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Preamble to the Transpolitica Manifesto (2015)

Transpolitica holds that human society should embrace, wisely, thoughtfully, and compassionately, the radical transformational potential of technology.

The speed and direction of technological adoption can be strongly influenced by social and psychological factors, by legislation, by subsidies, and by the provision or restriction of public funding. Political action can impact all these factors, either for better or for worse.

Transpolitica wishes to engage with politicians of all parties to increase the likelihood of an attractive, equitable, sustainable, progressive future. The policies we recommend are designed:

  • To elevate the thinking of politicians and other leaders, away from being dominated by the raucous issues of the present, to addressing the larger possibilities of the near future
  • To draw attention to technological opportunities, map out attractive roads ahead, and address the obstacles which are preventing us from fulfilling our cosmic potential.

Headlines

Transpolitica calls upon politicians of all parties to define and support:

  • Regenerative projects to take full advantage of accelerating technology.

More specifically, we call for:

  • Economic and personal liberation via the longevity dividend
  • An inclusive new social contract in the light of technological disruption
  • A proactionary regulatory system to fast-track innovative breakthroughs
  • Reform of democratic processes with new digital tools
  • Education transformed in readiness for a radically different future
  • A progressive transhumanist rights agenda
  • An affirmative new perspective on existential risks.

Details

1. Regenerative projects to take full advantage of accelerating technology

Anticipating profound change

Accelerating technological progress has the potential to transform lives in the next ten years more profoundly than in any preceding ten year period in history.

Radical technological changes are coming sooner than people think, in technology fields such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, renewable energy, regenerative medicine, brain sciences, big data analytics, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Together, these technologies will change society in unexpected ways, disrupting familiar patterns of industry, lifestyle, and thinking.

These changes include the potential for exceptional benefits for both the individual and society, as well as the potential for tremendous risk.

Current policymakers rarely tackle the angle of convergent disruptive technologies. This means they react to each new disruption with surprise, after it appears, rather than anticipating it with informed policy and strategy.

Politicians of all parties urgently need to:

  • Think through the consequences of these changes in advance
  • Take part in a wide public discussion and exploration of these forthcoming changes
  • Adjust public policy in order to favour positive outcomes
  • Support bold regenerative projects to take full advantage of accelerating technology – projects with the uplifting vision and scale of the 1960s Apollo moonshot program.

These bold regenerative projects can galvanize huge collaborative endeavours, via providing a new sense of profound purpose and shared destiny.

Benefits from profound change

The outcomes of these regenerative projects can:

  • Enable humans to transcend (overcome) many of the deeply debilitating, oppressive, and hazardous aspects of our lives
  • Allow everyone a much wider range of personal autonomy, choice, experience, and fulfilment
  • Extend the defence of human rights, as described in the “Charter of Transhuman Rights” – including the rights to health, longevity, reproductive freedom, enhanced performance, enhanced intelligence, and bodily self-determination in both life and death
  • Facilitate dramatically improved international relations, social harmony, and a sustainable new cooperation with nature and the environment.

Managing the regenerative projects

These projects can be funded and resourced:

  • By tapping into a well-spring of positive motivation and discretionary effort which these projects will unleash
  • By benefiting from the longevity dividend, in which less budget will be consumed by end-of-life healthcare
  • From smarter forms of international cooperation, which should reduce costs from efforts duplicated between different countries
  • By progressively diverting funding from military budgets to regenerative budgets
  • By eliminating the loopholes which allow multinational companies to shuffle revenues between countries and thereby avoid paying due taxes
  • From savings from applying principles of automation and Information Technology wherever applicable.

The policies in this manifesto are designed to expedite these positive transformations whilst avoiding adverse consequences.

2. Economic and personal liberation via the longevity dividend

Given adequate resources, human longevity could be enormously extended using technologies which are already broadly understood. Prolonging healthy lifespan would clearly benefit the very large number of citizens concerned, and it would also benefit society by preserving and deepening the experience and wisdom available to solve our various social problems.

Transpolitica supports the aspiration of transhumanists to indefinite healthy life extension. Rejuvenation therapies based on regenerative medicine can and should be developed and progressively made available to all citizens. The resulting “longevity dividend” will have large social and economic benefits, as well as personal ones. We do not believe it would impose a dangerous pressure on resources. We call for a bold new moonshot-scale project with the specific goal of ameliorating the degenerative aging process and significantly extending healthy human lifespan.

