2. Superabundance ahead

This page contains the full text of Chapter 2 from
Sustainable Superabundance: A universal transhumanist invitation

tam graphic 2

2. Superabundance ahead

This chapter of the Invitation briefly introduces the basic ideas of sustainable superabundance in each of seven spheres of human life: energy, nourishment, material goods, all-round health, all-round intelligence, all-round creativity, and all-round collaboration.

The good news is that twenty first century science and technology, developed and deployed wisely, can enable a sustainable superabundance of human flourishing in all seven of these spheres.

The bad news is that there is nothing inevitable about such an outcome. Science and technology, by themselves, cannot guarantee the emergence of sustainable superabundance. Instead, as Chapter 3 highlights, it will be imperative to pay close attention to critical elements of the broader social context within which science and technology operate, namely, politics, economics, the investment landscape, and the public mood. Astute collective management of these elements will make all the difference between superabundance and super-tragedy.

Chapter 4 of this Invitation follows on by addressing an even more important part of the context, namely, fundamental values and core priorities. That chapter proposes values and priorities which could profoundly uplift the public mood and radically enhance human capacity for positive change.

With the scene set, subsequent chapters – Chapters 5 through 11 – look again at each of the seven spheres of human flourishing listed above. These chapters indicate some pivotal overlaps between the different spheres: sustainable abundance in any one sphere is dependent on abundance in the other spheres too. These seven chapters also provide more details of the major risks and major opportunities associated with each sphere: the potential disasters, and the potential triumphs.

The final chapter of the Invitation – Chapter 12 – summarises a set of practical projects to reduce the likelihood of disaster and increase the likelihood of triumph.

An abundance of clean energy

The sun provides the earth with ample energy for all human needs for the foreseeable medium-term future. We can harvest that energy directly via sunlight, or indirectly via the motion of winds and waves. With care, we can also tap into the energy locked deep within atoms. The challenge ahead is to enhance methods to collect and store and transmit this energy, preserving the wellbeing of the environment at the same time as we nurture greater all-round human prosperity.

Present-day green technology points the way forwards, but much more awaits to be done. To allow humanity to swiftly complete the transition to a sustainable abundance of clean energy, innovation needs to accelerate. The hard task is how to facilitate such an acceleration, in the face of social and psychological structures that favour short-term thinking and the preservation of entrenched interests.

An abundance of food and water

Throughout history, agriculture has passed through a number of dramatic revolutions, including selective breeding, mechanisation, and synthetic fertilisers. Even greater revolutions are at hand, as gene editing and synthetic biology come of age, enabling a sustainable abundance of delicious, healthy, nourishing food. Meat grown in labs means we’ll no longer slaughter animals on vast industrial scale.

In parallel, improved desalination plants can provide an abundance of fresh water.

An abundance of material goods

Atomically precise manufacturing, which extends to the nanotechnology scale the techniques of 3D and 4D printing, can drastically reduce the costs of numerous material goods, including clothing and shelter, whilst simultaneously increasing their quality. Innovation can identify alternatives for any rare elements that are approaching scarcity. If necessary, asteroids could be mined as an important transitional source of raw materials.

In the same way as bytes of information have become free of cost, we can anticipate atoms of substance becoming free too. The material economy will follow the digital economy into sustainable abundance.

An abundance of health and longevity

The shortcomings of human biology, which cause us to suffer illness, decay, and death, are on the point of being comprehensively tamed by progress in regenerative medicine – nanosurgery, 3D bioprinting, genomic engineering, and stem cell therapies. Our task is to accelerate this relegation of aging and disease to history.

Much preferable to present-day expensive rear-guard medical treatments, prompt preventive interventions can unleash an abundance of full-health longevity.

An abundance of all-round intelligence

Science is giving us the ability to revitalise and rejuvenate, not only the body, but also the mind. Just as industrial tools have augmented our muscles, computers are augmenting our intelligence. Our growing understanding of the brain means we can enhance our psychology as well as our intellect. Alongside improved memory and enhanced reasoning ability, we can gain greater emotional and spiritual intelligence.

Traditional methods of mind enhancement such as education, meditation, yoga, music, art, and exotic substances, can have their power significantly magnified and directed by innovative technologies such as virtual reality, brain-computer interfaces, and AI assistants. An abundance of all-round intelligence beckons.

An abundance of creativity and exploration

In times past, human existence has been closely tied with our paid employment. The era of scarcity provided strong obligations to labour, often in work that was back-breaking or soul-destroying. As technology advances, machines can labour more forcefully, more reliably, and more effectively than human employees. Increasingly, human time and attention can be applied, instead, to an abundance of creativity and exploration – the unfolding and discovery of music, arts, sports, ecosystems, planets, and whole new universes.

The challenge ahead is to transition smoothly to a new economy which prioritises, not wage income or gross expenditure, but human flourishing and sentient development.

An abundance of collaboration and democracy

No mind is an island. We gain our strength and wisdom from our social relationships. The obstacles en route to the era of sustainable superabundance can be solved by the wise collaboration of many thinkers and doers.

Aided by emerging technologies that skilfully enhance positive cooperation, we can, together, make profound progress. Together, we can sagely analyse risks, assess scenarios, build bridges, deliberate options, reach decisions, deploy resources, progress actions, review outcomes, update processes, and consolidate our advances.

