 24, 2018


I am stunned by this Presidency. If I were President of the United States, I would be obsessively focused on:

 1. Space Migration – Setting up permanent bases and thriving colonies on the moon (for Helium 3, one shuttle load of which could cleanly power the entire US for a few weeks) and Mars (as a base for jumping off to other worlds and mining the asteroid belt).

2. Intelligence Increase – I would focus on raising average IQ from what I believe to be 87 to over 106, equal to the highest national average in Asia. IQ can be raised by 19 points within six weeks.

3. Life Extension – Average life expectancy in the US has dropped three years in a row after 114 years of steady increase that DOUBLED life expectancy. The USA ranks in the 25-50 range in key health measures, including infant mortality. I think a smart Presidency could boost average life expectancy by 5-15 years.

4. Acceleration of Innovation – just implementing the 200-page national innovation plan I was paid to write by the Obama White House would do this. It’s ready to implement and there is nothing comparable to it ever tried by any nation in history.

5. Smart Green Augmented Cities – I can’t understand why Donald Trump, real-estate developer, doesn’t use some of the $20-25 trillion he has to play with during a four-year term to create a novel, brilliant, beautiful, state-of-the-art city that sets a new high standard and serves as an archetype and living laboratory for all future cities.

Instead, the Border Wall is where his head is.

If I were him, I would ask someone like me, “Why are the people from Mexico and Central America coming? What can we do to make their countries successful?” I spent $300,000 or so of my own money figuring this out, and I shared the results with Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Energy, and Director of Sustainability, and they all said my plan made sense.

My point isn’t that I am the only one with a plan. When you are the US government, you can hire thousands of people like me and have them come up with thousands of possible solutions and then implement these solutions.

Trump claims that his art form is the art of the deal. A deal that helped Mexico and Central America be successful would be easy to strike with Democrats.

Alex Lightman, Campaign Director for the California Transhumanist Party, has 25 years of management and social innovation experience and 15 years of chairman and chief executive experience. He is an award-winning inventor with multiple U.S. patents issued or pending and author of over one million published words, including the first book on 4G wireless, and over 150 articles in major publications. He chaired and organized 17 international conferences with engineers, scientists, and government officials since 2002, with the intention of achieving policy breakthroughs related to innovation. He is a world-class innovator and recipient of the first Economist magazine Readers’ Choice Award for “The Innovation that will Most Radically Change the World over the Decade 2010 to 2020” (awarded Oct. 21, 2010, out of 4,000 initial suggestions and votes over 5 months from 200 countries, and from 32 judges). He is the recipient of the 2nd Reader’s Award (the posthumous recipient announced 10/21/2011 was Steve Jobs). He is also the winner of the only SGI Internet 3D contest (both Entertainment and Grand Prize) out of 800 contestants.

Social innovation work includes repeatedly putting almost unknown technologies and innovation-accelerating policies that can leverage the abilities of humanity into the mainstream of media, business, government, foundations, and standards bodies, including virtual reality, augmented reality, Internet Protocol version 6, and 4G wireless broadband, open spectrum, technology transfer to developing countries, unified standards, crowd-sourcing, and collective intelligence, via over 40 US government agencies, over 40 national governments, and via international entities including the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Political credentials include a national innovation plan entitled “The Acceleration of American Innovation” for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, work for U.S. Senator Paul E. Tsongas (D-MA) and on several state campaigns and U.S. presidential campaigns for Democratic candidates (Gary Hart, Richard Gephardt), presentations to the United Nations, and advisory services to the governments of Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Japan, China, Korea, and India, as well as to the U.S. Congress, the White House (via the Office of Management and Budget), the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Mr. Lightman is trained as an engineer at MIT and as a prospective diplomat and policy analyst at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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.

Andrew Yang: 2020 Presidential Candidate with Transhumanist Values – Article by Keith Yu

Andrew Yang: 2020 Presidential Candidate with Transhumanist Values – 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 March 24, 2018, and discusses Mr. Yu’s perspectives on Andrew Yang’s candidacy. The U.S. Transhumanist Party has not endorsed Andrew Yang as of this publication and would not endorse a candidate running for either of the major U.S. political parties, but we do consider our website  to be a place where members can discuss political issues and candidates relevant to transhumanism from a multiplicity of viewpoints so as to encourage conversations about desirable policies as well as which candidate(s) the U.S. Transhumanist Party  could consider endorsing for the 2020 election season. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 29, 2018


“Let’s Put Humanity First” is the slogan for 2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang. As an entrepreneur and businessman, Yang deeply understands the threat that new technologies – robotics, software, artificial intelligence – have on many Americans. With millions of jobs already lost to automation and millions more on the line, Yang wants to put Humanity First by directing these new technologies towards improving human welfare, rather than towards the pure business goal of maximizing profit.

