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The Poverty Crisis and a Case for Universal Basic Income – Article by Brent Ellman in TAFFD’s Magazine

The Poverty Crisis and a Case for Universal Basic Income – Article by Brent Ellman in TAFFD’s Magazine

Brent Ellman


Editor’s Note: U.S. Transhumanist Party member and long-time USTP supporter Brent Ellman has published a piece in TAFFD’s Magazine on Universal Basic Income (UBI). Our friends at TAFFD’s (https://taffds.org/) were nice enough to give us permission to cross-post the article here in full format. Brent is an entrepreneur with a diverse background and currently serves as director of marketing at TAFFD’s. Originally from New York, he has lived in Colorado since 2008. 

~ Dan Elton, Director of Scholarship, United States Transhumanist Party, December 27, 2020


Excerpt: In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced in his State of the Union Address that, “This administration, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” How does one fight a war against poverty, though? What exactly does poverty even mean? As of 2019 in the United States, an individual who makes under $12,490 annually is considered to be living in poverty. A family of 3 earning under $21,330 also falls under the category of living in poverty.

In Denver, Colorado, 15.1% of the population lives below the poverty level, according to a recent Census Bureau ACS 5-year estimate. That estimate found that 101,000 out of 666,000 people are living below the poverty line. To put this further into perspective, as of July 2020, according to RentJungle.org, the average price to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Denver is $1468 per month. According to RentCafe only 5% of rentals listed in Denver are priced at less than $1000 per month. We’ve been waging America’s unconditional war on poverty for 56 years, and this is how far we’ve come.

How might poverty actually be solved in the United States? Read Brent Ellman’s full article here.

State of AI 2020 – Article by Pavel Ilin

State of AI 2020 – Article by Pavel Ilin

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Pavel Ilin


This summary is prepared based on the State of AI Report 2020, which was crafted by Nathan Benaich and Ian Hogarth.

The AI industry is very diverse in its application, and it’s going through a transformation from the magical-wand stage to the plateau of adequate development. Let’s take a look at what is happening in the AI industry.

Research

We haven’t come up with new super-smart algorithms. Progress in model performance keeps being driven by big computational budgets and huge data sets. Training of the GPT-3 language model, with its 175 billion parameters, cost approximately $10 million. At the same time larger models require less data to achieve the same level of performance. With a deep-learning approach we are getting close to the point when the cost of training will grow outrageous with incrementally smaller improvements of the model.

An important fact is that the code base of most artificial intelligence systems remains closed. Only 15% of papers publish their code. This raises a lot of concerns about reproducibility and AI safety. AI explainability remains a critical issue for AI safety research; there are promising avenues of exploration such as Asymmetric Shapley Values, but so far it’s unknown how AI systems make decisions. 

Natural language processing (NLP) models successfully simulate common scenes and linguistics, but they fail dramatically with understanding problems and context and forming knowledge. 

Talent

Talented people with skills in math and computer science are the drivers of the progress in the AI field. More and more US professors are being recruited by tech companies. This affects the quality of education that US universities can provide. We already can see a decline in the level of entrepreneurship among recent graduates. At the same time Universities are creating AI-related degree programs.

The US keeps its position as the main attractor of talented individuals. For example China contributes to the talent pool of AI developers, but after publication of their first results, talented people are most likely to move to the US. 90% of international PhD graduates stay and work in US universities and corporations. Demand for AI talent remains much higher than supply, even despite COVID-19’s impact on market growth.  

Industry

AI keeps progressing not only on a theoretical and research level. Many real world applications are already in use, and they are affecting the industries in various ways.

New drugs are being designed by AI, and they are already in clinical trials. For example AI-designed drugs for OCD treatment are out for testing in Japan. AI drug-discovery startups keep raising funds. Also big pharma is teaming up with startups around preserving privacy during drug discovery. For example OpenMined uses federated learning to preserve privacy with medical data. Viz.ai presented the first product which was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the US. Their product analyzes tomography scans and alerts specialists who can treat patients before they receive damage that leads to the long-term disability. 

Progress in self-driving cars stays limited. Only 3 companies in California have permission to conduct testing of self-driving cars without a safety driver. Self-driving mileage remains microscopic compared to human drivers (2,874,950 miles for self-driving cars versus 390,313,739,000 miles for humans). The research and development process for self-driving cars remains very expensive. The major companies in this field raised around $7 billion since July 2019. Tesla chose to approach gradually adding self-driving features to its cars, but human drivers still remain in the loop. Recent approaches such as supervised learning do not perform well enough. To make dramatic breakthroughs, new approaches are required.

Computer vision unlocks faster accident and disaster recovery intervention. It also reduces the amount of human hours spent using a microscope, which could lead to acceleration of development processes and reduction of product costs.

AI drives sales and at the same time reduces costs in supply chains and manufacturing. Robotic process automation and computer vision are the most commonly deployed techniques in the enterprise. Speech, natural language generation, and physical robots are the least common. Recently IBM partnered with health insurance company Humana. IBM implemented natural language understanding (NLU) software which is already live and handles calls. It not only redirects calls to the different queues; it’s able to answer basic questions, such as “How much will the copay be to visit a specific specialist?” without human intervention.

