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Video of Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum at the Nevada State Legislature – May 15, 2019

Video of Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum at the Nevada State Legislature – May 15, 2019

Gennady Stolyarov II
Anastasia Synn
R. Nicholas Starr


Watch the video containing 73 minutes of excerpts from the Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum, held on May 15, 2019, at the Nevada State Legislature Building.

The Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum at the Nevada Legislature on May 15, 2019, marked a milestone for the U.S. Transhumanist Party and the Nevada Transhumanist Party. This was the first time that an official transhumanist event was held within the halls of a State Legislature, in one of the busiest areas of the building, within sight of the rooms where legislative committees met. The presenters were approached by tens of individuals – a few legislators and many lobbyists and staff members. The reaction was predominantly either positive or at least curious; there was no hostility and only mild disagreement from a few individuals. Generally, the outlook within the Legislative Building seems to be in favor of individual autonomy to pursue truly voluntary microchip implants. The testimony of Anastasia Synn at the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 26, 2019, in opposition to Assembly Bill 226, is one of the most memorable episodes of the 2019 Legislative Session for many who heard it. It has certainly affected the outcome for Assembly Bill 226, which was subsequently further amended to restore the original scope of the bill and only apply the prohibition to coercive microchip implants, while specifically exempting microchip implants voluntarily received by an individual from the prohibition. The scope of the prohibition was also narrowed by removing the reference to “any other person” and applying the prohibition to an enumerated list of entities who may not require others to be microchipped: state officers and employees, employers as a condition of employment, and persons in the business of insurance or bail. These changes alleviated the vast majority of the concerns within the transhumanist and cyborg communities about Assembly Bill 226.

 

From left to right: Gennady Stolyarov II, Anastasia Synn, and Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr)

This Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum comes at the beginning of an era of transhumanist political engagement with policymakers and those who advise them. It was widely accepted by the visitors to the demonstration tables that technological advances are accelerating, and that policy decisions regarding technology should only be made with adequate knowledge about the technology itself – working on the basis of facts and not fears or misconceptions that arise from popular culture and dystopian fiction. Ryan Starr shared his expertise on the workings and limitations of both NFC/RFID microchips and GPS technology and who explained that cell phones are already far more trackable than microchips ever could be (based on their technical specifications and how those specifications could potentially be improved in the future). U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II introduced visitors to the world of transhumanist literature by bringing books for display – including writings by Aubrey de Grey, Bill Andrews, Ray Kurzweil, Jose Cordeiro, Ben Goertzel, Phil Bowermaster, and Mr. Stolyarov’s own book “Death is Wrong” in five languages. It appears that there is more sympathy for transhumanism within contemporary political circles than might appear at first glance; it is often transhumanists themselves who overestimate the negativity of the reaction they expect to receive. But nobody picketed the event or even called the presenters names; transhumanist ideas, expressed in a civil and engaging way – with an emphasis on practical applications that are here today or due to arrive in the near future – will be taken seriously when there is an opening to articulate them.

The graphics for the Cyborg and Transhumanist Forum were created by Tom Ross, the U.S. Transhumanist Party Director of Media Production.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party free of charge, no matter where you reside.

References

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018

• “A Word on Implanted NFC Tags” – Article by Ryan Starr

Assembly Bill 226, Second Reprint – This is the version of the bill that passed the Senate on May 23, 2019.

Amendment to Assembly Bill 226 to essentially remove the prohibition against voluntary microchip implants

Future Grind Podcast

Synnister – Website of Anastasia Synn

This Was No Victory – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

This Was No Victory – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party has published this dissenting view by our member R. Nicholas Starr, in response to the USTP’s efforts to mitigate the harms of the proposal in Nevada’s Assembly Bill 226 (AB226) to ban participation in voluntary programs for the implantation of microchips. The USTP issued a statement regarding the success of our efforts here. We would recommend that our members read both the USTP’s statement and Mr. Starr’s dissenting point of view and arrive at their own thoughts as to the extent to which, if any, AB226, as amended, would continue to pose barriers, risks, and/or inconveniences to research efforts and attempts at personal self-improvement through technology which the USTP wholly supports. It is also noteworthy that AB226 has not yet been enacted into law. It will still need to come before a vote of the full Assembly Floor Session, after which the bill would move to the Senate, where a public hearing and a Senate Judiciary Committee work session would need to be held before a full Senate vote. The public hearing in the Senate would be the opportunity of those with remaining concerns to testify on AB226. Furthermore, the Nevada Legislature website allows members of the public to submit their opinions about specific bills, and it is also possible to contact Assemblyman Richard “Skip” Daly,  the sponsor of AB226, as well as the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee to express one’s views. AB226 can also be monitored on NELIS, the Nevada Legislature’s online informational system.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, March 17, 2019


TL;DR- Nevada still intends to ban voluntary NFC/RFID implants.

On March 15, 2019, the USTP claimed victory against legislation intended to ban all “microchip” implants. And while our last-minute action produced a result, it wasn’t one of any substance. If anything we fell victim to smart political wordsmithing, and I guess we’re supposed to be happy about that.

Nevada AB226 is a bill that, when it was first introduced, banned forced implantation of RFID/NFC tags, which they like to call microchips. On March 4th the bill’s original author, Skip Daly (D – Sparks), added an amendment banning voluntary implantation as well. This bill went to an Assembly Work Session on March 15th, where the amendment was modified, accepted, and passed out of Committee for vote on a later date. But to be clear, the modification of the amendment did nothing to stop a ban on voluntary NFC/RFID implants. Let’s examine the new language, which is contained in Subsection 3.

