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Wealth, Power, and the Prospect of Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Wealth, Power, and the Prospect of Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


I often ask myself, “Why do wealthy and/or influential people seem to support spending billions of dollars on weapons and exploring outer space, when, with their massive wealth and resources, they could help reduce human suffering and dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people?”

And this question takes me back to a discussion I had last year with gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, during which he recounted to me a meeting he had with an ultra high-net-worth (UHNW) individual. The purpose of the meeting was to raise money for aging and life-extension research, and the UHNW individual refused to donate to SENS Research Foundation, or even to get involved, stating something to the effect of, “It won’t happen in my lifetime.”

That response perplexed me. Here we had a very successful and intelligent person, who, rather than help ensure his own children (as well as others’ children) could live a healthier and longer life, refused to do anything, for the simple reason that he did not believe we could make much progress on reversing aging in his lifetime.

While this is indeed a selfish way to look at things, it is by no means uncommon. In fact, I have been racking my brain recently, trying to figure out why the people who are best-equipped to do something about life extension and aging, do not do so (or do not do enough).

To be fair, there are a few wealthy and influential people who support research into aging and life extension, the most notable being entrepreneur Jim Mellon. However, they seem to be the exception rather than the norm.

Indeed, why do people like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk, who possess incredible resources and influence, choose to spend money and time on attempting to colonize hostile, uninhabitable planets hundreds of millions of kilometers away, especially considering that they and their loved ones (if they are lucky to live long enough) will die of aging-related causes such as heart disease, dementia, and cancer?

While I cannot speak for the aforementioned people, I believe there are several reasons why people in a position of power or wealth refuse to do much about supporting research on aging.

The first reason is that aging and death have been considered inevitable. Indeed, even though we have been able to put a human being on the Moon, we have been unable to prevent a single human being from aging. Enormously wealthy and successful people tend to be quite pragmatic, and so I imagine that they would not want to fund an endeavor or be a part of something they believed had no chance of success. However, we have evidence that we are making progress on this front, or at the very least, that reversing aging and implementing life-extension technologies are worthy endeavors.

In fact, in 2005, MIT Technology Review organized a panel of world-renowned experts (including molecular biologists) and offered a $20,000 prize to anyone who could disprove the SENS research program and demonstrate that reversing aging is not worthy of consideration. However, none of the contestants were able to do so. On the other hand, there is no evidence that human life is sustainable on any other planets in our solar system (while human life is perfectly sustainable on Earth), and by most professional estimates, it would take incredible technological advancements and financial resources to even enable people to temporarily stay on a planet such as Mars. We should also consider the fact that there have been no studies performed on the massive changes that would occur to the human body as a result of living on another planet.

Thus, it actually appears more realistic to work on reversing aging than it would be to work on colonizing other planets. But even if we are not able to completely reverse aging, what if we were able to slow aging? Wouldn’t it be desirable to have an additional five to 10 years of healthy life? Any progress we could make on life extension would be worth it, given that it would directly add healthy years to a person’s life. One thing is for certain – doing nothing ensures that very little will change, and that humans will more than likely continue living this average lifespan of 79 or so years (with very modest improvements over time), with much of it in the later years being in sickness and poor health.

Another reason for the refusal to fund aging and life extension research may be a rather pessimistic one. It is entirely possible that billionaires and governments are hedging their bets in the event that climate change or some other scenario causes wide-scale suffering (the likes of which have never been seen before) and a potential destruction of the planet, along with the rapid extinction of the human species. If that were the case, and Earth was about to be destroyed, it would make sense to pour resources into colonizing other planets. However, I think the likelihood of something like this occurring, at least in the near future, is extremely slim. Further, we have much evidence to support the fact that the planet could sustain a larger population and that technological improvements, as well as renewable energy, and seasteading, can prevent such an apocalyptic scenario from occurring. In fact, despite the challenges we are facing in terms of sustainability, we are making good progress, and it seems unreasonable to me to give all of this up, throw in the towel, and chase a pipe dream of living on another planet (when the one we have now is perfectly suited to human life). Also, given that we have the technology to save our planet from being engulfed in chaos and destruction, but do not currently have the technology to live on other planets, wouldn’t it make sense to save Earth first, rather than attempting to embark upon costly journeys to other planets, especially journeys that have little guarantee of success?

Yet another reason may be that many people, including those in a position of power, have bought into the idea of an afterlife. However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, there is no evidence that an afterlife exists, whereas there is evidence that we are making progress with reversing aging, even if that progress is arriving at a pace that is slower than we would have liked. With that being said, I would never want to deny anyone the right to believe in whatever they want. The question is, however, whether it is beneficial to adopt a zero-sum attitude to this matter. The fact is, believing in an afterlife and contributing to aging and life-extension research are not mutually exclusive. One can have any religious beliefs one likes, and subscribe to the idea that there is an afterlife, while also contributing to the beauty of existence here on Earth.