A practical suggestion is that 20% of the public research funding that currently goes to specific diseases should be reassigned, instead, to researching solutions to aging. In line with the analysis of e.g. SENS, the “ending aging” angle is likely to provide promising lines of research and solutions to many diseases, such as senile dementia (including Alzheimer’s), cancer, heart disease, motor neurone disease, respiratory diseases, and stroke.

3. An inclusive new social contract in the light of technological disruption

Emerging technologies – in particular automation – are likely to impose significant strains on the current economic model. It is far from clear how this will play out, nor what are the best strategies for response. Society and its leaders need to consider and discuss these changes, and draw up plans to deal with different outcome scenarios.

Transpolitica anticipates that accelerating technological unemployment may cause growing social disruption and increased social inequality and alienation. A new social contract is needed, involving appropriate social, educational, and economic support for those who are left with no viable option of ‘earning a living’ due to unprecedented technological change.

A form of “negative income tax” (as proposed by Milton Friedman) or a “basic income guarantee” could provide the basis for this new social contract. Some observers feel it may take an moonshot-scale program to fully design and implement these changes in our social welfare systems. However, political parties around the world have developed promising models, backed up by significant research, for how universal basic income might be implemented in a cost-effective manner. Transpolitica urges action based on the best of these insights.

A practical suggestion is to repeat the 1970s Canadian “Mincome” guaranteed income experiment in several different locations, over longer periods than the initial experiments, and to monitor the outcome. Further references can be found here and here.

4. A proactionary regulatory system to fast-track innovative breakthroughs

The so-called “precautionary principle” preferred by some risk-averse policy makers is often self-defeating: seeking to avoid all risks can itself pose many risks. The precautionary principle frequently hinders intelligent innovation. The“proactionary principle” is a better stance, in which risks are assessed and managed in a balanced way, rather than always avoided. Any bias in favour of the status quo should be challenged, with an eye on better futures that can be created.

Transpolitica observes that many potentially revolutionary therapies are under research, but current drug development has become increasingly slow and expensive (as summarised by “Eroom’s law”). Translational research is doing badly, in part due to current drug regulations which are increasingly out of step with public opinion, actual usage, and technology.

In practical terms, Transpolitica recommends:

  • Streamlining regulatory approval for new medicines, in line with recommendations by e.g. CASMI in the UK
  • Removing any arbitrary legal distinction between “therapies for ill-health” and “therapies for enhancement”.

We also urge revisions in patent and copyright laws to discourage counter-productive hoarding of intellectual property:

  • Reduce the time periods of validity of patents in certain industry areas
  • Make it much less likely that companies can be granted “obvious” patents that give them a throat-choke on subsequent development in an industry area
  • Explore the feasibility of alternative and complementary schemes for facilitating open innovation, such as reputation economies or prize funds.

5. Reform of democratic processes with new digital tools

The underpinnings of a prosperous, democratic, open society include digital rights, trusted, safe identities, robust infrastructure, and the ability to communicate freely without fear of recrimination or persecution. Transpolitica wishes to:

  • Accelerate the development and deployment of tools ensuring personal privacy and improved cyber-security
  • Ensure the protection of critical Internet services even for the cases of wars and other emergencies (these services will include web archival, GitHub, Wikipedia, StackOverflow, trusted root keys, etc); for comparison, this protection is just as vital as the storing the seeds of critical food plants in the Norwegian Doomsday Vault
  • Extend governmental open data initiatives
  • Champion the adoption of “Democracy 2.0” online digital tools to improve knowledge-sharing, fact-checking, and collective decision-making
  • Increase the usefulness and effectiveness of online petitions
  • Restrict the undue influence which finance can have over the electoral and legislative process.

Government policy should be based on evidence rather than ideology:

  • Insights from the emerging field of cognitive biases should be adapted into decision-making processes
  • New committees and organisations should be designed according to debiasing knowledge, so they are less likely to suffer groupthink
  • AI systems should be increasingly used to support smart decision making.

