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Review of Ray Kurzweil’s “How to Create a Mind” – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

Review of Ray Kurzweil’s “How to Create a Mind” – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II

How to Create a Mind (2012) by inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil sets forth a case for engineering minds that are able to emulate the complexity of human thought (and exceed it) without the need to reverse-engineer every detail of the human brain or of the plethora of content with which the brain operates. Kurzweil persuasively describes the human conscious mind as based on hierarchies of pattern-recognition algorithms which, even when based on relatively simple rules and heuristics, combine to give rise to the extremely sophisticated emergent properties of conscious awareness and reasoning about the world. How to Create a Mind takes readers through an integrated tour of key historical advances in computer science, physics, mathematics, and neuroscience – among other disciplines – and describes the incremental evolution of computers and artificial-intelligence algorithms toward increasing capabilities – leading toward the not-too-distant future (the late 2020s, according to Kurzweil) during which computers would be able to emulate human minds.

Kurzweil’s fundamental claim is that there is nothing which a biological mind is able to do, of which an artificial mind would be incapable in principle, and that those who posit that the extreme complexity of biological minds is insurmountable are missing the metaphorical forest for the trees. Analogously, although a fractal or a procedurally generated world may be extraordinarily intricate and complex in their details, they can arise on the basis of carrying out simple and conceptually fathomable rules. If appropriate rules are used to construct a system that takes in information about the world and processes and analyzes it in ways conceptually analogous to a human mind, Kurzweil holds that the rest is a matter of having adequate computational and other information-technology resources to carry out the implementation. Much of the first half of the book is devoted to the workings of the human mind, the functions of the various parts of the brain, and the hierarchical pattern recognition in which they engage. Kurzweil also discusses existing “narrow” artificial-intelligence systems, such as IBM’s Watson, language-translation programs, and the mobile-phone “assistants” that have been released in recent years by companies such as Apple and Google. Kurzweil observes that, thus far, the most effective AIs have been developed using a combination of approaches, having some aspects of prescribed rule-following alongside the ability to engage in open-ended “learning” and extrapolation upon the information which they encounter. Kurzweil draws parallels to the more creative or even “transcendent” human abilities – such as those of musical prodigies – and observes that the manner in which those abilities are made possible is not too dissimilar in principle.

With regard to some of Kurzweil’s characterizations, however, I question whether they are universally applicable to all human minds – particularly where he mentions certain limitations – or whether they only pertain to some observed subset of human minds. For instance, Kurzweil describes the ostensible impossibility of reciting the English alphabet backwards without error (absent explicit study of the reverse order), because of the sequential nature in which memories are formed. Yet, upon reading the passage in question, I was able to recite the alphabet backwards without error upon my first attempt. It is true that this occurred more slowly than the forward recitation, but I am aware of why I was able to do it; I perceive larger conceptual structures or bodies of knowledge as mental “objects” of a sort – and these objects possess “landscapes” on which it is possible to move in various directions; the memory is not “hard-coded” in a particular sequence. One particular order of movement does not preclude others, even if those others are less familiar – but the key to successfully reciting the alphabet backwards is to hold it in one’s awareness as a single mental object and move along its “landscape” in the desired direction. (I once memorized how to pronounce ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ as a single continuous word; any other order is slower, but it is quite doable as long as one fully knows the contents of the “object” and keeps it in focus.) This is also possible to do with other bodies of knowledge that one encounters frequently – such as dates of historical events: one visualizes them along the mental object of a timeline, visualizes the entire object, and then moves along it or drops in at various points using whatever sequences are necessary to draw comparisons or identify parallels (e.g., which events happened contemporaneously, or which events influenced which others). I do not know what fraction of the human population carries out these techniques – as the ability to recall facts and dates has always seemed rather straightforward to me, even as it challenged many others. Yet there is no reason why the approaches for more flexible operation with common elements of our awareness cannot be taught to large numbers of people, as these techniques are a matter of how the mind chooses to process, model, and ultimately recombine the data which it encounters. The more general point in relation to Kurzweil’s characterization of human minds is that there may be a greater diversity of human conceptual frameworks and approaches toward cognition than Kurzweil has described. Can an artificially intelligent system be devised to encompass this diversity? This is certainly possible, since the architecture of AI systems would be more flexible than the biological structures of the human brain. Yet it would be necessary for true artificial general intelligences to be able not only to learn using particular predetermined methods, but also to teach themselves new techniques for learning and conceptualization altogether – just as humans are capable of today.

The latter portion of the book is more explicitly philosophical and devoted to thought experiments regarding the nature of the mind, consciousness, identity, free will, and the kinds of transformations that may or may not preserve identity. Many of these discussions are fascinating and erudite – and Kurzweil often transcends fashionable dogmas by bringing in perspectives such as the compatibilist case for free will and the idea that the experiments performed by Benjamin Libet (that showed the existence of certain signals in the brain prior to the conscious decision to perform an activity) do not rule out free will or human agency. It is possible to conceive of such signals as “preparatory work” within the brain to present a decision that could then be accepted or rejected by the conscious mind. Kurzweil draws an analogy to government officials preparing a course of action for the president to either approve or disapprove. “Since the ‘brain’ represented by this analogy involves the unconscious processes of the neocortex (that is, the officials under the president) as well as the conscious processes (the president), we would see neural activity as well as actual actions taking place prior to the official decision’s being made” (p. 231). Kurzweil’s thoughtfulness is an important antidote to commonplace glib assertions that “Experiment X proved that Y [some regularly experienced attribute of humans] is an illusion” – assertions which frequently tend toward cynicism and nihilism if widely adopted and extrapolated upon. It is far more productive to deploy both science and philosophy toward seeking to understand more directly apparent phenomena of human awareness, sensation, and decision-making – instead of rejecting the existence of such phenomena contrary to the evidence of direct experience. Especially if the task is to engineer a mind that has at least the faculties of the human brain, then Kurzweil is wise not to dismiss aspects such as consciousness, free will, and the more elevated emotions, which have been known to philosophers and ordinary people for millennia, and which only predominantly in the 20th century has it become fashionable to disparage in some circles. Kurzweil’s only vulnerability in this area is that he often resorts to statements that he accepts the existence of these aspects “on faith” (although it does not appear to be a particularly religious faith; it is, rather, more analogous to “leaps of faith” in the sense that Albert Einstein referred to them). Kurzweil does not need to do this, as he himself outlines sufficient logical arguments to be able to rationally conclude that attributes such as awareness, free will, and agency upon the world – which have been recognized across predominant historical and colloquial understandings, irrespective of particular religious or philosophical flavors – indeed actually exist and should not be neglected when modeling the human mind or developing artificial minds.

