U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Sixth Anniversary and 2023 New Year’s Message
Gennady Stolyarov II
Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party
When the sixth anniversary of my tenure as Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party arrived on November 17, 2022, I was in the midst of numerous urgent developments, and thus I marked the day by posting a concise message: “After 6 years as Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, it is essential to stay the course until a much better era is attained.” I also featured a new artwork generated with the aid of DALL-E 2, a transhumanist tower in the orange and black colors of the USTP, to recognize that 2022 has been a year of remarkable progress in generative art platforms – technological capabilities that the USTP fully supports and actively utilizes. Furthermore, I promised that a more detailed Chairman’s Anniversary Message would be forthcoming, and at last, I am able to share this message with you as 2022 draws to a close. This will be a combined Chairman’s Anniversary, holiday, and end-of-2022 / beginning-of-2023 statement that celebrates our perseverance through the past calendar year and expresses our aspirations for the year to come.
Undoubtedly, 2022 has been the most difficult year not just of my tenure as Chairman of the USTP, but of my entire lifetime; never before during my generation – and likely during the two generations that preceded it – have so many dire, acute crises afflicted the world simultaneously, with their impacts seeping or flooding into the local and personal realms and inflicting severe damage. While many such crises have characterized 2022, three major ones stand out: COVID-19 (particularly fueled by immune-escape variants), political hyper-polarization, and the war in Ukraine (which continues to present an existential risk to the human species, with the magnitude of that existential risk rising and falling with each notable event and each shift in the disposition of the leaders of the powers involved). I will have more to say about each of these interconnected crises, how to alleviate their root causes, and the important role that the USTP can play to achieve their amelioration.
During 2022, the U.S. Transhumanist Party grew to over 4,000 members – still short of our desired pace of growth, but nonetheless attracting a steady influx of new individuals who are interested in transhumanism and the work of the USTP. To those who are encountering the USTP for the first time, I emphasize the ease of attaining membership; it takes less than a minute to fill out the online application form, and membership is free and always will be. We are planning a significant vote to update our Platform in 2023, and we invite you to join now in order to take part in deliberations, offer suggestions, and, of course, cast your vote when the time comes.
But more than members, we need active volunteers – people who would be willing to undertake projects, track legislation and write analyses, contribute articles to the USTP website, operate State-level Transhumanist Parties and local transhumanist meetups, and reach out to policymakers and the public with messaging that aligns with the USTP Platform and Values. Our FAQ provides some basic ideas of what any member could do. Beyond that, please reach out to me with your own ideas and a description of your skill sets, and I would be happy to explore what it might be possible to achieve through our joint efforts.
Establishment of the Transhuman Club
Our non-political affiliate, the Transhuman Club, was launched in July 2022, and a special Virtual Enlightenment Salon was devoted to an overview of the many features of its website at http://transhuman.club.
We hope to grow the Transhuman Club into a vibrant online gathering place for transhumanists to discuss ideas, current events, artworks, music, longevity, emerging technologies, scientific research, healthy habits, and other subjects of relevance to the future we seek to build. The Transhuman Club has a forum for discussions, a blog to which members may contribute, a gallery of artworks, including AI-generated images, a theater to watch animations and listen to new, futuristic versions of my compositions which have been remastered by Jason Geringer, a refined setting in which to watch past episodes of our Virtual Enlightenment Salons, and many other features still under construction. Thanks to the animation skills of Jason Geringer, who has also undertaken the majority of the development of the site, each page features outstanding animated backgrounds of futuristic cityscapes and elegant concert halls. The purpose of the Transhuman Club is to galvanize those transhumanists for whom politics is not the primary focus, but who do wish to cultivate the growth of the transhumanist community and its influence upon the general public, as well as participate in an online space which is independent of the algorithmic machinations of established social-media platforms (which most often have the effect of distracting and misleading rather than enlightening). While the U.S. Transhumanist Party continues to use various social-media platforms because this has become indispensable for spreading any message to a sizable audience, we do wish to create a haven for rational transhumanist thinking and expression which does not succumb to the many vulnerabilities of such conventional platforms. Rather, it would hearken back to the pre-Facebook Internet, an environment with considerably greater intellectual diversity, room for focused exploration, longer attention spans, significantly less political polarization, and more even accessibility of content that corresponds to one’s genuine interests.
Candidacy of Daniel Twedt for City Council in Thousand Oaks, California
During the 2022 elections, the U.S. Transhumanist Party endorsed one candidate, Daniel Twedt, who ran for the third time for City Council in Thousand Oaks, California. This time he earned 1,183 votes, or 0.9% of the total, and performed a valuable service in spreading the values of the USTP, including our three Core Ideals, as part of his campaign. His profile in the Thousand Oaks Acorn specifically mentions the USTP Core Ideals, and he also discussed the USTP during candidate forum events. We also held an extensive conversation with Daniel Twedt at our Virtual Enlightenment Salon on September 25, 2022, where he explained in detail his vision for Thousand Oaks and its areas of alignment with transhumanism.