Our task is to ensure no-one is left out of the journey forwards. The benefits can be available to all, in ways that uphold freedom of choice and diversity of lifestyle. Our collaboration can take advantage of the best insights of all minds, and achieve the best results for all minds. In the process, we’ll create and benefit from an abundance of democracy – a superdemocracy.

Time for action

There will be many bumps on the road to superabundance. Indeed, there will be sceptics and detractors in all walks of life who oppose even the idea of working towards sustainable superabundance.

In times of rapid change, it’s no surprise that many people will become fearful and obstructive. Afraid of losing their status in society, they will cling onto outdated habits and structures. Afraid, with some justification, of technology going wrong, they will call for the imposition of overly cumbersome restrictions. Afraid that cherished human values may become lost, they will aggressively reassert inadequate bygone belief systems – belief systems grounded in incorrect or incomplete views of human nature and human flourishing. Lacking a vision of positive change from which they can benefit, they will deliberately sow confusion and misinformation.

To overcome confusion and misinformation, it’s time to generate an abundance of understanding. To supplant cumbersome legal frameworks, it’s time to champion smart, agile regulations. To quell panics about tech-driven dystopia, it’s time to promote appreciation of scenarios in which technology uplifts humanity. To lessen the power of vested interests, it’s time to build wise alliances. To tame the widespread fear of change, it’s time to clarify the roadmap to sustainable superabundance – and to describe how, in that not-so-distant future world, everyone can attain greater security, greater opportunity, greater health, and greater wellbeing.

In short, to rise above the myriad distractions and obstacles that might frustrate the journey to superabundance, it’s time to uphold a compelling, engaging picture of the remarkable future that is within our grasp.

Where that picture has gaps, let’s address them, quickly and fully. Where questions arise, let’s move fast to improve our collective understanding in the light of our collective intelligence. Where obstructionists and naysayers attempt to muddy the water, let’s be fair yet firm in taking the conversation to a higher level.

Given the magnitude of the progress which can ensue, no tasks are more important.

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RAFT 2035 – a new initiative for a new decade

The need for a better politics is more pressing than ever.

Since its formation, Transpolitica has run a number of different projects aimed at building momentum behind a technoprogressive vision for a better politics. For a new decade, it’s time to take a different approach, to build on previous initiatives.

The planned new vehicle has the name “RAFT 2035”.

RAFT is an acronym:

  • Roadmap (‘R’) – not just a lofty aspiration, but specific steps and interim targets
  • towards Abundance (‘A’) for all – beyond a world of scarcity and conflict
  • enabling Flourishing (‘F’) as never before – with life containing not just possessions, but enriched experiences, creativity, and meaning
  • via Transcendence (‘T’) – since we won’t be able to make progress by staying as we are.

RAFT is also a metaphor. Here’s a copy of the explanation:

When turbulent waters are bearing down fast, it’s very helpful to have a sturdy raft at hand.

The fifteen years from 2020 to 2035 could be the most turbulent of human history. Revolutions are gathering pace in four overlapping fields of technology: nanotech, biotech, infotech, and cognotech, or NBIC for short. In combination, these NBIC revolutions offer enormous new possibilities – enormous opportunities and enormous risks:…

Rapid technological change tends to provoke a turbulent social reaction. Old certainties fade. New winners arrive on the scene, flaunting their power, and upturning previous networks of relationships. Within the general public, a sense of alienation and disruption mingles with a sense of profound possibility. Fear and hope jostle each other. Whilst some social metrics indicate major progress, others indicate major setbacks. The claim “You’ve never had it so good” coexists with the counterclaim “It’s going to be worse than ever”. To add to the bewilderment, there seems to be lots of evidence confirming both views.

The greater the pace of change, the more intense the dislocation. Due to the increased scale, speed, and global nature of the ongoing NBIC revolutions, the disruptions that followed in the wake of previous industrial revolutions – seismic though they were – are likely to be dwarfed in comparison to what lies ahead.

Turbulent times require a space for shelter and reflection, clear navigational vision despite the mists of uncertainty, and a powerful engine for us to pursue our own direction, rather than just being carried along by forces outside our control. In short, turbulent times require a powerful “raft” – a roadmap to a future in which the extraordinary powers latent in NBIC technologies are used to raise humanity to new levels of flourishing, rather than driving us over some dreadful precipice.

The words just quoted come from the opening page of a short book that is envisioned to be published in January 2020. The chapters of this book are reworked versions of the scripts used in the recent “Technoprogressive roadmap” series of videos.

Over the next couple of weeks, all the chapters of this proposed book will be made available for review and comment:

  • As pages on the Transpolitica website, starting here
  • As shared Google documents, starting here, where comments and suggestions are welcome.

RAFT Cover 21

All being well, RAFT 2035 will also become a conference, held sometime around the middle of 2020.

You may note that, in that way that RAFT 2035 is presented to the world,

  • The word “transhumanist” has moved into the background – since that word tends to provoke many hostile reactions
  • The word “technoprogressive” also takes a backseat – since, again, that word has negative connotations in at least some circles.

If you like the basic idea of what’s being proposed, here’s how you can help:

  • Read some of the content that is already available, and provide comments
    • If you notice something that seems mistaken, or difficult to understand
    • If you think there is a gap that should be addressed
    • If you think there’s a better way to express something.

Thanks in anticipation!

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