In Defense of Resurrecting 100 Billion Dead People – Article by Sarah Chowhugger

In Defense of Resurrecting 100 Billion Dead People – Article by Sarah Chowhugger

Sarah Chowhugger


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party has published this manifesto by Sarah Chowhugger to bring attention to a prospect for a more distant future – the technological resurrection of those who have already died. This idea has been posited by such proto-transhumanist thinkers as the Russian Cosmist Nikolai Fyodorov and is involved to various degrees in transhumanist projects such as cryonics, the creation of mindfiles, brain preservation, and the pursuit of various approaches toward mind uploading. There also arise various philosophical dilemmas as to the identities of such hypothetically resurrected individuals. Would they indeed be continuations of the original individuals’ lives, or, rather, close replicas of those individuals, with similar memories and patterns of thinking but distinct “I-nesses” which would come into being upon “resurrection” instead of continuing the “I-nesses” of the original individuals? For a more detailed exploration of this question, please see the essay “How Can Live Forever?: What Does and Does Not Preserve the Self” (Gennady Stolyarov II, 2010). Nonetheless, even if a “resurrected” individual is a distinct person from the original, it may be valuable to have that person’s memories and patterns of thinking and acting available in the future. However, the question of the continuity of identity is crucial for addressing the issues of justice raised in the article by Ms. Chowhugger. For example, if a “resurrected” individual is not the same person as the original, it would not appear to be justified to hold that individual responsible for any transgressions committed by the original, previously deceased individual. Thoughts on these and other relevant questions and ideas are welcome in the comments for this article.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, March 24, 2019


One of the long-term goals of the transhumanist movement is the physical resurrection of every single human being who has passed away since the beginning of homo sapiens as a species. This would entail using highly advanced technology to resurrect approximately 100 billion people. This sounds implausible. This sounds absolutely mad. But I would argue that it still has to be done. This is not only a potential project humanity must consider; it must be an absolutely imperative goal. In my argument below, I will explain some of the reasons why humanity needs to consider the scientific resurrection of every deceased human being in history to be an imperative long-term goal for all of humanity.

If there’s no afterlife, we have to make one for ourselves.

Unless there is some completely unforeseen breakthrough in science providing conclusive evidence that human consciousness can survive outside the brain beyond there, it is safe to say that developments in neuroscience have very much proven that all religious notions of the afterlife do not exist. If you take an agnostic position about the afterlife and claim that there is still a possibility that a physically-manifested afterlife could exist out there and one day be scientifically proven, fair enough. But I personally believe that we have a higher likelihood of finally being able to travel to a parallel universe only to discover that it is entirely inhabited by sentient Pikachus or clones of Brad Pitt.

An unfortunate position which currently plagues the modern atheist community is one of existential nihilism. The vast majority of atheists acknowledge that the afterlife does not physically exist.

But that’s defying the laws of nature!

And since when have things being unnatural stopped us from recognizing and utilizing their beneficial aspects? Birth control is unnatural; so is laser eye surgery. So are motor vehicles, and so is all of modern medicine. At this point I would like all our readers that there are people out there adamantly trying to stop their children from being vaccinated against measles on the grounds that vaccination is “unnatural”. Perhaps one day our descendants living in an age when technologically-enabled resurrection is as common as Botox shots or bypass surgeries are today will look back at us in condescending amusement.

You have a personal stake in it; so does everyone you love. If you had the option to be revived and continue living indefinitely after your initial demise, would you choose it?

You might ask, “What value is there in resurrecting a random Chinese peasant from the 15th century?” but one day in the far future, our descendants who actually have the viable technology to execute this may ask the same of you and your family.

It’s the economy, bruh.

Consider this final practical implication of the mass technological resurrection of 100 billion deceased people: it’s going to need a lot of manpower and a lot of resources to carry out. And it’s going to be a very long-term process from start to finish. One of the biggest concerns amongst economists right now is the possibility that artificial intelligence will leave the vast majority of the human population unemployed, or underemployed. Imagine the vast number of jobs that could be created if the governments of the world collaborated to undertake a massive resurrection project. We would not just need scientists and engineers to complete the biological process. A major implication our future descendants will have to deal with is the moral re-education of those who lived in more backwards societies or time periods. Imparting modern notions of racial and gender equality to the vast majority of people born before the 1900s is going to be no mean feat. So will educating them about the major historical events and technological advancements that have taken place since their passing.

The ultimate reparative justice

The current run-up to the 2020 US presidential elections has reignited the debate about whether or not African-Americans should receive reparations as a form of compensation for the injustices done to their ancestors during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Shashi Tharoor caused an international stir with his claims that Britain has a moral obligation to pay reparations to India for the economic damage and loss of lives caused by the ravages of british colonialism. However, I would now like to propose an even more radical solution to the question of reparative justice for historical systemic injustices. What if we resurrected all 25 million slaves who were captured and trafficked during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and then awarded compensation to each one of them? What if we resurrected all 26 million Russians killed during the Nazi invasion of the USSR and offered personal compensation to them, as well as telling them of the satisfying knowledge that the Nazis were the losers at the end of World War II. Zoltan Istvan has remarked that he himself has Jewish acquaintances who would be happy to see Hitler get resurrected if only to see him get officially tried in court and sentenced (presumably to an exceptionally harsh prison sentence like 6 million years of hard labor). Through resurrecting victims of past injustices, we could pursue the a direct form of reparative justice and give them the peace of mind they have been waiting decades, centuries, or even millennia to receive.

Sarah Chowhugger 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.