3. For the purposes of this section “microchip implant” means a near field communication technology that allows wireless communication of electronic devices over short distances where the device is intended to act as an identification marker.
(a) The term does not include any non-transmitting device, implant or marking for medical or for self-expression purposes or;
(b) Any transmitting medical device or implant provided the transmitting medical device or implant is not used as an identification marker and records or sends only the information necessary to carry out the primary purpose of the transmitting medical device or implant.

At the top of this section we see their definition for a microchip implant; that’s a pretty standard definition. The exception for medical devices in paragraph (b) also seems fairly well-thought-out and provides no issues. Subsection A is where the problem lies. It clarifies an exemption for NON-TRANSMITTING devices, implants, or other markers for medical or self expression purposes. Why are we talking about non-transmitting implants in a bill that is specifically about transmitting implants?

It’s a clever attempt by the author to placate naysayers with something that looks like a concession, if you skim past key words. And judging by the reaction of many over the past several days, it worked. The State of Nevada doesn’t have a problem with voluntary implants that don’t transmit anything. Just visit any strip club in the state if you want graphic proof of that. What is a non-transmitting implant? Breast augmentation, silicone horns, transdermal piercings… you get the idea. Inert stuff that we have been shoving under our skin for aesthetic purposes for a very long time now. These are all already legal and have their own regulations. They didn’t need to be included in the bill. The only purpose of adding this “exception” was to distract from the fact that they still want to ban implantable RFID/NFC tags.

And lots of transhumanists have these tags, myself included! We get these tags because they transmit a signal, given power by a reader, to complete various tasks. Many of us in the Party are actively using and developing this technology, and on March 15 the Party failed them – not for valiantly trying to stop the amendment, but for claiming victory over meaningless words that changed nothing. This was not a victory, and I’m embarrassed that anyone would say so. We got played.

But you know what? This does prove something that every transhumanist should consider. Providing remarks during public comment is not enough. We need active politicians who can use legislative tools and face-to-face debate to identify and stop attempts to placate us with empty words. Force them to look at the facts and stop them from doing damage to an individual’s freedom, especially in fear-based preemptive bills like this. To take a step in that direction, I have developed a Proposal to Establish a Legislative Action Framework on which I encourage input from our members.

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and the founder of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado

Proposal to Establish a Legislative Action Framework – Post by R. Nicholas Starr

Proposal to Establish a Legislative Action Framework – Post by R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr


In light of recent legislative action pursued by the United States Transhumanist Party (USTP), and the urgent need for response on a topic that could have been identified much earlier, I propose the establishment of a legislation tracking and analysis structure as detailed below. The goal is not necessarily to write new legislation (we have no members currently serving in government positions), but to act as a think tank or watchdog organization as legislation is presented in federal or state governments.

Core requirements:

  • Compilation of a comprehensive topic/keyword database, sorted into issue groups
    • If possible, the creation of a legislative keyword tracking program made available to analysts in a cross platform or web-based architecture
  • A chain of command detailing positions and the responsibilities their responsibilities 

Chain of Command

Chairman
|
Legislative Director ————> Expert Advisors
^
/
  Issue Analysts

Issues may include, but are not limited to:

• Artificial Intelligence
• Biohacking hardware
• Biomedical research and practical application
• Computer and data sciences
• Education
• Environment and ecology
• Existential risk
• Foreign policy
• Life extension
• Privacy, surveillance, and security
• Robotics
• Science and exploration

Keywords shall be gathered for each issue, and analysts should be provided with a thorough and frequently updated list from which to search all available resources (legislation trackers, search engines, government databases, etc.). Eventually, understanding the massive amount of work this would require, we should develop our own legislation tracking system to streamline operations and increase effectiveness.

The Legislative Director would ideally have a background in law/policy making. It would be the responsibility of the Legislative Director to inform the Chairman of all relevant legislation on a state and federal level as provided by analysts or personal observation. It would also be the Legislative Director’s responsibility to identify national policy trends and make suggestions for yearly priorities. The Legislative Director should, when necessary, reach out to our expert Advisors as listed on the USTP Advisors page.

Analysts would ideally have knowledge of/passion for the issues they desire to monitor. There should be no limit to how many analysts cover any particular issue, and individual analysts can cover multiple issues if they desire. Before an analyst submits a legislative report to the Legislative Director, they must provide a link to the legislation and try to answer the following:

  • How urgent is the matter?
    • Could this cause harm to an individual’s physical/mental health or civil rights?
  • Which article of our Platform does this pertain to?
    • If none, please explain its relevance. 
  • Does this apply to other issue groups?
  • What do you propose the Party do?
    • Provide evidence to support your position.

Many of these issues will overlap each other, which is ideal, as it may provide different analyst perspectives on a particular issue. Many of these issues may also have other prominent organizations (ACLU, EFF) that may be better equipped to address a particular issue. In such cases it is important that we identify to what extent the topic impacts our platform and whether or not it relates to future technology/advancements or present-day capabilities.

This is by no means an exhaustive recommendation, and the nature of this body should be flexible to meet the USTP’s current and future needs. Please provide your comments, recommendations, and criticisms below.

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and the founder of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado

Bait and Switch on Nevada AB226 – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

Bait and Switch on Nevada AB226 – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr


TL;DR – Nevada Assembly Bill 226 is an attack on bodily autonomy hidden in a good idea.

On February 22nd, 2019, Assemblyman Skip Daly (D-Sparks) presented AB226 for review and debate. The act, in its original form, is a good thing. It prevents against forced implantation of a “microchip or other identifying marker”, punishable as a class C felony (up to 5 years in prison and/or $10,000 fine). Fantastic! No one should be forced to do anything to their bodies they don’t want to do! But on March 4th Daly proposed an amendment  to his own bill that also bans VOLUNTARY implantation. This is a staggering attack on bodily autonomy and self determination. To be clear, the exact language of the bill and amendment is below.

