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Is Reality Winner “One of Us”? – Article by William Sims Bainbridge

Is Reality Winner “One of Us”? – Article by William Sims Bainbridge

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William Sims Bainbridge


This article originally appeared on the website of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) and is republished here with Dr. Bainbridge’s permission. 

Amidst the raging chaos in modern advanced nations, aggravated or rendered more visible by emerging technologies, an occasional individual person stands out, now notably Reality Winner.  Her Wikipedia page begins: “Reality Leigh Winner (born December 1991) is an American intelligence specialist employed by Pluribus International Corporation. Winner was arrested on June 3, 2017, on suspicion of leaking an intelligence report about Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections to the news website The Intercept. The report suggested that Russian hackers attacked a U.S. voting software supplier.”  Despite considerable journalistic attention, we cannot be sure we know exactly what Reality did, what its legal implications really are, and how her fate may be decided.  Yet today is not too early to consider the possible meaning of her remarkable story.

As soon as I learned about her arrest, I explored her Facebook page, and saw much that resonated with the humanistic values of future-oriented scholars and techno-visionaries, but soon that page vanished from public view.  Intense exploration of a host of online commentaries and information sources raised a profound general question illuminated by her specific case: Can futurists gently guide existing social institutions toward progress, within the context of conventional norms, or have we reached a grim point in history at which we must risk building a replacement for the civilization that is collapsing around us?

Reality Winner’s Facebook page was not awash in political radicalism, but presented a thoughtful person who was intensely dedicated to perfection of herself.  The five public Facebook groups to which she belonged were all real-world organizations promoting personal improvement in physical fitness.  CrossFitters of Augusta and CF 10-10 Members Group were local chapters of CrossFit, a network of organizations promoting a physical exercise philosophy advocating high-intensity training.  Another group was more specialized, GB Handstand Challenge, in which GB stands for Gymnastic Bodies.  The fourth of her public groups was vegetarian:  Vegan Recipes for Everyone.   During the brief time it was still visible, I checked Reality Winner’s Facebook page for “vegan” and saw that she used “#veganlifters” as a hashtag for an Instagram message she had posted at 6:10 AM on May 22, 2017: “Those days when you remind yourself the sacrifices you made to be here, now, every day.”  It struck me that her values seemed very similar to those of Transhumanism, seeking to attain human perfection, but through investment of personal effort and commitment to achieving difficult goals, rather than passively adopting some new technology.  Indeed, these four groups were technological, but advocating techniques that required well-disciplined human action, rather than taking some hypothetical nanotechnology vitamin pill.

The fifth group was a martial arts movement, Krav Maga Maryland, dedicated to “a military self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces (Shin Bet and Mossad).”  Wikipedia summarized the public information currently available about Reality Winner’s military career: “Winner served in the United States Air Force from 2010 to 2016, achieving the rank of senior airman with the 94th Intelligence Squadron.  She worked as a cryptologic linguist, and is fluent in Farsi, Dari and Pashto.  Winner was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal.”  Farsi is the Persian language of Iran; Dari is a dialect of Farsi spoken in Afghanistan, and Pashto is the language of a major Afghan ethnicity.  Of course, we are not able to administer college advanced placement tests to Reality Winner, given her current incarceration, but she seems to invest the same energy and dedication into intellectual development, with respect to other cultures, as she does in physical fitness.

What about her humanity?  Many news websites copied the picture Reality Winner had posted on her Facebook on May 29, showing her overlooking Mayan ruins.  The day before, she had sent via Instagram another picture from the same archaeological site, with this comment: “Carved head at Lamanai, Belize, 100bc. This has been such a spiritual journey for me.”  We may all find spiritual significance in ancient ruins, but news reports mentioned that her father had died just a few months earlier, and she posted this touching paragraph on her Facebook page:  “There is nothing that can fix the hole in my heart that you left behind. I still don’t know who I am without you here or how to keep moving forward without the one person who believed unconditionally in everything I want to do in life. Old habits die hard, I still find myself making time to call you in the evenings or jotting down notes or stories to tell you next time we speak. Somehow, though, I feel like you are a little closer, here, among the pyramids you used to endlessly tell us about, and always hoped to see. It’s like I have a little piece of you here with me. I miss you, Dad. You would have loved to be here, though I’m sure you would have been bitching about the hot weather every minute.”

