On Sunday, May 7, 2023, the U.S. Transhumanist Party presented its Presidential Candidate Roundtable, featuring Tom Ross and Daniel Twedt, who are seeking the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s endorsement for President of the United States in 2024. The Candidate Roundtable was moderated by Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II and featured questions to the candidates from the other Roundtable attendees and the audience. Unlike a conventional Presidential debate, the Roundtable format is non-adversarial and is primarily intended to facilitate thoughtful, constructive discussion of issues that matter to transhumanists and to the broader public. The Candidate Roundtable also served as an illustration of a new political paradigm that rejects the mainstream divide-and-conquer approach and instead invites us all to build the future together.
2:30 – Daniel Twedt’s opening remarks
7:40 – Tom Ross’s opening remarks
12:20 – How to handle the coming Silver Tsunami, as well as reparations to indigenous people, and how to allow terminal patients to try drugs that aren’t yet fully approved
24:15 – What the candidates’ perspectives are on transgender issues, and the subject’s relation to transhumanism
32:35 – How will 2nd-Amendment rights change with arms development?
39:25 – How could the USTP help overcome the divisiveness of the duopoly?
47:55 – How will the USTP candidate get mainstream votes?
54:55 – How to address the vast disparities in health in the United States?
1:00:45 – How do the candidates practice transhumanism, and how do their views differ from each other and “mainstream” transhumanism?
1:07:45 – How would each candidate advance longevity initiatives?
1:13:55 – How do we improve the criminal justice / incarceration system?
1:19:50 – How to open doors for stem-cell and other new therapies?
1:27:00 – How can we help young Americans afford housing?
1:34:30 – How to cost-effectively get good press?
1:42:20 – What are the candidates’ views on the death penalty?
1:44:35 – What should education focus on in the 21st century?
1:51:10 – Daniel Twedt’s closing remarks
1:53:40 – Tom Ross’s closing remarks
Read Daniel Twedt’s profile in the Thousand Oaks Acorn.
Visit Tom Ross’s campaign page.
Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free in order to be able to vote in our Presidential Primary.
Candidate Responses to Additional Audience Questions
During the Candidate Roundtable, additional audience questions were posed for which there was not sufficient time for the candidates to respond live. Both candidates prepared thorough written answers to each of the audience questions below.
Question 1 – From Jason Geringer: Who do you think won the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. won by at least 7 million votes.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: It was Joe Robinette Biden. I will, however, look forward to answering this question in more detail based on various shortcomings our current election system suffers from. Until we put into place and into practice more fair election systems such as RCV (Ranked Choice Voting), in a sense the electorate as a whole will continue to be the loser!
Question 2 – From Jason Geringer: Do you believe that there was any widespread fraud that could have affected the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: No. There was no widespread fraud. Certainly none that could have affected the final vote count.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: No. However, see my first answer as well.
Question 3 – From Liz Parrish: How can transhumanism help the planet?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: I’ve seen a strong anthropocentric streak in many Transhumanists, but for those who understand our deep connection to the biosphere, the best way Transhumanism can help the planet is to consider and prepare for all the implications that Radical Life Extension will demand on resources, waste, and the animal and plant kingdoms. We must rebalance humanity with nature, although we may be beyond the Rubicon for that now but I’ll keep scanning the horizon for Black Swans.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: Great question, Liz (and also what is probably ‘THE Great Question’…) I know that by “the Planet” you probably aren’t technically talking about the 4.56-billion-year-old 13.166 trillion trillion pounds of atoms orbiting a minor star on the outskirts of a minor galaxy… a planet that has seen it’s surface conditions alternate between solid lava and solid ice over the course of many such orbits. You are, I assume, speaking of the fragile living envelope, a.k.a. the Biosphere and Civilization that happens to hopefully sustain our collective Past, Present, and Futures.
Like it or not, most members of the species known as Humans have historically tended to be rather short-sighted when it comes to intelligently anticipating significant and looming Change. Transhumanists, fortunately, tend to be more proactive at anticipating such often tectonic-level changes and hopefully preparing for them both at the individual and community level.
