Transhumanist Art by Luis Arroyo

Transhumanist Art by Luis Arroyo

Luis Arroyo


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this set of three artworks by our member Luis Arroyo in order to highlight the creative variety and diversity in political views that exist among our membership base. Luis Arroyo’s work combines influences from art history, transhumanist philosophy, and political thought with an aspiration to achieve a transhuman future. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, July 26, 2021


Transhumanism – Digital Artwork by Luis Arroyo

Description by the Artist: Some basic edits along with the term “transhumanism” in front of a black blocked like background; the  the sculpture of the statue is David Prime by Imagine Lion.

 

FM-2030 – Digital Artwork by Luis Arroyo

Description by the Artist: “A photo of the Iranian-American FM-2030 as indicated by the texts with some basic edits over it. FM-2030 is most notable for his book Are You a Transhuman?

Let’s Seize the Newest Means – Digital Artwork by Luis Arroyo

Description by the Artist:This photo was made from a very leftist perspective hinting towards the possibilities if today’s technologies were used for the sustaining and prosperity of the human species instead of the maximization of profit, reasonably one can expect such policies that transhumanists could support to be passed given the general human notions to advance ourselves and society.

Evolution Won’t Stop Aging Any Time Soon, but Medicine Might – Article by Sedeer el-Showk

Evolution Won’t Stop Aging Any Time Soon, but Medicine Might – Article by Sedeer el-Showk

Sedeer el-Showk


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party publishes this article by Sedeer el-Showk, originally featured by our allies at Lifespan.io, in order to highlight the fallacious nature of many media outlets’ responses to a recent study about the “invariant rate of aging”. As Mr. el-Showk eloquently explains, this study does not refute or undermine the possibility of pursuing the reversal of biological aging, but simply suggests that this needs to be done through medical and technological means, and that without such means, overcoming the limitations of the current maximum human lifespan would not be feasible. Many of us in the longevity advocacy community have known this for a long time already, but it is important to spread accurate information to prevent an unjustified decline in public confidence in the feasibility of radical life extension.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, July 25, 2021


Aging is not unstoppable, despite misinterpretations of the new study.

A new study [1] about the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ has led to reports that aging is unstoppable and that we cannot cheat death. However, this reporting is based on a misunderstanding of what the study actually says.

The misinterpretations

The study shows that “immortality and everlasting youth are the stuff of myths,” according to The Guardian. The article goes on to say that “an unprecedented study has now confirmed that we probably cannot slow the rate at which we get older because of biological constraints.” Other outlets published similar conclusions, with Futurism saying that the study shows “an ‘invariant rate of aging’ that won’t slow down”.

These reporters seem to have gotten tripped up on the idea of an ‘invariant rate’, which has the key implication that biological constraints determine the rate of human aging. This led to the conclusion that aging is fixed, inevitable, and immutable, but that’s not at all what the study shows, as the paper itself directly says.

What the study actually says

The study aimed to investigate the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis, which proposes that the rate of aging is fixed within a species. The idea is that aging has evolved in concert with a suite of other traits, such as birth rate and metabolic rate, and this concerted evolution has led to the rate of aging being relatively fixed within a species.

In this context, ‘fixed’ is used as the opposite of ‘plastic’. It doesn’t mean ‘set in stone’. It means there’s relatively limited variation in this trait within a species because biological factors have a stronger effect on it than environmental factors. A good example might be the number of digits on a limb – environmental factors don’t really affect it, and there’s very little (but some) variation.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers created a statistical model of the age-specific risk of death in species from seven primate genera. They used data from various studies to set the parameters of their model, which is how they tested the amount of variation.

The model included parameters for infant and juvenile mortality, age-independent mortality, and senescent mortality. Variation in the biological rate of aging would be reflected in the senescent mortality parameter, since it captures what we normally think of as ‘aging’, while the infant and juvenile morality parameter reflects the misfortune of dying young.

The study’s first finding is that most of the gain in human lifespan so far has come from reducing mortality at younger ages. There’s also variation in the infant and juvenile mortality parameter, both between societies and at different times.

This also shows up in the relationship between life expectancy and lifespan equality. Media reports generally got this part of the study right, and you can look at the report on SciTechDaily to get more details about these findings.

Unlike the infant and juvenile mortality parameter, the senescent mortality parameter varied very little within each species. In fact, changing this parameter in their model shifted the mortality and demographic data of one species to look like another.

Changing the other parameters led to minor shifts in age distribution, but changing senescent mortality made it look like data from a different species. What this means is that within a given species, biological factors are the ultimate determinants of longevity.

Changing the environment to reduce mortality at younger ages (as we have in most parts of the world) affects demographics, increasing life expectancy and lifespan equality. However, accomplishing more than that will require tackling the evolved biological constraints on lifespan.

This study, therefore, doesn’t show that the rate of aging cannot be changed; it shows that there’s a limit to how much change can be realized without biological interventions, which is precisely the challenge that longevity research aims to overcome.

The paper itself closes on that note, though you wouldn’t know it from the way it’s been covered: “It remains to be seen if future advances in medicine can overcome the biological constraints that we have identified here, and achieve what evolution has not.”

Abstract

Is it possible to slow the rate of ageing, or do biological constraints limit its plasticity? We test the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis, which posits that the rate of ageing is relatively fixed within species, with a collection of 39 human and nonhuman primate datasets across seven genera. We first recapitulate, in nonhuman primates, the highly regular relationship between life expectancy and lifespan equality seen in humans. We next demonstrate that variation in the rate of ageing within genera is orders of magnitude smaller than variation in pre-adult and age-independent mortality. Finally, we demonstrate that changes in the rate of ageing, but not other mortality parameters, produce striking, species-atypical changes in mortality patterns. Our results support the invariant rate of ageing hypothesis, implying biological constraints on how much the human rate of ageing can be slowed.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this wasn’t a study about longevity or the inevitability of aging. It was research to understand what affects the rate of aging – how much it results from evolved biological processes versus the effects of the environment. That’s important science not only for longevity research but also for evolutionary biology. It’s undoubtedly valuable, but unfortunately, its message has been misconstrued.

Far from showing that aging is inevitable, this research instead demonstrates that, ultimately, we’ll run out of environmental improvements and will have to turn to biological interventions to affect aging.

Literature

[1] Colchero, F. et al. The long lives of primates and the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis. Nature Communications (2021), doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-23894-3

Sedeer el-Showk became a professional science writer after finishing a degree in biology. He also writes poetry and science fiction and fantasy, and somehow juggles an ever-growing list of hobbies from programming to knitting to gardening. Eternal curiosity and good fortune have taken him to many parts of the world, but he’s settled in Helsinki, Finland for the moment. He hopes he’ll never stop learning new things.