All laws restricting free-speech based on the concept of “personal offence” should be revoked. Anyone accepted into a country, whether as a visitor or as an immigrant, must confirm that they fully accept the principle of free speech, and renounce any use of legal or extralegal means to silence those who offend their religion or worldview.

6. Education transformed in readiness for a radically different future

A greater proportion of time spent in education and training (whether formal or informal) should be future-focused, exploring

  • Which future scenarios are technically feasible, and which are fantasies
  • Which future scenarios are desirable, once their “future shock” has been accepted
  • What actions can be taken to accelerate the desirable outcomes, and avoid the undesirable ones
  • How to achieve an interdisciplinary understanding of future scenarios
  • How resilience can be promoted, rather than society just having a focus on efficiency
  • How creativity can be promoted, rather than society just having a focus on consumption
  • The intelligent management of risk.

Lifelong training and education should become the norm, with people of all ages learning new skills as the need becomes apparent in the new age of automation. Educational curricula need to be able to adapt rapidly.

We would mandate that each university and educational establishment makes an increasing proportion of its material freely accessible online every year.

Education should take greater advantage of MOOCs, and the possibility for people having their knowledge certified without enrolling in a traditional college. MOOCs can be usefully complemented with location based learning labs (“makerspaces”) absorbing some of existing library empty space, preserving the “open knowledge” of libraries and expanding it into “open education and learning”. Transpolitica anticipates a time where, apart from lab work, the whole of tertiary education will be delivered online.

7. A progressive transhumanist rights agenda

Transpolitica champions the concept of morphological freedom:

  • The rights of all people, including sexual and gender minorities, to bodily self-determination
  • Free access to modern reproductive technologies, including genetic screening to improve the quality of life, for all prospective parents
  • Making it easier for people, if they so choose, to enter a state of cryonic suspension as their bodies come close to clinical death.

Transpolitica also wishes to:

  • Explore the gradual applicability of selected human rights to sentient beings, such as primates, that demonstrate relevant mental life, and also advanced AIs, that need such rights to function in their respective purpose
  • Hasten the adoption of synthetic (in-vitro) meat, and the abolition of cruelty to farm animals.

Transpolitica envisions support for a radical future for consciousness:

  • Enhanced mental cooperation as minds become more interconnected via brain-to-computer interfaces and other foreseeable brain/mind technologies, which will enable the ability to share qualia at rapid speeds.

8. An affirmative new perspective on existential risks

Some emerging technologies – in particular artificial general intelligence and nanotechnology – are so powerful as to produce changes more dramatic than anything since the agricultural revolution. The outcomes could be extraordinarily positive for humanity, or they could threaten our very existence.

Existing technologies already pose potential catastrophic risks to the well-being of humanity:

  • The risk persists of accidental nuclear warfare
  • Runaway climate change might be triggered by unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases that push global temperatures beyond sudden tipping points.

There are further complications from relatively easy access by alienated, destructive individuals to weapons of mass destruction, including dirty bombs and synthetic pathogens.

Without being complacent, Transpolitica believes that sustained human innovation can mitigate all these risks, once they are fully understood. We call for significant resources to be applied to working out how to ensure that the outcomes are positive.

The wise management of the full set of existential risks is likely to involve innovations in technology (e.g. the development and production of cleaner energy sources), economics (e.g. a carbon tax to redress the market failure of unpenalized negative externalities), and politics (e.g. the collaborative creation and enforcement of binding treaties). The end outcome will be the successful harnessing of technologies, both old and new, for the radical enhancement of humanity.

Recent Posts

Technoprogressive Roadmap conf call

Slide1

Please find below notes from the online Zoom conference call which took place from 9pm to 10pm GMT on Sunday 17th November, discussing features of the Technoprogressive Roadmap which is being prepared and published by the UK’s Transhumanist Party.

Here’s how the conference was described in advance, via London Futurists:

In a time of intense tactical political discussion, can we identify larger, longer-term goals for politicians in the UK and elsewhere to keep firmly in mind?

The UK’s Transhumanist Party is in the process of publishing a “Technoprogressive Roadmap” for the UK: 15 transformational goals for the UK to seek to accomplish by 2035, with the goals being supported in each case by 2 interim stepping-stone targets to be accomplished by 2025.

