Envisioning Politics 2.0

Available for purchase and download (from 30th June 2015)

Envisioning Politics 2.0Table of contents

  1. Zoltan Istvan’s “Teleological Egocentric Functionalism”: a libertarian philosophical basis for “Transhumanist” politics – by Roland Benedikter, Katja Siepmann, and Annabella McIntosh
  2. Four political futures: which will you choose? – by David W Wood
  3. How do governments add value to society? – by Bruce Lloyd
  4. The benefits of digital democracy – by Walter L.S. Burrough and Kay Firth-Butterfield
  5. Cyborgization: a possible solution to errors in human decision making – by Dana Edwards and Alexander J Karran
  6. Of mind and money: post-scarcity economics and human nature – by Stuart Mason Dambrot
  7. Voluntary basic incomes in a reputation economy – by Michael Hrenka
  8. Specifications: an engineer’s approach to upgrading politics – by René Milan
  9. Extended longevity: an argument for increased social commitment – by MH Wake
  10. Longevity, artificial intelligence and existential risks: opportunities and dangers – by Didier Coeurnelle
  11. Prolegomena to any future transhumanist politics – by Steve Fuller

About this book

The single most important task of the next ten years is to find better ways of cooperating. In an age of unprecedented crowds – both online and offline – the global human community urgently needs social mechanisms that will encourage the wisdom of crowds rather than the folly of crowds.

Our existing methods of mutual coordination seem to produce more strife than harmony these days. We’re struggling to cope with ever larger tensions and disruptions on the shrinking world stage. The nation state, the multinational business firm, the free market, the non-governmental organisation, the various international bodies of global coordination set up after the Second World War – all find themselves deeply challenged by the myriad fast-evolving overlapping waves of stress of the early twenty-first century.

We’re facing tragedies of the commons writ larger than ever before. The actions that make good sense to smaller groups often add up, perversely, to disastrous outcomes for the larger community. But attempts to coordinate actions to avoid such tragedies are falling foul of numerous deep-seated conflicts of interest.

Politics 1.0 has taken us a long way. But the multidimensional, intersecting nature of present-day issues and opportunities requires a new calibre of politics. Anticpating that new calibre of politics is the central purpose of the think tank Transpolitica which has published this volume.

The essays in this book provide visions of what Politics 2.0 might look like. They express the thoughts, hopes, and fears from a diverse mix of futurists, political thinkers, academics, and think-tank members. They explore various ways in which new technology might enable improved politics (analogous to the way in which technology enabled the emergence of a collaborative “Web 2.0” with community intelligence, superseding the top-down “Web 1.0”):

  • Relevant expert knowledge being quickly brought to vexed questions of subsidies, regulations, standards, and so on – rather than politicians being out of their depths
  • Automated fact-checking taking place in real-time, rather than mistakes and errant claims being allowed to influence political discussion for too long
  • Humans improving their own cognitive skills, as part of a process we can call cyborgization
  • External artificial intelligence augmenting the decision-making capabilities of humans
  • The insights of the transhumanist movement, which boldly upholds the possibility of a profound social transformation alongside human physical and mental enhancements.

Cover design

The book cover is based on a design by Alberto Rizzoli.

Recent Posts

Transpolitica 2016 – The questions asked

This page provides a public record of all the questions or comments submitted electronically via the Glisser tool in response to the presentations at Transpolitica 2016.

The number before each question indicates the number of upvotes received by the question.

David Wood, Executive Director, Transpolitica: “What prospects for better politics?”

  • 2: I fear that these suggested solutions might have the opposite effect to the desired and further decrease the need for critical evaluation of information. The solution should be to change the education from fact based to thinking based.
  • 1: The problem with typing text questions is you have to stop focusing on the speaker😦
  • 0: Following on from this, a rating system for the publications/individuals which would potentially affect their funding, ad’s less likely to be hosted with them.
  • 0: How will these developments affect the job market? Have any studies been on this subject?

