Transcending Politics

Transcending Politics

A Technoprogressive Roadmap to a Comprehensively Better Future

A better politics awaits us, beckoning us forward. It’s up to us – all of us – whether we recognise that call and take the required actions. Key to these actions will be to harness technology more wisely and more profoundly than before…

FiPo cover hires

Book availability

Ebook (Kindle) – Published on 11th Feb 2018

Paperback – Published on 7th March 2018

Audio – In preparation

About this book

Two statements from the opening chapter deserve highlighting:

There’s no escape: the journey to a healthier society inevitably involves politics…

The journey to a healthier society also inevitably involves transhumanism.

The intended readership is anyone who cares about the future.

From time to time, the book mentions political developments in the UK and the US. However, it should be of interest to readers around the world.

Politics is broken

The four supers

Endnotes

For convenience of readers, this page lists all the endnotes from Transcending Politics, in easily clickable form.

Table of contents

The links point to brief excerpts from the starts of each chapter.

  1. Vision and roadmap
    • The necessity of politics
    • The necessity of transhumanism
    • Power and corruption
    • Floods ahead
    • Steering technology
    • Roadmap ingredients
    • Transcending left and right?
    • Technocracy and its limits
    • The four technoprogressive pillars
  2. Battles and bewilderment
    • Politics at the speed of light
    • Falsehoods on the rise
    • Beyond homo economicus
    • In search of status
    • A battle worth fighting
  3. Fear and outrage
    • Violence declines, but outrage increases
    • Debunking, distracting, describing, doubting
    • Reasons to be outraged
    • The fog of connections
    • Two-edged crises
    • Science and spirit
    • Evidence ahead
  4. Work and purpose
    • The rise of the robots
    • Automation accelerates
    • Machine learning powers ahead
    • 80% job transformation?
    • Limits to retraining
    • Robots and humans in work partnership?
    • Three possible futures for automation
    • Citizen’s income Qs & As
    • The pace of change
  5. Surveillance and security
    • The perils of connectivity
    • Big Brother is watching
    • The Internet of Insecure Things
    • Taking control of surveillance and security
    • Small thinking won’t save the Internet
    • Controlling military AI
    • Controlling superintelligent AI
    • Raising awareness of the threat landscape
    • Towards truly beneficial AI
  6. Health and recovery
    • Technology is not enough
    • Exponential problems
    • Steering technology for better healthcare
    • Tackling root causes
    • The abolition of aging
    • The longevity dividend
    • Investing in rejuvenation
    • Becoming better than well
  7. Energy and emissions
    • The potential of green technology
    • Technology is not enough (again)
    • Unreliable politics
    • A disappointing decade
    • The countdown to climate catastrophe
    • A proper price for externalities
    • What Milton Friedman would do
  8. Exuberance and scarcity
    • Lost fortunes over the centuries
    • Overconfidence over the centuries
    • From slow change to fast change
    • Financial clouds gathering again
    • Economic maximisation is not enough
    • Animal spirits
    • A technoprogressive future for money
    • Investing for sustainable abundance
    • Constancy amidst change
  9. Markets and fundamentalists
    • Conflicting views on markets
    • Collusion and cartels
    • The abuse of market power
    • When competition needs to be curtailed
    • Restrictions on economic freedom
    • Determining boundaries and externalities
    • The dangers of absolutism
    • When regulations cripple innovation
    • Overcoming vested interests
    • Beyond economic fundamentalism
  10. Democracy and inclusion
    • Technoprogressive decision-making
    • When democracy goes wrong
    • Why democracy matters
    • Better voters for a better future
    • Better politicians for a better future
    • Beyond the stranglehold of political parties
    • Better elections for a better future
    • Could we dispense with politicians?
    • Why nations fail
  11. Nations and supernations
    • Assessing international politics
    • The prisoner’s dilemma
    • Globalisation unravelling
    • Towards technoprogressive globalisation
    • Curing the cancers
    • Divergence of vision and practice
    • Recognising and overcoming complexes
    • Democracy undermined
    • The debate over external interference
    • About platforms
    • A tangled isolationist alliance
    • An integrative technoprogressive alliance
  12. Humans and superhumans
    • Angels and demons
    • The new human in history
    • Year Zero
    • Utopia and Extropia
    • Pragmatically envisioning better humans
    • The technoprogressive feedback cycle
    • The Transhumanist Declaration
    • Practical transhumanism
    • Legislation impacting transhumanism
    • Towards enhancement
  13. Politics and leadership
    • Towards super-collaboration
    • Four breakthroughs ahead
    • Friction and decentralisation
    • Blockchain and politics
    • Action required
    • Iterating towards the Singularity
    • Building bridges to better politics
  14. Afterword
    • Communities well worth joining
    • Acknowledgements

Transpolitica asserts the right to be identified as the author of this material.

The cover design is by Kevin Hawkes – inquiries@22creative.co.uk.