Statement on the Tragic Death of Danielle Baker and the Imperative for Improved Protections for Cryonics Patients

Statement on the Tragic Death of Danielle Baker and the Imperative for Improved Protections for Cryonics Patients


March 19, 2019: The United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP) issues this statement in response to the unfortunate demise and cremation of Danielle Michelle Baker, which contravened her specific and documented wishes to be cryopreserved. We ask the members of the USTP to deliberate about specific measures that could be taken to prevent such violations of cryonics patients’ wishes and legitimate rights from arising again. These measures could include reforms to laws so as to improve protections for cryonics patients, as well as improved enforcement of existing laws which may offer some extent of protections at least in theory.

Danielle Michelle Baker, a 31-year-old cryonics advocate, disappeared on December 1, 2018, and was found dead on December 4, 2018, in Laurel County, Kentucky. Despite her expressly documented wishes and a legal contract into which she entered to be cryopreserved by Oregon Cryonics, she was cremated by Laurel County Coroner Doug Bowling at the behest of her family members.

Zoltan Istvan, the founder and former Chairman (2014-2016) of the USTP, now an independent commentator, transhumanist advocate, and USTP Political and Media Advisor, initially brought attention to Danielle Baker’s unfortunate cremation in an article published by Quartz on February 22, 2019, entitled “We need better laws to protect the rights of future frozen cryonicists”. Istvan then encouraged the USTP to provide more in-depth coverage to this issue than was possible through mainstream media outlets.

Zoltan Istvan expressed his views on cryonics to the USTP: “No longer just science fiction, cryonics represents the best scientific chance life extension advocates like Baker have to avoid permanent death. For those without faith in an afterlife, preserving the neurons, cerebral structure, and memories in their brains are the highest priority in both life and death. But the practice of cryonicists signing a Document of Gift doesn’t always work, as in the case of Baker, whose body was controversially cremated just three days” after her body was discovered.

Eric Homeyer, a USTP member and volunteer supporter of cryonics who assisted Oregon Cryonics in this matter but who is not affiliated with Oregon Cryonics in any official capacity, communicated to the USTP the story of Danielle Baker’s tragic and unfortunate situation from his point of view.

Homeyer relayed the following information: “It is rumored that [Baker] went missing from home since Saturday, December 1, 2018. She was reported missing on Monday, December 3, 2018. Her father found her deceased in the woods behind the residence on Tuesday, December 4, 2018, at approximately 3 p.m. I found out about her disappearance/death from a mutual friend when I was at home in Cincinnati at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4, 2018. At that time I found out an Autopsy was scheduled in Frankfort, Kentucky, for the next morning, Wednesday, December 5, 2018. He asked me to go try to represent her interests since I was the closest cryonicist any of us knows to her physical location.”

Homeyer continued, describing his trip on Baker’s behalf: “I left Cincinnati at 2:15 a.m. on December 5, 2018 and drove to Frankfort. I got down to Frankfort at around 5 a.m., found the State Medical Examiner’s office, figuring that is where they do the autopsies, and went to the door to see their hours. The door was unlocked, so I went in and tried to find out if [Baker] was there. After a brief chat with the front-desk cop, I realized I was in the right place. I told him I was there on behalf of Danielle Baker to help facilitate her final wishes as an Anatomical Gift Act tissue donor and that I was primarily concerned with making sure brain tissue wasn’t damaged. He said they get started at 8 a.m. and to come back then. Then I went and sat in my car at a gas station five minutes away to wait for a little over two and a half hours. Just before 8 a.m., I returned to the Medical Examiner’s office, and spoke again, to a different cop at the desk. I had the security officer convey by phone to the Medical Examiner’s office that I was there as a volunteer representative of Oregon Cryonics on behalf of Danielle Michelle Baker, an anatomical tissue donor and that my boss Dr. Jordan Sparks would be calling in about an hour to make requests for the handling of the brain during and after the autopsy and the logistics of the release afterwards. I again stressed that of critical importance was that the brain tissue not be damaged.  At that time there weren’t any medical examiners in the office. They took down my number, and told me to check back in a couple of hours if I hadn’t heard from them. I got their fax number and forwarded it and all of the information I had found to [Dr. Sparks]. I then got a hotel nearby and stayed on standby. At 9:26 a.m. [Dr. Sparks] contacted me, told me he was in communication with the Medical Examiner’s office, and said that I didn’t need to go back. I left Frankfort at 5:36pm on December 5, 2018, heading back to Cincinnati, believing I had helped my friend.”

However, despite the efforts of Homeyer and the subsequent efforts of Dr. Jordan Sparks of Oregon Cryonics to advocate for the cryopreservation, Danielle Baker was cremated. Istvan, in his Quartz article of February 22, 2019, wrote that “despite the major parties knowing about the cryonics contract and Document of Gift, Baker’s family pushed for the cremation, which then was carried out by the coroner via a funeral home three days later.”

Homeyer notes that the cremation “was done at the crematory which happens to be co-owned by the coroner who was in charge of her case and in custody of her remains.”

Cryonics advocate Matthew Bryce Deutsch wrote, “Doug Bowling is the coroner, and Baker was cremated at Bowling Funeral home.” Bowling is the Laurel County Coroner in Kentucky, and was re-elected as a Republican for the job in 2018. He is listed as the President of Bowling Funeral home on its website.

Homeyer expressed his view in disapproval of Bowling’s decision to cremate Baker: “Not sure if that’s too much poking the bear… But if he ultimately stands to gain from ignoring her wishes, as an elected official who is supposed to uphold the law, that’s kind of messed up.”

Dr. Jordan Sparks, D.M.D., of Oregon Cryonics explained that “Usually, families don’t object to non-transplant donation, so there is no conflict. In this case, there was disagreement. Funeral directors and coroners are not supposed to be mediators in disputes. It was also an unexpected death, so emotions were very high. I was over 2000 miles away, so I could not be a strong advocate. Things might have been different if we were in the same town. Maybe. At least something like an injunction might have been an option.”

