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Thread: Transhumanism: Augmenting the Brain and Body Through Science and Technology

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    Post Transhumanism: Augmenting the Brain and Body Through Science and Technology

    Hi,

    What do you think about Transhumanism: http://www.transhumanism.org/ This is the use of science and technology to enhance people's brains and bodies. Procedures include nanotechnology to cure internal body damage, cloning, genetic engineering, cyborg technology, cryonics, mind uploading into super-computers, and the creation of artificial intelligence. Would any White Nationalist be interested in using this technology to improve society, or at least to improve themselves personally?

    Additional Transhumanism site: http://www.betterhumans.com/

    Regards,

    Scientist

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    Thumbs Up Re: Transhumanism: Augmenting the Brain and Body Through Science and Technology

    Quote Originally Posted by Scientist
    Hi,

    What do you think about Transhumanism: http://www.transhumanism.org/ This is the use of science and technology to enhance people's brains and bodies. Procedures include nanotechnology to cure internal body damage, cloning, genetic engineering, cyborg technology, cryonics, mind uploading into super-computers, and the creation of artificial intelligence. Would any White Nationalist be interested in using this technology to improve society, or at least to improve themselves personally?

    Additional Transhumanism site: http://www.betterhumans.com/

    Regards,

    Scientist
    Hello,

    I support Transhumanism. Human improvement by means of technology is not a new phenomenon; technology as such is essentially an extension of our physique. I’m not overly keen to Transhumanist utopian prospects nonetheless as I’m naturally inclined to preserve a rather skeptic stance with regard to all promises of heavenly existence and such.

    Take care,

    Jove

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    Post Re: Transhumanism: Augmenting the Brain and Body Through Science and Technology

    In the future nanotechnology will an important part of human life, but I don't think genetic engineering should, without perfect knowledge of genetics we can make some irreversible mistakes leading to the deterioration of the human race, I would go for a good eugenics plan, use that as the foundation, then perhaps add all the gadgets and gizmos.

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    Singularity and Transhumanism: A Few Definitions

    "Singularity" - The Techno-Rupture

    “The rise of super intelligent life, created through the improvement of human tools by the acceleration of technological progress reaching the point of infinity.”


    The Singularity is a common matter of discussion in transhumanist circles. There is no clear definition, but usually the Singularity is meant as a future time when societal, scientific and economic change is so fast we cannot even imagine what will happen from our present perspective, and when humanity will become posthumanity. Another definition is used in the Extropians FAQ, where it denotes the singular time when technological development will be at its fastest.” “Sometime in the next few years or decades, humanity will become capable of surpassing the upper limit on intelligence that has held since the rise of the human species. We will become capable of technologically creating smarter-than-human intelligence, perhaps through enhancement of the human brain, direct links between computers and the brain, or Artificial Intelligence (AI). This event is called the "Singularity" by analogy with the singularity at the center of a black hole – just as our current model of physics breaks down when it attempts to describe the center of a black hole, our model of the future breaks down once the future contains smarter-than-human minds. Since technology is the product of intelligence, the Singularity is an effect that snowballs once it occurs – the first smart minds can create smarter minds, and smarter minds can produce still smarter minds.

    Why does the Singularity matter?The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence was created in the belief that the Singularity represents a tremendous opportunity to accomplish good. The Singularity may offer a new opportunity to solve fundamental problems, not just by creating new technologies, but by increasing the intelligence with which we solve problems. For the first time, there is the possibility of humans using technology to become, not only healthier and wealthier and longer-lived, but smarter. At last it will be possible for our intelligence to grow along with our technology. We believe a world that realizes these possibilities is a better world, one of the best possible futures for humanity. »
    www.singularity.orgwww.singularitywatch.com



    "Transhumanism"


    “Transhumanism is the belief that we can, and should, try to overcome our biological limitations by means of reason, science, and technology. Transhumanists seek things like intelligence augmentation, increased strength and beauty, extreme life extension, sustainable mood enhancement, and the capability to leave the planet and explore the universe. These goals are to be achieved with the aid of contemporary and future technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, cryonics, AI, and mind uploading. In other words, (hardcore) Transhumanists seek to become posthuman (demi-)gods; "persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity. Self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals."

    "It is not our human shape or the details of our current human biology that define what is valuable about us, but rather our aspirations and ideals, our experiences, and the kinds of lives we lead. To a transhumanist, progress occurs when more people become more able to shape themselves, their lives, and the ways they relate to others, in accordance with their own deepest values. Transhumanists place a high value on autonomy: the ability and right of individuals to plan and choose their own lives. Some people may of course, for any number of reasons, choose to forgo the opportunity to use technology to improve themselves. Transhumanists seek to create a world in which autonomous individuals may choose to remain unenhanced or choose to be enhanced and in which these choices will be respected.Through the accelerating pace of technological development and scientific understanding, we are entering a whole new stage in the history of the human species. In the relatively near future, we may face the prospect of real artificial intelligence. New kinds of cognitive tools will be built that combine artificial intelligence with interface technology. Molecular nanotechnology has the potential to manufacture abundant resources for everybody and to give us control over the biochemical processes in our bodies, enabling us to eliminate disease and unwanted aging. Technologies such as brain-computer interfaces and neuropharmacology could amplify human intelligence, increase emotional well-being, improve our capacity for steady commitment to life projects or a loved one, and even multiply the range and richness of possible emotions. On the dark side of the spectrum, transhumanists recognize that some of these coming technologies could potentially cause great harm to human life; even the survival of our species could be at risk. Seeking to understand the dangers and working to prevent disasters is an essential part of the transhumanist agenda."


    Related sites:

    www.transtopia.org

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    Post AW: A few definitions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnenerbe
    In other words, (hardcore) Transhumanists seek to become posthuman (demi-)gods; "persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity. Self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals."

    http://www.transtopia.org/
    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnenerbe
    It is not our human shape or the details of our current human biology that define what is valuable about us, but rather our aspirations and ideals, our experiences, and the kinds of lives we lead. To a transhumanist, progress occurs when more people become more able to shape themselves, their lives, and the ways they relate to others, in accordance with their own deepest values. Transhumanists place a high value on autonomy: the ability and right of individuals to plan and choose their own lives. Some people may of course, for any number of reasons, choose to forgo the opportunity to use technology to improve themselves. Transhumanists seek to create a world in which autonomous individuals may choose to remain unenhanced or choose to be enhanced and in which these choices will be respected.

    Through the accelerating pace of technological development and scientific understanding, we are entering a whole new stage in the history of the human species. In the relatively near future, we may face the prospect of real artificial intelligence. New kinds of cognitive tools will be built that combine artificial intelligence with interface technology. Molecular nanotechnology has the potential to manufacture abundant resources for everybody and to give us control over the biochemical processes in our bodies, enabling us to eliminate disease and unwanted aging. Technologies such as brain-computer interfaces and neuropharmacology could amplify human intelligence, increase emotional well-being, improve our capacity for steady commitment to life projects or a loved one, and even multiply the range and richness of possible emotions. On the dark side of the spectrum, transhumanists recognize that some of these coming technologies could potentially cause great harm to human life; even the survival of our species could be at risk. Seeking to understand the dangers and working to prevent disasters is an essential part of the transhumanist agenda.
    For me, these ideas are at the heart of what I find attractive about transhumanism.