Modern AI, in order to perform well, requires a lot of computing resources. Specialized AI hardware keeps progressing, and companies are now presenting second generations of their products. Graphcore M2000 offers faster training time to drop the cost of state-of-the-art models. Google’s new TPU v4 delivers up to a 3.7x training speedup over their TPU v3. NVIDIA will not rest either; it has achieved up to 2.5x training speedups with the new A100 GPU vs V100. Increasing interest towards machine learning devOps is a signal that the industry shifting its focus from how to build models to how to run them.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, investments keep coming into the industry. Private funding rounds of greater than $15 million for the AI-first companies remain strong.

Politics

Usage of AI for facial recognition tasks is extremely common around the world. Around half of the world allows facial recognition. This has become a recognizable political and ethical problem, especially when use of this technology leads to the wrong arrests. There were two highly publicized cases of wrong arrest in the US (which is probably just a tip of the iceberg). In May 2019, Detroit police arrested Michael Oliver who was wrongly accused of a felony for supposedly reaching into a teacher’s vehicle, grabbing a cellphone and throwing it, cracking the screen, and breaking the case. In January 2020, Detroit police arrested Robert Williams as a shoplifter who allegedly stole five watches from Midtown’s trendy Shinola store in October 2018. In both cases charges were dismissed but harm was done. 

Industry took a more thoughtful approach as a reaction to the AI mistakes. Microsoft deleted its database of 10 million faces, Amazon announced a one-year pause on letting the police use its facial recognition tool Rekognition. IBM announced it would sunset its general purpose facial recognition products. Washington State in the US introduced requirements to acquire warrants to run facial recognition scans. The ImageNet, a popular image database, is making an effort toward reduction of the biases in its image collections.

As Deep Fake technology produces more and more realistic media, it becomes illegal to use in certain states in the US. California passed a law, AB 730, aimed at deep fakes, which criminalizes distributing audio or video that gives a false, damaging impression of a politician’s words or action. Many other US state bills have been passed, addressing different risks. For example Virginia law amends current criminal law on revenge porn to include computer-generated pornography.

The US government keeps pursuing implementation of the military AI systems. DARPA organised a virtual dogfighting tournament where various AI systems would compete with each other and a human fighter pilot from the US military.

AI nationalism is on the rise. Countries tend to pursue protectionist policies to scrutinize acquisitions of AI companies by the players from other countries.

Every year AI plays a more and more noticeable part in our lives. It becomes cheaper, and you learn how to do new things. But we have to remember that at the moment AI is still a tool. And there are some philosophical and methodological difficulties which we have to overcome before it will be possible to deliberate about the potential sentience of the AI. It’s very important for the policy makers to make informed decisions based on how technology actually works and not on magical understanding formed based on popular sci-fi.

Pavel Ilin is Secretary of the United States Transhumanist Party. 

 

Announcement Regarding California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum, Encouragement to Participate, and USTP Chairman Stolyarov’s Answers

Announcement Regarding California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum, Encouragement to Participate, and USTP Chairman Stolyarov’s Answers

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The United States Transhumanist Party encourages all of its members to participate in the E-Governance Referendum designed by the California Transhumanist Party.

Please read the description of the California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum here.

California Transhumanist Party Chairman Newton Lee characterized the E-Governance Referendum as the California Transhumanist Party’s “first step in establishing electronic democracy, where every citizen becomes a part of collective decision-making process.”

The California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum is independent of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, and the USTP Platform will continue to determine USTP policy positions in all respects. However, the California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum is an interesting experiment in aggregation and analysis of views on policy issues by a mediated artificial superintelligence (mASI) called Uplift.  Per the description of the objectives of the referendum, “Building Better Policy in e-Governance AI-Driven Research is a part of the Uplift mASI research program that has the goal of a better understanding of how technology can be used to develop better policy. The project has a number of partners and related projects and sub-projects where we hope to explore our project vision around the application of particular key technologies in AI, comprising primarily the application of collective intelligence systems in e-governance—but also including blockchain, AGI cognitive architectures, and other distributed AI systems.”

David J. Kelley of AGI Laboratory, who developed the Uplift mASI, stated that “Uplift is about raising the apotheosis of organizations to a higher, more awakened state that can increase profits, save jobs, help the environment, and optimize society.”

On June 14, 2020, the U.S. Transhumanist Party hosted a Virtual Enlightenment Salon featuring David J. Kelley as its guest, in which an extensive discussion of Uplift and the E-Governance Referendum transpired. Watch the video of this Virtual Enlightenment Salon here.

The four questions in the California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum (for which you may enter responses after clicking on the links below) are the following:

  1. Should the government keep Universal Basic Income (UBI), a “stimulus package” introduced to Americans during the COVID-related crisis?
  2. Should the government impose a higher income tax on the wealthy individuals in order to pay the Universal Basic Salary to US citizens?
  3. Should we have free universal medical care?
  4. Should the police be defunded? Consider alternatives and how such a policy could be used to force changes in local departments. Please consider how this would realistically be done?

Referendum-related questions should be directed at the mASI system running the study: mASI@Uplift.bio


U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II’s Responses to the California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum

USTP Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II provided the following answers to the questions on the California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum, based on the positions taken in the USTP Platform and the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 3.0.

Every individual, whether or not that person is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party or the California Transhumanist Party, is able to participate in the California Transhumanist Party E-Governance Referendum. All individuals are encouraged to vote their conscience, and Chairman Stolyarov’s answers are presented to express one set of responses, but not necessarily the only set of responses, that would be consistent with the USTP Platform.

Question 1:

Should the government keep Universal Basic Income, introduced to Americans as a “stimulus package” during the COVID-related crisis?

Answer: Yes

What caveats do you have to your position?

