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From Darwinian Greed to Altruistic Greed: the Strangest Period So Far in Our Planet’s History – Article by Hilda Koehler

From Darwinian Greed to Altruistic Greed: the Strangest Period So Far in Our Planet’s History – Article by Hilda Koehler

Hilda Koehler


We are smack-dab in the middle of what might be the oddest period of our planet’s history thus far. The last 200 years have seen more rapid technological and scientific advancement than all the 3.5 billion prior years of life on Earth combined. And that technological progress is set to increase even more exponentially within our lifetimes. In the span of my grandmother’s life, humanity has put a man on the Moon, and now we’re having serious discussions about Moon bases and terraforming Mars to start a colony there. Within my own life thus far, I’ve gone from using a dial-up box-shaped computer in my kindergarten years to learning about the exponential progress made in quantum computing and the invention of a material that could potentially be a non-organic substrate to download human thoughts into.

I think that John L. Smart is essentially correct in the theories he puts force in his evolutionary-developmental (“EvoDevo”) transcension hypothesis. There seems to be a kind of biological Moore’s law that applies to human intelligence. If you chart the developments in human evolution from 200,000 years ago till the present, the jump from hunting and gathering to civilization occurred at an immensely fast rate. And the subsequent jump from pre-scientific civilization to the contemporary technological age has been the most astronomical one thus far. And with that astronomical jump in humanity’s technological progress has come an incredible leap in humanity’s moral progress.

The irony of our strange epoch

One of the most ironic aspects about the current climate crisis I like to point out is this: thank goodness that the climate crisis is happening now, and not in the 1500s. That seems like a rather ironic or even flippant thing to say. But thank goodness that the two greatest existential threats to all sentient life on Earth, the existence of nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and global warming, are occurring in the 21st century. Because we are living in a time period where democracies are the most common political model across the globe. Public protests such as those led by Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg’s climate strike movement have proliferated across the globe. Can you imagine what would have happened if this order of climate catastrophe had occurred a thousand years ago, when monarchies were the default political model? Can you imagine what would happen if you had tyrannical monarchies across the globe, with kings and lords as the primary stakeholders in climate-destroying corporations? It doesn’t seem likely that Greta Thunberg and her ilk would have made much progress in pushing for a pro-climate action zeitgeist in a regime where criticizing the reigning monarch automatically meant decapitation.

Furthermore, we’re extremely fortunate to be living in an era where science is accelerating fast enough to pioneer carbon-capture technology, and more recently, the geoengineering as a viable solution. To paraphrase Michio Kaku, “the dinosaurs got wiped out by the meteor shower; but they didn’t have advanced technology which could detect and disintegrate meteors long before they enter the Earth’s orbit. That’s something current human beings can work on building.” The same is true of the current scramble for climate engineers to churn out anti-pollution and temperature-lowering technologies.

How the technological pursuit of a post-scarcity world is encourages altruism and egalitarianism

I often write about how the last 150 years of global society have seen an exponential jump in the perpetuation of universal human rights. And that’s because it’s nothing short of amazing. Most of the world’s major civilizations which had political and economically subjugated women, ethnic minorities, and the working class for the past 6,000 years suddenly had a change of heart overnight, seemingly. It’s no coincidence that the proliferation of universal civil rights and the criminalization of interpsersonal violence against women and minorities coincided with the Post-Industrial Revolution. As resource scarcity has been drastically reduced in the contemporary technological era, so, too, has the Darwinian impetus towards domination and subjugation of minority groups.

We have shifted from a violent Darwinian greed in the form of the colonization of minority groups, to a kind of altruistic greed. Altruistic greed is characterized by an unabetting desire for ever-higher qualities of life; but which can be made widely available to the masses. The clearest example of this is the advent of modern healthcare, beginning with the mass administration of vaccinations for diseases like polio. As Steven Pinker points out, infant mortality rates and deaths from child birth have plummeted throughout that world in the last 50 years. Across the world, the proliferation of technological infrastructure has made public transport systems faster and safer than they ever were before. Altruistic greed is a major driving force for many in the transhumanist community. Most transhumanists are advocates of making radical life extension and cutting edge medical therapies affordable and accessible to everyone. The fundamental driving principle behind transhumanism is that humanity can transcend its biological limitations through rapid technological advancement; but the benefits reaped must be made as accessible as possible.

A reason often cited by nihilists who say that we should accept human extinction is on the grounds that human beings hold the glaring track record of being the most gut-wrenchingly cruel of all the species on Earth. This is empirically and philosophically indisputable. No other species shares a historical laundry list of genocide campaigns, slavery, rape, domestic abuse, and egregious socio-economic inequality on par with human beings.