Re-Formation of the New York Transhumanist Party
In July-October 2022, the USTP undertook an effort to re-form the New York Transhumanist Party and establish a new Constitution for it to ensure that a definitive framework for decision-making would exist. After a rigorous interview process, we selected Daud Sheikh as Chairman and Luis Arroyo as Vice-Chairman of the New York Transhumanist Party; both of them are energetic and active within the transhumanist movement, and we hope to see great things from them as they organize events in New York State and create a hub for a burgeoning transhumanist community there that would also effectively respond to local issues of interest and concern to New Yorkers.
The USTP also appointed its own Regional Liaison in New York, Dinorah Delfin, whose role there will be to network with individuals and organizations who are likely to be sympathetic to the USTP Platform and goals, invite such sympathetic persons to join the U.S. Transhumanist Party as members, and also encourage them to set up events, such as meetups and presentations, and to engage in policy advocacy for ideas within the USTP Platform. We hope to establish more Regional Liaison positions in other areas to emulate the great work done by Dinorah Delfin and our Northern California Liaison, Celeste Castaldo. You can view the profiles of our Regional Liaisons here.
Successful Support for Dr. Aubrey de Grey
In the wake of the entirely unnecessary turmoil whose public manifestation arose in August 2021 and threatened to tear the longevity community apart, the USTP took a leading role in expressing support for Dr. Aubrey de Grey and coordinating a statement of prominent transhumanists who provided abundant testimonials regarding his character, ideas, and work. This, along with my November 2021 article “The Vindication of Dr. Aubrey de Grey and the Dangers of ‘Strategic Conservatism’ in the Aging-Research Community” marked the beginning of the long road to restore Dr. de Grey to his rightful position of prominence within the longevity field. Fortunately, all of these efforts culminated in resounding successes, which we celebrated in Dublin in September 2022 at the Longevity Summit Dublin, co-organized by Dr. de Grey and Martin O’Dea. At that summit, the formation of a new foundation dedicated to Dr. de Grey’s vision was announced; it would subsequently become the Longevity Escape Velocity Foundation (LEVF) – https://levf.org/ – and I am proud to have a place on its Board of Directors. I intend to use this position to effectively advocate for the cutting-edge work that the LEVF will perform and to highlight the innovative minds who will make the next set of breakthroughs in longevity possible. As has already been announced by Dr. de Grey and others, the work of the LEVF will not be limited to science alone; advocacy and outreach are also vital aspects, as we will need to prepare the broader society for the inflection point in the public perception of how much additional longevity is realistically attainable for those alive today. There are many synergies between this work and the mission of the USTP.
Our Virtual Enlightenment Salon of September 18, 2022 (the day before the announcement of the new foundation), was livestreamed from Dublin, and guests who appeared there included Martin O’Dea, Aubrey de Grey, David Wood, Didier Coeurnelle, Brenda Ramokopelwa, and Bradley from the Hex community. Overall, this conversation was one of our most memorable Virtual Enlightenment Salons. Watch it here.
On October 27, 2022, after the LEVF name and website were announced, I knew that the USTP’s role in bringing about the vindication of Dr. de Grey was complete. I therefore concluded the State of Emergency which had been in effect since August 10, 2021, and which allowed the USTP to rapidly and effectively respond to developments in this situation. The State of Emergency was no longer necessary, because LEVF now exists as an entity and a base of operations for Aubrey, and I am able to provide my advice and support through my position as a Board member. Although the State of Emergency came to an end, Aubrey de Grey will always have the support of the USTP and the admiration of the vast majority of its members and Officers.
For me, the fight against death and disease is intensely personal and becoming more so every day. I am in this because I genuinely see no other alternative; either we dedicate what we can to this fight, or we perish – often in rather shocking and entirely unacceptable ways. Supporting Aubrey de Grey’s efforts to realize the most ambitious aspects of his vision is one crucial prerequisite to achieving victory in this fight – not the only one, but certainly an indispensable one.
Participation in RAADfest 2022
The U.S. Transhumanist Party had ample representation at RAADfest 2022, which returned to San Diego this past year after two years in virtual mode. In addition to me, our Director of Marketing and 2020 Presidential Candidate Charlie Kam and our Director of Applied Innovation David Shumaker were in attendance, along with our Advisors Bill Andrews, Jose Cordeiro, Aubrey de Grey, and Liz Parrish.