There is ample room to debate what punishment, if any, Reality Winner deserves for releasing classified US government information.  Many other people are currently leaking secret government information, and we may note that prominent people like former CIA director David Petraeus do not seem to suffer much when they commit similar acts.  There is some concern that Reality Winner will be given a harsh prison sentence, not because she deserves it, but to deter others from releasing damaging information, and to express the anger of the US President.  Her family seeks help in defending her through a Facebook group, named Friends of Reality Winner, and an online fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/2d9rnm64 that has not yet reached its modest goal to hire a good lawyer.

A number of political action groups briefly used her case in their campaign against the US President, and the document she made public is directly relevant to concerns about the election outcome.  However, it may be a mistake to blame one gang of politicians for our problems, investing false hopes in a competing gang who are not any better but employ different rhetoric and tactics.  Politicizing Reality Winner’s situation may only increase the harm she may suffer.  Following her family’s request to send her good wishes and contribute to her defense would seem to be the most immediately beneficial course, yet not satisfying our long-term ethical obligation.

Can current laws be changed to provide better protection for “whistleblowers” and others who provide information to journalists, scientists, and the general public that is needed for careful decision making?  Perhaps the secrecy laws should be changed so that they are strict only during the period of a formally declared war, which has not been the case for the US since 1945.  Whether from incompetence or corruption, both major US political parties fed false information to the public in escalation of the Vietnam War and the Second Iraq War.  It is hard to know the extent to which current public debates are poisoned by the desperation felt within the dying old-fashioned news media, as the information technology revolution erodes their influence and profits.  Yet there seems good reason to believe that the general public really should not trust the government that currently holds Reality Winner captive.  We are all journalists now, in the era of Facebook, Instagram, and the IEET website, so Freedom of the Press should be defined much more broadly, now that printing presses are obsolete.

This brings us to the most difficult pair of questions: How can we design a better civilization?  How could we bring that dream to reality?  Perhaps the answers cannot be based upon a hope that somehow progress in science and technology will automatically achieve such goals.  We may need to work exceedingly hard, as Reality Winner did in her self-improvement campaigns, transcending our human limitations through directed personal effort as much as through collective technical innovation.  We will need to reinvent modem culture, which requires honestly experimenting with many alternatives, not merely marching in lockstep to a single drummer.

Information technologies are having uncertain impacts on human societies, and the case of Reality Winner raises a host of related ethical issues, while calling into question our ability to extrapolate from the past, and asking for new policies.  Oh, those are the four principal questions raised by IEET!

Yes, Reality Winner is One of Us.

William Sims Bainbridge, Ph.D. is an IEET Senior fellow, and a prolific and influential sociologist of religion, science and popular culture. Dr. Bainbridge serves as co-director of Human-Centered Computing at the NSF.

Results of Platform Vote #2 and Adopted Sections

Results of Platform Vote #2 and Adopted Sections

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Gennady Stolyarov II


The U.S. Transhumanist Party conducted its third vote of the members and the second vote on its platform planks on February 16 through February 22, 2017. Official ballot options can be found here.

Detailed results of the voting have been tabulated here. Options were selected based on the ranked-preference method with instant runoffs.

As a result, the following sections of Article III of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution were adopted.

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 VII:  The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports and emphasizes all values and organized efforts related to the cultivation of science, reason, intelligence, and rational thinking.

The United States Transhumanist Party places no reliance upon any and all sources of information that cannot stand up to rational scrutiny.

