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Video of Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum at the Nevada State Legislature – May 15, 2019

Video of Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum at the Nevada State Legislature – May 15, 2019

Gennady Stolyarov II
Anastasia Synn
R. Nicholas Starr


Watch the video containing 73 minutes of excerpts from the Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum, held on May 15, 2019, at the Nevada State Legislature Building.

The Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum at the Nevada Legislature on May 15, 2019, marked a milestone for the U.S. Transhumanist Party and the Nevada Transhumanist Party. This was the first time that an official transhumanist event was held within the halls of a State Legislature, in one of the busiest areas of the building, within sight of the rooms where legislative committees met. The presenters were approached by tens of individuals – a few legislators and many lobbyists and staff members. The reaction was predominantly either positive or at least curious; there was no hostility and only mild disagreement from a few individuals. Generally, the outlook within the Legislative Building seems to be in favor of individual autonomy to pursue truly voluntary microchip implants. The testimony of Anastasia Synn at the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 26, 2019, in opposition to Assembly Bill 226, is one of the most memorable episodes of the 2019 Legislative Session for many who heard it. It has certainly affected the outcome for Assembly Bill 226, which was subsequently further amended to restore the original scope of the bill and only apply the prohibition to coercive microchip implants, while specifically exempting microchip implants voluntarily received by an individual from the prohibition. The scope of the prohibition was also narrowed by removing the reference to “any other person” and applying the prohibition to an enumerated list of entities who may not require others to be microchipped: state officers and employees, employers as a condition of employment, and persons in the business of insurance or bail. These changes alleviated the vast majority of the concerns within the transhumanist and cyborg communities about Assembly Bill 226.

 

From left to right: Gennady Stolyarov II, Anastasia Synn, and Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr)

This Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum comes at the beginning of an era of transhumanist political engagement with policymakers and those who advise them. It was widely accepted by the visitors to the demonstration tables that technological advances are accelerating, and that policy decisions regarding technology should only be made with adequate knowledge about the technology itself – working on the basis of facts and not fears or misconceptions that arise from popular culture and dystopian fiction. Ryan Starr shared his expertise on the workings and limitations of both NFC/RFID microchips and GPS technology and who explained that cell phones are already far more trackable than microchips ever could be (based on their technical specifications and how those specifications could potentially be improved in the future). U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II introduced visitors to the world of transhumanist literature by bringing books for display – including writings by Aubrey de Grey, Bill Andrews, Ray Kurzweil, Jose Cordeiro, Ben Goertzel, Phil Bowermaster, and Mr. Stolyarov’s own book “Death is Wrong” in five languages. It appears that there is more sympathy for transhumanism within contemporary political circles than might appear at first glance; it is often transhumanists themselves who overestimate the negativity of the reaction they expect to receive. But nobody picketed the event or even called the presenters names; transhumanist ideas, expressed in a civil and engaging way – with an emphasis on practical applications that are here today or due to arrive in the near future – will be taken seriously when there is an opening to articulate them.

The graphics for the Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum were created by Tom Ross, the U.S. Transhumanist Party Director of Media Production.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party free of charge, no matter where you reside.

References

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018

• “A Word on Implanted NFC Tags” – Article by Ryan Starr

Assembly Bill 226, Second Reprint – This is the version of the bill that passed the Senate on May 23, 2019.

Amendment to Assembly Bill 226 to essentially remove the prohibition against voluntary microchip implants

Future Grind Podcast

Synnister – Website of Anastasia Synn

Why Non-Existence is Suffering, and Why We Shouldn’t Accept It as a Given – Article by Hilda Koehler

Why Non-Existence is Suffering, and Why We Shouldn’t Accept It as a Given – Article by Hilda Koehler

Hilda Koehler


My friend Alexey Turchin, a fellow supporter of the mass technological resurrection, has made an eyebrow-raising claim in one of his recent presentations: non-existence is a form of suffering. That in itself appears to be an oxymoronic claim. How can an individual suffer when they have no conscious experiences at all, since personal consciousness is permanently annihilated forever upon bodily death? Philosophically speaking, this is impossible. You need to be conscious to be able to experience either pain or pleasure. However, Alexey argues that the permanent cessation of consciousness can be considered the ultimate form of suffering because it means that the individual will forever be deprived of any further opportunities to experience the physical world. This means literally never existing ever again; which makes it doubly worse if you happened to get an unfortunate lot in this current life. This is a grim reality that atheists across the entire world must contend with.

Being an atheist in the late modern period is a very unique experience in its own ways, especially for those who fell out of the womb into religious abodes. The Richard Dawkinses of the world can attest to the extent of the cognitive dissonance that comes with a life trajectory of being repeatedly told that an all-loving, all-powerful deity exists and that everything your religious tradition says is truth that must be accepted at face value — only to go to a secular public school and receive a proper education in history, critical thinking, and good ol’ science.

The shattering of your entire worldview and belief system can be likened to coming home at the end of the day to find your wife in bed with a Mickey Mouse impersonator who works at Disneyland, while he’s still fully clad in the Mickey suit. The realization of absurdity that comes with an overhauling of one’s worldview this radical can range from breeding quiet cynicism, to full-blown distress and an existentialist crisis. This depends on the degree to which your previously held religious convictions held sway over your life. Both Michael Shermer and I went down this same route (although I was fortunate enough to have my transformative moment at a considerably younger age than Shermer). Shermer was previously in pursuit of a PhD in theology when he lost his faith; I was cajoled into a far-right radical Calvinist sect when I was 13, by an online friend who had convinced me that if I didn’t proselytize my faith to everybody else in Singapore, God would force me to watch my family get repeatedly eviscerated with hot iron blades for all of eternity. My church strongly discouraged women from pursuing higher education and regularly reminded its female parishoners that God would like them to obey their husbands. When I was 16, I was propositioned by a 21-year-old male youth group member who strongly hinted that I was at the appropriate age where he could ask me to become his wife.

And then when I was 17, I studied enough philosophy to find out that the whole damn thing was made up by a bunch of people as they were going along and that Heaven wasn’t real. And that every single human being who is born will naturally be destined to spend all of eternity in an empty, dark void once each of our individual brains cease all neural function. Needless to say, I didn’t take to this revelation well.

