Gennady Stolyarov II
Gennady Stolyarov II
This essay has been submitted for publication to the Journal of Posthuman Studies.
This essay is written in support of the ideas presented by Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson in their book Unfit for the Future: the Need for Moral Enhancement. I will argue that Savulescu and Persson’s arguments for moral bioenhancement should be given more serious consideration, on the grounds that moral bioenhancement will most likely be humanity’s best chance at ensuring its future ethical progress, since our current achievements in rapid ethical progress have been highly contingent on economic progress and an increasing quality of life. As a vehicle for for ethical progress, this is becoming increasingly untenable as the world enters a new period of resource scarcity brought about by the ravages of climate change. This essay will also respond to some of the claims against human genetic enhancement, and transhumanism in general, made by critic John Gray. Finally, the concluding remarks of this essay will examine a possible long-term drawback to moral bioenhancement which has not net been raised by Savulescu’s critics thus far – namely, that genetically altering future human beings to be less aggressive could unintentionally result in them becoming complacent to a point of lacking self-preservation.
Maslow and Malthus
Ethical philosophers in Steven Pinker’s camp may argue that the consideration of moral bioenhancement is absurd because moral education has apparently been sufficient enough to bring forth radical moral progress in terms of civil liberties in the 20th and 21st centuries. The 20th century heralded in never-before-seen progress in terms of the civil rights granted to women, ethnic minorities, LGBT+ people, and the working class. As Pinker points out, crime rates plummeted over the past 150 years, and so has the total number of wars being fought throughout the world. Savulescu admits that this is a valid point.
However, Savulescu’s main point of contention is that while the overall rates of violent crime have been drastically reduced, rapid advancements in technology have enabled rouge individuals to inflict more mass damage than at any other point in human history. While overall rates of interpersonal violence and warfare are decreasing, advancements in technology have exponentially increased the ability of individual actors to inflict harm on others to a greater extent than at any other point in human history. It takes just one lone Unabomber-type anarchist to genetically engineer a strain of smallpox virus in a backyard laboratory, to start a pandemic killing millions of innocent people, argues Savulescu. A statistic he constantly cites is that 1% of the overall human population are psychopaths. This means that there are approximately 77 million psychopaths alive today.
I would like to raise a further point in support of Savulescu’s argument. I would argue that the exceptional progress in ethics and civil rights that the developed world has witnessed in the last century has been the result of unprecedented levels of economic growth and vast improvements in the average quality of life. The life spans, health spans, and accessibility of food, medicine, and consumer goods seen in developed economies today would have been an unbelievable utopian dream as little as 250 years ago. One of X Prize Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis’s favorite quips is that our standard of living has increased so exponentially that the average lower-income American has a far higher quality of life than the wealthiest of robber barons did in the 19th century.
As Pinker himself points out, the first moral philosophies of the Axial Age arose when our ancestors finally became agriculturally productive enough to no longer worry about basic survival. Once they had roofs over their heads and sufficient grain stores, they could begin to wax lyrical about philosophy, the meaning of life, and the place of the individual in wider society. Arguably, the same correlation was strongly demonstrated in the post-World War II era in the developed economies of the world. Once the population’s basic needs are not just met, but they are also provided with access to higher education and a burgeoning variety of consumer goods, they’re much less likely to be in conflict with “out” groups over scarce resources. Similarly, incredible advancements in maternal healthcare and birth control played a major role in the socio-economic emancipation of women.
Our ethical progress being highly contingent on economic progress and quality of life should concern us for one major reason – climate change and the resource scarcity that follows it. The UN estimates that the world’s population will hit 9.8 billion by 2050. At the same time, food insecurity and water scarcity are going to become increasingly common. According to UNICEF, 1.3 million people in Madagascar are now at risk of malnutrition, due to food shortages caused by cyclones and droughts. There could as many as 25 million more children worldwide suffering from climate-change-caused malnutrition by the middle of this century. This is on top of the 149 million malnourished children below 5 years old, who are already suffering from stunted growth, as of 2019.
This is the worst-case scenario that climate-change doomsdayers and authors of fiction revolving around dystopian civilizational collapse keep on warning us of. There is a legitimate fear that a rapid dwindling of access to food, medical care, and clean water could lead currently progressive developed economies to descend back into pre-Enlightenment levels of barbarism. Looting and black markets for necessities could flourish, while riots break out over access to food and medical supplies. Ostensibly, worsening scarcity could encourage the proliferation of human trafficking, especially of females from desperate families. The idea is often dismissed as wildly speculative alarmist screed by a considerable number of middle-income city dwellers living in developed nations. Food shortages caused by climate change have mostly affected the sub-Saharan Africa and India, where they’re far out of sight and out of mind to most people in developed economies.