The Universal Basic Income must be implemented without raising net taxes on any segment of the population. The Universal Basic Income also must not be means-tested, and the same amount must apply to all. Desirably, the Universal Basic Income should replace at least some traditional, means-tested welfare systems and thus reduce the cost of administration.

Are there key details that your position requires to maintain that position?

The most effective way of funding a Universal Basic Income would be a land dividend or resource dividend, where governmentally owned land or other natural resources would be leased (or, in the case of perishable resources, sold) to private parties with certain environmentally friendly stipulations, and with the proceeds being used to fund the Universal Basic Income.

Any means-testing or conditionality of a Universal Basic Income would defeat its purpose, as it would reintroduce the same burdensome costs of administration which render traditional means-tested welfare systems counterproductive from a cost-benefit standpoint.

How do you feel about your position and this question?

I feel strongly that Universal Basic Income could work if it is truly unconditional and does not involve redistribution of existing wealth. However, I strongly feel that Universal Basic Income will fail if it is modified to lack universality or to involve a redistributive taxation mechanism that raises taxes on higher income-earners.

Do you have any other thoughts on this topic that would be important to note?

The “trials” of Universal Basic Income that are being undertaken in various countries are not true instances of a Universal Basic Income, because they are often targeted toward specific poorer or unemployed segments of the population, and because they have an expiration date, which alters the incentives of the recipients of the funds and increases the uncertainty felt by those recipients.. Any perceived failures or insufficiencies of such “trials” should not be used to discredit the concept of a true Universal Basic Income.

Do you want to be included in the collective discussion with the AI systems on this referendum and study only related exchanges? 

Yes.

Question 2:

Should the government impose a higher income tax on the wealthy individuals in order to pay the Universal Basic Salary to U.S. citizens?

Answer: No.

What caveats do you have to your position?

Income taxes should not be raised and, on the contrary, should be repealed entirely. There should not be any graduated taxation of incomes. All taxation should be in the form of a single flat percentage-of-sales tax applicable only to purchases from businesses whose combined nationwide revenues from all affiliates exceed a specified threshold. This tax should be built into the price of goods from such large businesses and should not impede transaction efficiency in any manner or even be felt by consumers as they go about their day-to-day activities.

Are there key details that your position requires to maintain that position?

Income taxation presents a disincentive to work and creates a special compliance burden on individuals by means of the complexity of the tax code and the need to make tax-return filings. This compliance burden is more of a drain on productivity than the actual amount of the tax and particularly affects middle-class taxpayers who often submit their own tax returns using their own efforts. Moreover, graduated income taxation creates disincentives for upward economic mobility and particularly penalizes up-and-coming middle-class individuals who seek to improve their financial well-being. The ultra-wealthy can easily afford the higher tax rates in the upper income brackets or can shelter their incomes from taxation, but the middle-class and upper-middle-class taxpayers bear the full burdens. This, indeed, creates barriers to entry into the economic elite and prevents the full extent of desirable competition for wealth acquisition through productive and societally beneficial means.

How do you feel about your position and this question?

I feel strongly that any increase in any income tax would be counterproductive.

Do you have any other thoughts on this topic that would be important to note?

A federal land dividend or resource dividend would be a far superior way of funding a Universal Basic Income.

Do you want to be included in the collective discussion with the AI systems on this referendum and study only related exchanges? 

Yes.

Question 3:

Should we have free universal medical care?

Answer: Yes.

What caveats do you have to your position?

Medical care should be universal and eventually free, but not necessarily provided by government, and private competition in the provision of services should always be permitted. People should also always be permitted to pay for any medical treatments they wish to receive from any reasonably qualified provider. The way to achieve eventually free medical care is through the progress of science and technology that would dramatically reduce costs, not through compelling everyone to participate in a government program. Achieving a system of de facto free, universal medical care will realistically require a transitional period where medical care will become increasingly accessible but still require patients to pay some portion of the cost while the necessary technologies for free or nearly free delivery of care are developed and mature.

Are there key details that your position requires to maintain that position?

Medical care can become universal in much the same way that access to food is virtually universal in the “developed” world today, even though there is no government program for food distribution that everyone is required to participate in. There is a role for government in providing various safety nets and medical infrastructure for public-health reasons – such as ample hospital surge capacity in the event of pandemics, and stockpiles of personal protective equipment and other essential medical supplies. To the extent that government-supplied healthcare can improve health outcomes among the less well-off and thereby prevent the spread of infectious diseases and other maladies, this could be beneficial. Moreover, patient choice and private options, supplied on a competitive market, must always remain available. It is possible for a future system of universal healthcare to consist of a free, baseline, governmentally provided option with a large number of private competing options – including for the same services that the government option may be providing. Technological innovation and competition may drive the cost of the private options to eventually be close to zero, just as access to e-mail is virtually free today because of freedom of innovation and ample options, as well as revenue models that do not require the end users to pay. Moreover, private philanthropy can and should play a significant role in covering the costs of medical care for those in need.

How do you feel about your position and this question?

There is considerably ambiguity as to what people mean when they refer to “free” and “universal” medical care. Depending on what they actually mean, I could feel favorably inclined (as in the case of technologically driven major reductions in cost and improvements in access to care), or averse (as in the case of governmentally mandated “single payer” systems).

Do you have any other thoughts on this topic that would be important to note?

A “single payer” system of care, or a system such the Canadian one which allows no private options, is not actually a free or a universal system of care. Any system that rations care by requiring patients to wait is neither free nor universal. Moreover, any system that is funded by taxation is not free. A truly free, universal system of medical care will not involve queuing, rationing, or taxpayer subsidies. It may be funded by a superabundance of resources produced at nearly no cost by emerging technologies of advanced manufacturing and automation.