1. An officer or employee of this State or any political- subdivision thereof or any other person shall not~

(a- original language) Require another person to undergo the implantation of a microchip or other permanent identification marker of any kind or nature. 

(b- amendment) Establish or participate in a voluntary program for the implantation of a microchip or other permanent identification marker of any kind or nature.

2. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

3. Each day or part of a day during which a violation of this section is continued or repeated constitutes a separate offense.

First of all, I find this amendment suspicious. Why would the original author amend his own bill that he said was inspired by a company’s voluntary program? It appears to me that the amendment’s ban on voluntary implantation was always the intent, but Daly knew that it would never pass on its own. And he’s right! Such a blatant attack on a person’s bodily autonomy, even under the pretense of privacy concerns, would certainly create resistance. And let’s be clear, today’s implants pose no privacy threat. They actually help maintain an individual’s privacy and data security. We also aren’t talking about dangerous devices or chemicals. These implants are extensively tested and biosafe. Any attempt to say otherwise is either deliberate, or ignorant, fear mongering.

The consequences of violating this act, in its amended form, are also extreme. I certainly support felony charges against a person forcing implantation on another. But voluntary implantation carrying the same punishment? That is beyond extreme. Let’s examine Sections 2 and 3 in a realistic scenario. DEF CON, an annual conference held in Las Vegas, has hosted biohacking and implantation during the event since 2015. Indeed, many have traveled to the conference to get their implants. If each implant is a separate offense, and each offense carries a maximum prison sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, the person performing the implantations could effectively earn a life sentence by lunch! All for agreeing to implant a biosafe tag in a person who volunteered and given their informed consent. 

Bodily autonomy and free determination: these are human rights that guarantee control over your own body. Getting “chipped”, or not, has always been a choice left to the individual with zero known incidents of forced implantation. Mr. Daly’s concern, while appearing noble on the surface, has no basis in reality, but rather arises out of fear and fiction. Sadly, those are two things easily sold these days. Let’s make sure we set the record straight and prevent a crisis where it doesn’t exist.

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and the founder of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado

 

Head in the Clouds – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

Head in the Clouds – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

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R. Nicholas Starr


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party has published this perspective from R. Nicholas Starr as part of the ongoing discussion about the interaction of transhumanism with other ideological frameworks, such as libertarianism and socialism. Prior perspectives in this discussion include Zoltan Istvan’s article, “Transhumanism is Under Siege from Socialism“, and B.J. Murphy’s response, “Why the Transhumanist Movement Needs Socialism“. The U.S. Transhumanist Party remains committed to the principle of transpartisanship, which means we will neither embrace any conventional political ideology, nor distance ourselves from people who hold such ideologies but wish to constructively contribute to our endeavors. Nonetheless, our inextricable embeddedness in the world of contemporary political discourse does render unavoidable the discussion of these ideologies and any logical relationships and tensions. It is hoped that such discussions can proceed in a constructive manner whereby various perspectives can be expressed and perhaps result in some creative, unconventional solutions that would further expand our movement, rather than fracturing it, and establish grounds for fruitful collaboration on endeavors that advance the next great era of our civilization. 

Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Starr’s article? Post your thoughts in the Comments section below. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, July 29, 2018


TL;DR – If transhumanism is to grow and gain momentum, we need to distance ourselves from libertarian elitism, and Altered Carbon shows us why.

In Zoltan Istvan’s most recent article (1) he presents, in my opinion, a misguided argument on how the transhumanist movement is breaking from its libertarian roots and morphing into a hard-left socialist agenda. When did this partisan prerequisite appear, and how has the party changed?

Zoltan Istvan’s sensational 2016 Presidential campaign brought a lot of attention to transhumanism. If it weren’t for his dramatic tour across America in a coffin bus, preaching about immortality, morphological freedom, and other transhumanist virtues, we would have never attracted the large diversity of members to the party we have today. With the vision of using science and technology to improve the human condition, we have come together to lift humanity up, not to pull it to the left or right. To bring this vision to life, we need our leadership to embrace and act on the input of all members, not just the libertarian progenitors. This is something that current transhumanist party chairman Gennady Stolyarov II, the person Istvan himself selected to lead the party as he made his departure, has done a great job with. 

Since Stolyarov took the reins, he has created an environment where every member can voice an opinion and suggest policy planks. These planks are then voted on by the entire party, giving the members direct control over its course and message. If the party going in a different direction than before, it is because the members have made the informed decision to do so, and its leadership is acting on their votes. Suggesting that transhumanists reject member input because of a perceived socialist invasion is a slap in the face of the democratic process and deters prospective members. It’s also contrary to a science-based organization.

Perception is veiled in opinion and personal bias, and humans too easily fall into its many traps. But an organization building its platform on evidence-based policy needs to stick to hard data. The available information simply doesn’t support the notion that the goals of transhumanists are changing. An analysis of the party’s Constitution (2), which contains all voting data embedded within it, provides the only measurable data available, at least as far as the American organization is concerned. Simply reading opinion pieces from the handful of us with an outlet to do so isn’t enough to suggest a radical change is on the horizon. However what could be changing are the methods of achieving these goals. This can likely be attributed to the current sociopolitical climate. As a political organization working to improve lives, we need to tailor our message to show how a future-focused message can also address their needs for today. Failing to do so leads many to view transhumanism as out of touch.

We should also consider the impact of the radical life-extension platform, the preeminent transhuman subject, and how it impacts the narrative. To be blunt, transhumanists need to tone down the rhetoric on life extension. When a large portion of Americans can’t even afford basic healthcare or life-saving prescriptions, it is incredibly callous to suggest they should be investing in radical life extension. Modern medicine has already taken huge strides in extending human life anyways, and it will continue to do so. Anyone who ignores these two facts to proselytize immortality is begging to be made a fool. To then double down and suggest that billionaires will buy into the immortality market and save us all is callow and turns a blind eye to history. No wonder many fear that only the elite will achieve immortality. We’ve never shown them how it could be accessible to them. What they have seen are countless selfish acts by sci/tech industry leaders that tear down the average citizen while building up their bank accounts. 