However, the World Bank estimates that 140 million people could become refugees by 2050, as a result of climate change. These populations will predominantly be from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, but it is likely that a significant percentage of them will seek asylum in Europe and America. And developed Western economies will only be spared from the worst effects of climate change for so long. North Carolina has already been afflicted by severe flooding caused by Hurricane Florence in 2018, just as it was affected by Hurricane Matthew which had struck two years earlier. Climate journalist David Wallace-Wells has gone so far as to claim that a four degree increase in global temperature by 2100 could result in resource scarcity so severe, that it will effectively double the number of wars we see in the world today.
Savulescu argues that the fact that we’ve already let climate change and global income inequality get this bad is itself proof that we’re naturally hardwired towards selfishness and short-term goals.
A Response to John Gray
As one of the most well-known critics of transhumanism, John Gray has said that it is naive to dream that humanity’s future will somehow be dramatically safer, more humane, and more rational than its past. Gray claims that humanity’s pursuit of moral progress will ultimately never see true fruition, because our proclivities towards irrationality and self-preservation will inevitably override our utopian goals in the long run. Gray cites the example of torture, which was formally banned in various treaties across Europe during the 20th century. However, this hasn’t stopped the US from torturing prisoners of war with all sorts of brutal methods, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gray claims that this is proof that moral progress can be rolled back just as easily as it is made. Justin E. H. Smith makes similar arguments about the inherent, biologically-influenced cognitive limits of human rational thinking, although he does not explicitly criticise transhumanism itself. And Savulescu agrees with him. Throughout their argument, both Savulescu and Persson hammer home the assertion that humans have a much greater predilection towards violence than altruism.
But here Gray is making a major assumption – that future generations of human beings will continue to have the same genetically-predisposed psychology and cognitive capabilities as we currently do. Over millennia, we have been trying to adapt humanity to a task that evolution did not predispose us towards. We’ve effectively been trying to carry water from a well using a colander. We might try to stop the water from leaking out from the colander as best we can by cupping its sides and bottom with our bare palms, but Savulescu is proposing a radically different solution; that we should re-model the colander into a proper soup bowl.
It seems that Gray is overlooking some of his own circular reasoning which he uses to perpetuate his arguments against transhumanist principles and genetic enhancement. He argues that humanity will never truly be able to overcome our worst proclivities towards violence and selfishness. However, he simultaneously argues that endeavoring to enhance our cognitive capabilities and dispositions towards rationality and altruism are a lost cause that will be ultimately futile. Following Gray’s line of reasoning will effectively keep humanity stuck in a catch-22 situation where we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Gray is telling us that we need to resign ourselves to never being able to have a proper water-holding vessel while simultaneously discouraging us from considering the possibility of going to a workshop to weld the holes in our colander shut.
Windows of Opportunity
There is one final reason for which I will argue for greater urgency in considering Savulescu’s proposal seriously. Namely, we are currently have a very rare window of opportunity to execute it practically. If Gray is right about the likelihood that moral progress can be rolled back more easily than it is made, then he should acknowledge that we need to take full advantage of the current moral progress in developed economies, while we still have the chance to. Rapid advancements in CRISPR technologies and gene-editing are increasing the practical viability of moral bioenhancement without the consumption of neurotransmitters. Savulescu argues that we need to strike while the iron is hot; while the world economy is still relatively healthy and while STEM fields are still receiving billions in funding for research and development.
If nothing else, a rather intellectually sparse appeal to novelty can be made in defence of Savulescu’s proposal. Given that climate change could be the greatest existential risk humanity has ever faced in its whole history to date, we should begin considering more radical options to deal with its worst ravages. The limited faculties of rationality and altruism which nature has saddled us with have brought us millennia of warfare, genocide, radical inequality in resource distribution, and sexual violence. We keep on saying “never again” after every single cataclysmic man-made tragedy, but “again” still keeps on happening. Now is as good a time as ever to consider the possibility that humanity’s cognitive faculties are themselves fundamentally flawed, and inadequate to cope with the seemingly insurmountable challenges that lie ahead of us.
A Possible Future Negative Consequence of Moral Bioenhancement to be Considered
Multiple objections to Savulescu’s proposal have been raised by authors such as Alexander Thomas and Rebecca Bennett. I would like to raise another possible objection to moral bioenhancement, although I myself am a proponent of it. A possible unforeseen consequence of radically genetically reprogramming homo sapiens to be significantly less selfish and prone to aggression could be that this will simultaneously destroy our drive for self-improvement. One could argue that the only reason human beings have made it far enough to become the most technologically advanced and powerful species in our solar system was precisely because our drive for self-preservation and insatiable desire for an ever-increasing quality of life. You could claim that if we had just remained content to be hunter-gatherers, we would never have gotten to the level of civilization we’re at now. It’s more likely that we would have gone extinct on the savannah like our other hominid cousins, who were not homo sapiens.