Finally, working on a cause such as reversing aging appears to not be as exciting as the prospect of exploring Mars, which is why people would rather update their LinkedIn (or Tinder) profile with “Entrepreneur” or “Swashbuckling Adventurer” or “Arms Dealer”, even, rather than “Gerontologist”.  In all seriousness, though, I have always found the idea of exploring faraway lands, as well as other planets, to be exciting. But if human beings are excited about exploring the unknown, shouldn’t we also be interested in exploring a process as complex as aging, especially given that there is much we still do not know about it? Also, the implications of making advancements in this field are huge. This is because the un-sexy work that gerontologists are doing will lead to us living longer, healthier lives, and so this very important work should not be ignored. In fact, it is a massive waste of resources to try to colonize uninhabitable planets at the expense of ensuring good health and longevity, when all of humanity battles with disease and death. It would even be more noble to focus our efforts on eliminating poverty (something that the Chinese government, for instance, has dedicated its efforts to).

I do not wish to dissuade anyone from exploring outer space, but neither should we avoid doing what needs to be done on our planet. I only wish to ask whether spending billions on space exploration is the best use of resources at our disposal, considering that there is still much work to be done here on Earth.

As mentioned previously, it should not be a zero-sum game. In an ideal world, we could dedicate resources to both aging research and space exploration. However, when the budget for NASA is $21.5 billion and the budget for aging research at the National Institute on Aging is $40 million, one has to start asking questions. Actually, one could argue neither budget is large enough, especially given that the U.S. Department of Defense budget is $686 billion.

Why do we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on missiles and bombs to combat a highly-exaggerated threat, when there is the absolute certainty that billions of people will suffer and then die, many of them prematurely, due to aging-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and dementia?

What makes exploring outer space so much more important than ensuring that billions do not die prematurely from aging-related diseases? Will picking up and holding red dust on a hostile, uninhabitable planet be more fulfilling than holding one’s child or loved one in one’s arms?

What does it say about our society when we are content to allow friends and family members to perish in undignified ways, while we dream about stockpiling as many weapons as possible, reliving fictional fantasies inspired by comic books and movies, and ignoring challenges here on Earth?

These are questions we must ask ourselves, and, more importantly, must demand those in power to ask themselves. At the end of the day, if we as a society are comfortable with the tradeoffs and decide en masse that dealing weapons and exploring outer space are more important than working on curing disease, reversing aging, and ensuring that everyone on Earth lives a dignified life, then we can rest assured knowing that we gave this most important of topics much consideration.

However, given the facts, I do not think we have reached that point yet. We have, however, reached a point where there is promise that we are making progress in fighting aging, and it is irresponsible and reckless to ignore these gains while entertaining fantasies of living on other planets. It makes little sense to try to live in a dignified manner on a dangerous, inhospitable, isolated planet that is not suitable for human life, when we are having difficulty living in a dignified manner here on Planet Earth (a planet that is perfectly suited to human life). The solution is not to dream about moving to Mars while leaving the elderly and unhealthy here to die. The solution is also not to increase defense funding, when we already have more weapons than we know what to do with. The solution is to help our brothers and sisters here on Earth live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. And thus, this is a call to action for those of you who are in a position of power or wealth and who can dedicate resources to ensuring that your loved ones, and everyone else’s loved ones, can live better.

One thing I would like to ask UHNW individuals and politicians is, what will you do with the great wealth, status, and power you have accumulated? Will you play golf and remark that “it won’t happen in my lifetime”? Or will you actually do something to ensure that your children won’t be doomed to a short life, during which they will suffer from debilitating disease and eventually die?

Arin Vahanian is the Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party.

Transhumanism and Tolerance – Article by Arin Vahanian

Transhumanism and Tolerance – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


In the midst of working on challenges as daunting and complex such as reversing aging, curing disease, and alleviating poverty, many people involved in Transhumanism understandably often do not have much time to stop and focus on other topics. This includes those not necessarily related to science, engineering, or medicine.

However, if we are to expand Transhumanism, change public perception, and debunk the claim that Transhumanism is a niche movement, I believe we should also explore themes that are less scientific or technical in nature. Indeed, we should focus not only on how Transhumanism is perceived among the general public, but we should also look at ourselves to see what sort of messages we are communicating through our daily words and actions.

If we agree that the main goal of Transhumanism is to ethically use science, technology, and other subjects in order to improve the human condition, then we are implying that Transhumanism can, and should, benefit all humans, and not just those who call themselves Transhumanists.

If this is true, then we must also take a deep look at whether our thoughts, beliefs, and actions are enabling all humans to partake in the benefits that we are advocating for, or whether we are unwillingly creating a gulf between those who agree with the goals of Transhumanism and those who disagree.

While terms such as “deathist” (used for people who argue that death is natural, inevitable, and even desirable) and “Luddite” (used for people who are opposed to new technologies) are usually well-intentioned, they come across as derogatory and might even dissuade people from getting involved in our movement and ultimately seeing its many benefits.

Indeed, nearly no one becomes receptive to a new idea if they feel they are being attacked. Rather, it is human nature to retreat and perhaps even become defensive when we feel that we are being criticized or when our worldview is being challenged.

We can find evidence to support nearly any conclusion. But rather than engage in mental gymnastics and become embroiled in needless debate, it is better to demonstrate one’s findings through action, with the intent of inspiring and enlightening, rather than lecturing and criticizing.

Transhumanism isn’t only for Transhumanists. It can be for anyone, whether that person is male, female, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, and no matter what occupation they hold or what their socioeconomic background may be. Indeed, a movement that promotes something as personal as morphological freedom (the right for one to modify their body as they wish) is a movement that is inclusive and empathetic to the needs of all humans, and not just a few.