Homeyer expressed his view that he “arrived at the medical examiner’s office on the morning of her scheduled autopsy, in time to prevent damage, but despite this the cremation was carried out.” However, there is disagreement about whether Danielle Baker’s brain was in a sufficiently intact state to enable her memories, personality, and identity to be maintained in some form in the course of the cryopreservation process.

Sparks informed the USTP that “A body that lies undiscovered for three days will never be in good condition.  I think the mind was hopelessly lost by that time. I want to be clear that an [Oregon Cryonics] technician was not able to appear on site.  A volunteer friend showed up and tried to help, but that is very different.  My opinion is that a meaningful preservation can only be performed immediately or within maybe an hour.  At about 6 hours, all the cells are necrotic.  At about 12-24 hours, it becomes impossible to perfuse in all cases, and tissue breakdown is well underway. Because of the already hopeless condition of Danielle’s brain, I don’t believe that Doug Bowling’s actions harmed her.” However, Dr. Sparks also clarified his view that Bowling’s actions were nonetheless “illegal and unethical”. The USTP cannot claim expertise in Kentucky law and so cannot express an opinion on the current legality of Bowling’s behavior, but the USTP holds that legal protections should be established to clearly, unambiguously protect the wishes of cryonics patients, notwithstanding the objections of any other party. The USTP also concurs with Dr. Sparks that cremating an individual against that individual’s express, known wishes is indeed unethical.

Homeyer stated his perspective that “Although I never laid eyes on the body, so I cannot with certainty claim knowledge of her state of decay, as far as I know, Mr. Bowling is not an expert in information-theoretic demise, and nobody currently alive is an expert in the capabilities of future revival technology, therefore his opinion of how well she could have been preserved, seems irrelevant with respect to his ability to carry out what he knew were her final wishes.”

In subsequent communications with the USTP, Istvan commented that “Dr. Sparks here is speaking on matters of the mind. This is not his expertise. And frankly, that’s not for any of us to understand in 2019. We know the research today. But they thought they knew the research in the 1920s with blood tests for murders. What they didn’t know was DNA would overturn the entire field and exonerate many people a century later (as well as ruin many lives unfairly in prison). The point here is we simply cannot know these things, but we do know is Baker had a legit signed contract. And her rights were not followed. And [we know] that a preserved slightly decayed corpse is better than ashes for a person who wanted to come back alive. You have to put yourself in this position and ask what you’d want to be done. I think it’s safe to say: all of us would want the chance to be preserved, whether or not the cryonics process was in optimal conditions.”

The USTP Platform is clear on where we stand in regard to the decision that should have been made in Danielle Baker’s situation. Article III, Section VI, of the USTP Platform, focusing on morphological freedom, reads, in part, that “The United States Transhumanist Party considers morphological freedom to include the prerogative for a sentient intelligence to set forth in advance provisions for how to handle its physical manifestation, should that intelligence enter into a vegetative, unconscious, or similarly inactive state, notwithstanding any legal definition of death. For instance, a cryonics patient should be entitled to determine in advance that the patient’s body shall be cryopreserved and kept under specified conditions, in spite of any legal definition of death that might apply to that patient under cryopreservation.” The concluding paragraph of Section VI also recognizes cryonics as a choice which should “be the purview of […] individual [sapient] beings, and holds that no other group, individual, or government has the right to limit those choices”. The right to morphological freedom is reiterated in Article X of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 3.0, with essentially the same language as contained in Article III, Section VI, of the USTP Platform. This principle is a matter on which every cryonics supporter – including Istvan, Sparks, Homeyer, and Deutsch – would also express a fundamental agreement.

As noted above, the USTP takes no position on whether or not Doug Bowling’s actions were in violation of current law; however, we invite our members to consider how applicable laws could be interpreted or improved in order to render the protection of cryonics patients’ wishes unambiguous and incapable of being lawfully abrogated by a third party. The USTP also invites ideas on how to foster improved social acceptance of cryonics so as to at least facilitate its toleration by non-adopters to the same degree that various funeral practices – such as burial, embalming, or cremation – are tolerated today. Members may and will differ in their opinions as to whether Danielle Baker as a person could have been saved even through cryopreservation, and further consideration of this question may be valuable as a theoretical discussion of what cryonics can and what it cannot achieve. Ultimately, though, we have an opportunity to craft a proposal for a “Danielle’s Law” that would protect those cryonicists who do stand a chance to ultimately be revived if their wishes are honored in a sufficiently prompt fashion after legal death.

We encourage you to post your thoughts in the comment thread accompanying this statement.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party Achieves Its First Legislative Victory

The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party Achieves Its First Legislative Victory

Gennady Stolyarov II


The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party has achieved its first legislative victory. We previously issued an alert about Nevada Assembly Bill 226 (AB226), which originally was written only to prohibit compulsory microchip implants, but whose sponsor, Assemblyman Richard “Skip” Daly, proposed an amendment to also prohibit all voluntary programs for the implantation of a microchip. This concerned us greatly, as it would have essentially prohibited both medical implants with electronic components, as well as implants pursued for reasons of esthetics, self-expression, and functional improvement.

Although we learned of the proposed amendment only two days before the March 15, 2019, Work Session at the Assembly Judiciary Committee, the dedicated grassroots activists among our membership sprang into action. USTP activists quickly published an article, circulated tens of posts via social media, informed prominent transhumanists via e-mail, submitted comments on the Nevada Legislature and to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and reached out to Legislators. We greatly appreciate that Assemblyman Richard “Skip” Daly took our concerns into account and proposed Subsection 3 within his amendment (below), which defines “microchip implant” in quite a narrow manner, addressing his concerns about potential future institutional pressure to use implanted identification markers, while exempting from the bill’s scope any medical devices, artistic implants, or implants pursued for reasons of personal expression. This amendment was incorporated into AB226 at the Assembly Judiciary Committee Work Session on March 15, 2019.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party believes that AB226, as amended, is no longer a cause for significant concern. While we are not thrilled about any restrictions on voluntary, peaceful activity, we believe that medical innovators, patients, artists, biohackers, grinders, cyborgs, fitness enthusiasts, and many other users of functional implantable technologies will not be at risk from this bill. Thank you to the transhumanist community for mobilizing so effectively to achieve this victory!