    But I was very surprised to discover that point eleven of the Transtopian Principles prohibits procreation. This position is counterintuitive and fundamentally self-defeating given that there are no signs anywhere that homo sapiens has taken the next evolutionary leap.


    XI.Non-Procreation

    Transtopians don't breed because, assuming that one wants to be a good parent, children are a serious drain in terms of time and resources, are likely to increase stress, ruin relationships, and will severely limit one's freedom. It is a very empowering decision not to have children, especially for women, who, due to tradition and biology, must sacrifice (much) more. It means that one doesn't bow to nature's and society's pressures to conform. By saying "no" to procreation, you reject being just another link in life's mindless chain of births and deaths, just another runner in an endless relay race. In the spirit of Egoism, you confirm that you are an end in itself, not just a walking incubator or sperm donor. Other elements of the procreational complex such as hormone & neurotransmitter-induced highs (love), ritualized bonding (marriage), and copulation (sex) also tend to cause (a lot) more trouble than they're worth, and should consequently be avoided as well -- or at least approached with due caution and skepticism.
    Given the current state of technology and the widespread destruction of natural biological, racially based communities, selective breeding still seems the superior means to creating superior humans.

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    Post Re: A few definitions

    Yes, that's the paradox. I understand fully the "childfreeness" for obvious reasons: you get very busy and vulnerable during quite 20 precious years of your life raising children, but at the same time, if your genes and experience are lost, all the work and skills/informations gathering you did is waisted. That's why the solution can only be gaining $$$ €€€ £££. Then you are able to do both things and delegates the non-intellectual tasks of your life. That's also why in my mind Transhumanism goes together with Sovereign Individualism, Capitalism, Finance, etc.

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    Post Synarchy

    http://www.solveetcoagula.ch

    Sustainable Planetary Management – Patriarchally or matriarchally managed enterprises will in future be superseded by synarchally-oriented forms of organization.

    Philosophers and other thinkers have speculated over the centuries as to how human societies can be helped to again attain peace and prosperity and, to this purpose, have envisaged ideal forms of government and organization. Thus, Plato wrote “The Republic”, Thomas More “Utopia”, Francis Bacon “The New Atlantis”, Campanella “The City of the Sun”. Synarchy, the concept of which goes back to Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1848-1909), is understood as a government founded on principles, in contrast to anarchy, a form of government devoid of principles. Synarchy was introduced by Rama 7400 years before Christ; he founded an empire that lasted for 3500 years. Synarchy is a form of government at the head of which a trinity attends to government affairs. The main areas of responsibility (educational system, judiciary, economy) are divided in such a manner as to enable of a harmonious working method.

    Interestingly, the form of state organization in Switzerland is in its rudiments comparable most of all to a synarchic form of government. To that let it be said: “Every nation gets the president it deserves!”, or put another way, “The trouble is at the top”. When an elected president makes the wrong decisions, the entire nation shares the blame. It should have subjected its president to earnest questioning before the elections. “But politics don’t interest us”…or…”They are anyway only out for their own interests”…”Football is more enjoyable”…”I have my own problems, and I should go about solving others?” There is no lack of excuses when it comes to carrying on in one’s trite and intact world – to then be suddenly roused from one’s hibernation and find oneself confronted with harsh realities.

    In most of the free countries, people are more conspicuous by their absence as far as political questions are concerned than by active involvement in shaping the common good. Similar tendencies are emerging in enterprises. Some countries or enterprises go so far, that dictatorships arise and entire populations or workforces are deprived of all their rights. It is therefore not surprising when very intelligent organisms worm their way into egocentric societies and take advantage of the breeding ground of immature citizens. A present-day example: the nomination of G.W. Bush as U.S. president in the year 2000. It will be seen in the presidential elections this year just how capable of learning the populace is in this respect. Infact, it is not only a national problem of the US, its a worldwide case. In medical terms, the disease is not yet localized. That is to say, once a fungus-like organism has established itself, the host frees itself from the parasite only with great difficulty, for if need be the latter deftly changes its outward appearance in order to carry on undisturbed. In biological terms, one cannot really take offence at the behaviour of fungous parasites, for their task consists in revealing the weak points in the system so as to call attention to the fact that the organism is not functioning properly. To ignore this signal would result in the insidious decline of the entire organism. The parasite will of course continue to spread until the host has recognized its malady and initiated countermeasures.

    At the same time, one should bear in mind that an illness always represents an excellent opportunity by which the organism has the possibility to regenerate itself through essential learning processes and in this way lastingly alleviate its troubles. To arrive at a successful treatment, it is important that the organism, whether a human or a confederation of states, a city or an enterprise, an animal, a plant or the earth itself, is viewed holistically. Everything is always connected with everything and forms a harmonious whole. An organism becomes diseased as a whole, not just in part. The treatment of the cause should therefore be given preference over a quick and short-term treatment of symptoms, in homoeopathic as well as allopathic methods of treatment.

    We learn from mistakes far better than if we were to act in the right way. Thus, we rather unconsciously elect presidents in whose faces we can already read that they will make many mistakes.

    Nature ingeniously reveals our weak points to us so that we can sort out the situation under more or less gentle pressure and in our own interest; as a result there is in most cases a short-term disadvantage and, on the long term, a great advantage. As soon as people again consciously address themselves to the issues of common concern, the wings of those who govern will be clipped so that they once more behave as representatives elected by the populace and support an optimal development of all citizens.

    After centuries of phases of trial and error and extensive learning processes on all levels of natural development, we will develop ever more optimal forms of organization that, in the end, are perfectly adjusted to all needs. There is nothing stronger that an idea when its time has come.




    Synarchy
    As a philosopher and mystic, Saint-Yves drew upon many esoteric systems, from both East and West, in developing his ideas. Developed in the early 1870's, Synarchy proposed "government by an elite of enlightened initiates". This was to be a world government forming one institute which would govern humanity based on the highest spiritual and social fundamentals. Synarchy was to be more than a purely political movement, it was to be sensitive to the history and evolution of the human race, changing and developing a "social law" that would evolve with humanity.

    Saint-Yves was inspired by earlier "Utopian" writings. The 'message' of the "Utopian view" is the restoration of the original condition of life, which Christianity calls 'Paradise', a condition known in all the Ancient cultures. Famous French Novelist (and 'Rosicrucian Martinist' ) Victor Hugo once stated :

    "L’utopie, c’est la vérité de demain",

    "Utopia is the truth of tomorrow".

    Being an occultist, Saint-Yves believed in the existence of spiritually superior beings. He believed these 'beings' could be contacted telepathically. Saint-Yves claimed that he was in touch with these 'superiors' himself, as a matter of fact the principles of 'Synarchy' were partially based on communications with these 'Masters'. According to Saint-Yves these 'Masters' lived in the mysterious underworld realm of the world known as "Agartha" in the West or "Shambhala" in India.

    Saint-Yves popularized the myth of "Agartha" in the Western world. The secret world of "Agartha" and all of its wisdom and wealth "will be accessible for all mankind, when christianity lives up to the commandments which were once drafted by Moses and Jesus, meaning--when the Anarchy which exists in our world is replaced by Synarchy".