These 15 goals span six overlapping spheres of human life: the flourishing of individuals, the flourishing of society, the flourishing of positive international relationships, the flourishing of the environment, the flourishing of humanity’s steps into the wider cosmos, and the flourishing of productive political processes.

This online conference call is a chance for people to ask questions and express their views on what the Transhumanist Party has already published. You can share your views about matters to prioritise or deprioritise, on potential alternatives, and on what shorter-term actions should be organised…

Another online conference call in the same series will be announced shortly – probably focusing on the technoprogressive vision for the future of education, and taking place from 9pm GMT on Sunday 1st December.

Setting the context

To start the conference call, the following brief set of slides were shown:

Slide2

Slide3

Slide4

A wide-ranging discussion then took place, in which only a small number of the initial points could be explored. The notes that follow include some of the highlights.

Participants

The following individual participants who spoke up during the call have kindly agreed to be identified:

  • “AK” – Alexander Karran
  • “DW” – David Wood
  • “EP” – Evan Parker
  • “JBZ” – Johannon BenZion
  • “MH” – Margaret Hardie
  • “TJO” – Thomas James O’Carroll
  • others TBC

Paragraphs in italics are comments added after the conference, making points that there was no time to include during the call itself.

The order of discussion has been rearranged in some cases, to make the underlying structure of the conversation clearer.

Technoprogressive vs. technosluggish

JBZ: Many political institutions suffer from a kind of “technosluggishness” – even when these institutions are managed by people who would see themselves as being “progressive”. These institutions aren’t able to keep up with the pace of technological change.

DW: The question isn’t whether government should be “big” or “small”. Instead, it’s how can government be fast and nimble – agile and effective. The answer partly involves changing how we humans interact, but it’s also about using the right technologies in support of our institutions.

Improving international cooperation?

TJO: Many of the goals in the Technoprogressive Roadmap will need international cooperation in order to succeed. How will this cooperation be achieved?

DW: In part, by extending what we’re doing today, in this call, nurturing links with like-minded people and groups around the world (whether or not these people are comfortable to use the terms “transhumanist” or “technoprogressive” to describe themselves).

DW: And in part, by bringing our ideas to existing international bodies, such as forums organised by the United Nations or the EU. We look forward to groups within these bodies adopting some of our ideas and developing them further.

DW: Also consider emerging new international organisations such as United Citizens of Democracy Without Borders.

Countering the trend towards greenwashing?

TJO: In the video about carbon neutrality and climate change, it is stated that

This goal rejects any creative accounting in which various actions initiated by the UK are completely omitted from the balance sheet – actions such as international shipping, flights to overseas destinations, and the production of goods overseas for import into the UK.

We cannot lower the risk of climate catastrophe by any such “greenwashing” measures of “sweeping data under the carpet”.

We need to assess the situation honestly and transparently.

TJO: What counter-measures are in mind to prevent greenwashing?

DW: Greenwashing is when people or organisations say they are going to be environmentally friendly and responsible, but they don’t follow through, or they misrepresent relevant statistics. We have to shine the light of analysis on this. We need to develop meaningful metrics which cannot be gamed – metrics that measure substantial changes in our interaction with the environment. We need to be able to have an honest discussion, based around truly useful metrics.

The future of political parties?

EP: What role does the Technoprogressive Roadmap envision for political parties in the future? Is the writing on the wall for political parties?

DW: The system of political parties has been seeing its fastest changes recently, with the quick rise of a brand new party, that is the Brexit Party (albeit based on prior work by UKIP). This is a sign that the political landscape can change more quickly than ever before.

DW: The power held by political parties in the current system does need to be weakened. This power is an example of how humanity’s instinct for tribalism (in-group loyalty) is unhelpful in the present age.

DW: It is still useful for like-minded people to be able to organise together into political parties, alliances, and groups. However, the public often feel unable to cast votes for the political parties they actually prefer the most. Instead, they often feel obliged to cast a tactical vote, in order to prevent the election of another candidate that they particularly dislike or fear. This feature makes it difficult to find out what the public actually thinks about new parties, and it helps strengthen the power of older parties.