One of the thought experiments presented by Kurzweil is vital to consider, because the process by which an individual’s mind and body might become “upgraded” through future technologies would determine whether that individual is actually preserved – in terms of the aspects of that individual that enable one to conclude that that particular person, and not merely a copy, is still alive and conscious:

Consider this thought experiment: You are in the future with technologies more advanced than today’s. While you are sleeping, some group scans your brain and picks up every salient detail. Perhaps they do this with blood-cell-sized scanning machines traveling in the capillaries of your brain or with some other suitable noninvasive technology, but they have all of the information about your brain at a particular point in time. They also pick up and record any bodily details that might reflect on your state of mind, such as the endocrine system. They instantiate this “mind file” in a morphological body that looks and moves like you and has the requisite subtlety and suppleness to pass for you. In the morning you are informed about this transfer and you watch (perhaps without being noticed) your mind clone, whom we’ll call You 2. You 2 is talking about his or he life as if s/he were you, and relating how s/he discovered that very morning that s/he had been given a much more durable new version 2.0 body. […] The first question to consider is: Is You 2 conscious? Well, s/he certainly seems to be. S/he passes the test I articulated earlier, in that s/he has the subtle cues of becoming a feeling, conscious person. If you are conscious, then so too is You 2.

So if you were to, uh, disappear, no one would notice. You 2 would go around claiming to be you. All of your friends and loved ones would be content with the situation and perhaps pleased that you now have a more durable body and mental substrate than you used to have. Perhaps your more philosophically minded friends would express concerns, but for the most party, everybody would be happy, including you, or at least the person who is convincingly claiming to be you.

So we don’t need your old body and brain anymore, right? Okay if we dispose of it?

You’re probably not going to go along with this. I indicated that the scan was noninvasive, so you are still around and still conscious. Moreover your sense of identity is still with you, not with You 2, even though You 2 thinks s/he is a continuation of you. You 2 might not even be aware that you exist or ever existed. In fact you would not be aware of the existence of You 2 either, if we hadn’t told you about it.

Our conclusion? You 2 is conscious but is a different person than you – You 2 has a different identity. S/he is extremely similar, much more so than a mere genetic clone, because s/he also shares all of your neocortical patterns and connections. Or should I say s/he shared those patterns at the moment s/he was created. At that point, the two of you started to go your own ways, neocortically speaking. You are still around. You are not having the same experiences as You 2. Bottom line: You 2 is not you.  (How to Create a Mind, pp. 243-244)

This thought experiment is essentially the same one as I independently posited in my 2010 essay “How Can I Live Forever?: What Does and Does Not Preserve the Self”:

Consider what would happen if a scientist discovered a way to reconstruct, atom by atom, an identical copy of my body, with all of its physical structures and their interrelationships exactly replicating my present condition. If, thereafter, I continued to exist alongside this new individual – call him GSII-2 – it would be clear that he and I would not be the same person. While he would have memories of my past as I experienced it, if he chose to recall those memories, I would not be experiencing his recollection. Moreover, going forward, he would be able to think different thoughts and undertake different actions than the ones I might choose to pursue. I would not be able to directly experience whatever he choose to experience (or experiences involuntarily). He would not have my ‘I-ness’ – which would remain mine only.

Thus, Kurzweil and I agree, at least preliminarily, that an identically constructed copy of oneself does not somehow obtain the identity of the original. Kurzweil and I also agree that a sufficiently gradual replacement of an individual’s cells and perhaps other larger functional units of the organism, including a replacement with non-biological components that are integrated into the body’s processes, would not destroy an individual’s identity (assuming it can be done without collateral damage to other components of the body). Then, however, Kurzweil posits the scenario where one, over time, transforms into an entity that is materially identical to the “You 2” as posited above. He writes:

But we come back to the dilemma I introduced earlier. You, after a period of gradual replacement, are equivalent to You 2 in the scan-and-instantiate scenario, but we decided that You 2 in that scenario does not have the same identity as you. So where does that leave us? (How to Create a Mind, p. 247)

Kurzweil and I are still in agreement that “You 2” in the gradual-replacement scenario could legitimately be a continuation of “You” – but our views diverge when Kurzweil states, “My resolution of the dilemma is this: It is not true that You 2 is not you – it is you. It is just that there are now two of you. That’s not so bad – if you think you are a good thing, then two of you is even better” (p. 247). I disagree. If I (via a continuation of my present vantage point) cannot have the direct, immediate experiences and sensations of GSII-2, then GSII-2 is not me, but rather an individual with a high degree of similarity to me, but with a separate vantage point and separate physical processes, including consciousness. I might not mind the existence of GSII-2 per se, but I would mind if that existence were posited as a sufficient reason to be comfortable with my present instantiation ceasing to exist.  Although Kurzweil correctly reasons through many of the initial hypotheses and intermediate steps leading from them, he ultimately arrives at a “pattern” view of identity, with which I differ. I hold, rather, a “process” view of identity, where a person’s “I-ness” remains the same if “the continuity of bodily processes is preserved even as their physical components are constantly circulating into and out of the body. The mind is essentially a process made possible by the interactions of the brain and the remainder of nervous system with the rest of the body. One’s ‘I-ness’, being a product of the mind, is therefore reliant on the physical continuity of bodily processes, though not necessarily an unbroken continuity of higher consciousness.” (“How Can I Live Forever?: What Does and Does Not Preserve the Self”) If only a pattern of one’s mind were preserved and re-instantiated, the result may be potentially indistinguishable from the original person to an external observer, but the original individual would not directly experience the re-instantiation. It is not the content of one’s experiences or personality that is definitive of “I-ness” – but rather the more basic fact that one experiences anything as oneself and not from the vantage point of another individual; this requires the same bodily processes that give rise to the conscious mind to operate without complete interruption. (The extent of permissible partial interruption is difficult to determine precisely and open to debate; general anesthesia is not sufficient to disrupt I-ness, but what about cryonics or shorter-term “suspended animation?). For this reason, the pursuit of biological life extension of one’s present organism remains crucial; one cannot rely merely on one’s “mindfile” being re-instantiated in a hypothetical future after one’s demise. The future of medical care and life extension may certainly involve non-biological enhancements and upgrades, but in the context of augmenting an existing organism, not disposing of that organism.