But since the post-World War II era, something miraculous happened. We became kind and peaceful; and this impetus towards kindness and peace proliferated globally. After 10,000 years of treating women as the property of their husbands, it became possible for women to get voted into positions of power across the globe, and marital rape became criminalized in an increasing number of countries. After 10,000 years of holding corporal punishment as an essential part of child-rearing in nearly every human society, an increasing number of democracies have begun to enact child-abuse laws against striking children.

We still have long ways to go.

Sweatshop labor exploitation and the sex trafficking of females remain major human-rights issues today. But an increasing number of international law bodies and humanitarian groups are cracking down on them and fighting to eradicate them permanently. They are no longer seen as “business as usual” practices that are essential parts of human society which shouldn’t cause anyone to bat an eye; despite the fact that slavery has been a staple institution of nearly every civilization for the last ten millennia.

There are, of course, many aspects of ethical progress in which human beings are still lagging sorely behind, besides human trafficking. Although wars are far less common and less glamorized than they were in millennia past, conflicts are still raging on in Congo, and dictatorial regimes still exist. Income inequality is now greater than it was at any other time in human history. Another of the great ironies of the contemporary technological era is that we now produce enough food to feed 10 billion people, but there are still 795 million people in the world suffering from malnutrition. As much as 40% of all the food we produce is wasted unnecessarily.

The exploitation of animals and the thoughtless destruction of their habitats is one respect in which humanity has actually backslid in terms of ethical progress in the last 70 years. Since the Industrial Revolution and the explosion of the human population, humans have radically decimated the earth’s natural biomass, and one million species are now facing the threat of extinction due to human industrial activity.

Nevertheless, one hopes that Steven Pinker is essentially correct in his assessment of humanity’s rapid moral growth over the last 200 years. It could be said that it’s not necessarily the case that primates are inherently more predisposed to cruelty than all other species. Rape, infanticide, and killing rival males during mating season are common amongst many species of birds, reptiles, and mammals, as David Pearce points out. It’s just that human beings have the capacity to inflict exponential amounts on damage on other humans and animals because of our exceptional intelligence. Intelligence makes possible exploitation. Human intelligence has allowed us to exploit other human beings and sentient beings for millennia. But human intelligence is what has also enabled us to radically improve healthcare, longevity, and universal human rights across the globe.

The long history of suffering endured by sentient life on Earth is why the far-flung topic of technological resurrection is a major point of discussion amongst transhumanists. We believe that all sentient creatures which have endured considerable physical suffering, manmade or naturally-inflicted, deserve a second shot at life in the name of humanitarian justice.

There’s still much room for progress.

At present we seem to be entering a bottleneck era where we might have to drastically reduce our currently excessive consumption of the Earth’s resources, in light of the current climate crisis. The good news is that a growing number of us are realizing the looming existential threat of climate change and doubling down on combating it, as I’d mentioned earlier. The even better news is that an increasing number of bioethicists, particularly in the transhumanist movement, are now touting a permanent solution to the worst of humanity’s selfish, overly aggressive monkey-brain impulses. This seems to be just in the nick of time, given that this coincides with an era where humanity has access to nuclear arms capable of obliterating all life on Earth with the press of a Big Red Button.

My biggest hope for humanity is not only that our exponential technological progress will persist, but that our ethical and altruistic progress will continue in tandem with it. We have gotten to a stage of technological development where the forces of nature have become almost entirely subjugated, and our own impetus towards aggression has become the single greatest existential threat. It could be that every single sufficiently advanced alien civilization that is capable of exploiting all the natural resources on its home planets or inventing WMDs is eventually forced to cognitively recondition itself towards pacifism and altruism.

There is an ongoing debate in the existential-risk movement about whether or not SETI or METI could be unintentionally endangering all life on Earth by attempting to make contact with alien civilizations several orders of magnitude more advanced than ours. The analogy commonly cited is how the first European explorers of the Americas massacred scores of indigenous tribespeople who didn’t have guns. But the opposite could also be true. It could be that once other alien civilizations achieve a post-scarcity global economy, the neurobiological Darwinian impetus to colonize less developed groups gets steadily replaced by an altruistic impetus to ensure the survival and flourishing of all sentient species on that planet. We can’t tell for sure until we meet another alien species. But on our part, we’ve yet to ride out the tidal wave of the strangest period of Earth’s history. As we take our next steps forward into a radically different phase of human civilization, we gain an ever greater ability to control our own development as a species. Here’s to Pinker’s hope that we’re going in the right direction, and will do our best to head that way indefinitely.