EP: Consider an example problem – say how to improve the organisation of a nation’s health service, or the educational system. Isn’t the best way to evolve a good policy in these fields to involve people from different political dogmas, sitting down with open minds, listening to all the arguments, and then reach a consensus? That’s instead of what tends to happen now, which is people just thinking in their existing groups, e.g. a leftist grouping which allows no role for any privatisation. Isn’t it better for people to be able to look at options in an expansive way?

EP: Too much present-day political discussion is structured around groups that made sense centuries ago. We should move on, with a national conversation, with the people in Parliament being independent MPs, rather than being controlled by parties.

EP: Politics shouldn’t be focused on gaining a majority of the seats in Parliament (even a majority as low as a single seat). Parties shouldn’t feel entitled to push through their entire political manifestos, just because they gained a majority. Instead, issues should be decided one by one, free from dogma, by an open-minded discussion among independent MPs. We can do all this a lot better!

DW: Yes, too many current political discussions are bedevilled by questions of political dogma, and by people being too quickly pigeon-holed on account of a cursory inspection of their views, rather than their ideas being listened to properly. Thinking stops once a label has been applied, “left-wing” or “right-wing” or whatever.

DW: Instead, we need to move to what has been called a superdemocracy, and data-driven decision-making.

DW: People also need to become comfortable about holding in their mind two contradictory ideas at the same time, in order to allow new ideas to emerge than can transcend and unify the separate opinions.

EP: We need a culture in which people are willing to learn from diverse political views. Different political views can be fascinating. They can all have something to bring to the bigger picture.

EP: Of course emotions will come into political discussion. But that shouldn’t result in the extended divisiveness that runs through our Houses of Parliament.

EP: In summary, political parties have had their day.

DW: So perhaps the slogan of the Transhumanist Party could be, We want all parties to be abolished, including ourselves!

EP: Having groups of people sharing ideas together is fine. But the power fetish in politics is a massive problem.

EP: MPs generally go into Parliament with good intentions, but as soon as they sense they could get the red (ministerial) case, and the power that goes with it, they go along with the process (this is something that former politician Michael Portillo has talked about). They vote with their party, rather than according to their own independent assessment.

Changing the electoral system?

AK: Would proportional representation be a first step forwards? It would be a system that would allow independents to rise to the top.

EP: That’s a useful stepping stone, but the election process has more fundamental problems – as E describes in the forthcoming book Reinventing Democracy.

EP: A better process would be “representative selection” in which people are selected to join parliament, that represent all sectors of society, in a way that is truly representative. The present parliament has an over-representation of lawyers and a severe under-representation of the working class.  (3% of MPs are working class, out of around 25% of the whole population.)

AK: But how can the public mindset be changed, to support this kind of idea? Many people seem to find comfort in a model of a simplistic division of political possibilities, left vs. right. They don’t seem to have the cognitive bandwidth to assess more complicated options (although, to be clear, they do have the underlying ability). Being short of time, they prefer a nice simple set of options and actions to consider, without delving into finer points of philosophy.

Problems with our education system?

EP: The problem is that our education system does not train us to have open minds. That’s a very big flaw.

EP: We also need to point out to people that, just because a policy has failed, that’s no reason to blame someone, and to remove them from office. Instead, we should learn when a policy fails, and adjust.

DW: That’s similar to the approach of agile experimentation adopted by many leading businesses, which embrace the ideas of “fail forward, fail fast, and fail smart”.

EP: This failure-adverse mindset dates back to the previous century, and beyond.

How might representative selection work?

TJO: Are you proposing something almost like a jury system, where people are picked at random?

EP: Yes, people would initially be selected so as to represent the demographics of society.. They would need to be willing to serve. It’s for a short term – a term of service to your country. Perhaps for 2 or maybe 3 years.

EP: The system could be designed with an agreed bar level of mental agility, in order to be eligible for selection. We could put the bar as high (or low) as we like. (Our current crop of MPs aren’t particularly bright…)

TJO: But how would this be implemented? How could the change be introduced? Any existing government might reject the idea.

EP: See chapter 5 of the forthcoming book…

EP: Actually it’s very important that we can suggest a positive solution. There are far too many critics who complain about problems with our present state of democracy, without offering a credible positive alternative to the present system.

Democracy and engagement?

EP: Our current system is democracy in name only. The populace are not well engaged with it. 95% of people say they’re not interested in politics. It’s a failure of our education system.

