8. Abundant health

This page contains Chapter 8 from
Sustainable Superabundance: A universal transhumanist manifesto for the 2020s and beyond

Abundant health

Note: The text of this chapter of the Manifesto is draft and is presently undergoing regular revision.

To make comments or suggest changes in the text, please use this shared document.

8. Abundant health

To recap the previous three chapters: there are good grounds for anticipating that, in the not-so-distant future, there can be plenty of clean energy for all human activities, plenty of nutritious food for everyone, and plenty of material goods for all our worldly needs. Twenty first century science and technology place these abundances within our grasp – provided that we are wise enough, and sufficiently strong and agile, to embrace the opportunity.

However, these abundances, by themselves, will be far from sufficient to ensure that human flourishing reaches its full potential.

If, despite an abundance of energy, nutrition, and material goods, our medical health continues to deteriorate as we grow older, then, just as at present, individual human flourishing will be cut short, again and again.

As our health deteriorates, we will be increasingly restricted in what we can do. With feeble bodies and/or feeble minds, we may observe a growing abundance of energy, nutrition, and material goods all around us, but we won’t be able to take advantage of that bounty. As individuals in decline, we’ll move from activity to passivity, from engagement to detachment, from vigour to lethargy, from precision to dullness, and from being to nothingness. Rather than flourish, we’ll flounder and fade away.

So far in history, a deterioration of human health has, sooner or later, been the story of everyone’s life. In some cases, a person’s health declines precipitously, due to a catastrophic accident or harsh act of violence. In other cases, their health declines gradually, due to the impact of one or more diseases or conditions that reduce mental or physical capability, until the point of death. Either way, after a few short decades of life, consciousness ceases. Brains turn to dust. Loving relationships are severed. Each time a single person dies, vast troves of human experience are lost, comparable to the burning down of a library, in a calamitous transformation of knowledge into ashes. Such, it appears, is the brutality of nature.

But transhumanists assert that these brutal “facts of nature” are on the point of being overturned. Thanks to further applications of twenty first century science and technology, the terminal decline of health will no longer be inevitable, but will soon be something we can resist and reverse. Aging can be abolished. In consequence, the vistas for human flourishing can extend mightily, both for individuals and for humanity as a whole.

Rejuvenation ahead

In more detail, the restorative biological properties that we presently experience in our youth, which enable us to bounce back quickly from injury or illness, will no longer lose their power as decades pass. Instead, it will become possible in the not-so-distant future to extend these restorative self-healing powers indefinitely – thanks to a combination of biochemical and nanotech interventions made possible by accelerating progress in regenerative medicine and rejuvenation biotechnology.

As a result, we humans will be as vibrant and resilient in our eighties as in our twenties. If we wish it, we’ll be able to live well past the age of 100 without any decline in our health. Indeed, if we wish it, we’ll be able to live well past the age of 1000, without any decline in our health.

These restorative processes will not only be extended in their duration, but they will also grow in their scope and effectiveness. Diseases which formerly threatened even the most robust physical constitution will be cured quickly. The sinister destructive power of new pathogens will meet their match in the constructive restorative power of highly intelligent, swiftly adapting, personalised suites of biomedical therapies. Due to continuous monitoring of all our vital statistics, and of threats in our environment, corrective interventions can be triggered at much earlier stages in the downward spiral of bodily dysfunction. We will hardly notice that we were, momentarily, ill.

And not only will we remain fit and healthy for as long as we wish, but we will grow even fitter and healthier than we can presently imagine. The transhumanist vision of “better than well” is within our reach – but only if we rapidly alter society’s priorities to give much more attention to this possibility of an unlimited abundance of health.

Causes of illnesses

Humanity has a long history in which at least some progress has been made in extending healthy lifespans. This progress has resulted from a better understanding of the causes of illness, and with the associated development of treatments and therapies allowing at least the partial restoration of health.

This progress can be split into three great phases. In the first great phase, dating from prehistory, illnesses were understood as resulting, at least some of the time, from bad behaviour. Too much gluttony, too much anger, too much sloth, too much lust, too much avarice – all could raise the likelihood of ill health. The solution, therefore, was good behaviour, coupled with a prayerful commitment to repent of previous sinful ways.

