Q: What is the relation between Transpolitica and the various Transhumanist Parties?

Transpolitica aims to provide material and services that will be found useful by transhumanist politicians worldwide, including:

  • Transhumanist supporters who form or join parties with the name “Transhumanist Party” in various countries
  • Transhumanist supporters who form other new parties, without using the word “transhumanist” in their party name
  • Transhumanist supporters inside other existing political parties, including mainstream and long-established parties
  • Transhumanist supporters who prefer not to associate closely with any one political party, but who have an interest in political action.

Q: What does it mean for a politician to be a “Transhumanist politician”?

The Transhumanist FAQ, available on the Humanity+ website, contains this definition of transhumanism:

Transhumanism is a class of 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.

The Wikipedia article “Transhumanist politics” contains the following definition:

Transhumanist politics is a political ideology that aims to improve the human condition through the use of advanced technologies. Transhumanists tend to support life extension, human enhancement technologies, space exploration and space settlement, human rights, sustainable development, technogaianism, and raising the world’sliving standard through technology, science, education, decentralization, and just governance.

Q: What are the goals and manifesto of Transpolitica?

The goals are described here and the Transpolitica Manifesto is available here.

The purpose of this FAQ is to answer questions that are not answered in the statement of goals or in the manifesto.

Q: Why is the label “transhumanism” needed to advance these policies?

People can, of course, support and promote individual policies from the Transpolitica Manifesto without adopting the label “transhumanist”. But the concept of transhumanism provides an over-arching framework – a vision and an outline roadmap – to achieve the larger changes envisioned in the manifesto:

Regenerative projects to take full advantage of accelerating technology

As the manifesto states:

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.

Transhumanism keeps the potential of these large transformations at the forefront of mind, rather than letting them be obscured by the traditional political concerns that tend to motivate most existing politicians.

Q: How can people become involved in Transpolitica, and offer their support?

See this page for more information about Transpolitica projects and discussion forums.

Q: What kind of research does Transpolitica undertake?

Transpolitica researches the policy changes that will enable fuller research and development to be carried out that will advance beneficial uses of technology.

  • For example, Transpolitica does not directly research the risks and benefits of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). Instead, Transpolitica researches what policy changes may be needed so that society as a whole can devote sufficient resources to developing safe AGI.
  • Again, Transpolitica does not research which biotech approaches to healthy life extension are likely to be the most effective. Instead, Transpolitica researches changes in legislation, standards processes, and financial subsidies, that will allow larger number of biotech researches to work on healthy life extension research.

Transpolitica also researches how best to present transhumanist political ideas to a wider audience:

  • Possible talking points, themes, slogans, and logos
  • Responses to questions that are likely to arise.

Q: Should transhumanist political parties be described as pro-immortality?

The word “immortality” belongs in Hollywood, science fiction, religion, and philosophy. Transhumanist politicians set their sights, instead, on matters which lie within practical grasp. This includes:

  • Advocating a sharp increase in research and development of therapies for biotech rejuvenation, including regenerative medicine
  • Enabling people, if they wish, to make arrangements for their own cryopreservation, as an alternative to cremation or burial, applicable when they approach death
  • Evaluating and managing potential risks from new technologies which, if left unchecked, could cause widespread death.

Rather than being described as “Immortality parties”, transhumanist political parties are better described as championing extended healthy lifespans and progressive regenerative medicine.

Q: Are transhumanist politicians inherently “right wing” or “left wing”?

Transhumanists vary among themselves as regards their sympathies for traditional political dividing lines. A right-left distinction is no longer adequate to characterise political viewpoints. A more important dimension is the attitude of politicians towards the potential of radical technological enhancement of humans (both individually and socially):

  • Transhumanist politicians fully support the investigation and proactive adoption of technologies enabling positive human transformation, such as biotech, nanotech, infotech, and cognotech
  • In contrast, most mainstream politicians have only a limited insight into the imminent transformational power of these technologies, fail to prioritise researching and developing them, and may even (as “bioconservatives”) be opposed to them.