EP: For the wellbeing of society, people need to feel comfortable and engaged about talking about the big ideas of the day.

EP: Actually, in good circumstances, the public discussion of politics can indeed become more engaging. Something like 80% of the electorate took part in the recent referendum on Scottish independence.

EP: To help greater engagement, there’s a big role for digital platforms, that encourage and enable good quality discussions.

Possible roles for technology?

A2: Could blockchain help with a reliable random selection? This is something blockchain companies are already exploring within their own governance structure.

A2: Most countries have National ID systems and those would effectively integrate easily with this system.

A2: Another system of representative system is delegative democracy. In delegative democracy, you cast votes yourself only on issues you care about and feel you have clear views about. For example, I care a lot about water and, therefore, would be more interested in devoting time towards researching that topic and taking part in votes about it. In another case, if there is someone who is more interested than me in food issues, who I trust, then, I should be able to transfer my vote to them. This is something that should be possible using technological systems in place.

DW: The book Transcending Politics speaks positively about liquid democracy (an example of delegative democracy).

JBZ: Has talked to someone who founded a blockchain voting company in Australia. He would also agree in the importance of post-partisanship, as being key to real progress.

EP: The technology should enable a productive national conversation, which draws upon the views of ordinary people, experts, think tanks, politicians, the civil service, and so on. There are many big topics, associated with technological possibilities, that urgently deserve a national conversation – consider the quantum computing possibilities covered at yesterday’s London Futurists event, or increased longevity.

JBZ: It’s a double-edged sword. People can use the technology of new information systems in destructive ways too, socially engineering outcomes that they personally wish to see, but which may not be in the general interest.

JBZ: Rather than blaming the low-information voters who have been led astray by this kind of social engineering, we should be blaming the bad actors who are doing the manipulation.

AK: Regarding blockchain: bear in mind that systems using blockchain aren’t necessarily truly anonymous. However, the ability to cast a vote truly anonymously is important. Tying votes to entries in a national ID register could be a recipe for unwanted control.

DW: Technology that makes it easier for people to be correctly added to the voting registration list should be welcomed. There are parts of the world where politicians actively try to suppress the voting rights of parts of the community they believe would vote against them. Too many people in these regions – including some states of the USA – are deliberately disenfranchised.

JBZ: In the USA, this is an example of so-called hyper-partisanship.

Has voting has its day?

MH: Who decides what the ‘greater good’ is? Who arbitrates between conflicting priorities and on what basis? The whole notion of legitimacy needs revisiting. Should we have a ‘voting licence’ the way we have a driving licence? On the basis of the fact that how you vote can cause serious damage

EP: Voting may have had its day. Historically, it was very important. It was great that people in the past fought for the right to vote. But if a society was being designed from scratch, we should be able to consider different options.

EP: Voting can be used for many important functions, but it’s probably not the best system to select the people who will be sitting in Parliament. There are other, better ways of ensuring appropriate representation.

EP: Would favour there still being MPs who have ties to local communities. But how the MPs are selected in a representative way needn’t involve voting.

DW: There’s much more to democracy than just the voting. Democracy is about involving everyone in the conversation, bringing insights from multiple perspectives, and taking the time to ensure that there are solutions that work for everybody, without leaving segments of the populace behind.

DW: Voting is only a part of democracy. We make a fetish of voting at our own danger.

A role for AI overseeing politics?

AK: Humans aren’t very good at managing other humans. We’re too partisan. Can’t we take more advantage of decision-support tools?

MH: Should we all have an impartial AI political advisor? The ‘impartial’ bit might be hard to engineer from what is mostly biased data on politics out there.

AK: It’s true there are problems of potential data bias. But with some care, can’t we envision a neural network processing enough data that it can offer us policy recommendations?

AK: Consider the remarkable results already achieved in text generation by OpenAI’s GPT system:

We’ve trained a large-scale unsupervised language model which generates coherent paragraphs of text, achieves state-of-the-art performance on many language modeling benchmarks, and performs rudimentary reading comprehension, machine translation, question answering, and summarization—all without task-specific training.

AK: Imagine feeding such a system with all the political discourse from the last 2,000 years, say, and works of philosophy, and then asking it questions. Couldn’t that help in independent formulation and evaluation of policy?