In the second great phase, illnesses were understood as resulting, at least some of the time, from bad hygiene. People learned to beware, not only visible signs of dirt and decay, but also microscopic antagonists that came to be known as germs. By overturning bad hygiene practice – and by promoting an awareness of the roles of bacteria, viruses, vaccinations, and antibiotics – large numbers of different infectious diseases could be impacted in parallel. In this second great phase, life expectancy rose from around 30 years, at the dawn of recorded history, to around 70 years.

Of course, people still fall ill and die. There are diseases whose primary cause is neither bad behaviour nor bad hygiene. In the modern age, more and more people are dying from chronic diseases such as cancer, heart failure, dementia, diabetes, lung failure, and stroke. As people become biologically older, they become more prone to affliction from these illness, and the effects of these illnesses become more serious.

Accordingly, the third great phase of extending healthy lifespans – the phase which is in the process of building up momentum – is to recognise and treat aging as the common cause of large numbers of diseases. By fixing aging – and by promoting an understanding of the roles of cellular damage and extracellular damage in the development of chronic diseases – a huge impact can be made on the prevalence of these diseases.

Negligible senescence and natural rejuvenation

As it happens, it turns out that some animals appear not to age. As these creatures become chronologically older, there is no increase in their likelihood of falling ill and dying. Such creatures are said to exhibit “negligible senescence”.

Accordingly, there is nothing in biology itself which requires living creatures to age. Nature already possesses mechanisms for bodies to repair themselves in response to damage – and meta-mechanisms for these repair mechanisms to continue to operate indefinitely, without degradation in performance.

Another example of rejuvenation in nature is when a relatively old body, that is a human mother, gives birth to a baby consisting entirely of young cells. Consider also the capabilities of some organisms to regrow parts of their bodies following damage.

Transhumanists foresee that science and technology can adapt, extend, and augment such mechanisms (and meta-mechanisms) to provide the equivalent of negligible senescence to humans. Many new tools and techniques are emerging with encouraging potential, taking advantage of breakthroughs in areas such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, stem cell therapies, synthetic biology, and 3D bio-printing. The abolition of aging is at hand.

The naturalistic fallacy

The prospect of unlimited healthy lifespans raises many questions in the minds of people thinking seriously about this topic for the first time. For example, isn’t death natural? And if so, why fight against aging?

Here’s the transhumanist answer. Just because something has been the norm in the past, it does not follow we should accept it and applaud it. The average life expectancy in the past was around 30 years of life. Huge numbers of children died before the age of five. This may be viewed as being “natural”. Transhumanists instead affirm that humans can do better.

It’s similar to how, in the past, the world was full of slavery and caste discrimination. These abominations were even viewed by many as being “natural”. Religious codes seemed to accept such discrimination, as if it were divinely preordained. Indeed, reformers who advocated the abolition of slavery, or the cessation of caste discrimination, were often opposed by religious leaders of the day, who offered apparently venerable arguments for persisting with the status quo. Transhumanists instead affirm that humans can do better. In this case, the rest of the world tends, nowadays, to agree.

In the past, smallpox was present all over the world, killing huge numbers of people. This may be viewed as being “natural”. Transhumanists instead affirm that humans can do better.

In the past, more than 90% of the population lived in abject poverty, and were illiterate. Starvation was just around the corner. This may be viewed as being “natural”. The Bible even has a verse in which Jesus of Nazareth says, “The poor you will always have with you”. Once again, transhumanists instead affirm that humans can do better.

In short, there is no need to accept the “naturalistic fallacy”. “Is” does not imply “ought”.

Indeed, if there is one constant about human nature, it is the desire to do better than our what appears to be our natural allotment. That’s a part of human nature which transhumanists heartily applaud.

Death and meaning

Here’s another question that is often raised. Isn’t the prospect of death required in order to give life meaning?

Transhumanists respond: such a claim is no more valid than is the claim that the prospect of divorce is required in order to give a marriage meaning. The purpose of marriage is the development of the relationship itself, not the anticipation of the termination of that relationship. Similarly, the purpose of life is the development of life itself, not the anticipation of the termination of life.