Zuckerberg, Bezos, Shkreli, and Trump are all current documentable examples of how the ultra-rich have publicly exploited Americans for personal and professional gain. Consumers have every right to be skeptical of corporate motives when they have been given overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing by many in those positions. And while we certainly can’t paint every tycoon with the same brush, we also can’t blindly put our trust in them. It would be foolhardy to let a handful of CEOs determine the course of future civilization without deep analysis of every product and policy they create. The libertarian opinion that “the market” will some how regulate these corporations or “generous donations” will provide all the public needs is a fantasy, especially when it comes to bleeding-edge science, medicine, and technology. Pride, greed, and ego are too easy a pit to fall into when exploring uncharted territory. To combat this there must be unrelenting third-party accountability, lest we have a world led by Bancrofts with their Heads in the Clouds. 

Richard Morgan’s novel Altered Carbon provides a perfect allegory for this situation. The entire Bancroft family are precise examples of how many see transhumanism becoming. The novel depicts a world where the ultra-rich can live forever and act without impunity simply because they can afford to do so. Even more to the point, it shows us how the wealthy use philanthropy as a means to pad their own egos. Laurens Bancroft’s humanitarian efforts to assist the plague colony are nothing short of self-aggrandizing. Distributing blankets and candy are nice things to do for victims, but they do nothing to solve the actual problem of their illness. He’s so rich that he can even afford to repeatedly resleeve himself after making himself a martyr to their plight. Nevertheless he is worshipped as a god for doing this. He could surely afford to do so much more to end their suffering by bringing them out of the shadows to get 24-hour medical care until they find a cure, or even resleeve them entirely, but he has decided a minute’s smile on their faces is enough because it’s more than anyone else is doing. This is precisely how Americans today feel about tech moguls like Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos. They have made billions turning human beings into nothing more than data and dollars signs. But all is assumed forgiven when Zuckerberg announces he is funding a “biohub” in San Francisco, a city where a staggering yearly income of $105,000 is considered low-income and his own employees are asking for help with rent (3), to develop lifesaving tools. It doesn’t take much effort to determine that this is just another money-making venture, as these are all investments he expects a return on and not outright grants. And if the biohub is successful, who will be able to afford to us the products? Amazon’s Bezos has done even less, placating followers on Twitter (4), only to turn around and bully the city of Seattle out of helping the homeless by the tune of 0.042% of Amazon’s yearly income (5,6). So when a libertarian says, “Don’t worry, the rich won’t let you down,” or “The market will correct this,” it immediately triggers justifiable skepticism and fear among the millions struggling to make ends meet. We shouldn’t hang the lives of millions on a hook of hopes and dreams. That isn’t how government, business, or real life work. A tangible and socially responsible plan is required. But while I think the fiscal libertarian position is folly, we do gain some positive aspects from libertarianism.

Social libertarianism is what I see transhumanism is truly built around. An inherent right to bodily autonomy and self-determination are the pillars that hold the rest of the transhumanist platform up. These also happen to be major components of liberal and 21st-century socialist politics. For example, reproductive rights and morphological freedom are born from the same philosophy. Free and accessible medical care enables life extension for all. Free and continued education is what allows the population to think critically and make informed decisions. We can’t create science-based policy if only a handful understand the science involved! So when self-appointed spokesmen claim that transhumanism isn’t compatible with left-wing goals because of an partisan line they drew in the sand, I have to seriously question their motives and good judgement. It’s divisive and counterproductive to positive change that any sociopolitical movement wishes to achieve. If we truly want to avoid the assorted dystopias science fiction has presented to us, then we must all heed the warnings and take actionable steps to mitigate the risk. If that falls into what some would call a socialist agenda, then fine. But for the record, I don’t see this as socialism; I see it as being an empathetic human being who wants to use science to help everyone. And that’s not a bad thing.

1- Istvan, Zoltan. Transhumanism is Under Siege from Socialism“. July 18, 2018. Available at https://www.themaven.net/transhumanistwager/transhumanism/transhumanism-is-under-siege-from-socialism-UzA2xHZiFUaGOiUFpc0n5g/ 

2- U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution. Available at http://transhumanist-party.org/constitution/ 

3- Bloom, Ester.”Here’s how much you have to make to be considered ‘low income’ in San Francisco“. May 12, 2017. Available at https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/12/if-you-make-105000-in-san-francisco-youre-considered-low-income.html

4- Bezos, Jeff. “Request for ideas…” June 15, 2017. Available at https://twitter.com/jeffbezos/status/875418348598603776?s=21

5- Barrabi, Thomas. “What Seattle ‘head tax’ will cost Amazon”. May 15, 2017. Available at https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/what-seattle-head-tax-will-cost-amazon

6- Alcula. Percentage Calculator. http://www.alcula.com/calculators/finance/percentage-calculator/

Financing the Future – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

Financing the Future – Article by R. Nicholas Starr

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R. Nicholas Starr


Editor’s Note: As noted by the author, Mr. Starr, the U.S. Transhumanist Party publishes this article to motivate discussion on a topic where individual transhumanists have varying perspectives. In May 2017 the U.S. Transhumanist Party adopted the following position on taxation in its Platform in Article III, Section XXXVI, of its Constitution:

Section XXXVI [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the elimination of graduated taxation and income taxation more generally. Instead, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates a flat percentage-of-sales tax applicable only to purchases from businesses whose combined nationwide revenues from all affiliates exceed a specified threshold. This tax should be built into the price of goods from such large businesses and should not impede transaction efficiency in any manner. Transactions pertaining to wages, salaries, gifts, donations, barter, employee benefits, and inheritances should remain completely untaxed, as should transactions involving solely individuals and/or small businesses, for whom the establishment of a tax-reporting infrastructure would be onerous. Furthermore, all taxes on land and property should be abolished.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, February 6, 2018


Since 2016, the U.S. Transhumanist Party has expanded, both in membership and in policy initiatives. And while we have created an ideal foundation for how we want to change our country and our world, voting on ideas isn’t enough. We must take the next step making these ambitions a reality, and it is one step that many of us would rather avoid talking about: how do we pay for all of this?