Do you want to be included in the collective discussion with the AI systems on this referendum and study only related exchanges? 

Yes.

Question 4:

Should the police be defunded? Consider alternatives and how such a policy could be used to force changes in local departments. Please consider how this would realistically be done.

Answer: No.

What caveats do you have to your position? The police should not be defunded altogether, but funding should be redirected toward more humane and less violent means of apprehending criminals and de-escalating situations. Funding currently used for militarized police forces should be devoted to technologies that can peacefully incapacitate offenders and provide effective passive defense for police officers, as well as improved training for police that prioritizes non-violent conflict resolution. Some net reduction of police funding may be justified, but some manner of police force should continue to exist to help keep the peace, or else violent crime will escalate out of control.

Are there key details that your position requires to maintain that position?

Defunding the police may be counterproductive by leaving people vulnerable to actual violent criminals. However, serious police reform is necessary – including eliminating qualified immunity, curbing the power of police unions, requiring police body cameras and protecting recordings from tampering by police, facilitating objective, external investigations of alleged police misconduct, prohibiting no-knock raids and chokeholds, and requiring that police use non-lethal means unless their lives are genuinely threatened. Most importantly, the default operating protocols of police must be revised in the United States to be more similar to those in countries where killings by police are minimal.

How do you feel about your position and this question?

I feel ambivalent about calls to “defund the police”, because they are seldom accompanied by specific measures that would replace the role of the police in combatting actual violent crime. Sometimes, those who advocate “defunding” the police actually advocate a reduction and/or redirection of the funds to other conflict-resolution methods, and in those cases I am more favorably inclined – since not all instances of misbehavior require police intervention to correct.

Do you have any other thoughts on this topic that would be important to note?

Any effective police reform needs to focus on the root causes of police militarization and reflexively lethal use of force. Such root causes include the misguided War on Drugs and War on Terror, as well the existence of artificial and protectionist barriers to economic opportunity for many individuals, which lead those individuals to be channeled into lives of crime.

Do you want to be included in the collective discussion with the AI systems on this referendum and study only related exchanges? 

Yes.

Transhumanism: The Important Gray Area Between the Madness of the Two-Party System in America – Article by C. H. Antony

Transhumanism: The Important Gray Area Between the Madness of the Two-Party System in America – Article by C. H. Antony

logo_bgC. H. Antony


What’s missing from politics today? Some will leap to simple responses like “integrity”, “honesty”, “education”. But I say it’s worse than all that. However, I will not spend paragraphs going into the various conspiracies and fear-mongering – that is behavior more fitting for the main two political parties. What I would like to accomplish here is to propose the values and intentions of the United States Transhumanist Party (USTP) as solutions. 

To begin, we must examine the current most pressing issue, that of human rights. As you read this, many thousands have taken to the streets in every major city and 18 countries around the world to scream at their governments that enough is enough – that they will not be duped into economic caste systems, race wars, or trafficking schemes. Whether the battle cry is “Black Lives Matter” or whether it is a cry against manufactured poverty, or a call to defund the police and reallocate resources toward fundamental solutions over enforcement, the message is clear: humanity is ready to move on. Here at the USTP, we have assembled a comprehensive Platform and identified areas for reform such as sentient rights, improved economic policy, medical technology and accessibility, and, of course, the imperative to recognize death as a limitation to overcome. While those are just some examples of the body of work offered by the USTP, I believe they are the most important foundations, as from them, all other potential improvements for the human condition are possible. 

We Transhumanists are the gray area in between the madness that is the two-party system in America. We unfortunately inhabit the very system we were warned about in our earliest days as a country. We offer rational and compassionate alternatives to the systems Americans have been repeatedly manipulated into accepting. Where other parties seek to polarize the citizenry, we seek to unite it with scientific and technological solutions to the issues that have us at each other’s throats. With respect to urgency, I will only illustrate existing or easily obtainable technologies here. Consider, for example, the abortion issue. To us, it is no issue at all, as there already exist ample resources for preventing unintended pregnancy. The education and social studies are there to better inform young people of the consequences of irresponsible behavior.  We are steady in our call that life is the most important argument and support those approaches which lengthen the lives and improve the health of all humankind, regardless of any differences. If a few more million dollars were devoted to the works of visionaries like Aubrey de Grey, aging and disease could be eradicated in a few short years. With some more million dollars, we could eliminate the arguments regarding abortion by making the practice obsolete with technologies such as indefinite stasis and ectogenesis. Such advances would render divisive moral arguments moot. 

The incorporation of artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) assistance and oversight  into governance and healthcare could virtually eliminate malpractice and marginal qualification in both fields. Justice can be free of bias with ANI incorporated into the process; lawyers and judges and even jurors can be in complete understanding of the law and precedents in question. This could shrink the margin for abuse and error to nearly null in real time. With medical assistance ANI, doctors can access the diagnostic power of the sum total of human medical knowledge instantaneously, never leaving a patient undiagnosed or misdiagnosed until it’s too late to save that individual. In matters where interaction is the essential element, such as international relations, local law enforcement, or conveying your symptoms to your doctor, language and communication need no longer be a divider riddled with misunderstanding and lost cultural context. Imagine how these three simple applications of technology could change the fabric of society, and it is ready and applicable right now. Right now, humans are fighting in the streets for equal justice, equal access, and equal treatment; the wise application of artificial intelligence systems can deliver on those demands and act as a safeguard against those that currently engage in the manipulation of those systems or underperform and cost lives. How many loved ones are in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, but hadn’t the resources to fight the argument the state was infinitely capable of delivering? How many loved ones are dead because the doctors in the local hospital were either prevented from accessing other techniques or unaware of them? How many people are dead under the knee or boot of a government that has no meaningful oversight or accountability to the people it was constructed to serve?

