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The Overpopulation Myth – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Overpopulation Myth – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


Of all the objections to life extension, one of the most pernicious is that there are too many people on Earth. Indeed, this objection in particular is rather harmful not just because it appears to advocate for suffering and death, but also because it appears to be a valid objection on a surface level.

Visions of mass starvation, billions of people living in deplorable conditions, and wars over resources, help fuel the popularity of this objection. However fascinating these sorts of overly dramatic, sensational Hollywood scenarios may seem to some people, believing in the inevitability of these scenarios would be ignoring the countless ways that science and technology have allowed us, time and again, to exceed our limitations, improve health outcomes, and create a better environment for humanity to thrive in.

There are many reasons why these dreadful scenarios continue to exist in peoples’ minds. One of the reasons why doomsday thinking has managed to remain a part of our zeitgeist is because the entertainment industry is addicted to it, constantly proliferating nightmarish scenarios of technology being a destructive force hell-bent on the devastation of humanity and the world. A less obvious reason is also because some well-meaning influential people have been fabulously wrong and have continued to double-down on being wrong over the years.

Biologist Paul Ehrlich famously said in 1968 that “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Looking at this statement more than 50 years later, Paul Ehrlich wasn’t just wrong, he was completely wrong. None of his Malthusian predictions even came close to being true. I suppose that supporters of this sort of doomsday thinking will say in response that even though Ehrlich has been wrong for decades, he will one day be right. Even if a broken clock is right twice a day, we shouldn’t base the future of humanity on such faulty thinking. While it is possible for these horrific scenarios to come true, it does not mean that these scenarios are destiny. Humanity has weathered challenges and difficulties en route to coming up with amazing technological and medical innovations that have improved the quality of life for billions of people. And while challenges such as climate change should be taken very seriously, the fact that these challenges exist does not mean that humanity is doomed. It simply means that we need to make adjustments and to utilize science and technology to their fullest in order to resolve these threats.

Further, rather than extrapolate wildly and bring forth doomsday scenarios, we should bring forth data and facts to support our arguments. As I mentioned in a previous article, according to 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. Finally, according to a study published in the Lancet, the global population is expected to peak at 9.73 billion in 2064, before dropping to 8.79 billion in 2100. As a result, more than 23 countries are likely to see their populations halve by the end of this century. This includes countries such as Spain, Italy, Ukraine, and China.

Even if the above trends were somehow reversed, and human beings suddenly began reproducing more, we would be able to accommodate the increased population through solutions such as seasteading, vertical farming, 3D printing, and nanotechnology. Indeed, these technologies, and more, are among the many that would allow us to overcome limitations and alleviate potential threats resulting from an increased population. And I have not even begun speaking about space exploration.

The simple fact is that there is no fixed number of people who should be living on Earth at any given moment. In fact, we should rightfully be laughed out of the room if we asked the question, “What should the world’s population be?” We may as well ask how long a piece of string is. How many people is too many people? Further, how does one decide how many people is too many? Do you see how absurd this sort of thinking is? Even if we were to run detailed calculations on how many people the Earth could accommodate at any given point in time, what is true right now may not be true later, as planet Earth is dynamic, human beings are dynamic, and the forces of physics are dynamic. More importantly, we would be ignoring the awesome power of technology to allow us to do more, with less.

Therefore, let us move away from the pessimism, the doomsday scenarios, and the lack of vision, and move toward data, facts, science, and technological innovations that have allowed us, and will continue to allow us, to accommodate the needs of humanity. This does not mean that we should ignore challenges and perils and hope that everything will work out in the end. It does mean, however, that we should recognize the threats humanity is facing, and then take swift, concerted action toward eliminating those threats by using advancements in science, technology, and modern medicine.

But to go back to the topic, and frame the argument in a simpler way, one might want to ask proponents of the overpopulation myth whether they would have wanted their own parents to hold the same views about there being too many people on Earth. Of course, such critics of life extension would never want this to be the case, because it would mean that they themselves would not exist.

I would urge those who are critical of life extension to refrain from trying to decide how many people should be living on Earth. Indeed, rather than playing judge, jury, and executioner, I would recommend them to take a look in the mirror and appreciate the tremendous gift they were given – the gift of life. Had their parents held the faulty belief that there are too many people on Earth, these critics wouldn’t be able to offer their criticisms now. I am not suggesting that people should not offer valid criticisms of life extension. Nor am I suggesting that we gloss over the present and future challenges the Earth is facing. I am suggesting, however, that critics provide data, facts, and valid arguments to support their conclusions, rather than paint doomsday scenarios and claim that there are “too many people already.”  Indeed, the next time you hold a loved one in your arms, think about how you would feel if this person had never been born, or if this person was mercilessly ripped away from you.

So far, the likes of Thomas Malthus and Paul Ehrlich have been completely wrong with their predictions, though it is possible for them and others like them, to be right someday. However, we should not take pleasure in being right, we should take pleasure in being better people. Being right is not what is important – being able to actualize oneself, improve the human condition, and make the world a better place to live, is what is important. And we cannot do that if we extrapolate wildly, spread fear, and insist that humanity is doomed. The truth is that humanity’s future hasn’t even been written yet. But when we do write it, we should do so utilizing the best that science and technology have to offer, in order to improve the human condition.  Overpopulation, calamity, and starvation are not destiny – but human improvement is, and has been, since the dawn of time.

Arin Vahanian is the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Judge, Jury and Executioner Syndrome – Article by Arin Vahanian

Judge, Jury and Executioner Syndrome – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


The topic of life extension seems to bring forth strong emotions from people. While living longer and healthier is a goal that nearly all people say they have, there are critics of life extension who have become quite vociferous in their opposition to extending the human lifespan.  The truth is, living a longer and healthier life shouldn’t be controversial at all. After all, it is what we humans have been trying to do since day one.

However, when the topic turns to living a healthy life indefinitely, critics seem to come out of the woodwork, citing various reasons why humans should not live radically longer. While each of the major objections to life extension deserves its own space (and its own rebuttal), one objection, in particular, is rankling in its lack of substance – that human beings already live long enough.

As ridiculous as this objection is, we need to address it, not only because of the amount of damage it does to humanity by limiting life-extension research, but also because it causes unnecessary pain and suffering. People who present this objection have what I like to call “Judge, Jury, and Executioner Syndrome.”

I can’t imagine that people in the 14th century suffering and then dying from the Bubonic Plague at age 20 or 30 would have considered their life to have been “long enough.” In the same way, nor could I imagine that someone would actually find declining and then dying from an aging-related disease such as dementia at age 75 to be desirable.

But how long is long enough? Is it 40 years, like it used to be in 19th-century England? Or is it 82 years, as it is in modern-day Japan? Or is it 100 years?

It is difficult to answer this question, because there is no correct answer to the question.

However, rather than going down a rabbit hole, the best way to answer such critics is to ask them why they get to decide how long people should live. Of course, they have no right whatsoever to decide how long the human lifespan should be. This should end the conversation right then and there, but sadly, in some cases, it does not.

To go further, one might want to ask these critics whether they believe their parents or grandparents, if they are still alive, have lived too many years and whether they would want them to die quickly because they have already lived “long enough.” Or, even better, we should ask critics of life extension how many years they think their children should live (if they have children). Of course, no one, other than a psychopath, would wish such suffering and death upon their loved ones.

Therefore, it appears that people who oppose life extension on the basis that humans already live long enough, tend to only hold this view toward other people, and not themselves or their loved ones. This seems to me to be horribly cruel, not to mention illogical. However, we should not consider those who claim they are satisfied with the 82-year lifespan for themselves, as being nobler or more altruistic than other people. After all, they are still trying to play judge, jury, and executioner!

The argument that human beings already live long enough attacks the very core of what it means to be human. Human beings are designed to want to survive, and to continue living. Otherwise, we would have stopped trying to live longer a long time ago, and as a consequence, we would have stopped trying to find cures for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. The very fact that we are so dedicated to finding cures for conditions that have ravaged humanity is proof that we are dedicated to living longer and healthier. There is no rule that says that human beings can only live until 100 years old, or that they are not allowed to try to live longer.

Of course, just as no one may decide how long the human lifespan should be, neither should we force those who do not want to live longer and healthier, to live longer and healthier. This is a personal choice that everyone must make for themselves. But opponents of life extension do not have the right, nor do they have the ability, fortunately, to decide how long the human lifespan should be.

Even if there is some unalterable limit to how long a human lifespan can be, wouldn’t it be better to come to this conclusion and obtain closure after conducting medical and scientific research, rather than hastily quitting, and in the process, damning all of humanity to pain, suffering, and death, solely to satisfy a falsely held belief that humans already live long enough?

I understand that no matter what I may be arguing in this article, there will always be people who do not want to live much longer and healthier than they do now, for whatever reason. While I respect their decision to not want to extend their own life, I also ask them to respect my wishes to live longer and healthier. Surely this seems like a fair position to take.

There is absolutely no reason at all to apologize for wanting to live a healthy life indefinitely. No one should be asking, “Why do you want to live longer?” Rather, we should be asking, “How can we live longer and healthier?” This sort of inclusive, optimistic, and honest approach will go a long way toward removing some of the obstacles to life extension, thus putting humanity just a bit closer to attaining what it has been seeking since the beginning of time – to live a longer, healthier life.

Arin Vahanian is the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Reject the Deadly Precautionary Principle: Approve All COVID-19 Vaccines Immediately! – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

Reject the Deadly Precautionary Principle: Approve All COVID-19 Vaccines Immediately! – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


It should be a mild relief that vaccination efforts against COVID-19 are finally beginning in the United States, but they are beginning eleven months too late, while the pandemic surrounds us and most of us must wait months longer to receive vaccinations. Over 300,000 Americans have already died needlessly and preventably from COVID-19; hundreds of thousands more are likely to die in the coming months, even though the exact same vaccine from Moderna that is even today still undergoing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review already existed in its current form by January 13, 2020. As David Wallace-Wells writes in New York Magzine, in an article entitled “We Had the Vaccine the Whole Time” (dated December 7, 2020):

You may be surprised to learn that of the trio of long-awaited coronavirus vaccines, the most promising, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, which reported a 94.5 percent efficacy rate on November 16, had been designed by January 13. This was just two days after the genetic sequence had been made public in an act of scientific and humanitarian generosity that resulted in China’s Yong-Zhen Zhang’s being temporarily forced out of his lab. In Massachusetts, the Moderna vaccine design took all of one weekend. It was completed before China had even acknowledged that the disease could be transmitted from human to human, more than a week before the first confirmed coronavirus case in the United States. By the time the first American death was announced a month later, the vaccine had already been manufactured and shipped to the National Institutes of Health for the beginning of its Phase I clinical trial. This is — as the country and the world are rightly celebrating — the fastest timeline of development in the history of vaccines. It also means that for the entire span of the pandemic in this country, which has already killed more than 250,000 Americans, we had the tools we needed to prevent it.