Alex Flamant, Notion Capital: “Accelerating the regulatory approval of autonomous vehicles”

  • 3: Have you seen the MIT Moral Machine site on the ethics of autonomous driving technology? Will the public be able to accept the reality of decisions being taken like this?
  • 2: What do you think about self owning cars? (Bitcoin + uber + self driving)
  • 2: In which countries will AV be approved first?
  • 1: To mitigate against public fears how are the companies developing these technologies going to disclose the moral decision making process? When they are currently being secretive and competitive.
  • 1: But most people love driving!
  • 1: What happened in the Tesla crash that resulted in a death?
  • 0: Will cars in their present form be able to be updated to autonomous?
  • 0: Would this not make cars an expense for the rich and turn shared cars into personal busses?
  • 0: What is EU commission doing?
  • 0: From a car-hater: will cities put a total limit to number of cars?
  • 0: Would giving an AV permission to kill humans not potentially open the floodgates re Asimov’s first law of robotics?
  • 0: If economies of scale will network effect and therefore concentration of power, then what does that mean for our politics!
  • 0: On level 4 (full automation) the car would have to make a decision in the potential accident, how do you install ethics into a car when accident is inevitable? Would we need to install something similar to human reasoning? And if so, could it be global or only country specific?
  • 0: Is the huge economic impact not a problem – it seems many jobs from cab drivers to mechanics going out of business, especially if big companies do as you say and share say 200,000 vehicles that they maintain themselves?
  • 0: How should we cope with inevitable loss of job categories (taxi driver, lorry driver, bus driver,…)?

Anna Harrington Morozova, Scientific and Regulatory Director, REGEM Consulting: “Opportunities for changes in governance of biomedical innovations: choosing your battles”

  • 8: What would you say to opening up academic publishing sites to close the public-expert gap
  • 8: Surely a major source of conflict in this area is the vast evidence of amoral behaviour from large corporations?
  • 5: GMO crop companies like Monsanto monopolise seeds and make their seeds stetile to prevent reuse and force farmers to repurchase seeds each year, at premiums. GMO has a lot to offer, but do experts not see the problem it has already caused in the US?
  • 3: Interesting! Isn’t it important to define the main goals of our scientific “battles”. For me, number one is life extension, number two existential risks and number three: happiness. And for you?
  • 3: Are the FDA and other regulators sufficiently up-to-date with innovative new medical tech like personalised medicine?
  • 2: Withdrawing NHS funding for Alzheimer’s disease wasn’t very NICE of them.
  • 1: Pity the public is so badly educated!
  • 1: Experts fail in explaining the uncertainty in their conclusions: do you agree?
  • 1: Did you say you had a magnet? What is that?

Didier Coeurnelle, Co-president of Heales, “Making longevity politically mainstream, or die trying”

  • 6: Why don’t you put more focus on the economic arguments? National healthcare budgets are in crisis worldwide
  • 5: The older generation often struggles to adapt and understand the younger generation, they tend to be more conservative. Wouldn’t longevity stall the innovation?
  • 5: Would we still spend 50% of health care in last 6 months of life when aged 200?
  • 4: Are Aubrey de Grey and Ray Kurzweil aware of Heales and what are points of disagreement, if any, with their views?
  • 4: In the UK over the past few decades, improvements in healthcare have disproportionately extended the life expectancy of the most well-off in society. The life expectancy of the poorest has increased less than the richest. What market or political mechanisms would mean that the poorest benefited first?
  • 3: Would a longer lifespan result in a less efficient lifespan? In other words, what can you accomplish after the age of 80?
  • 3: Why is there a need to extend the lifespan or potentially get closer to immortality? What do you see people filling their spare time with?
  • 2: Given recent political trends in Europe in America, is it better for futurists to engage with the public and politics from the left or from the right?
  • 1: You didn’t mention grass roots activism for life extension?
  • 1: As longevity treatment is still in development, shouldn’t the public prioritise less work and improved access to healthier food, to better improve current life quality?
  • 0: Is our ability to support so many more people progressing at same pace as medical progress?