The United States Transhumanist Party places no reliance upon any individual, organization, or belief system that intentionally distorts empirically verifiable evidence, including but not limited to scientific and historical evidence, to serve its own agenda.

The United States Transhumanist Party places no reliance upon any position or belief system that contains arguments built upon logical fallacies (with exemption granted to arguments containing both fallacious and logically defensible premises).

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.

Section IX: The United States Transhumanist Party supports all emerging technologies that have the potential to improve the human condition – including but not limited to autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, economical solar power, safe nuclear power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, applications for the sharing of durable goods, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, rapid transit, 3D printing, vertical farming, electronic devices to detect and respond to trauma, and beneficial genetic modification of plants, animals, and human beings.

Section X: The United States Transhumanist Party advocates the construction of a self-repairing, self-maintaining smart infrastructure which incorporates the distribution of energy, communications, and clean potable water to every building.

Official Ballot Options for Platform Vote #2

Official Ballot Options for Platform Vote #2

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The 7-day electronic voting period on the second set of five proposed platform planks of the U.S. Transhumanist Party will occur from 12:01 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time on February 16, 2017, to 12:01 a.m.  U.S. Pacific Time on February 23, 2017. All members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party who have applied before 12:01 a.m. on February 16, 2017, will be eligible to vote, as long as they have expressed agreement with the three Core Ideals of the Transhumanist Party or have otherwise been rendered eligible to vote at the discretion of the Chairman.

All members who are eligible to vote will be sent a link to an electronic submission form whereby they will be able to cast their ballot.

When you are voting, it is strongly recommended that you keep this page of official ballot options and the submission form open simultaneously in different windows so that you can reference the relevant options as you vote on them. Due to space limitations, the submission form does not list the entire text of all the options.

It is also recommended that you set aside at least fifteen minutes to consider and vote on all of the options and read their text closely, as some of the options contain minor variations upon other options. 

For most questions, electronic voting is  conducted by a ranked-preference method on individual articles where more options are possible than would be accommodated by a simple “Yes” or “No” vote. Members should keep in mind that the ranked-preference method eliminates the incentives for strategic voting – so members are encouraged to vote for the options that reflect their individual preferences as closely as possible, without regard for how other members might vote.

Results of the voting will be tabulated during late February 2017, with the intent to announce the results approximately 7 days after all votes have been submitted.

NOTE: The titles of the questions and potential Sections are descriptive and informational only and will not appear in the final adopted platform planks (which will be incorporated into Article III of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution). They are intended as concise guides to the subject matter of the questions and potential Sections. Likewise, the letters assigned to Sections within this ballot will not reflect the numbering of the final adopted provisions, which will depend on which Sections are selected by the membership.

NOTE II: The inclusion of any proposals on this ballot does not indicate any manner of endorsement for those proposals by the U.S. Transhumanist Party at this time – except to place those proposals before the members to determine the will of the members with regard to whether or not the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform should incorporate any given proposal.

 


 

Voter Identification

E-mail address

Provide the same e-mail address you used to register for U.S. Transhumanist Party membership. Your ballot will be cross-referenced to our membership rolls, and only ballots with matching e-mail addresses will be counted.

What is your name?

At minimum, first and last name are required, unless you are publicly known by a single-name pseudonym which is not itself a common name. Your identity will not be publicly disclosed by the Transhumanist Party, unless you choose and/or authorize its disclosure. Only other members of the Transhumanist Party will be able to see *that* you voted, but not *how* you voted. The nature of the selections made by the members may be disclosed, but, if they are, each individual vote will not be associated with the identity of the voter but rather will be presented in an anonymized manner.