Gennady Stolyarov II, David Shumaker, and Charlie Kam at RAADfest 2022 – October 6, 2022
I moderated the final event of RAADfest, the Future Makers Panel, featuring some of the most ambitious proposals for addressing the problem of aging through an array of emerging technologies – from brain-cloud interfaces enabled by nanotechnology (discussed by the eloquent polymath Dr. Nuno Martins) to incremental replacement of aging brain tissue (a major research focus of Professor Jean Hébert) to the uses of artificial intelligence to help develop and analyze super-long-lived Methuselah flies (one of the projects of Dr. Ben Goertzel) to the use of robots in elder care (our fourth guest was Grace the Robot). Toward the end of the event, I endeavored to keep the audience engaged in various ways. I asked an open question regarding whether the attendees would be interested to have brain-computer interfaces to help them internalize the plethora of scientific information at the conference. The shouts from the audience were rather polarized – I estimate about 60 percent in favor, 40 percent opposed. One person exclaimed, “Maybe!” I seized upon that and reaffirmed it: “Maybe – it depends on the implementation, right?” I also suggested to the audience that the concept of transhumanism was the most helpful overarching narrative for the wide range of technological approaches that were discussed. While the public understands transhumanism in many different ways, transhumanism is fundamentally about making life better through science and technology, amplifying the good parts of our humanity while overcoming the bad parts. Toward the end of what was quite a profound question-and-answer session, I expressed the wish that we could have centuries to continue the conversation; Ben Goertzel replied that he was confident that we will. To conclude, I remarked that we will need to follow up on this discussion at RAADfest 22022 (though, in truth, I hope that it will happen much sooner at one of our Virtual Enlightenment Salons).
Addressing the War in Ukraine and Existential Risk
After the shock of the February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s regime, the dark cloud of existential risk descended to loom over the human species like never before. The USTP condemned this invasion and the war from the beginning and called on Putin to withdraw his forces. However, given the evident unwillingness of the Putin regime to do this, the USTP’s focus has been on deliberating about possibilities for a peaceful solution that would save lives and prevent the nuclear annihilation of human civilization, the greatest danger of all to every transhumanist aspiration.
We dedicated five Virtual Enlightenment Salons in 2022 to thoroughly discussing the situation in Ukraine and considering numerous perspectives on how to resolve it and what Western powers should do or refrain from doing.
On March 6, 2022, slightly more than two weeks after the war began, we hosted our International Panel Discussion on De-Escalating the Russia-Ukraine Conflict.
We followed this discussion with another one on March 20, 2022, focused specifically on the existential risk arising from this conflict and how to mitigate that risk.
On April 3, 2022, we invited Marcela Melnic and Joshua Alexander Lev of IFERS – the Institute For Education, Research, and Scholarships – to discuss their fine work in assisting refugees from Ukraine, as well as the broader nature and implications of this conflict.
Our Virtual Enlightenment Salon of May 29, 2022, was dedicated to a discussion of my essay “2022: The Year of the Great Filter”. My central argument in that essay was that, because of the war in Ukraine, 2022 was the existentially riskiest year to the human species compared to any before or since. The fact that you are reading this message means that we have survived past that uniquely dangerous year, although the cloud of existential risk has not been entirely lifted, and an updated analysis of our species’ status in passing through the Great Filter is needed. I aim to provide that analysis in a forthcoming Virtual Enlightenment Salon in early 2023.
On July 10, 2022, we hosted a debate between Nathan Boyd and Maty Aksenton on the question, “Should the United States and NATO support an immediate negotiated peace settlement in Ukraine (even if it means that Ukraine would need to concede territory to Russia and/or promise never to join NATO)?”
The USTP continues to carefully monitor the conflict in Ukraine and to hope for its de-escalation and cessation as quickly as possible; in particular, we hope that the horrific death toll of this conflict can be stemmed and that innocent civilians in all affected countries will be able to return to peaceful lives as quickly as possible. Only once the war is finally over could we have a chance of passing through the Great Filter and emerging on the other side, on our way toward becoming a resilient and enlightened multi-planetary civilization.
The Imperative to Combat COVID-19
Even so, completely emerging from the Great Filter would, in my view, require not only the cessation of the war in Ukraine, but also the end of the COVID-19 pandemic – the reduction of the COVID threat at least to the level where most people are not exposed to the risk of severe consequences for this virus (particularly the protracted and onerous consequences of Long COVID) on a routine basis as they strive to lead their lives.
Were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the major crises plaguing our societies today would either not exist or would exist in a much milder form.
- Were it not for COVID-19, Putin would not have invaded Ukraine, because he would not have isolated himself from the majority of people and information sources, which could have informed him that a quick collapse of the Ukrainian military and government was unrealistic.