Therefore, my call to action today is for us to be more tolerant of opposing viewpoints while at the same time demonstrating to the world the many benefits of Transhumanism and how it can improve the quality of life for humanity. Rather than vehemently arguing that a certain position is correct (while another is incorrect) with the hope that we will change people’s minds, we should calmly and rationally display how Transhumanism can improve the human condition, and then allow people to make up their own minds.

As much as it saddens me, there are plenty of people I have spoken with who say they do not wish to live indefinitely, and who do not believe the human life should be dramatically increased (even if that increase occurred alongside good health). No one can force anyone else to live healthier or longer. We must respect other people’s opinions, even if they differ from our own, and we must not take it upon ourselves to convince the whole of humanity to go down a certain path in life. Each person is responsible for their own life, and this includes the decision to take steps toward living longer and healthier.

What we should be focusing on, rather, is helping those who really want to be helped, while at the same time leaving the door open in the event that those who disagree might someday change their minds and decide to get involved in Transhumanism.

A movement, worldview, and philosophy with the word “human” in it shouldn’t be for a select few people. It should be for all humans, regardless of where they come from, what their socioeconomic background is, or what their religious or spiritual beliefs may be. This is because humanity, since the beginning of time, has strived to overcome challenges and transcend its limitations, and this desire isn’t limited to a small group of people.

Wanting to become a better person is part of being human. Defining ourselves as more than the sum of our limitations is what’s natural. If one of the goals of Transhumanism is to create better and more evolved humans, then we ourselves must be better and more evolved. We must set an example for the world of what is possible with the Transhumanist movement. And that begins with displaying traits such as tolerance, compassion, enthusiasm, and kindness, while working on projects and endeavors that will lead to improving the condition and quality of life for all humans.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

The First Step Toward Reversing Aging and Curing Disease – Article by Arin Vahanian

The First Step Toward Reversing Aging and Curing Disease – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


The dawn of every new year brings renewed hope and numerous promises made by individuals across the world to improve their lot in life, whether through increased exercise, a new diet, or a career change. However, according to extensive research conducted on the topic, most of these resolutions are seldom kept long-term, and many people eventually revert back to old habits and modes of thought.

While failing to keep a promise to oneself to find a new job may not have catastrophic consequences for that person, an entire society or parts of the world falling short of goals such as reversing climate change may have disastrous implications for the rest of the world.

However, this article isn’t necessarily about saving the world. It’s about a topic that is very near and dear to me; specifically, personal responsibility, especially when it comes to longevity.

Whether we read about this topic, discuss it with others, watch interviews with experts and laypeople, or read polls, almost everyone would agree that the idea of living longer and healthier is very appealing to them.

Why is it, then, that observing people’s actions reveals that many of us do things that will prevent us from living longer and healthier? Why do so many people who claim longevity is important to them turn around and engage in behaviors such as overeating, smoking tobacco products, not exercising regularly, and so on?

Thankfully, there are some people out there who take longevity and health seriously, and these individuals eagerly follow new developments and hope for the scientific breakthroughs that will finally reverse aging and cure debilitating diseases that have plagued humankind for so long.

However, the first step toward curing disease and reversing the process of aging does not start with the chemists who come up with new medicines or the gerontologists who study aging or the governments that fund projects; it starts with the individual.

If you don’t believe me, simply take a closer look the next time you are at a restaurant or supermarket and observe what many people are purchasing and putting in their bodies. You may well be shocked at the sorts of things we are consuming on a daily basis. Several decades ago, there was a fear that humanity would face starvation on a global scale, but that threat never materialized. In fact, we now have far more food than we know what to do with. Indeed, our problem isn’t that we do not have enough food, it is that we have too much food, and too much of what we consume is unhealthy, thus reducing our life span and health span.

Even if we may not want to admit it, the first step toward living a longer and healthier life is entirely in our hands.  The actions we take on a daily basis determine, in no small part, whether we can put ourselves in a situation to take advantage of the advances in medicine and technology that may cure us of disease and reverse the process of aging in our bodies and minds.

In my humble opinion, it is irresponsible for someone to neglect their health and well-being while at the same time waiting and hoping for a cure for aging or disease. There is, currently, no magic pill one can take that will cure them of poor health or magically reverse aging. Thus, the impetus is on each person to do all they can to take care of themselves and their health, while the organizations and individuals that are working on curing disease and reversing aging come up with the requisite scientific and technological breakthroughs. In fact, we could even argue that in addition to managing one’s health and diet very closely, we should do more to support the organizations and individuals dedicated to curing disease and reversing senescence, but that is perhaps another topic for another time.

Of course, by focusing on personal responsibility, I do not wish to ignore the numerous situational and socioeconomic factors that may contribute to people being unable to fully take responsibility for their health. Some people, due to conditions such as extreme poverty, are not in a position to take control of their lives in the way those of us in developed countries are able to. Similarly, though, I do not wish to ignore the plight of many residents of developed countries who face hardships (of the medical variety or otherwise) every day that prevent them from fully taking the advice in this article. Life is not black-and-white, but rather, gray, and I would never advocate for the law of the jungle in any society.