Our inability to be satisfied with the naturally-determined status quo is the very reason the transhumanist movement itself exists. What happens, then, if we genetically re-dispose homo sapiens to become more selfless and less aggressive? Could this policy ironically backfire and create future generations of human beings who become complacent about technological progress and self-improvement? Furthermore, what happens if these future generations of morally bioenhanced human beings face new existential threats which require them to act urgently? What happens if they face an asteroid collision or a potential extraterrestrial invasion (although the latter seems to be far less likely)? We don’t want to end up genetically engineering future generations of human beings who are so devoid of self-preservation that they accept extinction as an outcome they should just peacefully resign themselves to. And if human beings become a space-faring species and end up making contact with a highly-advanced imperialist alien species bent on galaxy-wide colonization, our future generations will have to take up arms in self-defence.
This raises the question of whether it might be possible to simultaneously increase the human propensity towards altruism and non-violence towards other human beings, while still preserving the human predisposition towards ensuring our overall survival and well-being. If such a radical re-programming of humanity’s cognitive disposition is possible, it’s going to be a very delicate balancing act. This major shortcoming is one that proponents of moral bioenhancement have not yet formulated a plausible safety net for. Techno-utopian advocates claim that we could one day create a powerful artificial intelligence programme that will indefinitely protect humanity against unforeseen attacks from extraterrestrials or possible natural catastrophes. More serious discussion needs to be devoted to finding possible ways to make moral bioenhancement as realistically viable as possible.
The arguments put forth by Savulescu in Unfit for the Future should be reviewed with greater urgency and thoughtful consideration, and this essay has argued in favour of this appeal. We cannot take the great strides in civil rights made in the last 100 years, which have been heavily dependent on economic development and the growth of the capitalist world economy, for granted. As resource scarcity brought about by climate change looms on the near horizon, the very system which the 20th and 21st centuries’ great ethical progress has been contingent upon threatens to crumble. Gray is right in arguing that the human animal is fundamentally flawed and that repeated historical attempts at better models of moral systems have failed to truly reform humanity. And this is where Savulescu proposes a controversial answer to Gray’s resignation to humanity’s impending self-destruction. We must consider reforming the human animal itself. As the field of gene-editing and the development of impulse-controlling neurotransmitter drugs continue to show great promise, world governments and private institutions should begin to view these as viable options to creating a less short-sighted, less-aggressive, and more rational version of homo sapiens 2.0. There are only so many more global-scale man-made catastrophes that mankind can further inflict upon itself and the planet, before this radical proposal is finally undertaken as a last resort.
Hilda Koehler is a fourth-year political science major at the National University of Singapore. She is a proud supporter of the transhumanist movement and aims to do her best to promote transhumanism and progress towards the Singularity.
Part 4: Moral Universalism vs. Relativism
James Hughes’ essays on the problems of transhumanism continue with a discussion on conflicts, borrowed from the Enlightenment, between universalism and relativism within transhumanism. The Enlightenment event (European and global), in addition to its attack and severance of the roots of traditional European culture in the sacred, magic, kingship, and hierarchy, thereby secularizing all institutions and ideas, also (intellectually and to some extent in practice) effectively set on course the demolition of all legitimizing basis of monarchy, aristocracy, woman’s subordination to man, ecclesiastical authority, and slavery. These were replaced with the principles of universality, equality, and democracy. Included in this was also an argument for moral universalism, a position that ethics and law should apply equally to all humans.
Now, despite profound differences of outlook among the Enlightenment thinkers, there was a wide area of agreement about some fundamental points, i.e., the reality of natural law (in a formulation that signaled a departure from the language of orthodox Catholic or Protestant doctrine), of eternal principles the adherence to which alone could make humans enjoy wisdom, happiness, virtue, and freedom. For theists, deists and atheists, for optimists and pessimists, and for puritans, primitivists, as well as believers in progress and the finest fruits of science and culture, only and just one set of universal and unalterable principles governed the world. These laws were the principles that governed inanimate and animate nature, facts and events, means and ends, private and public life, as well as all societies, epochs and civilizations. Humans degenerate into crime, vice and misery only by failing to follow them. There may have been differences and disagreements among the Enlightenment thinkers about the nature of these laws, the process of their discovery, or who even possessed the qualification to expound them; but that these laws were real, and could be known, be it with certainty or probability, was the widely accepted and central “dogma” of the entire Enlightenment.