Navigate the Options

Question I. Section E2-A. Morphological Freedom
Question II. Additional Text of Section E2-A. Reproductive Choice
Question III. Additional Text of Section E2-A. Ethical Obligations as Individual, Not Collective Purview
Question IV. Preceding Mention of Not Harming Others by the Word “Directly”
Question V. Section E2-B. Pro-Intelligence / Pro-Science Position
Question VI. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Unfavorable Treatment of Sources That Cannot Stand Up to Scrutiny
Question VII. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Nature of Scrutiny to Be Used to Justify Reliance
Question VIII. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Unfavorable Treatment of Entities That Intentionally Distort Evidence
Question IX. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Manner of Verifiability of Evidence
Question X. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Unfavorable View of Logical Fallacies
Question XI. Section E2-C. Liberty to Innovate
Question XII. Section E2-D. Support for Emerging Technologies
Question XIII. Section E2-E. Smart Infrastructure

Proposed Platform Sections

Question I. Section E2-A. Morphological Freedom. 

Rank-order the Section E2-A Options that you support. Choose “1” for your most highly favored option, “2” for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for “No Section of this sort” in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)

If you choose “Abstain”, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.

☐ Option E2-A-1. [Based on Section VI of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform]

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for morphological freedom – the right of an individual to alter the appearance, composition, and prospects of his, her, or its organism, as long as such changes do not harm others.

☐ Option E2-A-2. [Platform Adaptation of Article X of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 2.0]

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 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.

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 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.

 Option E2-A-NO. No Section of this sort.

Question II. Additional Text of Section E2-A. Reproductive Choice.

If Section E2-A on morphological freedom is adopted, shall the following sentence be integrated into the article?

“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.”

Select one of the following options.

Yes.

No.

Abstain.

Question III. Additional Text of Section E2-A. Ethical Obligations as Individual, Not Collective Purview

If Section E2-A on morphological freedom is adopted, shall the following sentence be integrated into the article?

“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.”

Select one of the following options.

Yes.

No.

Abstain.

Question IV. Preceding Mention of Not Harming Others by the Word “Directly”

If any option for Section E2-A on morphological freedom is adopted, shall any mention of not harming others be preceded by the word “directly”? For example, if members vote in the affirmative, then in Option E2-A-1, “as long as such changes do not harm others” would be revised to “as long as such changes do not directly harm others”. In Option E2-A-2, “so long as it does not harm others” would be revised to “so long as it does not directly harm others”.

Select one of the following options.

☐ Yes, add the word “directly”.

☐ No, do not add the word “directly”.

Abstain.

Question VSection E2-B. Pro-Intelligence / Pro-Science Position

Rank-order the Section E2-B Options that you support. Choose “1” for your most highly favored option, “2” for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for “No Section of this sort” in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)

If you choose “Abstain”, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.

☐ Option E2-B-1.  [Based on Section II of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform]

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the spread of a pro-science culture by emphasizing reason and secular values.

☐ Option E2-B-2. [Based on Proposal by Daniel Yeluashvili, Base Text]

The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports and emphasizes all values and organized efforts related to the cultivation of science, reason, intelligence, and rational thinking.

 Option E2-B-NO. No Section of this sort.

Question VI. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Unfavorable Treatment of Sources That Cannot Stand Up to Scrutiny 

If Section E2-B regarding a pro-intelligence / pro-science position is adopted, shall additional language be included to the following effect?

Clause E2-B-Add-1: The United States Transhumanist Party [Possible Options: condemns, disavows, disregards, disapproves of, frowns upon, places no reliance upon] any and all sources of information that cannot stand up to [Possible Options: academic, rational, factually grounded, objective] scrutiny.

If so, which of the following wording options would you favor for the term to express the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s unfavorable outlook toward the aforementioned sources of information?

Rank-order the options you support. “Yes” favors including the above language, whereas “No” favors omitting it in entirety.

☐ Yesuse “condemns”.

☐ Yes, use “disavows”.

☐ Yes, use “disregards”.

☐ Yes, use “disapproves of”.

☐ Yes, use “frowns upon”.

☐ Yes, use “places no reliance upon”.

☐ No, do not include such a clause at all.