    Saint-Yves gives a 'lively' description of "Agartha" in this book as if it were a place which really exists, situated in the Himalayas in Tibet.

    Principles of Synarchy

    The world which is lead by one institute which is based on spiritual and social fundamentals.

    Synarchy is a " FORM OF GOVERNMENT BASED ON 'PRINCIPLES', in contrast with 'Anarchy'. In 'Synarchy' a social entity is lead by an Authority. The Authority controls RELIGION, ARMY, and EDUCATION. The foundation of the philosophy consists of three elements:

    1. EDUCATION - 2. LAW - 3. ECONOMY

    The Authority belongs to 'the Wise', according to this philosophy. In a 'Synarchic(al) Society' social life has a hierarchical structure. Society is lead by three departments which are not based on politics but on social values.

    Culture, Art, and Science belongs to the fundamental element "Education".

    Court, Police, the Army and Foreign Affairs belongs to the element "Law".

    the Unions, the Government, and the working class belongs to the third element "Economy".

    The highest ambition of the philosophy of Synarchy was a society without classes. Furthermore, in a Synarchic society the responsibility of the politicians would be in the hands of the "Wise", the "specialists".

    Saint-Yves' principle of "Synarchy" resulted from certain historical questions he had formulated. The central theme of Saint-Yves' historical quest was:

    "What were the principles on which the institutions of a State / Society were build which resulted in a progress of this civilization in an atmosphere of peace, justice, and prosperity"
    His historical research was concentrated on solving problems as :

    • On which principles are civilizations founded ?
    • The Holy Scriptures of ancient civilizations contain valuable sociological aspects, what did they teach?
    • The great ancient civilizations - where did they came from and how did they evolve?
    According to Saint-Yves the outcome of "the lessons which history teaches" are the synthetic results of experiments which were carried out in the laboratory of humanity. The knowledge of the sociological problems and its solutions in history would make it possible to apply this knowledge on our society. "A State / Society based on forms of slavery is not viable, Synarchy is the only form of government which is build on principles, the others function in Anarchy, i.e. without principles"

    It is interesting to know that Saint Yves stated that the first impulse towards a "synarchic federation", a union of states, should be the establishment of a economical federation of states, i.e. the first step consists of linking the economical interests of countries, an economic community of interests…

    Umberto Ecco writing in his book, "The Pendulum of Foucault", described Saint Yves:

    "He was determined to find a political formula that could lead to a more harmonious society. Synarchy in opposition to Anarchy. A European society ruled by three councils representing the economical power, the executive power and the spiritual power, that is, the churches and the scientists. An enlightened oligarchy through which class struggle could be eliminated"

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    Lightbulb Re: A few definitions

    The information is never far. These definitions are basically from Wikipedia. It's just to put a focus on some notions that are in my opinion in the heart of what will be the future of White nationalism. Or at least some of us.


    "Crypto-society"


    A crypto-society is an encrypted virtual community. It is nearly impossible to create a "real" crypto-society as it would take too much time and resources to encrypt all the human to human interactions. Therefore, nearly all encrypted communities are hosted on the Internet with computers aiding the users in the encryption of their interactions. Usually, such communities employ public-keycryptography to ensure that their users can speak freely amongst themselves with a greatly reduced probability of anyone else eavesdropping on their conversations. It is common for these communities to avoid real-life identifiers, instead supporting anonymity- or pseudonymity, so that members know each other by reputation.


    "Cipherspace"


    Cipherspace is the encrypted (and often pseudonymous or fully anonymous) equivalent to cyberspace. Examples of cipherspaces include freenet, the Invisible IRC Project (IIP), the Invisible Internet Project (I2P), and some anonymous mail-forwarding services. According to its advocates, it should be impossible to know the actual identity of anyone in cipherspace. Therefore, it would be impossible to impose any censorship and to enforce any law. Because of that, they assert that concepts like copyright would be unenforcable inside cipherspace. Others doubt the possibility of complete anonymity, citing that real networks needs access to external resources, which tend to be trackable.


    "Crypto-anarchism"


    Crypto-anarchism is a philosophy that expounds the use of strong public keycryptography to enforce privacy and therefore individual freedom. Crypto-anarchists aim to create virtual communities where everyone is absolutely anonymous or pseudonymous. In such virtual communities the physical identities of the pseudonyms are almost totally untraceable. Crypto-anarchists believe that inside their communities is the only place where they can be totally free, because in all other communities there will always be someone that will listen to what you say and know who you are. Development of methods of surveillance, and in particular the spread of Internet communication opens unprecedented powers of computer surveillance. Crypto-anarchists consider the development and use of cryptography to be the main defence against this, instead of political action. Crypto-anarchists believe that privacy is to reveal one's self selectively and unless one can do that as you wish, there is no privacy. Inside the crypto-societies it is impossible to know the physical identities of whom you are talking to unless the speakers wish to reveal themselves.

    Untraceable, privately issued electronic money and anonymous internet banking are being developed for these virtual communities that can be used to trade anonymously. This is easiest to achieve for information services that can be provided over the Internet (such as consulting, programming, etc.) Providing physical products is more difficult as the anonymity is more easily broken when crossing into the physical world. Untraceable money would make it possible to ignore some of the laws of the physical world, as the laws cannot be enforced without knowing people's physical identities. For instance, tax on income for online services provided pseudonymously can be avoided if no government knows the identity of the service provider. Of course, such freedom could be abused by criminals. But crypto-anarchists claim that those people are already communicating pretty much anonymously - the cryptosocieties will just bring the benefits such as privacy and freedom of anonymity to the ordinary people. It is even difficult to say which country's laws will be ignored, as even the location (country) of the participants is unknown. In a sense, the Internet (or 'cyberspace') can be regarded as an independent territory. In spite of this, it is already illegal to use strong cryptography itself in some countries. To enforce a ban on the use of cryptography, however, is probably impossible, as cryptography itself can be used to hide even the existence of encrypted messages (see steganography).

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    Lightbulb The Politics of Transhumanism

    (March 2002)


    Transhumanism is an emergent philosophical movement which says that humans can and should become more than human through technological enhancements. Contemporary transhumanism has grown out of white, male, affluent, American Internet culture, and its political perspective has generally been a militant version of the libertarianism typical of that culture. Nonetheless transhumanists are becoming more diverse, with some building a broad liberal democratic philosophic foundation in the World Transhumanist Association. A variety of left futurist trends and projects are discussed as a proto-“democratic transhumanism.” The essay also discusses the reaction of transhumanists to a small group of neo-Nazis who have attempted to attach themselves to the transhumanist movement. For the transhumanist movement to grow and become a serious challenge to their opposites, the bio-Luddites, they will need to distance themselves from their elitist anarcho-capitalist roots and clarify commitments to liberal democratic institutions, values and public policies. By embracing political engagement and the use of government to address equity, safety and efficacy concerns about transhuman technologies, transhumanists are in a better position to attract a larger, broader audience.