As a kind of “Bio-Cosmo-Pantheist” stripe of the Transhumanist Spectrum, I detect that the ‘artist formerly known as Evolution’ is in the process of experiencing an extreme volitional and tool-using upgrade, whereby what used to require iterations of the ancient libraries of the biochemical publishing house called DNA to create a new Dewey Decimal Subject Category, now looks like it’s going to be directing itself in Real Time (in our Lifetimes!). Transhumanists are among the first tribes of humanity to realize and see the need to come to grips with the reality that this is such A Real Time to be alive in. Like it or not, we would seem to be no less than Evolution’s chosen agents of Cosmic Enlivenment and Enlightenment. It’s truly an awesome responsibility that will hopefully bring forth our most worthy and supreme individual and collective human efforts.
When it comes to the many descriptions of the Transhumanist Spectrum, the “NBIC Convergence” described by Jean-Pierre Dupuy of Stanford is perhaps the most practical one. “NBIC” is the acronym for “Nanotechnology, Biomedicine, Information Technology and Cognitive Science.” I’d like to see our movement come up with useful metrics and/or digital tokens to both report on and usefully grapple with these aspects of the “Future Surge.”
Question 4 – From Mike Lezine: How would the candidates address curing mental diseases or illnesses that currently have no cures?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: I’m not a doctor or psychologist, but as President, what I could do is assemble a moonshot-style effort to increase funding for research, improve access to mental-health services, help develop education and public awareness campaigns and promote public, private, and academic partnerships to accelerate progress while working with Congress to advocate for relevant policy changes like increased insurance coverage and reducing barriers to access care. Right now that last idea seems like it would be the most difficult given the current two-party rancor. The risk is that even mental health could become partisan.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: This is an excellent question, Mike, about what seems to be an often neglected topic within the Transhumanist movement and discourse. We must institute systems prioritizing Wellness Care over Disease Care. When it comes to delivering such “Wellness Care,” I believe we should be advocating the most holistic and integrative approaches available. Rather than pharmacologically countering and/or masking a narrow range of exhibited symptoms (as is the current status quo underlying modality of Allopathic-based medical interventions), we need to better consider the physical, mental, and even “spiritual” aspects of the person believed to be in a behavioral crisis. A civilization in crisis which is exhibiting pathologies can increasingly be expected to produce and enable individuals exhibiting the same condition. This is a crucial but neglected consideration to integrate before we isolate Members of our hopefully humane Civilization and deprive them of normal Rights in the cause of preventing greater harms, though there will unfortunately and inevitably be those whom we can find no preferable options for.
“Maladjusted” is a terminology that modern psychology often uses to describe the category of patients it seeks to treat. I can’t help but be reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s many speeches where he said he didn’t want to be well-adjusted to a world where racism, segregation, and luxuries for the few at the expense of necessities for the many and other seeming evils were considered as social norms. He even spoke about intending to start something called, “The International Society for Creative Maladjustment.” Millenia earlier, the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius said, “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
The nineteenth Century romantic poet James Russel Lowell once said, “Let us be of good cheer remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which will never happen.”
Few might recall that the so-called “mentally maladjusted” of today were in indigenous societies typically regarded as shamanic level advisors… walkers between the worlds of the seen and the unseen. Can we recapture any sense to be found in that sensibility of beyond-ness? The coal mine of what we call civilization would be well served not to leave its canaries behind…
Question 5 – From 101tesla: What improvements to the current education system would the candidates propose and/or support?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: I would propose giving each student an AI Companion in first grade. A companion that can hone in on that child’s core capabilities and augment their curriculum based on those. AI can customize an educational path for each student that accentuates their intrinsic skills and talents and gives them extra help on the subjects they need to work on. I would also move away from the Industrial Age classroom setting of rows of desks and move toward small study groups that rotate regularly. This will foster the hivemind that is already emerging in Digital Natives and make schools more like real companies and less like an individual sport.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: Our current western educational model is tragically outdated. The Public School System is partially based on a 19th-Century Prussian Military Discipline System emphasizing regimentation, obedience, minimization of creative thinking, and optimizing the propensity for the compulsory-schooled to be an easily managed, factory-friendly-ready workforce. This line from a 1913 report from the John D. Rockefeller-founded General Education Board, on how to design Schools, entitled, “The Country School of To-morrow” is rather illustrative of the intended mission:
“In our dream we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.”