That claim is also like saying that, without the existence of a supernatural God, life would have no meaning, and everyone would pursue utterly selfish behaviours. That view in effect regards humans as being irretrievably juvenile. In reality, humans have plenty of other reasons for life to become deeply meaningful – and plenty of reasons to transcend egotism – without the need to believe in God, and without the threat of death. People can bound out of bed in the morning, ready to take part in the joys of life, without needing the “motivation” that their remaining days on earth are ticking down in number.

With the advances of science, people will soon be able to choose whether they want to keep living, or whether they prefer to die. If some people, in a sound state of mind, prefer to choose death, that will be their right. But no-one should be permitted to impose on anyone else a sense of obligation that they have to accept their own death, as some part of a hypothesised “service to a greater cause”. Transhumanists instead affirm, as a fundamental principle, that individual flourishing should never be sacrificed or subordinated to collectivist goals. That is, ongoing individual health matters, in every case – regardless of a person’s age.

Acceptance and maturity

The questions keep on coming. Isn’t it the mark of maturity to accept the inevitability of death, and to prepare for it? Isn’t it an immature, adolescent trait, to try to fight for an indefinite extension of lifespan? Don’t great religious and secular traditions, alike, offer praise for the path of acceptance? For example, consider the famous “serenity prayer” of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

Transhumanists respond by pointing to the remaining stanzas of the very same prayer: “[Grant me also] the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” – that is, the difference between the things which ought to be accepted, and the things that ought to be overturned.

There is no merit in accepting an injustice – a premature foreclosing of human flourishing – if decisive action can overturn that injustice. And there is no merit in turning a blind eye to emerging evidence that an injustice which formerly was outside of human determination is now passing back into our control. That’s precisely the situation with aging.

Therefore transhumanists proclaim: It’s time to take control of aging. In the past, it made good psychological sense to accept that aging and death will come to everyone. Now, however, matters are on the point of changing fundamentally. From now on, it’s a dereliction of human duty to continue to acquiesce in aging and death. It’s unnecessary wilful self-harm.

The threat of overpopulation

Wouldn’t the elimination of aging and death result in overcrowding on the Earth?

Compared to the present, humanity can make far better use of the Earth as a whole. For example, huge swathes of land in some countries are presently devoted to pasture for cattle which are grown to be turned into meat for humans to eat. Improvements in lab-grown meat (using synthetic biology) can soon lead to a massive reduction in that kind of agriculture – and a reallocation of the land formerly dedicated for that purpose.

Transhumanists also look forward to improved construction methods which enable the building of large skyscrapers that are environmentally healthy, as well as being beautiful and inspiring to inhabit. In the longer term, transhumanists anticipate space stations.

For further discussion of these particular points, the material of the previous two chapters is worth reviewing.

Rejuvenation and social fluidity

If people no longer grow old and die, won’t dictators hold onto power indefinitely? Won’t career progression to positions with more responsibility be blocked, on account of the incumbents retaining their positions indefinitely?

Such views presuppose that only the physical aspects of bodies will be rejuvenated, and that mental structures and social structures will stagnate. Transhumanists instead foresee elevation, not only of physical health, but also of mental capability and social dynamics. As conscious life evolves beyond the surface of the physical earth, there will be an abundance of new possibilities to be created and explored.

These ideas are developed in Chapter 10 of this Manifesto, “Abundant creativity”.

Fast change following slow change

It’s one thing to find reasons to significantly extend healthy longevity – reasons why involuntary death is bad. It’s another thing to find and deploy actual mechanisms to turn that desire into practical medical treatments. After all, people throughout history have searched in vain for an elixir of life. If their search has been fruitless, why should things be changed in the next few decades?

The transhumanist answer is that it’s a matter of cumulative progress. Compare the long-held aspiration of humans to be able to soar through the air like the birds, controlling navigation and defying gravity. The thought was thrilling, but seemed, for most of history, to be ludicrous. Societies around the world told cautionary tales, like the myth of Icarus, that suggested any such aspiration was foolish. It would not be possible to overcome the downward pull of gravity. Anyone entertaining such a thought was deluded.

However, after millennia in which people could only dream of such an accomplishment – and in which bold pioneers from time to time perished as a result of reckless aviation experiments – finally enough knowledge and expertise was assembled. Thanks initially to the genius and endeavour of the Wright brothers, and subsequently to countless other engineers and craftspeople, rapid progress with powered flight took place from the early years of the twentieth century. Aeroplane journeys quickly became longer, faster, and more comfortable. A few decades, men were walking on the Moon.

