FAQ

(For the FAQ of the 2018 Transhumanist Abundance Manifesto, see here.)

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

Superdemocracy: issues and opportunities

Reader feedback on the book Sustainable Superabundance has highlighted the topic of superdemocracy as having both issues and opportunities.

One issue raised is that it’s reckless to submit decisions on the future of transhumanist projects to the collective decision of the populace. The populace as a whole is unlikely to have sufficient sympathy with transhumanist objectives, and will lack an appropriate degree of understanding.

Instead of seeking collective approval for such projects, it will be better, in this line of thinking, to find ways in which these projects can take place autonomously.

To quote from one early reader, Samantha Atkins, from a discussion thread on Facebook:

The book pins its hopes on a “superdemocracy” with no clear limits on the areas that democracy has power over. It posits saner, much wiser people as necessary to make it work when we have no means to produce this miracle. It believes too much in the collective and imho will produce a wold of stagnation waiting for the collective to decide or give permission…

I believe that much less government and more real freedom of the people to innovate and find the solutions is the key to fastest progress to our joint dreams. I think government, with the ability to force decisions on people, should be severely limited in the areas it can touch…

We transhumanists are a small minority. Even in our own circles a proposition as simple as ending aging being a good thing can only garner perhaps 70% support. I have actually seen this vote taken in transhumanist groups with such results. So how can we really expect to sway entire countries and more in a superdemocracy toward our values across majorities? I think the more realistic hope and plan is for the freedom to act without waiting for the majority to agree.

These (along with many other thoughtful comments in the same thread) raise valid concerns. So let me offer some responses.

The four ‘supers’

A good starting point is with the idea of adding a social dimension to the set of areas of human life that concern transhumanists.

The four supers

This addition was discussed at the TransVision 2017 conference in Brussels, in a session that reviewed the Technoprogressive Declaration which had been agreed three years earlier at TransVision 2014 in Paris.

Here’s an extract from the official agreement from the 2017 conference:

Alongside the well-known transhumanist intentions for superlongevity, superintelligence, and super wellbeing, we additionally emphasise the importance of “super society” – by which term is implied improvements in resilience, solidarity, and democracy, whilst upholding diversity and liberty.

The agreement went on to emphasise how the practice of democracy needs to be transformed and renewed:

We envision a renewal of democracy in which, rather than the loudest and richest voices prevailing, the best insights of the community are elevated and actioned.

A vital function of democracy is for political representatives to be periodically held to account, thus ensuring they keep in mind the wellbeing of all citizens rather than just the desires of an elite; also of great importance is that democracy involves peaceful transitions of power.

A healthy democracy requires a free press and independent judiciary, and will be assisted by the wise application of technological innovation.

In the few months after TransVision 2017, I put the finishing touches on my book Transcending Politics (which published in February 2018). In the process, I opted to give more prominence to the word “super-democracy” than to “super-society”. I gave this definition in the first chapter of that book:

super-democracy: the active involvement of the entire population, both in decision-making, and in the full benefits of transhumanism.

And from the same chapter, here’s the explanation about “The four ‘supers'”:

As in the short video “An Introduction to Transhumanism” – which, with approaching a quarter of a million views, is probably the most widely watched video on the subject – transhumanism is sometimes expressed in terms of the so-called “three supers”:

  • Super longevity: significantly improved physical health, including much longer lifespans – overcoming human tendencies towards physical decay and decrepitude
  • Super intelligence: significantly improved thinking capability – overcoming human tendencies towards mental blind spots and collective stupidity
  • Super wellbeing: significantly improved states of consciousness – overcoming human tendencies towards depression, alienation, vicious emotions, and needless suffering.

The technoprogressive variant of transhumanism in effect adds one more “super” to the three already mentioned:

  • Super democracy: significantly improved social inclusion and resilience, whilst upholding diversity and liberty – overcoming human tendencies towards tribalism, divisiveness, deception, and the abuse of power

Beyond present-day politics

It’s one thing to say that transhumanism should seek the positive transformation of social power dynamics. It’s another thing to seek collective decision-making.

After all, collective decision-making has a bad track record – especially in recent times.

Indeed, incompetent government action has often slowed down or prevented good progress with the humanitarian initiatives championed by transhumanists and other futurists. Governments have imposed all kinds of unhelpful regulatory schemes.