Thus, I also want to make clear that we as a society should do whatever we can to ensure that people who need medical care receive the care that they need, in a cost-effective and dignified manner. In a world of abundance, there is no reason why people suffering from curable conditions (or otherwise) should go untreated, and no reason why anyone should be bankrupted by medical bills. However, these are not the persons I have dedicated this article to. A tragedy of modern life is that so many people are easily able to make changes in their life that would lead to a healthier and longer life, but instead choose to not do so, and continue engaging in destructive behaviors.

Regardless of your views on disease and aging, it is not unreasonable to say that we should, at the very least, do whatever is in our power to take care of our own health.

Therefore, the next time you think about gorging yourself on donuts and guzzling the soda offered at the next company party, you might want to reconsider, because what many people are eating and drinking is literally killing them.

The next time you decide to sit at home and watch TV instead of doing 20 minutes of light exercise at the park or the gym, remember that lethargy has consequences.

The next time you tell yourself “I’ll quit smoking someday,” or “I’ll start exercising when I have more time,” please pause for a moment and ask yourself whether you are really being honest.

I do not wish to insinuate that we should try to be perfect all the time when it comes to health, diet, and exercise. Indeed, there is no way to get it right all the time, and the occasional piece of cake or glass of beer won’t derail your journey toward good health if you’re consistently and methodically taking good care of yourself. Rather, what I believe we should strive for is doing the best that we can on a daily basis, and if we need to make minor changes, to take small steps toward improvement every day.

There is a famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi that goes, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I agree wholeheartedly, and would add that we must be the change we wish to see in ourselves. Because no one is more responsible for your own personal well-being than you. And no one can do as much for your own longevity as you can.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

The Need for Unity and Stability in Transhumanism – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Need for Unity and Stability in Transhumanism – Article by Arin Vahanian

 

Arin Vahanian


Although Transhumanism is heavily inspired by (and also inspires) advancements in science and technology, I believe the movement could also benefit from implementing cultural aspects; in particular, those from China.

This became very clear to me not just after living in China, but also after reading the works of Dr. Martin Jacques, British professor and journalist, who is, in my mind, one of the most knowledgeable Westerners when it comes to Chinese culture and history.

Specifically, in his writings and public appearances, Dr. Jacques has elucidated various aspects of Chinese culture, two of which I think are important for Transhumanism to consider: unity and stability. I shall cover each one briefly here, and explain how our movement would benefit.

Although the Transhumanist movement is rather decentralized, and I believe in keeping it this way, we most definitely need unity, especially in regard to our values and objectives. To this end, the U.S. Transhumanist Party has published its values on its Web site, which include but are not limited to: eradicating disease; the cultivation of science, technology, and reason; support of all emerging technologies that improve the human condition; life extension; reversing aging; tolerance and inclusivity of all individuals, and so forth. I believe every Transhumanist would support these values, all of which are noble, and all of which would most certainly contribute to having a better, more prosperous, and safer world.

Any organization, family, company, group, team, or political party, for that matter, needs unity in order to stay together and fulfill its goals and aspirations. Conversely, lack of unity may lead to chaos, discordance, and dysfunction. According to Dr. Jacques, the primary political goal for the Chinese is unity. Indeed, there would have been no way for Mandarin to become the national language, nor any way for the dizzying progress (whether it is technological, societal, or economic) we have seen in the country to have occurred, without unity. Please note that I am not advocating for a change in the political process anywhere else, nor am I suggesting that other countries adopt the same political or economic system as China. I am simply stating that being unified in our goals and values is incredibly important if we wish to fulfill these goals and proliferate our values.

Just as the Chinese look at themselves as Chinese, so we must look at ourselves as Transhumanists. However, there is one major difference; while not everyone can be Chinese, anyone can be Transhumanist. Our movement is inclusive to all individuals, regardless of race, gender, class, religion, and sexual preference. Therefore, I believe that we can be unified while also being open, tolerant, and accepting of all humans.

This leads me to my next point, which is stability. There is no question that in China, as well as other Asian countries, stability is paramount. After all, an unstable society cannot work together to fulfill its objectives and protect its values. Fortunately, we have stability in the Transhumanist movement in the areas of political leadership (Zoltan Istvan, Gennady Stolyarov II), life extension (Max More, Keith Comito), aging (Aubrey de Grey), and more. What’s fascinating is that the movement is so diverse and broad, and the areas for improvement on Earth so plentiful, that we have had individuals naturally dedicate themselves to causes they deemed worthy. This has contributed to stability in the sense that people are working on what they are passionate about, and these same people have, as a result, provided stable leadership in these areas. We must ensure that this stability continues, and that we help advance the causes we believe in by promoting them on social media and mass media. We must also support those who are bravely and selflessly dedicating their lives to helping humanity move forward. All of these actions will contribute to further stabilizing the movement and what it stands for.

Additionally, we must maintain stability in our relationships with each other, as well as the messages that we communicate to others. No matter how small or large a role we each take on, our mandate as Transhumanists is to push for reforms that will improve the human condition for as many people as possible, with as much beneficial impact as possible. In doing so, we must communicate our message that science, technology, and rational discourse should be used for efforts such as curing disease, increasing human longevity, alleviating poverty, and battling climate change.