Transhumanists envision that, just as for conquering gravity, it will be same for conquering aging. A long period of imaginative speculation and gradual accumulation of knowledge will transition into a period of rapid progress.

In practical terms, progress with extending healthy lifespans – creating organisms that are fitter and stronger throughout longer lives – is already underway. Interventions that show effect in organisms such as yeast, worms, flies, and mice, are being modified and are increasingly ready to be applied in humans as well. These interventions include genetic modifications, new drugs to alter biochemical pathways, epigenetic alterations that in effect reset the age of cells, senolytic agents that induce the death and recycling of dangerous senescent cells throughout the body, infusions of materials mimicking young blood, adaptation of the tumour-killing biochemistry of animals that are seemingly highly immune to cancer, mechanisms to extend the telomeres at the end of chromosomes, methods to repair organs damaged by aging, and much more.

As the number of positive results multiply, more and more researchers are being attracted to work in this field, creating yet more positive results. A positive feedback loop is developing. Rejuvenation biotechnology is no longer a fringe field, but is moving into the medical mainstream.

In parallel, the prospect for strong positive social and economic benefits of healthier aging – the “longevity dividend” – is becoming increasingly clear. Healthier individuals pose much less of a long-term cost burden to national health budgets, and remain involved in society as active consumers and producers. There are positive effects, too, on the families of people who would otherwise have been chronically sick and dependent. Accordingly, there are pleasing signs of greater interest in the longevity dividend, from private corporations and public governments alike – although a great deal more needs to be done to convert this recognition into practical large-scale investment.

Anticipating changes in mindset

The healthcare equivalent of the “Wright brothers moment” still lies ahead – the event which will have the same electrifying impact on the field of medicine as happened for the field of transport with the public flying demonstrations in Paris in August 1908. The assembled crowds were astonished to see Wilbur Wright repeatedly flying around a figure-of-eight. The Wrights could no longer be dismissed as tricksters or scam artists. Less than a year later, one of the observers of Wilbur’s flight, Louis Bleriot, spurred on by a new conviction about what was possible, flew across the English Channel from Calais to Dover, in a journey lasting 36 minutes. Within another ten years, John Alcock and Arthur Brown flew an airplane non-stop across the Atlantic – from St. John’s, Newfoundland, in Canada, to Clifden in Ireland. A small hop along the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina – the location of the Wright Brothers’ first flights – had turned into a giant transoceanic leap.

Transhumanists aspire to accelerate a similar large change in public mood regarding the practicality of reversing aging. Conceivably, this mindset change will occur when treatments are demonstrated that work on normal, middle-aged mice – treatments which can be applied to mice from middle age onward, and which significantly extend their healthy lifespan. Or perhaps this mindset change will need to wait until similar effects can be seen on animals intermediate between mice and humans, such as dogs – including much-loved favourite household pets.

Another possibility concerns the topic of biomarkers of aging and health – measurements that can be obtained from blood samples and by other means, and which come to be recognised as reliable indicators of someone’s overall biological health. The vision is that medical therapies currently under development can be demonstrated as reducing someone’s effective age, as measured by these biomarkers, without having any adverse effects that anyone can notice. The vision, moreover, is that people who have taken these treatments will show remarkable health and fitness for their age, of an unprecedented degree; for example, we may see repeated breakthroughs in the set of record performances by athletes aged over 70, 80, 90, and beyond. Finally, the vision is of a significant decline in the incidence of all kinds of diseases, among cohorts of people who have taken these treatments, as compared to control groups. Once such breakthroughs are demonstrated, the world will start applying much greater resources to accelerating this forthcoming abundance of health.

Healthcare and inequality

In many parts of the world, healthcare costs are currently so high that only a minority of people can afford them. Rather than costs falling for drugs and treatments, in some cases these costs are rising. This raises the prospect that therapies such as the abolition of aging will be available only to the wealthiest members of society. The existing “longevity gap” – the difference in life expectancy between the well off and the poor – may be exacerbated.

