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An Open Letter to the Transhumanist Community – Article by Arin Vahanian

An Open Letter to the Transhumanist Community – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian

During the events that have transpired over the past few weeks, many of which have affected (and not in positive ways, sometimes) the USTP, Humanity+, and other organizations in the Transhumanism movement, I have mostly refrained from sharing my opinions and thoughts. However, I feel it is time now to share something that has been on my mind for a while.

But before I do so, I would like to express my disappointment at the level of discourse I am seeing in our community as a whole. Just a few days ago, the USTP released a statement condemning the vicious, vindictive manner in which someone in the Transhumanist community treated other members, as well as USTP Officers.

Instead of using this as a rallying cry for greater cooperation, an opportunity for increased self-awareness, as well as coordination on our shared goals, we now, yet again, have a candidate attacking another candidate, insulting their intelligence, not to mention their physical appearance.

Such petty, cruel behavior not only reflects negatively upon the person engaging in such behavior, but also reflects negatively on Transhumanism as a whole.

The sad truth of the matter, and what has been on my mind for a long while, but which I have been reluctant to share, is that many of the things that members of the general public dislike about Transhumanism, we have displayed here with great fervor, whether intentionally, or not.

Indeed, in some ways, we ourselves have become our worst enemies, treating each other with disdain, pretending that we are somehow more intelligent than others, disregarding the legitimate objections people have brought forward about the consequences of technology, ignoring how bizarre or unhinged some of our behaviors and actions may appear to the public, and being generally disconnected from the needs of the population as a whole.

However, it is not only a single candidate or person who is responsible for helping to create an environment in which arrogance, narcissism, unstable behavior, a lack of civility, pettiness, and a lack of empathy have persisted.

Sadly, we in the Transhumanist community are all responsible, because we have all allowed this sort of behavior to continue, over many months and many years. To be sure, this sort of behavior has been around long before this current USTP Presidential campaign started, but it continues, nonetheless.

One thing I have been passionate about and dedicated to from day one is to change the public’s perception of Transhumanism. To grow a movement that is small, into a worldwide force that is capable of great positive change, requires us to have a finger on the pulse of the views of the general public.

Vitriol is still vitriol, and venom is still venom, whether we sling it with bows and arrows, or whether we drop it like a bomb. We have no business complaining about the lack of civility in politics, in any country, when we ourselves are guilty of incivility. We should not lament the proliferation of cyberbullying when we ourselves engage in the same behavior.

We could say, once again, that the way we conduct ourselves in front of the general public influences greatly their opinions about Transhumanism, but this message has been nearly as ineffective as advocating for peace in the Middle East. We could say, once again, that we are a team, and that the shared goals we have are far more important than our disagreements with each other, but that doesn’t seem to have helped very much. We could say, once again, that humanity could benefit greatly from increased longevity, improved health, and the complete eradication of poverty, but even this, surprisingly, doesn’t seem to register with some people.

So let me put it this way, instead – the next time you think about hurling abuse at someone in our community, the next time you feel like getting even with someone for their past transgressions, consider the fact that in just a few decades, unless we achieve our objectives with anti-aging research and life extension, everyone here will likely be dead.

Dead, as in, they will no longer be able to hold a loved one in their arms. Dead, as in, they’ll never again feel the warm rays of the sun caressing their face on a summer morning. Dead, as in, they’ll never have the pleasure of tasting their favorite food again, or any food, for that matter.

In many ways, the movement has never been stronger. Transhumanism has been garnering more press coverage, thanks to the efforts of people like Zoltan Istvan. USTP membership has grown substantially in recent weeks and months, thanks to the leadership of Gennady Stolyarov. The work that pioneers such as Fereidoun Esfandiary (also known as FM-2030), Aubrey de Grey, Nick Bostrom, and Jose Cordeiro have done over decades has helped built the foundation for what we are able to do now.

Every time we attack each other, we dishonor the legacy the hard-working people in our movement have created. Every time we attack each other, it sets us back from important work we could be doing to help humanity with its greatest challenges.

Contrary to what some people may think, the work that Transhumanists are doing does not only benefit the Transhumanist community; it benefits people who don’t even know about us. It benefits people who are suffering from a rare disease and feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It benefits people who are struggling with crippling poverty, having to make a choice between starving to death or being homeless.