Although he has not identified himself as a transhumanist, Yang’s policy positions strongly identify with technoprogressive Transhumanism. As such, I – as a member of the Transhuman Party – am promoting Andrew Yang for consideration as a potential transhumanist candidate for the 2020 Presidential election.

Andrew Yang

“Andrew’s Big Three Policies”

Yang’s top three policies are all related to improving the human condition. However, the one that he emphasizes as the most important is his “Freedom Dividend”, a form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) of $1000/month for every American adult between 18 and 64, independent of work status or any other factor. This would be paid for by consolidating existing welfare programs as well as by adding a “value-added” tax on goods and services produced by businesses. The Freedom Dividend is a direct response to the onset of automation and the massive job loss that is occuring as a result. By providing UBI of $1000/month to every American adult, Yang hopes to immediately improve every citizen’s quality of living, directly combat poverty, and mitigate the effects of job loss caused by automation.

The second of Yang’s “big three policies” is single-payer healthcare in addition to changing the healthcare landscape as a whole. He sums up the rationale behind his position: “By providing holistic healthcare to all our citizens, we’ll drastically increase the average quality of life, extend life expectancies, and treat issues that often go untreated. We’ll also be able to bring costs under control and outcomes up, as most other industrialized nations have.” In addition to increasing access to preventative care and thereby lowering overall healthcare costs, Yang plans to emphasize “holistic” medicine, which recognizes the importance of mental health in addition to physical health. He also plans to change the doctor compensation model from  the pay-per-service to salaried, disincentivizing such practices as ordering redundant tests and “churn[ing] through patient after patient”, and incentivizing innovative treatment methods and methodologies, such as the use of AI-supplemented college or Master’s program graduates as a new class of healthcare provider.

The last of the “big three policies” is a refocusing of our capitalist system in a movement Yang calls “Human Capitalism”, wherein the economy will be directed to work for humans, rather than the other way around. In action, this means that an airline would no longer be able to kick someone off of their flight because a last minute customer is paying more money, and drug companies would not be able to charge extortionate prices for life saving drugs because their patients are desperate. To manage Human Capitalism, Yang plans for the government to adopt such measurements as median income, life expectancy, average physical fitness and mental health, environmental quality, informational integrity (“fake news”), public safety, and many more in addition to the GDP and job statistics that we have today.

Other Policies

In addition to his big three policies, Andrew Yang’s platform consists of a deluge of other Transhumanist and technoprogressive positions.

Regarding technology, Yang writes, “Technological innovation shouldn’t be stopped, but it should be monitored and analyzed to make sure we don’t move past a point of no return. This will require cooperation between the government and private industry to ensure that developing technologies can continue to improve our lives without destroying them.” To do this, Yang plans to create an executive Department of Technology to monitor developments, assess risks, and create guidance. Initially, this department would focus on AI, moving on to other technologies as they develop. Yang would also work to understand the effects of emerging technologies on human health and behavior, such as in the case of the widespread adoption of smartphones. In addition, Yang plans to invest in modern infrastructure such as fiber-optic high speed internet, to support net neutrality, and to increase competition between internet providers.

Yang believes in improving the American education system by increasing teacher salary, hiring standards, and quality expectations, and by incentivizing teachers to continually improve. He also supports life-skills education, such as financial planning, physical fitness and healthy meal prep, interview skills, conflict management, and time management. He would control the costs of higher education, including reducing the price of community college classes, and promote vocational education. These changes would be funded by reducing the number of administrative layers currently in our education system.

To mitigate the effects of anthropogenic climate change, Yang plans to to regulate fossil fuels and support sustainable infrastructure in addition to investing in technologies that reverse the damage already done, such as carbon capture and geoengineering. He believes that nuclear energy can act as a sort of stepping stone energy source between fossil fuels and truly sustainable energy production.