As has been demonstrated time and again during this pandemic, scientists and doctors have been the true heroes in their rapid and immensely creative responses, whereas institutions and their processes have failed massively, and our egregiously broken society and culture have precipitated abysmal mass-scale reactions and behaviors as well. But the major reason why now almost 300,000 Americans died who did not need to die at all, is the Precautionary Principle – a cornerstone of contemporary “bioethics” which is, in fact, deeply unethical. The Precautionary Principle is the fundamental reason why new medical treatments, including vaccines, are required in the United States to undergo extensive safety and efficacy testing before they are allowed to be provided to patients, even willing patients who may knowingly accept the risks of experimental medicines. Essentially, unless safety and efficacy can be rigorously demonstrated first, along with a sufficient lack of adverse consequences, adherents of the Precautionary Principle believe that no action should be taken to implement an innovation. Those who espouse the Precautionary Principle completely ignore, of course, the costs and risks of inaction – which, in the case of a global pandemic, can be measured in more than 1.62 million lives worldwide, but which have also resulted in far greater numbers of deaths from more “routine” otherwise terminal illnesses, whose victims might have been saved by new treatments whose approval the FDA delayed, sometimes for a decade or more while billions of dollars were spent on hyper-expensive efficacy testing.

While laudable efforts were made in the United States to greatly accelerate the review timeframe for COVID-19 vaccines – hence the now well-known “Operation Warp Speed” – those efforts did not come in time for the hundreds of thousands who died and the hundreds of millions who now live in fear of death every day as the pandemic’s spread has become all-encompassing. Cutting the approval timeline from the typical unconscionable 4-5 years to 9 months is an improvement, but not nearly enough. Much more should have been done right away. Approval for the vaccines should have been granted as soon as they were developed, and instead of putting review roadblocks in the way, governments should have actively aided in vaccine production and distribution of all serious candidate vaccines from day one.

While New York Magazine’s David Wallace-Wells made the seemingly obligatory (during this tragically precautionary era) disclaimer that “To be clear, I don’t want to suggest that Moderna should have been allowed to roll out its vaccine in February or even in May, when interim results from its Phase I trial demonstrated its basic safety” (and Wallace-Wells still faced considerable vitriol for the quite modest observations he sought to make) – I do want to suggest exactly that. Indeed, I would go further and insist that it was a moral imperative to approve and facilitate the mass production and distribution of vaccines such as Moderna’s mRNA-1273 to willing members of the general population as soon as those vaccines were available.

Transhumanists reject the Precautionary Principle and instead follow the Proactionary Principle, which, per the description of Max More (Extropy Institute, 2004), “urges all parties to actively take into account all the consequences of an activity – good as well as bad – while apportioning precautionary measures to the real threats we face, in the context of an appreciation of the crucial role played by technological innovation and humanity’s evolving ability to adapt to and remedy any undesirable side-effects.” The Proactionary Principle does not ignore the potential for adverse consequences of an activity, but recognizes that there are situations when the benefits can greatly outweigh any potential adverse effects.

Imagine how, in an alternate history, a Transhumanist administration would have dealt with the COVID-19 crisis. Suppose, for instance, that Zoltan Istvan had been elected President in 2016 and thus was the President who faced the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Or suppose that Charlie Kam, the U.S. Transhumanist Party (USTP) Presidential nominee in 2020, had held the country’s highest executive office. The U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform contains 21 sections specifically addressing COVID-19 responses – proposals that were adopted by USTP members in late March 2020, and would have saved most of the lives of the COVID-19 victims had they been expeditiously implemented by governments. These proposals, indeed, are applications of the Proactionary Principle to the COVID-19 pandemic. Section CIII of the USTP Platform specifically states that “The United States Transhumanist Party supports the rapid research into effective cures and vaccines for COVID-19 and the harnessing of synergies from this research to also develop a cure for the common cold and more effective vaccination against influenza. Such research should proceed with no barriers, subject to the researchers’ expression of ethical intentions, and any regulations or processes that would delay the progress of such research should be immediately waived or repealed. In the effort to accelerate progress in this field, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates for an immediate $100 billion funding package for the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine, with all volunteers being accepted into human trials as soon as practicable.”

This is exactly what would have been done by a Transhumanist administration with the Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and any other vaccines, including do-it-yourself experiments such as that undertaken by Josiah Zayner. The Transhumanist administration would have asked the vaccine developer one question: “Do you intend to apply this candidate vaccine in an ethical manner when offering it to the general public?” After giving an affirmative answer to that question, the vaccine developer would have the full legal right to test, give away, or sell its product to any volunteers capable of giving informed consent – provided that the recipients understood that the vaccine was experimental and had not passed the typical safety and/or efficacy tests. Receiving any vaccine would always remain entirely voluntary. Individuals who were uncertain or concerned about side effects – or even motivated by pseudoscientific, anti-scientific, or religious objections – would maintain the right not to get vaccinated. However, those who chose to get vaccinated would be shown clearly and quickly to have far lower incidence of COVID-19, and the statistical disparity in infection rates between the vaccinated and the un-vaccinated would grow too large in just a few months for reasonable people to ignore. Those who become vaccinated would be free to lead their everyday lives and participate in economic activities as usual, and massive disruptions to the economy and to people’s livelihoods would have been completely avoidable. The multifaceted advantages of vaccination under this approach would become abundantly clear in a relatively short time.

Testing would not be eliminated by the Transhumanist administration. Indeed, it would be accelerated and fully funded via the $100 billion emergency package (and likely via other resources as well), so that vaccine developers would need to pay absolutely nothing out of pocket for any compliance with testing protocols. However, testing would occur in parallel with mass distribution of the vaccines, and as much data as possible would be collected from vaccine recipients in the general population, to greatly augment the samples of tested patients. If any specific side effects manifested themselves in a statistically significant portion of the population, protocols for administering the vaccine would be adjusted in real time. For example, if a specific group of people were found to be particularly vulnerable to certain side effects, members of that group would quickly receive additional disclosures and warnings and would be able to make informed decisions in light of this information.

Could there conceivably be adverse side effects or even deaths of certain patients under this approach of mass distribution in parallel with testing? Of course, that is a possibility. However, the scale of such side effects and deaths would surely be orders of magnitude less than the all-encompassing devastation that the current sequential review-and-approval process has allowed to happen. So far nobody has died specifically from any COVID-19 vaccine. At least 1.62 million people in the world have died from COVID-19. Numerous others have died because of the fallout of the restrictive measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19. Even if the vaccines had been far more dangerous than they actually are, it is absolutely impossible for them to have caused anywhere near the death toll inflicted by the disease itself and the societal havoc that it and responses to it have wreaked. This basic insight, whose evidence is all around us, is precisely what the Precautionary Principle misses. By placing all of the burden of proof on the innovation, the Precautionary Principle gives a free pass to the wantonly murderous status quo. Inaction is not safety. Inaction is quite frequently the greatest danger – and at no time is that truer than during a global pandemic. If we do nothing, any of a vast array of perils will befall us rather quickly.

The United States has already lost more people to COVID-19 than it had to all but one of its historical wars. The novel coronavirus is the enemy here to be sure, but the Precautionary Principle is an even more pernicious and insidious foe. The Precautionary Principle is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of American dead just as much as the novel coronavirus itself, since it prevented an implementation of an existing off-the-shelf solution that could have saved the vast majority of their lives. Every war in history has resulted in unacceptable death tolls because of fundamentally flawed premises – ideas and practices that brought about the war because people accepted them as commonplace and justified. Slavery, religious intolerance, jingoistic nationalism, and totalitarianism have all stemmed from deep moral errors that caused colossal loss of life – and fortunately most of humanity has recognized the great evil that these notions entail and has resoundingly rejected them. The Precautionary Principle, when implemented in institutions that have the power to make life-or-death decisions, is in that same league of moral errors; it will be remembered decades and centuries hence as the greatest destroyer of lives in our epoch.

How much senseless loss of life needs to occur before we recognize that our institutions, based on the Precautionary Principle, are wantonly negligent in allowing our fellow humans to die and are still withholding life-saving solutions from them? It is time to reject the Precautionary Principle once and for all and to institute the truly humane policy of allowing all rationally capable individuals to assess the risks and benefits of emerging medical treatments for themselves. This would not only save colossal numbers of lives in the immediate term, but also greatly accelerate medical discovery and technological progress – since innovators would be able to obtain data rapidly and iterate upon their approaches. The arrival of cures for cancer, dementia, diabetes, and biological aging itself will depend on how free medical innovators are to offer their treatments and how free patients are to accept them. Extensive and expensive pre-distribution review processes kill many more people than they save. End them now!

Gennady Stolyarov II is the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party. 

Why I Hope to Be Alive at 75 – Article by Steve Hill

Why I Hope to Be Alive at 75 – Article by Steve Hill

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Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, originally published on November 13, 2020, by our allies at the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF), Steve Hill explains why the attitude of Joe Biden’s new advisor on COVID-19 strategy, Ezekiel Emanuel, is supremely counterproductive. Emanuel infamously wrote in 2014 that he hopes to die at age 75. Given that COVID-19 is a disease whose toll is greatly amplified by biological aging, Emanuel’s statements render him uniquely ill-suited  to remedy the ravages of the ongoing pandemic. Moreover, his pessimism toward what life is like at age 75 is no longer justified, in light of emerging medical advances that could enable rejuvenation and biological youthfulness for those who are in late middle age today. Perhaps, if he sees these advances become a reality in the not-too-distant future, Emanuel might change his mind regarding the desirability of longer lifespans.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, November 17, 2020


2020 has been a strange year for a variety of reasons, but the societal changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has created are probably the strangest. However, it is perhaps even stranger that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel has been appointed to advise Joe Biden on COVID strategy.