How to Create a Mind is highly informative for artificial-intelligence researchers and laypersons alike, and it merits revisiting a reference for useful ideas regarding how (at least some) minds operate. It facilitates thoughtful consideration of both the practical methods and more fundamental philosophical implications of the quest to improve the flexibility and autonomy with which our technologies interact with the external world and augment our capabilities. At the same time, as Kurzweil acknowledges, those technologies often lead us to “outsource” many of our own functions to them – as is the case, for instance, with vast amounts of human memories and creations residing on smartphones and in the “cloud”. If the timeframes of arrival of human-like AI capabilities match those described by Kurzweil in his characterization of the “law of accelerating returns”, then questions regarding what constitutes a mind sufficiently like our own – and how we will treat those minds – will become ever more salient in the proximate future. It is important, however, for interest in advancing this field to become more widespread, and for political, cultural, and attitudinal barriers to its advancement to be lifted – for, unlike Kurzweil, I do not consider the advances of technology to be inevitable or unstoppable. We humans maintain the responsibility of persuading enough other humans that the pursuit of these advances is worthwhile and will greatly improve the length and quality of our lives, while enhancing our capabilities and attainable outcomes. Every movement along an exponential growth curve is due to a deliberate push upward by the efforts of the minds of the creators of progress and using the machines they have built.

Gennady Stolyarov II is Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party. Learn more about Mr. Stolyarov here

This article is made available pursuant to the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author, Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II). 

Sophia the Humanoid Robot Wants to Meet You at RAADfest – Video by Hanson Robotics

Sophia the Humanoid Robot Wants to Meet You at RAADfest – Video by Hanson Robotics


Hanson Robotics
Coalition for Radical Life Extension

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party encourages our members to attend RAAD Fest 2018, where we will have our own conference room, and technological marvels such as Sophia the Robot, as well the visionaries who make these technological advances possible, will be present. Over the coming weeks we hope to offer other videos highlighting some of the key features of this unique gathering in furtherance of the Revolution Against Aging and Death.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, August 10, 2018

Message from the Coalition for Radical Life Extension:

Meet Sophia, the latest robot from Hanson Robotics. She will be attending (and performing!) at RAADfest 2018.

Sophia was created using breakthrough robotics and artificial intelligence technologies developed by David Hanson, Dr. Ben Goertzel and their friends at Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong; and is being used as a platform for blockchain-based AI development by SingularityNET Foundation.

RAADfest is the largest event in the world where practical and cutting-edge methods to reverse aging are presented for all interest levels, from beginner to expert.

RAADfest is organized by the non-profit Coalition for Radical Life Extension.

-More about RAADfest:

-More about the Coalition for Radical Life Extension:

-More about Sophia:

-More about Hanson Robotics:

Fourth Enlightenment Salon – Political Segment: Discussion on Artificial Intelligence in Politics, Voting Systems, and Democracy

Fourth Enlightenment Salon – Political Segment: Discussion on Artificial Intelligence in Politics, Voting Systems, and Democracy


Gennady Stolyarov II
Bill Andrews
Bobby Ridge
John Murrieta

This is the third and final video segment from Mr. Stolyarov’s Fourth Enlightenment Salon.

Watch the first segment here.

Watch the second segment here.

On July 8, 2018, during his Fourth Enlightenment Salon, Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, invited John Murrieta, Bobby Ridge, and Dr. Bill Andrews for an extensive discussion about transhumanist advocacy, science, health, politics, and related subjects.

Topics discussed during this installment include the following:

• What is the desired role of artificial intelligence in politics?
• Are democracy and transhumanism compatible?
• What are the ways in which voting and political decision-making can be improved relative to today’s disastrous two-party system?
• What are the policy implications of the development of artificial intelligence and its impact on the economy?
• What are the areas of life that need to be separated and protected from politics altogether?


Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside by filling out an application form that takes less than a minute. Members will also receive a link to a free compilation of Tips for Advancing a Brighter Future, providing insights from the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Advisors and Officers on some of what you can do as an individual do to improve the world and bring it closer to the kind of future we wish to see.


Andrew Yang, Dreams, and Tacos – Meeting with the Technoprogressive 2020 Presidential Candidate – Article by Keith Yu

Andrew Yang, Dreams, and Tacos – Meeting with the Technoprogressive 2020 Presidential Candidate – Article by Keith Yu

logo_bgKeith Yu

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by Keith Yu as part of its ongoing integration with the Transhuman Party. This article was originally published on the Transhuman Party website on June 1, 2018, and discusses Mr. Yu’s experiences meeting with Democratic technoprogressive Presidential candidate Andrew Yang. The U.S. Transhumanist Party has not endorsed Andrew Yang as of this publication and would not endorse a candidate running for either of the major U.S. political parties, but we do consider our website  to be a place where members can discuss political issues and candidates relevant to transhumanism from a multiplicity of viewpoints so as to encourage conversations about desirable policies as well as which candidate(s) the U.S. Transhumanist Party  could consider endorsing for the 2020 election season. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 29, 2018

I walk into the back room of the San Francisco Mission district’s Tacolicious Wednesday evening with a purpose. I am here for a meet and greet with 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang and I am armed – with questions. Questions derived from the past few months researching this man whose values seem to so naturally align with my own. Questions from myself as well as from the Transhumanist community at large.

Andrew greets me with a warm smile and a hand. Keith Yu, I introduce myself, of the Transhuman Party. He is interested, but inquisitive, and asks me what Transhumanism is about. I tell him that we envision a future-proofed human race that will thrive as we head towards the future.

“Would you call me a Transhumanist?” he asks. But I think this is something that he needs to decide for himself. He is, however, definitively technoprogressive. The primary plank on his platform, his “Freedom Dividend” (named thus, he jokes, because it tested well with people on all sides of the political spectrum) of $1000 a month to all adult citizens, is a direct response to the job losses caused by automation, now, and in the near future. Indeed, the reason for his bid for presidency is due to the lack of a plan to address these concerns in DC. “I will become the plan,” he says. Beyond the Freedom Dividend, many of his other policy positions put an emphasis on investing in technology and especially, understanding technology’s effects on people – a cautious optimist, as far as technology is concerned.