Question VII. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Nature of Scrutiny to Be Used to Justify Reliance

If Section E2-B regarding a pro-intelligence / pro-science position is adopted, shall additional language be included to the following effect?

Clause E2-B-Add-1: The United States Transhumanist Party [Possible Options: condemns, disavows, disregards, disapproves of, frowns upon, places no reliance upon] any and all sources of information that cannot stand up to [Possible Options: academic, rational, factually grounded, objective] scrutiny.

If so, which of the following wording options would you favor for the term to express the kind of scrutiny to which information should be able to stand up?

Rank-order the options you support. “Yes” favors including the above language, whereas “No” favors omitting it in entirety.

☐ Yesuse “academic”.

☐ Yesuse “rational”.

☐ Yesuse “factually grounded”.

☐ Yesuse “objective”.

☐ No, do not include such a clause at all.

Question VIII. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Unfavorable Treatment of Entities That Intentionally Distort Evidence

If Section E2-B regarding a pro-intelligence / pro-science position is adopted, shall additional language be included to the following effect?

Clause E2-B-Add-2: The United States Transhumanist Party [Possible Options: condemns, disavows, disregards, disapproves of, frowns upon, places no reliance upon – Same as choice for Question VI] any [Candidate entities for inclusion in the list: individual, organization, belief system] that intentionally distorts [Possible Options: academically, empirically, factually, objectively] verifiable evidence to serve its own agenda, including but not limited to [Candidate adjectives for inclusion in the list: scientific, historical, political, journalistic] evidence.

If so, which of the following entities do think should be included in the list of entities to be considered unfavorably if they engage in the distortion being described, and what sort of evidence do you think should be included in the list of evidence whose distortion the U.S. Transhumanist Party would oppose?

Select all the options you support. (You can select multiple options for this question.) “Yes” favors including the above language, whereas “No” favors omitting it in entirety.

☐ Yesinclude “individual”.

☐ Yesinclude “organization”.

☐ Yesinclude “belief system”.

☐ Yesinclude “scientific” evidence.

☐ Yesinclude “historical” evidence.

☐ Yesinclude “political” evidence.

☐ Yesinclude “journalistic” evidence.

☐ No, do not include such a clause at all.

Question IX. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Manner of Verifiability of Evidence

If Section E2-B regarding a pro-intelligence / pro-science position is adopted, shall additional language be included to the following effect?

Clause E2-B-Add-2: The United States Transhumanist Party [Possible Options: condemns, disavows, disregards, disapproves of, frowns upon, places no reliance upon – Same as choice for Question VI] any [Candidate entities for inclusion in the list: individual, organization, belief system] that intentionally distorts [Possible Options: academically, empirically, factually, objectively] verifiable evidence to serve its own agenda, including but not limited to [Candidate adjectives for inclusion in the list: scientific, historical, political, journalistic] evidence.

If so, which adverb should be applied before “verifiable evidence”?

Rank-order the options you support. “Yes” favors including the above language, whereas “No” favors omitting it in entirety.

☐ Yesuse “academically”.

☐ Yesuse “empirically”.

☐ Yesuse “factually”.

☐ Yesuse “objectively”.

☐ No, do not include such a clause at all.

Question X. Additional Text of Section E2-B. Unfavorable View of Logical Fallacies.

If Section E2-B regarding a pro-intelligence / pro-science position is adopted, shall additional language be included to the following effect?

Clause E2-B-Add-3: The United States Transhumanist Party [Possible Options: condemns, disavows, disregards, disapproves of, frowns upon, places no reliance upon – Same as choice for Question VI] any position or belief system that contains arguments built upon logical fallacies (with exemption granted to arguments containing both fallacious and logically defensible premises).

Select one of the following options.

Yes.

No.

Abstain.

Question XISection E2-C. Liberty to Innovate

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

“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.”

Select one of the following options.

Yes.

No.

Abstain.