Emanuel is best known for writing a controversial article in the October 2014 edition of The Atlantic, headlined “Why I Hope to Die at 75”, in which he strongly rejects the desire to live beyond the age of 75 and expresses his opinion that continuing to live after such an age is meaningless.

Living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived.

Needless to say, I strongly disagree with this baffling point of view and am somewhat concerned that someone who thinks this way of his own life, and presumably the lives of others, may be appointed to a position of influence for a disease whose primary risk group is the elderly. This seems almost as foolhardy as spending a vacation weekend in a caravan with Hannibal Lecter.

Emanuel listed quite a few methods by which people extend their lives and stated that they were a “valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible,” but his response to them was, “I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive.”

Age is the #1 risk factor for COVID

The scientific evidence clearly shows that the primary risk factor for contracting and dying from COVID-19 is age, with people over the age of 75 at particularly high risk. This is due to the decline of the immune system, which becomes increasingly weak and dysfunctional with age in a process known as immunosenescence.

Globally, the strategy has been to try to shield these vulnerable people as best as possible due to their weakened immune systems and limit their exposure to the disease while vaccines are developed.

Needless to say, I find Biden’s nomination of him to address a disease that mostly affects seniors ironic in itself, given that he thinks the lives of most people beyond 75 are pointless and that they don’t live meaningful lives and would be better off embracing death rather than desperately trying to extend them. Therefore, I hope for the sake of the older people in our society that he has rethought his priorities.

Why I hope to be alive at 75

Predictably, there is already a storm raging on social media around his appointment, so there is no purpose to adding more fuel to that fire. Instead, I am going to talk about why the future of aging could be very different to the grim picture that Emanuel paints.

At age 63, he is getting closer to the age at which he thinks life is pointless, and I believe that a large reason why he is so pessimistic about life beyond 75, whether he realizes it or not, is based on the current state of medicine. This line of reasoning does not take into account how medicine, and in particular how we treat aging could change in the next decade or two.

Current medicine does a great job at keeping people alive for longer, but they often have to live with one or more chronic diseases. Given that, I am not surprised that Emanuel is not enamored with living a long life, especially as that could entail being disabled, bed-bound, or otherwise suffering a poor quality of life as the result of debilitating age-related diseases.

Thankfully, the world healthcare strategy is slowly starting to shift to one of prevention over cure, but right now, the typical approach is to play whack-a-mole with diseases. As one pops up, it is treated, then the next, and the next, and so on. This strategy works great for infectious diseases, but it is an exercise in futility and diminishing returns when applied to the chronic diseases of aging.

However, things could be different in the not so distant future, and being 75 could see the majority of people far more fit, healthy, and vibrant than ever before in human history thanks to advances in aging research. Therapies that directly target aging could potentially make people biologically younger (in particular their immune systems) and much more able to withstand COVID-19 and other diseases.

As explained on LEAF’s What is Aging? page, aging consists of multiple processes (“hallmarks”) that gradually cause damage to organs and tissues and lead to age-related diseases. Rejuvenation biotechnology is advanced medical technology that directly addresses any of the various aging processes in order to restore tissue and organ function to a more youthful state, thereby ameliorating, delaying, or preventing age-related diseases. Let’s take a brief look at some of the promising near-future research that could bear fruit by the time Emanuel reaches 75 and perhaps change his mind.

Rejuvenating the immune system

The decline of the immune system is a key reason why the elderly are most susceptible to infectious diseases such as COVID, and there has been considerable interest in the rejuvenation of the immune system in recent years.

Dr. Greg Fahy from intervene immune has had some early success with thymus rejuvenation in a small human pilot study and demonstrated that it is possible to cause the thymus, which shrinks and loses its capacity to produce immune T cells during aging, to regrow and resume production of those cells. Dr. Fahy is now moving forward into a larger-scale study, and if the results continue to be positive, it is not hard to imagine that thymus regrowth could become a staple of helping the elderly stay healthy.

Another example of immune rejuvenation is currently being developed by Samumed, a biotechnology company that is developing drugs that target the Wnt pathway to restore it to youthful function. The Wnt pathway is a key pathway that regulates the function of our stem cells and ensures that they supply our tissues and organs with new cells to replace losses from injury, disease, and wear and tear.

If successful, this approach would allow the body to resume efficient repair of tissues, and it would replenish aged and failing tissues and organs with fresh, healthy cells supplied by the rejuvenated stem cells.

Therapeutic plasma exchange

Researchers Irina and Mike Conboy at UC Berkeley have been researching blood factors and their role in aging for over two decades. During that time, they have identified a number of factors present in aged blood that appear to regulate aging.

These factors are also present in younger people, but in typically far lower amounts, and tend to serve useful functions. However, during aging, the levels of these proteins become deregulated, and they often rise to detrimental levels and cause damage to the body, which typically involves preventing stem cells from working and tissue from regenerating.

Decades’ worth of research from the Conboy lab has shown that, in mice at least, it is possible to filter out these harmful pro-aging blood factors and bring them back down to a level similar to younger animals. When this happens, the result is rejuvenation of tissues and the reversal of some of the aspects of aging, making the mice more youthful.

This approach uses an already approved technique known as therapeutic plasma exchange to filter and calibrate these key factors and could be readily modified for human use. Should the results seen in animals translate to humans using this approach, it would have a profound effect on our health as we age and potentially delay, prevent, or even reverse some age-related diseases.

Conclusion

These are only some of the examples of why healthy life expectancy could rise significantly in the near future, and there are plenty of reasons to remain future positive. This is the future direction of medicine and healthcare that we support at Lifespan.io, a world where being 75 does not mean you are thrown on the scrap heap and where people like Emanuel will no longer feel that life has no meaning. I am confident that in such a world, being 75 would not be the burden he thinks it will be, and this is why I hope to be alive at 75.

Steve Hill serves on the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) Board of Directors and is the Editor-in-Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 500 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, along with attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ Magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep Me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve has a background in project management and administration, which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Positions on 2020 California Ballot Propositions

U.S. Transhumanist Party Positions on 2020 California Ballot Propositions

Gennady Stolyarov II


The United States Transhumanist Party  offers the following brief statements of position on the ballot propositions currently before California voters in the 2020 General Election.

Summary

California Proposition 14 – Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative: Support

California Proposition 15 – Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative: Oppose

California Proposition 16 – Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment: Oppose

California Proposition 17 – Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment: Support

California Proposition 18 – Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment: Support

California Proposition 19 – Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment: Neutral

California Proposition 20 – Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative: Oppose

California Proposition 21 – Local Rent Control Initiative: Oppose

California Proposition 22 – App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative: Support

California Proposition 23 – Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative: Oppose

California Proposition 24 – Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative: Neutral

California Proposition 25 – Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum: Support


California Ballot Proposition 14 Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative Support

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Authorizes $5.5 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund grants from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to educational, non-profit, and private entities for: stem cell and other medical research, including training; stem cell therapy development and delivery; research facility construction; and associated administrative expenses.

● Dedicates $1.5 billion to research and therapy for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, epilepsy, and other brain and central nervous system diseases and conditions.

● Appropriates General Fund moneys to pay bond debt service.

● Expands programs promoting stem cell and other medical research, therapy development and delivery, and student and physician training and fellowships.”

(BallotPedia)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party strongly supports California Ballot Proposition 14, which will allocate major funds for life-saving and life-extending research into stem-cell therapies as well as the fight against ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and epilepsy. The U.S. Transhumanist Party has long supported significant increases in research funding in all of the aforementioned areas. Indeed, Article VI, Section V, of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform reads: “The United States Transhumanist Party supports concerted research in effort to eradicate disease and illness that wreak havoc upon and cause death of sapient beings. We strongly advocate the increase and redirection of research funds to conduct research and experiments and to explore life, science, technology, medicine, and extraterrestrial realms to improve all sentient entities.” Ballot Proposition 14 is an example of the precise kinds of research funding that are referenced in Article VI, Section V.

California Ballot Proposition 15 Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative Oppose

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Increases funding for K-12 public schools, community colleges, and local governments by requiring that commercial and industrial real property be taxed based on current market value, instead of purchase price.

● Exempts from taxation changes: residential properties; agricultural land; and owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less.

● Any additional educational funding will supplement existing school funding guarantees.

● Exempts small businesses from personal property tax; for other businesses, provides $500,000 exemption”

(BallotPedia)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party opposes property taxes and thus opposes any net increases to property taxes. Article VI, Section XXXVI, of the USTP Platform states that “all taxes on land and property should be abolished.” California Ballot Proposition 15 would greatly increase property taxes on net by changing the basis for taxation from the purchase price to the current market value. Moreover, this shift would unduly burden businesses in California, since the market value of most California properties is artificially inflated due to irrational restrictions on new development, which greatly constrain the supply of buildings of every sort. While the aspect of Proposition 15 to exempt small businesses from personal property tax is admirable – since personal property taxes also should not exist – it is nonetheless possible for Proposition 15 to harm small businesses which rent real estate from larger organizations. If a larger organization is still obligated to pay the higher property tax based on the market value of the leased building, much of the added expense is likely to be passed on to the small-business tenant.

California Ballot Proposition 16 Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment Oppose

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Permits government decision-making policies to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to address diversity by repealing article I, section 31, of the California Constitution, which was added by Proposition 209 in 1996.

● Proposition 209 generally prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, individuals or groups on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, education, or contracting.

● Does not alter other state and federal laws guaranteeing equal protection and prohibiting unlawful discrimination.

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party strongly opposes California Ballot Proposition 16 – a measure which would overturn the justified 1996 Proposition 209, which prohibited the State of California from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin in public employment, public education, and public contracting. Proposition 209 should remain, and circumstantial attributes over which people have no control should not be considered in making the official policy of the State of California.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party is committed to cosmopolitanism, inclusivity, and fair treatment of all individuals, irrespective of attributes (some of which pseudoscientific descriptors to begin with) such as race, ethnicity, or national origin, among the others listed.