The indignation we may feel, righteous or not, at the lack of awareness and acceptance of our movement among the general public, isn’t the general public’s fault. It is simply because we have been unable, thus far, to clearly demonstrate, with a compassionate and unified voice, the many worthy and noble projects we are engaged in, as well as our vision, mission, and purpose. But there is no rule that says that this state of affairs has to continue.

Being able to demonstrate to the world the optimistic, humanitarian, and thoughtful goals of Transhumanism requires us to take a good look in the mirror and decide who we are, and who we want to be. But most importantly, it requires us to be optimistic, humanitarian, and thoughtful, ourselves. How we treat others is an indication, on some level, of how we look at the world as a whole.

Requesting that people be treated with respect, dignity, and kindness is not authoritarianism or fascism. It is called being a better human being. And one of the core tenets of Transhumanism is being a better human being. So let us start today, right now, by being better, not just to ourselves, but also to each other.

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

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Part 4) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul

James Hughes’ Problems of Transhumanism: A Review (Part 4) – Article by Ojochogwu Abdul


Ojochogwu Abdul

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 4: Moral Universalism vs. Relativism

James Hughes’ essays on the problems of transhumanism continue with a discussion on conflicts, borrowed from the Enlightenment, between universalism and relativism within transhumanism. The Enlightenment event (European and global), in addition to its attack and severance of the roots of traditional European culture in the sacred, magic, kingship, and hierarchy, thereby secularizing all institutions and ideas, also (intellectually and to some extent in practice) effectively set on course the demolition of all legitimizing basis of monarchy, aristocracy, woman’s subordination to man, ecclesiastical authority, and slavery. These were replaced with the principles of universality, equality, and democracy. Included in this was also an argument for moral universalism, a position that ethics and law should apply equally to all humans.

Now, despite profound differences of outlook among the Enlightenment thinkers, there was a wide area of agreement about some fundamental points, i.e., the reality of natural law (in a formulation that signaled a departure from the language of orthodox Catholic or Protestant doctrine), of eternal principles the adherence to which alone could make humans enjoy wisdom, happiness, virtue, and freedom. For theists, deists and atheists, for optimists and pessimists, and for puritans, primitivists, as well as believers in progress and the finest fruits of science and culture, only and just one set of universal and unalterable principles governed the world. These laws were the principles that governed inanimate and animate nature, facts and events, means and ends, private and public life, as well as all societies, epochs and civilizations. Humans degenerate into crime, vice and misery only by failing to follow them. There may have been differences and disagreements among the Enlightenment thinkers about the nature of these laws, the process of their discovery, or who even possessed the qualification to expound them; but that these laws were real, and could be known, be it with certainty or probability, was the widely accepted and central “dogma” of the entire Enlightenment.

Enlightenment thinkers proposed that all humans should be accorded the Rights of Man, though the legitimacy itself of universal, equal rights was advanced by several varieties of argument within the Enlightenment. John Locke, for example, as Hughes explains, argued for universal rights on the grounds that in the human state of nature, as created by God before civilization, we were given possession of our bodies. All humans, therefore, possess these natural rights equally, and interference with individual rights violates natural and divine law. Thomas Jefferson’s statement in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” rested upon this logic.

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Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 – Art by Gennady Stolyarov II

Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 – Art by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II

Note from U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II: Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 were created in December 2017 as gifts for individuals who were instrumental to advancing the work of the United States Transhumanist Party or who have otherwise assisted me in profound ways. Each fractal communicates an aspect of the personality, values, and work of the person to whom it is dedicated.

Navigate to Individual Fractals

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68
Abstract Orderism Fractal 69
Abstract Orderism Fractal 70
Abstract Orderism Fractal 71
Abstract Orderism Fractal 72

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68 is dedicated to Adeel Khan – a polymath whose never-ending curiosity and willingness to engage in discourse on a myriad of topics are just the attitudes that are necessary to achieve meaningful progress and make sense out of a complex world. Many of Adeel’s ideals align closely with mine, and he appreciates the multiple facets of the mindset needed to bring humankind into its next era – from the embrace of scientific reasoning to the support of the individual’s liberty to innovate.

Like Adeel’s interests, this fractal branches out in many different directions, but there are common overarching themes of improving our species! The path(s) toward a better world may be spiral in nature, but let all of us earnest thinkers explore them or forge our own.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69 is dedicated to B.J. Murphy, who has been a steadfast ally and a major contributor to the success of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, of which he serves as the Director of Social Media.