The Unnatural Objection to Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Unnatural Objection to Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


Of all the objections to life extension, perhaps the most banal one yet is the argument that it is not natural for humans to want to live longer and healthier than they currently do. Of course, not only does this actually go against human nature itself, but it is also an insult to the immense progress we have made in improving the human condition throughout the course of history. In fact, this opposition to life extension also flies in the face of the entire medical industry, which is focused on keeping people alive, and any other industry that contributes to the betterment of the human condition, of which there are many. The fact is, opposing life extension is what is unnatural, because it is a natural human desire to want to survive, and to continue living in a healthy manner.

And let me be clear – just because something is natural does not make it good. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that getting poisoned by a plant, mauled by a wild animal, drowned by a tsunami, or crushed by a landslide are scenarios that are to be avoided at all costs. That these sorts of events are now relatively rare speaks volumes about the progress we have made in battling the destructive forces of nature.

Similarly, cancer, heart attacks, and strokes are natural too, yet no one would say that these conditions are desirable or good. In fact, many billions of dollars and resources are spent on finding a cure for these diseases, and for good reason – these diseases are deadly and contribute to massive suffering and pain.

To be sure, the environment is precious and should be protected. After all, to be able to walk through a forest and appreciate the flora and fauna is refreshing. Being able to visit a beach and feel the cool ocean breeze on one’s skin on a late summer afternoon is lovely. However, we should also be very wary of romanticizing nature, mostly because nature is entirely indifferent to the human condition. Indeed, nature does not care one bit about our happiness or fulfillment. Earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and hurricanes are part of nature, but no sane person would argue that these events are positive or that we should experience more of them.

Just because something exists in nature does not make it desirable or good. Conversely, just because something was developed outside of nature does not make it undesirable or bad. In fact, more often than not, science and technology have contributed to massively improving the quality of life for human beings. Imagine how much worse life would be without electricity, life-saving medicines, medical procedures, and computer technology.

How many people now would say that the tuberculosis vaccine, stents, or pacemakers are bad and should be abolished? Of course, all these discoveries were “unnatural,” but no sane person would wish to be inflicted with a deadly infectious disease or suffer a heart attack.

But going back to talking about the environment, climate change is a very real threat to planet Earth and humanity, and we should do all we can to protect our planet, the human race, and members of the animal kingdom. However, the solution to climate change is not going to arrive automatically as part of a natural process. Neither is the answer to stop evolving as a species or to stop all technological innovation and progress and revert to the Dark Ages, and in turn have humanity experience economic collapse and widespread suffering. In fact, humanity’s best hope for battling climate change will likely come from science and technology.

Further, attempting to control nature is what has allowed us to come up with inventions such as indoor plumbing, safe and comfortable shelter, and weather forecasts, all of which have improved the quality of life dramatically. Suppose that we had just let nature run its course in these scenarios. I don’t think I need to spell out what would have happened to humans had we allowed that to happen.

But even after we have thoroughly debunked this ridiculous objection to life extension, critics may then move on to other objections, such as the idea that a human life is already long enough, or that we may become bored if we were to live longer, or that the Earth will become overpopulated. Fortunately, we have answers to these objections as well. And what about the argument that sickness and death are inevitable and that we should just accept things the way they are? This topic deserves its own discussion, but for the moment we can respond by saying that catching an infectious disease and dying at the age of 20 or 30 was once the way things used to be, but it is fortunately no longer the case.

The fact is that it is entirely natural for humans to want to live longer and healthier. Indeed, it is what we have been trying to do since the dawn of time. It is human nature to want to survive and thrive. For the first time in human history, we have the potential to overcome nature itself. Limiting ourselves to what is natural means we deny ourselves the opportunity to be better and to do better. Dying at 20 years of age due to cholera, measles, or malaria wasn’t our destiny as human beings, and therefore we overcame infectious illnesses and significantly increased our life expectancy. Now, we are at a crossroads where we get to decide if we wish to continue suffering for years and then dying due to aging-related illnesses such as dementia, heart disease, and cancer, or, whether we will dedicate this next stage of human development to overcoming these horrific illnesses.

Of course, even after admitting that aging-related illnesses and natural disasters are devastating and should be avoided at all costs, opponents of life extension may still argue that they are entitled to oppose life extension. Of course, they are entitled to their beliefs, no matter how faulty their reasoning and logic may be, but we supporters of life extension are also entitled to advocate for the defeat of aging-related illnesses and to improve the human condition through advancements in science and technology, even if these advancements are not part of nature.

I would urge those who oppose life extension technologies because they are unnatural to revisit their stance after burying a loved one who dies from cancer, or after witnessing a calamitous natural disaster that destroys entire towns and kills thousands of people.

If nature held all the solutions to life, then we would not need to build earthquake-resistant buildings, we would not need to develop anti-cancer drugs, and we would not need spend money, time, and resources on reducing human suffering and improving the human condition.

Nature is how we started as human beings, but nature is not where we need to end.

Arin Vahanian is Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Pasteurizing the Conclusions of an Anti-Vaxxer – Article by Zach Richardson

Pasteurizing the Conclusions of an Anti-Vaxxer – Article by Zach Richardson

Zach Richardson


I had an unfortunate encounter with a friend of a U.S. Transhumanist Party member who was conducting on his page what I call an “anti-vaxxer drive-by”: shooting out some quick chart with poorly interpreted data that seemingly supports the idea that vaccines make you sick / don’t work / are Bill Gates microchips, etc.

The graphic in question was this one:

The chart in question shows a rise in infection at equal rates from those who got both vaccines, and those who did not receive a vaccine at all. The green bar shows amount of cases where no vaccine was received, and the blue bar amount of cases who again tested positive two weeks after the vaccine. What is the implied conclusion, then? The creator of this graphic wants to convey the message: “Why even get the vaccine, if the rates of infection are just as high 20 days after getting it as they are if you don’t get one at all?”

This post is about why his conclusion is wrong, why his analysis is wrong, and why his ilk are not to be trusted.

I was very lucky to find myself with several free hours of time today, as digging into this took some time. I had to type the source link into the browser a few characters at a time, since it was from an image, and the site itself was in Hebrew. I was pleased to find though, that the site did have the data available for download in a CSV format, which is easily importable into Google Sheets.

The data showed weekly stats on 9 age groups, and how many cases there were in three time periods: one to six days from vaccination, seven to thirteen days from vaccination, thirteen to twenty days from vaccination, and cases from vaccinations more than twenty days ago. This sequence is repeated for cases after dose two of the vaccine. Here is the spreadsheet:

I’ve included the last two weeks in this screenshot, and would like to direct the reader to notice a few things that should stick out sorely after a few moments’ study.

1. For the age range 0-19, the number of youths who reported cases was forty times as high as those who did not.

– Were children perhaps just 40 times as susceptible to infection? This would have been interesting for the person looking at the chart to know.

2. The age range 0-19 actually makes up one-half of the total amount of cases reported.

– Maybe it was just that those who signed up for this study all happened to be children who needed pocket money? That can’t be right…

3. For week the week of June 27 (2021-06-27), excepting the youth group for vaccine 1, not a single case was reported during the weeks 1-20 for any group. The next week never had more than five cases for an age group.