Understandably, most atheists aren’t chuffed about the idea of spending the next 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years being unable to see, hear, feel, smell, or think anything at all. But most of us still consider that a veritable improvement from spending the next 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years being fully conscious while being boiled in a pit of sulfur as punishment for not tithing or sharing a kiss with someone of the same biological sex. The choice between eternal oblivion and eternal torture isn’t a hard one to make. But it still doesn’t make it all that easy for atheists to accept their permanent annihilation. While some psychological studies claim that atheists apparently fear death considerably less than their religious counterparts, I’d also say that atheists tend to be more frank with themselves in openly discussing their fear of eternal oblivion. It’s only been very recently that I’ve begun visiting online atheist forums and was surprised to find that “how do I cope with my fear of non-existence?” is an exceedingly common question.

The typical suggestions given to deal with this extreme existentialist dread are, more often than not, “you were dead for 13 billion years before you were born, so it shouldn’t bother you that you’ll be dead for the next 13 billion years after you’re dead (again).” Or trying to convince the original poster that death is no different from being under general anesthesia for all of eternity (“if you’ve already undergone surgery, you have nothing to fear!”) Or just plain ol’, “suck it up; the entire universe is going to perish in heat death, anyway, and it’s taking all of us with it.” While I applaud my fellow atheists for being thoroughly honest with themselves in facing the most terrible prospect all of humanity has ever faced, I can’t help but feel that this is a form of very pained resignation. I’ve met numerous other atheists who have had to undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy and take psychiatric medication because their thanatophobia (fear of death) is so severe that they’re terrified to leave their own houses on a daily basis and that they’ve developed severe insomnia because they can’t fall asleep regularly without having panic attacks.

How should the atheist community cope with the biggest question any human being will ever face? Should the acceptance of the permanent annihilation of consciousness continue to be the modus operandi for the atheist and scientific community for the rest of humanity’s existence?

Or should we dare to stick our necks out and consider the very far out possibility of a third alternative, that is neither the acceptance of eternal oblivion nor delusional faith in the promises of a spiritual life in a castle in the sky?

What if we reconceptualized the way we see non-existence? What if this is the next great paradigm shift that humanity will eventually come face-to-face with?

Up till the very recent modern period in human history, slavery and wife-beating were seen as perfectly normal facts of life that just had to be accepted. It was considered a given fact that some men (and the overwhelming majority of women) were effectively going to be someone else’s property and could be completely at their mercy. Try holding a similar attitude today in a developed nation. Try, in 2019 A.D., to stand on a soap box in the middle of California and scream at the top of your lungs that women should be denuded of all their political rights and that the government should make it legal for you to sell your teenaged daughter into prostitution so that you can pay off your mortgage.

“BECAUSE THAT’S HOW IT’S ALWAYS BEEN DONE.”

Try yelling at the top of your voice that slavery should be re-institutionalized and that Caucasian Americans should be granted the legal right to forcibly capture their African-American, Native American and Latino neighbours, have them shackled in chains and put them up for auction in a human market.

“THIS IS HOW IT’S BEEN GOING ON FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, SO THERE’S NO REASON FOR US TO BREAK THE HABIT.”

Everyone can obviously guess how that’s going to go down. Good night, and good luck, to whomsoever endeavors to try this out.

Given that modern human civilization is approximately 10,000 years old, the shifts in moral attitudes that have occurred over the last 200 years can be considered astronomical in every sense of the word. And if technological progress continues to press forth, who knows what on earth our descendants will think of us at present?

I personally had never remotely considered reconceptualizing the way I view death and aging until I was first introduced to the transhumanist movement when I watched a documentary on it, featuring Ben Goertzel.

So said Ben, “one day, our descendants are going to look back at us and be unable to believe that we let our elderly folks die of aging and accepted it as being natural. They’re going to think it’s absolutely barbaric that we accepted death so unquestioningly. It’s going to be how we now look at our forebears and remember that they thought rape and murder were pretty much okay.” Needless to say, I was pretty flabbergasted when I first heard this. It’s taken me some time to really think over the implications of what death really is, and just how great the potential for human society to shift its values and conceptions of the world is.

And funnily enough? The exact same thing can be said for the entire atheist movement. It isn’t much of a miraculous coincidence that religious “nones” are the fastest-growing worldview demographic in contemporary developed nations which place a premium on the scientific enterprise. Understandably, all the way up till the industrial revolution, people didn’t really think too hard about whether or not God really existed and if we really did evolve from monkeys, because most people were too busy trying to survive and feed their eight children (six of whom most likely wouldn’t survive till adulthood). Famines, plagues and warfare were a norm rather than exceptions that remain unimaginable to most of us living in developed nations today.

“No afterlife, no problem,” is an attitude that has only developed amongst modern atheists in very recent times. You can tell people to be content with just having one shot at an 80-year-long life, because that option is actually available to them now. If you have the good fortune to be born into a middle-class family without any significant disabilities or health issues, and you stand a fairly good chance of living a happy, fulfilling life without any significant hardships. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for the better part of the last 9900 years of human civilizational history. Wishing very badly that something could be true doesn’t make it true, of course. But we should at least be able to sympathize with the reasons our forebears had, and many people currently living in hardship still have, for clinging on fervently to the hope of a second chance in an afterlife.

Nevertheless, atheists today should begin to see humanity’s dreams of immortality not as a slice of pie in the sky; we should see it as a challenge and a goal post we will eventually cross with the aid of science. It’s a big dream and one that may seem impossible at the moment. But that hasn’t stopped humanity before. Transcending our biological limitations and striving for a better world than the one we currently live in has been the whole narrative of the human story. Our dreams of greater things will always seem absurd, until available technological advancements arrive to deliver them. But those dreams are what keep us pressing forward.

This essay is dedicated to Nick Bostrom and Giulio Prisco, who are my philosophical inspirations.

Due to space constraints, this essay has not dealt with the issue of overpopulation and resource depletion which are alleged by some come with indefinite lifespan extension. Other transhumanists such as Gennady Stolyarov II have addressed such concerns in other writings and videos.

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.

In Defense of Human Exceptionalism and Immortalism – Article by Hilda Koehler

In Defense of Human Exceptionalism and Immortalism – Article by Hilda Koehler

Hilda Koehler


This essay will be attempting to rebut some of the main objections raised to indefinite lifespan extension, technological immortality, and technological resurrection. The overwhelming majority of the objections to immortalism are based on arguments from naturalism. Devotees of religious traditionalism argue that death is a doorway to an afterlife or reunion with a higher deity in the spirit world. Some atheists argue that death is unavoidable because the limit of the human lifespan is the result of natural selection, and should thus be unquestioningly accepted. However, what if a different perspective were taken on death and the natural limits of the human lifespan?