Advance praise for Transcending Politics

“Politics plays a significant role in the possibility of our future survival and flourishing. But politics today is largely broken. In response, Wood urges us to embrace transhumanism – to use technology to overcome the limitations of brains formed in the Pleistocene. For without greater intelligence, emotional well-being, and better political institutions, we are doomed. This carefully and conscientiously crafted work defends this thesis with vigour, and it is a welcome relief from the ubiquitous nonsense that passes for political dialogue today. Let us hope that it informs that dialogue and fuels action.”
– John G Messerly Ph.D, Author of “Reason and Meaning” – one of the “Top 100 Philosophy Blogs on the Planet”

“In the big question ‘If politics is broken, what’s the Alternative’, David Wood gives us a short-cut to the answer. The first clue is in the title ‘Transcending Politics’ because in order to reap the benefits of all that is coming down the line in terms of biology, technology and AI, what we currently understand as politics has to be left behind.
“From homo economicus to transhumanism and the abolition of aging. From knocking on doors every five years to liquid democracy and citizens’ assemblies. From nations competing in global markets to transnational networks sharing artificial intelligence and energy sources. It’s all there – and with heart.
“This book will be a key text for The Alternative UK political platform.”
– Indra Adnan, Co-initiator, The Alternative UK

“For anyone interested in whatever comes next for a truly technoprogressive society, David Wood lays out in clear, accessible language not only the case for why the politics of the future must be transformed, but also the way in which we might want to go about it. The topics he covers represent some of the most important conversations we need to be having as a society, today, here and now, before it’s too late.”
– Gareth John, Independent Researcher, Aberystwyth, UK

“Most transhumanism advocates wish to ‘transcend’ politics in the sense of replacing it – that is, when they’re not trying to avoid it altogether. Their utopian visions may be clear but they haven’t a clue about how to achieve them. David Wood is relatively unique in addressing this matter head on. A particularly refreshing feature of his approach is that he is willing to accept people as they are before attempting to foist a radical future on them. Wood combines the right balance of enthusiasm and sobriety to take forward a truly ‘technoprogressive’ vision for transhumanism.”
– Prof Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology, University of Warwick

“Politics is broken. If it ever worked, it did so poorly. We live in amazing times where tools to analyze and fix our problems are now available. Why not apply them to politics? In this fascinating and informative book, David Wood takes us on a tour of the near future. He explores what’s happening, why and how we can harness the promise of technology to move beyond red team/blue team bickering to a place where government decisions have transparency and effect.”
– Toby Unwin, Chief Innovation Officer, Premonition LLC

“Jeremy Bentham meets Charlie Stross in David Wood’s creative patchwork of classical politics and radical transhumanist transformation.”
– Giulio Prisco, Board Member, IEET

“This book is important, bold, and clear.  It deals with the major issues that humanity must face in the coming years and decades, and it does not prevaricate, or run away from conclusions which are startling or unsettling.  It is written in a clear, forthright style that both experts and newcomers will enjoy.”
– Calum Chace, Author of The Economic Singularity and Surviving AI

“Humanity has reached a bifurcation point where we either develop significantly more advanced capabilities, including better politics and better humans powered by better algorithms and tech, or descend into a new Dark Age – but this time with WMDs, global surveillance systems etc. Rampant short-termism, together with attempts to preserve the status quo at any price, is leading to the latter. The ideas and suggestions laid bare in this book advance the former. As the final outcome is not set in stone and depends on everyone’s thoughts, attitudes, and actions, I sincerely hope this work will steer readers towards contributing to the desired positive technoprogressive solution. The healthy dose of idealism and measured positivity in the book could be just what we need in these times of turmoil and upcoming radical change.”
– Andrew Vladimirov, Co-founder and Chief Information Security Officer, Arhont Information Security

“David Wood’s Transcending Politics frames the transformation of our politics around the breadth of today’s technological opportunities. It looks at how governance could maximally benefit from technological advances but also how a failure to govern and to integrate them exposes us, humanity, to much more serious existential threats. If there is any problem with the book it is that it makes too much good sense compared to the level of political discourse that we are living in. So depending on where you come from you will think the book is either too ideal to be practical, a parachute, or a breath of fresh air.”
– Yates Buckley, Technical Partner, UNIT9, London

“David Wood’s scenarios for the future are so engaging that Transcending Politics will become a must-read for anyone engaged in politics or interested in the future of humanity. Readers will be captivated by the author’s description of potential impact of exponential growth of technology on human progress, and the changes needed in the relationships between the governed and the governing if we are to mitigate successfully the plethora of existential risks facing humanity.
Transcending Politics is a book about the future, but key parts relate to the author’s view of the present. For example his assessment of us as humans, how our biological traits shape our emotions and political decisions, is remarkable. That’s why I find the chapter ‘Democracy and Inclusion’ to be particularly inspiring. This is also shown when he discusses the reasons why people voted for Brexit and the underlying themes of the populists that won the hearts of Brexit voters. It is this objective, calm and very well-reasoned set of arguments that makes this book outstanding.”
– Tony Czarnecki, Managing Partner, Sustensis

“David Wood has already written one extraordinary book concerning the future impact of technology: The Abolition of Aging. His important new book Transcending Politics advances an even richer mix of ideas concerning the hopes, fears and possibilities of our collective future. It will help people and organizations to reach a clearer understanding of the main political and technological issues of our time – and to accelerate steps towards a truly healthy society.”
– Didier Coeurnelle, Director of the International Longevity Alliance and Vice-President of the Association Française Transhumaniste Technoprog

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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