This, friends, is why we need a Transhumanist Party. Join us for free.

It is also noteworthy that AB226 has not yet been enacted into law. It will still need to come before a vote of the full Assembly Floor Session, after which the bill would move to the Senate, where a public hearing and a Senate Judiciary Committee work session would need to be held before a full Senate vote. The public hearing in the Senate would be the opportunity of those with remaining concerns to testify on AB226. Furthermore, the Nevada Legislature website allows members of the public to submit their opinions about specific bills, and it is also possible to contact Assemblyman Richard “Skip” Daly,  the sponsor of AB226, as well as the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee to express one’s views. AB226 can also be monitored on NELIS, the Nevada Legislature’s online informational system.

To respond to some of the critical comments made by R. Nicholas Starr in his dissenting article, it is important to recognize that the inclusion of Subsection 3 in AB226 is at least an incremental victory, because it turned an essentially absolute ban on all implants (which would have crippled medical progress) into a more limited ban on implantation of NFC devices used as identification markers. It is still possible that a technical reading of the text – particularly of the phrase “intended to act as an identification marker” – in fact creates a safe harbor for many NFC implants that are not intended for identification purposes. For instance, if Person X were to have a functional NFC implant that enabled him to open car doors but that did not specifically identify him as Person X, a strong case could be made that participating in a voluntary program to receive this implant would not be prohibited if AB226 were to be enacted.

The NFC tag may have a number assigned to it, but if the number is not also assigned to an individual, this tag may not be an “identification marker”. For instance, a person could hypothetically have two or more tags with distinct numbers that have a similar or identical intended function. If neither of the unique tag numbers would necessarily be associated with that person as an individual, then one could make the argument that the number of the object (the tag) is not a number that has any relevance to the identity of the person in whom the tag is implanted.

The USTP does acknowledge, however, that services which specifically market themselves as providing identity-related security and verification would find the amended version of AB226 problematic, and representatives of such services are encouraged to voice their views, including by using the Legislative contact information and opinion-sharing functionality linked herein.

This Was No Victory – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

This Was No Victory – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and the founder of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado

Proposal to Establish a Legislative Action Framework – Post by R. Nicholas Starr

Proposal to Establish a Legislative Action Framework – Post by R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr


In light of recent legislative action pursued by the United States Transhumanist Party (USTP), and the urgent need for response on a topic that could have been identified much earlier, I propose the establishment of a legislation tracking and analysis structure as detailed below. The goal is not necessarily to write new legislation (we have no members currently serving in government positions), but to act as a think tank or watchdog organization as legislation is presented in federal or state governments.

Core requirements:

  • Compilation of a comprehensive topic/keyword database, sorted into issue groups
    • If possible, the creation of a legislative keyword tracking program made available to analysts in a cross platform or web based architecture
  • A chain of command detailing positions and the responsibilities their responsibilities 

Chain of Command

Chairman
|
Legislative Director ————> Expert Advisors
^
/
  Issue Analysts

Issues may include, but are not limited to:

• Artificial Intelligence
• Biohacking hardware
• Biomedical research and practical application
• Computer and data sciences
• Education
• Environment and ecology
• Existential risk
• Foreign policy
• Life extension
• Privacy, surveillance, and security
• Robotics
• Science and exploration

Keywords shall be gathered for each issue, and analysts should be provided with a thorough and frequently updated list from which to search all available resources (legislation trackers, search engines, government databases, etc.). Eventually, understanding the massive amount of work this would require, we should develop our own legislation tracking system to streamline operations and increase effectiveness.

The Legislative Director would ideally have a background in law/policy making. It would be the responsibility of the Legislative Director to inform the Chairman of all relevant legislation on a state and federal level as provided by analysts or personal observation. It would also be the Legislative Director’s responsibility to identify national policy trends and make suggestions for yearly priorities. The Legislative Director should, when necessary, reach out to our expert Advisors as listed on the USTP Advisors page.

Analysts would ideally have knowledge of/passion for the issues they desire to monitor. There should be no limit to how many analysts cover any particular issue, and individual analysts can cover multiple issues if they desire. Before an analyst submits a legislative report to the Legislative Director, they must provide a link to the legislation and try to answer the following:

  • How urgent is the matter?
    • Could this cause harm to an individual’s physical/mental health or civil rights?
  • Which article of our Platform does this pertain to?
    • If none, please explain its relevance. 
  • Does this apply to other issue groups?
  • What do you propose the Party do?
    • Provide evidence to support your position.

Many of these issues will overlap each other, which is ideal, as it may provide different analyst perspectives on a particular issue. Many of these issues may also have other prominent organizations (ACLU, EFF) that may be better equipped to address a particular issue. In such cases it is important that we identify to what extent the topic impacts our platform and whether or not it relates to future technology/advancements or present-day capabilities.

This is by no means an exhaustive recommendation, and the nature of this body should be flexible to meet the USTP’s current and future needs. Please provide your comments, recommendations, and criticisms below.

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and the founder of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado

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

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

R. Nicholas Starr


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and the founder of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado

 

Transhumanism and Tolerance – Article by Arin Vahanian

Transhumanism and Tolerance – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


In the midst of working on challenges as daunting and complex such as reversing aging, curing disease, and alleviating poverty, many people involved in Transhumanism understandably often do not have much time to stop and focus on other topics. This includes those not necessarily related to science, engineering, or medicine.