This essay will primarily attempt to go toe-to-toe with scientifically-based objections against immortalism raised by prominent atheists like Massimo Pigliucci and Michael Shermer. As an atheist myself, I think that the objections to the claims of religious traditionalists that a spiritual afterlife exist are already well-worn and solidly established. Modern neuroscience has solidly established the fact that consciousness is wholly generated by the brain and that there is no empirical evidence to substantiate the claim that immaterial souls exist. Nearly the entire atheist and scientific community accepts this as having been conclusively proven time and again (in spite of this, those who believe in the existence of a spiritual afterlife still make up the vast majority of the world’s population).

One of the major scientifically-based objections to immortalism is the charge that human beings should not be spared from death because we’re not God’s special people, but merely a bunch of apes that were lucky enough to get smart. This is the argument against human exceptionalism or anthropocentrism. There are plenty of other natural entities that have far longer lifespans than human beings do. The turritopsis dohrnii, the famous immortal jellyfish, is known for being able to naturally live indefinitely. Bristlecone pine trees are known to live up to 5000 years old. To quote Michael Shermer, “even stars die,” although they can live for billions of years. But what separates you from the turritopsis dohrnii, or a star? Well, for one thing, the turritopsis dohrnii can’t create self-driving cars and pioneer the practice of modern dentistry. Stars, including our own sun, are wonderful and all, but they can’t do the mathematics and quantum physics necessary to give a full account of the Big Bang theory and the Planck epoch. Human exceptionalism exists because of the sheer degree of human intelligence, compared to every other existing organism in our solar system. There might ostensibly be highly advanced alien civilizations far more intelligent than us residing somewhere in the Milky Way, or in any other of the 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, but we can at least pat ourselves on the backs for being the smartest meat robots in our own solar system.

As Ernest Becker and pretty much everyone else in the history of modern homo sapiens has realised, two things set human beings apart from every single other species that has ever existed. These are the ability to question the story of our origin, and the ability to be cognizant of the termination of our own consciousnesses. Unless, of course, one day zoologists devise a way to read the minds of animals with perfect accuracy and will be surprised to find out that penguins and dolphins believe in heaven, hell, and reincarnation. But with that particularly odd possibility off of the table, homo sapiens are the only known creatures to be actively cognizant of the Eternal Oblivion all of us must face when our consciousnesses are terminated at bodily death. This is the basis of Becker’s arguments regarding terror management theory, and the basis of every single afterlife belief in every single culture throughout human history. Human beings have attained such a developed state of cognitive function that we can actually comprehend the concept of eternity; and we can comprehend the horrors of ceasing to exist for all of the rest of it.

But we shouldn’t think we’re special, the nihilistic atheists argue. We shouldn’t think we’re special because we’re just insignificant specks of protein within an extremely vast, indifferent universe that doesn’t give a rat’s hide about whether we exist or go extinct. Nothing human beings do matters, because we’re so ridiculously insignificant in the grand cosmological scheme. If that argument were taken to its logical conclusion, I can tell you about something else we can stop giving a damn about: the whole of the scientific enterprise. If nothing we do matters, all of us can happily abandon the scientific method and go back to believing that the Earth was made 6000 years ago, in seven days. If nothing we do matters, we can all happily wrap up our efforts to combat global warming and to prevent the utilization of nuclear weapons. For all intents and purposes, I’ve yet to actually meet a nihilist who will willingly let themselves and their family members stand directly in front of an oncoming truck.

I know some atheists who will respond to this with the retort that, “the universe doesn’t owe you a significantly longer lifespan just because human beings wish for it.” Well, the universe doesn’t theoretically owe us effective root-canal treatments, general anaesthesia, Reebok sneakers, hearing aids, or iPhones, but here we are, anyway. The universe may not owe any particular aforementioned desirable to human beings, but that shouldn’t in any way stop us from trying to attain it through our own ingenuity.

Death and a lifespan under three digits might be natural, but guess what else is? Giving birth without epidural. And cancerous tumors. And dying prematurely from various diseases in the absence of medical care. And spending your life stumbling about and squinting if you’re short-sighted but aren’t fortunate enough to have access to laser eye surgery or spectacles.

And plenty of our forebears accepted those aforementioned ailments as such. In every single pre-modern culture, a whole crapbundle of ailments we now have readily available medical treatment for were seen as “God’s will”. The agonizing pain of natural childbirth was, up till very recently, seen as the “curse of Eve” and a burden all women had to suck up and bear as punishment for being women. And then came epidural, and that long-held belief went right out the window. Ostensibly, cancer and viral infections are great ways for the forces of natural selection to keep human population in steady state; but that still hasn’t stopped us from inventing anti-viral medication and chemotherapy.

To quote Alan Harrington, “We must never forget that we are cosmic revolutionaries, not stooges conscripted to advance a natural order that kills everybody.”

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.

 

Wealth, Power, and the Prospect of Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Wealth, Power, and the Prospect of Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


I often ask myself, “Why do wealthy and/or influential people seem to support spending billions of dollars on weapons and exploring outer space, when, with their massive wealth and resources, they could help reduce human suffering and dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people?”

And this question takes me back to a discussion I had last year with gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, during which he recounted to me a meeting he had with an ultra high-net-worth (UHNW) individual. The purpose of the meeting was to raise money for aging and life-extension research, and the UHNW individual refused to donate to SENS Research Foundation, or even to get involved, stating something to the effect of, “It won’t happen in my lifetime.”

That response perplexed me. Here we had a very successful and intelligent person, who, rather than help ensure his own children (as well as others’ children) could live a healthier and longer life, refused to do anything, for the simple reason that he did not believe we could make much progress on reversing aging in his lifetime.

While this is indeed a selfish way to look at things, it is by no means uncommon. In fact, I have been racking my brain recently, trying to figure out why the people who are best-equipped to do something about life extension and aging, do not do so (or do not do enough).

To be fair, there are a few wealthy and influential people who support research into aging and life extension, the most notable being entrepreneur Jim Mellon. However, they seem to be the exception rather than the norm.