Article VI, Section II, of the USTP Platform states, in part, that “The United States Transhumanist Party supports all acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity of individuals and groups of all races, genders, classes, religions, creeds, and ideologies. Accordingly, the United States Transhumanist Party condemns any hostile discrimination or legal restrictions on the basis of national origin, skin color, birthplace, ancestry, gender identity, or any manner of circumstantial attribute tied to a person’s lineage or accident of birth. Furthermore, the United States Transhumanist Party strongly opposes any efforts to enforce said restrictions regardless of cause or motivation thereof.”

California Ballot Proposition 16 would open the door to hostile discrimination against applicants seeking state employment or other services – based on their national origin, skin color, ethnicity, or other currently protected attributes. This is unacceptable, even if the motivation is to make amends for past injustices. Multiple wrongs do not make a right. Race-based or nationality-based preferences are always inherently unjust, because they sacrifice consideration of the genuine and unique attributes of each individual in favor of circumstantial descriptors which do not define the essence of that individual. Furthermore, any measure that embraces “reverse discrimination” renders itself vulnerable to later being turned into the instrument of the very discrimination it seeks to combat; all it would take is a shift of the people in power and the prevailing ideologies of the day. Racial preferences of any sort are odious and have no place in a society that truly rejects racism.

California Ballot Proposition 17 Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment Support

Summary of Ballot Proposition: “Amends state constitution to restore voting rights to persons who have been disqualified from voting while serving a prison term as soon as they complete their prison term.”

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports California Ballot Proposition 17, since there is no reason to deprive the essential right to vote from individuals who have completed their prison sentences. The Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 3.0, Article XXXVIII, states,The will of the constituent sentient entities shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage of sentient entities and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” Nothing in the USTP’s affirmation of the “universal and equal suffrage of sentient entities” would justify depriving of the right to vote an individual who has been released from prison with the intent of reintegration of that individual into the processes of society – one of which is voting. Additionally, many individuals on parole had been previously imprisoned because of nonviolent “victimless” offenses for which the USTP supports decriminalization altogether. For instance, a person on parole for a marijuana possession offense should not be deprived of the right to vote, since marijuana possession should never have been a crime to begin with. Even for those who committed genuine crimes, the ability to vote once they are on parole would not raise the risk of recidivism and, on the contrary, might interest some of these individuals in staying involved in the operations of civilized society on peaceful terms.

California Ballot Proposition 18   Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment Support

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

● The California Constitution currently permits individuals who are at least 18 years old on the date of an election to vote in that election.

● Amends constitution to permit 17-year-olds who will be at least 18 years old and otherwise eligible to vote at the time of the next general election to vote in any primary or special election that occurs before the next general election.

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports California Ballot Proposition 18, a modest expansion of the right to vote in the primaries to 17-year-olds who will be turning 18 on the day of the general election. The U.S. Transhumanist Party is generally supportive of expanding the franchise to sentient entities capable of forming political opinions, as 17-year-olds clearly are. Article VI, Section XXIII, of the USTP Platform states that

“The United States Transhumanist Party supports the rights of children to exercise liberty in proportion to their rational faculties and capacity for autonomous judgment.” Most 17-year-olds are clearly capable of understanding the issues being voted and forming autonomous, rational judgments regarding them. Indeed, because many such individuals are students who have recently studied U.S. government, civics, and history, they would be more likely than the typical voter to have correct factual information about the U.S. political system at their disposal.

The USTP would go further than California Ballot Proposition 18 and enfranchise all children and teenagers who can demonstrate knowledge of the American system of government and the candidates and issues being voted on. This would, indeed, be a more stringent set of criteria than currently expected of adult voters and would contribute to a more informed electorate. However, California Ballot Proposition 18 is clearly a modest step in the correct direction.

California Ballot Proposition 19 Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment Neutral

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Permits homeowners who are over 55, severely disabled, or whose homes were destroyed by wildfire or disaster, to transfer their primary residence’s property tax base value to a replacement residence of any value, anywhere in the state.

● Limits tax benefits for certain transfers of real property between family members.

● Expands tax benefits for transfers of family farms.

● Allocates most resulting state revenues and savings (if any) to fire protection services and reimbursing local governments for taxation-related changes.”

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party is neutral on California Ballot Proposition 19. The USTP generally opposes property taxes and thus considers any expansion of credits or exemptions that would lower the property-tax burden to be beneficial. However, Ballot Proposition 19 is a mixture of expanding and limiting exemptions from property taxes. In particular, according to Ballotpedia, “The ballot measure would eliminate the parent-to-child and grandparent-to-grandchild exemption in cases where the child or grandchild does not use the inherited property as their principal residence, such as using a property a rental house or a second home.” It is difficult to weigh the impacts of the additional tax exemptions and exemption removals vis-à-vis one another, especially since different components of this measure will affect different individuals, and any systematic comparison of benefits and costs across individuals is methodologically problematic to say the least. The best policies are Pareto-efficient, in that they benefit at least one person without harming any other person. California Ballot Proposition 19 is certainly not Pareto-efficient. Because of the ambiguous effects of California Ballot Proposition 19, the U.S. Transhumanist Party as an organization does not take a stance on this measure and recommends that its members make their decisions by individually considering the potential benefits and costs and how this measure might affect them personally, if at all.

California Ballot Proposition 20 Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative Oppose

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Limits access to parole programs established for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term of their primary offense by eliminating eligibility for certain offenses.

● Changes standards and requirements governing parole decisions under this program.

● Authorizes felony charges for specified theft crimes currently chargeable only as misdemeanors, including some theft crimes where the value is between $250 and $950.

● Requires persons convicted of specified misdemeanors to submit to collection of DNA samples for state database.”

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party opposes California Ballot Proposition 20, as this measure would have the net effect of significantly increasing the population in prison for relatively minor criminal offenses, such as petty thefts and various nonviolent crimes. Such crimes are better addressed through restitution than through imprisonment. According to the fiscal impact statement for this measure, as related by Ballotpedia, there would arise “Increased state and local correctional costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, primarily related to increases in county jail populations and levels of community supervision.”

Article VI, Section XV, of the USTP Platform states, “The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts to significantly reduce the massive incarcerated population in America by using innovative technologies to monitor criminals outside of prison.” California Ballot Proposition 20 would go in the opposite direction by reducing opportunities for criminals to receive parole. Instead of continuing to overload the prison system, the California State Government should invest in monitoring technologies such as personal drones that would follow certain parolees during their daily activities and have the ability to alert law enforcement if the parolee attempts to commit a criminal offense that would have a victim.

California Ballot Proposition 21 Local Rent Control Initiative Oppose

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Amends state law to allow local governments to establish rent control on residential properties over 15 years old. Allows local limits on annual rent increases to differ from current statewide limit.

● Allows rent increases in rent-controlled properties of up to 15 percent over three years at start of new tenancy (above any increase allowed by local ordinance).

● Exempts individuals who own no more than two homes from new rent-control policies.

● In accordance with California law, prohibits rent control from violating landlords’ right to fair financial return.”

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: While the U.S. Transhumanist Party considers the cost of housing, including rental housing, in California to be unreasonably high – indeed, wildly exorbitant on a historically unprecedented scale – the U.S. Transhumanist Party nonetheless opposes California Ballot Proposition 21 and rent-control measures more generally. Article XVIII of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 3.0, expresses the right of all sentient entities to “housing or other appropriate shelter” – and thus affordability in housing is a goal embraced by the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Rent control, however, is a poor means toward that goal.

The path toward improving housing affordability is to greatly increase the supply of housing, which is tightly restricted in California due to pressure from NIMBY special interests and local anti-development activist groups. In the absence of such new construction, rent control creates undesirable incentives that harm tenants of rent-controlled buildings, including situations where landlords would be motivated to pressure the tenants to leave by indirect means, such as failing to adequately maintain the building or trying to intentionally find or engineer minor lease violations and over-zealously pursue such violations as a means to legally evict the tenants.

In order to generally reduce housing and rental costs in California, a massive building program using 3D-printing technologies and other innovative construction methods would be a far superior option to rent-controlling the existing California housing stock, which is already quite old and in need of significant maintenance.

California Ballot Proposition 22 – App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative – Support

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Classifies drivers for app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery companies as ‘independent contractors,’ not ‘employees,’ unless company: sets drivers’ hours, requires acceptance of specific ride and delivery requests, or restricts working for other companies.

● Independent contractors are not covered by various state employment laws—including minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.

● Instead, independent-contractor drivers would be entitled to other compensation—including minimum earnings, healthcare subsidies, and vehicle insurance.

● Restricts certain local regulation of app-based drivers.

● Criminalizes impersonation of drivers.”

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports California Ballot Proposition 22 in order to enable technologically driven economic progress in the personal transportation industry, which has been brought about by ridesharing services (a.k.a. transportation network companies) but which has been hampered in California by the passage of Assembly Bill 5, which had classified rideshare drivers as employees of the platforms they use and thus precipitated a threat of pullout from California by the transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft.

Article VI, Section IX, of the USTP Platform, reads, in part, that “The United States Transhumanist Party supports all emerging technologies that have the potential to improve the human condition” – and innovative, technologically driven ridesharing platforms are among such emerging technologies, subsumed in Section IX under “applications for the sharing of durable goods” (in this case, vehicles).

The flawed classification of ridesharing services’ drivers as employees is contrary to many of those drivers’ own wishes, as employees often do not have the flexibility to set their own hours or the conditions of their work, and such flexibility is a primary attraction of becoming a rideshare driver. It is clear that classifying ridesharing services’ drivers as employees is intended as protectionism for legacy taxicab companies, whose business model has often resulted in sub-optimal treatment of consumers and thus led to widespread consumer frustration. On the other hand, most consumers have expressed overwhelming satisfaction with ridesharing services. California Ballot Proposition 22 restores the more reasonable classification of ridesharing services’ drivers as independent contractors while affording them basic protections regarding their earnings, healthcare, and vehicle insurance. Those who perceived the classification of such drivers as employees to be necessary to afford them the aforementioned benefits were mistaken; the benefits can be conferred by law without the restrictions and added costs that employee status would entail.

California Ballot Proposition 23 Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative Oppose

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Requires at least one licensed physician on site during treatment at outpatient kidney dialysis clinics; authorizes California Department of Public Health to exempt clinics from this requirement if there is a shortage of qualified licensed physicians and the clinic has at least one nurse practitioner or physician assistant on site.