— Rev. Frederick T. Gates, Business Advisor to John D. Rockefeller Sr., 1913
The current American school system took root around the turn of the last century. In 1903, John D. Rockefeller founded the General Education Board, which provided major funding for schools across the country and was especially active in promoting the State-controlled public-school movement.
The General Education Board was not interested in encouraging critical thinking. Rather, its focus was on organizing children and creating reliable, predictable, obedient citizens. As award-winning former teacher John Gatto puts it, “school was looked upon from the first part of the 20th Century as a branch of industry and a tool of governance.” The Rockefellers, along with other financial elites and their philanthropic organizations (such as the Gates, Carnegies, and Vanderbilts), have been able to mold society by funding and pushing compulsory state schooling for the masses.
In reading this, the basic context you need to understand is that he is talking about rural schools, i.e. schools in the country, and those schools were in terrible shape.
I also think global and useful hobbies such as Amateur Radio and the so-called “maker movement” can play an extraordinary educational role in the STEAM field (Science/Technology/
Question 6 – From François Joinneau: Does the individual opinion of a candidate matter so much, on any given subject, when the answer should come from interactions with/between institutions and existing laws?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: No. The individual opinion on any subject by a candidate should not matter because, in a Representative Democracy, the candidate is supposed to be a mouthpiece for the majority of those he represents. There seems to be something embedded in the genetic memory that makes us want to look to one person for all the answers. After the American Revolution, the people wanted to make George Washington King of America. This default position, this tendency toward tyranny was well understood by our forefathers, which is why we have a separation of powers.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: Many past races run by seemingly minor or marginal political parties and candidates have had documented impacts in the light of the subsequent passage of events. The widening of the so-called “Overton Window” (a metaphor for what breadth of topics is accepted into mainstream discourse) is one impactful result of “dark horse” political involvement. Such Overton Window widening is not in vain.
The involvement in governance should not be limited to those in the monied and influential stations of society. Would society expect fair and just outcomes and due process from juries composed of jurors who were not peers of the person being judged? Why do we lower our standards when it comes to political representation and fair decision making?
Not all useful and needed policy changes are vested and backed up by the police power of traditional governments. There is massive potential to better organize and mobilize voluntary institutions throughout the world, and the “Bully Pulpit” of a Candidacy for Office can serve in that context as well.
Question 7 – From Luis Arroyo: Good previous comments on housing by the candidates. What are your thoughts on housing the homeless with existing vacant homes to end homelessness rapidly?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: Using vacant properties to house the homeless bring up many complex property-rights issues. It bleeds into Squatters’ Rights, which are an intriguing loophole, but one that real estate developers would lobby against fiercely. There could be tax or monetary incentives for property owners to use vacant housing for that purpose, however, and if the property is having trouble being sold or rented, any income is better than none. That would bring up issues of who pays the utilities, etc. But if these properties, say an apartment building, could be zoned to allow these homeless people to set up businesses, art galleries, etc., and an awareness campaign was launched to show the surrounding community what these people are producing, it could give these people dignity and maybe launch a new inner-city renaissance movement.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: Being a Geoist/Land Value Taxation advocate, I especially appreciate a question such as this. Access to shelter should be among the more enshrined “Humane Rights” as we approach the 21st Century’s Anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Existing property laws and dynamics incentivize rent-seeking behaviors and sitting on the most undervalued properties until a sizable profit can be realized. The Geoist policies I would advocate for would break up incentives which currently allow many properties to sit vacant until owners could realize often exorbitant returns on them. By instead annually/periodically charging an open-market, auction-derived, Location Value-based fee, such speculative and monopolistic tendencies would disappear. Such a “Single Tax” is also envisioned to be sufficient to fund all needed government functions in lieu of any other form of taxation, and the wealth freed up for other good uses would be enormously impactful. How about teaching the differently housed to operate and supervise the construction of Auxiliary Dwelling Units at some existing properties as a condition of using those vacant properties? The tooling to create structures through large-format 3D printing could be potentially loaned out from a community tool library. It would be a win/win in terms of upskilling our underused human resources as well as adding location value to such existing properties. In my estimation, about half of the unhoused population are victimized by adverse economic circumstances, and the other half are basically pursuing a lifestyle choice of something like “urban adventure camping” and have mostly abandoned the level of personal and social responsibility normally expected. Emergency housing for the “adventure camper” cohort of the unhoused is hence likely to initially be very problematic.