    Introduction

    When it comes to political memes, transhumanism in its purest form doesn't have any fixed niche. Instead each host or group of hosts link it to their previous political views. (Sandberg, 1994)

    Since the advent of the Enlightenment, the idea that the human condition can be improved through reason, science and technology has been mated with all varieties of political ideology. Partisans of scientific human betterment have generally been opponents of, and opposed by, the forces of religion, and therefore have generally tilted towards cosmopolitan, cultural liberalism. But there have been secular cosmopolitans, committed to human progress through science, who were classical liberals or “libertarians,” as well as liberal democrats, social democrats and communists. There have also been technocratic fascists, attracted to racialism by eugenics, and to nationalism by the appeal of the unified, modernizing nation-state.

    With the emergence of cyberculture, the technoutopian meme-plex has found a natural medium, and has been furiously mutating and crossbreeding with political ideologies. One of its recent manifestations has adopted the label “transhumanism,” and within this sparsely populated but broad ideological tent many proto-ideological hybrids are stirring. Much transhumanist proto-politics is distinctly the product of elitist, male, American libertarianism, limiting its ability to respond to concerns behind the growing Luddite movement, such as with the equity and safety of innovations. Committed only to individual liberty, libertarian transhumanists have little interest in building solidarity between “posthumans” and “normals,” or in crafting techno-utopian projects which can inspire broad social movements.

    In this paper I will briefly discuss the political flavors of transhumanism that have developed in the last dozen years, including extropian libertarianism, the liberal democratic World Transhumanist Association, “neo-Nazi transhumanism,” and radical democratic transhumanism. In my closing remarks I will suggest ways that a broader democratic transhumanism may take shape that would have a better chance of attracting a mass following and securing a political space for the kinds of human self-improvement that the transhumanists envision.


    Libertarian Transhumanism: Max More and the Extropy Institute

    This is really what is unique about the Extropian movement: the fusion of radical technological optimism with libertarian political philosophy… one might call it libertarian transhumanism. (Goertzel, 2000)

    In the 1980s, a young British graduate student, Max O’Connor, became interested in futurist ideas and life extension technologies while studying philosophy and political economy at Oxford. In the mid-1980s he became one of the pioneers of cryonics in England. After finishing at Oxford in 1988, having been impressed with the United States’ dynamism and openness to future-oriented ideas, O’Connor began his doctoral studies in philosophy at the University of Southern California. At USC he began mixing with the local futurist subculture, and soon teamed up with another graduate student, T.O. Morrow, to found the technoutopian journal Extropy.

    O’Connor and Morrow adopted the term “extropy,” the opposite of “entropy,” as the core symbol of their philosophy and goals: life extension, the expansion of human powers and control over nature, expansion into space, and the emergence of intelligent, organic, spontaneous order. O’Connor also adopted the new name Max More as a sign of his commitment to “what my goal is: always to improve, never to be static. I was going to get better at everything, become smarter, fitter, and healthier. It would be a constant reminder to keep moving forward" (Regis, 1994).

    In early issues of Extropy magazine More began to publish successive versions and expositions of his “Extropian Principles.” In the early 1990s the Principles resolved down to five:


    1. BOUNDLESS EXPANSION: Seeking more intelligence, wisdom, and effectiveness, an unlimited lifespan, and the removal of political, cultural, biological, and psychological limits to self-actualization and self-realization. Perpetually overcoming constraints on our progress and possibilities. Expanding into the universe and advancing without end.

    2. SELF-TRANSFORMATION: Affirming continual psychological, intellectual, and physical self-improvement, through reason and critical thinking, personal responsibility, and experimentation. Seeking biological and neurological augmentation.

    3. DYNAMIC OPTIMISM: Positive expectations fueling dynamic action. Adopting a rational, action-based optimism, shunning both blind faith and stagnant pessimism.

    4. INTELLIGENT TECHNOLOGY: Applying science and technology creatively to transcend "natural" limits imposed by our biological heritage, culture, and environment.

    5. SPONTANEOUS ORDER: Supporting decentralized, voluntaristic social coordination processes. Fostering tolerance, diversity, foresight, personal responsibility and individual liberty.


    In the first issue of Extropy in 1988 More and Morrow included libertarian politics as one of the topics the magazine would promote. In 1991 Extropy focused on the principle of emergent order, publishing an essay by T.O. Morrow on David Friedman’s anarcho-capitalist concept of "Privately Produced Law", and an article from Max More on "Order Without Orderers". In these essays Morrow and More made clear the journal’s commitment to radical libertarianism, an ideological orientation shared by most of the young, well-educated, American men attracted to the extropian list. The extropian milieu saw the state, and any form of egalitarianism, as a potential threat to their personal self-transformation. More’s fifth principle “Spontaneous Order” distilled their Hayek and Ayn Rand-derived belief that an anarchistic market creates free and dynamic order, while the state and its life-stealing authoritarianism is entropic.

    In 1992 More and Morrow founded the Extropy Institute, which held its first conference in 1994. At Extro 1 in SunnyvaleCalifornia, the keynote speaker was the controversial computer scientist Hans Moravec, speaking on the how humans would be inevitably superceded by robots. Eric Drexler, a cryonics promoter and the founder of the field of nanotechnology, also addressed the conference. Also in attendance was journalist Ed Regis (1994) whose subsequent article on the Extropians in Wired magazine greatly increasing the group’s visibility. The second Extro conference was held in 1995, Extro 3 was held in 1997, Extro 4 in 1999, and Extro 5 in 2001. Each conference has attracted more prominent scientists, science fiction authors and futurist luminaries.

    In the wake of all this attention, the extropians also began to attract withering criticism from progressive culture critics. In 1996 Wired contributor Paulina Borsook debated More in an on-line forum in the Wired website, taking him to task for selfishness, elitism and escapism. She subsequently published the book Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech (2001). Mark Dery excoriated the extropians and a dozen related techno-culture trends in his 1997 Escape Velocity, coining the dismissive phrase “body-loathing” for those, like the extropians, who want to escape from their “meat puppet” (body).

    In 1999 and 2000 the European fellow-travelers of the extropians began to organize and meet, and the World Transhumanist Association was organized with founding documents distinctly less libertarian than the Extropian Principles. In the latter 1990s, as transhumanism broadened its social base, a growing number of non-libertarian voices began to make themselves heard on the extro email lists.

    Responding to these various trends and presumably his own philosophical maturation, More revamped his principles in 2000 from Version 2.6 to Version 3.0, and from five principles into seven: 1. Perpetual Progress, 2. Self-Transformation, 3. Practical Optimism, 4. Intelligent Technology, 5. Open Society, 6. Self-Direction, and 7. Rational Thinking. In Version 3.0, More adapts the previous, anarcho-capitalist “Spontaneous Order” into the much more moderately libertarian:

    5. Open Society Supporting social orders that foster freedom of speech, freedom of action, and experimentation. Opposing authoritarian social control and favoring the rule of law and decentralization of power. Preferring bargaining over battling, and exchange over compulsion. Openness to improvement rather than a static utopia.

    6. Self-Direction — Seeking independent thinking, individual freedom, personal responsibility, self-direction, self-esteem, and respect for others

    In a more extensive commentary on his 3.0 principles More explicitly departs from the elitist, Randian position of enlightened selfishness, and argues for both a consistent rule of law and for civic responsibility.