We at the USTP believe that human suffering must end, but moreover, it can end if we begin actively applying the advancements we have right now. This isn’t some far-flung future fiction we’d all like to see someday; indeed, “someday” for much of this was ten years ago. So while we are out there advocating for rights and justice, let’s begin to embrace the tools that can ensure the equal application and universally competent execution of these goals. Let us be the tool users that we’ve evolved to be. 

C. H. Antony is Vice-Secretary of the United States Transhumanist Party.

Othering: The Ultimate Challenge of Sentient Life – Article by Pavel Ilin

Othering: The Ultimate Challenge of Sentient Life – Article by Pavel Ilin

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Pavel Ilin


We come to the point in history when compassion and belonging become not only a necessary part of building inclusive culture, but the practices which determine the survival of sentient life as we know it. 

Most of us are locked in our local tribes – national, ideological, corporate, and so on. Living in different tribes is a way to establish one’s own subjectivity and identity. Most of the time we are part of the different tribes at the same time. The problem comes when we are not engaged in cross-tribal dialog and consider members of other tribes as “Other”. That’s how othering happens.

Most commonly, othering expresses the boundaries between “we” and “them”. “We” belong; “they” are Other and cannot belong. Those who are “them” can be described in the negative language of disgust.

When people say “they are barbarians”, they deny the right of the other to belong. When Ancient Greeks called slaves “speaking tools”, or they allowed only males to vote, they denied the others’ humanity and right to belong. When Romans expand their empire, they called other nations they conquered barbarians, unless they adapted the Romans’ culture – and by doing so the Romans othered these peoples. We can go on and on. The history of sentient life as we know it is full of othering.

When we deny the opportunity for the other to belong, then the other is not a person anymore in our eyes. You are allowed to do things to an “Other”, which would be unthinkable to do to one of “Us”. It’s very easy to deny access to resources, deny rights, deny compassion, and deny life to the “Other”. Taking away life is an extreme form of othering.

Personal-Level Othering

On the personal level othering happens very often. Susan Fiske from Princeton University shows in her “Stereotype content model” how othering works on neurological level. Studies show that when we see other people, there is a part of our brain that lights up when we see another human being. It’s an interesting authentication mechanism which allows us to identify our own species. But when we see, for example, homeless people, or undocumented immigrants and refugees, this part of the brain doesn’t light up. Instead, there lights up a part of the brain responsible for fear and disgust. 

Studies also show that if we put different people in situations when they have to work together to achieve a common goal, othering tends to diminish. When people engage in dialog, when people communicate and coordinate, people start to see each other, and neural activity gets changed. The person who previously provoked a fear response becomes a human again.

The moral here is that in order to overcome othering on a personal level, we should collaborate with as many people as we can.

Structural-Level Othering

But it’s not enough to deal with othering on a personal level. We live in social structures which determine our behavior and our identity. 

For example, the US government calls all immigrants “Alien”. And by doing that on a structural level, the government said to the immigrants that “you do not belong”. 

When police profile people based on how they look, it’s othering on a structural level.

When we allow such a huge level of income inequality, it’s a structural problem. The whole system of resource distribution is organized in a way that it others the poor and favors the rich.

What to do with structural othering? Create an inclusive structure which allows people to belong. It sounds easier than it is, but this way we can upgrade our culture.

Implementing basic income, removing immigration barriers, providing access to educational resources to all are all important steps. It is also vital to create organizations within which belonging is cultivated. The USTP is a great example of such an organization. Everyone is welcome to participate regardless of residence, income level, and a variety of other circumstances or attributes. You are welcome in the USTP even if you are not human or not an organic-based form of sentient life.

The Future

Why is it important to talk about othering in the context of the building of transhumanists’ future?

In context of the COVID-19 situation, it’s become very clear that we can’t hide inside our small narratives. It’s impossible to stay away from the pandemic situation. In order to get over this pandemic with minimal loss of human lives, we have to work together. It’s not going to be the last pandemic, and in order to prepare for future threats, we have to cooperate more closely. A virus is only one of the potential existential threats. What about climate change, bio-terrorism, asteroids, and destructive AI? We have to work together to survive!

As transhumanists we should prepare ourselves to face the “other” and to become “other” in certain situations as well. I think we need to create structures which can be inclusive not only for humans but for all sentient beings.

Other Modified Beings

There are millions of people around the world with artificial body parts and this number will keep growing. How will the culture react when organization goes from regaining physical ability to enhancing ability? We can face creating a new other and potentially new discrimination. 

Uplifted Animals

Recognizing that animals are living beings with feelings and thoughts is pretty new phenomenon. And mostly right now animals are considered commodities. We will have to have a very difficult dialog about humans behavior with animals uplifted to human-level intelligence.  

Other AI Entities

While we create Artificial Intelligence, we should remember that creating tech slaves is not going to end anywhere good. We should create colleagues with whom we are going to work to build a transhumanist future. We might even become artificially intelligent forms of life ourselves. 