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

Free Stuff – Evidence of an Emerging Possible Post-Scarcity Economy – Article by David J. Kelley

Free Stuff – Evidence of an Emerging Possible Post-Scarcity Economy – Article by David J. Kelley

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David J. Kelley


I was talking to my wife on my last trip to Seattle and found that she and my children had picked up a new hobby – ‘Free Stuff’. That is, there is this new project called the ‘Buy Nothing Project’ – focused on people in communities giving things to each other.  While we still don’t know if we will end up with a dystopian Big Brother AI-powered government or some other dystopian future, we can see evidence that a lot of the possible futures are in play, including the idea of a ‘Post-Scarcity Economy’.  While this is only circumstantial evidence, I would argue that it is likely that the that fact projects like this are being successful, is evidence of a post-scarcity economy forming.  There are a lot of things to overcome, most of which are human-powered essential risks in my opinion, but the fact that I see projects like this gives me a lot of hope for us.

So here is what they say about the project so far:

“Buy Nothing. Give Freely. Share Creatively.

The Buy Nothing Project began when two friends, Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, created an experimental hyper-local gift economy on Bainbridge Island, WA, in July, 2013. Since then, it has become a worldwide social movement, with groups in 20 nations. Our local groups form gift economies that are complementary and parallel to local cash economies; whether people join because they’d like to quickly get rid of things that are cluttering their lives, or simply to save money by getting things for free, they quickly discover that our groups are not just another free recycling platform. A gift economy’s real wealth [are] the people involved and the web of connections that forms to support them. Time and again, members of our groups find themselves spending more and more time interacting in our groups, finding new ways to give back to the community that has brought humor, entertainment, and yes, free stuff into their lives. The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.”

You can read more about this project at and even find a local group here: https://buynothingproject.org/

David J. Kelley is the CTO for the tech venture capital firm Tracy Hall LLC, focused on companies that contribute to high-density sustainable community technologies, as well as the principal scientist with Artificial General Intelligence Inc. David also volunteers as the Chairman of the Transhuman National Committee board. David’s career has been built on technology trends and bleeding each research primarily around the capitalization of product engineering where those new products can be brought to market and made profitable. David’s work on Artificial Intelligence in particular – the ICOM research project with AGI Inc. – is focused on emotion-based systems that are designed to work around human constraints and help remove the ‘human’ element from the design of AI systems, including military applications for advanced self-aware cognitive systems that do not need human interaction.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Six-Month Message and Principles of Conduct

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Six-Month Message and Principles of Conduct

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Gennady Stolyarov II


As of May 17, 2017, six months have passed since I became the second Chairman in the history of the United States Transhumanist Party. When Zoltan Istvan originally requested that I assume leadership of the Transhumanist Party from him, he did so with the expectation that I would agree to remain in the Chairman role for at least six months. Now that my first six months have elapsed, I realize that the task of building a self-sustaining organization is just beginning. From the standpoint of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s history, the initial period of my tenure has been characterized by peaceful, steady growth. The following achievements, in particular, have been notable:

In other words, we have begun to lay the groundwork for an effective political organization, but this is a task of years rather than months. At this early stage, the Transhumanist Party’s main impact will be on public opinion, rather than on the ballot box directly. To maximize that impact now, we need both more members and more activity from existing members. The vision of the Transhumanist Party as a member-driven organization holds that individual members would exercise their initiative in proposing and carrying out projects that utilize their unique talents. You can simply e-mail me to request a Delegation of Authority to undertake an endeavor on behalf of the U.S. Transhumanist Party – and, if your idea has potential, you may become a Member Delegate and affiliate your project with us. A speech, meet-up, discussion group, video, representation at a public event, or online promotion and advocacy on behalf of the Transhumanist Party would all be welcomed – as would member submissions of written works (both non-fiction and fiction), techno-positive artwork, and relevant scientific research (if you have the right to share or republish it – for instance, under a Creative Commons license). Other creative ideas for influencing public opinion and attracting new members would be welcomed as well. You are always encouraged to share our membership application form with others, and to emphasize that we offer the most cosmopolitan, inclusive, and logistically easy-to-obtain member status of any political party in the United States, and likely in the world today.

In order to highlight the unique value proposition offered by the U.S. Transhumanist Party, which renders it worthy of active support and considerable growth, I would like to identify some principles of conduct which have set us apart from other political organizations, and which will continue to distinguish the Transhumanist Party during my tenure as Chairman. (I would also like to acknowledge the input of Martin van der Kroon, our new Director of Recruitment, in suggesting and helping to frame some of these principles.)