AK: A decision-support system would be of great assistance to the human representatives selected for the task of working in Parliament. It could generate a number of policy recommendations which would then act as seeds for further group discussion by humans. Note that humans would remain “in the loop”.

JBZ: The Technological Roadmap envisions AI-driven governance.

TJO: The “House of AI” idea.

DW: The basic idea is that we have the best of human intelligence supported by the best of artificial intelligence.

DW: We’re seeing some of that already: consider Wikipedia, and the Snopes fact-checking site. We’re seeing some fact-checking in real time now. There’s scope to improve it further, so that when politicians are speaking on screen, the display will also indicate in real-time if there are questionable aspects in what the politicians say. There could be some kind of traffic light red/amber/green indication.

DW: As well as checking facts, this AI system could draw attention to issues with the argument (logical fallacies, cognitive biases, etc). Going further, this isn’t just about showing when humans have got something wrong; it’s about proposing new syntheses of ideas.

DW: This will be covered in more detail in the video for the 15th goal in the set. Although it’s the last one in the set, it may be the most important in the whole set.

A possible trial in a small city state?

JBZ: At RAADfest recently the talk by Ray Kurzweil reviewed some impressed progress with the capabilities of predictive algorithms, developed at Google and elsewhere.

JBZ: Software that can process and generate text is already progressing very quickly. We may not be far from seeing a group of people try a new governance model, using pilot versions of technology, in a small city state somewhere, separate from traditional governance oversight.

JBZ has been invited to go to Bolivia to discuss with some people there about such a community. It’s not clear how to evaluate how seriously this project should be taken. It’s easy to talk, but harder to follow through.

DW: There are a number of communities with strong libertarian and voluntarist principles that are already organising themselves around the world. There may be a talk at London Futurists soon, by someone who has spent time in several of these communities. These communities are seeking to take advantage of technology to organise themselves in different ways than has traditionally been the norm.

DW: So maybe this is how we will make progress: demonstrate the viability of ideas about better politics and better governance in small scale pilots.

DW: The online group Zero State had some similar aspirations, though it seems these have yet to be fulfilled.

Who would write the AI used in government?

A2: Who should be writing the algorithm for any AI  used in AI-driven governance? I think first we need an algorithm bill (regulations) before we even get into having such an advisor.

DW: Agreed that clear principles are needed here. We need to avoid giving too central a role in society to an AI that on the surface is serving the needs of the general public, but which is in a deeper sense supporting the business objectives of the organisation or corporation which created it.

DW: It’s like today’s social media: we value the services we get from it, but we are aware that we are, in a sense, being manipulated by it.

DW: Therefore the videos about increased political flourishing – goals 14 and 15 – will advocate for clear agreement on the principles by which any AI must be developed, before it can be adopted in any central role in society.

DW: Some of the principles will be transparency and explainability. There will also be principles about identifying biases in the data used to train any machine learning.

AK: Open source will help here.

AK: Note that these AI algorithms generally aren’t “written” in any traditional sense, but they emerge from a process of training.

JBZ: Yes, the predictions often come from a “black box”, without it being understood why various predictions (e.g. life expectancy) have been made. We may have cases where the AI is right, but we cannot understand why it is right, and we cannot really trust it.

DW: The technoprogressive roadmap proposal is that AIs will not be accepted, unless they can explain their reasoning in a satisfactory way. Opaque AI should not be accepted. A movement in support of explainability of AI is already gathering momentum, independent of the technoprogressive roadmap.

Priorities for next steps?

DW: What topics should be discussed in subsequent calls? One option is to dive more deeply into the future of education.

AK: Support the idea of having issue-based conversations. And support the idea of a call focused on education.

EP: In a way, education underpins everything else.

MH: It’s about more than just education. There are an awful lot of very educated people out there with quite retrograde views. It’s terrifying.

TJO: Interested in the interconnections between different points in the roadmap – a series of dependencies.

DW: The goal of looking at these dependencies would be to try to identify the interventions that would have the greatest leverage.

DW: One example of an interconnection is the same that climate change seems to increase social stresses and to lead on to problems such as civil wars, as in Syria.