Question XIISection E2-D. Support for Emerging Technologies

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

“The United States Transhumanist Party supports all emerging technologies that have the potential to improve the human condition – including but not limited to autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, economical solar power, safe nuclear power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, applications for the sharing of durable goods, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, rapid transit, 3D printing, vertical farming, electronic devices to detect and respond to trauma, and beneficial genetic modification of plants, animals, and human beings.”

Select one of the following options.

Yes.

No.

Abstain.

Question XIIISection E2-E. Smart Infrastructure

Shall the following language be adopted as a new Section within the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform?

“The United States Transhumanist Party advocates the construction of a self-repairing, self-maintaining smart infrastructure which incorporates the distribution of energy, communications, and clean potable water to every building.”

Select one of the following options.

Yes.

No.

Abstain.

15-Day Exposure Period for Platform Vote #2 and Practice of Rolling Exposure Periods Going Forward

15-Day Exposure Period for Platform Vote #2 and Practice of Rolling Exposure Periods Going Forward

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Informal polling of U.S. Transhumanist Party members has indicated that the majority of respondents prefer ballots to be relatively concise, with five issues addressed per ballot. The U.S. Transhumanist Party will endeavor to respect this preference where it is reasonable to do so.

In order to enable members’ suggestions regarding platform planks to still be considered on a relatively expeditious timeframe, the U.S. Transhumanist Party will henceforth institute the practice of rolling exposure periods, where any potential plank (and the set of options that has been generated in connection with it) may be placed on the ballot if it has been publicly exposed for at least 15 days. This will still allow members at least 15 days to comment on any proposal and suggest alternative variants. Furthermore, some proposals may be exposed for longer than 15 days as a result of this, allowing for more discussion. Once any five potential planks have been exposed for at least 15 days each, the U.S. Transhumanist Party will endeavor to circulate ballots to enable members to vote on them, which will potentially enable multiple votes to be held in closer succession while still keeping each ballot concise.

The United States Transhumanist Party also hereby opens its exposure period for its second vote on platform planks, which will last at least until 12:01 a.m. on February 16, 2017. Comments from members, and at times specific wording suggestions, have motivated the presentation of the five potential planks below. In some instances, multiple options have already been generated based on available sources and suggestions, however additional options may still be proposed for consideration.

During the exposure period, please post your comments on this thread. If you post comments intended to be considered in voting and/or amending any of these planks in any other electronic medium, please note that you thereby give your consent to have your comments reproduced with attribution or linked within this discussion thread, in order to direct members’ attention and consideration to them.

After the exposure period, a 7-day electronic voting period will occur. Instructions for electronic voting will be sent to members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party via e-mail at that time. All individuals who are members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party as of the end of the exposure period and who have expressed agreement with its three Core Ideals will be eligible to vote thereafter. You can still vote if you become a member during the exposure period, so please apply here if you are interested. During the 7-day electronic voting period, you will still be able to become a member – but you will only be able to vote in subsequent elections, since we seek for voting on any given issue to be done by those members who have had an opportunity to thoroughly consider that issue and be involved in deliberations regarding it.

Electronic voting will be conducted by a ranked-preference method. Members will be able to rank-order their preferred selections on each individual Platform Section. The original text of each Section will be available for selection, as well as any reasonable amendments proposed by any member. Leadership of the Transhumanist Party reserves the right to edit any proposed amendment for correctness of spelling and grammar only – but not with regard to the substance, unless the person proposing the amendment requests or consents to a substantive edit. “No Section of this sort” will also be a choice, and any Section where a majority of votes favors this option will be not be adopted. Members will also be able to abstain from voting on any given Section.

The ranked-preference method has the advantage of eliminating a “winner-take-all” or “first-past-the-post” mentality and preventing people from being channeled into voting for sub-optimal choices (in their view) just because they fear an even less palatable alternative prevailing. Within the ranked-preference methodology, if no option obtains a clear majority as voters’ first choice, the option having the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated from consideration, and all those who voted for that option will have their votes assigned to their second-choice options. This process of elimination continues until one particular option has a clear majority of votes.