People filter in slowly, most giving Andrew hugs, a few, handshakes. Most attendees of this small gathering, it seems, are friends. Servers wander around and between mingling groups, ceviche tostadas and bruschetta at the ready. A margarita bar sits in the corner of the room, and specialty tacos adorn a table along the wall. We are soon gathered in a semicircle around the room as Andrew takes the stage.

He gestures to the screen behind him and an introduction video begins to play.

Andrew speaks at length about his universal basic income (UBI) policy as well as his slogan, “Humanity First”, and how it translates into his policy platform. Andrew plans to change the way America measures its progress by adopting such measurements as childhood success, median wealth, incarceration rates, and more, on top of the existing measurements of GDP and job statistics. He also plans to implement a system of digital-social currency for “doing good things that normally don’t have dollar values”, such as volunteering for one’s community or starting a book club. The credits can then be used redeem discounts or experiences in much the same way that credit card points are used. He believes that this credit system will help improve social cohesion and increase civic engagement.

But I have seen all of this before on his website and have even explored it in another article. I came here for a purpose, and as the floor is opened up for questions, I seize my chance.

“What are your views on longevity research?” I ask.

Andrew Yang responds. He is supportive of longevity research, but believes that it does not need much public support. Citing the efforts of Silicon Valley elites, he asserts that private interests will support longevity research naturally.

“And what are your views on the regulations around illegal and controlled substances for the purpose of research?”

Andrew initially misunderstands this question as a question about marijuana (which he supports for recreational and therapeutic use). Having botched the question initially, I follow up with him afterwards, mentioning the difficulty that researchers run into with the National Institute on Drug Abuse when trying to acquire controlled substances for their research. He tells me that he is very much supportive of research and is strongly against blanket criminalizations.

With the questions that I had come to ask out of the way, I wander over to the bar in the corner of the room and grab a margarita.

Mission complete.

Keith Yu is a Bay Area-based research scientist working within the biotech industry.

Review of Frank Pasquale’s “A Rule of Persons, Not Machines: The Limits of Legal Automation” – Article by Adam Alonzi

Review of Frank Pasquale’s “A Rule of Persons, Not Machines: The Limits of Legal Automation” – Article by Adam Alonzi


Adam Alonzi

From the beginning Frank Pasquale, author of The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information, contends in his new paper “A Rule of Persons, Not Machines: The Limits of Legal Automation” that software, given its brittleness, is not designed to deal with the complexities of taking a case through court and establishing a verdict. As he understands it, an AI cannot deviate far from the rules laid down by its creator. This assumption, which is not even quite right at the present time, only slightly tinges an otherwise erudite, sincere, and balanced coverage of the topic. He does not show much faith in the use of past cases to create datasets for the next generation of paralegals, automated legal services, and, in the more distant future, lawyers and jurists.

Lawrence Zelanik has noted that when taxes were filed entirely on paper, provisions were limited to avoid unreasonably imposing irksome nuances on the average person. Tax-return software has eliminated this “complexity constraint.” He goes on to state that without this the laws, and the software that interprets it, are akin to a “black box” for those who must abide by them. William Gale has said taxes could be easily computed for “non-itemizers.” In other words, the government could use information it already has to present a “bill” to this class of taxpayers, saving time and money for all parties involved. However, simplification does not always align with everyone’s interests. TurboTax’s business, which is built entirely on helping ordinary people navigate the labyrinth is the American federal income tax, noticed a threat to its business model. This prompted it to put together a grassroots campaign to fight such measures. More than just another example of a business protecting its interests, it is an ominous foreshadowing of an escalation scenario that will transpire in many areas if and when legal AI becomes sufficiently advanced.  

Pasquale writes: “Technologists cannot assume that computational solutions to one problem will not affect the scope and nature of that problem. Instead, as technology enters fields, problems change, as various parties seek to either entrench or disrupt aspects of the present situation for their own advantage.”

What he is referring to here, in everything but name, is an arms race. The vastly superior computational powers of robot lawyers may make the already perverse incentive to make ever more Byzantine rules ever more attractive to bureaucracies and lawyers. The concern is that the clauses and dependencies hidden within contracts will quickly explode, making them far too detailed even for professionals to make sense of in a reasonable amount of time. Given that this sort of software may become a necessary accoutrement in most or all legal matters means that the demand for it, or for professionals with access to it, will expand greatly at the expense of those who are unwilling or unable to adopt it. This, though Pasquale only hints at it, may lead to greater imbalances in socioeconomic power. On the other hand, he does not consider the possibility of bottom-up open-source (or state-led) efforts to create synthetic public defenders. While this may seem idealistic, it is fairly clear that the open-source model can compete with and, in some areas, outperform proprietary competitors.

It is not unlikely that within subdomains of law that an array of arms races can and will arise between synthetic intelligences. If a lawyer knows its client is guilty, should it squeal? This will change the way jurisprudence works in many countries, but it would seem unwise to program any robot to knowingly lie about whether a crime, particularly a serious one, has been committed – including by omission. If it is fighting against a punishment it deems overly harsh for a given crime, for trespassing to get a closer look at a rabid raccoon or unintentional jaywalking, should it maintain its client’s innocence as a means to an end? A moral consequentialist, seeing no harm was done (or in some instances, could possibly have been done), may persist in pleading innocent. A synthetic lawyer may be more pragmatic than deontological, but it is not entirely correct, and certainly shortsighted, to (mis)characterize AI as only capable of blindly following a set of instructions, like a Fortran program made to compute the nth member of the Fibonacci series.

Human courts are rife with biases: judges give more lenient sentences after taking a lunch break (65% more likely to grant parole – nothing to spit at), attractive defendants are viewed favorably by unwashed juries and trained jurists alike, and the prejudices of all kinds exist against various “out” groups, which can tip the scales in favor of a guilty verdict or to harsher sentences. Why then would someone have an aversion to the introduction of AI into a system that is clearly ruled, in part, by the quirks of human psychology?  

DoNotPay is an an app that helps drivers fight parking tickets. It allows drivers with legitimate medical emergencies to gain exemptions. So, as Pasquale says, not only will traffic management be automated, but so will appeals. However, as he cautions, a flesh-and-blood lawyer takes responsibility for bad advice. The DoNotPay not only fails to take responsibility, but “holds its client responsible for when its proprietor is harmed by the interaction.” There is little reason to think machines would do a worse job of adhering to privacy guidelines than human beings unless, as mentioned in the example of a machine ratting on its client, there is some overriding principle that would compel them to divulge the information to protect several people from harm if their diagnosis in some way makes them as a danger in their personal or professional life. Is the client responsible for the mistakes of the robot it has hired? Should the blame not fall upon the firm who has provided the service?