Enlightenment thinkers proposed that all humans should be accorded the Rights of Man, though the legitimacy itself of universal, equal rights was advanced by several varieties of argument within the Enlightenment. John Locke, for example, as Hughes explains, argued for universal rights on the grounds that in the human state of nature, as created by God before civilization, we were given possession of our bodies. All humans, therefore, possess these natural rights equally, and interference with individual rights violates natural and divine law. Thomas Jefferson’s statement in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” rested upon this logic. …
Laura Sanz Olacia
Aubrey de Grey
Editor’s Note: In this interview originally published by our allies at the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF), Laura Sanz Olacia discusses with Dr. Aubrey de Grey his anticipation that treatments aimed at reversing biological aging may enter clinical trials within five years. The U.S. Transhumanist Party is pleased to feature these insights from Dr. de Grey.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 18, 2018
In November, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a graduate of the University of Cambridge, was in Spain to attend the Longevity World Forum in the city of Valencia, and he gave a press conference organized by his friend, MIT engineer José Luis Cordeiro.
Dr. Aubrey de Grey is the scientific director (CSO) and founder of the SENS Research Foundation. In Madrid and Valencia, Dr. de Grey reaffirmed for Tendencias21 one of his most striking statements of 2018: “In the future, there will be many different medicines to reverse aging. In five years, we will have many of them working in early clinical trials.”
The Longevity World Forum is a congress on longevity and genomics in Europe. It is heir to the first congress in Spain, the International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit, which was held at the CSIC headquarters in Madrid in May 2017, and Dr. de Grey also participated in that event. In Valencia, his presentation was recieved with interest, and Dr. de Grey explained to this select audience that aging will be treated as a medical problem in the near future. Rather than treating its symptoms using the infectious disease model, the root causes of aging will themselves be treated.
It was published recently on longevityworldforum.com that a therapy to reverse aging will be a reality within five years. What will be its mechanism of action, roughly?
There will not be just one medicine; there will be a lot of different medicines, and they will all have different mechanisms of action. For example, some of them will be stem cells, where we put cells back into the body in order to replace cells that the body is not replacing on its own. Sometimes, they will be drugs that kill cells that we don’t want. Sometimes, they will be gene therapy treatments that give cells new capabilities to break down waste products, for example. Sometimes, they will be vaccines or other immune therapies to stimulate the immune system to eliminate certain substances. Many different things. In five years from now, we will probably have most of that working. I do not think that we will really have it perfect by then; probably, we will still be at the early stages of clinical trials in some of these things. Then, we will need to combine them, one by one, to make sure that they do not affect each other negatively. So, there will still be some way to go. But, yes, I think it’s quite likely that in five years from now, we will have everything, or almost everything, in clinical trials.
Then clinical trials for seven years until it’s perfected. Don’t clinical trials usually take a long time?
It depends. For example, in aging, because there is this progressive accumulation of damage, you could have therapies that slow down the rate at which damage accumulates, or you could have therapies that repair the damage that has already happened. The second type of therapy is what we think is going to be most effective and is going to be easiest to do, and you can see results from that very quickly, like in one or two years. Now, of course, you still want to know what happens later on, but the first thing is to determine whether this is working at all, and as soon as it starts to work, then you can start to make it available. Clinical trials are changing in that way. Historically, clinical trials had to be completed before anybody could get these drugs, but now we are getting new policies; there is a thing called adaptive licensing, which is becoming popular in the US and elsewhere, where the therapy becomes approved at an earlier stage, and then it’s monitored after that.
Beyond the humanitarian perspective of avoiding the pain and suffering that comes with old age, if increasing the years of healthy life in people will significantly reduce health care spending by governments, why don’t they promote research in this area?
You’re absolutely right. It’s quite strange that governments are so short-sighted. But, of course, the real problem is psychological: it’s not just governments that are short-sighted. Almost everybody in the world is short-sighted about this. The reason I believe why that’s true is people still can’t quite convince themselves that it’s going to happen. Since the beginning of civilization, we have known that there is this terrible thing called aging, and we have been desperate to do something about it, to get rid of it. And people have been coming along, ever since the beginning of civilization, saying, “Yes, here’s the solution, here’s the fountain of youth!” And they’ve always been wrong. So, when the next person comes along and says they think they know how to do it, of course, there is going to be some skepticism until they have really shown that it’s true. Of course, if you don’t think it’s going to work, then you’re not going to support the effort financially. It’s very short-sighted, but it’s understandable.
Why do you think that the pharmaceutical industry does not devote its research and development efforts to this area, which causes the death of 100,000 people every day?
Today, the pharmaceutical industry is geared toward keeping old people alive when they are sick. It makes its money that way. It’s not just the pharmaceutical industry, it’s the whole of the medical industry. And so, most people say that they are worried that maybe the pharmaceutical industry will be against these therapies when they do come along. I don’t think that’s true at all. I think they will be in favor because people will be in favor, but people are not really in favor yet. People don’t really trust preventive medicine. They think “Okay if I am not yet sick…” They don’t trust medicine in general; they know that this is experimental. So, when they are not yet sick, they think “Well, I’ll wait until I am sick,” but we can change that. Eventually, people will understand that it’s going to be much more effective to treat yourself before you get sick, and then the whole medical industry will just respond to that; they will make the medicines that people want to pay for.