Indeed, why do people like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk, who possess incredible resources and influence, choose to spend money and time on attempting to colonize hostile, uninhabitable planets hundreds of millions of kilometers away, especially considering that they and their loved ones (if they are lucky to live long enough) will die of aging-related causes such as heart disease, dementia, and cancer?

While I cannot speak for the aforementioned people, I believe there are several reasons why people in a position of power or wealth refuse to do much about supporting research on aging.

The first reason is that aging and death have been considered inevitable. Indeed, even though we have been able to put a human being on the Moon, we have been unable to prevent a single human being from aging. Enormously wealthy and successful people tend to be quite pragmatic, and so I imagine that they would not want to fund an endeavor or be a part of something they believed had no chance of success. However, we have evidence that we are making progress on this front, or at the very least, that reversing aging and implementing life-extension technologies are worthy endeavors.

In fact, in 2005, MIT Technology Review organized a panel of world-renowned experts (including molecular biologists) and offered a $20,000 prize to anyone who could disprove the SENS research program and demonstrate that reversing aging is not worthy of consideration. However, none of the contestants were able to do so. On the other hand, there is no evidence that human life is sustainable on any other planets in our solar system (while human life is perfectly sustainable on Earth), and by most professional estimates, it would take incredible technological advancements and financial resources to even enable people to temporarily stay on a planet such as Mars. We should also consider the fact that there have been no studies performed on the massive changes that would occur to the human body as a result of living on another planet.

Thus, it actually appears more realistic to work on reversing aging than it would be to work on colonizing other planets. But even if we are not able to completely reverse aging, what if we were able to slow aging? Wouldn’t it be desirable to have an additional five to 10 years of healthy life? Any progress we could make on life extension would be worth it, given that it would directly add healthy years to a person’s life. One thing is for certain – doing nothing ensures that very little will change, and that humans will more than likely continue living this average lifespan of 79 or so years (with very modest improvements over time), with much of it in the later years being in sickness and poor health.

Another reason for the refusal to fund aging and life extension research may be a rather pessimistic one. It is entirely possible that billionaires and governments are hedging their bets in the event that climate change or some other scenario causes wide-scale suffering (the likes of which have never been seen before) and a potential destruction of the planet, along with the rapid extinction of the human species. If that were the case, and Earth was about to be destroyed, it would make sense to pour resources into colonizing other planets. However, I think the likelihood of something like this occurring, at least in the near future, is extremely slim. Further, we have much evidence to support the fact that the planet could sustain a larger population and that technological improvements, as well as renewable energy, and seasteading, can prevent such an apocalyptic scenario from occurring. In fact, despite the challenges we are facing in terms of sustainability, we are making good progress, and it seems unreasonable to me to give all of this up, throw in the towel, and chase a pipe dream of living on another planet (when the one we have now is perfectly suited to human life). Also, given that we have the technology to save our planet from being engulfed in chaos and destruction, but do not currently have the technology to live on other planets, wouldn’t it make sense to save Earth first, rather than attempting to embark upon costly journeys to other planets, especially journeys that have little guarantee of success?

Yet another reason may be that many people, including those in a position of power, have bought into the idea of an afterlife. However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, there is no evidence that an afterlife exists, whereas there is evidence that we are making progress with reversing aging, even if that progress is arriving at a pace that is slower than we would have liked. With that being said, I would never want to deny anyone the right to believe in whatever they want. The question is, however, whether it is beneficial to adopt a zero-sum attitude to this matter. The fact is, believing in an afterlife and contributing to aging and life-extension research are not mutually exclusive. One can have any religious beliefs one likes, and subscribe to the idea that there is an afterlife, while also contributing to the beauty of existence here on Earth.

Finally, working on a cause such as reversing aging appears to not be as exciting as the prospect of exploring Mars, which is why people would rather update their LinkedIn (or Tinder) profile with “Entrepreneur” or “Swashbuckling Adventurer” or “Arms Dealer”, even, rather than “Gerontologist”.  In all seriousness, though, I have always found the idea of exploring faraway lands, as well as other planets, to be exciting. But if human beings are excited about exploring the unknown, shouldn’t we also be interested in exploring a process as complex as aging, especially given that there is much we still do not know about it? Also, the implications of making advancements in this field are huge. This is because the un-sexy work that gerontologists are doing will lead to us living longer, healthier lives, and so this very important work should not be ignored. In fact, it is a massive waste of resources to try to colonize uninhabitable planets at the expense of ensuring good health and longevity, when all of humanity battles with disease and death. It would even be more noble to focus our efforts on eliminating poverty (something that the Chinese government, for instance, has dedicated its efforts to).

I do not wish to dissuade anyone from exploring outer space, but neither should we avoid doing what needs to be done on our planet. I only wish to ask whether spending billions on space exploration is the best use of resources at our disposal, considering that there is still much work to be done here on Earth.

As mentioned previously, it should not be a zero-sum game. In an ideal world, we could dedicate resources to both aging research and space exploration. However, when the budget for NASA is $21.5 billion and the budget for aging research at the National Institute on Aging is $40 million, one has to start asking questions. Actually, one could argue neither budget is large enough, especially given that the U.S. Department of Defense budget is $686 billion.

Why do we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on missiles and bombs to combat a highly-exaggerated threat, when there is the absolute certainty that billions of people will suffer and then die, many of them prematurely, due to aging-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and dementia?

What makes exploring outer space so much more important than ensuring that billions do not die prematurely from aging-related diseases? Will picking up and holding red dust on a hostile, uninhabitable planet be more fulfilling than holding one’s child or loved one in one’s arms?

What does it say about our society when we are content to allow friends and family members to perish in undignified ways, while we dream about stockpiling as many weapons as possible, reliving fictional fantasies inspired by comic books and movies, and ignoring challenges here on Earth?

These are questions we must ask ourselves, and, more importantly, must demand those in power to ask themselves. At the end of the day, if we as a society are comfortable with the tradeoffs and decide en masse that dealing weapons and exploring outer space are more important than working on curing disease, reversing aging, and ensuring that everyone on Earth lives a dignified life, then we can rest assured knowing that we gave this most important of topics much consideration.