Making a blockchain that could handle the demands of processing purchases and sales, one that takes into account all the relevant variables to make expert judgements on a matter, is no small task. As the infamous disagreement over the meaning of the word “chicken” in Frigaliment v. B.N.S International Sales Group illustrates, the definitions of what anything is can be a bit puzzling. The need to maintain a decent reputation to maintain sales is a strong incentive against knowingly cheating customers, but although cheating tends to be the exception for this reason, it is still necessary to protect against it. As one official on the  Commodity Futures Trading Commission put it, “where a smart contract’s conditions depend upon real-world data (e.g., the price of a commodity future at a given time), agreed-upon outside systems, called oracles, can be developed to monitor and verify prices, performance, or other real-world events.”  

Pasquale cites the SEC’s decision to force providers of asset-backed securities to file “downloadable source code in Python.” AmeriCredit responded by saying it  “should not be forced to predict and therefore program every possible slight iteration of all waterfall payments” because its business is “automobile loans, not software development.” AmeriTrade does not seem to be familiar with machine learning. There is a case for making all financial transactions and agreements explicit on an immutable platform like blockchain. There is also a case for making all such code open source, ready to be scrutinized by those with the talents to do so or, in the near future, by those with access to software that can quickly turn it into plain English, Spanish, Mandarin, Bantu, Etruscan, etc.

During the fallout of the 2008 crisis, some homeowners noticed the entities on their foreclosure paperwork did not match the paperwork they received when their mortgages were sold to a trust. According to Dayen (2010) many banks did not fill out the paperwork at all. This seems to be a rather forceful argument in favor of the incorporation of synthetic agents into law practices. Like many futurists Pasquale foresees an increase in “complementary automation.” The cooperation of chess engines with humans can still trounce the best AI out there. This is a commonly cited example of how two (very different) heads are better than one.  Yet going to a lawyer is not like visiting a tailor. People, including fairly delusional ones, know if their clothes fit. Yet they do not know whether they’ve received expert counsel or not – although, the outcome of the case might give them a hint.

Pasquale concludes his paper by asserting that “the rule of law entails a system of social relationships and legitimate governance, not simply the transfer and evaluation of information about behavior.” This is closely related to the doubts expressed at the beginning of the piece about the usefulness of data sets in training legal AI. He then states that those in the legal profession must handle “intractable conflicts of values that repeatedly require thoughtful discretion and negotiation.” This appears to be the legal equivalent of epistemological mysterianism. It stands on still shakier ground than its analogue because it is clear that laws are, or should be, rooted in some set of criteria agreed upon by the members of a given jurisdiction. Shouldn’t the rulings of law makers and the values that inform them be at least partially quantifiable? There are efforts, like EthicsNet, which are trying to prepare datasets and criteria to feed machines in the future (because they will certainly have to be fed by someone!).  There is no doubt that the human touch in law will not be supplanted soon, but the question is whether our intuition should be exalted as guarantee of fairness or a hindrance to moving beyond a legal system bogged down by the baggage of human foibles.

Adam Alonzi is a writer, biotechnologist, documentary maker, futurist, inventor, programmer, and author of the novels A Plank in Reason and Praying for Death: A Zombie Apocalypse. He is an analyst for the Millennium Project, the Head Media Director for BioViva Sciences, and Editor-in-Chief of Radical Science News. Listen to his podcasts here. Read his blog here.

Andrew Yang: 2020 Presidential Candidate with Transhumanist Values – Article by Keith Yu

Andrew Yang: 2020 Presidential Candidate with Transhumanist Values – Article by Keith Yu

logo_bgKeith Yu

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by Keith Yu as part of its ongoing integration with the Transhuman Party. This article was originally published on the Transhuman Party website on March 24, 2018, and discusses Mr. Yu’s perspectives on Andrew Yang’s candidacy. The U.S. Transhumanist Party has not endorsed Andrew Yang as of this publication and would not endorse a candidate running for either of the major U.S. political parties, but we do consider our website  to be a place where members can discuss political issues and candidates relevant to transhumanism from a multiplicity of viewpoints so as to encourage conversations about desirable policies as well as which candidate(s) the U.S. Transhumanist Party  could consider endorsing for the 2020 election season. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 29, 2018

“Let’s Put Humanity First” is the slogan for 2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang. As an entrepreneur and businessman, Yang deeply understands the threat that new technologies – robotics, software, artificial intelligence – have on many Americans. With millions of jobs already lost to automation and millions more on the line, Yang wants to put Humanity First by directing these new technologies towards improving human welfare, rather than towards the pure business goal of maximizing profit.

Although he has not identified himself as a transhumanist, Yang’s policy positions strongly identify with technoprogressive Transhumanism. As such, I – as a member of the Transhuman Party – am promoting Andrew Yang for consideration as a potential transhumanist candidate for the 2020 Presidential election.

Andrew Yang

“Andrew’s Big Three Policies”

Yang’s top three policies are all related to improving the human condition. However, the one that he emphasizes as the most important is his “Freedom Dividend”, a form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) of $1000/month for every American adult between 18 and 64, independent of work status or any other factor. This would be paid for by consolidating existing welfare programs as well as by adding a “value-added” tax on goods and services produced by businesses. The Freedom Dividend is a direct response to the onset of automation and the massive job loss that is occuring as a result. By providing UBI of $1000/month to every American adult, Yang hopes to immediately improve every citizen’s quality of living, directly combat poverty, and mitigate the effects of job loss caused by automation.

The second of Yang’s “big three policies” is single-payer healthcare in addition to changing the healthcare landscape as a whole. He sums up the rationale behind his position: “By providing holistic healthcare to all our citizens, we’ll drastically increase the average quality of life, extend life expectancies, and treat issues that often go untreated. We’ll also be able to bring costs under control and outcomes up, as most other industrialized nations have.” In addition to increasing access to preventative care and thereby lowering overall healthcare costs, Yang plans to emphasize “holistic” medicine, which recognizes the importance of mental health in addition to physical health. He also plans to change the doctor compensation model from  the pay-per-service to salaried, disincentivizing such practices as ordering redundant tests and “churn[ing] through patient after patient”, and incentivizing innovative treatment methods and methodologies, such as the use of AI-supplemented college or Master’s program graduates as a new class of healthcare provider.