    However, as a casual review of the traffic on the extropian lists confirms, the majority of extropians remain staunch libertarians. In a survey of extropian list participants conducted in February and Marchof 2002, 56% of the respondents identified as "libertarian" or "anarchist/self-governance," with another 15% committed to (generally minarchist) alternative political visions (ExiCommunity Polls, 2002).[1] In the recommended “economics and society”reading list that More attaches to the 3.0 version of the principles, the political economy readings still strongly suggest an anarcho-capitalist orientation.

    The concept of the Singularity was first proposed by science fiction author Vernor Vinge in a 1993 essay, referring specifically to the apocalyptic consequences of the emergence of self-willed artificial intelligence, projected to occur with the next couple of decades. In a February-March 2002 poll of extropians, the average year in which respondents expected “the next major breakthrough or shakeup that will radically reshape the future of humanity” was 2017. Only 21% said there would be “no such event, just equal acceleration across all areas.” The majority of extropians who expected a Singularity expected it to emerge from computing or artificial intelligence, a medical breakthrough or an advance in nanotechnology (ExiCommunity Polls, 2002).

    Among millenarian movements, belief in the Singularity is uniquely grounded in rational, scientific argument about measurable exponential trends. For instance, “singularitarians” such as Ray Kurzweil (Kurzweilai.net) map the exponential growth of computing power (“Moore’s Law”) and memory against the computing capacity of the human brain to argue for the immanence of machine minds. However, the popularity of the idea of the Singularity also stems from the transcultural appeal of visions of apocalypse and redemption. The Singularity is a vision of techno-Rapture for secular, alienated, relatively powerless, techno-enthusiasts (Bozeman, 1997).[3] The appeal of the Singularity for libertarians such as the extropians is that, like the Second Coming, it does not require any specific collective action. The Singularity is literally a deus ex machina. Ayn Rand envisioned society sinking into chaos once the techno-elite withdrew into their Valhalla. But the Singularity will elevate the techno-savvy elite while most likely wiping out everybody else.

    For instance, responding to a challenge from Mark Dery about the socio-economic implications of robotic ascension, Extropian Board member Hans Moravec responded ““the socioeconomic implications are … largely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what people do, because they’re going to be left behind like the second stage of a rocket. Unhappy lives, horrible deaths, and failed projects have been part of the history of life on Earth ever since there was life; what really matters in the long run is what’s left over” (Moravec quoted by Goertzel, 2000). Working individually to stay on the cutting edge of technology, transforming oneself into a post-human, is the extropian’s best insurance of surviving and prospering through the Singularity.


    Future Political Role for Extropians

    In the last couple of years the neo-Luddite movement has grown in coordination and political visibility, from movements against gene-mod food, cloning and stem cells, to President Bush’s appointment of staunch bio-conservative ethicist Leon Kass as his chief bioethics advisor and chair of the President’s Council on Bioethics (PCB). Kass in turn appointed fellow bio-Luddites to the PCB, such as Francis Fukuyama, author of the recent anti-genetic engineering manifesto Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution (2002).

    Despite faith in the inevitability of the millennium, the neo-Luddites have sufficiently alarmed the extropians that in 2001 Natasha Vita-More announced the creation of the Progress Action Coalition ("Pro-Act"), an extropian political action committee. The group’s announced intention is to build a coalition of groups to defend high technology against the Luddites.

    Speaking at the event, artist and "cultural catalyst" Natasha Vita-More, Pro-Act Director, said the fledgling organization aims to build a coalition of groups that will take on a broad range of neo-Luddites opposed to new technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, ranging from Bill Joy to Greenpeace, Jeremy Rifkin's Foundation for Economic Trends, the Green party, and the current protestors at the BIO2001 conference in San Diego. (Angelica, 2001)

    The group is still being established, but the set of scientific and cultural members, supporters and fellow-travelers that the extropians have collected could be leveraged for considerable political effect. Engaging in actual political campaigns to defeat anti-cloning or anti-stem cells bills would inevitably force the extropians to grapple with partisan politics and the ways in which the state actively supports science, further attenuating their anarchist purity. Conversely, the group’s stigma as an elitist, kooky cult centered on the thinking of one man may make it difficult to attract mainstream biotech or computer firms as backers and supporters of their political project.



    Liberal Democratic Transhumanism: The World Transhumanist Association

    History of the Term Transhumanism

    According to an account by Max More’s wife, Natasha Vita-More, the term “transhuman” was first used in 1966 by the Iranian-American futurist F.M. Esfandiary while he was teaching at the NewSchool for Social Research. The term subsequently appeared in Abraham Maslow’s 1968 Toward a Psychology of Being and in Robert Ettinger’s 1972 Man into Superman. Like Maslow and Ettinger, F.M. Esfandiary (who changed his name to FM-2030) used the term in his writings in the 1970s to refer to people who were adopting the technologies, lifestyles and cultural worldviews that were transitional to post-humanity. In his 1989 book “Are You Transhuman?” FM-2030 says

    (Transhumans) are the earliest manifestations of new evolutionary beings. They are like those earliest hominids who many millions of years ago came down from the trees and began to look around. Transhumans are not necessarily committed to accelerating the evolution to higher life forms. Many of them are not even aware of their bridging role in evolution.”

    In the early 1980s, FM-2030 befriended More’s future wife, Natasha Vita-More (Nancie Clark), and later became a friend and supporter of More and the Californian extropians. In the lexicon adopted by the extropians, transhumanism involves a self-conscious ideological leaning, not merely having been an early adopter of posthuman tech. For instance, More defined transhumanism in a 1990 essay:

    Transhumanism
    is a class of philosophies that seek to guide us towards a posthuman condition. Transhumanism shares many elements of humanism, including a respect for reason and science, a commitment to progress, and a valuing of human (or transhuman) existence in this life rather than in some supernatural "afterlife". Transhumanism differs from humanism in recognizing and anticipating the radical alterations in the nature and possibilities of our lives resulting from various sciences and technologies such as neuroscience and neuropharmacology, life extension, nanotechnology, artificial ultraintelligence, and space habitation, combined with a rational philosophy and value system.

    (More, 1990)

    More has also more succinctly defined transhumanism as

    Philosophies of life that seek the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and values. (More, quoted by Sandberg, 2001)


    The Founding of the World Transhumanist Association

    From the beginning of Extropy journal, and in the burgeoning lexicon of the extropians, Max More and the other extropians made clear that extropianism was but one of the possible forms of transhumanist ideology. For instance, in 1994 Anders Sandberg, the founder of the Swedish transhumanist group Aleph, noted that transhumanist ideas could be mated with many political ideologies, and that the hybrid of extropian libertarian transhumanism was just one, particularly robust, form that transhumanism could take:

    Extropianism, which is a combination of transhumanist memes and libertarianism, seems to be one of the more dynamic and well-integrated systems. This has been successful, mainly because the meme has been able to organize its hosts much better than other transhumanistic meme-complexes. This has led to a certain bias among transhumanists linked to the Net towards the extropian version of the meme since it is the most widely spread and active. (Sandberg, 1994)

    By the late 1990s it had begun to become clear that the European fellow-travelers of the Extropy Institute were much less enthralled by anarcho-capitalist orthodoxy than the Americans. One European transhumanist, reviewing a conference of European transhumanists, noted: “The official program started with Remi Sussan…a bleeding heart humanist socialist and a nice person. I am glad that we have that diversity among the European Transhumanists. It makes for much more refined discussions than is often seen on the Extropy mailing list.” (Rasmussen, 1999)”

    In 1997 the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom organized the World Transhumanist Association (WTA) as an autonomous and more broadly based grouping that would share the techno-liberatory concerns of the Extropians, but allow for more political and ideological diversity than tolerated by the Extropians. Bostrom is an academic philosopher, and the WTA project attracted several of the academics in the extropian milieu to establish a journal, The Journal of Transhumanism, and work toward the recognition of transhumanism as an academic discipline.