While we are completely opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we are completely open to tolerance and inclusivity of individuals, and offer assistance to those who may have been shunned by the system, either due to disability or the desire to challenge society so that we may be better humans. We are an organization that values and promotes pacifism, and by doing so, we are creating a more stable society, and world.

So my call to action today is this. Rather than argue whether a certain economic system is better than another for Transhumanism, we should focus on our values and goals, thereby fulfilling our mission, and be supportive of whichever economic system best helps get that done, whichever country we happen to live in. Different economic systems work in different countries, and we should not be dogmatic, but rather, flexible and solution-oriented.

Additionally, rather than debate one another, we must instead discuss and cooperate, again, with the intent of pushing forward our goals. Debating takes valuable time and resources away from achieving our goals, and the time that is spent on needless arguments could be spent on finding solutions to challenges that threaten humanity. While it is perfectly acceptable and in fact, desirable, to have differences of opinion, we should use these differences to collaborate and help develop solutions to the problems we humans face. We are finally getting more traction in social media, mass media, and in various communities and countries all over the world, and so we should take advantage of these trends to further spread our messages of peace, increased health and longevity, and technological innovation that will benefit humanity.

One of the challenges the Transhumanism movement currently faces is an inaccurate and unfair perception that it is a niche movement, unable to appeal to most people, and the product of wealthy technophiles in Silicon Valley. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Among our ranks are people of all nationalities, social statuses, races, genders, and religions, and we are the only movement that supports morphological freedom. Further, we are dedicated to goals such as alleviating poverty, curing disease, eliminating nuclear weapons, spreading peace, and using science and technology to make life better for all humans, not just a privileged few. Surely these are values that most, if not all humans, could stand behind. Based on this, it is quite clear that Transhumanism is most certainly not a niche movement, and that it is one of the most progressive and inclusive movements the world has ever seen.

Therefore, the best way we can promote our messages and fulfill our objectives is by being unified in our purpose, mission, and values, and be stable in our leadership, approach, and relationships. Let’s not do our detractors’ work for them by being splintered and divided, nor become detractors ourselves. Let us coalesce for the betterment of humanity, and turn our detractors into friends, supporters, and partners. Indeed, the future of the world, and that of humanity, depends on it.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

The Case for Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Case for Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


“I wish I could live 10 to 20 years less,” said no one ever. In fact, I have never met anyone who didn’t want to live at least a few more years of a healthy, active life. Yet, incredibly, there appears to be some controversy about the topic of life extension. Specifically, there seems to be some pushback from critics, who have attacked life extension as “irresponsible” and “harmful,” cite overpopulation and resource constraints, and in turn paint doomsday scenarios that would occur if human beings were to live longer lives.

With this article, I hope to begin a discussion to eventually lay this controversy to rest, as well as assuage any concerns the general public may have about the growing life-extension movement. For the desire to live longer and healthier is not only natural to the human condition, but I believe it is one of the noblest goals for human beings to strive for.

There are many good reasons to support life extension, but here I shall provide a few reasons why, just to get the conversation started. Firstly, many people already support life extension. Anti-aging products as well as hormone replacement products and therapy generated about $50 billion of revenue in 2009 in the United States alone, according to the American Medical Association. If this isn’t an indication that people are very interested in life extension, I don’t know what is. While the efficacy of some such products and therapies has come into question, that in itself would be a good reason to develop this field so that more efficacious and better products could be developed. This would ensure that we adequately address the enormous demand for life-extension products and therapies.

Not only are many people already interested in life extension, but extending the human lifespan is something we have been working on for quite a while. In fact, the global average life expectancy has more than doubled since the year 1900. This necessarily raises the question,”Why should we stop now?” It seems illogical, unreasonable, and, in fact, inhumane to me to stop working on something so crucial – increasing life expectancy so that more people can have more of what is the most beautiful experience on Earth, the human experience. Therefore, why not dedicate more resources and funding to something that most people are already interested in, consider to be a huge priority in their lives, and which we have already been working on for a very long time?

Also, as I pointed out in a previous article on aging, there are practical reasons why we would want to support life extension. Making progress in life extension means each of us will have additional time with which to do things that are important to us. Imagine if you had an additional 10 to 20 young years of life. Think about all that could be accomplished during this time. The additional time you have in your life might help you come up with a cure for cancer, help eliminate poverty, or fulfill some other important accomplishment that humanity would benefit greatly from. As I mentioned in my article on aging, extending the human lifespan would result in us being able to work on other things that are important to the human race, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of improvement and progress. Imagine the number of world-changing ideas and products that never came to fruition because someone passed away. Let’s make sure that humanity is never robbed again of something it needs, just because of the untimely end of people who could have made a positive contribution.

In addition to logical and practical reasons why we should support life extension, it turns out that concerns about overpopulation and resource scarcity have been overblown. According to biologist Dr. Aubrey de Grey, life-extension therapy could postpone or eliminate menopause, thereby allowing women to space out their pregnancies over more years. What this would do is decrease the yearly population growth rate.

Further, according to Dr. Max More, CEO of Alcor, not to mention numerous other reputable sources, including The World Bank and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, the worldwide population growth rate is slowing down and is projected to eventually stabilize and begin falling. Nowhere is this more apparent than in countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, China, Russia, and even the United States, where birth rates are below the 2.1 live births per woman required to just maintain population equilibrium. Additionally, even countries such as India, which used to have a very high birth rate, have seen huge declines in birth rates in recent years.