Requires clinics to report dialysis-related infection data to state and federal governments.

● Prohibits clinics from closing or reducing services without state approval.

● Prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on the source of payment for care.”

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party opposes California Ballot Proposition 23 primarily because of the requirement that at least one licensed physician be on site during treatment at outpatient kidney dialysis clinics. Because of the dire shortage of available physicians, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, this requirement would mean that many dialysis clinics would be unable to operate or offer life-serving services to patients who require dialysis.

More generally, the U.S. Transhumanist Party advocates lowering barriers to entry into the medical profession and recognizing numerous areas of patient care which could be provided effectively and affordably without the presence of full-fledged MDs.

Article VI, Section LXXX, of the USTP Platform reads, “The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts to increase opportunities for entry into the medical profession. The current system for licensing doctors is highly monopolistic and protectionist – the result of efforts by the American Medical Association in the early 20th century to limit entry into the profession in order to artificially boost incomes for its members. The medical system suffers today from too few doctors and thus vastly inflated patient costs and unacceptable waiting times for appointments. Instead of prohibiting the practice of medicine by all except a select few who have completed an extremely rigorous and cost-prohibitive formal medical schooling, governments in the Western world should allow the market to determine different tiers of medical care for which competing private certifications would emerge. For the most specialized and intricate tasks, high standards of certification would continue to exist, and a practitioner’s credentials and reputation would remain absolutely essential to convincing consumers to put their lives in that practitioner’s hands. But, with regard to routine medical care (e.g., annual check-ups, vaccinations, basic wound treatment), it is not necessary to receive attention from a person with a full-fledged medical degree. Furthermore, competition among certification providers would increase quality of training and lower its price, as well as accelerate the time needed to complete the training. Such a system would allow many more young medical professionals to practice without undertaking enormous debt or serving for years (if not decades) in roles that offer very little remuneration while entailing a great deal of subservience to the hierarchy of an established institution. Ultimately, without sufficient doctors to affordably deliver life-extending treatments when they become available, it would not be feasible to extend these treatments to the majority of people.”

Thus, the USTP advocates the development of competitively offered certifications for dialysis specialists who would be able to provide patients with quality care and respond effectively to emergencies or complications. However, the USTP strongly opposes any mandate that would prohibit a clinic that offers a lifesaving service from operating if no physician is on site.

California Ballot Proposition 24 Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative Neutral

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“● Permits consumers to: (1) prevent businesses from sharing personal information; (2) correct inaccurate personal information; and (3) limit businesses’ use of “sensitive personal information”—including precise geolocation; race; ethnicity; religion; genetic data; private communications; sexual orientation; and specified health information.

● Establishes California Privacy Protection Agency to additionally enforce and implement consumer privacy laws and impose fines.

● Changes criteria for which businesses must comply with laws.

● Prohibits businesses’ retention of personal information for longer than reasonably necessary.

● Triples maximum penalties for violations concerning consumers under age 16.

Authorizes civil penalties for theft of consumer login information, as specified.”

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party is neutral on California Ballot Proposition 24, a 50-page measure whose net effects on consumer privacy and control over personal data would be unclear.

The USTP strongly supports individual privacy. Article VI, Section I, of the USTP Platform, reads, in part, that “The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports individual privacy and liberty over how to apply technology to one’s personal life. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that each individual should remain completely sovereign in the choice to disclose or not disclose personal activities, preferences, and beliefs within the public sphere.”

While some of the provisions in California Ballot Proposition 24 are intended to support the right of individual privacy, the USTP questions the length and complexity of the measure, when effective protections for privacy could be articulated in a straightforward and concise manner. Various privacy advocates are split on California Ballot Proposition 24, and many have alleged that the length and complexity of the measure are the result of various carve-outs that allow large companies to collect significant amounts of data on consumers without their consent, sometimes in ways that are more permissive than current California law – the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. Furthermore, California Ballot Proposition 24 would appear to allow “pay for privacy” schemes, instead of privacy being the default. The USTP holds that the basic option for any service should be that the consumer owns all of his, her, or its data – and if the consumer is to be asked to give control over any such data to a third party, the consumer should be affirmatively rewarded for such a decision (for instance, via micropayments or other special benefits) – instead of being denied access to the default service for refusing to give another party control over the consumer’s personal data.

Ultimately, because the net impacts of California Ballot Proposition 24 on privacy are difficult to ascertain, the U.S. Transhumanist Party encourages its California members to study the proposal’s components and the issues involved and to individually weigh the potential benefits and costs of this measure in order to arrive at a reasonable personal position.

California Ballot Proposition 25 Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum Support

Summary of Ballot Proposition:

“A ‘Yes’ vote approves, and a ‘No’ vote rejects, a 2018 law that:

  • Replaced the money bail system (for obtaining release from jail before trial) with a system based on a determination of public safety and flight risk.
  • Limits detention of a person in jail before trial for most misdemeanors.”

(BallotPedia.)

Position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party: The U.S. Transhumanist Party supports California Ballot Proposition 25, which would uphold the 2018 Senate Bill 10 – legislation that has performed well in reducing California’s jailed population such that nonviolent accused persons who are determined by a thoughtful risk assessment not to be flight risks could be released on their own recognizance without the need for cash bail. The USTP supports reductions in the incarcerated population, and this applies before a person undergoes trial just as it applies afterward if that person is convicted. The ability to make a bail payment is not a determinant of a person’s objective risk to others, and most accused individuals end up purchasing bail bonds due to the inability to afford the bail amount out of pocket. While the bail amount gets returned to the defendant after trial, the bail-bond amount gets paid to a third-party bail agent. A person who goes to trial and is exonerated for the alleged offense should not be made any poorer as a result, yet the system of cash bail channels many people in already precarious financial situations into arrangements which lead exactly to such impoverishment.

 

Breaking the Bottleneck: A Synergy of Technology and Medicine – Article by Zach Richardson

Breaking the Bottleneck: A Synergy of Technology and Medicine – Article by Zach Richardson

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Zach Richardson


In March of 2019, I began to have a very strange problem. I was breathing normally, but felt like I was suffocating. The problem became much worse when lying down, but seemed to come and go arbitrarily. Some days it would be really bad, and on others I didn’t even notice it. This happened twice in a week, and I checked with a doctor. He assured me I had anxiety and gave me a prescription for some anxiolytic medicine. I couldn’t breathe, and his solution was Xanax. I stupidly trusted him.

In May 2019, I ended up in the hospital. My body was turning yellow, and my liver, kidneys, and heart were failing. The cause was idiopathic; none of the 7 specialists knew why I was having congestive heart failure. A couple of drugs were tried, but in the end the only solution they said would save my life was the implantation of a mechanical device that would help my heart pump: a Ventricular Assist Device, or VAD.

I was lucky enough to be selected as a perfect candidate for a clinical trial, partially due to being particularly young for having Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). A new version of an already cutting-edge technology would be tested on my body, and the results would be recorded for their study. The machine they implanted was called the Heartmate 3, and it saved my life.

The VAD is currently used either as “bridge” or “destination” therapy, with “bridge” meaning that it is used only temporarily until one can get a heart transplant, and “destination” meaning that one is ineligible for transplant at all, and will have the VAD for the rest of one’s life. Some of the contraindications for VAD implantation being bridge therapy include being obese or over 65 years of age. Luckily, I am not either of those two, and therefore am eligible for a transplant. However, there are two factors that are going to lead to it likely being an extremely long time before a donor heart is available. One is that I am a larger man, standing at 6 feet tall, meaning I require a larger-than-average heart. The other is that I have Type O blood, which is the hardest from the standpoint of receiving an organ donation.

This puts me in a very interesting situation, where I am a young man who may have many years still ahead of him with an implanted device. It may be 7 years from now when I get the call for transplant, or it may be tomorrow. If it happens 7 years from now, there may be therapies that will have been developed that would allow me to regrow my heart, or clone one from my stem cells, and thereby avoid having to be on a cocktail of immunosuppressants indefinitely. Unfortunately, even Athersys only has CHF treatments in the preclinical stage, which means I may have to wait a while. I intensely wish those trials weren’t being constrained like they are.

Having set significant life extension towards the very top of my hierarchy of values, I am extremely grateful that I live in a society where these technologies are available to me. I have a highly personal interest in seeing a society of scientists and biomedical engineers emerge to help develop these technologies! However, part of my situation was just me getting lucky: I had the treatment I needed approved just months before receiving it, and happened to have top-notch insurance.

One unfortunate side effect of having a centralized regulatory system is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is only held responsible for what are known as “Type I Errors”. A Type I error is where the FDA passes an unsafe drug or treatment, leading to harm to an individual or group. Unfortunately, this means that FDA officials do not seem to care at all about “Type II Errors”, where they do not pass a life-saving treatment or drug in time to save someone’s life. The FDA is so terrified of having another Vioxx incident, that FDA officials are overly cautious in approving the use of radically innovative and breakthrough technologies. The fact that these technologies carry some risk is something of no worry to someone who is going to die if they don’t get the treatment. It is much harder to blame the FDA for being too safe than it is to blame them for being reckless.

This is why I am proud to be a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party (USTP), where science and technology are put at the forefront of American politics. The current bottleneck those like me with CHF face is regulatory hurdles. Article VI, Section VI, of the USTP Constitution states: “The United States Transhumanist Party upholds morphological freedom—the right to do with one’s physical attributes or intelligence whatever one wants so long as it does not directly harm others.” Right now what I and others with CHF would like to do is to get a stem-cell heart. We are being hindered not by direct legislation restricting morphological freedom, but by the far more pernicious hindrance of excessive regulatory burden. The treatments we want are being developed exponentially slower than they could be, because each step of the way has to adhere to draconian testing standards. This means a lot of Type II errors are being committed. We are not being told, “You cannot get this treatment.” Providers are being told, “You cannot provide this treatment.”

In my ideal world, regulatory agencies would work more like Underwriters Laboratories or Quality Assurance International. Leaving regulatory activity to the market, far from the fearmongering of producing dangerous and shoddy drugs and treatments, would instead invigorate the institutions as they would compete to certify the best products and treatments for consumers, since their names and reputations would be on the line.

I believe there needs to be a much stronger focus in regulatory institutions toward the elimination of Type II Errors, because there are a lot of sick people going untreated.