So you don’t think that they will be against these therapies?
No. They will follow.
But now, they are not focusing their research into this field.
That’s right because they don’t need to. The big pharmaceutical companies don’t really do much of their own research in the first place. They just wait to see what happens, and then they buy small companies.
In the car analogy that you use, you say that a car is built to last 10 or 15 years, but with proper maintenance, it can last up to 100 years. Isn’t this expressing the idea that aging is programmed and that the life of a car is also programmed?
No, it’s not. All of you know that, a long time ago, Henry Ford invented a concept called planned obsolescence, which was a way of building a car so that you could predict pretty accurately how long it would last. But, of course, the only reason that the prediction works is because people are lazy, and they don’t mind replacing their cars, so they only do the minimum amount of maintenance that the law tells them to. The reason that some cars last 100 years is not because those cars were built differently, it’s because there are a few people out there who fall in love with their cars and they don’t want them to get old. So, it really is exactly the same. In the human body, we have aging, because there are certain types of damage that are not automatically repaired when they happen. Of course, many types of damage in the human body are repaired automatically when they happen, so we don’t need medicine for that, but some of them are not. So, if we can develop medicines that do fix those things, it’s exactly the same as with a car.
If aging is not programmed, why do different species have different lifespans?
Because they have different qualities of built-in repair machinery. When I talk about all these types of damage, they are the types of damage that accumulate in the body, and they accumulate because the body does not have ways to repair them. There are massive amounts of other types of damage that I don’t call damage, and the reason I don’t call them damage is because they don’t accumulate. The reason that they don’t accumulate is because we already have built-in machinery to repair them when they happen. So, long-lived species have more comprehensive automatic repair machinery built into them.
Do you think that first we can focus on just replacing organs and restoring their function, and eventually we can eliminate the root causes of aging? Once we reach longevity escape velocity, maybe we can focus on just eliminating it?
We will never be able to stop the body from creating this damage. The body is going to do that because it is intrinsic to metabolism, but the better we get at repairing the damage, the fewer problems we have.
What healthy habits do you follow now?
I don’t do healthy habits. I’m lucky, I don’t need to do anything; I can drink whatever I like and nothing happens. I don’t even do much exercise, and also I don’t get nearly enough sleep, which is probably shortening my life, but it is worth it because I am hastening the defeat of aging, so it is a net positive.
Which generation will live to be a thousand years old? Do you think it is born already?
I think it is very probably born already, yes. But, of course, we cannot know until we get the medicines.
Which country do you think is more aware, or the people is more aware that this is a problem that we need to fix?
I would say Russia.
Yeah. Surprising, isn’t it? But when I go to Russia and I talk about all of this, it’s so wonderful; I don’t get any of the uninformed questions, and everyone seems to understand it.
They don’t ask you ethical questions?
That’s right, yeah. They understand that this is a medical problem, it needs to be fixed, and it can be fixed.
Kriorus [the first and only cryonics company in Eurasia] is there right?
Yeah, I know Kriorus, I know the people very well.
Alcor [the world leader in cryonics located in Arizona] is the most expensive.
It gives the best service. I mean, it makes sense to have a very expensive, high-quality service and also less expensive and lower quality service. That is normal.
Where are you currently living?
I live in the United States, but I go everywhere when I am invited to speak and so on.
Laura Sanz Olacia, has a degree in Pharmacy from the Complutense University of Madrid (2015). Between 2016 and 2017 she worked for nine months in different pharmacies in London. She also worked in a pharmacy laboratory compounding medicines and cosmetics in Madrid. More recently she worked in IQVIA as Data Management Analyst. She is very interested in research and, in particular, in the area of aging. During her stay in London, she participated in the organization of the Antiaging Conference London 2016, and back in Madrid, she collaborated closely with the organizing committee of the International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit 2017. She wants to devote her career to doing research in this field.
A transhumanist organization, Enlightenment Transhumanist Forum of Nigeria (ETFN) also known as H+ Nigeria, has been licensed to operate in the country. Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission, the agency that is in charge of registering societies issued the license on August 7, 2018. H+ Nigeria was registered after it fulfilled all the conditions required for operation as a legal entity in the country. The objectives of the organization include the promotion of transhumanist thought and culture. The forum plans to create awareness of the radical changes and feasibility of redesigning the human condition which humanity stands to undergo through science and technology in the future.
The organization will also encourage the growth of technological culture in a broad range of emerging, sophisticated technologies. In addition, it will promote ethical principles and methods of adopting new and emerging technologies in Nigeria beyond.
Furthermore, the ETFN will advocate the moral right for those who so wish to use technology to extend their mental and physical capacities and to improve their control over their own lives. Also, it will encourage systematic research and create a forum where people can rationally debate what needs to be done and advocate for a social order where responsible decisions on transhumanist principles can be implemented. It is most exciting that such a platform for furthering the ideals of transhumanism, and other futurist philosophies, has been incorporated in Nigeria.