In terms of resource scarcity, according to the World Food Programme, while it is true that an estimated 124 million people in 51 countries are facing food insecurity, this is due to reasons such as conflict and political instability, rather than food shortages. In fact, according to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology, the problem of malnourishment is a distribution problem, rather than a production one. Indeed, India actually has a food surplus, but wastes an extraordinary amount of food, leading to a large number of undernourished people. Therefore, the problem is a supply-chain and political problem, rather than a resource problem, and we are not running out of food, as some people have claimed.

Finally, according to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. No matter where you might live, taking a quick glance around you will likely reveal that this is indeed the case. While there are a litany of causes of obesity, lack of food is not one of them. Thus, we actually have too much food around the world, rather than not enough. Indeed, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations demonstrated, in a landmark study, that per capita food availability for the world as a whole has risen in recent decades, and the number of chronically undernourished people has been cut by more than 50 percent in just a few decades. Therefore, we have more than enough food to feed everyone.

The same exaggerated fears have been stoked about other resources, such as energy, water, and land, and all have been overcome or handled over the course of human history. It turns out that human beings have been remarkably successful at coming up with solutions to these challenges over the years, and I do not think that we will, all of a sudden, lose this resourcefulness, dedication, and ability to master our environment.

Naturally, over the last few decades, not to mention centuries, doomsday prognostications by people such as cleric and scholar Thomas Malthus, biologist Paul Ehrlich, and economist Stephen Leeb, have not come true, and in fact, in many cases, have been utterly debunked.

Finally, on a moral, ethical, and indeed, human level, it seems cruel to inhibit human beings to living a certain amount of time, and no more. To this end, I have a simple question for those who are opposed to life extension based on the idea that there is a predetermined amount of time that all humans are supposed to live.

Would you tell a parent being ravaged by stage 4 cancer or a sibling suffering from cystic fibrosis that they do not deserve to live any longer because their time is up and that this is the “natural order of things”? Everyone deserves to live a dignified, healthy, and fulfilling life, and it is cruel for us to appoint ourselves judge, jury, and executioner.

So I ask people who are vehemently against life extension, “Do you believe that we are qualified to decide how long others should live?” Further, if you support cancer treatment that would prolong the life of a loved one by a few months or few years, why would you not support treatment that would prolong their healthy life for a few more years?

Since the beginning of time, humans have always strived to improve their lot in life, to seek growth in many aspects of the human experience, and to overcome challenges and hardships. Just as it would be absurd for someone to say that they want to regress, devolve, and live a shorter life, it would be equally absurd for us to say we would not want to live longer, healthier lives. Thus, it is natural for humans to support life extension, if not for themselves, then at least for others who desire it, because to reject it would be equivalent to rejecting life, and rejecting the experience of being human.

Anyone who truly cherishes life and how valuable it is, should at least consider the vast number of possibilities that life extension would bring. Of course, it is up to each person to decide for themselves whether they would want to live healthier and longer lives, and we are not the decision-makers for everyone else. This is a personal decision that must be explored by each individual. I am confident that the more we communicate our message that life extension is natural as well as desirable for the development of human beings and the planet, the more people will be on board with something that is frankly very obvious: life extension is a noble cause, and one that is very much worth exploring.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

The Case for Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Case for Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


As incredulous as it may seem, I have had numerous people ask me why I support research and funding for reversing the aging process.

The usual arguments against stopping or slowing aging are that there is some sort of natural process or natural order of things, and that human beings shouldn’t be “playing God.”

In this short article, I would like to present my personal views on aging and why I believe it is perfectly natural, and in fact, desirable, for human beings to want to overcome this limitation, or at least, slow it down.

We humans have a very peculiar relationship with aging and death. On the one hand, people spend rather large sums of money on products or services that help them look and feel younger and healthier. In essence, what these people are communicating through their spending habits is that they have a desire to slow down the aging process. Yet any talk of actually reversing the aging process is met with puzzled looks or even dismissal by the very same people. On the other hand, most people dread the condition of death but have resigned themselves to the idea that there is nothing we can do about it. So while we tend to believe that death is unavoidable, we somehow also think that it won’t happen to us for a while longer, and so we put these very important topics on the back burner and refuse to think further about them or consider how to overcome them.

My personal viewpoint is that nothing gets solved without there being some sort of action toward solving it. Problems do not normally resolve themselves.

To those who ask why we should spend money, time, and effort on reversing aging, I shall present three reasons why I believe it is beneficial for us to do so.

Firstly, human beings have always wanted to improve, to grow, and to overcome hardships and challenges. Saying that there is some natural order of things is not a valid argument against reversing the aging process.

Imagine if we had, in the past, accepted a shortened lifespan as the natural order of things. It’s good that we didn’t, because global average life expectancy has more than doubled since the year 1900.

Imagine if we had, in the past, accepted a chaotic, uncomfortable, and dangerous life as the natural order of things. It’s good that we didn’t, because we came up with inventions such as electricity, the Internet, the X-ray, indoor plumbing, heating, and so forth.

