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

Book preview: Chapter 1

An invitation to advance


(Author’s narration of Chapter 1 – 11 min 45 sec – click here for a downloadable version)

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

There’s more to democracy than voting

Suppose that the UK held another referendum on the subject of Brexit. Suppose that the numerical result was essentially the same as before: around 52% voting for the UK to leave the EU, and around 48% voting for the UK to remain.

In that case, would that referendum prove to have been a massive waste of time and money?

My answer: not necessarily. Such a vote could actually lead to the healing of the nation, rather than to continued divisiveness and chaos.

politics chaos or healing

It all depends, not on the numerical result, but on the calibre of the arguments raised during that referendum.

If supporters of Leave came forward, during the campaign, with arguments that were less contestable and more compelling than before, this could lead to a healing of the nation. People who voted for the other option in the referendum might still feel disappointed. But they could accept that there were sound arguments in favour of the side that won. And, unlike the case of the first Brexit referendum, they could move forward, reconciled to the outcome. They could tell themselves they had lost a fair battle.

A similar conclusion could apply if, in a variant potential future scenario, it were Remain that won the second referendum, even if just by a narrow margin. Again, there’s no inherent reason why that conclusion would lead to ongoing bitterness. Again, it depends, not on the numerical result, but on the calibre of the arguments raised during the campaigns.

Not just a re-run

Various critics of the idea of a second referendum are doubtful that anything positive could arise from a new round of campaigning. It would just be a re-run of the previous campaign, they say, perhaps with a few people changing their minds. Nothing essentially new could arise. Forget healing. We would just get more chaos.

But I give a much more positive assessment to the idea of a second, better, referendum.

For one reason, people have learned a great deal in the intervening 30 months. Opinions which could be seen as plausible two years ago, have long since been shown up as deeply wrong. As an example, consider the now thoroughly discredited claim that it would be “the easiest deal ever” to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU (witness “EU trade deal ‘easiest in human history'” and “All the times David Davis said that Brexit was simple”.) On such matters, we’re all wiser now.

But more fundamentally, it’s now widely recognised that it’s in everyone’s interest to cool down the debate, rather than letting matters be inflamed further.

The falsification principle

As a step away from ideology to objectivity, participants in the debate should start by reflecting long and hard about which circumstances would cause them to change their minds. This is in line with the falsification principle of science: people aspiring to scientific methods should set out in advance which experimental findings would cause them to seriously rethink their currently favoured theories.

Therefore, people favouring Remain should describe the circumstances that would cause them to consider switching to Leave instead. In this way, they would identify the potentially strongest arguments in favour of Leave. For example, to my mind, the strongest argument in favour of Leave would be if the structural weakness of the eurozone were shown to be likely to lead to huge financial chaos, of a sort that the UK could best hope to escape by being outside of the EU altogether.

Likewise, people favouring Leave should describe the circumstances that would cause them to consider switching to Remain instead. For example, they might be prepared to alter their vote if they gained confidence in the flexibility and genuineness of EU reform proposals.

Debate participants unable to set out such a “falsifying circumstance” would have to acknowledge they are driven by ideology, rather being open to new findings.

Preparing to build bridges

In parallel, participants in both sides of the debate need to set out proposals for how the UK could unwind from any state of internal hostility after the campaign was concluded.

To this end, supporters of Remain need to acknowledge that many on the Leave side are profoundly ill at ease with what they see as the direction of social development. More than that, Remain supporters need to be ready to commit to a credible programme to address key causes of this alienation, including the bitter perception many people have of being “left behind”.

Similarly, supporters of Leave need to acknowledge that many on the Remain side are profoundly ill at ease with the potential unravelling of processes of multilateral decisions, in a post-Brexit race-to-the bottom world of increasing deregulation.

Towards superdemocracy

That’s the vision – the vision of a better politics being expressed in a better referendum.

It’s a vision that goes beyond democracy-as-counting-votes. It’s a vision of emerging superdemocracy (to use a term that has featured in the last two Transpolitica books – Transcending Politics and Sustainable Superabundance).

Is this vision credible? Or are we doomed to a politics dominated by feelings of vengeance and obliteration?

That is, is a second referendum likely to lead to even greater chaos, or to healing?

Personal leadership

To an extent, the answer will be influenced by the personal qualities of the people leading each side of the debate. Do these people have high personal integrity? Are they open to learning? Are they able to build bridges? Do they have high emotional intelligence? Or are they, instead, obsessive and self-serving?

The answer (chaos or healing) will also depend on how the media conducts itself. Is the media looking for high drama? Will it seek out and amplify the most inflammatory soundbites? Or will it show restraint and care?

To my mind, everyone who cares about the future of the UK has to get behind the processes of healing, rather than the processes of chaos.

That means a commitment to debating honestly – to considering the merits and demerits of different arguments fairly, rather than with a partisan spirit.

This also means a commitment to building bridges – to discovering shared common values, even with people who express views very differently to our own.

It won’t be easy. But the cost of failure would be enormous.

Image source: “Big Ben at Sunset” – Photo by M N on Unsplash

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