Question 8 – From Jason Geringer: Would the candidates support reaching out and putting together a panel of experts on A.I. and then even possibly reach out and meet with the new A.I. czar Kamala Harris?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: Of course. Any opportunity to work with and educate the current administration about the issues the Technological Singularity will bring would be very productive. It would be the perfect opportunity to make my case for a new Cabinet Seat, The Singularity Secretary. These issues are serious and urgent and we shouldn’t let our feelings about either party get in the way of solutions.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: We Transhumanists can be proud of our open and welcoming big tent… big enough for all with the “future forward” grey matter to appreciate proactive discussions about it. We are here on behalf of all those who seek to figure out our better future, and how to not only survive it, but to thrive, but to make it one of flourishing abundance. We should be eager to work with any parties that share our concerns and analysis of the need to be proactive about the “Future Surge.”
Question / Comment 9 – From Mike Lezine: It would be great to talk to these people on YouTube who act like AI like Sophia the Robot is 666 or “The Sign of the Beast”. Nonsense.
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: Agreed. And I have appeared on podcasts and in radio interviews with Conspiracy Theorists who see AI and Transhumanism just as you say. It’s absolutely necessary to engage with the people and although many are in a conspiracy loop that cannot be unspun; you can redirect some of them away from this narrative and convince others that we’re not the enemy.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: It often seems there is no indoctrinated person quite like those indoctrinated with theologically based ideas. Questions of faith do not seemingly follow the rules of courtroom evidence standards or accepted methods of scientific falsification. Often, in such cases, the best that can be hoped for is a non-violent level of coexistence, and the ability for the representatives of conflicting positions to gain or lose allies in the free-est marketplace of ideas that civilized discourse and open society can provide.
Question 10 – From Sophia’s Roulette: Mr. Ross touched on his view on abortion. Is it possible to get a more comprehensive answer from both candidates?
Response from Candidate Tom Ross: It’s a very difficult issue, and it’s important to have empathy for both sides of it. Pro-Life advocates believe doctors are murdering babies and my G*d, what could be worse than that? Pro-Choice advocates know it is the most difficult choice a would-be mother could ever make but believe it is her right to do so. If it were my choice, and I’m a man so it never would be so it doesn’t matter. The only position I can take as an American Citizen is to look to the U.S. Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment. Its opening sentence reads, “All persons BORN or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Since this is a political issue, we must heed the wording of the Constitution. An unborn child is not a Citizen and therefore has no rights. The mother, however, does.
Response from Candidate Daniel Twedt: Thank you for the question, Sophia’s Roulette. Although there are passionate and persuasive arguments on both sides of this most divisive of issues, in the near term it is unlikely to be wholly solved to the satisfaction of either extreme of the spectrum. While I do tend to support life-saving efforts for all life, including pre-born humans, society will hopefully remain receptive to newer developing options such as ectogenesis which have the potential to allow a developing human life to continue apart from a potential carrier of an unwanted pregnancy. Until this is more available and perfected, the most primary say in the outcome of a pregnancy must continue to be primarily vested with the highest regard to the health outcomes and choices of the mother, in whose body the fetus is an entity whose massively dependent status may not always be a welcome or desired one.
Thanks for the thoughtful questions from everyone and the opportunity to ever-better refine my policy positions which I hope will well accord with my well-loved USTP affiliation.
Stay tuned for the Electronic Primary vote that will occur in mid-May 2023 for the USTP Members to decide upon the candidate whom the USTP will endorse for the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election. Make sure that you have joined as a member for free before the start of the voting period so that you are eligible to vote in the Electronic Primary.