However, given the facts, I do not think we have reached that point yet. We have, however, reached a point where there is promise that we are making progress in fighting aging, and it is irresponsible and reckless to ignore these gains while entertaining fantasies of living on other planets. It makes little sense to try to live in a dignified manner on a dangerous, inhospitable, isolated planet that is not suitable for human life, when we are having difficulty living in a dignified manner here on Planet Earth (a planet that is perfectly suited to human life). The solution is not to dream about moving to Mars while leaving the elderly and unhealthy here to die. The solution is also not to increase defense funding, when we already have more weapons than we know what to do with. The solution is to help our brothers and sisters here on Earth live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. And thus, this is a call to action for those of you who are in a position of power or wealth and who can dedicate resources to ensuring that your loved ones, and everyone else’s loved ones, can live better.

One thing I would like to ask UHNW individuals and politicians is, what will you do with the great wealth, status, and power you have accumulated? Will you play golf and remark that “it won’t happen in my lifetime”? Or will you actually do something to ensure that your children won’t be doomed to a short life, during which they will suffer from debilitating disease and eventually die?

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

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Part 2) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Part 2) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

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Ojochogwu Abdul


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 2: Deism, Atheism and Natural Theology

“The dominant trajectory of Enlightenment thought over the last three hundred years has been towards atheism. Most transhumanists are atheists. But some transhumanists, like many of the original Enlightenment thinkers, are attempting to reconcile naturalism and their religious traditions. Some transhumanists even believe that the transcendent potentials of intelligence argue for a new form of scientific theology.” (James Hughes, 2010)

The Enlightenment was the age of the triumph of science (Newton, Leibniz, Bacon) and of philosophy (Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu). Unlike the Renaissance philosophers, the Enlightenment thinkers ceased the search for validation in the texts of the Greco-Roman philosophers, but were predicated more solidly on rationalism and empiricism. Religious tolerance and skepticism about superstition and Biblical literalism was also a central theme of the Enlightenment. Most of the Enlightenment philosophers of the 17th century through the 19th century, however, were theists of some sort who, in general, were attempting to reconcile belief in God with rational skepticism and naturalism. There were, of course, atheists among them as well as devout Christians, but if there was a common theological stance and belief about the divine among Enlightenment philosophers, it was probably Deism, a worldview consisting in the rejection of blind faith and organized religion, an advocacy for the discovery of religious truth through reason and direct empirical observation, and a belief that divine intervention in human affairs stopped with the creation of the world.

Deism, as James Hughes accounts, declined in the nineteenth century, gradually replaced by atheist materialism. Nonetheless, the engagement with Enlightenment values continued in liberal strains of Christianity such as Unitarianism and Universalism, united today among some communities as Unitarian Universalism (UU), and hosting congregations with individuals of varying beliefs that range widely to include atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, deism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Neopaganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Humanism, and many more.

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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

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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: Contemporary Issues – Presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II at VSIM:17 Conference in Ravda, Bulgaria

Transhumanism: Contemporary Issues – Presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II at VSIM:17 Conference in Ravda, Bulgaria

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, outlines common differences in perspectives in three key areas of contemporary transhumanist discourse: artificial intelligence, religion, and privacy. Mr. Stolyarov follows his presentation of each issue with the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s official stances, which endeavor to resolve commonplace debates and find new common ground in these areas. Watch the video of Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation here.

This presentation was delivered by Mr. Stolyarov on September 14, 2017, virtually to the Vanguard Scientific Instruments in Management 2017 (VSIM:17) Conference in Ravda, Bulgaria. Mr. Stolyarov was introduced by Professor Angel Marchev, Sr. –  the organizer of the conference and the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Ambassador to Bulgaria.

After his presentation, Mr. Stolyarov answered questions from the audience on the subjects of the political orientation of transhumanism, what the institutional norms of a transhuman society would look like, and how best to advance transhumanist ideas.

Download and view the slides of Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation (with hyperlinks) here.

Listen to the Transhumanist March (March #12, Op. 78), composed by Mr. Stolyarov in 2014, here.

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

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Apply here.

We Would Like to Welcome Everyone – Official Statement by Martin van der Kroon

We Would Like to Welcome Everyone – Official Statement by Martin van der Kroon

Martin van der Kroon


The U.S. Transhumanist Party humbly prides itself on our stance regarding inclusion of people from all manner of different backgrounds, religions, and movements.

We outline this in detail in Section XXV [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]:

“The United States Transhumanist Party welcomes both religious and non-religious individuals who support life extension and emerging technologies. The United States Transhumanist Party recognizes that some religious individuals and interpretations may be receptive to technological progress and, if so, are valuable allies to the transhumanist movement. On the other hand, the United States Transhumanist Party is also opposed to any interpretation of a religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose religious belief by force and/or by legal compulsion.”

Furthermore, we adopted Section XX [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]:

“The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports the freedom of peaceful speech; religious, non-religious, and anti-religious philosophical espousal; assembly; protest; petition; and expression of grievances. The United States Transhumanist Party therefore strongly opposes all censorship, including censorship that arises out of identity politics and the desire to avoid perceived offensive behavior.”

There is good reason that these planks were adopted. Not only is the U.S. Transhumanist Party striving for inclusion where others fail, we also labor to be a party where anyone may feel welcomed. This is not entirely altruistic though. We think that people of different backgrounds, people of faith, those with perspectives different from our own, can bring valuable ideas to the table, and are uniquely qualified to criticize our own perspectives, helping us all to avoid becoming trapped within an echo-chamber.

People who believe in a higher power, despite no evidence based on our current scientific standards being available, are not automatically opposed to science, reason, and evidence. That people believe in a god does not mean they reject the laws of physics, and they may well believe that god was so awesome that he/she/it created all these amazing physics equations for us to discover. To each his or her own.

I, Martin van der Kroon, Director of Recruitment for the U.S. Transhumanist Party, being non-religious, would nonetheless be ecstatic if, for example, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, or Rabbi Wolpe would speak positive, or even support the U.S. Transhumanist Party, or engage in a debate with us. They may be people of faith, but that doesn’t mean they are devoid of intellect or meaningful ideas and opinions.

What it comes down to is that as members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, and hopefully the transhumanist movement at large, we should not perceive the Core Ideals as outlined in our Constitution as being at odds with religious beliefs. Sometimes religions are referred to as ‘deathist’ beliefs, hinting at the perception of inferiority, or perhaps perceived from the opposite side, creating the impression of elitism on part of the non-religious.