As once-futuristic technologies become the norm, Yang takes a technoprogressive approach to monitoring developments and assessing risks. In a time when automation-caused job loss and disruption is already occurring at a rapid pace, with no sign of slowing down, 2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang believes that we should invest in a future where humans, rather than dollars, are the most valuable asset in our economy.

Keith Yu is a Bay Area-based research scientist working within the biotech industry.
Jessica Milne – Presentation on Decentralizing Trust at the California Transhumanist Party Leadership Meeting

Jessica Milne – Presentation on Decentralizing Trust at the California Transhumanist Party Leadership Meeting

logo_bg

Jessica Milne


The California Transhumanist Party held its inaugural Leadership Meeting on January 27, 2018.

Jessica Milne, the California Transhumanist Party’s Director of Information Science and Technology, delivered a presentation entitled, “De-Centralizing Trust: A map to a better tomorrow”, on the subject of organizational dynamics and the various roles individuals tend to fall into in today’s organizations (as well as whether there might be a better way). This video includes a recording of the presentation and the subsequent interaction with the audience, including U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II, California Transhumanist Party Chairman Newton Lee, and California Transhumanist Party Director of Networking Charlie Kam.

Watch the first video from the California Transhumanist Party Leadership Meeting, featuring a presentation by Newton Lee and ensuing discussion on Transhumanist political efforts, here.

Visit the website of the California Transhumanist Party:http://www.californiatranshumanistparty.org/index.html

Read the U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution: http://transhumanist-party.org/constitution/

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free: http://transhumanist-party.org/membership/

(If you reside in California, this would automatically render you a member of the California Transhumanist Party.)

FCC Set To Strike Down Net Neutrality – Article by Michael Dodd

FCC Set To Strike Down Net Neutrality – Article by Michael Dodd

logo_bg

Michael Dodd


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party provides this guest article and information from Michael Dodd in accord with our position in support of net neutrality. We appreciate Mr. Dodd’s presentation of both sides on this issue – both the statement from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the counter from FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. Although the U.S. Transhumanist Party has a clear view on this issue, we also recognize that only by understanding the various perspectives in a debate can one advocate for one’s own position in a well-reasoned and effective manner.

Read more about our position and the reasoning behind it in the statement by Martin van der Kroon, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party Supports Net Neutrality. Do You?

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, November 26, 2017


The battle is now “ON” for the fight to keep Net Neutrality.

The FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is set to kill Net Neutrality. His statement is listed below, and the link for the full document can be found here.

Ajit Pai: For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.

But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake. It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.

Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades. Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.

Additionally, as a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015. Notably, my proposal will put the federal government’s most experienced privacy cop, the FTC, back on the beat to protect consumers’ online privacy

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has issued a Fact Sheet, entitled “Understanding Chairman Pai’s Proposal to Dismantle Net Neutrality”.

Prepared by the Office of FCC Commissioner Clyburn, November 22, 2017

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the concept that consumers and businesses should be able to reach the online applications and services of their choosing without interference from their broadband provider.

In other words, that all data and all legal traffic that travels over the Internet should be treated equally. This has been a bipartisan bedrock principle for more than a decade.

What is Commissioner Clyburn’s position on Net Neutrality?

Commissioner Clyburn has been an unwavering champion of robust, bright-line net neutrality rules that protect consumers against the anti-consumer and anti-competitive practices of broadband providers. The Commissioner continues to believe that the 2015 rules adopted by the FCC are the best way to protect consumers and small businesses while promoting innovation.

Is it true that Chairman Pai’s proposal would eliminate Net Neutrality?

Yes. It eliminates all prohibitions against blocking and throttling (slowing down) applications by broadband providers, and enables them to engage in paid prioritization and unreasonable discrimination at the point of interconnection. It ignores thousands of consumer complaints and millions of individual comments that ask the FCC to save net neutrality and uphold the principles that all traffic should be created equal.

What does Chairman Pai’s proposal really do?

  • Increases uncertainty for consumers, ensuring that broadband providers could block or throttle at a whim.

  • Threatens innovation at the edge, by allowing broadband providers to charge tolls to access their customers.

  • Enables offerings that favor the vertically integrated broadband provider’s own content and services over those of consumers and innovators who rely on the Internet to grow their own businesses and stay informed.