– Ah, good news! Perhaps the vaccine was super effective, if only for 20 weeks.

4. It is not reported how many people total got the vaccine who were NOT sick after 20 days.

-Perhaps the data account for all cases, and all those in the study eventually got reinfected?

There are some big problems with this chart, and the first is that this is a HUGE instance of what we call “self-selection bias”.

Unlike lab rats who have no choice in the matter, humans get to choose whether to participate in studies or not. Adults can easily choose to not report when they are sick; people had to voluntarily “select” themselves to be included in this dataset. Children have less choice. Children are in school, and vaccine testing can be conducted just the same way standardized knowledge testing is: get all the students in the same building, line them up, assign each a number, and have every single one tested. I think this is why youth aged 0-19 outnumber those aged 20-90 combined.

Even more important than that, we do not know how many people got the vaccine who did NOT get sick vs those who did not get the vaccine and did not get sick. Assuming Israel gives out 9,000 inoculations a day, the 30-39 year olds in week 07/04 could have been 248 vaccinated people infected out of tens of thousands who received the vaccine. We don’t have a way of knowing and don’t have that data.

The real plot twist though, comes after one digs into the “README” file attached to the study data right next to the CSV file. Here is the relevant excerpt Google translated:

vaccination_without_positive_Sum – number of verified people detected per week and age group Relevant, and who did not receive any vaccine dose. It should be noted that vaccinated who received the vaccine dose The first on the same day that a positive result was obtained are included in this column.”

What does this mean? It means that the “unvaccinated” group were those who ran to the doctor after they got sick, got the vaccine themselves, and were only THEN added into the dataset. They got the vaccine too!

The charlatan that made that chart was trying to make it seem like he was comparing data from two groups in a randomized controlled trial, and concluding that the data showed you were equally as likely to get sick when taking the vaccine as not. What the data really showed is that it is very easy to test children who are stuck doing what their teachers tell them for eight hours a day, and also that when the chips are down and the unvaccinated finally do get sick, they change their mind and run to the doctor to get the vaccine anyway.

As Director of Publication for the USTP, I would like to reaffirm the Transhumanist Party’s strongly-held pro-vaccine stance. There is far too much of this junk science flying around, and I certainly can’t spend the better part of the afternoon each day playing “debunker”, but you can be sure to expect a series of pro-vaccine material to be republished under the Infinity Banner.

Zach Richardson is Director of Publication for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Jennifer A. Huse Certified as Candidate in Mayoral Election in Camden, New Jersey

Jennifer A. Huse Certified as Candidate in Mayoral Election in Camden, New Jersey


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, June 14, 2021

Contact: Jennifer A. Huse

Email : info@jahformayor.com

Phone: 856-729-0272

Website www.jahformayor.com

Jennifer A. Huse, Independent Candidate for Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, has been certified by the Office of the Camden County Clerk’s Election Division to run on the ballot in the upcoming Mayoral election on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. 

Ms. Huse and her husband have each studied social system, city, and community design for over a decade. They have been personally mentored by the world’s foremost futurists and social engineers and she is excited to apply their knowledge to governance of our city.

Ms. Huse has a background and education in Cell and Molecular Biology, Exercise Science, Social Media Management, Communications, Marketing, and Business Management. Both Ms. Huse and her husband currently work in home renovations in our city. In addition to both of their social system design studies, this diverse background gives her a unique perspective in being inclusive of all people in proposals and improvements applied to governance of our city.

Ms. Huse states, “It is an honor to place my name forward as an Independent candidate for the city of Camden mayoral seat. I look forward to productive, one-on-one conversations in the next few months with the people of Camden and am pleased to present my extensive list of proposed changes to better the lives of all who live in Camden.”

She continues, “While gathering signatures, I was so encouraged and impressed with all whom I met, both the people who live and work here, and so happy to see how many persons want real change for their city. I am pleased to be offering a new, fresh approach to the governing of Camden.”

Ms. Huse’s extensive proposal list includes but is not limited to: housing for all, new employment opportunities, food security for all, education for all, new city revenue sources, ending the war on drugs, decriminalization of sex work, participatory governance, expansion of the arts and sciences, healthy life extension initiatives for all, and a Center for Scientific Solutions to problem-solve the issues we face in our city. She is the first mayoral candidate to include life extension initiatives in her platform proposals.

Ms. Huse concludes, “All people of Camden deserve a healthy and meaningful life in our beautiful city. Our administration looks to constantly improve and bring all people in Camden to the highest quality of life possible. I ask for your vote on November 2nd for the betterment of all.”

Note from the U.S. Transhumanist Party: Jennifer A. Huse was endorsed by a vote of the U.S. Transhumanist Party members on May 2, 2021, and accordingly the U.S. Transhumanist Party supports her run for Mayor of Camden, New Jersey. On May 2, 2021, the U.S. Transhumanist Party also held a Virtual Enlightenment Salon with Jennifer Huse, where we discussed her campaign initiatives in depth for nearly four hours. 

Why Transhumanism Needs More Positive Science Fiction – Article by Rykon Volta

Why Transhumanism Needs More Positive Science Fiction – Article by Rykon Volta

Rykon Volta


In the modern Age of Accelerating Returns, more commonly known as the Information Age, technological growth is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Never before in the history of humanity has technological growth shown itself so clearly to the human race. As noted by famous futurist Ray Kurzweil, the trend of exponential growth in technology follows a double exponential curve.

One famous example of this exponential growth that you might be familiar with if you are into the world of tech is, of course, Moore’s Law, but in The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil demonstrates that other technological fields, including medicine, have been accelerating as well. Ray Kurzweil shows that technology has actually been accelerating since before the Stone Age, although a man in the Roman Empire would not have noticed any ramifications of progress considering that his grandchildren would not live in a very different society from the one his grandfather and he inhabited. For the first time in recorded history, we are commonly thinking about where we will be in 100 years, where we will be in 50 years, and now we are even thinking about where we will be in a decade as technology progresses into the 21st Century. If Ray Kurzweil is right, machines will have sentience, and AI, or artificial intelligence, will be greater than human intelligence, resulting in a hypothetical event known as an “intelligence explosion” or “technological singularity”. After this point, machines will be much smarter than average human beings and will be able to carry on progress much faster than we can even begin to comprehend with our natural brains.

In the wake of the recognition of these future possibilities, many science-fiction authors and script writers have created a plethora of media to warn us that AI and future genetic augmentation pose many existential threats to the human race. Examples that now dominate the mainstream media include Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, and many more that warn us that AI might kill us all. Gattaca expresses the great fear of an unfair society of elitism in a genetically enhanced world where a man who was born naturally is unable to get his dream career because he wasn’t born with genetic modifications. In parallel, people demonize the idea of genetic modification by ruthlessly attacking GMOs and saying that they’re bad for us when GMOs have in fact solved famine in some parts of the world due to higher yields. People are always fearful of something they do not understand.