Individual transhumanists come from all shades of the fiscal spectrum. Many believe that a techno-libertarian approach would be the best way to fund the transhumanist movement, while others look towards traditional taxation methods to provide the necessary capital. While there are many ways to skin this lab-grown bio-engineered pig, the Party as a singular entity needs to determine the best method for funding our lofty goals.

Allow me to make the first controversial suggestion.

The United States is, at this point, completely reliant on capitalism. So reliant, in fact, that we lean on it for political-decision making like the exoskeletons we hope to mass produce in the near future. It’s what holds this country up. And yet it is this political-economic system that is creating staggering wealth inequality. Corporations continue to grow massive wealth while the general public struggles to afford their products.

I propose reorganizing the tax structure so that corporations actually pay taxes and eliminate personal income taxes. By relieving this financial burden on the American citizen, it is possible to enable people to actually afford to improve their lives while increasing the amount of money running through the economy. Sadly, removing personal income tax is not enough, especially when you begin to consider that many employees will likely be replaced by automation. Simply put, corporate entities need pay up. They need to support the political system that supports them. But will that cause business to simply abandon the country all together? While technically possible, it seems unlikely. For as long as there are consumers in the country, business will always want to be located as close as possible to their target market.

There is also an option to modify the above recommendation. Automating the workforce comes with some financial burdens, this has been widely discussed. But there is another, less thought of, burden – that of computing power. How can large-scale automation be achieved without large-scale processing? So instead of shifting the tax burden entirely from individuals to businesses, we could establish a blockchain distribution of computing that businesses would pay individuals to use during times when your computer is otherwise idle. A modest portion would then be taxed to support the infrastructure that both the business and the individual are using. In essence, this is a Universal Basic Income that is supported by capitalism.

Is this an oversimplification of a complex issue? Yes. And I hope that the neglected details spark a healthy and productive discussion on the matter. This is just the opinion of one member, and not the position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. I encourage every reader to give their thoughts on this difficult and divisive topic in the comments.

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is the is the leader of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado and founder of the Transhumanists of the Sierras

U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism

U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism

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Gennady Stolyarov II
Emanuel Iral
Rachel Lyn Edler
John Marlowe
R. Nicholas Starr
Leah Montalto
Kim Bodenhamer Smith
Laura Katrin Weston
Ekaterinya Vladinakova


On November 18, 2017, the U.S. Transhumanist Party invited leading artists in a variety of media and styles to a two-hour discussion, moderated by Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II and Director of Visual Art Emanuel Iral, on the subject of Art and Transhumanism, delving into how and which works of art can help inspire humans to pursue the next era of our civilization – through promoting the advancement of science and technology, rationality, and/or a more hopeful vision of the future. The panel also explored various interactions between art and technology and ways in which art can improve human connection and understanding, while also comprising the very improved functionality that emerging technologies provide.

Panelists

Emanuel Iral

Emanuel Iral is Director of Visual Art for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Emanuel’s artwork ranges from traditional paint and pencil work to 3D digital work. Currently he is working on his VFX and animation skills, as he is producing short films for his music. He encompasses his art under the term Prismatis – Latin for prism.  A prism refracts white light into the three primary colors: yellow, magenta, and cyan. Prismatis is all about the aesthetic of human expression, which can be separated into the art, audience, and artist.

Rachel Lyn Edler

RachelLyn Edler is an accomplished graphic designer with over 20 years of creative experience. Rachel comes from a diverse background of product development, packaging and web design. In her free time she volunteers for several scientific and secular organizations including the Planetary Society, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science and the Secular Coalition for America.

John Marlowe

John Marlowe was educated in film theory and trained in film production at UC Berkeley.  His outlook on film as a vehicle for social messaging has been largely influenced by his lifelong struggle with a genetic inborn error of metabolism, a type of disease that – until recently – was beyond the scope of medicine.  Consequently, John feels it is his onus to emphasize the artist’s responsibility in shaping the conversation regarding medical research, to create a society more amenable to scientific progress, rather than one fearful of change.

Leah Montalto

Leah Montalto is a painter based in New York City and has maintained a successfully operating painting studio in New York for the past 12 years.  Her paintings have been exhibited at the National Academy Museum of Fine Art in New York, and have been reviewed in the New York Times and the Providence Journal.  Leah’s paintings have received awards including the National Academy Museum of Fine Art’s Hallgarten Prize in Painting and the NYC Cultural Commission arts grant.  Leah is a former professor at Sarah Lawrence College, and has an MFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design.  Leah is not affiliated with the Transhumanist Party, but her paintings explore related themes.

Kim Bodenhamer Smith

Kim Bodenhamer Smith is a single mother of two boys living in Chattanooga, TN. She is a founding member of Southside Abbey, a Lay Missioner in The Episcopal Church, and an Outdoor Wear Business owner of Chilliheads. She is a caver, unicycler, and an aviation enthusiast and creator of #helichurch. She has a BFA in Metals and also studied Graphic Design and Political Science. *She also has many Tesla Tales to tell and is a Social Media Manipulator (different from a troll)!

