FAQ (Abundance)

FAQ: The Technoprogressive Plan

TPP FAQ

This page contains a snapshot of the FAQ of the Technoprogressive Plan: Sustainable Abundance for All – referred to, for brevity, as the Plan.

Click here to read the Plan itself. Note that material formerly in the FAQ is being moved selectively into the Plan itself.

The FAQ remains a work in progress. To propose changes, to ask questions, or to offer support, regarding the FAQ or the Plan itself, please use this online shared document.

Note that this page will be updated regularly over the next few weeks. The present contents are up-to-date as of 15:10 UK time on 10th July 2018.

(Picture source: Geralt on Pixabay.)

FAQ: About the Plan

If people like what they see in the Technoprogressive Plan, what should they consider doing next?

Improve and extend this FAQ. Query parts where the answers seem inadequate. Raise new questions that come to mind.

Suggest improvements to the core parts of the Plan.

Suggested improvements can be made via this online shared document.

Find or create graphics to illustrate the Plan.

Take some of the ideas in the Plan, and express them in other formats, such as videos, articles, and memes.

Find and develop opportunities to express the ideas of the Plan to different audiences.

Where are the ideas behind the Plan explored in greater detail?

See the book “Transcending Politics”, and, in turn, the references mentioned there.

See also articles on the online transhumanist wiki H+Pedia.

The set of incidents which led to the project to create the Plan are described on a blogpost on the Transpolitica website.

Who is the intended audience of the Plan?

Anyone who is concerned about the future – either for themselves, or for humanity.

Anyone who may be motivated to take positive action to move humanity more quickly and reliably to the future state described in the Plan.

People in any country of the world; the principles discussed are intended to be universal, rather than specific to individual locales.

The contents of the Plan are intended to be academically defensible, but accessible to a wide readership.

What is the process to agree changes in the Plan?

Initially, suggested changes are considered by the original author of the Plan operating as a “benign dictator”. In time, this will evolve into a wider review process.

The wider review process will involve group discussions among a set of people with an acknowledged positive track record as contributors of ideas to the Plan.

The review process will itself be published and subject to further evolution.

How is the Technoprogressive Plan distinguished from other transhumanist declarations, manifestos, and documents?

With its particular emphasis on positive, simple ideas, and with its specific call-to-action for the roadmap to be jointly developed.

By highlighting the desirable future state, rather than the problems of the present or the existential risks that will need to be managed.

Previous documents from the transhumanist community that deserve to be studied, during the review phase of the Plan, in case themes they cover deserve to be addressed here too, include the Transhumanist Declaration, the Transhumanist FAQ, the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, the Technoprogressive Declaration, Ten Cosmist Convictions, the Transpolitica Manifesto, the Transpolitica FAQ, and a range of alternative Transhumanist Declarations created in 2013.

Why does the Plan seemingly downplay the problems of the present and existential risks?

It’s a matter of where the conversation should start. It changes the spirit of the conversation to start with the big picture of the highly desirable future state of sustainable abundance. From that starting point, other topics can be reintroduced in time, including (see later in this FAQ) existential risks.

Would “post-scarcity” be a better term to use than “abundance”?

“Abundance” is preferable to “post-scarcity”, both on account of being a simpler word, and on account of being an intrinsically more positive term (it avoids the word “scarcity” which is part of “post-scarcity”).

Replacing “abundance” with “post-scarcity” throughout the Plan would make many sentences more unwieldy.

FAQ: General

What position does the Plan take towards the Simulation Argument?

The Plan recognises the theoretical possibility that all human life is taking place inside a complex computer-powered simulation operated from outside of the universe by minds with enormously greater powers than present-day humans. The operators would occupy in some aspects the same role as filled by divinity in traditional religions.

It is hard to be confident about any numerical estimate for the likelihood that we are actually living in a simulation.

In case we do happen to be living in a simulation, we currently have no insight as how to influence the operators to modify the simulation in ways beneficial for human flourishing. Nor do we know if any of our actions might influence the operators to terminate the simulation, or to otherwise adversely impact human experience. The traditional arguments about theodicy – the challenges posed to belief in a benevolent deity by the wide prevalence of arbitrary suffering – also mean we can have little conception of the motivation of any operators of the simulation.

In view of these uncertainties, the most practical approach is to act as if we are not living in a simulation.

Nevertheless, the subject deserves ongoing debate, in case it becomes clear that there are indeed actions which we should pursue (or avoid), on account of how they might cause the operators of the simulation to react towards us.

What position does the Plan take towards the existence of extraterrestrial life?

Questions about the existence of intelligent alien life outside the Earth are comparable to questions about whether we are living in a simulation. In both cases, the probabilities are hard to estimate, and the motivations of any non-human intelligences are hard to anticipate.