Imagine if we had, in the past, accepted our young sons and daughters having their precious lives cut short by illness as the natural order of things. It’s good that we didn’t, because we now have cures for dysentery, malaria, and tuberculosis.

The fact is that the human condition involves us progressing, overcoming limitations, and being better human beings. Hence, it is natural for human beings to want to overcome undesirable situations, and I would imagine that most people would state that poverty, disease, and aging are undesirable.  

Next, reversing the process of aging will give each one of us additional time that we need in order to accomplish other lofty goals. Imagine if you had an additional 10 or 20 young years of life. How much more could you accomplish during that time? We could spend more time on goals such as eliminating poverty, coming up with a cure for cancer, working toward world peace, and so forth. I find it hard to imagine that someone could argue against having more time in life to work on their personal purpose, vision, and mission. Therefore, reversing the process of aging would result in us being able to work on other things that are important to the human race, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of improvement and progress.

Finally, perhaps the most beautiful aspect of the human condition is having a human experience. The human experience includes things such as building relationships with other people, enjoying the splendors of a warm summer afternoon with friends or family, and partaking in any number of stimulating and rewarding activities, such as reading, exercising, and doing charity work.

To those of you who are in a romantic relationship, I ask, wouldn’t you want more time and more opportunities to be with your spouse or partner? Imagine never hearing your partner whisper sweetly in your ear again, or forever losing the overwhelming pleasure of making love to them, or no longer experiencing the rewarding growth you’ve experienced with them since you became a couple.

To those of you who are parents, I ask, wouldn’t you want to ensure that your children live long, happy, and productive lives? Imagine if your son or daughter could have more time and more opportunities to become the person who will finally find a cure for depression, or start a movement that helps brings us closer to world peace, or become a source of inspiration for many people around the world through starting an organization, but they won’t, because we have accepted a “natural order of things.”

To those of you who are actively involved in an ambitious project or important cause that means a lot to you, I ask, wouldn’t you want more time and more energy to work on these things that are meaningful to you? Imagine never being able to work on fulfilling your purpose or vision in life.

There are many more reasons why I believe we should focus on reversing aging, but the three reasons above are a good starting point for us to more seriously consider this most important of issues.

Let’s even assume for a moment that implausible scenarios such as reincarnation and life after death are real. Why wouldn’t we want to live this current life better? I do not believe it is mutually exclusive to believe in life after death and also want to live our current lives better. Throwing up our hands in defeat and accepting things as they currently are does not lead to progress and growth; it leads to atrophy.  

So before we give up the good fight and resign ourselves to an old and decrepit future, we must ask ourselves what we are living for.

If I had to give just one reason for wanting to reverse aging, it would be pretty simple: I love life too damn much.

What’s your reason?

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Why I Believe in Transhumanism – Article by Arin Vahanian

Why I Believe in Transhumanism – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


Someone asked me why I decided to join the Transhumanist Party, and indeed, why I support a movement, which, at first glance, appears to be a fringe movement with members who are out of touch with the needs of the general public.

The truth, however, is far different from what is reported in the media, in books, or even in scholarly articles. Because Transhumanism is the only movement that cares enough about improving the human condition and about building a better future to dedicate itself completely to these monumental tasks. Being human, the human condition is all that we have, and as such, we should cherish and treasure it. Further, the future will be built, but unless we build it in such a way that reflects our values and ethics, we may not be happy with the outcome. This is far too important an outcome to leave to chance, and that is why Transhumanists are so passionate about building a better future.

Going back to the topic of this article, the reason I joined the Transhumanist movement is simple: I love life, and I am dedicated to helping increase the quality of life for every human being on Earth. This is the single most important purpose for me to be working on right now.

Despite what you may have heard, Transhumanism isn’t about becoming a machine; it’s about becoming a better human being.

Since joining this movement, I have been struck by how optimistic, open-minded, and welcoming everyone has been to me. I’ve been accepted with open arms, and people have gone out of their way to help me. It’s a tight-knit community full of passionate, intelligent, and dedicated people who want to work on resolving problems that plague humanity. What could be a more noble purpose?

Despite the negative coverage our movement has received in the media and books, one characteristic that is so consistent across our movement is that our members absolutely adore the sanctity of life. When someone asks me why I am so obsessed with goals such as reversing aging, increasing the human lifespan, dramatically increasing investment in medicine and science, and expanding the human consciousness and intellect, I reply that I am completely and utterly in love with the human experience.

But why do we Transhumanists persevere with such goals?

Because it is cruel and dishonest to say to a person with Stage 4 cancer that soon they will no longer be able to hold their son or daughter in their arms, nor hear their sweet laughter, ever again.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell a quadriplegic that they will never walk.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell someone suffering from severe depression that they should accept a dark, brooding cloud of misery hanging over their head for the rest of their life.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell a child born with a birth defect that they will never live a normal life.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell a student with a learning disability that they should make do with what they have and call them a “special needs” student.

It is cruel and dishonest to tell someone they will never make love to their spouse again, nor hear their voice, nor feel their touch, due to a rare illness that will claim their life far too soon.

In short, I believe it is wrong to be so utterly pessimistic about life and about improving the human condition.

We believe in values such as pacifism, expanding the intellect through increased investment in education, improving the quality of life through science and technology, and improving health services and increasing the human lifespan. How on Earth is any of this fringe?