Gennady Stolyarov II
On March 31, 2018, Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, was interviewed by Nikola Danaylov, a.k.a. Socrates, of Singularity.FM. A synopsis, audio download, and embedded video of the interview can be found on Singularity.FM here. You can also watch the YouTube video recording of the interview here.
Apparently this interview, nearly three hours in length, broke the record for the length of Nikola Danaylov’s in-depth, wide-ranging conversations on philosophy, politics, and the future. The interview covered both some of Mr. Stolyarov’s personal work and ideas, such as the illustrated children’s book Death is Wrong, as well as the efforts and aspirations of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. The conversation also delved into such subjects as the definition of transhumanism, intelligence and morality, the technological Singularity or Singularities, health and fitness, and even cats. Everyone will find something of interest in this wide-ranging discussion.
The U.S. Transhumanist Party would like to thank its Director of Admissions and Public Relations, Dinorah Delfin, for the outreach that enabled this interview to happen.
To help advance the goals of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, as described in Mr. Stolyarov’s comments during the interview, become a member for free, no matter where you reside. Click here to fill out a membership application.
Editor’s Note: In this guest article, Pedro Villanueva outlines a new concept of pluslectic philosophy, which endeavors to be a method of thinking and forward-looking feedback (feedforward) which would characterize future advanced civilizations of enhanced humans. The U.S. Transhumanist Party publishes this article to motivate thought regarding how philosophical systems would need to evolve in order to recognize, characterize, and provide ethical guidance in a world of enhanced, augmented “plus-humans” – i.e., transhumans. This article was originally written in Spanish. The author’s translation from Spanish to English was edited further in a way that sought to preserve and reflect the author’s intent while restructuring various sentences to reflect the English rules of grammar.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, January 14, 2018
What is the pluslectic? The term stems from the Latin “plus”, signifying “more”, “added”, and “positive”.
A philosophical method that differs from the classical dialectic of Hegel and Marx, pluslectic philosophy values the input of the positive facts of growth throughout the world.
First think what happens with society and history. Our world over time since the beginning of civilization has been almost dystopian, as said Slavoj Zizek, […] “The real thing is a grain of sand that prevents us from a functioning unimpeded; a shock traumatic that disrupts the balance of the symbolic universe of the subject.” 
With the development of capitalism, develops also nihilism; it refers to a “belief” or faith that all values are meaningless or useless and that nothing can be really known or communicated, since humans can never know the truth and should leave social deception.
Nihilists believe in these 3 things:
1. There is not reasonable proof of the existence of a “supreme ruler” or a “creator”.
2. The “moral truth” is unknown.
3. The universal ethics is impossible.
Nietzsche says the following: “What matter to me others? Others are only human. Be superior to humanity by the force, by the temple, for contempt… ” 
In the 20th century and early 21st century, there has deepened the social disorientation and the existence of a society without sense, with the philosophy of the postmodernism of Lyotard. Lipovetsky examines a “postmodern” society marked, according to him, by a separation of the public sphere, and at the same time a loss of the sense of the large collective institutions (social and political) and “open” culture based on the regulation of human relations. Grace, hedonism, customization of the processes of socialization, permissive education, sexual liberation, focus on mood all characterize such a society.
This vision of society poses a neoindividualism of a narcissistic type and, moreover, what Lipovetsky called “the second individualist revolution”. The Post-Structuralists, with the deconstruction approach of Derrida, and Paul Virilio, with his thought of the aesthetics of disappearance where speed rules in the political, economic and cultural realms of human existence, are examples of this phenomenon.
I’ll explain the evolution of the concept of modern dialectic in the main figures of the philosophers Fitche, Hegel and Marx.
For Johann Gottlieb Fichte, I, the subject, is derived from all and the logical principles logical of identity and denial, to assert oneself begets opposition – “not me” – and both are subordinated to a principle of total unity. As the self comes into contradiction with himself and opposition to the “not me”, it eliminates this opposition by limiting both flows in an endless process, which is formulated in the dialectic triad: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. 
The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel applies the term “dialectic” to his philosophical system and its logic focused on the future, contradiction, and change, which replaces the principles of identity and non-contradiction, by the incessant transformation of things and the unity of opposites. Hegel thought that the evolution of the Idea occurs through a dialectical process, i.e., a concept confronts its opposite and as a result of this conflict, rises a third synthesis. The synthesis is more loaded with truth than the previous two opposites. The work of Hegel is based on an idealistic conception of a universal mind that, through evolution, aims to reach the highest limit of self-consciousness and freedom. 