However, if we are to expand Transhumanism, change public perception, and debunk the claim that Transhumanism is a niche movement, I believe we should also explore themes that are less scientific or technical in nature. Indeed, we should focus not only on how Transhumanism is perceived among the general public, but we should also look at ourselves to see what sort of messages we are communicating through our daily words and actions.

If we agree that the main goal of Transhumanism is to ethically use science, technology, and other subjects in order to improve the human condition, then we are implying that Transhumanism can, and should, benefit all humans, and not just those who call themselves Transhumanists.

If this is true, then we must also take a deep look at whether our thoughts, beliefs, and actions are enabling all humans to partake in the benefits that we are advocating for, or whether we are unwillingly creating a gulf between those who agree with the goals of Transhumanism and those who disagree.

While terms such as “deathist” (used for people who argue that death is natural, inevitable, and even desirable) and “Luddite” (used for people who are opposed to new technologies) are usually well-intentioned, they come across as derogatory and might even dissuade people from getting involved in our movement and ultimately seeing its many benefits.

Indeed, nearly no one becomes receptive to a new idea if they feel they are being attacked. Rather, it is human nature to retreat and perhaps even become defensive when we feel that we are being criticized or when our worldview is being challenged.

We can find evidence to support nearly any conclusion. But rather than engage in mental gymnastics and become embroiled in needless debate, it is better to demonstrate one’s findings through action, with the intent of inspiring and enlightening, rather than lecturing and criticizing.

Transhumanism isn’t only for Transhumanists. It can be for anyone, whether that person is male, female, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, and no matter what occupation they hold or what their socioeconomic background may be. Indeed, a movement that promotes something as personal as morphological freedom (the right for one to modify their body as they wish) is a movement that is inclusive and empathetic to the needs of all humans, and not just a few.

Therefore, my call to action today is for us to be more tolerant of opposing viewpoints while at the same time demonstrating to the world the many benefits of Transhumanism and how it can improve the quality of life for humanity. Rather than vehemently arguing that a certain position is correct (while another is incorrect) with the hope that we will change people’s minds, we should calmly and rationally display how Transhumanism can improve the human condition, and then allow people to make up their own minds.

As much as it saddens me, there are plenty of people I have spoken with who say they do not wish to live indefinitely, and who do not believe the human life should be dramatically increased (even if that increase occurred alongside good health). No one can force anyone else to live healthier or longer. We must respect other people’s opinions, even if they differ from our own, and we must not take it upon ourselves to convince the whole of humanity to go down a certain path in life. Each person is responsible for their own life, and this includes the decision to take steps toward living longer and healthier.

What we should be focusing on, rather, is helping those who really want to be helped, while at the same time leaving the door open in the event that those who disagree might someday change their minds and decide to get involved in Transhumanism.

A movement, worldview, and philosophy with the word “human” in it shouldn’t be for a select few people. It should be for all humans, regardless of where they come from, what their socioeconomic background is, or what their religious or spiritual beliefs may be. This is because humanity, since the beginning of time, has strived to overcome challenges and transcend its limitations, and this desire isn’t limited to a small group of people.

Wanting to become a better person is part of being human. Defining ourselves as more than the sum of our limitations is what’s natural. If one of the goals of Transhumanism is to create better and more evolved humans, then we ourselves must be better and more evolved. We must set an example for the world of what is possible with the Transhumanist movement. And that begins with displaying traits such as tolerance, compassion, enthusiasm, and kindness, while working on projects and endeavors that will lead to improving the condition and quality of life for all humans.

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

#IAmTranshuman – Video Compilation #1

#IAmTranshuman – Video Compilation #1

logo_bgB.J. Murphy
Ira Pastor
Tom Ross
José Luis Cordeiro
Charlie Kam
Bill Andrews
Gennady Stolyarov II


Leading transhumanists from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives provide concise, powerful statements as to why they are transhuman. The Transhuman Era has arrived; some of us are aware of this already, whereas others are transhuman but do not know it yet. The #IAmTranshuman campaign helps illustrate how emerging technologies and the accompanying shifts in thinking are already transforming everyday life.

This video was compiled and formatted by Tom Ross, the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party’s Director of Media Production.

The following transhumanists are featured, in order of appearance:

B.J. Murphy, Director of Social Media, U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party
Ira Pastor, Regeneration Advisor, U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party
Tom Ross, Director of Media Production, U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party
José Luis Cordeiro, Technology Advisor and Ambassador to Spain, U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party
Charlie Kam, Director of Networking, California Transhumanist Party
Bill Andrews, Biotechnology Advisor, U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party
Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party

Learn more about the #IAmTranshuman campaign, the Transhuman Present Project (#TranshumanPresent), and how you can readily participate here.

You can participate in the #IAmTranshuman campaign by submitting still images or video recordings of one minute or less (15 seconds or less for Instagram stories, one minute or less for Instagram-compatible videos). Use the hashtag #IAmTranshuman, and let us know if you would like your video included in a subsequent compilation!

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply here in less than a minute.

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

U.S. Transhumanist Party Public-Service Announcement by Casey Cockrell

U.S. Transhumanist Party Public-Service Announcement by Casey Cockrell

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Casey Cockrell


The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party is pleased to feature this public-service announcement created by our member Casey Cockrell. You can view it on YouTube here

You can also share it via the following embed code:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/4STsaZ3NmvA” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe> 

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply here in less than a minute.