In both cases, the practical approach is to act as if no such non-human intelligences exist, whilst nevertheless continuing to look for principles governing our behaviour just in case we are being observed from beyond the Earth.

FAQ: Politics and abundance

What position does the Plan take towards money?

It can be argued that the need for money will disappear once all goods and services are available in abundance. The Plan foresees an abundance of all goods and services needed for the basics of human flourishing. However, it’s likely that various goods and services – including new inventions – will remain scarce and therefore “premium”. Money will therefore continue to have a role in the longer term, in helping to mediate access to premium items.

In the shorter term, money has a critical role in the transitional period before the advent of sustainable abundance. Democratic oversight is needed for the design and development of monetary systems.

Money can be regarded as a technology with (like other technologies) both good and bad potential, which should fall under democratic review and supervision.

The same assessment applies to the practice of creating money by “fiat”, such as printing additional banknotes, or unilaterally increasing the quantity of currency in someone’s account. Depending on circumstances, such steps can either assist or endanger the wellbeing of the economy.

What position does the Plan take towards cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies are an innovative extension of traditional currencies, and can perform many of the functions of previous monetary systems. Despite being based on mathematics and computation, cryptocurrencies are no less “real” than previous currencies.

Cryptocurrencies potentially have the advantage of being free from value erosion or manipulation arising from actions by central banks or politicians. However, their value may be manipulated by other vested interests, such as has occurred in the case of Bitcoin.

By design, due to a fixed cap on the total number of units of the currency that can ever be created, some cryptocurrencies are immune from inflation. However, elements of inflation are on occasion useful in an economy, so this fact provides no reason to absolutely prefer these cryptocurrencies over alternatives. Instead, the Plan expects a number of different types of currency to coexist, including some that support inflation and others that don’t.

Alongside their potential advantages, cryptocurrencies need to address issues such as large energy consumption (for “mining” and block verification), slowness of transaction speed, high transaction costs, and volatility of value. It is likely that various cryptocurrencies will emerge that address these issues in different ways. It’s too early to foresee the full landscape of solutions. However, whilst the field deserves attention, it seems unlikely to be as revolutionary as various adherents sometimes claim.

Due to the potential for fraud, cryptocurrencies require democratic oversight – the same as for other financial systems.

What position does the Plan take towards decentralisation?

Centralisation has drawbacks when processes are unnecessarily delayed, or can be manipulated or exploited, by the involvement of intermediaries. Where possible, processes of all sorts should be redesigned to avoid intermediaries.

However, many processes, left to run by themselves, have a risk of causing damage to the participants, or to the wider environment. For this reason, the Plan advocates democratic oversight of all significant processes in society. The two principles – a preference for decentralisation, and the need for democratic oversight – are evidently in tension with each other. This tension needs to be recognised and wisely managed.

The emerging technology of decentralised ledgers – including blockchain – provides many innovative opportunities for the redesign of social processes. These redesigns need to pay attention to questions of potential fraud and tax evasion, and to the risk of unstoppable “smart contracts” whose operation may subsequently be regretted by participants.

What are the ways in which technology can have a negative impact on politics?

Just as technology can have either a bad or good influence on society, so also it can have either a bad or a good influence on politics. The determining factor in both cases is the level of wisdom, strength, and agility brought to managing the technology. The more powerful technology becomes, the greater the need for wisdom, strength, and agility.

Technology enables greater surveillance and greater manipulation of members of society by forces seeking extra influence. This includes use of subtle psychological techniques to frighten or incite people to choices that are different from their actual best interests.

The pressures to increase attention on social media result in postings that push people into emotional reactions rather than careful deliberation; they push people into tribal instincts rather than respect for objective analysis.

Potential enormous impacts from cyber-sabotage, nerve agents, and various weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, and nuclear) – whether wielded by enemy states or by terrorist groups – raise tensions and risk pushing politicians into more extreme decisions.

What are the ways in which technology can have a positive impact on politics?

In an extension to current technology that highlights misspellings or incorrect grammar, technology can highlight which factual claims have been assessed as false or misleading.

Technology can highlight logical flaws in arguments, and cases where the provenance of data is suspect.

Technology can facilitate the systematic collection and analysis of information relevant to decisions, in ways that build on the successes of Wikipedia.

By analysing arguments, technology can suggest new proposals that integrate different perspectives in compelling ways, and thereby help build bridges between the opposing sides in a debate.

Technology can power simulated environments in which the potential outcomes of policy changes can be investigated in advance.

Technology can assist politicians to deliberate more calmly on decisions, rather than being panicked into flawed decisions in tired or emotive circumstances.

What are the proposals of the Plan to improve the conduct of politics?