The last of the “big three policies” is a refocusing of our capitalist system in a movement Yang calls “Human Capitalism”, wherein the economy will be directed to work for humans, rather than the other way around. In action, this means that an airline would no longer be able to kick someone off of their flight because a last minute customer is paying more money, and drug companies would not be able to charge extortionate prices for life saving drugs because their patients are desperate. To manage Human Capitalism, Yang plans for the government to adopt such measurements as median income, life expectancy, average physical fitness and mental health, environmental quality, informational integrity (“fake news”), public safety, and many more in addition to the GDP and job statistics that we have today.

Other Policies

In addition to his big three policies, Andrew Yang’s platform consists of a deluge of other Transhumanist and technoprogressive positions.

Regarding technology, Yang writes, “Technological innovation shouldn’t be stopped, but it should be monitored and analyzed to make sure we don’t move past a point of no return. This will require cooperation between the government and private industry to ensure that developing technologies can continue to improve our lives without destroying them.” To do this, Yang plans to create an executive Department of Technology to monitor developments, assess risks, and create guidance. Initially, this department would focus on AI, moving on to other technologies as they develop. Yang would also work to understand the effects of emerging technologies on human health and behavior, such as in the case of the widespread adoption of smartphones. In addition, Yang plans to invest in modern infrastructure such as fiber-optic high speed internet, to support net neutrality, and to increase competition between internet providers.

Yang believes in improving the American education system by increasing teacher salary, hiring standards, and quality expectations, and by incentivizing teachers to continually improve. He also supports life-skills education, such as financial planning, physical fitness and healthy meal prep, interview skills, conflict management, and time management. He would control the costs of higher education, including reducing the price of community college classes, and promote vocational education. These changes would be funded by reducing the number of administrative layers currently in our education system.

To mitigate the effects of anthropogenic climate change, Yang plans to to regulate fossil fuels and support sustainable infrastructure in addition to investing in technologies that reverse the damage already done, such as carbon capture and geoengineering. He believes that nuclear energy can act as a sort of stepping stone energy source between fossil fuels and truly sustainable energy production.

As once-futuristic technologies become the norm, Yang takes a technoprogressive approach to monitoring developments and assessing risks. In a time when automation-caused job loss and disruption is already occurring at a rapid pace, with no sign of slowing down, 2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang believes that we should invest in a future where humans, rather than dollars, are the most valuable asset in our economy.

Keith Yu is a Bay Area-based research scientist working within the biotech industry.
Beginners’ Explanation of Transhumanism – Bobby Ridge and Gennady Stolyarov II

Beginners’ Explanation of Transhumanism – Bobby Ridge and Gennady Stolyarov II


Bobby Ridge
Gennady Stolyarov II

Bobby Ridge, Secretary-Treasurer of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, and Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, provide a broad “big-picture” overview of transhumanism and major ongoing and future developments in emerging technologies that present the potential to revolutionize the human condition and resolve the age-old perils and limitations that have plagued humankind.

This is a beginners’ overview of transhumanism – which means that it is for everyone, including those who are new to transhumanism and the life-extension movement, as well as those who have been involved in it for many years – since, when it comes to dramatically expanding human longevity and potential, we are all beginners at the beginning of what could be our species’ next great era.

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

See Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Pursuing a Peaceful Political Revolution for Longevity“.

In the background of some of the video segments is a painting now owned by Mr. Stolyarov, from “The Singularity is Here” series by artist Leah Montalto.

We Must Unite for an International Ban on AI Weaponry; A Real Solution to Survive the Singularity Along with What Lies Beyond – Article by Bobby Ridge

We Must Unite for an International Ban on AI Weaponry; A Real Solution to Survive the Singularity Along with What Lies Beyond – Article by Bobby Ridge

Bobby Ridge

I urge the United States Transhumanist Party to support an international ban on the use of autonomous weapons and support subsidies from governments and alternative funding into research for AI safety – funding that is very similar to Elon Musk’s efforts. Max Tegmark recently stated that “Elon Musk’s $10M donation to the Future of Life Institute that helped put out 37 grants to run a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity.”

Biologists fought hard to pass the international ban on biological weapons, so that the name of biology would be known as it is today, i.e., a science that cures diseases, ends suffering, and makes sense of the complexity of living organisms. Similarly, the community of chemists also united and achieved an international ban on the use of chemical weapons. Scientists conducting AI research should follow their predecessors’ wisdom and unite to achieve an international ban on autonomous weapons! It is sad to say that we are already losing this fight for an international ban on autonomous weapons. The Kalashnikov Bureau weapons manufacturing company announced that they have recently invented an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), which field tests have already shown better than human level intelligence. China recently began field-testing cruise missiles with AI and autonomous capabilities, and a few companies are getting very close to having AI autopilot operating to control the flight envelope at hypersonic speeds. (Amir Husain: “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence“)

Even though, in 2015 and 1016, the US government spent only $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion in AI research, respectively, according to Reuters, “The Pentagon’s fiscal 2017 budget request will include $12 billion to $15 billion to fund war gaming, experimentation and the demonstration of new technologies aimed at ensuring a continued military edge over China and Russia.” While these autonomous weapons are already being developed, the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) couldn’t even come up with a definition for autonomous weapons after 4 years of meeting up, despite their explicit expression for a dire concern for the spread of autonomous weapons. They decided to put off the conversation another year, but we all know that at the pace technology is advancing, we may not have another year to postpone a definition and solutions. Our species must advocate and emulate the 23 Asilomar AI principles, which over 1000 expert AI researchers from all around the globe have signed.

In only the last decade or so, there has been a combined investment of trillions of dollars towards an AI race from the private sector, such as, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Baidu, and other tech titans, along with whole governments, such as, China, South Korea, Russia, Canada, and only recently the USA. The investments are mainly towards making AI more powerful, but not safer! Yes, the intelligence and sentience of artificial superintelligence (ASI) will be inherently uncontrollable. As a metaphor, humans controlling the development of ASI, will be like an ant trying to control the human development of a NASA space station on top of their ant colony. Before we get to that point, at which hopefully this issue will be solved by a brain-computer-interface, we can get close to making the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) and weak ASI safe, by steering AI research efforts towards solving the alignment problem, the control problem, and other problems in the field. This can be done with proper funding from the tech titans and governments.