Indeed, in many parts of the world, the longevity gap is already worsening. After decades in which life expectancy steadily increased, it is now heading in the wrong direction in various demographics. Suffering from stress and alienation, more people are falling victim to addictions to drugs, drink, and dangerous types of behaviour. Death rates are rocketing upwards from opioid addiction, from heart failure, from alcohol poisoning, and from suicides.

However, such an outcome is the result, not of bad technology, but of poor politics, and of the breakdown of a market economy that would otherwise prioritise reducing the costs of healthcare.

Transhumanists uphold the principle that society as a whole can set the priority that everyone will be able to enjoy an abundance of health and longevity. With the appropriate democratic governance, society can overcome the internal forces that would prefer to charge exorbitant fees for rejuvenation therapies. Society can and should mandate that the benefits of new health treatments are available to everyone.

As recent trends indicate, such an outcome is by no means inevitable. Powerful segments of society sometimes prefer to keep the lion’s share of benefits to themselves, claiming a unique right to social rewards, by virtue of what they claim is their superior enterprise and innovation. These segments of society sometimes assert that a “trickle down” effect will ensure that, in due course, health improvement will come to all sectors of society and all regions of the globe. The evidence that such an effect operates is far from clear. Instead, globalisation seems to have many victims as well as many victors. For this reason, transhumanists urge new voices to speak up, to steer the market dynamics away from dysfunctional outcomes towards ones that truly promote global human flourishing.

Inequitable distribution of healthcare poses risks, not just to those who suffer poorer health as a direct consequence. Evidence shows that people with declining health are disproportionately inclined to favour populist politicians with dangerously simplistic approaches to complicated problems of democratic governance. If these trends continue, everyone will end up worse off, and the prospects for sustainable superabundance will be lost.

Accordingly, transhumanists seek greater influence over key political decisions – not to push any traditional agenda of “right” or “left”, “libertarian” or “progressive”, etc, but to ensure that the radical upwards possibilities of twenty first century science and technology are actually realised.

The regulation of healthcare

Another reason why transhumanists need to keep a close eye on political developments is because of the topic of the regulation of innovative healthcare initiatives.

Access to many medical treatments is highly regulated. Many drugs are available only on prescription. Before becoming available for prescription, drugs need to pass through lengthy and expensive testing procedures, checking for both safety and efficacy. Companies are only allowed to manufacture drugs if they possess certain licenses or meet demanding standards.

These regulatory systems were introduced in order to protect patients from treatments that were ineffective or unsafe. Without such systems, numerous patients would have died as a result of unsafe drugs – often sold by negligent practitioners who made exaggerated claims on behalf of their product – or would have spent large amounts of money unnecessarily. Another problem would have been the spread of extreme resistance to antibiotics – as happens if antibiotic drugs are used too often. In other words, these systems have the intention of protecting the general health of the population from bad medical practice – whether that bad practice is deliberate, as in the case of fraud, or accidental, as in the case of incompetence.

However, an unintended consequence of regulatory systems is that access to new potential life-saving drugs can be delayed for long periods of time. Lacking the funding for extended trials, companies terminate investigations into various drugs before there is a chance to establish their true capabilities. As a result, healthcare suffers, badly.

Transhumanists anticipate a number of changes in healthcare that will preserve the intended benefits of the regulatory systems but diminish their drawbacks. The first category of changes is in improvements in testing new treatments. Advanced computer models can reduce the need for in-vivo trials. Improved understanding of variations between patients, in terms of their genetics, epigenetics, biome, and so on, can make it clearer which patients will actually benefit from a given treatment, and in which cases the same treatment would be dangerous. Other computer models can rapidly identify new uses for drugs which have already been proven to be safe from prior use treating other ailments.

Another category of change is in informed consent – when patients are fully aware of the risks and issues with a new drug, but decide to join a trial of it, whilst waiving their normal rights to sue for damages in case of adverse effects.

Finally, increased sharing of information between pharmaceutical companies, that normally carefully guard their research data (especially regarding failed approaches), will help society as a whole to avoid repeatedly wasting money essentially duplicating trials.

Public policy should prioritise all such steps, for the sake of greater human health, even though individual companies may fear some loss of revenue as a result.