  1. At this time, the U.S. Transhumanist Party is a non-monetary organization. As an organization, we have no assets or liabilities. All of our activities are made possible by volunteers, who use their own property and retain ownership and control of that property as individuals. The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not accept donations or have any revenues or expenses as an organization. Therefore, there is no room for monetary influence by any politically connected special interest. We have effectively “taken money out of politics” – at least with respect to our own operations. Indeed, this manner of operation simulates (however imperfectly) the manner in which organizations would function in a future of technological radical abundance, which would be “post-scarcity” in the sense of basic human needs being always readily fulfillable, and which would therefore not pose the all-too-common conflicts between money and integrity that we observe in our era. The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not aim to take in money; rather, our purpose is to promote ideas that could enable us personally to reach that future of radical abundance – both by living long enough to witness it and by advocating the specific technologies that will greatly augment material production. Donations should instead be directed to the researchers working to expand lifespans and develop other technologies of the future.
  1. The U.S. Transhumanist Party resolutely opposes the downward spiral of incivility, hatred, and even occasional violence that have come to characterize politics in the United States and in some other Western countries over the past two years. We see politics as being about policy first, and are committed to focusing on constructive solutions of the pressing problems of our time – both through technology and through advocacy. We are also uniquely situated to take a longer-term view and advocate policies that could improve our lives decades and centuries from now, since we are not bound to the myopic focus which often comes with the desire to win proximate elections at all costs. The U.S. Transhumanist Party does not condone ad hominem attacks or smear campaigns, including against persons with whom we disagree from a policy perspective or whose actions we may find reprehensible (although we may certainly express criticism of such specific actions, where warranted). We always aim to engage in civil discourse and to seek common ground with others where possible. However, we also always aim to remain rational and driven by facts, evidence, and logic. We may, as we deem necessary, respond to any policy or political behavior with thoughtful communication, based on the information available, and acknowledge when gaps of information exist to as to prevent definitive statements. The U.S. Transhumanist Party is committed to reason in the political arena.
  1. The U.S. Transhumanist Party’s commitment to reason means that we value freedom of speech highly and insist on the importance of constructive criticism where warranted. We strive to avoid “flame” wars, tribal politics, or political witch hunts. We renounce political violence categorically, as it can derail our civilization and needlessly damage and destroy lives that could instead have taken a productive course and contributed to technological and societal progress. Per Article I, Section III, Operating Principle 2 of our Constitution, we will automatically disassociate ourselves from any individual engaging in such violence, threats of violence, or intentional prevention of peaceful gatherings. At the same time, we would seek for anyone – whether they agree with or dissent from our stances – to engage us in honest, good-faith, constructive dialogue about how political systems could be improved to make a future of universal radical abundance possible. Both collaboration and civil criticism – by us and of us – are welcome. We will positively acknowledge others, regardless of their political position, who engage in reasoned thought, action, and debate. We will not have internal censorship and will not attempt to project censorship outward. We seek to create not an intellectual “safe space” but rather a vehicle for discovery, problem-solving, and positive cultural transformation.
  1. The U.S. Transhumanist Party will not chain itself to pre-existing ideological “packages” and will not espouse a dogmatic approach with regard to any such “package”. We do articulate many principles and strongly held convictions – particularly regarding the feasibility and desirability of radical technological progress – but those convictions need not prevent us from seeking common ground with individuals who may have some similar goals but may use different vocabulary to articulate them. We recognize that any person who approaches the realm of ideas with sincere intentions for constructive outcomes, would be able to generate ideas of merit. Whatever religious, non-religious, political, or philosophical labels others may associate with themselves, we will not dismiss their ideas solely in reaction to such labels. Rather, we will consider these ideas based on the merits of the arguments made. We also recognize that we are not alone in striving for a better future and acknowledge that technological innovations and medical advancement are likely to happen at an accelerating rate regardless of any influence by the U.S. Transhumanist Party. This insight should give us hope and comfort, as our contributions will not be the only ones that improve the human condition. Others who hold different views from ours may, even inadvertently, contribute to human progress in ways that we would find clearly favorable. Too many past and present organizations have fallen into the unfortunate and highly limiting trap of ideological purism. We will endeavor not to let ideological constraints prevent us from being open to positive possibilities and opportunities arising from the work of others.

If the above principles of conduct inspire you to work toward a new political ideal, then I encourage you to contribute your efforts to the Transhumanist Party and to help spread awareness of it among others. Please e-mail me if you would like to organize a project on the Transhumanist Party’s behalf, and please encourage other thoughtful persons to join us as well. No individual alone can advance humankind into its next era, but the sum of our efforts might just be able to take us there.

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