We must have the courage to proclaim our convictions in front of the rest of the world, because these goals are far too important to leave to chance, and because people all over the world genuinely do want to see progress in these areas.  

The fact is that Transhumanism is the movement that is most in touch with the needs of the general public, because most people, unless they are completely insane, would want to live healthier, be disease-free, increase their intelligence, and build a better future for their children. No, we are not a fringe movement. We are the human movement. After all, Transhumanism has the word “human” in it. And that to me means being a better human.

It is wrong to be defeatist and throw our hands up in resignation, because nothing of significance was ever accomplished by being pessimistic, capitulating, or quitting prematurely. Amazing inventions, advances in medicine, and improvements in quality of life came about precisely because we, as humans, did not give up, but rather, fought for what was right. And increasing the quality of life for all humans is right.

I am a Transhumanist because I am a human being, and because I love the human experience. And this is something I will never apologize for. In fact, this is something I will continue to fight for as long as I am alive. Which, hopefully, will be for a very long time.

Why am I a Transhumanist? Because simply put, I love life too damn much.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

DNA as the Original Blockchain – Article by Alex Lightman

DNA as the Original Blockchain – Article by Alex Lightman

Alex Lightman


I think of DNA as the original Blockchain, code for 3D printing a billion years old.

Thinking of DNA as reusable software might enable us to increase our average life span by 800%.

If you think of DNA as code and don’t get distracted by phenotypes (appearances) and remember the First Rule of Engineering is “Steal, Don’t Invent”, you can find some pretty interesting code that is almost human.

Did you know that there are big mammals that can live over 200 years? And sharks that can live 400-600 years?

Mammals are all genetically over 98% the same DNA (the biological Blockchain) as Homo sapiens sapiens (humans).

One mammal able to live over 200 years is the Bowhead whale. The Greenland shark is known to live over 400 years. Sharks are not mammals, but you would be shocked at the genetic similarity. Start here to learn more.

I think we should breed vast herds of Bowhead whales and Greenland sharks and domesticate them in Seastead Communities, and maintain multi-century interspecies communication, based on the protocols developed by my old friend John Lilly, inventor of the isolation tank.

We have already identified the genetic components of longevity, which include high resistance to cancer.

Did you know this? This is why we need Transhumanist Party candidates and elected officials: we should be talking about and focused on life expectancy and cancer resistance. Half of Americans get cancer and half of those die of cancer – over 600,000 a year!

Genetic Causes of Longevity in Bowhead Whales

It was previously believed the more cells present in an organism, the greater the chances of mutations that cause age-related diseases and cancer.

Although the bowhead whale has thousands of times more cells than other mammals, the whale has a much higher resistance to cancer and aging. In 2015, scientists from the US and UK were able to successfully map the whale’s genome.

Through comparative analysis, two alleles that could be responsible for the whale’s longevity were identified.

These two specific gene mutations linked to the Bowhead whale’s ability to live longer are the ERCC1 gene and the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) gene. ERCC1 is linked to DNA repair as well as increased cancer resistance. PCNA is also important in DNA repair.

These mutations enable bowhead whales to better repair DNA damage, allowing for greater resistance to cancer.

The whale’s genome may also reveal physiological adaptations such as having low metabolic rates compared to other mammals.

Changes in the gene UCP1, a gene involved in thermoregulation, can explain differences in the metabolic rates in cells.

Alex Lightman, Campaign Director for the California Transhumanist Party, has 25 years of management and social innovation experience and 15 years of chairman and chief executive experience. He is an award-winning inventor with multiple U.S. patents issued or pending and author of over one million published words, including the first book on 4G wireless, and over 150 articles in major publications. He chaired and organized 17 international conferences with engineers, scientists, and government officials since 2002, with the intention of achieving policy breakthroughs related to innovation. He is a world-class innovator and recipient of the first Economist magazine Readers’ Choice Award for “The Innovation that will Most Radically Change the World over the Decade 2010 to 2020” (awarded Oct. 21, 2010, out of 4,000 initial suggestions and votes over 5 months from 200 countries, and from 32 judges). He is the recipient of the 2nd Reader’s Award (the posthumous recipient announced 10/21/2011 was Steve Jobs). He is also the winner of the only SGI Internet 3D contest (both Entertainment and Grand Prize) out of 800 contestants.

Social innovation work includes repeatedly putting almost unknown technologies and innovation-accelerating policies that can leverage the abilities of humanity into the mainstream of media, business, government, foundations, and standards bodies, including virtual reality, augmented reality, Internet Protocol version 6, and 4G wireless broadband, open spectrum, technology transfer to developing countries, unified standards, crowd-sourcing, and collective intelligence, via over 40 US government agencies, over 40 national governments, and via international entities including the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Political credentials include a national innovation plan entitled “The Acceleration of American Innovation” for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, work for U.S. Senator Paul E. Tsongas (D-MA) and on several state campaigns and U.S. presidential campaigns for Democratic candidates (Gary Hart, Richard Gephardt), presentations to the United Nations, and advisory services to the governments of Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Japan, China, Korea, and India, as well as to the U.S. Congress, the White House (via the Office of Management and Budget), the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Mr. Lightman is trained as an engineer at MIT and as a prospective diplomat and policy analyst at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.