R. Nicholas Starr

R. Nicholas Starr is an audio engineer and multimedia artist whose work focuses on Earth’s dystopias of past, present, and future. Also a biohacker, researcher, and theorist, he immerses himself in the subjects surrounding these worlds and has published several non-fiction articles and interviews. With an education in electronic signals intelligence from the United States Air Force, and 15 years of digital art and audio production in the US and abroad, he has become a unique voice for science fiction, the U.S. Transhumanist Movement, and American policy.

Ekaterinya Vladinakova

Ekaterinya Vladinakova is an accomplished digital painter and professional freelance illustrator. Vladinakova specializes in fantasy and science fiction work, but is also interested in editorial illustration. Vladinakova spends most of the day painting in Photoshop, creating scenes related to fantasy, or science fiction, as well as brushing up older works. Vladinakova’s paintings have been featured by the U.S. Transhumanist Party – including the “City of New Antideath” – a vision of the future which was commissioned for Mr. Stolyarov’s 30th Birthday.

Laura Katrin Weston

Dr Laura Katrin Weston is from England and studied Fine Art before going on to studying Medicine. She is a trained pathologist with a specialism in medical biochemistry and inflammation-related disease. She has used her medical knowledge and professional painting career to support Lifespan.io – one of the biggest life-extension research and advocacy charities. Laura is also vocalist for symphonic metal band Cyclocosmia – a music act that will be trying to raise awareness of transhumanist and human mortality issues in their next upcoming album.

The YouTube question/comment chat for this Q&A session has been archived here and is also provided below.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Facebook page here.

See the U.S. Transhumanist Party FAQ here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

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Interview with Dr. Akihiro Kubota by Ryan Starr

Interview with Dr. Akihiro Kubota by Ryan Starr

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Ryan Starr
Akihiro Kubota


Preface: Art gives birth to scientific innovation.

In an effort to learn more about the historical origins of transhumanism and posthumanism, R. Nicholas Starr began a journey to look at the many topics popular within those communities and retraced them back to art. To continue the research he began to reach out to the artists and scientists at the forefront of exploring this relationship. While he continues to prepare his research for publication, he has decided to release the transcripts from these interviews in hopes to spark conversation and gather even more insight into how the creative mind has shaped our scientific world as we move past the limits of the human body.

R. Nicholas Starr is a multimedia artist, biohacker, researcher, and theorist. With an education in signals intelligence from the United States Air Force, and 20 years of experience creating art and performing music in the U.S. and abroad, he has become a unique voice for the U.S. Transhumanist Movement and American policy.

The second in this series is an interview with Dr. Akihiro Kubota from the Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan. A special thanks to Phil Harry who assisted with the translations.

Quick note and disclaimer from the translator:

I am not a trained professional translator, and this is my first time translating something of this scope, so it may not be a perfect interpretation of the original author’s intended meaning.

 

–BEGIN QUESTIONS–

 

What are the critical processes required to create an artificial intelligence program that turns data into art?

重要なのは、AIが作品をつくれるか、ではなく、AIが鑑賞できるか、だと思っています。今日の美術にとって重要なのは、作品そのものよりもその文脈なので、鑑賞するということは、作品に多様な文脈を接続することで、それは現在のAIのフレームワーク例えば機械学習/強化学習でも可能だと考えています。

I think what’s crucial is not necessarily whether or not AI can make art, but rather whether or not AI can appreciate art. In art that’s being made today, what is even more important than the work itself, is the context of the work. In this sense artistic appreciation requires making connections between the various contexts of a work. I think the framework of modern AI, (through machine learning and reinforcement learning, etc.) allows for this to be possible.

 

How would the progression from assisted AI to autonomous AI impact AI’s artistic power?

文脈は、環境と知覚に依存するので、人間以外の知覚から生まれる新たな文脈はが、新たな芸術を生み出すでしょう。AIが人間のための芸術をつくることよりも、人間がAIのための芸術をつくることつくれるかがより重要な問題だと思います。

Because context relies heavily on environment and perception, the new contexts that arise from the perception of an entity that is other than human should lead naturally to the creation of new types of art. Rather than AI creating art for the sake of humans, I think a more important problem is the idea of humans creating art for the sake of AI, and whether or not that is possible.

 

By continuing research in AI-created art, what conclusions can we draw about sentience and sapience?

ノラ・ハラリが「ホモ・デウス」で予測するように、人間が「無用」になった時に、新たな時代が始まるのだと思います。「労働」や「学校」という概念から自由になりイヴァン・イリイチが主張したように美術や芸術の本来の役割が復活するでしょう。それこそが、人間本来の姿なのかもしれません。「ホモ・デウス」の時代の「無用層」の芸術、そこに人間の未来があります。

As Yuval Noah Harari predicts in Homo Deus, I think the point at which humans become “useless” will be the beginning of a new age. Once we are freed from the concepts of “school” and “labor” (as asserted by Ivan Illich), the original, essential role of the arts could make a revival – in effect, a revival of man’s essential nature. In the art of the “useless class”, proposed by Homo Deus’s new age – that is where the future of mankind resides.

 

Artificial intelligence is a concept that has its roots in literature and mythology. Now that AI can create its own art, have we created a mutual feedback loop?

ハラリの主張の重要なポイントは、「意識」と「知性」の分離が起こることですgreat decouplingAIで「意識」を作ろうとするのは無駄なことです。むしろ「知性」を「意識」から解放することで、「知性」を自由にすることが、大きな可能性を生み出します。擬人化という牢屋から知性を出してあげましょう。

The crucial point of Harari’s claim is the separation of “consciousness” and “intelligence” (the “Great Decoupling”) – the idea being that it is futile to attempt to create consciousness in AI. Rather, by unleashing the concept of intelligence from consciousness, this liberation will bring forth great possibilities. In this way I think we should reconsider how we think of intelligence and set it free from the confines of personification and anthropomorphization.