In the Golden Age of Science Fiction, a period during the mid-20th Century that saw many sci-fi works hitting the stage, spreading optimism and futurism, science fiction had a brighter outlook on the future. Isaac Asimov imagined future Spacer societies and a Galactic Empire in his Robot Series and Foundation Series. Gene Roddenberry took us on fantastic voyages across the stars in the Enterprise alongside Captain James T. Kirk and Spock. Other authors inspired visionaries to have a brighter outlook on the future as the Space Race sent the first humans to the Moon.

Today, we have, in a way, a form of cultural stagnation. While some still see the future in an optimistic light, it seems much more popular today to look at the future as a dystopia, and New Age movements all over the place actually act like demonizing technology is some kind of “morally right” position. Despite the trends of growth continuing to accelerate, mainstream culture seems to be propagating more fear of the future than hope and inspiration. Why are we doing this? While I agree that dystopian sci-fi has it’s place and that we should in very deed analyze and contemplate existential risks in our future that we might steer clear of, progress is going to happen and we are going to try everything we can to “play god”, as the enemies of transhumanism like to say transhumanists are trying to do. To them, of course, I say, “Were we not created in God’s image? Did God not give the Earth to mankind? Were we not meant to achieve our full potential, to subdue the Earth and conquer it, bending it to our will?” Indeed, this phrase in Genesis seems to be divine permission to modify our bodies and accelerate a brighter future. However, this is mainly an appeal to my fellow religious folks who may be averse to progress. We are not playing God because, quite honestly, God would not even make that possible. We are just using our God-given talents to hack our own genetic code and modify the machinery of our initial, still quite wonderful creation. To those Christians who say that we are insulting God and telling him “You didn’t make me good enough”, the beauty of mankind is that we were in fact created with the ability to modify ourselves. Don’t modify yourself with the intention of insulting your creator, but with the intention of becoming closer to your creator. Why would he give us the ability for self-modification if he didn’t intend for us to use it? It’s like saying that we shouldn’t work out because self improvement is some kind of blasphemy against God. Do you really believe God wants us to intentionally limit ourselves from our full potential?

Others may fear the coming of AI as a usurping of humanity as the apex predator upon this planet, and they may be afraid of a Skynet scenario where a rampant AI destroys us all. I argue that the solution is to merge ourselves with the machines, allowing us to cause ourselves to evolve. Ray Kurzweil and many other singularitarians would make the same argument. By evolving our own bodies and replacing our cells with nanobots whereby we can enhance our brains to the point where neural signals travel at light speed, we will be able to keep up with AI in the evolutionary arms race to come. You can choose to live in fear in the face of the Singularity that is coming, getting left behind in its wake, or you can step boldly and bravely forward into the new world that it will create, surpassing all your physical, mental, and morphological limitations and ending your mortality fully.

As I have written before, mainstream media is overwhelmingly sending out negative signals and warnings about the future, painting into the memespace, or ideaspace, of mainstream culture the notion that technology is a negative influence and that it should be contained and controlled. Society is largely crying for a return back to the caves because many people are fearful of what they don’t understand. This trend needs to cease. People need to see that the light of the future is much brighter than they think. AI is coming, and the technological Singularity is coming, and it’s going to be better than anyone can imagine. This is a call to arms; artists and sci-fi writers who see the ramifications of the future and how it can create an abundant, prosperous utopia, I urge you to write science fiction that portrays AI not in a negative, but rather in a positive manner. Show AI in a benevolent form and show how it can aid humanity in its future quest for survival. Show how it can solve global problems like hunger and global warming and cure disease. Stories that put the Neo-Luddites in their place, and show that the pseudo-religious zeal of anti-progress-minded people is ultimately a negative factor only holding us back from creating a better world in the long run. Know and understand that the content in the mainstream media has a huge effect on the minds of the people, and indeed much of culture is shaped by what is put out there and consumed by the masses. Transhumanism needs more positive science fiction to help gain support for the movement and to inspire the next generation of scientists and inventors to design the future we all desire!

Rykon Volta is the author of the novel Arondite, Book I of The Artilect Protocol Trilogy. Arondite is available on Amazon in hard-copy and Kindle formats here. Visit Rykon Volta’s website here

Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party Virtual Enlightenment Salon of  July 19, 2020, when Rykon Volta was the guest of honor and discussed science fiction, his novel Arondite, and the ideas surrounding it with the U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers.

 

“The FDA Almost Killed Me” – A True Story

“The FDA Almost Killed Me” – A True Story

Daniel C. Elton, Ph.D.


Author’s Note: This article is cross-posted from my Substack.

Preface: It’s well known that stories of people who suffer while waiting for drugs to be approved rarely get attention, while the stories of those who suffer from unexpected side effects often end up in the news and congressional hearings. There are many reasons for this. One of them is the act-omission distinction. Intuitively people tend to place much more blame on actions that result in harm rather than omissions that result in harm. Rationally though, the distinction doesn’t amount to much — a doctor that withholds a life-saving medicine, while processing knowledge that it is likely to help a patient, still commits a grave ethical injustice even if they didn’t directly cause harm. Another reason is that patients are often not aware of drugs in the pipeline that have a good chance of helping them.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though. I strongly believe those who have suffered under FDA regulatory delay should have their stories heard and appreciated. That’s why I’m so happy John Bennett attended my second #ApproveAstraZeneca #UnclogTheFDA protest outside the FDA. When I heard John’s story, I knew it deserved to be told to a wider audience. So, I had him retell the story to me so I could tell it to you here. I really appreciate John taking the time to tell me his story and proofread my writing.

 

John at a February 14th protest outside the FDA, organized in conjunction with the DC Transhumanist Party, where we protested the FDA’s failure to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine while millions of doses languished in a factory in Baltimore and thousands died daily from COVID-19.

When John was only around nine years old, he started experiencing joint pain. Initially his doctors thought he might have juvenile autoimmune arthritis. Around age ten, however, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Later his doctor would tell him that after that initial diagnosis he estimated his life expectancy was only nine more years.

Crohn’s disease is not just “digestive problems”. The disease affected all aspects of John’s life, and he spent much of middle and high school in and out of a wheelchair. In 2001 he started receiving infusions of the monoclonal antibody Remicade every six weeks. Due to Remicade, he started to be able to walk again and was able to live a mostly normal life. That all changed suddenly and unexpectedly in 2005 when his throat closed up after his injection. Unfortunately, as happens to many long-term Remicade patients, his body had developed an immune response to the drug. In response doctors switched him to a similar monoclonal antibody drug, Humira. However by 2013 his immune system had started rejecting the Humira as well. In response his gastroenterologist tried several general immune suppressors but at this point John was running out of good options.