DW: Perhaps it is goal 2, for increased mental fitness and emotional vitality, that will have the biggest positive impacts on progress with all the other goals. If more people around the world have broader, calmer minds, living in a way that is more focused and more helpful, we would be less prone to being adversely manipulated or distracted by various external or internal pressures.

JBZ: A friend in the US has suggested that improving the public health service there should rank as the highest priority. A mindshift towards treating aging as a disease, and allocating funds accordingly, promoting healthy longevity, is key to improving matters.

JBZ: We also have a lot to learn from what Estonia is doing with digital governance. In turn, with a better digital infrastructure, Estonia is looking forward to an improved health system. We may be able to learn from San Marino too (an even smaller country).

JBZ: Other longevity-related topics to review include the longevity caucus in the USA, and the increasing electoral successes of the Party for Health Research in Germany.

DW: There has been lots of news recently in the UK about extended waiting times at accident and emergency in the national health service, about resource shortages, and other growing crises. The problems run so deep that they cannot be resolved simply by hiring more doctors and nurses, and building new hospitals. Instead, the transhumanist insight is that what’s needed is a switch to better preventive measures, including health rejuvenation interventions, and including better mental health (since bad physical health often stems from bad mental health).

DW: It’s true, as was said earlier, that even very well educated people can have very retrograde views – terrifyingly so. I see that as a problem of poor mental health or poor emotional intelligence.

A2: From a health perspective, we need to have focus on prevention through better data on individuals, better diets and a focus away from cure which is the current focus of the NHS.

A2: This is something we are now seeing come through biotechnology sector. I am lucky enough to be working in a start-up developing blood tests that individuals can do themselves. When healthy individuals have data and apps to help them with mental health then we will see a move in the right direction but this is highly unlikely to come through the NHS.

TJO: Ideas for innovative new treatments in the mental health space, such as “mental health ninjas” also deserve more attention.

DW: Interestingly, there are some public surveys that suggest that the question of the best way forwards for the NHS is viewed by electors as even more important, in determining how they will vote, than the question of Brexit.

JBZ: There were lots of important themes in the roadmap videos – such as post-scarcity and the elevation of the human condition through technology – that we haven’t had the time to discuss in this call.

AK: Let’s not forget about the importance of “transcendental purpose”. People in the general public need to have a bigger vision for a better society.

DW: My own vision is that the technoprogressive roadmap can come to provide that kind of necessary, uplifting vision for the general public.

MH: How about trying to use the ‘election lift’ for the subject of the technoprogressive roadmap and see if you could interest a TV station in making a programme about this topic?

DW: Yes, as soon as the set of videos has been completed.

JBZ: Ready to help with any media opportunities, even at short notice.

MH: Part of me is very enthused about this discussion. But I’m worried about how to organise a transition from today’s adversarial political thought and action, which is based on scarcity, towards a more inclusive abundance-mentality point of view. How do we get these ideas to the people at large, if we’re not standing candidates?

MH: If we want to talk positively about technology, we have a lot of mistrust to overcome, due to social media and Cambridge Analytica. People are, with some reason, fearful of loss of jobs, and of surveillance capitalism.

MH: Perhaps the recent movement with public interest in climate change is showing the way. The fast changes in public discourse give reason for optimism.

DW: I share the inspiration of what has happened recently with climate change campaigners.

DW: Although we’re not standing any candidates in the election next month, we do have something akin to a manifesto, which is the set of goals for 2035, along with plans for shorter-term projects in support of the 2025 interim goals.

DW: Greater clarity on possible next steps with these 2025 interim goals will be important. There may be a video in the series focused on just that point. We haven’t discussed these goals in this conference call at all. It’s something to pick up in later calls in this series.

TJO: To build a larger audience, I recommend word-of-mouth. Anyone is welcome to join in.

MH: But why is the participation for this particular call so small, out of a membership of London Futurists of more than 7,000?

DW: I think we need time to build momentum. Establish a pattern and then build on it.

JBZ: The imminence of a new year – indeed a new decade, the 2020s – is likely to cause more people to reflect on the need for new initiatives. Perhaps the 2020s will become like a new 1960s!

A2: Thanks for the discussion, guys. I think the future is bright as long as we continue to discuss and bring the idea forward.

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