Zach Richardson is a Certified Supply Chain Professional and small-business co-owner producing respirator-style masks to help stem the tide of COVID-19’s spread. His website is isgmanufacturing.com. He is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Review of Jamie Metzl’s “Hacking Darwin” by Dan Elton

Review of Jamie Metzl’s “Hacking Darwin” by Dan Elton

 

Dan Elton


Our inaugural  book review of 2020 covers Hacking Darwin by Jamie Metzl. As a  happy coincidence, David Wood of the London Futurists recently had Metzl speak to his group, and you can watch a recording of the event here.  This book is an exploration of how we might genetically engineer our children, why we might want to do so, and what the consequences might be.

The fact is, some people are already “hacking Darwin”. The first “test-tube baby” was born in 1978. This set the stage for preimplantation genetic testing, which became popular in the 1990s and widely used today. But “hacking Darwin” had already been occurring earlier due to genetic testing. A striking example Metzl discusses is the rapid decrease in Tay-Sachs disease in the  Ashkenazi jewish community.  Tay-Sachs is a genetic disorder which has devastating effects on the nervous system. By age 2, children with Tay-Sachs start to experience seizures and decline in mental functioning. Sadly, most die in agonizing pain by the age of five. About one in twenty seven Ashkenazi Jews carry the Tay-Sachs genes. Remarkably though, since the 1980s, the prevalence of the disease among Ashkenazi Jews has been very low, due to extensive genetic testing and family planning. Marriages between people who have tested positive for the disease were discouraged, and when they do occur, the couples tended to adopt rather than risk having a child born with the disease. The result was a great reduction in needless suffering, which is hard to argue against.

One of the major objections to genetic engineering is that it is “unnatural”. Metzl points out that a better term is “unfamiliar”. He points out that many things that seem natural are actually very “unnatural” – for instance, if you went back a few thousand years, you wouldn’t find anything resembling today’s corn or bananas – they are human concoctions from centuries of selective breeding. It seems that the queeziness people feel, which they label as due to “un-naturalness” is actually just due to unfamiliarity, which naturally invokes anxiety. History shows us that any radical technology or new idea naturally experiences widespread pushback. But history also shows that acceptance of a radical new idea or technology can be remarkably fast notwithstanding.

In-vitro fertilization provides an interesting case study of how public opinion can shift. Initially it was demonized, but public acceptance of it rapidly changed over the course of only a few years.

The next technology that will come down the pipeline, according to Metzl, is iterated embryo selection. Embryos are already inspected visually to select the one that is least likely to result in a miscarriage, and as noted in some cases preimplantation genetic testing is performed to check for a few genetic illnesses. This process can be scaled up and improved dramatically. Instead of having 10-15 eggs fertilized, a hundred might be, and instead of just doing visual checks, the genome of each embryo might be sequenced to screen out certain genetic disorders and select for certain traits. The process could also be “iterated”, using induced pluripotent stem cells (IPCs) from the embryos to create new gametes (eggs & sperm) which could be combined to create new embryos.

Fig. 1 – The Cost of Sequencing a Human Genome.

Source: National Human Genome Research Institute

 https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/Sequencing-Human-Genome-cost

The benefits of expanding IVF and embryo selection could not only eliminate unnecessary suffering but also result in large financial savings which will allow money to be redistributed elsewhere in our healthcare system. The current cost of taking care of the current number of people born with genetic diseases each year was roughly estimated by Metzl to be $48 billion, spread over 37 years into the future.

The cost of sequencing is dropping dramatically (see Fig. 1). This is allowing for larger genome-wide association studies (GWASs). Using big data, statistical methods, and machine learning, many outcomes can be predicted by analyzing the many genes which can influence most traits. Already, the height a child will grow to can be predicted to within an inch (assuming they get adequate nutrition) by analyzing thousands of genes.

Two major types of enhancements which will benefit our offspring are discussed in length by Metzl – increased intelligence and increased healthspan, and it’s worth discussing some of his main findings here. (Other possible enhancements he notes are increased empathy, supersensory capabilities, increased physical stamina and strength, increased beauty, increased ability to extract nutrition from foods, and better ability to tolerate mircrogravity and  radiation.)

Regarding intelligence, the Minnestota Family Twin study found that 70% of IQ is genetic. More recent works put the number somewhat lower (about 50%), but a surprising amount is hereditary, and the variance due to genetics is significant (about 15 points of IQ in each direction). The rest seems to be largely due to things like childhood nutrition and having a rich environment as a kid. Higher IQ provides many benefits. Among them is a better ability to adapt to change and work in a dynamic environment where you constantly have to learn new skills. Statistically, people with lower IQ tend to work jobs with a regular routine, such as service positions. Currently, those with low IQ can still have a great life (there’s no evidence IQ correlates with happiness), and low-IQ people can learn a trade where there is reliable demand, become very good at it, and be valued by society. With the advent of AI and robotics, this is rapidly changing, and the risk of large-scale technological unemployment is real. Metzl asks, in light of this, is it really fair that we are trusting the economic wellbeing of our children to the genetic lottery of sexual recombination? It’s already not easy to compensate for a bad draw in the genetic lottery. Additionally, if other parents are doing it, why would any parent want to risk their child being far behind their peers? According to Metzl, the choice will be clear for parents in the future.

The second major area where genetic engineering will have an effect is aging. The diseases of aging were not something evolution cared much about, so there are likely genetic hacks that are possible but were just never selected for – it’s an area ripe for optimization.  For a glimpse of what is possible, Metzl has us consider the naked mole rat, a species which is remarkable in many ways (click here for a  full list of ways this species is special). Most notably, naked mole rats don’t exhibit the normal signs of aging, and they don’t get cancer. Thus, as odd as it may seem, the naked mole rat is the subject of intense research, and this humble species even serves as a sort of touchstone increasing the confidence of venture capitalists investing in longevity biotech startups in Silicon Valley. According to Metzl, “Calico, Google’s San Francisco–based life-extension company, maintains one of the world’s largest captive colonies of naked mole rats to see if it can uncover biomarkers of aging and unlock the secrets of naked mole rat longevity.”

It seems that genetic engineering will eventually be accepted as the ethically superior way of creating children – no one will want to leave something as important as the health and economic wellbeing of their children to blind chance. Human beings naturally crave control and certainty where possible — that’s why we give our kids vaccines and parents spend thousands of dollars on prophylactic dental procedures such as orthodontics or the removal of wisdom teeth. Yes, there will always be some hold-outs who will want to stick with “traditional conception”, but after reading Metzl’s book I can’t help but think that eventually the numbers will be quite small. Consider, for instance, that even the Amish use modern medicine.

The scientific and technological path to a much more healthy world, with much less suffering and longer, healthier lives is clear. There are straightforward steps we can take to reduce congenital ailments, for instance. However, there’s a real chance we may delay even this for decades, causing much needless suffering. Part of the reason is that any discussions of the subject immediately bring up a lot of cultural baggage from the horrible legacy of eugenics. The horrors of eugenics form an unfortunate negative emotional halo around any discussion of genetic engineering. While the eugenics movement is largely dead, the subject is so important that Metzl rightly devotes a large part of the book to it. Concerns about a re-emergence of the horrors of eugenics are legitimate, but conflation of what is being proposed with those horrors is not. Eugenicists advocated forced sterilization, whereas nobody is proposing that today. Instead, all that is being proposed is that parents have a choice in how their children are conceived. However, there is a real concern that parents will voluntarily choose children with certain biases, such lighter skin and heterosexuality. There are also concerns that the creation of genetically engineered “super children” would lead to a caste system of some sort, leading to a highly in-equitable society where the non-genetically-engineered are constantly discriminated against and made to feel unworthy. Metzl acknowledges each of these risks as real, but he also points out that none of the scenarios are inevitable and asks the reader to consider the benefits of genetic engineering as well, some of which we previously discussed. He notes that our current world is already very unequal in terms of genetics. Might a bit more genetic inequality be acceptable, Metzl asks, if the children created make enormous contributions to the arts and sciences which benefit all of humanity? Regarding whether a caste system might form, Metzl suggests that we must work to ensure the technology is widely distributed (at one point I recall he suggests insurance companies might have an incentive to provide genetic engineering as it would reduce health costs later on). A bigger horror, Metzl suggests, is not genetic inequality, but perfect genetic equality – the creation of a uniform generation of cookie-cutter children, where misfits and non-neurotypicals (which have historically contributed so much) have been selected out.  Each of these concerns are real, and Metzl doesn’t try to argue otherwise.

While ethical concerns may stifle the development of genetic engineering, a different scenario is a genetic arms race. In other areas such as AI, China is making more aggressive investments in genetic technology – a “$9 billion, fifteen-year investment to improve national leadership in precision medicine”. Metzl points out that the Chinese seem to have far fewer hang-ups around the subject and are blazing full steam ahead.

While the author is sympathetic to genetic engineering, the book presents a balanced treatment and never waxes too polemical. The first part of the book is mostly about the science. The later sections, on the ethical concerns and the genetic arms race scenario, are the most thought-provoking and are parts I may re-listen to at some point. Overall, this book is a very timely and thought-provoking introduction to the subject.

Dan Elton, Ph. D., is Director of Scholarship for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

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A National Techno-Progressive Policy Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

Respectfully Submitted to the Ministry of Health of Argentina

The United States Transhumanist Party (USTP) has been associated with public health initiatives and emerging-technology policymaking since 2014; we have many State-level parties, associates, partner organizations, and foreign ambassadors around the world. At this time in history and out of a sense of duty to the future, we are compelled to submit this public-policy proposal designed to not only enhance the public health and prosperity of Argentina, but also to make it a model for techno-optimistic progress around the world.

As such the USTP humbly submits this proposal to the Minister of Health of Argentina to work together to assure the prevention of future pandemics and jointly tackle broader health concerns with life extension as its goal. It is our intention with this proposal to encourage the Minister of Health of Argentina to declare a mandate for longer life spans and the reasonable treatment of aging as an ailment.

Purpose: This declaration promises to generate accolades from the global community for the Minister of Health particularly and Argentina generally as forward-thinking and serious leaders in the future of human welfare and scientific development. It will ensure that Argentina will be recognized as the world’s first techno-optimistic, progressive constitutional democracy. 