In addition to the acceptance of anyone regardless of their religions (etc.), the U.S. Transhumanist Party furthermore has adopted two plank proposals to outline practices we do not support, with the intent to further reason, acceptance, and debate, and shun intolerance and practices in direct violation of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s goals. We adopted Section XL [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]:

“In addition to its opposition to intolerant interpretations of religious doctrines, the United States Transhumanist Party is furthermore opposed to any interpretation of a secular, non-religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose certain beliefs by force and/or by legal compulsion. Examples of such doctrines opposed by the United States Transhumanist Party include Stalinism, Maoism, Neo-Malthusianism or eco-primitivism, the death-acceptance movement, and the doctrine of censorship, now prevalent on many college campuses in the United States, in the name of “social justice”, combating “triggers” or “microaggressions”, or avoiding subjectively perceived offense.”

We also adopted Section LXIII [Adopted by a vote of the members during June 18-24, 2017]:

“The United States Transhumanist Party opposes those specific cultural, religious, and social practices that violate individual rights and bodily autonomy. Examples of such unacceptable practices are forced marriage (including child marriage), male and female genital mutilation, and honor killings.”

Let us all respect that we all hold notions about our existence, about religion or lack thereof, and appreciate that we, thankfully, do differ in perspectives on such matters. Let us all engage fervently in debates, share our ideas, be critical and skeptical, but allow each other space and dignity to be ourselves.

For those who are interested in our approach of open, inclusive engagement with the ideas, technologies, and policies that can help shape a better future, we invite all of you to become members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free by filling out our Membership Application Form here.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31 – New International Version)

Martin van der Kroon is Director of Recruitment for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Official Statement on the Istvan/Weiss Articles Regarding Transhumanism and Libertarianism in “The American Conservative” Magazine and Related Matters

U.S. Transhumanist Party Official Statement on the Istvan/Weiss Articles Regarding Transhumanism and Libertarianism in “The American Conservative” Magazine and Related Matters

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Recently a large amount of controversy has been generated, and questions have been raised regarding the compatibility or lack thereof among transhumanism, libertarianism, and conservatism – as well as certain positions which have been commonly attributed to transhumanism as a philosophy and as a movement. The controversy was generated by an exchange between Zoltan Istvan, founder and former Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party (but now our Political and Media Advisor with no official decision-making role), and Kai Weiss in the pages of The American Conservative Magazine. Mr. Istvan’s article, “The Growing World of Libertarian Transhumanism” (August 8, 2017), made the case for an essential compatibility between libertarian and transhumanist ideas. Mr. Weiss countered with a disparaging article, “Transhumanism Is Not Libertarian, It’s an Abomination” – a piece which largely critiques a contrived caricature of transhumanism and does not genuinely engage views which most, many, or – in some cases – any self-identified transhumanists actually hold. In response to some of Mr. Weiss’s assertions, Mr. Istvan released a post on his Facebook profile which reinforced and endeavored to explain some of Mr. Istvan’s personal views regarding parenting (which he correctly and prominently clarified as “not an official platform policy in any way” and “just a philosophical stance”).

Unfortunately, the exchange between Mr. Istvan and Mr. Weiss has generated a maelstrom of public reaction, which largely consists of a feedback loop of misunderstandings. The purpose of this official statement, in my capacity as Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party, is to dispel any such misunderstandings and to elucidate the positions of the Transhumanist Party on the nexus of issues involved. These positions arise out of the official Platform adopted thus far by the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s members in the course of multiple rounds of voting, and should be distinguished from the personal views of any individual, including Mr. Istvan and myself.

First, it is important to convey that the United States Transhumanist Party greatly esteems Mr. Istvan and owes him a debt of gratitude for founding the Party and continuing to offer valuable advice. However, it is also important to emphasize that the Transhumanist Party is not the Libertarian Party – in any way, shape, or form. Mr. Istvan’s candidacy for Governor of California as a Libertarian for the 2018 election has no relation or affiliation with the United States Transhumanist Party in any manner; it is, rather, his personal endeavor – although, on a personal level, I wish Mr. Istvan all the best. No statements made by Mr. Istvan as part of that Libertarian Party candidacy can be imputed to the Transhumanist Party or the ideas broadly constituting the transhumanist movement. Mr. Istvan himself clearly recognizes this and has acted appropriately to make the requisite distinctions. It surprises the leadership of the United States Transhumanist Party, however, that there persists a common public conflation between Mr. Istvan’s Libertarian campaign and the policies and positions of the Transhumanist Party under our present administration. We will endeavor to dispel this conflation with all the means at our disposal.

While many Transhumanists identify as (small “l”) libertarians philosophically and politically, other Transhumanists would not so identify. The Transhumanist Party is unique in contemporary politics precisely because of its transpartisan nature. We desire to transcend conventional political distinctions and so welcome libertarians, socialists, republicans, democrats, centrists, apolitical individuals, and anybody else – however they identify themselves – who would be willing to ally with us to craft a better future. In developing our Platform, we solicited the input of all our members and continue to do so. The result is a set of positions different from any established political party or conventional political outlook – positions that will continue to be refined and expanded as our membership grows and new perspectives, voices, and rational analyses are added. The Transhumanist Party seeks to build bridges with creatively minded, forward-thinking individuals of a variety of persuasions. We resolutely refuse, however, to be a “feeder” organization into any established political party, the Libertarian Party included. The Transhumanist Party is not intended to funnel people to serve as reinforcements for one or another of the myriad well-known players in the contemporary political arena. Rather, all of our members shall remain free to be and express their true intellectual selves, acknowledge their differences, and explore opportunities for collaboration nonetheless. We therefore are free to comment on the work of Mr. Istvan or any other thinker objectively and in a manner that acknowledges strengths and weaknesses alike.