  • Prevents states and localities from adopting any related consumer protections – an action that is likely unlawful.

  • Undoes the light-touch, court-approved Title II classification of broadband Internet access service that was modeled on the wildly-successful approach to mobile voice, and returns to an unregulated approach where broadband providers reign supreme and customers with complaints have no redress at the FCC.

  • Empowers a federal agency that has never enforced net neutrality protections (the FTC) to manage consumer complaints and ensures that there is no FCC recourse for wronged consumers or businesses.

GLOSSARY

The Office of Commissioner Clyburn provides this glossary to help decipher the jargon used in Chairman Pai’s proposal to destroy net neutrality.

What do these terms really mean?

Costly and restrictive laws of a bygone era – The Communications Act of 1934, as amended. Still in force. Has not been repealed or declared unconstitutional.

Cost-benefit analysis –Despite insufficient data and data to the contrary, the Chairman’s Order draws conclusions by only accepting self-serving statements made by large broadband providers. It makes no effort to verify these claims against the statements these very same companies have made in filings before the Securities and Exchange Commission. See para. 301.

Government control of the Internet – Limited rules applying to the residential broadband service delivered on a broadband providers’ own network. It does not include other services offered by broadband providers nor does it include services offered by edge providers (e.g., Google, Facebook, or Netflix).

Heavy-handed regulation – Limited rules to protect consumers and competition that broadband providers do not like. Synonym for “burdensome regulation.”

Market-based policies – Policies favoring little to no regulation for powerful broadband providers.

Network innovation – The ability of broadband providers to charge more for service to both sides of the two-sided market. See para. 250.

Utility-style regulation of the Internet – Enforceable requirements that broadband providers act in a “just and reasonable” manner. Paradoxically, it does not involve any legal requirements historically known as utility regulation. See “Government control of the Internet”; “Costly and restrictive laws of a bygone era.”

Title II Order – 2015 Open Internet Order that was upheld in court last year.

Unnecessary and likely to inhibit innovation and competition – Not financially beneficial to broadband providers.

Office of Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: (202) 418-2100
Twitter: @MClyburnFCC
www.fcc.gov


The FCC as an organization is not the “Bad Guy” here. You have a rogue Chairman of that agency, looking to benefit a particular part of an industry. The “Why” is not important, what it is time for is to advocate, to engage, and to educate. The other item to keep in mind, is that the “Fact Sheet” was created by the FCC. Remember, we have friends everywhere, even if the leader of the organization is one of the opponents of net neutrality.

Strive to do more, while you still can.

Michael Dodd is the owner and editor of MPDSports.com and of the Wave Chronicle – a site built to put forth thought-provoking information, which can range from activism, politics, technology, philosophy, climate change, education, and futurist / transhumanist theory. 

Generating Transhumanist Enlightenment in Nigeria: Reflections from a Transhumanist Presentation at the 2017 Convention of the Atheist Society of Nigeria – Report by Ojochogwu Abdul

Generating Transhumanist Enlightenment in Nigeria: Reflections from a Transhumanist Presentation at the 2017 Convention of the Atheist Society of Nigeria – Report by Ojochogwu Abdul

logo_bg

Ojochogwu Abdul


The Atheist Society of Nigeria (ASN), an organization with the groundbreaking record of being the first secular group to achieve official registration in Nigeria, recently recorded another first by hosting the ASN Convention on 11th November 2017, the first event of its kind in Nigeria. Among the guest speakers featured at the Convention were Bill Flavell, Vice President of the Atheist Alliance International (AAI), Roslyn Mould, Chair of the African Working Group, International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organization (IHEYO), and Leo Igwe, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria (HAN). Also featured as speaker was myself, Chogwu Abdul, Co-Founder of the Transhumanist Forum of Nigeria (H+FN) and United States Transhumanist Party (USTP) Foreign Ambassador for Nigeria, and I eventually presented a talk on the topic: “Merging the Human Brain with Computer: Implications for the Future of Humanity.” The talk focused primarily on the rising phenomenon of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs), but also broadly on the movement and philosophy of transhumanism as the general idea within which BCIs are contained.