 

Is it possible to amplify or modify this feedback loop by interfacing AI directly with the human body?

人間が拡張することと、知性が自由になることは、本質的に無関係です。人間には理解できない知性があることを前提に、人は生きていかなければなりません。人間がAIの知性の進化を阻害することこそを懸念しなければなりません。

The advancement of mankind and the liberation of intelligence are essentially unrelated. People are going to have to get comfortable living under the assumption that there are types of intelligence that we can’t comprehend. Instead, what we should concern ourselves with is whether or not we are actively inhibiting the evolution of AI.

 

You previously acknowledged that the human body has the ability to adapt to, and capitalize on, a new bio-interface. With the current interest in neural lace and other cybernetic technology, how do you see humanity evolving after a several generations of use?

そうした中で、人間は人間としてその可能性を拡げていくことができるのか。僕は、人間はそれだけの柔軟性と可塑性を有していると思います。機械を人間に適合するのでなく、人間が機械に適合しようとすることで、その可能性を拡げていくことこそが、人間の未来を形作っていきます。

In addition to that, I wonder about the human capacity to expand on this ability. As it is, humans alone are endowed with the necessary flexibility and plasticity to do so. Rather than machines conforming to the needs of humans, by attempting to adapt to the machines, and expand our own capabilities, we will shape the future of mankind.

 

Do you predict our interactions changing with planet and space as a result?

今日の人間の一番の特徴は、個人の能力にあるのではなく、その数人口にあります。人間の「量」こそがポイントです。そういった意味からは、人間の「量」が地球自体に大きな影響を与えることは、不可避だと思います。地球の有限性が      顕在化したのです。

The greatest trait humans possess today is not our individual abilities, but our collective abilities. The emphasis here being on our “quantity” – meaning that the effect we collectively have on the very planet we live on is an inevitability. And we are beginning to see that the limits of our planet are being actualized.

 

A significant amount of your work focuses on satellite-based data collection. Why do you prefer this point of view?

芸術も科学と同様、常にフロンティア遠くを目指しています。パーソナルなテクノロジーで衛星を作れるようになった今、なぜそれを使って芸術をやらないのかARTSATプロジェクトは、極めて当たり前の行為芸術活動だと思っています。

Art and Science alike are on the cutting edge of new horizons, and constantly reaching into distant frontiers. Living in an age where we have the capabilities to create satellites using “personal technology”, using them to create art seems like a natural progression. So for me, the ARTSAT project is just an extremely obvious artistic endeavour to undertake.

 

You stated that the DESPATCH probe “composes and encodes poetry reflecting not only the sensor data but the artist’s subconscious personality”. Did the sculptural shape of DESPATCH influence the data collected and final tonal output?

最初に書いたように、芸術にとって重要なのは作品をつくることではなく、作品を鑑賞解釈することです。同じデータでも、10人の人が鑑賞すれば、そこの10個の異なる作品が生まれるのです。たとえ、受信データが単なるノイズであったとしても。

As I said before, when it comes to art, the most important thing is not the creation of a piece of artwork, but instead the aesthetic appreciation or the interpretation of the piece. In terms of DESPATCH, if you had ten different people looking at the same data, they would all interpret it in different ways, and thus give rise to ten separate pieces. And this is true even if the transmission signal’s data is merely background noise.

 

How can the average person create their own scientific lens to view and create art?

政治や経済、マスメディアがつくりだしている、虚構の人間観にとらわれず、人間本来の姿や可能性に気がつくことが必要です。労働から解放され、無用な存在になり、ゴーギャンのように『我々はどこから来たのか 我々は何者か 我々はどこへ行くのか』と問うことは、誰にでもできますし、誰もが行うべきことなのだと思います。そこには、制度としての「科学」も「芸術」も不要です。必要なのは「理性」と「知性」なのです。「感情」を偏重する今日の社会の危険性は、すでに多くの人が気づいていることだと思います。何とかしなければなりません。

Systems of government, economies, mass media, etc. – these are all man-made concepts. It is essential that we not be seized by these fabricated human perspectives in order to realize our essential nature and reach the limits of human potential. Once we are freed from the restraints of human toil and begin to occupy Harari’s “useless” existence, I think it will be possible and necessary for all people to wrestle with the existential questions put forth by Gaugin in “Where do we come from? What are we? And where are we going?”. It is in this space that the systems known as “science” and “art” will become unnecessary. What is important are “reason” and “intelligence”. I believe many people are already realizing the potential danger of overemphasizing the importance of “emotion” in today’s society, and I think we need to do something about that.

 

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is the is the leader of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado and founder of the Transhumanists of the Sierras

See Dr. Akihiro Kubota’s page of teaching achievements and activities here.

A Word on Implanted NFC Tags – Article by Ryan Starr

A Word on Implanted NFC Tags – Article by Ryan Starr

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Ryan Starr


TL;DR – CALM DOWN. No one is forcing you to be chipped and you can’t be tracked or hacked.

So, I’ve seen a lot of people lose their minds over a Wisconsin company, Three Square Market (32Market), implanting NFC tags in their employees. Everyone just stop and a take a deep breath. You likely have no actual understanding of what the tag is or how it works, so let me tell you. I got one last year – an xNT, the original implantable NFC tag, from the company Dangerous Things (www.dangerousthings.com). It is exactly the same as what Three Square Market is offering to their employees. I know what it is and is not capable of doing. But let’s back up for a second.

First, the company is not forcing any employee to get it. There are several companies around the world who have offered the same thing (no, they are not the first) and no one has ever been forcibly implanted. Period. EVERYONE I have come across in the biohacking community is vocal about this NOT BEING MANDATORY. It is a choice, and we want to keep it that way. Furthermore, there is a growing political movement that specifically addresses concerns about bodily autonomy and preventing implants from becoming mandatory.