    In 1998, Bostrom and several dozen far flung American and European collaborators began work on the two founding documents of the WTA, the Transhumanist Declaration and a Transhumanist Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ. The leading extropians, including More, contributed to the documents, but the documents were most heavily influenced by the politically open-minded Swedes Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg, the feminist Kathryn Aegis, and the British utilitarian thinker David Pearce. The first drafts of the documents were published in 1999.


    The Transhumanist Declaration

    (1) Humanity will be radically changed by technology in the future. We foresee the feasibility of redesigning the human condition, including such parameters as the inevitability of ageing, limitations on human and artificial intellects, unchosen psychology, suffering, and our confinement to the planet earth.

    (2) Systematic research should be put into understanding these coming developments and their long-term consequences.

    (3) Transhumanists think that by being generally open and embracing of new technology we have a better chance of turning it to our advantage than if we try to ban or prohibit it.

    (4) Transhumanists advocate the moral right for those who so wish to use technology to extend their mental and physical capacities and to improve their control over their own lives. We seek personal growth beyond our current biological limitations.

    (5) In planning for the future, it is mandatory to take into account the prospect of dramatic technological progress. It would be tragic if the potential benefits failed to materialize because of ill-motivated technophobia and unnecessary prohibitions. On the other hand, it would also be tragic if intelligent life went extinct because of some disaster or war involving advanced technologies.

    (6) We need to create forums where people can rationally debate what needs to be done, and a social order where responsible decisions can be implemented.

    (7) Transhumanism advocates the well-being of all sentience (whether in artificial intellects, humans, non-human animals, or possible extraterrestrial species) and encompasses many principles of modern secular humanism. Transhumanism does not support any particular party, politician or political platform.

    The Declaration is notable in its departure from the Extropian Principles in several significant points. In point (5) the Declaration specifically notes the possibility of catastrophic consequences of new technology, and in the attached FAQ the authors discuss the responsibility of transhumanists to anticipate and craft public policy to prevent these catastrophic outcomes. The anarcho-capitalist Extropians, on the other hand, generally dismiss any talk of catastrophic possibilities, and only believe in market-based solutions to any such threats that may exist. Point (6) explicitly addresses the need “to create forums where people can rationally debate what needs to be done, and a social order where responsible decisions can be implemented.” Here, unlike the elitist and hitherto anti-political Extropians, the WTA founders take seriously the need to engage society, and support responsive democracies and democratic technology policies.

    In point (7) the WTA founders explicitly commit to a utilitarian ethic, presumably influenced by the utilitarian David Pierce, as opposed to the radically individualist ethics of the Extropians. Finally, in the last line of the Declaration, the authors make clear that the WTA is not committed to a particular political ideology.

    Politically, the extropians oppose authoritarian social control and favor the rule of law and decentralization of power. Transhumanism as such does not advocate any particular political viewpoint, although it does have political consequences. Transhumanists themselves hold a wide range of political opinions (there are liberals, social democrats, libertarians, green party members etc.), and some transhumanists have elected to remain apolitical. (Bostrom et al., 1999)



    The Politics of the WTA FAQ

    The WTA FAQ asks the question “Won’t new technologies only benefit the rich and powerful? What happens to the rest?” Instead of suggesting that some form of social subsidy might facilitate access to the poor, the FAQ falls back on a trickle-down theory of technological innovation, noting that the lives of the relatively poor today are enriched by technologies previously only available to the wealthy. However, the FAQ then makes the startling acknowledgement:

    One can speculate that some technologies may cause social inequalities to widen. For example, if some form of intelligence amplification becomes available, it may at first be so expensive that only the richest can afford it. The same could happen when we learn how to genetically augment our children. Wealthy people would become smarter and make even more money...

    Trying to ban technological innovations on these grounds would be misguided. If a society judges these inequalities to be unacceptable, it would be wiser for that society to increase wealth redistribution, for example by means of taxation and the provision of free services (education vouchers, IT access in public libraries, genetic enhancements covered by social security etc.). For economical and technological progress is not a zero sum game. It's a positive sum game. It doesn't solve the old political problem of what degree of income redistribution is desirable, but it can make the pie that is to be divided enormously much greater.

    Similarly when addressing whether transhumanism is simply a distraction from the pressing problems of poverty and conflict in the world today, the FAQ argues that transhumanists should work on both these immediate problems and futurist concerns. In fact, the FAQ argues, transhuman technologies can make the solution of poverty and conflict easier, improving health care, amplifying intelligence, and expanding communication and prosperity. Conversely, working for a better world is both an essential transhumanist goal, given the utilitarian ethic of Principle 7, and also is essential for establishing the peaceful liberal democratic social orders in which transhuman experimentation can take place.


    The WTA in 2002

    In November of 2001 the WTA began its next phase of institutionalization[4]. It has elected a Board of Directors, with Nick Bostrom as Chair, and incorporated in the State of Connecticut. The Journal has been renamed the Journal of Evolution and Technology and the WTA is launching a popular webzine, Transhumanity. The WTA has fifteen hundred people signed up as “basic members” and has several lists growing in activity. After a tense initial reception from the extropians, the Extropy Institute has formally affiliated with the WTA along with a dozen other transhumanist groups in the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. Local groups are being organized in two dozen cities



    Fascist Transhumanism

    In 1909 the Italian writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published his “Manifesto of Futurism” in the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro. In it he called for a new aesthetic and approach to life.

    We intend to exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap…..

    We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit…

    We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!... Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.

    Marinetti believed Italy and Europe in general had become stagnant, and he called for a new art glorifying modern technology, energy, and violence. Artists, writers, musicians, architects and many others flocked to the Futurist banner in Italy and from across Europe, and began issuing their own manifestoes. Many of the founding Futurists, including Marinetti, were anarchists, although they went on to urge Italy’s entry into World War One. When World War One ended the movement and its romantic calls for heroic violence and war, Marinetti went on to befriend Mussolini, who had mixed Marxist and anarchist politics with heroic nationalist romanticism and Nietzschean ideas. Marinetti and many other Italian Futurists joined Mussolini’s new fascist movement and the fascists in turn adopted Futurist ideas and aesthetics.

    Today, when a social movement emerges such as the Extropians, which openly scorns liberal democracy, calls for an ubermenschlich elite to free themselves from traditional morality, pursue boundless expansion and optimism, and create a new humanity through genetic technology and the merging of humans with machines, it is understandable that critics would associate the movement with European fascism.