Benefit to the Argentine Government from accepting this proposal: The USTP holds that this bold declaration will further enhance Argentina’s status in the Western Hemisphere. Aside from the importance to humanity that this declaration provides in the name of Science, it will act to promote tourism and investment, and to encourage more civic undertakings from an increased interest in Argentine affairs.  

The USTP will be approaching the governments of San Marino and Liechtenstein to persuade them to make similar declarations in the wake of this worldwide pandemic. However, we are reaching out to the home country of Salvador Mazza to champion this cause to inspire other nations to follow your lead and provide citizens with a new level of public health services and longer lives. 

We look forward to your response and the potential of working with Minister Ginés González García and his capable team.

Signed, 

Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

J. Ben Zion, Vice-Chairman and 2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate, United States Transhumanist Party

Charlie Kam, Director of Longevity Outreach and 2020 U.S. Vice-Presidential Candidate, United States Transhumanist Party

Tom Ross, Director of Media Production, United States Transhumanist Party

Pavel Ilin, Secretary, United States Transhumanist Party

Daniel C. Elton, Ph.D., Director of Scholarship, United States Transhumanist Party

David Shumaker, Director of Applied Innovation, United States Transhumanist Party

Arin Vahanian, Director of Marketing, United States Transhumanist Party

B.J. Murphy, Director of Social Media, United States Transhumanist Party

Dinorah Delfin, Director of Admissions and Public Relations, United States Transhumanist Party

John J. Kerecz, Campaign Director, United States Transhumanist Party

Brent Logan Reitze, Director of Publication, United States Transhumanist Party

Dr. Christian Meniw, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Argentina

Henry Hoyos, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Bolivia

Keoma Ferreira Antonio, MSc, Ph.D. Student, Philosopher, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Brazil

Bill Andrews, Ph.D., President and CEO, Sierra Sciences, Biotechnology Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

José Luis Cordeiro, MBA, Ph.D., Technology Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Spain

Alexey Kadet, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Latvia

Ojochogwu Abdul, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Nigeria

Peter Wang, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in China

Paul A. Spiegel, J.D., Legal Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Micah Redding, Advisor on Religion to the United States Transhumanist Party

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO, BioViva, and Advocacy Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Newton Lee, Chairman, California Transhumanist Party, and Education and Media Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Rich Lee, Biohacking Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Daniel Yeluashvili, Climate Advisor to the Ben Zion 2020 Presidential Campaign

Michael Murray, Director of Environmental Science, California Transhumanist Party

Dr. Efi Roboti, Obstetrician-Gynecologist Surgeon and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Romina Florencia Cabrera, UNLP-UBA-UM-USAL,  Abogada,  Investigadora-Docente-Asesora-Consultora, Argentina, Chile e Iberoamérica

Raiany Romanni, Harvard Medical School, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Natasha Vita-More, Ph.D., Executive Director, Humanity+

Maria Entraigues Abramson, Global Outreach Coordinator, SENS Research Foundation

David Kekich, President and CEO, Maximum Life Foundation

Ben Goertzel, Chief Scientist and Chairman, Novamente, LLC, Chairman, OpenCog Foundation, Chair, Humanity+

Sergio Martínez de Lahidalga Tarrero, President, Alianza Futurista

Alex M. Vikoulov, Founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief, Ecstadelic Media Group

Michael Hope, Biogerontologist

Matthew Schenk, Geroscientist and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

John Marlowe, Advocate for Rare Disease Research, Regenerative Medicine, and Rejuvenation Biotechnology

Elena Rusyn, Founder, AmpliCell Medical, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Joe Bardin, Essayist, Playwright, Communication Strategist, RAADfest Communications Director, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Dr. Ilia Stambler, Chairman, Israeli Longevity Alliance

Brent NallyEntrepreneur, Interviewer, Longevity and Health Enthusiast, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Didier Coeurnelle, Co-Chair of Heales.org (Healthy Life Extension Society), Vice-Chair of the Association Française Transhumaniste Technoprog, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kelvin Ogba DafiaghorCEO, Ogba Educational Clinic

Osinakachi Akuma Kalu, Founder, Transdisciplinary Agora for Future Discussions, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Negash Alamin, Head of CAMIDRCS Nature Media and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Orji Ama Chinedu, Attorney in Lagos, Nigeria

Victor Bjoerk, Heales.org (Healthy Life Extension Society) and Gerontology Research Group

Martin O’Dea, Partner, Longevity Accelerator, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kevin Perrott, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder, Methuselah Foundation and SENS Research Foundation

Yifei Sun, President and CEO, International Institute for Innovation and Development

Brandon Michael King, Co-Founder and Organizer, Longevity Party United States, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Eric Schulke, Activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Maitreya One, Transhumanist Hip-Hop Artist and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jennifer Huse, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Tom Hite, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kimberly Forsythe, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

James Kohagen, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Daud Sheikh, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Amanda Stoel, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Montie Adkins, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Mike DiVerde, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Chet Fontenot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Christopher Browning, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Nick Dunn, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Art Ramon, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Renato Galindo Caceres, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Marcus Dreitzler, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Alexander Taylor Clayton, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jason Geringer, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Dawn Gilroy, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Adam Perrotta, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

AtmaJodha Singh, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Andrew Eckley, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Allen Crowley, USA LTC (Retired), Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Erin Reeve, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

William G. Echevarria Fernandez, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Brent Ellman, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Thomas James O’Carroll, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Luis J. Arroyo, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Simon Stiel, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Alexandria Black, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Michał Szymacha, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Corbin Stefan, Dosimetrist, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Anthony Bruce, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Rima Martin, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jiri Jelinek, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Quinn Cummins-Lune, Member, United States Transhumanist Party, Member, The Futurist Foundation

Mike Cockrill, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Zach Richardson, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Chris McAulay, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Justin Fontenot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Valerie Handlers, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jessica Gifford, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Joshua Gifford, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Zipporah Naomi Pecot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Hugh Ching, BS, MS, ScD

C. JoyBell C., Science Writer

Michael Beight

John Greenwood

Azure Michalak

Ryan Moisik

Kari Alatalo

Billy McCarthy

Fabian Pudlo

Walter H. Crompton

Adam Moser

Steven Mejia

Jeffrey Mercer

Marius Fusariu

Patricia A. Ray

Brett Mvrk

Kris McHale

Audrey Joyce

Mario Thibert

NOTE TO READERS: If you would like to digitally sign this proposal, please indicate this in the comments, or send an e-mail to USTP Chairman Stolyarov here. Please note that, if this is your first instance commenting on this website, your comment will go through moderation, but we will approve it in the near future and add your signature to the list above.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party Proposal for Widespread Hospital Construction: Now Is the Time to Act – Article by Mike Diverde

The U.S. Transhumanist Party Proposal for Widespread Hospital Construction: Now Is the Time to Act – Article by Mike Diverde

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Mike Diverde


When U.S. Transhumanist Party (USTP) Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II proposed widespread hospital construction in the United States, I thought it was a good idea, but I felt that it was unlikely to become reality, due to the incredible costs involved. I didn’t think that there would be much political support for that effort. I didn’t see any way to make progress on this, primarily because the USTP is a very small party. However, this pandemic has sharply focused attention on the dearth of hospital capacity in the United States. The USTP led the way in March 2020 with Article VI, Section XCVIII, of the Constitution of the United States Transhumanist Party. Naturally, motivating both the Democrats and the Republicans to support our plan is going to be necessary.

I have recently heard two Democrats expounding at length about the need to spend more money in bolstering our healthcare system. (I’ll include extensive quotes later on.)

In addition, I have recently heard Trump at his press conference stating that he is having discussions with the Democrats on infrastructure spending. Constructing hospitals definitely falls in the category of infrastructure improvement.

So at least as long as this pandemic has the attention of the American people, there is a possibility – a realistic possibility – that our platform plank could be adopted by both the Democrats and Republicans and be implemented.

First, I went and looked for some background facts. I don’t have any idea what’s going on in American hospitals. But I knew that there had to be some relatively basic data on hospitals and the American population. (I’m going to state the round numbers here. I will include details and web links later.)

Consider the time period basically between 1980 and 2020: 40 years in America. The total number of hospitals in the United States in 1980 was approximately 7,000. Today the number of hospitals is approximately 5,500. So there has been an elimination of 1,500 hospitals over the 40-year period under consideration. The population of America in 1980 was 220 million. The population of America in 2020 is 330 million. America has increased in population by 50%, but the number of hospitals to care for those people has declined by 20%.

Now this does not indicate whether or not there is a sufficient number of hospitals to have a surge capacity for an epidemic. This just indicates that we have far fewer hospitals per capita than we had 40 years ago. The real question is: how many should we have?

Now I want to draw a parallel with a completely different item. When the Army Corps of Engineers started working on controlling American rivers to prevent the catastrophic flooding that had occurred from time to time, they developed a yardstick in which they estimated a 500-year flood, and a 200-year flood, and a 100-year flood, and a 50-year flood. And they use those estimates of some worst-case scenarios to properly design the dams and levees for the rivers in America.

I’m going to suggest that we need similar yardsticks for American hospitals. Now these yardsticks would take experts years of study to prepare properly. I’m going to make one up for illustrative purposes and then compare it to the yardstick in the USTP platform. The USTP used this yardstick in Section XCVIII: one new hospital per 50,000 people. This yields 6,600 new hospitals as a goal in the US today. There are about 5,500 hospitals in the US today, which means that we would have a total of 12,100 hospitals if this plan were implemented. Alternatively, I am going to speculate that at a minimum we need to have the same quantity of hospitals per capita that we did in 1980. That may not be sufficient but let’s use that as a yardstick to continue this discussion. If I use the same per capita ratio as 1980 that calculation yields 10,000 hospitals. There are about 5,500 hospitals in the US today, which means that we would need to build 4,500 new hospitals. This indicates that the range of construction in the US may be between 4,500 and 6,600 new hospitals.

And a side note here: when I talk about hospitals, the discussion must include surge capacity for beds, and ventilators, and test kits, and personnel, etc. The plan needs to include everything that supports the hospital. This is not just a construction project. This is a plan to protect Americans in the event of an epidemic.