Fortunately there was a new drug with a lot of clinical trials data to support it, Entyvio. Unlike Remicade and Humira, which are TNF-alpha antagonists developed for rheumatoid arthritis, Entyvio was developed specifically for Crohn’s disease and a similar disease called ulcerative colitis. Entyvio was specifically studied in Crohn’s disease patients like John who either could not tolerate or did not benefit from conventional therapy and TNF-alpha antagonists. A peer-reviewed Phase II study from 2008 showed a dose-dependent beneficial effect of Entyvio. Four Phase III studies followed. By February 2013 enough studies had been completed on Entyivio that a review article in Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy concluded the drug was “an effective and well-tolerated drug that is an important advance for the treatment of Crohn’s Disease.” Takeda Pharmaceuticals filed the paperwork for approval with the European Medicines Agency on March 7th, 2013 and filed with the FDA on June 21st, 2013.

This is where the story starts to get really dark. Throughout the summer and fall of 2013, John suffered from fatigue, joint pain, and stomach pain. His symptoms came and went in unpredictable waves, so he was never sure if he would be able to attend any social events or be able to go into work. He had to start taking a lot of leave from work, some donated from co-workers, and some unpaid.  Eventually the pain got so bad he started going to a pain clinic every two weeks, which started him on Vicodin and Percocet. His intestine was so inflamed it was shot through with holes. A persistent infection developed. His neck felt like it was in a vice and was so difficult to turn he had trouble driving.

Given John’s condition, his doctor knew he was in a race against time and that he needed Entyvio as soon as possible. As a member of the FDA’s Gastrointestinal Drugs Advisory Committee, John’s doctor had an inside view on the agency and predicted he should be able to get the drug by the end of the year. Indeed, on December 9th, 2013 the Committee voted 21-0 in favor of approving the drug for Crohn’s disease. Under normal circumstances, an approval would follow shortly thereafter. Unfortunately for John (as well as many other patients), this isn’t what happened.

Even though the FDA had granted Enyvio Priority Review Status, for the next five months the FDA kept John (and undoubtedly many others) suffering as they debated the wording for the warning label. Since the approval of earlier monoclonal antibody drugs such as Remicade and Humira, scientists learned that in the long term some patients can develop allergic reactions to treatment. The FDA wanted to put a warning about the possibility of a severe allergic reaction on the label. The problem was that the drug had been designed specifically to avoid the allergic reaction rejection problems that occurred with Remicade and Humira, drugs which did not contain such a warning. A warning about allergic reactions would make Entyvio look less safe, something that the company rightly took objection to.

Another possible reason for the delay might be related to the fact that the FDA claimed that Entyvio put patients at risk for progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, (PML) an often fatal brain virus. In over a decade of trials however no patient who had taken Entyvio had ever developed PML. Still, the FDA pointed to a similar drug, Tysabri, which carries a “black box” label warning of the risk for PML. The company disputed this – pointing to established mechanistic differences in how the two drugs worked, but the FDA wasn’t convinced. In the end, the FDA decided to include a warning about PML on the label and require post-market surveillance.

By April 2014 John’s condition had gotten so bad that John’s doctor started filling out compassionate use paperwork. The FDA told him not to bother and to wait for the approval. In retrospect, he probably should have tried anyway. When the drug was finally approved on May 20th, 2014, the initial doses the drug company had made had expired. The company had to manufacture new doses, leading to a delay in commercial availability. It wasn’t until September 2014 that John got the drug. By that time John was in precarious health. Although he now had the drug in his system, it was too late to help. In January 2015 his doctor sent him to the ER where he stayed in an ICU for several days fighting an infection. John had to have two major surgeries that ultimately removed his large intestine altogether.

The story illuminates many areas for improvement in the FDA approval process. First, it took five and a half years after promising Phase II results for the drug to become available to patients. Other different regulatory approaches like Free to Choose medicine or adaptive licensing could have made Entyvio available to patients faster and at lower cost. But even if you remain convinced that pre-market Phase III trials are a necessity, there are still major areas for improvement highlighted by this case.

Ideally, after the company reached their endpoints in their Phase III trials the drug would be rapidly approved within a month or two. In reality, John suffered for well over a year waiting for Entyvio to be approved by the FDA. Even after the FDA’s board unanimously voted in favor of approval, John suffered for another five months waiting for approval (the FDA could have figured out the proper warning label much earlier, for instance in the five years during which the Phase III trial was running). Even after approval, John had to wait another four months before he finally got his first dose since the initial doses had expired.

As a result of over a year of completely unnecessary delays, John became dependent on opioids, ended up in the ICU with a major infection, and had to undergo several risky surgeries. In the end though, he was lucky to have survived the ordeal. One wonders how many patients like John there were who also suffered from the delay, and how many died as a result.

Dan Elton, Ph. D., is Director of Scholarship for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.  You can find him on Twitter at @moreisdifferent, where he accepts direct messages. If you like his content, check out his website and subscribe to his newsletter on Substack.

Nevada Senate Bill 292 and the Democratic Party’s Anti-Democratic Hypocrisy on Voter Rights – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

Nevada Senate Bill 292 and the Democratic Party’s Anti-Democratic Hypocrisy on Voter Rights – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


While the Democratic Party often postures as championing voter rights and opposing voter suppression, it frequently engages in voter-suppression tactics of its own, particularly aimed at restricting voters’ ability to choose minor political parties on the ballot. Senate Bill 292, advanced by prominent Democratic Legislators despite overwhelming public opposition, is a case in point.

SB292 is sponsored by former Nevada Democratic Party Chair, now Senator, Roberta Lange. Many have already identified the flaws with SB292’s attempt to implement “straight-party-ticket” voting – an option that discourages thoughtful consideration of individual candidates on their merits. But the largely overlooked Section 2 of SB292 would be much more insidiously damaging in shutting minor political parties out of realistic ballot access by imposing a requirement that petition signatures gathered by minor parties seeking ballot access be “equally apportioned” among the four Congressional districts in Nevada.

The number of petition signatures required in Nevada is already immensely high; one percent of the voters for U.S. Representative at the last general election must sign a minor party’s petition for the party to qualify for ballot access. No party has been able to meet this onerous threshold since 2011. Yet, even if a party is able to surpass it through herculean efforts, the requirement of equal apportionment would mean that the Democratic Party could challenge the minor party’s petition if just one more signature comes from one district than from another. For example, even if a minor party were spectacularly successful and somehow gathered signatures from all the registered voters in Nevada’s most populous 3rd Congressional District, the Democrats could attempt to disqualify that petition on the technicality that an “equal” number of signatures from the other, less populous districts were not attained. SB292’s Section 2 would empower Democrats to thwart every minor party’s petition forever.

Because of the additional coordination required to even attempt to gather petition signatures “equally” by petition district, rather than simply trying to gather as many signatures as possible, one would expect the petitioning effort to be more time-consuming than previously. However, Section 2 of SB292 reduces the time available to a minor party, moving the compliance deadline from the third Friday in June to June 1, thereby further lowering the probability of meeting all requirements. The United States District Court for the District of Nevada in 1992 already struck down a slightly less burdensome deadline of June 10 in the case of Lenora B. Fulani et al. v. Cheryl A. Lau, Secretary of State. A June 1 deadline could be challenged on the same grounds, but the proponents of SB292 wish to impose it regardless.