This fractal is gear-like in shape and in the impression of rotation it conveys. The gears at many scales symbolize the technologies that will form the backbone of the new transhuman civilization. B.J. extensively monitors, writes about, and contributes insights to the development of new technologies and entrepreneurial ventures, both on a large scale (for instance, space colonization) and on a small one (for instance, genetic engineering or cryptocurrencies, which exist as bits of code inhabiting physically tiny computer storage drives). The coppery orange color of this fractal is, of course, fitting for gears, but it also completes the color scheme for the U.S. Transhumanist Party, whose colors are orange and black. Orange, in particular, depicts the new political paradigm we seek to bring about. On the visible-light spectrum, orange is between red and yellow. In conventional politics, red has often been associated with socialism, while yellow has often found uses in libertarian symbols. B.J. has a history of involvement with socialist ideas and causes, while I have a (small “l”) libertarian background and sympathies (although the world and life are complicated!) – and yet the future cannot be won by either socialism or libertarianism as such. Rather, the orange color evokes our attempt to take the best aspects of these movements, leave behind ideas that did not anticipate the technological future, and invite all thinkers of good will to participate in the creation of the new era, whose political ideology will differ immensely from anything that came before. One reason why the Transhumanist Party has remained ecumenical and diverse – without being able to be pigeonholed as either “right” or “left” – is because B.J., like me and the rest of our Officer team, has understood and embraced the desirability of keeping it out of the political trenches and, instead, focused toward the stars.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70  is dedicated to Kim Bodenhamer Smith, who is herself an artist and combines a unique and extensive variety of passions and activities. One of these activities is unicycling in caves. (I am not sure just how she does it, but she does!) If you follow the progression of the circles in the center of this fractal, you will see the resemblance to a time-lapse of a unicycle wheel entering a cavernous tunnel. Of course, I made this fractal more colorful than the typical cave, because that would convey Kim’s personality more accurately.

In addition to sharing a commitment to truth and justice, Kim also has a highly creative mind and thinks outside of conventional parameters to seek solutions to today’s problems and ways to improve life on both large and small scales. She contributed great insights to our recent Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism, and she embraces technology and the innovative use of media in ways that get people thinking about how the world might be changed for the better. She has been a great ally to the U.S. Transhumanist Party as we seek these new paths that will lift humankind into its new era of advancement.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71 is an example of what happens when an artificial intelligence is fed desserts. I started out with a fractal that somewhat resembled an ornate display dish on which desserts might be served. Then I used the Google Deep Dream Generator to sequentially feed it images of cakes and cupcakes by Tiffany Henderson Bateman, who has a thriving baking business. As the AI was “dreaming” of delicious treats, the fractal was transformed! 

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72 is dedicated to John Marlowe, whose staunch advocacy for patients of rare diseases is greatly needed in today’s medical system. In spite of his own struggles, John has found the time and energy to contribute to the transhumanist movement and has been a great friend of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, which embraces any and all efforts to increase medical research and funding toward combating as many rare diseases as possible. John has offered excellent insights on films and science fiction at the Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism, and I also enjoyed conversing with him at length at the Super Longevity Holiday Party in Newport Beach. John has been there for our movement and for me personally when we needed both a thoughtful and encouraging voice. We will be there for him and for everyone who needs the public, entrepreneurs, and officials alike to recognize the urgency of fighting every disease with the resources at our disposal.

This fractal might be best interpreted as a view from the top down of an upward spiral of progress, from which luminous flames fan out. This can be seen as an illustration that, from the advancement of medical science in general, specific insights and breakthroughs will arise to cure one disease after another – including rare ailments with no known cures today. We do not always know what the breakthroughs will be or which diseases will be defeated when – but the combination of scientifically informed hope and the ceaseless outward pushing of the boundaries of knowledge will improve the chances of as many people as possible. We have a long struggle ahead to win the war against disease and death, but with John as an ally, the Transhumanist Party will strive to make concrete differences for as many people as possible along the way.

About the Abstract Orderism Fractals

Each fractal above is a digital artwork that was created by Mr. Stolyarov in Apophysis, a free program that facilitates deliberate manipulation of randomly generated fractals into intelligible shapes.

This fractal is an extension of Mr. Stolyarov’s artistic style of Abstract Orderism, whose goal is the creation of abstract objects that are appealing by virtue of their geometric intricacy — a demonstration of the order that man can both discover in the universe and bring into existence through his own actions and applications of the laws of nature.

Fractal art is based on the idea of the spontaneous order – which is pivotal in economics, culture, and human civilization itself. Now, using computer technology, spontaneous orders can be harnessed in individual art works as well.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s art works.