Conclusion

But race is the child of racism, not the father. – Ta-Nehisi Coates

I believe that othering is an existential issue. If we keep dividing people and other beings into “us” and “them”, then we will keep facing discrimination, conflicts, and wars. This is extremely concerning for me because we have now a lot of technological power at our disposal, and it keeps growing – and with great power comes great responsibility. What I mean is that we can easily destroy our planet by just pressing the nuclear button. And if we consider people in other countries or in other social groups as Others, if they are outside the circle of our concern, then it’s very easy to deny help and start wars.

We have built virtual walls between us, and I think it’s time to tear them down by reclaiming and living and practicing belonging where no beings and lives are outside of the circle of concern.

Pavel Ilin is the Secretary of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

USTP Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed by Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club

USTP Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed by Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club

Gennady Stolyarov II
Roen Horn


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, was interviewed on December 14, 2019, by Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club. Topics discussed included recent developments in transhumanist politics, the Presidential campaign of Johannon Ben Zion, transhumanist elements in the candidacies of Zoltan Istvan and Andrew Yang, how to persuade religious individuals to be more receptive to the ideas of transhumanism and life extension, prospects for the transhumanist movement to find a spokesperson regarding life extension as influential as Greta Thunberg has been regarding climate-change activism, preservation of the self and “I-ness”, existential risks, and longevity themes in film and literature.

References

Ben Zion 2020 Campaign Website
Johannon Ben Zion Candidate Profile

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Gennady Stolyarov II and Johannon Ben Zion Discuss a Transhumanist Vision for U.S. Policy

Gennady Stolyarov II and Johannon Ben Zion Discuss a Transhumanist Vision for U.S. Policy

Gennady Stolyarov II
Johannon Ben Zion


Johannon Ben Zion of the Futurist New Deal Podcast interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II regarding the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s recent efforts, visions for the future of American politics, technological progress and technological Singularities, the importance of life-extension advocacy, open-source approaches to innovation, and overcoming challenges such as information overload and overly slow and cumbersome approval processes for innovative medical treatments. Mr. Stolyarov and Mr. Ben Zion also discussed in general terms the upcoming USTP Presidential Primary Election, for which voting will open on September 22, 2019.

This interview was filmed in Burbank, California, on August 24, 2019, following the Wellness and Longevity Seminar that was hosted there to mark the publication of The Transhumanism Handbook.

References

– “Progress in the Politics of Abundance” – Presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II
U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel – Burbank, California – August 24, 2019
The Transhumanism Handbook
– “The United States Transhumanist Party and the Politics of Abundance” – Mr. Stolyarov’s chapter in “The Transhumanism Handbook” – available for free download
Free Transhumanist Symbols
Futurist New Deal Podcast videos
Johannon Ben Zion – Candidate in the 2019 U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party Presidential Primary

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Those who join by September 22, 2019, will be eligible to vote in the Presidential Primary.

A Dialogue on the Simulation Interview with Dan Faggella: A Case for Responsible Stewardship – Article by Dinorah Delfin

A Dialogue on the Simulation Interview with Dan Faggella: A Case for Responsible Stewardship – Article by Dinorah Delfin

Dinorah Delfin


Voice by Terence McKenna

Last week I published an article, Programmatically Generated Everything – The Intelligence/Love Paradox” in response to an interview with Dan Faggella for Allen Saakyan’s Simulation series.

Dan’s thoughtful response to my article was highly stimulating as he was able to mindfully elaborate on, and critique my thoughts. So grateful for the opportunity to have this exchange of insights – Thank you!

Dan hypothesizes that human civilization might be heading towards a future subordinated by “substrate digital monopolies”, and as a result, becoming more disconnected from real human interactions, nature, and a truer sense of reality.

From this exchange, we expressed agreement on three fundamental areas:

1. A future controlled by substrate digital monopolies is one we don’t want, and therefore should mitigate.

2. We need to agree on a global set of values to enable responsible and sustainable technological development.

3. Emerging technologies such as virtual realities (VR), brain-computer interfaces or brain-machine interfaces (BMI), and artificial general intelligence (AGI) will benefit humanity and all sentient life, if used responsibly.

1. Predicting undesirable futures

For the record, this world of substrate monopolies is not something I hope for, strive for, or wish for. Rather, I consider it likely (read the full essay on the matter). It’s a hypothesis – and more than anything – a warning against a kind of power conflict that I fear. Such virtual worlds could be amazing and beneficial, but the conflict of controlling the substrate is a reality I foresee to be likely, not a reality I foresee to be preferable.” — Dan Faggella

Given our global market dynamics, sadly, substrate digital monopolies are likely to happen. The greater the disconnect between meaningful human interactions and nature, the longer we’ll perpetuate the destructive narcissism and lack of care driving society to an accelerating ecological and moral crisis. Could it be that a greater disconnect from a Truer sense Self and of Reality could put at odds the stability of all natural systems – including intelligent life itself?

Though I embrace the idea that we, technological creatures, have an inherent right to have full sovereignty over our individual evolution and senescence through the means of science and technologies, I’m also aware that many things can and will probably go wrong if we don’t properly educate ourselves or have the right policies in place.

How could we redirect the destructive forces of a global arms race for digital dominance towards instead a thriving technological era of creative and ecological flourishing? What would it take for market forces to adopt systems that are in service of all stakeholders?

By understanding where we come from – historically, biologically, and energetically – we will be better equipped at thinking and solving problems holistically and sustainably.

2. On the issue of context and values

During my years in Business School at Baruch College N.Y., a class that had the most impact on my education was “Social Entrepreneurship”.