Greater sanctions and penalties should be applied in cases when the political discussion is deliberately distorted by false information or by failing to declare vested interests. In this way, the same kind of rules would be applied as are already in place for misleading advertising or misleading financial information.

Politicians should be encouraged and enabled to speak their own minds, rather than having to follow party lines in cases where their own assessment differs from that of the party hierarchy.

What position does the Plan take towards proportional representation?

Political systems with first-past-the-post elections pose unnecessarily high barriers of entry to newer ideas. Systems with proportional representation allow more fluid introduction of innovative political forces.

Political systems with proportional representation often lead to the need for parties to form coalition governments. The skill of forming coalitions is a positive asset which should be nurtured.

Political systems with large constituencies in which more than one politician is selected, can combine the positive aspects of proportional representation with the advantage of links between constituencies and elected representatives.

Should a political party be formed around the Plan?

Ahead of the formation of a party that seeks to win elections (locally, nationally, or supranationally), the first practical steps are to influence people in existing parties to adopt the policies of the Plan.

The Transhumanist Party (UK) could adopt this Plan and could run campaigns and projects based on its content. Specifically, it could publish videos inspired by the Plan on its YouTube channel.

As the reputation of the Transhumanist Party (UK) grows, and if the political circumstances in the UK change – for example, making it easier for new parties to gain electoral support – the Party can retain the option to field candidates at such a time.

FAQ: Food and water

What position does the Plan take towards genetically modified (GM) food?

Answer

FAQ: Material goods

Questions…

What position does the Plan take towards capital punishment?

Any actions that cause the involuntary death of another human are to be strongly resisted. This includes capital punishment.

What position does the Plan take towards suicide?

Suicide statistics include: known suicides, unreported suicides, and attempted suicide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year nearly one million people die from suicide. This is a global tragedy.

Transhumanism takes the position that the main causes of suicide (depression, substance abuse and emotional pain) can be cured through a combination of traditional and new therapies. A world of abundance is a world without any need for suicide.

Nevertheless, transhumanism recognises that, when someone is mortally ill, they may wish to accelerate the commencement of cryonic suspension, in order to reduce the amount of damage that takes place (for example, in the brain) during the progression of the illness. Transhumanism is therefore disposed to support occasional instances of assisted suicide (“euthanasia”), especially when the person in question has in mind achieving a better cryonic suspension (known, accordingly, as “cryothanasia”).

What position does the Plan take towards cryonics?

Answer

FAQ: All-round intelligence

What position does the Plan take toward psychoactive drugs?

Answer

What position does the Plan take towards AGI?

Answer

FAQ: Creativity and exploration

What position does the Plan take towards UBI?

Answer

FAQ: Society and collaboration

What position does the Plan take toward military expenditure?

Answer

What position does the Plan take towards LAWS?

Answer

What position does the Plan take towards patents?

Answer

FAQ: Conclusion

Which pieces of legislation does the Plan imply should be changed as a priority?

Answer

What’s the connection with the book “Abundance” by Peter Diamandis?

Answer

What’s the connection with the book “Radical Abundance” by Eric Drexler?

Answer

Which individuals and organisations have declared public support for the Plan?

Watch this space!

Recent Posts

Q3 sprint: launch the Abundance Manifesto

I’m writing to share early news of a planned pivot involving Transpolitica and/or the Transhumanist Party UK.

This pivot will taken place over the next few months. Progressing this pivot is the goal of the forthcoming Q3 sprint for Transpolitica.

The pivot is to place more focus on one particular idea: clarifying the forthcoming era of sustainable abundance. This will happen via the vehicle of a new document – a new manifesto – which (all being well) will be published as a short new book some time later this year.

I’ve been led to this change by reflecting on a number of developments over the last few months, including discussions at last Saturday’s London Futurists conference on Universal Basic Income and/or Alternatives. Another factor influencing my thinking is the responses to my book Transcending Politics. Whilst I’m pleased at the content of that book, I can see that many readers would prefer a simpler introduction to the subject.

Hence the new document, which bears the working title The Transhumanist Abundance Manifesto.

It is presently mainly text, but the idea is that it will contain graphics as well.

As you’ll see, the document contains a call-to-action. If you’re able to help improve the document – particularly the FAQ section at the end (which I envision will grow to at least one hundred questions over the next few weeks), please add your comments and suggestions in this Google doc.

The Manifesto is split into three parts:

  1. An opening invitation, “Advance!” (roughly one page of A4)
  2. Sections explaining “Abundance awaits” (roughly three pages of A4)
  3. FAQ (to form an extended appendix to the previous sections).

For ease of viewing, here’s a current snapshot of the first two sections.

The cosmos beckons

(Picture source: Genty on Pixabay.)

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