Sustainable Superabundance

Sustainable Superabundance: A Universal Transhumanist Invitation

David wood Book Cover 6

Book availability

Ebook (Kindle) – Published on 16th Jan 2019

Paperback – Published on 26th Jan 2019

Audio – Published on 14th Aug 2019

Book preview: Chapter 1

An invitation to advance

Beyond the fear and chaos of contemporary life, there is good news to share.

A new era is at hand: the era of sustainable superabundance. In this era, the positive potential of humanity can develop in truly profound ways.

The key to this new era is to take wise advantage of the remarkable capabilities of twenty-first century science and technology: robotics, biotech, neurotech, greentech, collabtech, artificial intelligence, and much more.

These technologies can provide all of us with the means to live better than well – to be healthier and fitter than ever before; nourished emotionally and spiritually as well as physically; and living at peace with ourselves, the environment, and our neighbours both near and far.

This is not a vision of today’s society writ large – a mere abundance of today’s goods, services, activities, relationships, and rewards. It’s a vision of a superabundance, with new qualities rather than just new quantities.

This is not a vision of returning to some imagined prior historical period – to some supposed bygone golden age. It’s a vision of advancing to a new society, featuring levels of human flourishing never before possible.

This is not a vision restricted to the few – to an elite percentage of today’s humanity. It’s a universal vision, for everyone, of a wide, diverse fellowship in which all can freely participate, and in which all can enjoy unprecedented benefits.

This is not a vision of the far-off future – something relevant, perhaps, to our great-grandchildren. It’s a vision of change that could accelerate dramatically throughout the 2020s – a vision that is intensely relevant as the year 2020 comes into view.

This is not a vision of a fixed, rigid utopia. It’s a vision of the collaborative creation of a sustainable, open-ended, evolving social framework. In this new framework, every one of us will be empowered to make and follow our own choices without fear or favour.

In this vision, the sky will no longer be the limit. In this vision, the cosmos beckons, with its vast resources and endless possibilities. In this vision, our destiny lies in the ongoing exploration and development of both outer and inner space, as we keep reaching forwards together to higher levels of consciousness and to experiences with ever greater significance.

Critical choices

But first, we face some hard, critical choices – choices that will determine our future. If we choose poorly, technology will do much more harm than good. If we choose poorly, a bleak future awaits us – wretched environmental decline, bitter social divisions, and a rapid descent into a dismal new dark age. Instead of the flourishing of the better angels of our human nature, it will be our inner demons that technology magnifies.

We need to steer firmly away from courses of action which would precipitate any such outcome. We need to resist simplistic ideas or beguiling coalitions that would mislead us onto a slippery slope of accelerating humanitarian degradation. Instead, we need to select and uphold the set of priorities that will facilitate the timely emergence of sustainable superabundance.

These are tasks of the utmost importance. These tasks will require the very best of human insight, human strength, and human cooperation.

If we choose well, constraints which have long overshadowed human existence can soon be lifted. Instead of physical decay and growing age-related infirmity, an abundance of health and longevity awaits us. Instead of collective dimwittedness and blinkered failures of reasoning, an abundance of intelligence and wisdom is within our reach. Instead of morbid depression and emotional alienation – instead of envy and egotism – we can achieve an abundance of mental and spiritual wellbeing. Instead of a society laden with deception, abuses of power, and divisive factionalism, we can embrace an abundance of democracy – a flourishing of transparency, access, mutual support, collective insight, and opportunity for all, with no one left behind.

If we choose well, the result will be liberty on unparalleled scale. The result will be people everywhere living up to their own best expectations and possibilities, and then more. The result will be a transformed, improved humanity, taking stellar leaps forward in evolution, as technology increasingly uplifts and augments biology. The result will be to advance beyond mere humanity to transhumanity.

Time for action

As the 2020s approach, with their accelerating pace of change, with ever more potent technologies in wide circulation, and with a perplexing variety of tangled interconnections threatening unpredictable consequences, there’s something that is very important for us to collectively keep in mind.

The thought that deserves sustained attention, in the midst of all other considerations, is the central insight of a group of people known as transhumanists. This insight concerns the magnitude of the forthcoming transformation from humanity to transhumanity.

