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Month: March 2019

Augmented Democracy: A Radical Idea to Fix Our Broken Political System Using Artificial Intelligence – Presentation and Announcement by César Hidalgo

Augmented Democracy: A Radical Idea to Fix Our Broken Political System Using Artificial Intelligence – Presentation and Announcement by César Hidalgo

César Hidalgo


Editor’s Note: Is AI the future of politics? The U.S. Transhuman(ist) Party features this TED talk, in both English and Spanish, by César Hidalgo, Director of MIT’s Collective Learning group, where he presents the idea of Augmented Democracy – a system to automate and enhance democracy by empowering citizens to create personalized AI representatives to aid in legislative decision-making.

Mr. Hidalgo has launched a contest with cash prizes where participants are encouraged to submit proposals to explore new ways to practice democracy and direct participation in collective decision-making using AI. Below, you can find a statement from Mr. Hidalgo and a link to the contest. We encourage members of the USTP, and non-members, to look into this opportunity to participate and collaborate in building a more just future!  

                                                                                             ~ Dinorah Delfin, Director of Admissions and Public Relations, United States Transhuman(ist) Party, March 27, 2019

 


Source: TED2018 

 

Source: TED en Español

“Imagine that instead of having a (human) representative that represents you and a million of other people you can have a representative (AI) that represents only you. With your nuanced political views […] liberal on some […] and conservative on others.”   – Cesar Hidalgo

 

What I Learned a Week After Publishing a Talk about Augmented Democracy

Last week I released a talk presenting the idea of Augmented Democracy. Since then, I have been looking at people’s reactions to understand how this idea fits the larger context. Here are three things I would like to rescue:

First, the idea was received much better than I expected. I received many encouraging emails and replies. This honestly surprised me. I’ve noticed that the idea was received surprisingly well in South America and among young people. In fact, it appears that for many people, the idea of augmenting the government through data and A.I. technologies seems natural. Of course, people imagine this differently, and some are quick to paint a doomsday scenario. But I think that this is an idea that may be flying under the radar, because the people that are activated by it do not align neatly along the left-right axis of politics. As such, they do not have the shared political identity that is key to left-righters, and hence, go undetected. That may change as post-millennials come of age, and may be unexpected to many people.

Second, despite the talk receiving a large number of views, surprisingly few people visited the FAQ. This is interesting, because it leads to a funny but also important contradiction. Many critical comments were phrased as rhetorical questions of the form: “But how would you do that?!” Yet, all of the rhetorical questions I’ve seen so far were in the FAQ. What is funny here is that the talk is about the use of technologies to help people augment their cognitive capacities, by, for instance, reading text they don’t have time for. Yet, the people skeptic about the idea are also people who did not read the text. Of course, this does not mean that there are no questions missing in the FAQ (I have many of these), what it means is that, in the comments I’ve seen, I’ve yet to encounter a question that was not in the FAQ.

Third, going forward my focus–on this front–will be on the Augmented Democracy prize. What I want to do next, is to encourage people to imagine future users interfaces and systems of technologically augmented democracy. For that, I am giving up to USD 20,000 in prizes. If I get less than 100 proposals, I will give away two team prizes of 4,000 USD and two individual prizes of USD 1,000. If I receive more than 100 proposals I will open two more teams and two more individual prizes. So in the next days, I will start sharing links directly to the prize page. If you know of students, creatives, designers, artists, scientists, and writers, please help me share the prize-related posts.

Thanks!

 

 

3 Reasons Why “Ending Suffering” Should Be the #1 Transhumanist Priority – Article by Hank Pellissier

3 Reasons Why “Ending Suffering” Should Be the #1 Transhumanist Priority – Article by Hank Pellissier

Hank Pellissier


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party features this proposal by our member Hank Pellissier for a new website called Paradise2040, which will focus on the abolition of involuntary suffering and incremental ways of getting there within the next 21 years. This is an endeavor supported by Article IV of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 3.0. It is also a current within transhumanist thinking that, as Mr. Pellissier points out, could bring additional support to the movement. Different transhumanists will have different views as to what the most important aims of transhumanism should be. As an organization that embraces pluralism and diversity of thought, the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party would encourage any of our members who agree with the direction Mr. Pellissier proposes to collaborate with him on the creation of the Paradise2040 website.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, March 25, 2019


A survey I conducted in 2010 of 818 transhumanists identified “brain enhancement” as the #1 priority, with “maximizing” health and life extension as #2 and #3.  The top three “values” of the U.S. Transhumanist Party (the Core Ideals) are #1) Life Extension, #2) “a cultural, societal, and political atmosphere informed and animated by reason, science, and secular values”, and #3) “to reduce and eliminate existential risks.”

I believe all these ambitions are important, but over-rated and mis-placed. My opinion, after ten years as a transhumanist, is this: the #1 goal of H+ should be the Abolition of Suffering. My view is advocated by multiple transhumanists, notably David Pearce, but… we’re in the minority.

Here’s three reasons why Abolition of Suffering deserves top consideration:

#1: Eternal Pain = Torture. It is shallow-thinking to not recognize super-longevity in a state of pain as undesirable; in fact, it is masochistic/sadistic. Ask yourself this: would you rather live 60 years in a state of bliss, joy, love, ecstasy, or at least moderate happiness, than exist for 120 years in pain, fear, anguish, despair, and horror? Quality of life is far more important than quantity, IMO.

I have three friends who suffer from depression. When I talk about “ending death”, they sigh forlornly and admit that they are “ready to die”, “sick to death of themselves”, and “have been punished by life long enough.” These people don’t want or need additional decades of misery, they need “happy days” as soon as possible. Hundreds of millions of humans live with chronic physical, mental, and emotional pain, and even the rest of us would appreciate higher doses of joy.

#2: Marketing “Ending Pain” sells better than “Ending Death.” When I tell acquaintances I’m a transhumanist and our #1 goal is elimination of death, they usually roll their eyes and dismiss me as a death-phobic weirdo. Sure, we can castigate these critics with the “Deathist” slur, but it is a superior strategy, I believe, to find common ground. Informing folks that the primary ambition of transhumanists is to elevate human happiness advertises us as charity-givers of cheerfulness, humanitarians of happiness, altruists of euphoria. Instead of billing ourselves as Slayers of the horrible Grim Reaper, we can offer ecstasy, contentment, increased friendship networks, psychedelic discoveries, purpose in life, etc. Recruitment will skyrocket!

#3: “Abolition of Suffering” is more Inclusive. Teenagers usually aren’t nervous about death, but they’re anxious about depression, body shame, bullying, and disempowerment, and don’t like their elders groaning and moaning in anguish. Religionists believe death opens a gate to heaven, but they experience the same pain from auto accidents, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s as atheists do, and they’re on board with extinguishing this.

My activist plan to end suffering is to launch a website called Paradise2040 – to promote cessation of suffering in the next 21 years.  The website will be ‘practical’ but fun and imaginative; it will list dozens of pains from hangnails to herpes to homelessness with links to research-supported cures and potential futurist remedies.

If anyone wants to help – contact hankpellissier@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

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.