 

 

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Part 5) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Part 5) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

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Ojochogwu Abdul


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

Part 5: Belief in Progress vs. Rational Uncertainty

The Enlightenment, with its confident efforts to fashion a science of man, was archetypal of the belief and quest that humankind will eventually achieve lasting peace and happiness. In what some interpret as a reformulation of Christianity’s teleological salvation history in which the People of God will be redeemed at the end of days and with the Kingdom of Heaven established on Earth, most Enlightenment thinkers believed in the inevitability of human political and technological progress, secularizing the Christian conception of history and eschatology into a conviction that humanity would, using a system of thought built on reason and science, be able to continually improve itself. As portrayed by Carl Becker in his 1933 book The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers, the philosophies “demolished the Heavenly City of St. Augustine only to rebuild it with more up-to-date materials.” Whether this Enlightenment humanist view of “progress” amounted merely to a recapitulation of the Christian teleological vision of history, or if Enlightenment beliefs in “continual, linear political, intellectual, and material improvement” reflected, as James Hughes posits, “a clear difference from the dominant Christian historical narrative in which little would change until the End Times and Christ’s return”, the notion, in any case, of a collective progress towards a definitive end-point was one that remained unsupported by the scientific worldview. The scientific worldview, as Hughes reminds us in the opening paragraph of this essay within his series, does not support historical inevitability, only uncertainty. “We may annihilate ourselves or regress,” he says, and “Even the normative judgment of what progress is, and whether we have made any, is open to empirical skepticism.”

Hereby, we are introduced to a conflict that exists, at least since after the Enlightenment, between a view of progressive optimism and that of radical uncertainty. Building on the Enlightenment’s faith in the inevitability of political and scientific progress, the idea of an end-point, salvation moment for humankind fuelled all the great Enlightenment ideologies that followed, flowing down, as Hughes traces, through Comte’s “positivism” and Marxist theories of historical determinism to neoconservative triumphalism about the “end of history” in democratic capitalism. Communists envisaged that end-point as a post-capitalist utopia that would finally resolve the class struggle which they conceived as the true engine of history. This vision also contained the 20th-century project to build the Soviet Man, one of extra-human capacities, for as Trotsky had predicted, after the Revolution, “the average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise”, whereas for 20th-century free-market liberals, this End of History had arrived with the final triumph of liberal democracy, with the entire world bound to be swept in its course. Events though, especially so far in the 21st century, appear to prove this view wrong.

This belief moreover, as Hughes would convincingly argue, in the historical inevitability of progress has also always been locked in conflict with “the rationalist, scientific observation that humanity could regress or disappear altogether.” Enlightenment pessimism, or at least realism, has, over the centuries, proven a stubborn resistance and constraint of Enlightenment optimism. Hughes, citing Henry Vyberg, reminds us that there were, after all, even French Enlightenment thinkers within that same era who rejected the belief in linear historical progress, but proposed historical cycles or even decadence instead. That aside, contemporary commentators like John Gray would even argue that the efforts themselves of the Enlightenment on the quest for progress unfortunately issued in, for example, the racist pseudo-science of Voltaire and Hume, while all endeavours to establish the rule of reason have resulted in bloody fanaticisms, from Jacobinism to Bolshevism, which equaled the worst atrocities attributable to religious believers. Horrendous acts like racism and anti-Semitism, in the verdict of Gray: “….are not incidental defects in Enlightenment thinking. They flow from some of the Enlightenment’s central beliefs.”

Even Darwinism’s theory of natural selection was, according to Hughes, “suborned by the progressive optimistic thinking of the Enlightenment and its successors to the doctrine of inevitable progress, aided in part by Darwin’s own teleological interpretation.” Problem, however, is that from the scientific worldview, there is no support for “progress” as to be found provided by the theory of natural selection, only that humanity, Hughes plainly states, “like all creatures, is on a random walk through a mine field, that human intelligence is only an accident, and that we could easily go extinct as many species have done.” Gray, for example, rebukes Darwin, who wrote: “As natural selection works solely for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress to perfection.” Natural selection, however, does not work solely for the good of each being, a fact Darwin himself elsewhere acknowledged. Nonetheless, it has continually proven rather difficult for people to resist the impulse to identify evolution with progress, with an extended downside to this attitude being equally difficult to resist the temptation to apply evolution in the rationalization of views as dangerous as Social Darwinism and acts as horrible as eugenics.

Many skeptics therefore hold, rationally, that scientific utopias and promises to transform the human condition deserve the deepest suspicion. Reason is but a frail reed, all events of moral and political progress are and will always remain subject to reversal, and civilization could as well just collapse, eventually. Historical events and experiences have therefore caused faith in the inevitability of progress to wax and wane over time. Hughes notes that among several Millenarian movements and New Age beliefs, such faith could still be found that the world is headed for a millennial age, just as it exists in techno-optimist futurism. Nevertheless, he makes us see that “since the rise and fall of fascism and communism, and the mounting evidence of the dangers and unintended consequences of technology, there are few groups that still hold fast to an Enlightenment belief in the inevitability of conjoined scientific and political progress.” Within the transhumanist community, however, the possession of such faith in progress can still be found as held by many, albeit signifying a camp in the continuation therefore of the Enlightenment-bequeathed conflict as manifested between transhumanist optimism in contradiction with views of future uncertainty.

As with several occasions in the past, humanity is, again, currently being spun yet another “End of History” narrative: one of a posthuman future. Yuval Harari, for instance, in Homo Deus argues that emerging technologies and new scientific discoveries are undermining the foundations of Enlightenment humanism, although as he proceeds with his presentation he also proves himself unable to avoid one of the defining tropes of Enlightenment humanist thinking, i.e., that deeply entrenched tendency to conceive human history in teleological terms: fundamentally as a matter of collective progress towards a definitive end-point. This time, though, our era’s “End of History” glorious “salvation moment” is to be ushered in, not by a politico-economic system, but by a nascent techno-elite with a base in Silicon Valley, USA, a cluster steeped in a predominant tech-utopianism which has at its core the idea that the new technologies emerging there can steer humanity towards a definitive break-point in our history, the Singularity. Among believers in this coming Singularity, transhumanists, as it were, having inherited the tension between Enlightenment convictions in the inevitability of progress, and, in Hughes’ words, “Enlightenment’s scientific, rational realism that human progress or even civilization may fail”, now struggle with a renewed contradiction. And here the contrast as Hughes intends to portray gains sharpness, for as such, transhumanists today are “torn between their Enlightenment faith in inevitable progress toward posthuman transcension and utopian Singularities” on the one hand, and, on the other, their “rational awareness of the possibility that each new technology may have as many risks as benefits and that humanity may not have a future.”