- Were it not for COVID-19, political polarization in the United States would have declined instead of becoming greatly exacerbated in 2020. Already in 2019, most Americans were tired of partisan political theater, yet the hyper-partisans from the Democratic and Republican Parties successfully seized upon every pandemic-related public-health issue and managed to politicize it to the detriment of effective scientific and medical solutions.
- Were it not for COVID-19, we would not have had major price inflation, supply-chain disruptions, shortages of essential personnel in most industries, the continuation of an insane real-estate price bubble and its attendant housing crisis, declines in life expectancy for several years in a row, and an undermining of what used to be baseline expectations of American life even for people with ostensible financial security.
- Were it not for COVID-19, we would have been well on our way to the Transhuman Era by now; the 2020s would have been a decade of technological renewal and widespread public optimism about the future.
- Most importantly, were it not for COVID-19, the health of all of us would not have been endangered through the insidious threat of Long COVID and major complications such as organ failure and death, whose probability becomes magnified with the number of repeat infections.
I am convinced that, unless the COVID-19 pandemic is ended through the application of science and technology – either a vaccine that would be far more resilient against mutations of the virus or an engineered innocuous strain of the virus that out-competes all others – the cycle of waves of new escape variants will gradually cripple our civilization much like the Antonine Plague crippled the Roman Empire beginning in the late 160s CE and set into motion a chain of events from which the empire never quite recovered, even though it limped along for several centuries more. Only an end to the COVID-19 pandemic – a real, substantive end, not merely a declared or hoped-for end (we have had many of those, and they were all wishful thinking) – will prevent this fate from coming to pass. This is why, during our first vote in early 2023, I will call upon the U.S. Transhumanist Party members to support the scientific and technological eradication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a major policy priority of the USTP, toward the advocacy of which we will hopefully devote significant time and effort in the coming year.
Virtual Enlightenment Salons
It is astonishing in retrospect that our Virtual Enlightenment Salons have already been ongoing every week for over 2.5 years, since May 2020. Our partnership with KGRA Radio, which approximately doubled our typical audience, has also been in effect for over a year since November 2021 and has been an excellent collaboration which also led to the technical enhancement of our live Salons via the use of the StreamYard platform.
Our Virtual Enlightenment Salons this year delivered a wide array of conversations on cutting-edge longevity science, geopolitics, philosophy, activism, and creative uses of emerging technologies. Our most popular session of the year, the “Death of Death” panel on May 8, 2022, featuring Jose Cordeiro, Terry Grossman, and Simon Waslander, offered a highly accessible discussion explaining the theory and likelihood of curing biological aging, and insights about how individuals could maximize their chances of reaching an era of longevity escape velocity (LEV).
Our second-most-viewed Salon of 2022 was the aforementioned Report from Day 1 of Longevity Summit Dublin, whereas our third-most-viewed Salon was a conversation on epigenetics and gene therapy, featuring Liz Parrish and Dr. Klary Niezen-Koning as guests, with Simon Waslander co-moderating the Salon with me, and Dr. Bill Andrews also joining us to provide questions and commentary from a biologist’s perspective.
Overall, in 2022, we succeeded in turning the Virtual Enlightenment Salons into a persistent institution within the USTP, attracting a loyal following of highly engaged and thoughtful viewers, whose comments in the chat and whose creative, civil, and constructive expression of their ideas help to make each Salon experience a delight. It is truly almost as if we had an elegant 18th-century drawing room, where 30-40 people were gathered for a few hours of refined conversation and intellectual exploration. Someday, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, we might be able to emulate that experience through fully immersive virtual reality.
Some Creations to Celebrate the Holidays
To mark the holidays, I have also featured here another skyscraper generated using DALL-E 2, a luminous holiday-themed tower in the style of Nikola Tesla – a glimpse into an esthetic the could have taken hold if Tesla’s ideas and projects had been realized much sooner.
And, at last, I hope that our members and others reading this message enjoy the remainder of 2022 and the start of 2023 – and what better way to do that than with a virtual concert of Futuristic Neoclassical Music? Our concert was streamed on Sir Isaac Newton’s Birthday on December 25, 2022, and featured music composed by me and digitally remastered by Jason Geringer, USTP Legislative Director, to give each piece a crisp, futuristic sound. The music looks forward to a new era of human civilization, the Transhuman Era, where, through the progress of science and technology, humans will be able to realize their greatest aspirations while also preserving the best of past eras and previous achievements. My music draws upon compositional styles ranging from the 16th century to the present day and emphasizes the importance of melody, rationality, and an appeal to the highest motives in seeking to express the possibility of a better world. The compositions are accompanied by animated videos as well as both historical and contemporary artworks, including digital paintings generated by artificial-intelligence platforms such as DALL-E 2, Midjourney, and Dreamlike Art, as well as my own fractal artworks.
Savor some forward-looking art and music in the first days of 2023 and in the years to come – and of course, live long and prosper!