Q: Are transhumanist politicians inherently “big government” or “small government”?

Governments and businesses share the attribute that, left to their own devices, they are likely to seek growth. Transhumanist politicians see important roles for both government and business, but wish to prevent any one organisation gaining undue monopoly and restricting diversity.

Rather than “big business” or “big government” having too much sway over public life, transhumanists would prefer to give centre stage to science, technology, evidence-based policy, rationality, and transhuman rights.

Q: Are transhumanist politicians inherently anti-religious?

No. Transhumanism is open to people of all cultures and beliefs. Rather than being anti-religious, it is better to say transhumanists are anti-dogma.

Transhumanists should be happy to form working alliances with any groups of people, provided these groups:

  • Affirm support for the majority of the content of the Transpolitica Manifesto
  • Elevate principles of rationality and science ahead of principles of tradition
  • Avoid regarding any religious literature or practice as being the ultimate guide to matters of social and political policy
  • Avoid any principles of racism, sexism, ageism, or other intolerance.

At the same time, transhumanists are secularist, and will generally seek to remove:

  • Any privileges (such as tax subsidies) that organizations possess, simply because of a religious labelling
  • Any exclusive power that religious organizations possess over the affairs of state
  • Any right of religions to seek legal or extralegal recourse when their members feel personally offended by criticisms (or perceived criticisms) of their religion.

Q: Should transhumanist politicians favour open immigration across borders?

All potential large-scale movements of people need to be managed, rather than allowing immigration on such a level as to overwhelm existing infrastructure.

Transhumanist politicians urge enabling immigration only to people who 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.

Q: Should transhumanist politicians support a quick transition to cryptocurrencies?

No. Investigation and proof of concepts need to be trialled first.

Q: Should transhumanist politicians support a UBI (Universal Basic Income)?

Transhumanist politicians will draw attention to the expected rapid spread of technological unemployment, with humans being likely to be displaced from the workforce by automation at a rate faster than at any time in history. In turn, this raises a need for a new, inclusive social contract.

Whether this social contract should involve UBI or other mechanisms is still unclear, and emphasis might vary from country to country.

Q: What is transhumanist policy towards public health services, such as the NHS?

Free access to healthcare is an important human right. Transhumanists seek to extend this principle to enable free access, not only to “cures” for ill-health, but also to “therapies” to enhance body and mind to a state of “better than well”.

Transhumanists understand that overall costs of healthcare can be significantly reduced as a result of the “longevity dividend” from forthcoming regenerative medicines:

  • Regenerative medicines will reduce the incidence of people becoming seriously ill, with diseases that become more prevalent and more serious with unchecked aging
  • These treatments will delay (and in due course avoid altogether) the large healthcare expenditure that frequently takes place towards the end of life, when people become afflicted with multiple co-morbidities
  • This principle can also be stated as “prevention is cheaper than cure”; forthcoming regenerative medicine will prevent the escalation of the diseases of old age.

Q: What is transhumanist policy towards groupings of countries, such as the EU?

The movement from nation state governance to international governance is an inevitable by-product of greater inter-connectivity:

  • Technology enables richer communications
  • Corporations and other organisations frequently operate transnationally
  • Legal regulations and standards require coordination across national borders.

However, the tendency for governments to self-aggrandise needs to be resisted – this applies to transnational governance, such as in the EU, as much as on the national level.

Moreover, transnational governance needs to avoid imposing unnecessary degrees of uniformity across different locations. Local variation and autonomy should continue to be respected.

In short, transnational governance is in need of continuous reform, in the light of accelerating technology, the same as applies for national or local governance. The Transpolitica manifesto principles of “Reform of democratic processes with new digital tools” should be applied.