The German philosopher Karl Marx applied the concept of dialectic to the social and economic processes. The so-called dialectical materialism of Marx is often considered as a revision of the Hegelian system. This proposed a solution to a widespread problem of economic ends through three concepts: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. The first was the source of the problem in this property of the capital concentrated in the bourgeois class. The second, proletarian, class, the creator of the value with their work, was stripped of all means of production. These two, according to Marx, will give as a synthesis communism, the social ownership of the means of production. 
Let’s bring to the discussion general systems theory and its importance. The advance of technology exposes the complexity of general systems theory when compared to the modern dialectic.
The general systems theory was conceived by Ludwig von Bertalanffy in the 1940s, in order to form a practical model for conceptualizing the phenomena that the mechanistic reduction of the classical approach to science could not explain. In particular, general systems theory seems to provide a unifying theoretical framework for the natural sciences and the social sciences, needing in so doing to employ concepts such as “organization”, “whole”, “globalization”, and “dynamic interaction”; the linear is replaced by the circular. None of this was easily understandable by the analytical methods of the pure sciences. The individual lost importance in favor of the interdisciplinary approach. 
During the 1930s, Wiener worked with doctors and engineers and examined the parallels between human beings and electrical systems. As a result of such research, important concepts of feedback were developed, with the researchers studying more closely those systems that incorporated them.
These concepts of feedback, by which information was introduced to machines, led to the emergence of Cybernetics as the adaptation different from the mechanistic theory. The circularity and feedback processes are passed to the common elements of entire system, and Wiener called them “anti-entropic local phenomena”.
The behavior of a driver’s car on a road would be a clear example of negative feedback, since the driver would receive information from the limits of the road that could produce correcting deviations with the steering wheel. The thermostat would be another example of negative feedback, to which we referred above.
Any feedback would take into account the information on past actions, and with them would determine further actions to follow, creating a structure more complex than the linear or circular causality.
In this type of chain, each link is modified and changes its interaction, and this modification occurs in a circular process known as feedback loop (feedback loop).
We can find examples of the previously articulated concept. Thus, a spider that paralyzes a fly with its stinger is involved in a process of spending a fixed amount of power from “a” to “b”; a jellyfish stinging a human hand can participate in a feedback loop from “a” to “b” and “b” (hand stung) back to “a” (in the form of circle). In the first model the effect of “a” on “b” is not returned to the system (a + b); in the second, the message part of the affected “b” (production) and returned to the system (a + b) as feed-back (received power). The general systems theory holds that transactions are circular and create spirals of exchange that become progressively more complex.
Feedback can be positive or negative.
Positive feedback: Growth of differences – “snowball” – when left to operate, leads to the destruction of the system.
Negative feedback (e.g., a thermostat): Leads to an adaptive behavior or having a purpose, a purpose.
In both cases, there is an anointing of transfer by means of which the received energy is converted into the result, which, in turn, is reintroduced into the system as information about the result.
In the case of negative feedback, the system uses this information to activate its homeostatic mechanisms and to reduce the deviation of the production system and thus maintain a “steady state”.
In the case of positive feedback, the information is used to activate the mechanisms of growth (morphogenic mechanisms) that lead to a disruption of homeostasis and a movement toward change – i.e., the positive feedback serves to increase the deviation of the production.
Therefore, when a system uses negative feedback, the system is auto-corrects and returns to the initial state (i.e., does not change). When a system uses positive feedback, the system goes to another state (change).
Andréi Korotáyev (Андрей Витальевич Коротаев, born in 1961) is an anthropologist, economist, historian, and sociologist, with important contributions to the world system theory and mathematical models of social and economic macrodynamics.
Andrey Korotayev’s major contributions belong to four areas: mathematical models of the dynamics of social, economic, and historical phenomena (cliodynamics).
In the field of cliodynamics, Korotayev proposed one of the most convincing explanations for the doomsday argument of Heinz von Foerster.
In collaboration with his colleagues Artemi Malkov and Daria Khaltourina, Andrey Korotayev showed that, until the 1970s, the hyperbolic growth of the world population was accompanied by a hyperbolic growth of the second degree of the world’s GDP, from which developed a series of mathematical models which both described this phenomenon as the theory of world system, the correlation between the hyperbolic growth of the world population and the hyperbolic of second degree of global GDP growth, observed until the early 1970s, corresponds to a positive feedback. (Positive feedback is one of the mechanisms of feedback by which outcomes or outputs of a system cause cumulative effects at the entrance, in contrast with the negative feedback, where the output causes subtractive effects at the entrance. Contrary to what you may believe, positive feedback is not always desirable, since the “positive” adjective refers to the mechanism, rather than the result.) The non-linear second-order relationship between demographic growth and technological development can be explained according to the following sequence:
•→Increased technological growth, growing the load capacity of the planet → population growth → more people → more potential inventors → acceleration of technological growth → acceleration of the increase of the carrying capacity of the planet → faster population growth → acceleration of the increase of potential inventors → faster technological growth → increasing the capacity of the Earth to support people… and so on. On the other hand, Korotayev’s research has shown that since 1970 the world system never develops hyperbolically; its development diverges more and more from the “regime of inflation” and currently is moving “away from singularity”, rather than “toward singularity.”