As a transhumanist with a manifest interest in promoting the philosophy across Nigeria, and hopefully, throughout the African Continent, the presenter took the lecture as an opportunity to introduce the concept of transhumanism to a broad audience and initiate a discourse on the cultural, scientific, and philosophical movement within the public space of Nigeria. The reception given to the presentation at the Convention was seemingly warm, and some good interest was generated and expressed. But the work, realistically, is only just beginning, and practically speaking there is still so much to be done and perhaps millions of miles to go before transhumanism can go mainstream in Nigerian society – although it is the personal and sincere hope of this writer that the turn of events prove such a prediction wrong and the changes get to happen faster than expected.

At present, however, transhumanism is simply much of an unknown idea in Nigeria, with very few in the country having heard about the word or even knowing what it means. And even when some technologies or practices related to transhumanism, for example genetic engineering and biomedical engineering are proposed or seem to gradually find a way into Nigerian society, much resistance is witnessed, especially as presented by religious conservatives. Nigeria, if it must be said, is at it stands a very religious environment, and so far religious beliefs and attitudes indisputably hold much sway over the thought and lives of multitudes across the country, at least for the time being. Religious conservatism is at present therefore rife, and a lot that goes with scientific thinking still struggles from the margins, faced by challenges in trying to reach wider acceptance and influence.

However, there is, at least as perceived and discerned by some trend observers, something of a silent revolution gradually taking place across the country. Some have called this the slow dawning of a long-awaited mental awakening, one in which an increasing number of Nigerians, especially the current youth generation, are gradually becoming more embracing of critical thinking, science, rationalism, and secular reasoning. Much that goes with the manifestation of this trend is to be found on the Nigerian social media, where a secular community has been emerging and becoming increasingly vocal in challenging dominant conservative religious beliefs and practices, while at the same time promoting science, rationalism, and critical thinking. Secular humanism could be perceived as having found something of a confident foothold in Nigeria, and this gradual mental shift provides cause to hope that transhumanism could find a springboard and fertile ground from which to launch, grow, and spread across the country.

And then there is also that stubborn challenge of technological backwardness suffered by the country and much of Africa, which is yet another impediment that cannot be ignored in evaluating the transhumanist promotion task and prospects in this part of the world. The state of scientific and technological development in Nigeria is relatively (and realistically speaking) poor. Investments in research and development for science, technology, and even health have so far remained floated and struggling at very low points; technological infrastructure across the country is either absent, degrading, or fails to meet up with global standards, and much of the country’s finest minds in science, technology, and medicine are either already resident in foreign countries or are seriously working towards joining the exodus and brain drain flowing in the direction of the Nigerian Diaspora. For reasons as these, much that exists as a technological presence in the country mostly is available as a result of technology transfer, imported into Nigeria from foreign climes, and with quite a number of them arriving at the nation’s shores not as state-of-the-art, cutting edge innovations, but more as outdated technologies which represent a stage, away from which the exporting country has made or is already making noticeable progress.

Technological development therefore remains a key factor to be addressed in Nigeria for the transhumanist vision to gain foundations upon which to thrive, and this was highlighted in the presentation at the Convention. As a matter of encouragement though, there are, however, indications which give cause to expect some coming changes in the technological condition and fortunes of the country and Africa generally as a Continent. These indications derive from the growing number of tech-themed workshops, seminars, conferences, innovation hubs, and tech start-ups that are gradually but steadily exploding across Nigeria and a number of African countries. The Continent’s youths are becoming audaciously innovative and entrepreneurial, and more are doing so through developing homegrown technological solutions as responses to local problems. Such interventions are giving rise to a movement of indigenous innovation, and if this trend continues and gains sufficient support, then one could be cautiously optimistic enough to anticipate that it should only be a matter of time before versions of a host of emerging and converging technologies (nanotech, biotech, infotech, cognitive science and neurotech, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics, biomedical engineering, etc.), get developed within local African contexts and as best suited for the African condition.   Moreover, interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education and STEM-related enterprise is gaining a fresh boost, the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation unveils very talented engineers and innovations from across sub-Saharan Africa yearly, and a very unique project by the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) known as the Next Einstein Initiative (NEI), which has been on course for over a decade now and has among its objectives the actualization of a scientific revolution in Africa, further provides a great vista for reasonable hope. Several young, bright Nigerian (male and female) scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, among their counterparts from other African countries, are seriously involved in this AIMS-NEI programme, undertaking research, and pleasantly enough, are breaking new grounds in several STEM-related fields.