The Transhumanist Party encourages all members to participate in this process and for other transhumanists to sign up for membership during the exposure period. 

The Section titles below are provisional and will be replaced with official numbers for each plank that is adopted. The Section titles are informational only and will not be included in the adopted versions of the platform planks.


Section E2-A. Morphological Freedom.

Option E2-A-1.

[Based on Section VI of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform]

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates for morphological freedom – the right of an individual to alter the appearance, composition, and prospects of his, her, or its organism, as long as such changes do not harm others.

 

Option E2-A-2.

[Platform Adaptation of Article X of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 2.0]

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 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.

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 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.

Potential Add-On Language [Based on Transhuman National Committee Platform, Freedom of Self Policy Plank]

Clause E2-A-Add-1.  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.

Clause E2-A-Add-2. 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.

Question E2-A-Add-3. If any option of the Morphological Freedom plank is adopted, shall any mention of not harming others be preceded by the word “directly”? For example, if members vote in the affirmative, then in Option E2-A-1, “as long as such changes do not harm others” would be revised to “as long as such changes do not directly harm others”. In Option E2-A-2, “so long as it does not harm others” would be revised to “so long as it does not directly harm others”.

☐ Yes, add the word “directly”.

☐ No, do not add the word “directly”.

Section E2-B. Pro-Intelligence / Pro-Science Position

Option E2-B-1.

[Based on Section II of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform]

The United States Transhumanist Party supports the spread of a pro-science culture by emphasizing reason and secular values.

Option E2-B-2.

[Based on Proposal by Daniel Yeluashvili, Base Text]

The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports and emphasizes all values and organized efforts related to the cultivation of science, reason, intelligence, and rational thinking.

Potential Add-On Language [Based on Proposals by Daniel Yeluashvili, with Additional Options Generated]

Note: It is intended for members to have the options to accept or reject any of the following add-on clauses and to select candidate language within each clause when multiple variants may be feasible.

Clause E2-B-Add-1: The United States Transhumanist Party [Possible Options: condemns, disavows, disregards, frowns upon, places no reliance upon] any and all sources of information that cannot stand up to [Possible Options: academic, rational, factually grounded, objective] scrutiny.

Clause E2-B-Add-2: The United States Transhumanist Party [Possible Options: condemns, disavows, disregards, frowns upon, places no reliance upon] any [Candidate entities for inclusion in the list: individual, organization, belief system] that intentionally distorts [Possible Options: academically, empirically, factually, objectively] verifiable evidence to serve its own agenda, including but not limited to [Candidate adjectives for inclusion in the list: scientific, historical, political, journalistic] evidence.

Clause E2-B-Add-3: The United States Transhumanist Party [Possible Options: condemns, disavows, disregards, frowns upon, places no reliance upon] any position or belief system that contains arguments built upon logical fallacies (with exemption granted to arguments containing both fallacious and logically defensible premises).

Section E2-C. Liberty to Innovate

Option E2-C-1.

[Based on Section III of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform]

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.

Section E2-D. Support for Emerging Technologies

Option E2-D-1.

[Based on Section XVII of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform]

The United States Transhumanist Party supports all emerging technologies that have the potential to improve the human condition – including but not limited to autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, economical solar power, safe nuclear power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, applications for the sharing of durable goods, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, rapid transit, 3D printing, vertical farming, electronic devices to detect and respond to trauma, and beneficial genetic modification of plants, animals, and human beings.

Section E2-E. Smart Infrastructure

Option E2-E-1.

[Based on Proposal by Jennifer Warren]

The United States Transhumanist Party advocates the construction of a self-repairing, self-maintaining smart infrastructure which incorporates the distribution of energy, communications, and clean potable water to every building.