    This problem has not escaped the attention of the extropians. For instance, in 1994 Sandberg wrote:

    Many people associate ideas of superhumanity, rationally changing our biological form and speeding up the evolution of mankind, with unfashionable or disliked memes like fascism…partially because many transhumanist ideas had counterparts (real or apparent) among the fascists. (Sandberg, 1994)

    Ominously for some, Max More has acknowledged and written about the contribution of Nietzsche to extropian thought and included Nietzsche on the extropian reading lists. Nonetheless, More has repeatedly rejected the idea that extropian thought is compatible with fascism, pointing to the extropians’ individualist and libertarian values.

    But for some futurist intellectuals the distance between anarcho-capitalism and totalitarianism may not be very large, as the case of Marinetti and numerous other sects demonstrate. The problem for transhumanism, as opposed to extropianism, is even more difficult, since the core transhumanist ideas can be mated with any secular ideology. Commenting on a speaker at the 1999 meeting of European transhumanists, Max Rasmussen notes:

    “(The speaker pointed out that) Transhumanism can remind a lot of Nazism, and we should be very aware about this. ‘We must not be tempted by the dark side.’ We should be ready and have a mental defense ready if fascist(s) were ever to try and adapt Transhumanism, so we can keep them out. I totally agree in this. We want to be posthumans not übermensch.” (Rasmussen, 1999)

    Occasional examples of transhumanists with fascist leanings appeared in the 1990s on the extropian lists and associated with the milieu. One example is the transhumanist Lyle Burkhead, who wrote:

    “The Third Reich is the only model we have of a Transhumanist state…It's high time for transhumanists to face up to the fact that what we are trying to do cannot be done in our present political system. Democracy and transcendence are mutually exclusive concepts. I am searching for a radical alternative, and that search led me to consider Nazi Germany, which, for all its imperfections, at least had some concept of human evolution and transcendence.” (Burkhead, 1999)

    Mr. Burkhead has apparently done nothing else to promote his Nazi transhumanism however. The Nazi challenge became a practical matter in 2000 when it was revealed that a website, Xenith.com, that had joined a Transhuman webring was filled with neo-Nazi propaganda, white nationalist essays and links, and racialist eugenics. The Xenith.com site described itself as transhumanist and included extensive art illustrating heroic transcendence and space travel. The site called for a modern racialist eugenic project using genetic engineering and selective breeding, quoted Adolph Hitler and George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, and linked to neo-Nazi groups, anti-Semitic sites and sites on the racial superiority of whites. The other websites maintained by Xenith.com’s founder, “Marcus Eugenicus,” likewise condemned democracy, egalitarianism, socialism and “political correctness,” especially in regards the silencing of “racialist science.”

    In one of those other sites, Eugenicus promotes “Prometheism” [http://www.prometheism.net/] which calls for using state coercion to promote eugenic goals:


    Principles and Goals

    I. We are both a nation and a religion…a homeland must be sought for by any means available.

    II. Our aim is to create a genetically enhanced race that will eventually become a new, superior species. In the short-term, this will be achieved via eugenics and genetic engineering.

    III. (We pursue eugenics because) the world is caught in a dysgenic trend from which we want to be freed. (Also) this is a way of maximizing our viability -- the survival and probability of survival of our genes. A more intelligent species will be more fit to adapt to new environments and to face new threats and obstacles.

    IV. We must not concern ourselves with others that are caught in the dysgenic cycle. We must only be concerned with the success of other competing eugenics' programs that will pose a threat to our own new species, for speciation will not travel along a single vector when humans compete using the new technologies.

    V. Any eugenics program has equal validity to use the state's coercive power to improve human genetic capital…

    Eugenicus insists in the Prometheism manifesto that “Racial purity is not a valid concept for a eugenicist. Since we are breeding and genetically splicing our way into a new species, racial components are ever changing.” However, he also makes clear that valued traits such as intelligence are linked to race.

    While most transhumanists are unconcerned with reproductive decisions, assuming that genetic illnesses and human limitations will be remediable through genetic therapy, chemicals or nanotechnology, Eugenicus explains his emphasis on controlling reproductive decision-making on the grounds that “Resources must not be wasted on curing disease when it is more cost effective to merely eliminate the disease from the genetic capital of the eugenic nation.”

    Unlike any other transhumanist, Eugenicus calls for loyalty to the new eugenically superior meta-race, and self-sacrifice in its service: “Allegiance and patriotism to the group takes precedence before attachment to one's religion or patriotism to the country where one just happens to reside. Going to war for the state because of shared loyalties is dysgenic. Only patriotism to the eugenic state requires your sacrifice and allegiance.” In fact, Eugenicus argues that the two most important traits to genetically enhance in children are intelligence and patriotism. The Prometheans, he says, will be attacked and called to make sacrifice since “warfare, that ever present component that drove group evolution to reach Homo Sapiens, will continue.”

    In response to the outing of the site and its contents (by me), the Transhuman webring and its affiliated list were thrown into vigorous debate. Some participants were clearly sympathetic to Eugenicus’ iconoclastic attacks on political correctness, although most abhorred his Nazism. The list was split on two questions: whether neo-Nazism could be “transhumanist,” and whether the Nazi site should be excluded from the webring. Some discussants argued that the humanist, cosmopolitan and liberal roots of transhumanism were incompatible with racism and totalitarianism, while transhumanism’s commitment to reason and science were incompatible with the irrationality and pseudo-science of eugenics. The issue had actually been anticipated and addressed in the World Transhumanist Association’s FAQ:

    “…Transhumanism advocates the well-being of all sentience, whether in artificial intellects, humans, non-human animals or possible extraterrestrial species. Racism, sexism, speciesism, belligerent nationalism and religious intolerance are unacceptable. In addition to the usual grounds for finding such practices morally objectionable, there is an additional specifically transhumanist motivation for this. In order to prepare a time when the human species may start branching out in various directions, we need to start now to strongly encourage the development of moral sentiments that are broad enough encompass within the sphere of moral concern sentiences that are different from current selves. We can go beyond mere tolerance to actively encouraging people who experiment with nonstandard life-styles, because by facing up to prejudices they ultimately expand the range of choices available to others. And we may all delight in the richness and diversity of life to which such individuals disproportionately contribute simply by being who they are.” (Bostrom, 2001)

    The debate about whether the site should be removed also addressed the public relations disaster that could result if Nazism was associated with transhumanism. Free speech advocates argued however that all points of view of self-described trashumanists should be allowed expression.

    Finally, the owner of the webring decided that he would not remove the Nazi site from the webring, but would instead disband the webring altogether. This led to the creation of the Extrotech webring, which explicitly prohibits racialist sites: “No sites concerning bigotry, racism, neo-Nazism, and the like, will be allowed to join. This is not censorship, merely the ringmaster's decision that sites of that nature are counter to the equality, improvement, and understanding which this ring is intended to represent.” This webring now includes seventeen sites.