The combination thereof, of a fledgling secularism and rational thinking culture with an emerging consciousness and demonstration for scientific and technological development in contemporary Nigeria, can be leveraged upon by transhumanists as strategic factors making for a more possible environment, as that opportunity of a slight opening in the door which could and should be seized upon to kick the doors open even wider for transhumanist thinking, technologies and practices to pour in and ubiquitously find their way into the Nigerian space.

The presentation on BCIs made at the 2017 ASN Convention was meant to create an awareness among Nigerians with regards to the state of movements in transhumanist thought, and to stir the people into action in connecting the now helpfully available threads of rational thinking, creative imagination, science, technology, and enterprise into the fabric of a transhumanist culture which would yield much progress for Nigerian society and human life. The response to this nudging – though it is yet early in the day to clearly tell – has so far been encouraging.

There are some of us here in Africa who believe that the Continent is currently going through an African Renaissance and as well stands at the thresholds of a Scientific Revolution. Some of us are also plugged in to other parts of the globe enough at least to be aware that there is present talk of a Second Enlightenment and a coming Fourth Industrial Revolution, aspects of an emerging, global transhumanist civilization, and to which bringing Africa up to speed should be a major concern. There are indeed several stages in the march of human civilization (for example, the European Enlightenment Era and the First and Second Industrial Revolutions) which Africa neither “positively” nor “proactively” participated in, and for which Africa can no longer afford the luxury of time in going through them again at this point in history, for what the Continent currently pragmatically needs is nothing short of a giant leap through the aid mostly of technology, if it must, as it obviously has to, catch up with the rate of advancement of the rest of the world.

Connecting the trajectory of Africa’s unfolding Renaissance and burgeoning scientific revolution to the dimensions of the Second Enlightenment, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and generally the transhumanist civilization through technology, education, enterprise, and any other agency necessary, thus should become the logical cause and big picture inspiring the transhumanist project in Nigeria and Africa within the 21st Century. For this objective then, and in these parts of our planet, the adoption and indigenous innovation of emerging technologies associated with and promoted by the transhumanist movement are to attract deliberate emphasis as the core of this vision and narrative. This is pertinent, for should humankind eventually evolve into a new, posthuman species, then the peoples of the continent from which Homo Sapiens originated, Africa, need not, and must not be left behind in this great transformative event.

The group currently known as the Transhumanist Forum of Nigeria (H+FN), or by any other name with which it shall be formally recognized in the near future, has therefore set out on the task of spreading transhumanist enlightenment and engaging the Nigerian public with transhumanist discourse, and from this to hopefully progress into helping forge a strong and effective transhumanist network across the African Continent. The work, we can say, has sincerely begun.

Chogwu Abdul

Co-Founder, Transhumanist Forum of Nigeria

USTP Foreign Ambassador for Nigeria

November 2017

Transhumanism, Meet Business – Article by Alcott Evans

Transhumanism, Meet Business – Article by Alcott Evans

logo_bg

Alcott Evans


Being the tech and business enthusiast that I am, I have a weekly subscription for Bloomberg Businessweek, so the latest issue arrived in the mailbox yesterday.

After checking through the front-page index which provides headlines for every major topic, I noticed the title “Do-It-Yourself Transhumanism” under the Technology section of the magazine. The article can be read online here.

“Harbisson, whose U.K. passport shows he’s the first legally recognized cyborg, was born colorblind. He designed his antenna—which translates colors into one of 360 musical tones he’s memorized—back in 2003 with help from a cyberneticist. At first, he connected it to headphones and a laptop. Eventually, he persuaded a surgeon to drill into his skull, implant a chip, and fuse the antenna to his occipital bone.”

The field of human augmentation is rapidly becoming its own corporate industry, and many can openly assert that it already is its own industry; plastic surgery and liposuctions are becoming more and more common as we speak. As time passes and technological breakthroughs become more prominent, we will move from surgically fixing asymmetrical faces and other human cosmetic desires to programming “nanobots” which can dive into our bodies to perform the same tasks with relative ease.

Even in today’s early stage of mental and physical augmentations, we can clearly see the industry growing rapidly as individuals seek freedom of expression, a right granted to us by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Alcott Evans is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and submitted this article as a guest post.