But the vision I champion in my books isn’t for larger government. It’s for appropriate government. It’s for better government – keeping out of areas that don’t concern it, but getting involved when market forces are unable to find the best long-term solution by themselves. In other words, regulations and incentives only when necessary.

To quote from the section “Beyond present-day politics” in Chapter 3 of Sustainable Superabundance:

Alas, politics has often been a hindrance to positive technological progress. Politicians, wittingly and unwittingly, have imposed cumbersome legal restrictions on breakthrough innovations. They have elevated doctrinaire ideologues over evidence-minded pragmatists. They have re-routed funds from deserving causes to self-serving gravy train projects…

[But] when done well, politics involves wise, well-informed collective decisions about which new technologies and other social innovations should be restricted or steered, and which should be incentivised or encouraged. When done well, politics also ensures that such decisions are followed up, and are revised in a timely manner whenever necessary.

And from the agreement from TransVision 2017:

Systems for regulation of technology need to be adaptive and agile, rather than heavyweight and anachronistic.

Support for autonomous projects

A vital part of the above-mentioned agility is that subgroups of society should, indeed, be able to carry out projects of their own choice, without needing the explicit approval from an overall government.

I address the question of tolerating and enabling diversity at several points inside Chapter 4 of Sustainable Superabundance:

[The above core] principles, as stated, leave many questions unanswered. They define a broad envelope that can accommodate a multiplicity of different viewpoints. That diversity is, itself, something to cherish. Hence a seventh core principle: nurture and tolerate diverse opinions within the overall transhumanist framework

Groups of people who share particular enhanced skills and modes of practice will, understandably, seek some autonomy over decisions within their groups, freed from requirements for democratic approval by people in the wider community that have little understanding or interest in these modes of practice. This is similar to the principle of technocratic decision-making: there are domains of specialist knowledge (for example, medicine) in which decisions are best taken by the relevant experts rather than by a vote that includes non-experts.

But the chapter goes on to point out limits of any such autonomy:

Nevertheless, domains often interact with each other. Where the activities of one group of people, with one set of enhancements, interact with the activities of other groups of people, a broader democratic agreement needs to be reached.

The design of the overall transhumanist society therefore needs to enable the prosperous coexistence of subgroups with significantly divergent skills and practices.

I make no claims that the design of such a society will be easy. But I encourage transhumanists and futurists of all shades and stripes to engage in the discussion of the issues and opportunities arising.

A change in the public mood

Despite everything written above, the question still remains as to how transhumanists will be able to obtain agreement from the electorate as a whole to accelerate projects such as genetic modifications, radical brain enhancements, Drexler-style nanofactories, and whole-body rejuvenation therapies.

Wouldn’t it be better, people might ask, to create some kind of independent transhumanist state, adopting so-called transhumanist separatism?

My answer is that transhumanist projects should, in due course, go much faster (and more effectively) if they can tap into the wider resources of society as a whole, rather than being restricted to people in an isolated community.

I say this despite the opposition and (more often) apathy presently expressed by the majority of society towards transhumanism.

I say this because I foresee large changes in the public mood as the 2020s proceed.

Due in part to transhumanists speaking up in more engaging ways, the 2020s can become the decade of transhumanism: the decade in which more and more people become aware of the potential for human nature to be significantly improved by the application of technology – and see that potential as deeply desirable.

As I say in the first chapter of Sustainable Superabundance, “the few can become many”.

I realise this prediction will strike many observers as far-fetched. Let me finish this article with some words in defence of that prediction.

First, changes in the public mood are by no means unknown in history. If a compelling set of ideas gains momentum, transformation in public expectations can take place increasingly quickly these days:

Second, people are generally more capable than we first think. When we have a bad encounter with someone who has a different opinion from us – for example, someone who rejects (or supports) the idea of anthropogenic climate change, or someone who rejects (or supports) the idea of the UK remaining within the European Union – we all too often decide that they are resolute idiots, beyond the reach of reason. However, in a friendlier, more supportive environment, surprising degrees of mutual understanding and agreement can become possible. Greater emotional intelligence can make all the difference.

People fearful of submitting a decision to a democratic process tend to be anxious about the degree of change that it is possible for members of the electorate to navigate. Can resolute opponents really turn into friendly supporters?

My answer is “yes”. With my transhumanist vision, I believe that we can all do better than the sorry norms of recent history. And we can get there step by step. Starting from today.

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