The goal here is to propose to Democrats that the health and welfare of the American citizens is at risk without more hospitals, and it is clear that low-income minority populations not only have been underserved by the quantity of hospitals, but are also more at risk of being seriously ill during epidemics due to the lower quality of healthcare that they can avail themselves of currently.

The goal here is to propose to Republicans that the way to get the economy revved up is to do infrastructure spending, and that the construction of hospitals across America will be good for all businesses.

The goal here is to indicate to both Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives that they would be able to provide to their local citizens thousands of excellent construction jobs and healthcare positions, while also delivering 10 new hospitals per Representative and a variable number of hospitals per Senator. (I can already hear the screaming from some libertarians about pork-barrel wasteful government spending, but perhaps others will be more far-sighted.)

I believe that this is an investment not only in the American economy but also an investment in our health and longevity.
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Here are some very recent comments from prominent politicians on these critical issues.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday, April 24th, 2020:

“Plan on a reopening and not just reopening what was. We went through this horrific experience. It should be a period of growth. It should be a period of reflection. If we’re smart, and we use it that way, there are lessons to learn here. If we’re smart, and we have the courage to look in the mirror. We went through 9/11. We were the smarter for it. We went through World War II. We were the better for it. We went through superstorm Sandy. We learned. We grew. We were the better for it. We should do the same thing here. People are totally changing their lifestyle. What did we learn? How do we have a better health care system that can actually handle public health emergencies? How do we have a better transportation system? How do we have a smarter telemedicine system? How do we use technology and education better? Why do some children have to go to a parking lot to get Wi-Fi to do their homework? How do we … learn from this, and how do we grow?”

On Friday, April 24th, 2020, Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary, appeared on the Wall Street Week program on Bloomberg TV, and he had this to say about how the American federal government is spending money:

“The really important thing that we need to spend macro money on is the micro health issues. This thing is costing us 80 billion dollars a week – more than 10 billion dollars a day. Anything that we do that accelerates the pace at which the economy can reopen, that creates some more normal environment more quickly, will pay for itself many times over. But we’re not throwing money at every possible approach to testing. We’re not simultaneously building the manufacturing capacity for tests or vaccines that might work, but we don’t know yet. What we need to do is spend money that we know some of it will end up being wastefully spent, so that we’re ready to go with anything that works: a vaccine; a treatment; a test for evaluating. And we’re just not spending money in that kind of way. We’re throwing infinite amounts of money at leveraged firms that are overlevered and are having a tough time right now, but we are underinvesting on a very large scale in the health investments. The truth is the highest payoff health investments in moving the economy forward aren’t in stimulating the economy – they’re in bringing forth the necessary health infrastructure in terms of tests, contact tracing, treatments, and ultimately vaccines. And that’s where we should be heavily investing and concentrating, and we’re not just we’re not doing it. It’s business as usual. It’s the fact that we underspent on pandemic preparation. That is why we’re in this catastrophic mess, and we still haven’t gotten past the error of underinvesting in health relative to other things. Think about it this way. If we move this forward by one day, the extra tax revenue that will feed into the government budget will be more than $3 billion dollars. At that price, how could we not be investing in every possible experiment and parallel processing everything, knowing that even if we have some redundancy, even if we have some waste, it will be small compared to the benefits.”

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If there are some Transhumanists who see merit in the approach that I have outlined, I would like to discuss how this USTP platform plank can actually be implemented. We should engage the dominant political parties to get them to do what we know we need.

I believe that this is an investment not only in the American economy, but also an investment in our health and superlongevity.

Weblinks

U.S. Transhumanist Party Website: https://transhumanist-party.org/

American Hospital Association. Fast Facts on U.S. Hospitals, 2020: https://www.aha.org/statistics/fast-facts-us-hospitals 

John Elflein. Number of all hospitals in the U.S. from 1975 to 2017. https://www.statista.com/statistics/185843/number-of-all-hospitals-in-the-us-since-2001/

Erin Duffin. Resident population of the United States from 1980 to 2019. https://www.statista.com/statistics/183457/united-states–resident-population/

Notes

1. Number of hospitals in 1980: 6965.
Number of hospitals in 2016: 5534.
6965 – 5534 = 1431 fewer hospitals. 1431/6965 = 0.205 = 20.5% decrease in hospitals in the US.
{Source: John Elflein 2019 on statista.com}.

2. US population in 1980: 226,500,000.
US population in 2019: 328,200,000. 328,200,000 – 226,500,000 = 101,700,000 more Americans. 101,700,000 / 226,500,000 = .449 = 45% increase in the US population.
{Source: Erin Duffin 2020 on statista.com}.

3. Per capita hospital ratios.
1980: 226,500,000 people / 6965 hospitals = 32,500 p/h 2020: 328,200,000 people / 5534 hospitals = 59,300 p/h.
Find number of hospitals needed in 2020 to have same p/h ratio as 1980. 328,200,000 p / 32,500 p/h = 10,000 hospitals. 10,000 required – 5500 existing = 4500 new hospitals required.

Transhumanism and the Promise of Being More Human – Article by Arin Vahanian

Transhumanism and the Promise of Being More Human – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


Human beings have had an interesting relationship with technology. On the one hand, nearly everyone rightfully applauds and appreciates technology’s ability to make life more convenient, help us save time, and generally improve the quality of life and standard of living on Earth, among many other benefits. On the other hand, there are some people out there who believe that technology somehow threatens to rob us of our humanity.

However, I shall not attempt to argue with those who feel that technology is inherently detrimental to the human condition. Indeed, no matter how many benefits technology brings us, and no matter how much it improves our lives, there are no doubt people out there who will lament the time when technology was less ubiquitous.

While I fully recognize that runaway technology left in the wrong hands poses a danger to humanity, debating the pros and cons of an increasing technological future is not the focus of this article, though it is a very worthy (and necessary) discussion in its own right.

Rather, today I shall present an entirely different argument: that technology, and, in a narrower sense, Transhumanism, can accentuate the aspects and characteristics that make us human, and indeed, allow us to better enjoy the experience of being human.

At first glance, this may appear to be a controversial argument. After all, as some critics ask, aren’t developments like robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence at odds with being human? And, according to some detractors, isn’t Transhumanism a movement that will lead to people becoming less human and more machine-like?

Of course, both statements above are absurd, and complete red herrings. If we accept the fact that Transhumanism is a movement and philosophy focused on improving the human condition, then we must also accept the premise that Transhumanism strives to use technology to improve the human condition.

What makes we humans special is not just our ability to communicate deeply using language, but also, traits such as empathy, reason, and logic, as well as the ability to love. I would argue that we will be able to leverage future improvements in technology to improve all these areas.

While one could come up with a near-endless list of ways technology could help improve the human condition, I will offer just a few here, to spur discussion.

One way that comes to mind immediately is using technology to help the countless millions of people who are suffering from physical disabilities, and as a result, are unable to live a productive, normal life. The robotic limbs and exoskeletons you have heard and read about would go a long way toward allowing people to be mobile again, and would emancipate people from being bound to a bed or a wheelchair.  Imagine the happiness on the face of a child who is able to walk for the first time thanks to a robotic limb. One of the most heart-wrenching things for us to see is children who are suffering from physical disabilities. In reality, being disabled is an undignified way to go through life, no matter what one’s age. But not only would such technologies drastically improve the quality of life for people suffering from physical disabilities, they would also benefit humanity on an economic level, allowing people to be more productive members of society. It is for this reason that Transhumanists support unequivocally technologies that help people make full use of their physical, mental, and emotional faculties.

But if that example was too obvious, let’s take conditions such as autism and social anxiety disorder, for instance. While current treatments include behavioral therapy and medication, neither one of those has been very effective, and at best, neither is a cure. On the other hand, a technological solution would likely be much more efficacious. One such example of a potential solution that does not currently exist, but might be developed in the future, is the Computer-Assisted Social Interaction Enhancer, or CASIE, as introduced in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution. A real-life use case for such an enhancement could be to allow people who suffer from autism to have improved social interactions, not to mention vastly improved communication skills. The implications of having good social and communication skills are enormous, not just in one’s career, but in one’s social life in particular. Part of what makes us human is the ability to connect with and relate to others. When we are robbed of this most human quality, this threatens to impact our quality of life quite negatively. What is most interesting is that it was a Transhumanist video game that proposed a potential technological solution to such social disorders.

And how about curing diseases through gene therapy? While some people are frightened of the prospect of gene modification, I imagine very few people would reject a cure for dementia, cystic fibrosis, and leukemia, especially if they and/or their loved ones were suffering from any one of these horrible conditions. To go further, I would venture to say that nearly no one in their right mind would argue that we should not cure devastating conditions such as dementia, cystic fibrosis, and leukemia, never mind the biggest killers, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Transhumanists have been campaigning for improving the human condition and curing disease through gene therapy and similar technologies. I would argue that there are few endeavors in life that are more humane than working on curing disease.

However, despite the fact that Transhumanist causes such as curing disease and improving the human condition are among the most noble causes we as humans can work on, detractors may respond with the objection that the requisite technologies do not currently exist, and that even if they did, they would be used for harm rather than good.

My response to this is quite simple: electricity did not exist, until it did. Vaccines did not exist, until they did. Many things we take for granted now did not exist until someone or some people worked together to create them. There is no reason why we cannot leverage science and technology to provide a cure for many of the conditions that afflict us today. At the very least, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to try.

And although a technology such as CASIE does not yet exist, imagine the implications if such technologies did exist. While these technologies could no doubt be used for nefarious means, we cannot simply deny billions of people the possibility of having improved relationships, better health, and a better quality of life, just because the possibility exists of a few unscrupulous people using technology to hurt others.

Equally important, technologies such as life extension, gene therapy and anti-aging medicines will allow people to spend more time with loved ones by granting them healthier, longer lives. I would imagine that living more years of a healthy life is an outcome nearly everyone would want.

As computer scientist Dr. Kai Fu Lee says in his monumental book AI Superpowers, “we must forge a new synergy between artificial intelligence and the human heart, and look for ways to use the forthcoming material abundance generated by artificial intelligence to foster love and compassion in our societies.” One could replace the term “artificial intelligence” with “technology”, and it would be just as true.

Technology can and must be used as a force for good. Similarly, Transhumanism, which promises to improve the human condition, can help make us be even more human by accentuating our human qualities, thus elevating us to be even greater than we are right now.

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