In Nevada, prominent Democratic Party Legislators seem determined to limit voters’ options at the ballot box. The Green Party, whose nominee finished fourth in the past three U.S. Presidential elections, failed to qualify for ballot access in Nevada in 2012, 2016, and 2020, because of the unreasonable existing petition threshold and significant Democratic Party efforts to disqualify petition signatures in 2016. Nevada is also one of only five states that lack a write-in option, further reinforcing the imperative to relax ballot-access requirements instead of imposing additional ones. At present, minor political parties without access to vast funds, such as the all-volunteer Transhumanist Party, are shut out by intentional barriers to entry imposed at the behest of the major parties.

Do Democrats in power only wish to improve the ease of voting for Democrats, while excluding other options by establishing insurmountable barriers to ballot access? Or will enough Democrats take a stand for their stated principles, support genuine voter choice, and thwart anti-democratic legislation such as SB292?

Senate Bill 292 will be heard at 4 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections. This will be our last chance at direct input to the Legislators regarding this bill. Follow the link above and click on the button to “Participate” in order to register for call-in information. You can also e-mail your written comments to . Be civil and respectful but firm in your opposition to this attempt to severely limit voter choice!

Gennady Stolyarov II is the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party and the Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Second Letter in Opposition to Nevada Senate Bill 292 – Sent to the Senate Committee on Finance – May 4, 2021

U.S. Transhumanist Party Second Letter in Opposition to Nevada Senate Bill 292 – Sent to the Senate Committee on Finance – May 4, 2021

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Note: Senate Bill 292 (SB292), which would make it essentially impossible for minor political parties to compete at the ballot box or even attempt ballot access, continues to be rapidly advanced in Nevada. It was authored by a former Democratic Party Chair who would like to require the number of signatures to be impossibly “equally apportioned” by petitioning district, move the deadline for submitting petitions to an earlier June 1 date, and institute straight-line party-ticket voting that shuts out other options and discourages individualized decision-making.

After SB292 passed on a party-line vote (3 Democrats in favor, 2 Republicans opposed) out of the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, I drafted a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance, where the bill is headed next, in opposition to SB292. The text of this letter appears below. 

I urge all Nevadans and Transhumanist Party members, as well as those who are sympathetic to other minor political parties, to submit their opinions in opposition to SB292 here: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/81st2021/Be sure to reference the amended, “April 16, 2021” version as the bill you are opposing – so as to signal that even the recently amended bill continues to pose serious problems. If you would like your comments to be published, you can also submit them via e-mail to SenFIN@sen.state.nv.us

The Senate Committee on Finance will meet this Wednesday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time to hold a public hearing on this bill. Meeting information will be updated on this page: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/81st2021/Bill/7895/Meetings. If you can dial in during the time period for public testimony and lend your voice in opposition, that would be greatly appreciated. Focus your testimony on the adverse fiscal impacts of this bill, as that is what the Committee will be primarily considering. Please feel free to reference any of my arguments below for inspiration. Remember to be civil and respectful but firm in your opposition!

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, May 4, 2021


May 4, 2021

Re: Opposition to Amended Senate Bill 292 (First Reprint)

Dear Chairman Brooks and honorable members of the Senate Committee on Finance:

As Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party and Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party, I strongly urge you to oppose Senate Bill 292, which would deprive all minor political parties in Nevada of the opportunity to fairly compete at the ballot box or to even viably attempt such competition.

My comments today will focus on the adverse impacts of Section 2 of the amended (First Reprint) Senate Bill 292, especially the adverse financial impacts to the State of Nevada which are germane to the purview of this Committee.

At a time of great fiscal strain to the State of Nevada, which is just beginning to recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and immense economic hardship for the people of this State, it is highly imprudent to impose additional costs upon the State or any of its agencies for the doubly imprudent and entirely deleterious purpose of raising the barriers to ballot access for minor political parties.

While the amended bill no longer raises the petition-signature threshold from 1% to 2% of the Nevada voters who voted in the last election, it does still, via Section 2, Subsection 2, Paragraph (c), seek to impose an impossible “equal apportionment” requirement for the petition signatures and would also move the deadline for submitting petition signatures from the current third Friday in June to June 1.

The “equal apportionment” requirement renders it essentially impossible for a minor political party to qualify via the petition process and also unnecessarily burdens the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office.

Currently, to verify the validity of a petition signature, the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office simply needs to consider an individual petition signature and whether it belongs to a registered voter in the State of Nevada. With Section 2 of SB292, the Secretary of State’s Office would have the additional burden of verifying that the signatures are “equally apportioned” among the four petition districts in Nevada. This could lead to a significant expenditure of time and resources beyond what can be formally budgeted for – because the added workload would be sporadic, punctuated, and inherently unpredictable given the difficulty in anticipating when (i.e., during what election season) a minor party would seek to qualify for ballot access, as well as how many minor parties would seek to qualify. The potential for significant additional costs to the State of Nevada will be illustrated below via a discussion of how the bill would burden the State by encouraging a multitude of major-party challenges to any minor-party petitions that are submitted.

Nevada has four petition districts, corresponding to the U.S. Congressional Districts. The 3rd Congressional District is the most populous, with a population of 857,197 as of 2019. All three of the other Congressional Districts have populations below 800,000. Suppose that a minor political party were spectacularly successful in gathering petition signatures and managed to collect them from the entire population of registered voters in the 3rd Congressional District. (For this example, I assume that the proportion of registered voters to the general population is the same in each Congressional District.) The very fact that this minor political party could accomplish such a feat would ironically render it impossible for that party to qualify for ballot access, because the other petition districts simply do not have enough registered voters to match the number of signatures gathered from the 3rd Congressional District in that case.

Moreover, the “equal apportionment” requirement renders it almost effortless for a major party to initiate challenges to petitions submitted by minor parties, simply by counting the signatures from each district and noting any difference whatsoever in the numbers of signatures, even if the difference is literally one signature! Even if the total number of signatures is well above 1 percent of the registered voters statewide, if the number of signatures gathered in one petition district were 10,000, and the number of signatures gathered in another petition district were 10,001, that also, by itself, would be sufficient to technically fall out of compliance with the requirement of “equal apportionment”. Note that the text of the amended NRS 293.1715(2)(c) would not allow any room for deviation from a strictly “equal” apportionment. There is no mention of a possibility for the apportionment to be made “approximately equal” or “reasonably equal” or “equal within a tolerance of X%”; the text would mandate strict equality of petition signatures by district, and it appears to enable major parties to seek to disqualify any minor party’s petition on a technicality. Given that different circulators of petitions are likely to operate in different petition districts, it is virtually certain that different numbers of signatures will be gathered by each team of circulators. This is so because the precise coordination at the level that would be needed to achieve exactly equal numbers of signatures among all four districts and to stop gathering signatures in a perfectly choreographed fashion once such equal numbers were attained, would be essentially impossible to achieve.