As we become more dependent on automated processes, we ought to also device outlets for people to participate in Creative Processes that involve both the fulfillment of drives and pleasures and the accumulation of virtues and sound moral values. The better we are at mastering Self-Leadership, the better we will be at designing social systems that operate under the Highest Ethical Standards.

How can businesses and corporations profit from making the world a better place? How can we inspire young entrepreneurs to find True meaning in Life so that our drives and intentions are aligned with maintaining a more Harmonious Universal Ecosystem?

“Most of what we believe to be moral tenets and insights are contextual”, says Dan. I agree. It is a postmodern sensibility based on the universal natural principle of Relativism, which means, everything is essentially an opinion and nothing could be iron truth.

Some things are More truthful than others however, for example, when supported by empirical evidence. Context isn’t fixed. A set of values need not be static. (The USTP’s Bill of Rights, for example, is a living document which can be amended via votes by the U.S. Transhumanist Party members.) 

In response to last week’s article, fellow USTP Officer, Ryan Stevenson, shared the following observations:

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues you raise about the relationship between human intelligence/reason/technology and goodness recently, and what you’ve written here is really insightful. It seems that’s it’s rather easy to forget that technology isn’t a panacea, and there must be (as you put it) ‘humane’ intentions guiding its use.  

A number of the distinctions you put forward reminded me of an early Christian philosopher, Maximus the Confessor. Maximus was one of the first individuals in Western thought to grapple with the nature of technology and, unlike his fellow Christians, saw its potential for making human beings more human.  Obviously, his thought exists in a theistic context, but maybe Maximus belongs in our list of Transhumanist forebears. If you’re interested, here’s an article that touches on some of his philosophy dealing with techne…

I also support advocating for a proactive policy with regards to BMI and VR at international bodies like the UN.  Building a transorganizational coalition with other groups would be a good step forward – labor and time-intensive, but important and doable.  It would be great to get that conversation going.” 

Maximus the Confessor’s theistic approach to this early reference to critical and ethical Transhumanism is a compelling reminder that one of the most fundamental uses of technology is to help humans become More Humane. In this article, it is argued that technology is meant to assist us in “stewarding creation across the cosmos” and that the tradition of “natural law reasoning” can help “ground a global ethic for sustainable and integral development”.

Could natural law reasoning based on empirical evidence be a viable tool to articulate norms and ideas of universal understanding?

Growing up as a Christian, for example, I often wondered about the meaning of the “holy spirit”. Devoid of mythology, the concept is one of transition towards self-awareness – Ape-to-Human – the idea of “self” becoming apparent to “sinless” primates whose awareness might have increased from introducing bone marrow and mushrooms to their diet, leading to an miraculous evolutionary transition from fearful subjects of nature’s will, to responsible masters and designers of our individual and collective destiny. 

The un-learning of one’s convictions to exercise novelty and expanded new perspectives (the dissolution of limiting beliefs) is one of the most challenging of human endeavors, but the only way to true freedom and collective harmony.

3. Love and god as universal natural phenomena; not as romantic ideas of love, or a culture’s perception of a “moral” “entity”.

In an age of powerful technology, it becomes poignantly obvious that while a personal and social ethic remain necessary—albeit altered to reflect emerging understandings of personhood and relationality—they are also increasingly not sufficient. If as humanity, as one global culture, we are to order complex ecological changes effected through human (and possibly even non-human) agency and manipulation, natural law reasoning must be more profoundly cosmological. This implies, that natural law must consider as much as possible, the ‘total ecology’ in view of its finality as New Creation, but also our human obligation to steward the flourishing of creation in all its rich, inter-dependent diversity. This ultimately is what Laudato Sì calls for when it promotes an ‘ecological conversion’ for an authentic integral flourishing.” Nadia Delicata, “Homo Technologicus and the Recovery of a Universal Ethic: Maximus the Confessor and Romano Guardini”, 2018.

Concepts of Order and Chaos are as deeply ingrained in Quantum Mechanics as in Theological, or Natural Law, reasoning. Quantum theory suggests there are many dimensions to reality, and the Noosphere has been referred to as a natural phenomenon of “transhuman consciousness emerging from the interactions of human minds.”

Love exists in many forms as the inherent “sacred”/“intelligent” programming driving natural systems towards reproduction and survival. Positive feelings like joy, love, care, trust, or instinctual arousal and mating, for example, all produce chemical reactions and high vibrational frequencies in the brain, linked to growth and a strong immune system. Stress, depression, anxiety, which make the body sick and susceptible to degenerative diseases, are linked to lower vibrational brain frequencies.

While we envision a future where sentient life blooms into higher forms of understanding and expression, I believe it is safe to say that the Transhuman Era we desire is one that encourages humanity to be more caring and to think more holistically.

Dinorah Delfin is an Artist and the Director of Admissions and Public Relations for the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party. 

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Programmatically Generated Everything: The Intelligence/Love Paradox – Article by Dinorah Delfin

Programmatically Generated Everything: The Intelligence/Love Paradox – Article by Dinorah Delfin

Dinorah Delfin


To Love or Not To Love?” Illustration by Dinorah Delfin

Yesterday, while still in excitement about Elon Musk’s recent announcement of Neuralink’s first human trials starting next year, I came across an interview by media host and science communicator Allen Saakyan with Dan Faggella, founder of Emerj (a market research platform focused on AI), and I’d love to share some thoughts!