It’s not just that this transformation is possible. It’s not just that this transformation could be relatively imminent – happening while many people alive today are still in the primes of their lives. It’s that this transformation, handled wisely, could have an enormous positive upside. It’s that this transformation, handled wisely, is deeply desirable.

This insight is grasped, today, by only a minuscule fraction of the earth’s population – by a meagre sprinkling of transhumanist pioneers. However, it is time for these transhumanist pioneers to speak up. The few can become many.

As the 2020s approach, it is time for transhumanists to challenge and reorient the public narrative. It is time to raise the calibre of the collective conversation about the future.

It is time to affirm how the future can be hugely better than the present. It is time to clarify how human nature is but a starting point for a journey to extraordinary posthuman capability. It is time to emphasise that, whereas the evolution of life has been blind for billions of years, it is now passing into our conscious, thoughtful control. It is time to point out that, whereas the evolution of society has been dominated for centuries by economic matters and struggles over scarce resources, centre stage can soon feature the blossoming of abundance. And it is time to proclaim that powerful enablers for these exceptional changes are already arriving, here and now.

In short, it is time for transhumanists around the world to step up to the responsibility as catalysts of the forthcoming transformation. It is time for transhumanists to inspire and support people everywhere to join together in the historic project to build the era of sustainable superabundance. It is time to apply transhumanist wisdom to identify and uphold the best choices in anticipation of the tumult of disruption that lies ahead. It is time to ensure that technology brings universal benefit, rather than being something we will come to bitterly regret.

At present, we can glimpse only the broad outlines of the coming era of sustainable superabundance. It is the fundamental responsibility of transhumanists to discern the forthcoming contours with greater clarity, and to help humanity as a whole envision and navigate the pathways ahead.

It is in service of this momentous cause that this Universal Transhumanist Invitation is dedicated. This Invitation is provided as an entry point to a growing network of living documents, with the intent to engage and organise researchers, creatives, entrepreneurs, activists, engineers, humanitarians, and more.

Together, let’s apply our skills, our time, and our resources to paint more fully the picture of sustainable superabundance. Let’s transcend our present-day preoccupations, our unnecessary divisions, our individual agendas, and our inherited human limitations. Let’s grasp the radical transformational power of new technology to profoundly enhance our vision, our wisdom, our social structures, and our effectiveness.

Together, let’s map out constructive solutions to the obstructions and distractions that impede progress – solutions combining the best of technology and the best of humanity. Let’s build productive alliances that weaken the forces resisting positive change. Let’s prepare to take advantage of the growing momentum of an inspirational worldwide technoprogressive movement. Let’s anticipate how we will dislodge the grasp on power held by today’s backward-looking vested interests. And through an emerging shared understanding of the vital benefits transhumanist policies can bring to everyone, let’s transform fearful opposition step-by-step into willing partners. The few can become many.

In this way, we can accelerate the transition to sustainable superabundance. The sooner, the better.

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Feedback on Sustainable Superabundance

Sustainable Superabundance offers a profoundly uplifting vision for the 2020s and beyond”
Natasha Vita-More, Executive Director, Humanity+

“David Wood is one of the best futurists around today, insightful and visionary, with a broad grasp of the issues, and passionate commitment to making the future a good place to live. This book will become a key resource for the development of practical technoprogressive policies”
James Hughes, Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET)

“A welcome addition to the debate over how society should respond to the forthcoming Economic Singularity”
Calum Chace, Author of Artificial Intelligence and the Two Singularities

“David Wood’s new book is full of insight about the implications of fast-changing technology for the future of humanity. It was a real joy to read”
Dalton Murray, Lead contributor, H+Pedia

“A spirited, lively defence of the positive value of transhumanism”
Zoltan Istvan, Creator of the Immortality Bus and the Transhumanist Bill of Rights

“Want to feel better about our future, find out why ‘sustainable superabundance’ is possible, and how we can make it happen? Read this book!”
Nikola Danaylov, Founder of Singularity Weblog and Singularity.FM