Mr. Istvan’s article was commendable in its attempt to build bridges between transhumanists and libertarians. Mostly his article is an overview of transhumanism as a movement, its history, its recent surge in popularity, Mr. Istvan’s personal background, and some questions that Mr. Istvan poses regarding the future “civil rights battle of the century” that “may be looming because of coming transhumanist tech.” Some of the issues Mr. Istvan raises find strong support in the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform. For instance, Mr. Istvan asks, “Should we allow scientists to reverse aging, something researchers have already had success with in mice?” The U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, contained in Article III of our Constitution, answers this with a resounding “Yes!”  Sections V, VI, and VIII of our platform specifically express support for life extension and the reversal of aging necessary to achieve it. The Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 2.0, expresses support for life extension in six of its Articles: III, IV, V, VI, VIII, and IX. However, there are other questions that Mr. Istvan poses, which, while interesting to consider, do not arise from any specific position in our Platform – e.g., abortion, sexbots, whether a “Jesus Singularity” is possible, or whether the human species should be renamed after sufficient cyborgization. It would be difficult, and likely impossible, for any subset of transhumanists to reach a consensus or even acceptable middle ground on these issues, although we understand that they will continue to be discussed. It is best, however, not to frame such matters as official Party positions – but rather to simply continue the conversation, as Mr. Istvan did by raising questions which may have many possible answers. But it is worth emphasizing that neither Transhumanists in particular nor (small “t”) transhumanists in general have any definitive, authoritative positions on these matters.

While Mr. Istvan’s work presents the need for discernment in distinguishing between his views and the positions of the Transhumanist Party, Mr. Weiss’s rejoinder is flawed on an entirely different scale. It is outright misleading and actually seeks to commit (small “l”) libertarians to positions that would not be compatible with liberty if thoroughly examined. Mr. Weiss states that “Transhumanism should be rejected by libertarians as an abomination of human evolution” – as if evolution were itself a moral value for humans or for the achievement of the ideals of liberty (rather than merely the process by which humans happened to arise or even, in its “natural” form, an obstacle to the flourishing and liberty of the individual – since individuals are dispensable from the standpoint of natural selection). Mr. Weiss further imports citations from some of Mr. Istvan’s prior articles (not his original editorial in The American Conservative) to allege that Mr. Istvan, and by implication all transhumanists, support eugenics, as a result of Mr. Istvan’s statement that he “cautiously endorse[s] the idea of licensing parents, a process that would be little different than getting a driver’s license.” To reach the conclusion that transhumanists support eugenics, Mr. Weiss needed to have made several non sequiturs which reach far beyond anything Mr. Istvan actually wrote.

Yet Mr. Istvan’s subsequent Facebook post appears to be a reinforcement of this position, wherein Mr. Istvan seeks to justify it by the statement that “I do not want homeless people, severely mentally disabled people (like down syndrome), or crack addicts having kids if I will end up paying higher taxes so the government must take care of them.” However, Mr. Istvan also offers a mitigating point to this view by noting that he also “deeply support[s] a libertarian version of a basic income to help the poor and hardship-burdened out, but [he does] not and will not support a lack of responsibility on a parent’s part.”

The United States Transhumanist Party takes a decidedly different view on parenting, children, and reproductive freedom than either Mr. Istvan’s proposal to license parents, or Mr. Weiss’s highly disproportionate and unfounded allegation of eugenicist tendencies. All things considered, most (small “l”) libertarians will find the Transhumanist Party’s actual positions on children and childbearing to be far more palatable than either of the positions of Mr. Istvan and Mr. Weiss.

Article XII of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 2.0, states, in part, that “All sentient entities are entitled to reproductive freedom, including through novel means such as the creation of mind clones, monoparent children, or benevolent artificial general intelligence.” If anything, the Transhumanist Party embraces novel techniques that would render it easier for many persons to have children – for instance, without the need to find a partner of the opposite gender.

Section VI of the United States Transhumanist Party Platform – an extensive section on morphological freedom – specifically states that “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.” The last paragraph of Section VI clarifies that “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 […] reproductive choice, reproductive manipulation, […] 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.”

Accordingly, the Transhumanist Party sees reproduction as a fundamentally individual choice. Whether a given individual chooses not to reproduce at all, or to reproduce prolifically, or to pursue any intermediate course, is not a matter to be coercively regimented, restricted, or subjected to special permits. While it could readily be acknowledged that some circumstances are more conducive to the effective and beneficent upbringing of children than others, it nonetheless remains the province of individual judgment to determine whether a given set of circumstances is sufficient in this regard. The influence of civil society, not coercive political solutions, may be a more suitable means to encourage individuals to make decisions in full consideration of the potential consequences.

Some commentators have lamented (as in the premise of the 2006 Mike Judge film Idiocracy) that individuals who would have made decent parents often abstain from reproduction out of an abundance of caution and concern – precisely the traits that would make them better parents – while those who do not consider the consequences of bringing a child into this world may therefore reproduce unthinkingly. It appears that the intention of Mr. Istvan is to address the latter concern and set forth some manner of prior restraint to such unthinking reproduction – and yet such prior restraints are never without unintended consequences. Any externally imposed system of prior restraint creates an inflexible bureaucratic machinery that must be navigated, and good people will inevitably fall through its cracks or be caught within its technicalities, such that self-evidently reasonable decisions will be thwarted needlessly. The important insight to prevent a parental licensing scheme, such as the one proposed by Mr. Istvan, is the recognition that no single, overarching set of rules, imposed on an entire population, can possibly filter out solely the “unsuitable” parents while allowing all of the “suitable” parents to do what they would have done anyway. Errors in both directions are inevitable; the former type of error would show the system to be ineffectual, while the latter type of error would be a travesty of justice.

Furthermore, the United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports children’s rights. In addition to Section LXII of our Platform, which “supports efforts to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to uphold the Rights of the Child as prescribed therein”, Section XXIII states that “The United States Transhumanist Party supports the rights of children to exercise liberty in proportion to their rational faculties and capacity for autonomous judgment. In particular, the United States Transhumanist Party strongly opposes all forms of bullying, child abuse, and censorship of intellectual self-development by children and teenagers.” Implied in this position is a thoroughgoing respect for children as individuals – not merely the products of their parents and the circumstances in which they find themselves. Children have rational faculties, they can exercise autonomous judgment, they can learn, they can improve themselves and rise above any sub-optimal conditions into which they were born.  To state that certain persons of limited means, low virtue, or myriad possible failures of character should not be permitted to have children, neglects the fact that children are distinct from their parents and are not fated to repeat their parents’ mistakes or to suffer under the yoke of their parents’ limitations. A genius can arise from the slums; a decent person can emerge from a troubled background. The will and determination of the individual child, and the subsequent adult, should not be disregarded or underestimated here! While, undeniably, hard circumstances pose barriers to the actualization of human potential, it is unconscionable for political restraints to forestall the very possibility that such barriers might be overcome, by declaring them to be insurmountable in advance and cutting off the potential for a life to emerge that might disprove that contention.