It is also necessary to carry out searching reviews on a regular basis of the effects of regulatory systems, to determine options for improvements – especially in the light of new information. Any intrinsic tendency of regulatory systems towards self-preservation (inertia) should be met by powerful public counterforce. In parallel, any hidden vested interests of the regulators – such as prejudicial commercial ties to dominant companies – should be exposed and unwound.

Prevention rather than cure

The huge financial pressures faced by healthcare systems around the world can be alleviated by switching effort to prevention rather than cure. Rather than people adopting bad diets, bad lifestyles, or addictive drug regimes, and thereby becoming ill and requiring expensive treatments, it is much preferable for them to adopt and maintain healthy diets and healthy lifestyles. Timely scanning for early signs of looming health issues, provided they avoid risks of numerous false positives, can also enable smaller, earlier, interventions that cost less and have greater chance of success.

This switch from cure to prevention needs to overcome three issues. First, many companies will earn less revenues if the population remains healthier, since they can no longer provide expensive medical treatments on a long-term basis to people who have chronic conditions. Second, considerable confusion surrounds information about which diets and lifestyles are indeed healthy – since companies are skilled in marketing their products as being healthy even when that fact is debatable. Third, people often prefer bad diets and lifestyle, and stick with them, regardless of the information available to them.

These three issues can be overcome as follows. First, with wise steering of the economic environment, companies will be incentivised to provide services for prevention or early detection, rather than services that keep people chronically ill for long periods of time. Second, with better systems of collective intelligence, including the application of penalties for communications that are deliberately misleading, the existing fog of confusion can be lifted. And third, with greater emotional intelligence, psychological maturity, and a supportive social network, people will be less prone to making self-sabotaging choices. We’ll all find it easier than before, and more straightforward, to take positive actions in support of better health.

In parallel, the design of healthcare treatments needs to put a higher consideration on human factors alongside as technological ones. Factors that need greater attention include simplicity of use, respect for wide variations in expectation and habit between different patients, ease of incorporating treatments into diverse lifestyles, and sustainable business models. In some cases, the business models will involve public funding from the state – for courses of action that the state is best placed to coordinate.

Four waves towards an abundance of health

In summary, transhumanists can highlight a sequence of four overlapping waves of activity, leading in aggregate to a sustainable abundance of health.

The first wave involves smart improvements to current trends in healthcare – improvements to the design of treatments, emphasising lifestyle modifications, emphasising prevention over cure, and emphasising early intervention over late intervention, all as described in the previous section.

The second wave involves strengthening of what can be called the emerging mainstream healthspan extension movement within medicine. More and more doctors see as credible the possibility that healthy lifespans can be extended by at least seven years in total, by use of treatments that slow down the accumulation of damage throughout the body as people age. To its great credit, this movement is popularising the concept of the longevity dividend – that idea that diverting a portion of healthcare research funding from specific individual diseases to the general topic of aging, could result in wide-ranging economic payback.

The third wave looks beyond “mainstream healthspan extension” to “indefinite healthspan extension”. Rather than simply slowing down the accumulation of bodily damage as the years pass, this approach aims to reverse that damage. Rather than adding a few years to healthy lifespan, this approach envisions allowing people to live in a state of all-round good health for as long as they choose. Key to the difference in the second and third wave is the more comprehensive nature of the set of treatments envisioned – treatments that address all types of cellular damage and extracellular damage. The third wave is less developed than the second, and requires significantly more investment before its full potential can be realised.

The fourth wave looks beyond extending the current quality of good health, to enabling humans reaching markedly higher qualities of life than at present. Rather than repairing our organs and senses, returning them to their present status, this approach envisions our organs and senses being supercharged to greater capability and reliability. As transhumanists say, the future can be hugely better than the present.

All four waves deserve greater support. Accordingly, transhumanists operate at all four levels in parallel, depending on where the greatest impact can be made at any one time.

Beyond the profit motive

Within all four of the waves just described, business corporations – and underlying these corporations, the profit motive – can operate, sometimes as an ally, and sometimes as a foe.

The possibility of achieving financial gains from innovative healthcare solutions is something that has resulted in huge resources being deployed in support of researching and developing such solutions. Competition between different solution providers, when effective, has resulted in solutions reducing in price and growing in scope. All that is to be commended.