Q: Should transhumanist politicians have any proposal about the use, in dedicated places and under supervision of specialists, of psychedelic or recreational drugs? (Aren’t drugs, in a careful and informed context, our best way to “enhance” our capacities/emotions/feelings/spirit?)

[ Fuller answer needed here ]

See here for a positive assessment of the impact of drug decriminalisation in Portugal.

Q: How can people suggest modifications to this FAQ?

Raise suggestions on the Transpolitica mailing group.

Recent Posts

Democracy and inclusion: chapter ready for review

FiPo cover hires

Another new chapter of the forthcoming book “Transcending Politics” has been released for review comments by Transpolitica supporters. This means that drafts of ten of the envisaged 13 chapters have now been completed. At the current rate of progress, the book has a good chance of being finished by Christmas.

The latest chapter is entitled “Democracy and inclusion”. You can get an idea of the content covered in this chapter by the list of its section headings:

  • Technoprogressive decision-making
  • When democracy goes wrong
  • Why democracy matters
  • A democracy fit for a better future
  • Better politicians for better democracy
  • Beyond the stranglehold of political parties
  • Could we dispense with politicians?
  • Why nations fail

Here’s how the chapter starts (in its current version):

I’ll start this chapter by repeating a set of questions from midway through the previous chapter:

Where should the boundary fall, between the permitted and the impermissible? What is the method to tell whether a particular item of food or medicine is suitable to be freely bought and sold, as opposed to needing regulation? What safety regulations should employers be obliged to observe, in their treatment of employees or contractors? Which new technologies need careful monitoring (such as hazardous new biochemicals), and which can have all details freely published on the open Internet?

My basic answer to all these questions was: it’s complicated, but we can work out the answers step by step. I now want to ask a follow-up set of questions:

  • Who is it that should decide where the boundary should fall, between the permitted and the impermissible?
  • Who is it that should decide which health and safety regulations should be introduced?
  • Who is it that should decide which technologies need careful monitoring?

Should these decisions be taken by civil servants, by academics, by judges, by elected politicians, or by someone else?

There’s a gist of an answer in what I said later in the previous chapter:

Each area of regulatory oversight of the economy – each set of taxes or safety standards imposed or revised – needs careful attention by an extended community of reviewers

By drawing on technological solutions that can orchestrate the input of large numbers of human thinkers, we can keep improving our collective understanding of the best regulatory frameworks and institutions. We can collectively decide which constraints are needed on the activity of the free market, so that we benefit from its good consequences without suffering unnecessarily from its bad consequences.

But how will this work in practice? How do we prevent the bad effects of “group think” or (worse) “mob rule”? If there’s “an extended community of reviewers” involved, won’t that be far too cumbersome and slow in its deliberations?

Just as important, how do we avoid decisions being overly influenced by self-proclaimed experts who, in reality, have expertise in only a narrow domain, or whose expertise is out-of-date or otherwise ill-founded? And how do we guard against decision-makers being systematically misled by clever misinformation that builds a “false consciousness”?

Technoprogressive decision-making

As I see things, the ideal technoprogressive decision-making process would observe the following fifteen principles:

  1. Openness: Decisions should be subject to open review, rather than taking place secretly behind closed doors; reasons for and against decisions should be made public, throughout the decision-making process, so they can be scrutinised and improved
  2. Accessibility: Details of the decision process should be communicated in ways so that the key points can be understood by as wide a group of people as possible; this will allow input into the decision by people with multiple perspectives and backgrounds
  3. Disclosure: Assumptions behind decisions should be stated clearly, so they can be subject to further debate; potential conflicts of interest – for example if someone with ties to a particular company is part of a standards-setting exercise that would impact the company’s products – should, likewise, be stated upfront
  4. Accountability: People who are found to have deliberately miscommunicated points relevant to a decision – for example, suppressing important evidence, or distorting a competing argument – should be liable to a judicial process, and may have privileges withdrawn as a consequence
  5. Deliberation: In the terminology of Unanimous.AI CEO Louis Rosenberg, the decision should express the “convergent opinion” rather than the “average opinion”; decision-makers should work as a “swarm” that dynamically exchanges opinions and adjusts ideas, rather than as “crowd” that merely votes on an answer; in this way, the outcome is “the opinion the group can best agree upon”
  6. Constructive scepticism: All assumptions and opinions should be open to questioning – none should be placed into an untouchable category of “infallible foundation” or “sacrosanct authority” (for example, by saying “this was our manifesto commitment, so we have to do it”, or by saying “this is the express will of the people, so we cannot re-open this question”); on the other hand, rather than being hostile to the whole decision process, questions should be raised in ways that enable new alternative assumptions to be considered in place of the ones being criticised
  7. Autonomy: Each decision should be taken in its own right, with each decision-maker expressing their own independent views, rather than any system of horse-trading or party politics applying, in which individuals would act against their own consciences in order to follow some kind of “three line whip” or “party line”
  8. Data-driven: To guide them in their deliberations, decision-makers should seek out relevant data, and verify it, rather than giving undue credence to anecdote, supposition, or ideology
  9. Experimentation: In any case where significant uncertainty exists, rather than relying on pre-existing philosophical commitments, an incremental experimental approach should be preferred, in order to generate useful data that can guide the decision process
  10. Agility: Hard decisions should be broken down where possible into smaller chunks, with each chunk being addressed in a separate “sprint” (to borrow a term from the methodology of software development); for each sprint, the goal is to gain a better understanding of the overall landscape in which the decision needs to be taken; breaking a decision into sprints assists in preventing decisions from dragging on interminably with no progress
  11. Reversibility: Wherever possible, a reversible approach should be preferred, especially in areas of major uncertainty, so that policies can be undone if it becomes clear they are mistaken
  12. Adaptability: The system should applaud and support decision-makers who openly change their mind in the light of improved understanding; decision-makers should feel no undue pressure to stick with a previous opinion just in order to “keep face” or to demonstrate “party loyalty” through thick and thin
  13. Leanness: Decisions should focus on questions that matter most, rather than dictating matters where individual differences can easily be tolerated; by the way, “lean”, like “agile”, is another term borrowed from modern thinking about manufacturing: lean development seeks to avoid “waste”, such as excess bureaucracy
  14. Tech-embracing: Technology that assists with the decision process should be embraced (and people should be supported in learning how to use that technology); this includes wikis (or similar) that map out the landscape of a decision, automated logic-checkers, modelling systems that explore outcomes in simulated worlds, and other aspects of collabtech
  15. Independence: The outcome of decisions should not depend on the choice of which people coordinate the process; these people should be enablers rather than dictators of the solution.

Two underlying points deserve emphasis. These decisions about social institutions should be taken by everyone (that is, no-one is excluded from the process); and they should be taken by no-one in particular (that is, the process gives no special status to any individual decision-maker). These two points can be restated: the decisions should follow the processes of democracy, and they should follow the processes of the scientific method.

I’ll say more in this chapter about various problems facing democracy, and will return in later chapters to problems facing the application of the scientific method. The technoprogressive roadmap needs to be fully aware of these problems.

But before that, you may be thinking that the above fifteen principles set the bar impractically high. How is society going to be able to organise itself to observe all these principles? Isn’t it going to require a great deal of effort? Given the urgency of the challenges facing society, do we have the time available to us, to follow all these principles?

Here’s my response…

As with all the other chapters released so far, Google Doc copies of the latest version can be reached from this page on the Transpolitica website. Google Docs makes it easy for people to raise comments, suggest modifications to the text, and (for reviewers who log into a Google account) to see comments raised by other reviewers.

Comments are particularly welcome from reviewers where they point out mistakes, pieces of text where the meaning is unclear, or key considerations that seem to have been neglected.

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