The risks of new technologies, even if not necessarily one that threatens the survival of humanity as a species with extinction, may yet be of an undesirable impact on the mode and trajectory of our extant civilization. Henry Kissinger, in his 2018 article “How the Enlightenment Ends”, expressed his perception that technology, which is rooted in Enlightenment thought, is now superseding the very philosophy that is its fundamental principle. The universal values proposed by the Enlightenment philosophes, as Kissinger points out, could be spread worldwide only through modern technology, but at the same time, such technology has ended or accomplished the Enlightenment and is now going its own way, creating the need for a new guiding philosophy. Kissinger argues specifically that AI may spell the end of the Enlightenment itself, and issues grave warnings about the consequences of AI and the end of Enlightenment and human reasoning, this as a consequence of an AI-led technological revolution whose “culmination may be a world relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms.” By way of analogy to how the printing press allowed the Age of Reason to supplant the Age of Religion, he buttresses his proposal that the modern counterpart of this revolutionary process is the rise of intelligent AI that will supersede human ability and put an end to the Enlightenment. Kissinger further outlines his three areas of concern regarding the trajectory of artificial intelligence research: AI may achieve unintended results; in achieving intended goals, AI may change human thought processes and human values, and AI may reach intended goals, but be unable to explain the rationale for its conclusions. Kissinger’s thesis, of course, has not gone without both support and criticisms attracted from different quarters. Reacting to Kissinger, Yuk Hui, for example, in “What Begins After the End of the Enlightenment?” maintained that “Kissinger is wrong—the Enlightenment has not ended.” Rather, “modern technology—the support structure of Enlightenment philosophy—has become its own philosophy”, with the universalizing force of technology becoming itself the political project of the Enlightenment.

Transhumanists, as mentioned already, reflect the continuity of some of those contradictions between belief in progress and uncertainty about human future. Hughes shows us nonetheless that there are some interesting historical turns suggesting further directions that this mood has taken. In the 1990s, Hughes recalls, “transhumanists were full of exuberant Enlightenment optimism about unending progress.” As an example, Hughes cites Max More’s 1998 Extropian Principles which defined “Perpetual Progress” as “the first precept of their brand of transhumanism.” Over time, however, Hughes communicates how More himself has had cause to temper this optimism, stressing rather this driving principle as one of “desirability” and more a normative goal than a faith in historical inevitability. “History”, More would say in 2002, “since the Enlightenment makes me wary of all arguments to inevitability…”

Rational uncertainty among transhumanists hence make many of them refrain from an argument for the inevitability of transhumanism as a matter of progress. Further, there are indeed several possible factors which could deter the transhumanist idea and drive for “progress” from translating to reality: A neo-Luddite revolution, a turn and rise in preference for rural life, mass disenchantment with technological addiction and increased option for digital detox, nostalgia, disillusionment with modern civilization and a “return-to-innocence” counter-cultural movement, neo-Romanticism, a pop-culture allure and longing for a Tolkien-esque world, cyclical thinking, conservatism, traditionalism, etc. The alternative, backlash, and antagonistic forces are myriad. Even within transhumanism, the anti-democratic and socially conservative Neoreactionary movement, with its rejection of the view that history shows inevitable progression towards greater liberty and enlightenment, is gradually (and rather disturbingly) growing a contingent. Hughes talks, as another point for rational uncertainty, about the three critiques: futurological, historical, and anthropological, of transhumanist and Enlightenment faith in progress that Phillipe Verdoux offers, and in which the anthropological argument holds that “pre-moderns were probably as happy or happier than we moderns.” After all, Rousseau, himself a French Enlightenment thinker, “is generally seen as having believed in the superiority of the “savage” over the civilized.” Perspectives like these could stir anti-modern, anti-progress sentiments in people’s hearts and minds.

Demonstrating still why transhumanists must not be obstinate over the idea of inevitability, Hughes refers to Greg Burch’s 2001 work “Progress, Counter-Progress, and Counter-Counter-Progress” in which the latter expounded on the Enlightenment and transhumanist commitment to progress as “to a political program, fully cognizant that there are many powerful enemies of progress and that victory was not inevitable.” Moreover, the possible failure in realizing goals of progress might not even result from the actions of “enemies” in that antagonistic sense of the word, for there is also that likely scenario, as the 2006 movie Idiocracy depicts, of a future dystopian society based on dysgenics, one in which, going by expectations and trends of the 21st century, the most intelligent humans decrease in reproduction and eventually fail to have children while the least intelligent reproduce prolifically. As such, through the process of natural selection, generations are created that collectively become increasingly dumber and more virile with each passing century, leading to a future world plagued by anti-intellectualism, bereft of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, coherence in notions of justice and human rights, and manifesting several other traits of degeneration in culture. This is yet a possibility for our future world.

So while for many extropians and transhumanists, nonetheless, perpetual progress was an unstoppable train, responding to which “one either got on board for transcension or consigned oneself to the graveyard”, other transhumanists, however, Hughes comments, especially in response to certain historical experiences (the 2000 dot-com crash, for example), have seen reason to increasingly temper their expectations about progress. In Hughes’s appraisal, while, therefore, some transhumanists “still press for technological innovation on all fronts and oppose all regulation, others are focusing on reducing the civilization-ending potentials of asteroid strikes, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.” Some realism hence need be in place to keep under constant check the excesses of contemporary secular technomillennialism as contained in some transhumanist strains.