However, any company that is benefiting from sales of a particular healthcare product is inevitably motivated to oppose new entrants that would render their own product unattractive in comparison. Powerful companies can utilise many resources in undermining potential competitors. This power can result in regulatory systems that are biased towards existing sorts of solution rather than dramatically different ones. It can also result in a diversion of research funds away from new treatments with longer term positive potential, to incremental or cosmetic changes in present products. In other words – to repeat a theme that emerges regularly in this Manifesto – incumbent economic powerhouses are often inclined to remain within their present preferred wave of activity, rather than risking an uncertain disruptive move to a subsequent wave.

It therefore falls to transhumanists to keep in public mind the full potential benefits of later waves of healthcare innovation. In this way, we’ll prevent society from becoming preoccupied with a goal which, whilst useful in its own right, is by no means the final goal of human health.

In this endeavour, we’ll need to pull together the very best of human intelligence. That’s the subject of the next chapter.

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Q4 update: Progress towards “Sustainable superabundance”

TAM TOC graphic 2

Over the last few months, the “abundance manifesto” book has been coming into shape.

Thanks to many useful discussions with supporters of the Transpolitica vision, the book now bears the title “Sustainable Superabundance: A universal transhumanist manifesto for the 2020s and beyond. The basic framework has evolved through many iterations.

The goal remains that the book will be short (less than 100 pages), easy to read, and contain compelling calls-to-action.

Of the twelve chapter in the book, seven are essentially complete, and the other five are at various stages of preparation.

This list contains links to copies of the chapters that are essentially complete, along with placeholders for links to the remaining chapters:

  1. Advance!
  2. Superabundance ahead
  3. Beyond technology
  4. Principles and priorities
  5. Abundant energy
  6. Abundant food
  7. Abundant materials
  8. Abundant health
  9. Abundant intelligence
  10. Abundant creativity
  11. Abundant democracy
  12. Engage?

For convenience, a more detailed table of contents for the first seven chapters is appended below.

Feedback

Supporters of Transpolitica are invited to read through any parts of this material that catch their attention.

The best way to make comments on the content is via this shared Google document.

Once the book nears publication, a number of existing websites and communities will be restructured, to more usefully coordinate positive concrete action to accelerate the advent of sustainable superabundance.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Detailed table of contents

  1. Advance!
    • Time for action
  2. Superabundance ahead
    • An abundance of energy
    • An abundance of food and water
    • An abundance of material goods
    • An abundance of health and longevity
    • An abundance of all-round intelligence
    • An abundance of creativity and exploration
    • An abundance of collaboration and democracy
    • Time for action
  3. Beyond technology
    • Beyond present-day politics
    • Beyond present-day democracy
    • Beyond lowest common denominator voting
    • Beyond right and left
    • Beyond the free market
    • Beyond corporate financing
    • Beyond predetermined exponentials
  4. Principles and priorities
    • Nine core principles
    • Technocracy
    • Science
    • Transhumanism
    • Religion
    • Singularity
    • Exponential urgency
    • Technological determinism
    • Techno-optimism
    • Precaution and proaction
    • Diversity and inequality
    • Diversity accelerating
    • Coexistence
    • Human-like minds
    • Re-engineering natural ecosystems
    • Beyond hubris
    • Taking back control
  5. Abundant energy
    • Anticipating climate chaos
    • Taking climate seriously
    • Technology is not enough
    • Steering short-term financials
    • A battle of ideas
    • Beyond greenwash
    • A role for nuclear energy
    • A role for geoengineering
    • A wider view of environmental issues
  6. Abundant food
    • Population, onward and upward?
    • The legacy of Malthus
    • Necessity and innovation
    • In praise of biochemical innovation
    • More waves of innovation ahead
    • Towards feeding one hundred billion people
    • Risks posed by biochemical innovation
    • The move from harm to ruin
    • Rapid response
    • Beyond the profit motive
  7. Abundant materials
    • Approaching nanotechnology
    • Tools that improve tools
    • Waves and transitions
    • The fabrication of integrated circuits
    • 3D and 4D printing
    • New materials
    • Quantum computing
    • Nanomedicine
    • Six answers to scarcity
    • Risks posed by nanotechnology
    • Beyond the profit motive

 

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