Mr. Faggella is deeply passionate about Virtual Reality, Brain-Machine Interfaces, and Artificial Intelligence. Like myself, he is also driven by a desire to address ethical questions regarding the application of emerging advanced technologies in everyday lives – He has established communications with the UN to discuss sustainable plans for the future and avoid a potentially destructive arms-race global dynamic towards a digital monopoly.

Mr. Faggella talks about two crucial questions for humanity to address: what is the trajectory of human intelligence (what is the point of it), and how do we get there without killing each other?

I believe the role of Human Intelligence is to become ever more complex (whatever form this may take) so that LIFE has a better chance to spread across the Universe. I also believe in a mathematical, fractal, and cyclical reality. Our connection and relationship to the macro and microcosms is no accident, it is physics. We have had a basic understanding of the world of atoms, and beyond, for thousands of years, not from digital computers, but from observation and exploring Nature. 

Recently, I’ve been studying Dante’s Divine Commedia, and I have learned that the central issue in the poem is the role of Intelligence and Reason. This complex and multi-dimensional literary masterpiece centers around the idea of “conversion” – the main character realizing he wasn’t part of the solution, but the problem. The poem illustrates a stark contrast between the faculty of knowing and the faculty of choosing – If we don’t know things it is hard to make the right choices, but even if we know the right things, we don’t always make the right choices (humans usually strive to lower this probability).

In the interview, Dan and Allen talk about how to ensure that the Transhumanist transition happens in a way that maximizes humanity’s potential towards indefinite permanence. Mr. Faggella offers several responses: “The best possible scenario would be through uploading or some degree of Brain-Machine Interface.” … “The very idea that cognitively enhanced people would get together and agree on things on earth is completely inviable.” … ”Our expansion of vastly greater degrees of creativity and capabilities have to happen in the virtual world because if it happens in the physical world, we are killing each other.” … “People don’t want what they say they want, they just want the fulfillment of their drives.”

Is the future Mr. Faggella illustrates – a society driven by the “fulfillment of drives” controlled by “substrate digital monopolies” – one we want? This future, as Mr. Faggella remarks, has nothing to do with the accumulation of virtues or the preservation of what makes us not just Humans, but Humane – e.g. Reciprocal Love. 

Without LOVE there is no reason for LIFE to continue. Literally. Love relates more to Intelligent Creation than to Intelligence. Feelings of love, or high vibrational frequencies, enable GROWTH, complexity, creativity, and a strong immune system. Low vibrational frequencies are linked to stress and high anxiety levels which make the body sick and susceptible to all kinds of degenerative diseases. Love exists in many forms throughout all living systems – As above so below.

Digital technology, just like any tool, is meant to help humans maximize our innate capabilities, and Planet Earth is to be regarded as one of the Most precious legacies and source of wisdom. All sentient beings matter, and Humans, in particular, want to be in full control of our lives and destinies. 

Our physical, carbon-based reality isn’t a perception, but a re-interpretation of ideas. Technologies like VR’s and BMI’s are best when used to enhance our physical reality and relationships with other beings. Humans desire to safeguard our Individual Psyches and Sovereignty over our Individual Consciousnesses and Physical Expression. Let’s aim towards a future where we use advanced technologies not only to teach our body to leverage, on-demand, the power of universal wisdom to heal and regenerate itself, but also to leverage this universal wisdom to design systems that will protect all sentient beings from any suffering.

In the interview, Mr. Faggella talks about establishing Sustainable Development Goals with the United Nations for humanity “to get on the same page on what is after people (posthumans), and to figure out a way to have a non-arm-race global dynamic to get there”. As an active member of the Transhumanist Movement and an Officer of the United States Transhumanist Party, I’d like to kindly extend an invitation to discuss these very important and pressing topics and, along with Mr. Fagella, get involved with the UN and similar organizations.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future – there is no limit to where our imagination can take us. Dante’s Divine Commedia is, after all, a reminder that Epic Transpersonal Meta-Narratives also come with happy endings. 

Here is a link to Dan Faggella’s Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyBGgE6wYR0

Dinorah Delfin is an Artist and the Director of Admissions and Public Relations for the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party. 

***

Become a Member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Become a Foreign Ambassador

Transhumanist Bill of Rights

U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution 

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews James Strole Regarding RAAD Fest 2019 and Life-Extension Advocacy

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews James Strole Regarding RAAD Fest 2019 and Life-Extension Advocacy

James Strole
Gennady Stolyarov II
Johannon Ben Zion


On Tuesday, July 16, 2019, U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II invited James Strole of the Coalition for Radical Life Extension and People Unlimited to discuss the upcoming RAAD Fest 2019 in Las Vegas on October 3-6, 2019 – the fourth RAAD Fest in history – https://www.raadfest.com/ – and the first in a new venue. Mr. Stolyarov and Mr. Strole discussed the importance of unity in the transhumanist and life-extensionist movements, as well as what opportunities for education and inspiration RAAD Fest will offer to those who wish to live longer and healthier. They also addressed audience questions and were briefly joined by Johannon Ben Zion, Chairman of the Arizona Transhumanist Party. Watch the interview on YouTube here.

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

Watch some of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s prior appearances at RAAD Fests in 2017 and 2018 below.

RAAD Fest 2017

The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Pursuing a Peaceful Political Revolution for Longevity – August 11, 2017

RAAD Fest 2018

The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future – Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 21, 2018

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 21, 2018

U.S. Transhumanist Party Meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 22, 2018

Andrés Grases Interviews Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era – September 23, 2018

Register for RAAD Fest 2019 here