While it would be easy for major political parties to challenge a minor party’s petition under these circumstances, the experience would be made more difficult for the Secretary of State’s Office and the judicial system of the State of Nevada, because more challenges could be expected to be initiated than otherwise. Responding to a contested matter always involves an added, indeterminate, potentially immense expenditure which, I reiterate, has no compelling public benefit behind it.

Moving the deadline for petitions to June 1 would both unduly burden minor political parties and expose the State of Nevada to additional costs from potential legal challenges.

Because of the additional coordination required to even attempt to gather petition signatures “equally” by petition district, as contrasted with simply trying to gather as many signatures as possible, one would expect that the petitioning effort would be more time-consuming than previously. However, Section 2 of SB292 reduces the available time for a minor party to comply with the added burdens, thereby further lowering the probability of successfully meeting all of the requirements. This disenfranchises the citizens of Nevada who would like to see more options at the ballot box.

Moreover, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada already struck down an even somewhat less burdensome deadline of June 10; this occurred when the Judge in the case of Lenora B. Fulani et al. v. Cheryl A. Lau, Secretary of State (“Fulani v. Lau” – Case CV-N-92-535-ECR) issued a preliminary injunction on October 1, 1992, to require the State of Nevada to include Lenora Fulani and other independent and minor-party candidates on the ballot despite those candidates not having been able to gather the required number of signatures by June 10 of that year. In issuing the preliminary injunction (which effectively decided the case, since the election took place in November of the same year), the Judge wrote “that plaintiffs have shown likely success on the merits, that the balance of hardships tips in their favor and that they will suffer irreparable injury if their names are not put on the 1992 ballot” (Fulani v. Lau, p. 14). The Judge explained that

The character and magnitude of plaintiffs[‘] injury caused by the June 10 filing deadline shows a burden on their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The deadline burdens the rights of nonmajor parties[‘] candidates by excluding late[-]forming parties and forcing candidates to circulate petitions before most of the voting population has thought about the elections. Although this date is not as early as others which have been struck down as unconstitutional, most other states require the petitions be submitted several months later. Also, no evidence suggests that candidates who lack an established national affiliation are easily able to access the ballot. (Fulani v. Lau, p. 11)

If the United States District Court found that a June 10 petition-filing deadline is burdensome to non-major parties’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, then, logically, a June 1 deadline would be even more burdensome. Such a deadline would indeed serve to thwart any but the most amply funded minor political parties, if those parties choose to begin gathering the signatures extremely early in the year, whereas new minor parties, as well as minor parties that rely largely or exclusively on volunteer efforts and grass-roots organizing, would find themselves hobbled by lack of time. SB292 is seeking to institute in Nevada law a deadline more stringent than the one which the District Court has already overturned. SB292 would also entrench the role of money in politics and cost money to the State in doing so.

If SB292 is enacted with the June 1 deadline, then any number of parties adversely affected by that deadline could file a legal challenge with Fulani v. Lau as a precedent. The State of Nevada could be exposed to the costs of a legal proceeding, along with associated attorneys’ fees. The costs of responding to such a legal challenge are again indeterminate but potentially immense. Comments submitted separately to this Committee by Mr. Richard Winger discuss situations in other States where such early petition deadlines were struck down and those States were left with the expenses of the associated proceedings. To emphasize, this is not an outcome that I would wish for the State to experience in any manner; as a citizen of this State, I, too, would be adversely affected by continued needless expenditures on legal contests at a time when the State needs to devote all available resources to the economic recovery and to the genuine well-being of its residents.  This is why I urge this Committee and the Legislature more generally to refrain from proceeding with SB292 and to avert such an outcome.

Senate Bill 292 is bad policy, counterproductive in all respects, and the fiscal burdens and risks it imposes upon the State have no offsetting benefits. Indeed, Senate Bill 292 exacerbates a highly polarized political situation to the detriment even of major-party officeholders.

Senate Bill 292 would achieve the opposite of establishing a fair, level playing field for political candidates and parties.  Unfortunately, Senate Bill 292, if enacted, will only serve to exacerbate today’s political trench warfare by solidifying the bifurcation of the contemporary American body politic into two blocs that have each become increasingly monolithic and radicalized internally, and increasingly hostile toward the other, with no room between them to pursue unconventional and innovative solutions that can bridge partisan divides. This anticipated effect of SB292 is likely not anyone’s intention; however, the two-party system in the United States has a built-in downward spiral of incivility, hostility, and division which has, over the past year, crossed the line from mere acrimony into deadly riots and insurrections from extreme exponents of both sides of the partisan gulf. Any Legislator interested in stable and sensible governance should seek to avert an intensification of this scenario, and there is a vital role for a vibrant minor-party ecosystem in helping to prevent it.

How does Senate Bill 292 exacerbate political polarization? It does so by making it effectively impossible for minor political parties to even attain ballot access – in the ways described above. This bill would make it clear to voters that minor parties are not just long-shot participants but are effectively shut out of the process altogether. Thus, many people who would have otherwise given a minor party a chance would be shunted into one of the major political parties that is barely more aligned with their views than the other major political party. This would reinforce the bifurcation of America into two distinct blocs which are engaged in an ever-intensifying struggle with one another, to the detriment of any actual progress on policy and any actual solutions to the many pressing problems (including fiscal problems) facing our State, country, and world. Bifurcation of the American body politic creates an “us-versus-them” dynamic, where anyone who is not part of one’s own bloc is automatically considered to be “the enemy” and whose ideas are automatically disregarded. The record increase in independent and nonpartisan voters already shows many Americans to be disillusioned by the toxicity and acrimony that characterize the electoral tactics of the major parties and their most vocal adherents. Without minor parties for them to seek alternatives in, these Americans will either be reluctantly dragged into the deleterious fray they have always wished to avoid, or try to refrain from political participation altogether – in which case the fray will still find them, as extremists from the major parties have increasingly been demonizing conscientiously apolitical Americans as well.

The antidote to polarization is hyper-pluralism, which is precisely what a vibrant minor-party scene would facilitate. In a hyper-pluralistic body politic, there is no clear “enemy” for any constituent, because different smaller parties will align with one another on different issues; one’s adversary on one issue could be an ally on another, and so it is worthwhile to remain on at least respectful terms with everyone. It is for this reason that parliamentary democracies, which allow for proportional representation and numerous political parties competing on each ballot, are generally far less roiled by partisan strife than America’s uniquely contentious two-party system. But Nevada does not even need to adopt a parliamentary system to achieve a similar outcome; it just needs to allow minor political parties to compete on the ballots. Note that we are not even asking for the minor parties to win (which would still be difficult enough on its own), but merely to be allowed to compete!

Allowing quick, easy ballot access for minor political parties is the low-cost ­option to the State of Nevada as well. The less time and effort need to be spent validating petition signatures or enforcing restrictions, the more savings result for the State of Nevada.