Now, to the most common concerns I’ve seen:

Can your tag be tracked?

NO. It is not a GPS device or even an active piece of electronics. It is a passive chip and antenna that pulls power from the device used to read it. The tag is the size of a grain of rice, and even if we wanted to cram active electronics in there, we can’t.

Can your tag be hacked?

NO. As I said above, these are passive devices that require power from a reader. In order to do so, the reading device essentially has to be placed directly on your tag (typically implanted in the hand) and held there still for several seconds. Also, some readers don’t read very well because of antenna differences. If someone really wanted to steal your stored data, they would have to physically attack you, restrain you, and then read your tag. If that were the case, you have bigger problems than someone reading your 800 bytes of information. But in the very unlikely event that someone did try to do that to you, don’t worry, because you can password-protect your tag.

So what are they good for?

PRIVACY AND SECURITY. Yes, you read that correctly. When I first saw NFC tags being implanted, I had many of the same privacy concerns that many of you do. But then I started actually researching the technology. NFC tags (implanted or not) can be used to lock and unlock devices and are more secure than a password or a fingerprint. Of course, implanting one means you’ll never lose it, and it will never get stolen. You can unlock your android phones, unlock your doors, safes, and padlocks (with specific NFC enabled hardware), and if you’re particularly good with electronics, you can rig up many Arduino or Pi-based devices that read and respond to your tag.

There are other cool things you can do. You can store links, digital business cards, Bitcoin wallets, or just generic text. But also understand that this technology is fairly new, and associated hardware are even newer. This is ground-level development going on, and because of that we can steer the development to ensure privacy and safety for the user. There is not a greedy corporation running the industry, just passionate hobbyists who are just as concerned about privacy as you are.

If you want more information, I highly suggest just asking someone who actually has an NFC tag or visit www.dangerousthings.com.

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is the is the leader of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado and founder of the Transhumanists of the Sierras

A Transhumanist Opinion on Privacy

A Transhumanist Opinion on Privacy

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Ryan Starr

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Privacy is a favorite topic of mine. Maintaining individual privacy is a crucial element in free society. Yet there are many who want to invade it for personal or political gain. As our digital fingerprint becomes a part of our notion of self, how do we maintain our personal privacy on an inherently impersonal network of data? Where do we draw that line on what is private, and how do we enforce it? These are questions that are difficult to answer when looking at a short-term perspective. However, if we look further into the probable future, we can create a plan that helps protect the privacy of citizens today and for generations to come. By taking into account the almost certain physical merger of human biology and technology, the answer becomes clear. Our electronic data should be treated as part of our bodily autonomy.

The explosive success of social media has shown that we already view ourselves as partly digital entities. Where we go, what we eat, and who we are with is proudly displayed in cyberspace for eternity. But beyond that we store unique data about ourselves “securely” on the internet. Bank accounts, tax returns, even medical information are filed away on a server somewhere and specifically identified as us. It’s no longer solely what we chose to let people see. We are physical and digital beings, and it is time we view these two sides as one before we take the next step into enhanced humanity.

Subdermal storage of electronic data is here, and its storage capabilities will expand rapidly. Soon we will be able to store a lot more than just access codes for our doors. It is hard to speculate exactly what people will chose to keep stored this way, and there may even come a time when what we see and hear is automatically stored this way. But before we go too far into what will be stored, we must understand how this information is accessed in present time. These implants are currently based in NFC technology. Near-Field Communication is a method of storing and transmitting data wirelessly within a very short distance. Yes, “wireless” is the key word. It means that if I can connect my NFC tag to my smart phone by just waiving my hand close to it (usually within an inch or so), then technically someone else can, too. While current antenna limitations and the discreetness of where a person’s tag is implanted create a highly secure method of storage, advances in technology will eventually make it easier to access the individual. This is why it is urgent we develop a streamlined policy for privacy.

The current Transhumanist position is that personally collected intellectual property, whether stored digitally or organically, is the property of the individual. As such, it should be protected from unauthorized search and download. The current platform also states that each individual has the freedom to enhance their own body as they like so long as it doesn’t negatively impact others. However, it does not specify what qualifies as a negative impact or how to prevent it. Morphological freedom is a double-edged sword. A person can a person enhance their ability to access information on themselves, but they can also use it to access others. It is entirely feasible enhancements will be created that allow a person to hack another. And collecting personal data isn’t the only risk with that. What if the hacking victim has an artificial heart or an implanted insulin pump? The hacker could potentially access the code the medical device is operating with and change or delete it, ultimately leading to death. Another scenario might be hacking into someone’s enhanced sensory abilities. Much like in the novel Ender’s Game, a person can access another to see what they see. This ability can be abused countless ways ranging from government surveillance to sexual voyeurism. While this is still firmly within the realm of science fiction, a transhuman society will need to create laws to protect against these person-to-person invasions of privacy.

Now let’s consider mass data collection. Proximity beacons could easily and cheaply be scattered across stores and cities to function as passive collection points much like overhead cameras are today. Retail stands to gain significantly from this technology, especially if they are allowed access to intimate knowledge about customers. Government intelligence gathering also stands to benefit from this capability. Levels of adrenaline, dopamine, and oxytocin stored for personal health analysis could be taken and paired with location data to put together an invasive picture of how people are feeling in a certain situation. Far more can be learned and exploited when discreetly collected biodata is merged with publicly observable activity.

In my mind, these are concerns that should be addressed sooner than later. If we take the appropriate steps to preserve personal privacy in all domains, we can make a positive impact that will last into the 22nd century.

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Ryan Starr is the leader of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado. This article was originally published on his blog, and has been republished here with his permission.