    Eugenicus attracted some of the members of the former Transhuman webring to his new “True Enlightenment” webring for “pro Transhumanism and anti PC” websites[5], such as the Dutch-based “Transtopia” website. Predictably the True Enlightenment webring attacks egalitarianism, argues for “race realism,” and provides links to neo-Nazi articles and websites. In March of 2002 the World Transhumanist Association voted to formally denounce racialism in general, and the neo-Nazism of Eugenicus in particular:
    WTA STATEMENT ON RACIALISM

    Any and all doctrines of racial or ethnic supremacy/inferiority are incompatible with the fundamental tolerance and humanist roots of transhumanism. Organizations advocating such doctrines or beliefs are not transhumanist, and are unwelcome as affiliates of the WTA. (adopted 02/25/2002)


    The Political Future of Transhumanism

    In April 2000 Wired magazine published an essay by Bill Joy, the chief technologist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and inventor of the computer language Java. Joy’s essay, titled “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” contemplated the potentially apocalyptic consequences of three emerging technologies, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robots imbued with artificial intelligence. The key and qualitatively different, threat that Joy said arises from these technologies is that they all can potentially self-replicate. While guns don’t breed other guns and go on killing sprees, gene-tailored plagues, future robots and nanophages can theoretically do just that. Because of this qualitatively different threat Joy insists that these technologies and research on them be “relinquished,” or banned worldwide.

    The essay was especially arresting to transhumanists for having been written by a man with impeccable technologist credentials, adding to a growing sense of urgency about the growing strength and visibility of the Neo-Luddite movement (Bailey, 2001b). Also in 2000, a coalition of dozens of organizations joined with the Turning Point foundation to sponsor a series of full-page ads in national newspapers decrying species extinction, “genetic engineering,” “industrial agriculture,” “economic globalization,” and “technomania.” National and international efforts were launched to outlaw cloning and to stop federal funding of stem cell research. Anarchist Luddites involved in the anti-globalization movement were thrust into international prominence with the anti-WTO riots in Seattle in 1999, while anti-biotech activists lobbied the European Parliament and destroyed research facilities.

    Speaking to the Extro 5 conference in 2001, extropian leader Greg Burch argued:

    …we are in a very real sense completely encircled in the cultural, social and political realms. Furthermore, the battle-lines are becoming increasingly clear to the combatants. … open and direct conflict is unavoidable on each of the three fronts (religious, Green and socialist) opposed to our program…On the political front, we do not seek to force our plans on anyone, but ultimately, our basic values of individual autonomy are fundamentally incompatible with the kinds of limitations desired by Guardians of both culturally conservative and "progressive" tendencies, whether they espouse some limited "liberal" ideology or are more explicitly collectivist. (Burch, 2001)

    The transhumanist perspective is indeed under attack by much better organized opponents, and the transhumanists are partly to blame. The ideologically narrow, apolitical, sectarian ahistoricality of most transhumanists is striking since their Luddite opponents, such as Jeremy Rifkin, have forged shrewd tactical, ad hoc alliances with bedfellows as strange as Greenpeace, feminists and the Christian Right. The Extropians’ Pro-PAC might nudge the group toward serious political engagement and coalition-building, but there is no sign that the project is more than a press release. The anarcho-capitalism of the extropian milieu makes it unlikely that they will ever be able to be successful in this project. While Burch and the extropians argue that they are fighting to save the natural goals of the Enlightenment from its twisted and mutated bastard children, environmental alarmism and socialist collectivism, in fact they are fighting to extol one third of the Enlightenment value legacy, liberty, against the other two thirds, equality and human solidarity, crippling their ability to defend all three in the process. Insisting that reason can only be expressed in market relations and not in rational civic debate and democratic self-governance leaves the extropians as shrill, self-absorbed and alienated in the public square.

    By contrast, there is a much broader ideological spectrum of thought expressed in the World Transhumanist Association and to its left. For the transhumanists to emerge as a broad ideological movement, capable of inspiring activists and organizing a resistance to neo-Luddism, it must embrace the full range of liberal democratic and social democratic permutations. By making political equality and solidarity among the various species of post-humanity a core value, transhumanists can reassure publics scared by post-human possibilities. In the process of defining a positive, democratic political program for transhumanism the movement must also create boundaries which exclude the elitism and totalitarianism with which it has been associated.

    Setting aside libertarian blinkers, the only way to reassure skittish publics about the consequences of new technology is publicly accountable state regulation. Rather than uncritically defending every new corporate-sponsored technology, while dismissing concerns about safety and equity with Panglossian assurances that all will work itself out in the Singularity, a democratic transhumanism could embrace the need for government action to ensure that transhuman technologies are safe, effective and equitably distributed. For instance, trade unions are less likely to oppose automation in industry when they are assured that their workers will be retrained and have a social safety net to fall back on. Citizen groups are less likely to oppose the building of new industrial sites, power plants and waste dumps when they are assured that government agencies are ensuring public safety. Public acceptance of expensive new life extension technologies will be far more likely if there is some provision that they will be subsidized and equitably available. Democratic politics and public policy can address and ameliorate public concerns, slowing innovation in the short term, but facilitating it in the long term.

    One model for a transhumanist social policy is proposed in Warren Wagar’s (1989) A Short History of the Future, which projected a speculative global history of the next two centuries based on H.G. Wells and Immanuel Wallerstein’s world system theory. Although the future history was made quickly obsolete by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Wagar’s thoughts on policies towards genetics were far more programmatic and prescient. Wagar’s future world socialist government weighed the costs and benefits of allowing, subsidizing or banning various genetic enhancements and therapies, with an eye toward balancing individual liberty, general welfare of humanity, the equality of the enhanced and the non-enhanced. Access to genetic enhancements were introduced at a pace so that the majority of humanity could move forward together.

    Since September 11, Americans have set aside their deep suspicion of government and begun to celebrate public sector employees and the state agencies which are the only feasible means to respond to terrorism. Rather than defining the majority of the citizens in the liberal democracies as the enemies of transhumanism, transhumanists could benefit from seeing their common cause with liberal and social democratic citizenries against the majority of the world which still lives under authoritarian rule. The empirical evidence is that Western liberal and social democracies, with mixed economies with public welfare systems, have the highest standard of living, and the strongest traditions of citizen participation and publicly accountable government, of any social form ever known. If transhumanists are conscerned about the persecution of transhuman minorities, such as disabled cyborgs or transsexuals, they should embrace the liberal and social democracies in which these minorities have been accorded the most rights and respect. Joining in the defense of Western liberal democracy against authoritarian and fundamentalist threats, transhumanists can begin to overcome their alienation from “normals.”

    Another dimension of the strength of a more democratic transhumanism is its ability to mobilize collective energies for collective projects that cannot be accomplished by the market. For instance, the colonization of space is a project that requires political support and state sponsorship. While many of the technoutopians attracted to space colonization have been libertarians, there are no viable models for space exploration relying solely on private investment. The problem with building political support for space is that the majority of citizens see the space program as a waste of money compared to their own pressing needs. Only a movement which could force the wealthy and corporations to accept the requisite taxes, while reassuring the majority of people that their needs for social welfare have been assured - in other words, a technoutopian social democratic movement – would be able to organize deep support for space colonization.

    For transhumanism to achieve its own goals it needs to distance itself from its anarcho-capitalist roots and its authoritarian mutations, clarify its commitments to liberal democratic institutions, values and public policies, and work to reassure skittish publics and inspire them with Big Projects. Building on the foundation laid by the World Transhumanist Association, and the disparate elements of democratic technoutopianism flickering in global intellectual landscape, the politics of the 21st century may yet see the return of a positive, progressive vision of a sexy, high-tech future.


    http://www.changesurfer.com/Acad/TranshumPolitics.htm


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