Far from a eugenicist perspective, the view of many transhumanists and of the Transhumanist Party is a fundamentally individualist position that rejects both genetic and environmental variants of determinism and emphasizes the autonomy of each individual person.

Mr. Weiss finds other aspersions to cast upon the transhumanists, for instance by alleging that they wish to create the equivalent of Leon Trotsky’s “New Soviet Man” – as if the goal itself of most humans rising to the heights of Aristotle, Goethe, or Mozart were reprehensible! If Mr. Weiss, as a self-identified libertarian, were consistent in this criticism, he would go so far as to condemn libertarianism’s own ambitions to reduce the size and scope of government, because, after all, Karl Marx’s end goal – for “the State to wither away” – is the same as that of many anarcho-capitalist libertarians today! Mr. Weiss makes the common fallacy of assuming that a particular goal is not worthwhile, simply because some people, who also committed reprehensible actions or held other fallacious views, happened to espouse that goal.

Mr. Weiss concludes his essay by stating that “Instead of seeing nature, the world and life overall as a means to get to know God, humans in the last centuries have become accustomed to seeing the world as something that is only there for humans to take and use for their own pleasures. Transhumanism would be the final step of this process: the conquest of death. You don’t have to be religious to find this abhorrent. As we have seen, it would be the end to all religion, to human cooperation overall, in all likelihood to liberty itself, and even the good-bye to humanity. It would be the starting point of the ultimate dystopia.”

We see in Mr. Weiss’s conclusion the underlying motive behind his critique of transhumanism, which is that he finds transhumanism to be somehow in conflict with his personal view of “nature, the world and life overall as a means to get to know God” – a goal which, in Mr. Weiss’s mind, is contrary to humans either pursuing “their own pleasures” or conquering death. This is far from a general libertarian position and seems, rather, to be inextricably entangled with Mr. Weiss’s own religious views. As such, his article would have been more forthrightly presented as a critique of transhumanism from the standpoint of a particular religious denomination or theological interpretation (however Mr. Weiss might classify his views in these regards), but not a libertarian critique of transhumanism – especially since most libertarians would strongly disagree with the notion of imposing a particular religious interpretation as a justification for thwarting progress or individual choice.

Contrary to Mr. Weiss’s assertions, transhumanism per se is not incompatible with religious belief, and there exist various strains of religious transhumanism today, as acknowledged in Section XXV of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform: “The United States Transhumanist Party welcomes both religious and non-religious individuals who support life extension and emerging technologies. The United States Transhumanist Party recognizes that some religious individuals and interpretations may be receptive to technological progress and, if so, are valuable allies to the transhumanist movement. On the other hand, the United States Transhumanist Party is also opposed to any interpretation of a religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose religious belief by force and/or by legal compulsion.”

More importantly, whether or not one is religious, nothing about the conquest of death – the genuine aim of many transhumanists which Mr. Weiss seems most inclined to disparage – is abominable or contrary to liberty or contrary to the ability of any person to express any peaceful, non-coercive religious belief or practice. It is confounding to see Mr. Weiss assert that life extension would be the end of liberty (when only free human beings could pursue it, and their rights to pursue it would need to be recognized in order for it to be achieved), the end of cooperation (when life extension could only be achieved through major cooperation by leading scientists specialized in various areas of biology, medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and related fields), or of humanity itself (when individual humans would be the ones living longer – often with the option to remain in a youthful but predominantly biological state).  Certainly, Mr. Weiss has offered no evidence to suggest that an “ultimate dystopia” would be generated by enabling people to live longer, more prosperous, more fulfilled lives – his straw-man characterizations notwithstanding.

Those who seek to understand transhumanist thought and Transhumanist political positions would do well to study the growing corpus of transhumanist literature, which, as Mr. Istvan validly points out, extends back to (at least) the 1980s, as well as to follow the work of the United States Transhumanist Party. While the Transhumanist Party is not exclusively libertarian in character, we also encourage individuals who hold libertarian views to see key complementarities with transhumanism – which may well describe the world which would emerge if individuals had the power to fully exercise their liberty to innovate and discover. Whether you identify as libertarian or as anything else, we welcome your input and participation in the Transhumanist Party if you have insights to contribute regarding how the human condition might be improved, and how our age-old limits and sufferings might be overcome.

Finally, the Transhumanist Party – while it shall endeavor to remain ecumenical and not explicitly align itself with either libertarianism, conservatism, or any ideologies that could be deemed the antitheses thereof – recognizes, contra Mr. Weiss, that individuals, such as readers of The American Conservative magazine, who identify either as libertarians, or as conservatives, or both, will be able to find many areas of affinity with transhumanism, properly understood. Although these are not official documents of the Transhumanist Party and are not necessarily representative of its positions, I encourage readers who are interested in discovering these affinities to read my older essays “Transhumanism as a Grand Conservatism” and “Political Priorities for Achieving Indefinite Life Extension: A Libertarian Approach” – which I mention here primarily to motivate thinking and discussion.

 

Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF

Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

August 20, 2017

U.S. Transhumanist Party Q&A Session – July 15, 2017

U.S. Transhumanist Party Q&A Session – July 15, 2017

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Gennady Stolyarov II
B.J. Murphy
Bobby Ridge
Scott Jurgens
Martin van der Kroon


In this interactive question-and-answer session, scheduled for 11 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time on Saturday, July 15, 2017, U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers answered members’ and the public’s questions about the ongoing activities and objectives of the United States Transhumanist Party and also discussed other issues of interest that relate to emerging technologies and how to ensure the best possible future for sentient entities.

The following Officers were present for this Q&A session:

Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman
B.J. Murphy, Director of Social Media
Martin van der Kroon, Director of Recruitment
Bobby Ridge, Secretary-Treasurer
Scott Jurgens, Director of Applied Innovation

Because of an unexpected technical difficulty, the video stream was split into two portions.

Watch Part 1 here.

Watch Part 2 here.

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free by filling out our membership application form at https://goo.gl/forms/IpUjooEZjnfOFUMi2.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USTranshumanistParty/.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Twitter page at https://twitter.com/USTranshumanist.