Hughes presents Nick Bostrom’s 2001 essay “Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards” as one influential example of this anti-millennial realism, a text in which Bostrom, following his outline of scenarios that could either end the existence of the human species or have us evolve into dead-ends, then addressed not just how we can avoid extinction and ensure that there are descendants of humanity, but also how we can ensure that we will be proud to claim them. Subsequently, Bostrom has been able to produce work on “catastrophic risk estimation” at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford. Hughes seems to favour this approach, for he ensures to indicate that this has also been adopted as a programmatic focus for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) which he directs, and as well for the transhumanist non-profit, the Lifeboat Foundation. Transhumanists who listen to Bostrom, as we could deduce from Hughes, are being urged to take a more critical approach concerning technological progress.

With the availability of this rather cautious attitude, a new tension, Hughes reports, now plays out between eschatological certainty and pessimistic risk assessment. This has taken place mainly concerning the debate over the Singularity. For the likes of Ray Kurzweil (2005), representing the camp of a rather technomillennial, eschatological certainty, his patterns of accelerating trendlines towards a utopian merger of enhanced humanity and godlike artificial intelligence is one of unstoppability, and this Kurzweil supports by referring to the steady exponential march of technological progress through (and despite) wars and depressions. Dystopian and apocalyptic predictions of how humanity might fare under superintelligent machines (extinction, inferiority, and the likes) are, in the assessment of Hughes, but minimally entertained by Kurzweil, since to the techno-prophet we are bound to eventually integrate with these machines into apotheosis.

The platform, IEET, thus has taken a responsibility of serving as a site for teasing out this tension between technoprogressive “optimism of the will and pessimism of the intellect,” as Hughes echoes Antonio Gramsci. On the one hand, Hughes explains, “we have championed the possibility of, and evidence of, human progress. By adopting the term “technoprogressivism” as our outlook, we have placed ourselves on the side of Enlightenment political and technological progress.”And yet on the other hand, he continues, “we have promoted technoprogressivism precisely in order to critique uncritical techno-libertarian and futurist ideas about the inevitability of progress. We have consistently emphasized the negative effects that unregulated, unaccountable, and inequitably distributed technological development could have on society” (one feels tempted to call out Landian accelerationism at this point). Technoprogressivism, the guiding philosophy of IEET, avails as a principle which insists that technological progress needs to be consistently conjoined with, and dependent on, political progress, whilst recognizing that neither are inevitable.

In charting the essay towards a close, Hughes mentions his and a number of IEET-led technoprogresive publications, among which we have Verdoux who, despite his futurological, historical, and anthropological critique of transhumanism, yet goes ahead to argue for transhumanism on moral grounds (free from the language of “Marxism’s historical inevitabilism or utopianism, and cautious of the tragic history of communism”), and “as a less dangerous course than any attempt at “relinquishing” technological development, but only after the naive faith in progress has been set aside.” Unfortunately, however, the “rational capitulationism” to the transhumanist future that Verdoux offers, according to Hughes, is “not something that stirs men’s souls.” Hughes hence, while admitting to our need “to embrace these critical, pessimistic voices and perspectives”, yet calls on us to likewise heed to the need to “also re-discover our capacity for vision and hope.” This need for optimism that humans “can” collectively exercise foresight and invention, and peacefully deliberate our way to a better future, rather than yielding to narratives that would lead us into the traps of utopian and apocalyptic fatalism, has been one of the motivations behind the creation of the “technoprogressive” brand. The brand, Hughes presents, has been of help in distinguishing necessarily “Enlightenment optimism about the “possibility” of human political, technological and moral progress from millennialist techno-utopian inevitabilism.”

Presumably, upon this technoprogressive philosophy, the new version of the Transhumanist Declaration, adopted by Humanity+ in 2009, indicated a shift from some of the language of the 1998 version, and conveyed a more reflective, critical, realistic, utilitarian, “proceed with caution” and “act with wisdom” tone with respect to the transhumanist vision for humanity’s progress. This version of the declaration, though relatively sobered, remains equally inspiring nonetheless. Hughes closes the essay with a reminder on our need to stay aware of the diverse ways by which our indifferent universe threatens our existence, how our growing powers come with unintended consequences, and why applying mindfulness on our part in all actions remains the best approach for navigating our way towards progress in our radically uncertain future.

Conclusively, following Hughes’ objectives in this series, it can be suggested that more studies on the Enlightenment (European and global) are desirable especially for its potential to furnish us with richer understanding into a number of problems within contemporary transhumanism as sprouting from its roots deep in the Enlightenment. Interest and scholarship in Enlightenment studies, fortunately, seems to be experiencing some current revival, and even so with increasing diversity in perspective, thereby presenting transhumanism with a variety of paths through which to explore and gain context for connected issues. Seeking insight thence into some foundations of transhumanism’s problems could take the path, among others: of an examination of internal contradictions within the Enlightenment, of the approach of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment”; of assessing opponents of the Enlightenment as found, for example, in Isaiah Berlin’s notion of “Counter Enlightenment”; of investigating a rather radical strain of the Enlightenment as presented in Jonathan Israel’s “Radical Enlightenment”, and as well in grappling with the nature of the relationships between transhumanism and other heirs both of the Enlightenment and the Counter-Enlightenment today. Again, and significantly, serious attention need be paid now and going forwards in jealously guarding transhumanism against ultimately falling into the hands of the Dark Enlightenment.


Ojochogwu Abdul is the founder of the Transhumanist Enlightenment Café (TEC), is the co-founder of the Enlightenment Transhumanist Forum of Nigeria (H+ Nigeria), and currently serves as a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party in Nigeria.