Marshall Goldsmith (born March 20, 1949) is an American leadership coach and author of management-related literature. He pioneered the personalized use of the FeedForward as a leadership development tool. The FeedForward assessment tool was created by Marshall Goldsmith with the intention of providing to individuals, teams, and organizations suggestions that help them, in the future, to make a positive change in their behavior. There is a fundamental problem with all types and forms of feedback: focus on the past, on what has already happened, not on the infinite variety of opportunities that could happen in the future. As such, the feedback can be limited and static, rather than dynamic and expansive. The FeedForward of Marshall Goldsmith helps you to predict and to focus on a positive future, not on a frustrated past. In training athletes using ‘feedforward’ (future feedback), the basketball players are taught to see the ball going into the ring and imagine the perfect shot. To give you ideas on how you can be even more successful, the FeedForward evaluative tool from Marshall Goldsmith can increase your chances of success in the future.
Marshall Goldsmith Library:http://www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com/
The pluslectic method is converted input, based on the theory of the system and concepts such as positive feedback, the feedforward, and Korotayev front-loading. The dialectical process evolves through concepts, hypotheses, ideas, and where the initial step is always positive (feedforward), accompanied with growth within a system of positive feedback, where the outcome of a positive feedback is one greater amplification which makes a small signal into a major change in the status of the system. Amplification generally grows in exponential systems in a first-order or second-order hyperbolic way.So evolution creates breaks in a positive and fast way, leading to shifts from one system to another system. Such systems are open to differences and are not controlled by negative feedback (which characterizes closed systems), where is the entropy of the system common.
The pluslectic is a philosophical view of how to operate a model of thinking of high civilizations of aliens or humans in the future, which would tell you as plus-humans, if this condition occurs with huge advances in engineering biogenetics, to reduce all the emotions and negative thoughts, where even before any negative events occur, humans would be capable of pre-feeding positively, with a vision of feedforward.
The pluslectic is a concept that is defined as the paradigm for highly developed post-humans, as opposed to the concept of dialecic from the 19th century, and the ideas of the 20th century, still in the generation of the great tales of humankind. Post-modernism and late modernity during the early 21st century are in crisis of change, setting the stage for the birth of new concepts oriented toward the future.
Images by Pedro Villanueva: Image #1 is his symbol for the Pluslectric; Image #2 is his artistic visionary representation of the concept.
NOTES The Sublime Object of Ideology (1989). Slavoj Zizek.  The Antichrist. Friedrich Nietzsche. . Basement of all the Doctrine of Science (1784). Johann Gottlieb Fitche.  The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). G. W. Friedrich Hegel.  Capital (1867). Karl Marx.  General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications (1968). George Braziller.
Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics. Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends. Moscú, Russia Publishers, 2006
Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow: Russia Publishers, 2006;
Pedro Villanueva wasborn in Havana, 1974. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in San Alejandro. He writes in an approach to thought known as Pluslectic, which is in line with today’s world and the vision towards the future.
Gennady Stolyarov II and Bobby Ridge
Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party, interviews Bobby Ridge, a researcher into transhumanist philosophy and the scientific method and the new Secretary-Treasurer of the United States and Nevada Transhumanist Parties.
Watch this conversation regarding the subjects of Mr. Ridge’s research, the scientific method, and transhumanism more generally.
Bobby Ridge has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Science from California State University of Sacramento (CSUS) and is striving to achieve his MD in Neurology. He only recently became a Transhumanist. He conducts research for CSUS’s Psychology Department and his own personal research on the epistemology and Scientiometrics of the Scientific Method. He also co-owns Togo’s in Citrus Heights, CA. Mr. Ridge considers transhumanism to describe the future of humanity taking its next steps in evolution, which are both puissant and daunting. With the exponential increase in information technology, Mr. Ridge considers it important for us to become a science-based species to prevent a dystopian-type future from occurring.
Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free by filling out this form.
One of the most popular discussions in the field of technology today is that of self-driving vehicles. It’s a topic that brings up both optimistic joy and pessimistic fear, from the elimination of car-related fatalities to the elimination of millions of jobs. I usually stand on the optimistic side of the argument, but I also understand the fear.
In other words, with the full mobilization of self-driving vehicles, we’re looking at around (+/-) 4 million jobs being automated in the next few years, thus no longer requiring human labor. This particular risk, however, isn’t what I’m currently focused on. The main focus of this article is on what is known as the “trolley problem” – a thought experiment in ethics that has since been rehashed to serve as “criticism” towards self-driving vehicles.