Even the possibility of competition motivates both incumbent officeholders and major-party candidates to be more responsive to the needs of their constituents. Furthermore, minor parties can be fruitful repositories of ideas for major-party politicians to draw upon; the Transhumanist Party would be delighted to have any of its platform reflected in legislation advanced by major-party lawmakers. Ideas from minor parties tend to sufficiently depart from the prevailing major-party packages that they avoid triggering contentious and mutually intransigent debates about “wedge” issues and so may actually lead to solutions that most major-party policymakers are willing to entertain. Incumbents and major-party candidates can even derive much valuable campaign intelligence from election results involving minor political parties. A strong showing for a minor party indicates a set of issues that voters are interested in and that the incumbent or major-party candidate would do well to address while in office or on the campaign trail. Having a wealth of ideas from minor parties to draw upon will also improve the State of Nevada’s fiscal situation, since minor parties – which, out of necessity, have significant experience running low-budget or no-budget operations – will often develop creative ways to reduce expenditures without compromising the quality of service and benefits that the State provides to its residents.

By shutting minor parties out of viable political participation, Senate Bill 292 would only accomplish the illusion of stability for leading figures of a major political party. In reality, one cannot have a stable or tranquil political experience in a general environment marred by ideological polarization and all of its attendant ills. Depriving people of legitimate alternatives will only alienate them further and feed into the undercurrents of frustration and perceived disenfranchisement that permeate American politics today. Minor political parties are a major safety valve of American politics and can act to effectively channel dissent and discontentment into constructive avenues of mutual improvement and enhanced justice.  In the Federalist No. 10, James Madison, at the onset of the American Republic, noted that the advantage of a large representative republic is precisely in “the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest”. The American Founders, who feared precisely the scenario of two dominant factions vying for power at the citizens’ and the Republic’s expense, saw the “greater variety of parties” as an important safeguard against such an outcome. The Transhumanist Party echoes the Founders’ wisdom and would urge the Legislature to consider reforms in the opposite direction from those proposed in SB292 – namely, the elimination of all ballot-access requirements and the ability of any candidate or political party to compete fairly for office on the same terms as any other. After all, if a minor-party candidate is unpersuasive to the voters and the major-party candidates remain more popular, what is there truly for a major party to fear from allowing participation for all? But in the absence of such truly progressive reforms, we urge that the Legislature at least refrain from taking steps that would further limit electoral competition.

Removing ballot-access restrictions, rather than maximizing them, is the fiscally prudent, the consequentially best, and the morally just option. Please reject Senate Bill 292.

Sincerely,

Mr. Gennady Stolyarov II

Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party

https://transhumanist-party.org

My Path to Transhumanism and Becoming the First Transhumanist Party Member to Hold Political Office in North America – Article by Gerald Shields

My Path to Transhumanism and Becoming the First Transhumanist Party Member to Hold Political Office in North America – Article by Gerald Shields

Gerald Shields


In 2016 I changed my political party membership to Transumanist on my voter registration card. Then, I became a town councilmember of the Town of Berwyn Heights in Maryland. I served in that role from October 2016 to May 2018. I believe I am the first Transhumanist Party member to hold a political office in North America (during the time period of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s existence).

Gerald Shields at the Library of Congress in 2013. Photograph from Gerald Shields

My path to Transhumanism has been varied and interesting. I changed my voter registration for a variety of reasons. During the 2016 election cycle, I was disappointed in the various election platforms of the major parties. I thought that pushing the goal of making humanity a two-planet species was a more important goal than what was listed in those parties’ platforms. After some research for alternative parties, I discovered Mr. Zoltan Istvan’s campaign for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Mr. Istvan called for a medical Moonshot program. Even though it was not a direct step to a two-planet species, it was a step in the correct direction to long-term colonization of other stars. I contacted the campaign, and I saw that there were no campaign posters for an internet-based campaign. I realized that without visual legitimacy, the transhumanist ideas will not get much traction. A visual will look good on television, blogs, and YouTube. A visual aids in the message. I helped create campaign posters with Ms. Chelsea Gilbert. It was my idea to use vector graphics in orange and black with classic Americana political phrases to illustrate some transhumanist ideas. The idea is to tap into the Americana meme under the banner of the Transhumanist Party without causing future shock. The goal is to stir the passion of our members as discussed during the various transhumanist conversations on YouTube.

The phrases I proposed were:

“The Future is here. The Transhumanist Party.”

“We can do it….With the Transhumanist Party.”

“The Transhumanist Party builds the Future.”

“Wake up America with the Transhumanist Party.”

“Reclaim America. Join the fight for the future and the Transhumanist Party.”

During the campaign, I attended several Washington, DC, and Seattle, Washington, transhumanist meetings, during which I met Zoltan in person.

 On October 3 2016 at Berwyn Heights Town Office, Gerald Shields (left) was sworn by Mayor Jewitt (right) in an a member of the town council. Photograph from Gerald Shields

Then, as part of my political path, I was on the Town Council of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, from October 2016 to May 2018. The competition was nonpartisan between a total of three people. I filled an empty position on the Town Council, and this was done via a special appointment, not a general election. However, in normal times, this is a nonpartisan, general-election position. I believe I am the first Transhumanist  Party member to hold a political office in North America (during the time of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s existence). During the special appointment, I campaigned on a very local and non-glamorous issue of improved storm drains. Storm drains are important because, in Berwyn Heights, there was a 100-year storm that flooded the basements of several houses.  On a town or even county level, there really is no way to have a longevity Moonshot in my view.  I am a very practical and nuts-and-bolts (no transhumanist pun intended) type of person, who wants this Party to be a success.  However, when I was on the Town Council, my political portfolio was Parks & Recreation, Education, and Civic Affairs; not Public Works. I laid the foundation for the town’s policy on non-governmental organizations. During my term, Berwyn Heights achieved the title of Banner City for the first time and attained other objectives due to my efforts. At the end of my term, I achieved my Parks and Recreation goals, so I decided not to run in the election.

Right now, the public view of transhumanism is characterized by cyborgs and other scary things. We must adapt and put forth the benefits of increased medical knowledge and increased energy resources in a beneficial way while addressing the general public’s concerns. That is why I suggested to Zoltan to emphasize the Good Neighbor Next Door policy.  The Good Neighbor Next Door policy would focus on volunteering on local committees, such as Neighborhood Watch, the State Government’s official State Defense Force, Green Team, or other local small-town groups, as well as just saying “Hi” to one’s neighbors, to show that one is a normal person who cares about local matters. Also, I suggested that Zoltan post photos of himself and his kids because this would make him more relatable to other fathers. Then, as time progresses, Transhumanists who follow this approach would show that they are ready, willing, and, most importantly, able to lead in political positions.

That is my varied path to Transhumanism and becoming the first U.S. Transhumanist Party member to hold a Town Council political office.

Gerald Shields is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and was a Town Council Member in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, between October 2016 and May 2018.