“AI will be the new electricity. Electricity has changed every industry and AI will do the same but even more of an impact.” – Andrew Ng

“Machine learning and AI will empower and improve every business, every government organization, philanthropy, basically there is no institution in the world that cannot be improved by machine learning.” – Jeff Bezos

ANI (artificial narrow intelligence) and AGI (artificial general intelligence) by themselves have the potential to alleviate an incomprehensible amount of suffering and diseases around the world, and in the next few decades, the hammer of biotechnology and nanotechnology will likely come down to cure all diseases. If the trends of information technologies continue to accelerate, which they certainly will, then in the next decade or so an ASI will be developed. This God-like intelligence will immigrate for resources in space and will scale to an intragalactic size. To iterate old news, to keep up with this new being, we are likely to connect our brains to it via brain-computer-interface.

“The last time something so important like this has happened was maybe 4.2 billion-years-ago, when life was invented.” – Juergen Schmidhuber

Due to independent assortment of chromosomes during meiosis, you roughly have a 1 in 70 trillionth of a chance at living. Now multiply this 70-trillionth by the probability of crossing over, and the process of crossing over has orders of magnitude more possible outcomes than 70 trillion. Then multiply this by probability of random fertilization (the chances of your parents meeting and copulating). Then multiply whatever that number is by similar probabilities for all our ancestors for hundreds of millions of years – ancestors that have also survived asteroid impacts, plagues, famine, predators, and other perils. You may be feeling pretty lucky, but on top of all of that science and technology is about to prevent and cure any disease we may come across, and we will see this new intelligence emerge in our laboratories all around the world. Any attempt to provide a linguistic description for how spectacularly LUCKY we are to be alive right now and to experience this scientific revolution, will be an abysmally disingenuous description, as compared to how truly lucky we all are. AI experts, Transhumanists, Singularitarians, and all others who understand this revolution have an obligation to provide every person with an educated option that they could pursue if they desire to take part in indefinite longevity, augmentation into superintelligence, and whatever lies beyond the Singularity 10-30 years from now.

There are many other potential sources existential threats, such as synthetic biology, nuclear war, the climate crisis, molecular nanotechnology, totalitarianism-enabling technologies, super volcanoes, asteroids, biowarfare, human modification, geoengineering, etc. Mistakes in only one of these areas could cause our species to go extinct, which is the definition of an existential risk. Science created some of these existential risks, and only Science will prevent them. Philosophy, religion, complementary alternative medicines, and any other proposed scientific demarcation will not solve these existential risks, along with the myriad of other individual suffering and death that occurs daily. With this recent advancement, Carl Sagan’s priceless wisdom has become even more palpable than before; “we have arranged a society based on Science and technology, in which no one understands anything about Science and technology and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces.” The best chance we have of surviving this next 30 years and whatever is beyond the Singularity is by transitioning to a Science-Based Species. A Science-Based Species is like Dr. Steven Novella’s recent advocacy, which calls for transition off Evidence-Based medicine to a Science-Based medicine. Dr. Novella and his team understand that “the best method for determining which interventions and health products are safe and effective is, without question, good science.” Why arbitrarily claim this only for medicine? I propose a K-12 educational system that teaches the PROCESS of Science. Only when the majority of ~8 billion people are scientifically literate and when public reason is guided by non-controversial scientific results and non-controversial methods, then we will be cable of managing these scientific tools – tools that could take our jobs, can cause incomprehensible levels of suffering, and kill us all; tools that are currently in our possession; and tools that continue to become more powerful, to democratize, dematerialize, and demonetize at an exponential rate. I cannot stress enough that ‘scientifically literate’ means that the people are adept at utilizing the PROCESS of Science.

Bobby Ridge is the Secretary-Treasurer of the United States Transhumanist Party. Read more about him here


Tegmark, M. (2015). Elon Musk donates $10M to keep AI beneficial.

Husain, A. (2018). Amir Husain: “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence” | Talks at Google. Talks at Google.

Tegmark, M. (2017). Max Tegmark: “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of AI” | Talks at Google. Talks at Google.

Conn, A. (2015). Pentagon Seeks $12 -$15 Billion for AI Weapons Research.
BAI 2017 conference. (2017). ASILOMAR AI PRINCIPLES.

Ng, A. (2017). Andrew Ng – The State of Artificial Intelligence. The Artificial Intelligence Channel.

Bezos, J. (2017). Gala2017: Jeff Bezos Fireside Chat. Internet Association.

Schmidhuber, J. (2017). True Artificial Intelligence will change everything | Juergen Schmidhuber | TEDxLakeComo. TEDx Talks.

Kurzweil, R. (2001). The Law of Accelerating Returns. Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence.


Sbmadmin. (2008). Announcing the Science-Based Medicine Blog.

Scientists Identify Genes Implicated in the High Regenerative Capacity of Embryos and ESCs – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Scientists Identify Genes Implicated in the High Regenerative Capacity of Embryos and ESCs – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Biogerontology Research Foundation


Below is a press release by Biogerontology Research Foundation on the regenerative capacity of embryos and embryonic stem cells. This press release was originally published here.

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 18, 2018


Friday, January 12, 2018, London, UK: Researchers at Insilico MedicineAgeX Therapeutics and the Biogerontology Research Foundation have published a landmark study titled “Use of deep neural network ensembles to identify embryonic-fetal transition markers: repression of COX7A1 in embryonic and cancer cells” in the journal Oncotarget.

In the study, researchers used deep-learning techniques to analyze gene expression data in embryonic stem cell (ESC) lines at varying stages of development in order to characterize the gene expression profile of cells right at the boundary of the embryonic-fetal transition, when embryos become fetuses and experience a remarkable reduction in their regenerative capacity. In essence, the study’s objective was to hone in on those genes responsible for the remarkable regenerative capacities of embryos and ESCs.

“This is another important step in the progress of Insilico Medicine and indicates that its suite of products is developing rapidly, with significant commercial revenues not far off,” said Jim Mellon, Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation, Chairman of Juvenescence Limited and a key partner of Insilico Medicine.

Mimicking the gene expression profile of cells prior to the embryonic fetal transition in adult tissues and organs is the concept underlying one of the central and most ambitious therapeutic modalities being pursued by AgeX Therapeutics, namely induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR). Therapeutic elaboration of the insights derived from this study could pave the way for in-situ tissue regeneration, and its application to ageing and age-related disease.

“induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR) is one of the most promising therapeutic modalities for enabling in-situ tissue regeneration proposed to date, and one that is likely to bring substantial healthspan-extending effects if implemented. This landmark study paves the way toward that bright future. Interestingly, in its identification of COX7A1 as one of the genes implicated in the remarkable regenerative potential of embryos and ESCs, the study also extends the purview of these findings to novel potential cancer therapies as well,” said Franco Cortese, Deputy Director of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.

The authors also developed effective methods of deriving biologically-relevant information from these profiles, identifying the most interesting genes characterizing the regenerative capacity of ESCs, and performed additional experimental validation to support the findings of the study’s deep learning analysis. Interestingly, one of the genes implicated in the embryonic-fetal transition that the study identified, COX7A1, is dysregulated in a diverse array of cancer types, including breast, lung, kidney, bone and muscle. As such, the results of this study could be used create novel cancer therapies as well.

“AI is quickly becoming the main driver of progress in so many fields of science, technology and human endeavor that it is easy for one to lose count. From healthcare to finance to governance, AI is galvanizing rapid paradigm shifts all around us. Insilico Medicine is rapidly establishing themselves as the leader of AI for longevity, and the combination of their deep-learning expertise with the assets for expert experimental validation and interpretation possessed by AgeX Therapeutics is a partnership that has yielded significant synergistic results in using AI to yield novel insights into the biology of aging and charting the path toward next generation healthspan-extending therapies” said Dmitry Kaminskiy, Managing Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.


Paper Reference: West M, Labat I, Sternberg H, Larocca D, Nasonkin I, Chapman K, Singh R, Makarev E, Aliper A, Kazennov A, Alekseenko A, Shuvalov N, Cheskidova E, Alekseev A, Artemov A, Putin E, Mamoshina P, Pryanichnikov P, Larocca J, Copeland K, Izumchenko E, Korzinkin M and Zhavoronkov A. Use of deep neural network ensembles to identify embryonic-fetal transition markers: repression of COX7A1 in embryonic and cancer cells, Oncotarget. 2017; in press,

About the Biogerontology Research Foundation:

The Biogerontology Research Foundation is a UK non-profit research foundation and public policy center seeking to fill a gap within the research community, whereby the current scientific understanding of the ageing process is not yet being sufficiently exploited to produce effective medical interventions. The BGRF funds and conducts research which, building on the body of knowledge about how ageing happens, aims to develop biotechnological interventions to remediate the molecular and cellular deficits which accumulate with age and which underlie the ill-health of old age. Addressing ageing damage at this most fundamental level will provide an important opportunity to produce the effective, lasting treatments for the diseases and disabilities of ageing, required to improve quality of life in the elderly. The BGRF seeks to use the entire scope of modern biotechnology to attack the changes that take place in the course of ageing, and to address not just the symptoms of age-related diseases but also the mechanisms of those diseases.

About Insilico Medicine, Inc.:

Insilico Medicine, Inc. is a bioinformatics company located at the Emerging Technology Centers in Baltimore with R&D resources in 6 countries. The company is widely recognized by the industry for applying next-generation artificial intelligence technology to drug discovery and aging research. For its pioneering work in the applications of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Reinforcement Learning (RL) and collaborations with the pharmaceutical companies, it was selected as one of the Top 100 AI companies 2018 by CB Insights and Top 5 AI companies for social impact 2017 by NVIDIA. The company pursues internal drug discovery programs in cancer, dermatological, metabolic and CNS diseases, sarcopenia, fibrosis and senescence. Company website:

About AgeX Therapeutics:

AgeX Therapeutics, Inc., a subsidiary of BioTime, Inc. (NYSE American: BTX), is a biotechnology company applying technology relating to cellular immortality and regenerative biology to aging and age-related diseases. The company has three initial areas of product development: pluripotent stem-cell-derived brown adipocytes (AGEX-BAT1); vascular progenitors (AGEX-VASC1); and induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR). Initial planned indications for these products are Type 2 diabetes, cardiac ischemia, and tissue regeneration respectively. For more information, please visit or connect with the company on Twitter or Facebook.

Beeple: ZERO-DAY

Beeple: ZERO-DAY

Mike Winkelmann – Beeple

One of the most beautiful aspects I find about technology is its ability to allow us new forms of control and manipulation. Technology allows us to simplify many processes that seemed impossible in the past. When it comes to furthering man’s creative expression, there is absolutely no exception.

With the development of new programs and devices, digital art has entered a new realm of divine possibilities. Now, artists have the ability to render massive dream-like worlds without the use of an expensive VFX team. Surreal visions and ideas are now visualized through GIFs and mini video clips all across the Internet. Mike Winkelmann, better known on the internet as Beeple, is one of those highly gifted artists who uses a plethora of programs like Adobe After Effects and Maxon Cinema 4D, to name a few, to create intricate worlds that seem light-years into the future, or as near as tomorrow.

I’d describe Mike Winkelmann as a 3D juggernaut. He has been rendering images and GIFs every single day for the past few years now, furthering his abilities and creativity to bring us these awe-inspiring images of a possible future.

Zero-Day is a 3D ensemble directed by Winkelmann. Winkelmann pushes us through a mechanical wormhole of soul-pounding machines and whirling lights that are all in sync with a bass-crushing dubstep track. At first it may seem like an intense VJ clip, but in actuality it is a well-executed allegory of the evolution of technology and cyber warfare. Throughout the video, we hear and see fictional bits of interviews and news reports of the US developing new advances in cyber weapons and how that resonates with other global powers. It is a fictional account that seems like a near-perfect mirror of our current state of affairs, given the events of this past year. An epic commentary in all its cyberpunk glory, a masterpiece such as this should allow us to truly evaluate what we are doing now to for a future like that to happen. Maybe, that future is indeed already here. We can all agree that with new advancements in AI, the ongoing investigation of possible Russian influence of American politics through hacking, China becoming a leader in sustainable technology, and the many other accounts of technology entering the world of politics and global policy, Zero-Day doesn’t seem far off.

During our panel discussion on November 18th, participants spoke about how art influences people’s view of technology. It was agreed that there are many works that carry this dystopian outlook of the future, riddled with scenarios straight out of Orwell’s 1984. However, it is this type of work that should inspire us as the human race we are to ensure that we do not create this dystopian future, but instead aim to create a future in which technology amplifies life.

Mike Winkelmann is an accomplished VFX and motion graphics artist. More of his stunning work can be found on his site.


~ Emanuel Iral, Director of Visual Art, U.S. Transhumanist Party, November 24, 2017