Elon Musk and Merging With Machines – Article by Edward Hudgins

Elon Musk and Merging With Machines – Article by Edward Hudgins

logo_bg

Edward Hudgins


Elon Musk seems to be on board with the argument that, as a news headline sums up, “Humans must merge with machines or become irrelevant in AI age.” The PayPal co-founder and SpaceX and Tesla Motors innovator has, in the past, expressed concern about deep AI. He even had a cameo in Transcendence, a Johnny Depp film that was a cautionary tale about humans becoming machines.

Has Musk changed his views? What should we think?

Human-machine symbiosis

Musk said in a speech this week at the opening of Tesla in Dubai warned governments to “Make sure researchers don’t get carried away — scientists get so engrossed in their work they don’t realize what they are doing. But he also said that “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.” In techno-speak he told listeners that “Some high-bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence.” Imagine calculating a rocket trajectory by just thinking about it since your brain and the Artificial Intelligence with which it links are one!

This is, of course, the vision that is the goal of Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, co-founders of Singularity University. It is the Transhumanist vision of philosopher Max More. It is a vision of exponential technologies that could even help us live forever.

AI doubts?

But in the past, Musk has expressed doubts about AI. In July 2015, he signed onto “Autonomous Weapons: an Open Letter from AI & Robotics Researchers,” which warned that such devices could “select and engage targets without human intervention.” Yes, out-of-control killer robots! But it concluded that “We believe that AI has great potential to benefit humanity in many ways … Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea…” The letter was also signed by Diamandis, one of the foremost AI proponents. So it’s fair to say that Musk was simply offering reasonable caution.

In Werner Herzog’s documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of a Connected World, Musk explained that “I think that the biggest risk is not that the AI will develop a will of its own but rather that it will follow the will of people that establish its utility function.” He offered, “If you were a hedge fund or private equity fund and you said, ‘Well, all I want my AI to do is maximize the value of my portfolio,’ then the AI could decide … to short consumer stocks, go long defense stocks, and start a war.” We wonder if the AI would appreciate that in the long-run, cities in ruins from war would harm the portfolio? In any case, Musk again seems to offer reasonable caution rather than blanket denunciations.

But in his Dubai remarks, he still seemed reticent. Should he and we be worried?

Why move ahead with AI?

Exponential technologies already have revolutionized communications and information and are doing the same to our biology. In the short-term, human-AI interfaces, genetic engineering, and nanotech all promise to enhance our human capacities, to make us smarter, quicker of mind, healthier, and long-lived.

In the long-term Diamandis contends that “Enabled with [brain-computer interfaces] and AI, humans will become massively connected with each other and billions of AIs (computers) via the cloud, analogous to the first multicellular lifeforms 1.5 billion years ago. Such a massive interconnection will lead to the emergence of a new global consciousness, and a new organism I call the Meta-Intelligence.”

What does this mean? If we are truly Transhuman, will we be soulless Star Trek Borgs rather than Datas seeking a better human soul? There has been much deep thinking about such question but I don’t know and neither does anyone else.

In the 1937 Ayn Rand short novel Anthem, we see an impoverished dystopia governed by a totalitarian elites. We read that “It took fifty years to secure the approval of all the Councils for the Candle, and to decide on the number needed.”

Proactionary!

Many elites today are in the throes of the “precautionary principle.” It holds that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm … the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those proposing the action or policy. Under this “don’t do anything for the first time” illogic, humans would never have used fire, much less candles.

By contrast, Max More offers the “proactionary principle.” It holds that we should assess risks according to available science, not popular perception, account for both risks the costs of opportunities foregone, and protect people’s freedom to experiment, innovate, and progress.

Diamandis, More and, let’s hope, Musk are the same path to a future we can’t predict but which we know can be beyond our most optimistic dreams. And you should be on that path too!

Explore:

Edward Hudgins, “Public Opposition to Biotech Endangers Your Life and Health“. July 28, 2016.

Edward Hudgins, “The Robots of Labor Day“. September 2, 2015.

Edward Hudgins, “Google, Entrepreneurs, and Living 500 Years“. March 12, 2015.

Dr. Edward Hudgins is the director of advocacy for The Atlas Society and the editor and author of several books on politics and government policy. He is also a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.