Sustainable Superabundance is a compelling message of how humans everywhere can soon attain much greater all-round health and rejuvenation. I strongly recommend it!”
José Luis Cordeiro, lead author, La Muerte de la Muerte

“How can society respond to the challenges and opportunities of cybertechnology? David Wood offers a clear-headed, realistically optimistic assessment”
Eva Pascoe, Chair, Cybersalon

“The ideas in Sustainable Superabundance can accelerate the transformation of politics, bringing science, health, and technology to the forefront. David Wood’s approach is simultaneously hopeful, inspiring, thoughtful, multifaceted, and nuanced. He explores a wide range of concepts that will interact with one another in novel ways and gain increasing relevance in the new technological era. Furthermore, he offers constructive suggestions for individuals and organizations of future-oriented thinkers to pursue”
Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, U.S. Transhumanist Party

Cover Design

The cover design is by Peter Meister.
It incorporates original photography by Curran Kelleher.
Used with permission and with many thanks!

Full table of contents

  1. An invitation to advance
  2. Superabundance ahead
  3. Beyond technology
  4. Principles and priorities
  5. Towards abundant energy
  6. Towards abundant food
  7. Towards abundant materials
  8. Towards abundant health
  9. Towards abundant intelligence
  10. Towards abundant creativity
  11. Towards abundant democracy
  12. Options to engage

Recent Posts

A reliability index for politicians?

Reliability calcuator

Imagine there’s a reliability index (R) for what a politician says.

An R value of 100 would mean that a politician has an excellent track record: there is no evidence of them having said anything false.

An R value of 0 would mean that nothing they said can be trusted.

Imagine that R values are updated regularly, and are published in real-time by a process that is transparent, pulling together diverse sets of data from multiple spheres of discourse, using criteria agreed by people from all sides of politics.

Then, next time we hear a politician passing on some claim – some statistic about past spending, about economic performance, about homelessness, about their voting record, or about what they have previously said – we could use their current R value as a guide to whether to take the claim seriously.

Ideally, R values would also be calculated for political commentators too.

My view is that truth matters. A world where lies win, and where politicians are expected to bend the truth on regular occasions, is a world in which we are all worse off. Much worse off.

Far better is a world where politicians no longer manufacture or pass on claims, just because these claims cause consternation to their opponents, sow confusion, and distract attention. Far better if any time a politician did such a thing, their R value would visibly drop. Far better if politicians cared much more than at present about always telling the truth.

Some comparisons

R values would play roles broadly similar to what already happens with credit scores. If someone is known to be a bad credit risk, there should be more barriers for them to receive financial loans.

Another comparison is with the “page rank” idea at the heart of online searches. The pages that have incoming links from other pages that are already believed to be important, grow in importance in turn.

Consider also the Klout score, which is (sometimes) used as the measure of influence of social media users or brands.

Some questions

Evidently, many questions arise. Would a reliability index be possible? Is the reliability of a politician’s statements a single quantity, or should it vary from subject to subject? How should the influence of older statements decline over time? How could the index avoid being gamed? How should satire be accommodated?

Then there are questions not just over practicality but also over desirability. Will the reliability index result in better politics, or a worse politics? Would it impede honest conversation, or usher in new types of implicit censorship? Would the “cure” be worse than the “disease”?

Next steps

My view is that a good reliability index will be hard to achieve, but it’s by no means impossible. It will require clarity of thinking, an amalgamation of insights from multiple perspectives, and a great deal of focus and diligence. It will presumably need to evolve over time, from simpler beginnings into a more rounded calculation. That’s a project we should all be willing to get behind.

The reliability index will need to be created outside of any commercial framework. It deserves to be funded by public funds in a non-political way, akin to the operation of judges and juries. It will need to be resistant to howls of outrage from those politicians (and journalists) whose R values plummet on account of exposure of their untruths and distortions.

If done well, I believe the reliability index would soon have a positive impact upon political discourse. It will help ensure discussions are objective and open-minded, rather than being dominated by loud, powerful voices. It’s part of what I see as the better politics that is possible in the not-so-distant future.

There’s a lot more to say about the topic, but for now, I’ll finish with just one more question. Has such a proposal been pursued before?

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