Alex Pearlman, Science Journalist, Kings College London: “The political future of genetic enhancements”

  • 3: Is ‘genetically better’ always the same as ‘better human’? Evolution is no respecter of species. Perhaps genetically better tends towards species differentiation. Do we have even the beginning of a politics that can address this?
  • 3: Would this not lead to less innovation as people will naturally seek to make their lives easier, and so flow towards these genetic changes. This would remove important perspectives born from experiences of hardship and challenge, and they are a central factor behind innovation.
  • 2: Compared to nuclear/atomic technology would you see human gene tech as deserving of a lesser/same/greater level of regulatory oversight and national/intergovernmental agreement and treaties?
  • 2: Is there a debate in China?
  • 1: Given the impending life extension tech and even the singularity, are genetic engineering technologies really all that significant?
  • 1: Why do you think transhumanism is white/male dominated and how should this be addressed?
  • 0: Why opinion of politicians is so important? If we simply do not want them to be the decision makers in subjects they are not any better experts than any other uneducated member of public, we need seemply push them away handing over the decision making to more capable and educated panel. Give politicians less attention and contribute to rise of expert community input.

José Cordeiro, Founding Energy Advisor/Faculty, Singularity University: “Practical and legal steps towards European cryonics”

  • 6: At present cryonics is nothing but a new belief system about afterlife. And businesses charging believers money to perform the ritual in line with that mythology. Please address how are you different from the older religions
  • 5: If we cure death, how do we decide which of 10 billion people get to live forever?
  • 5: Who pays the ongoing costs to keep clients cryogenically frozen? What if the business runs out of funds?
  • 4: Were the worms frozen alive? Is there a difference between the likelihood of being able to bring someone back if they have already died as opposed to being frozen when alive?
  • 3: Cryonics is essentially freezing a dead body. Reigniting the neurons in a brain may never be possible.
  • 2: When will the technology reach the point to successfully reanimate a cryopreserved human body?
  • 2: Any rejuvenation treatment available today?
  • 2: Why just worms and not mice?
  • 1: If King of Spain is cryogenically preserved, who will be king when he is reanimated?
  • 1: Scientists have for years been freezing worms, simply by putting them in -20 degrees freezer. We have some in the lab and they come back to life in 30 mins. I feel that a lot of facts on that topic are presented subjectively.
  • 1: What are you planning to do with your immortality?

Panel discussion featuring: Timothy Barnes, Founder and Senior Deity, The Rain Gods; Kathryn Corrick, COO Represent.me; Dan Brown, CEO of Meganexus Ltd

  • 11: Do recent events (eg Brexit) show that voters are generally poorly informed and not well-placed to decide on complex issues?
  • 7: How do you ensure the Represent tool does not just become a lobbying tool for particular factions?… ie loaded language add.
  • 6: Digital disruption isn’t ambitious enough. We need to modernised the hundreds of years old ways of policy and law making. Discuss!?
  • 6: Rather than new tech replacing existing ways of working, should we not be asking how the rile of government changes in a the age of networked populations?
  • 5: The key issue is how do governments add value to society?
  • 4: Can you comment on the fact that last few years phone numbers and email addresses disappeared from local councel websites. They may be digitilised but became much less accesable or accoubtable. What is the point exactly? Increased convenience for government to hide from public?
  • 1: Rents are cheaper in Berlin! And it will stay in EU
  • 1: Why so much focus on helping offenders when so many non-offenders cannot find jobs?
  • 1: Because the cost of offenders and reoffending is more to government.
  • 1: Does represent.me get any feedback from the government and do you have any examples when collected data influenced government decisions?
  • 0: How much AI is behind Represent.me?
  • 0: No! Communication isn’t the problem. The problem is transparency into who says what and why … #trust … There really isn’t a paucity of low barrier comms
  • 0: Could you address the matters of increased transparency with intriduction of digitalisation and the demand for higher level of trust to officials it brings. Would we need different type of governers as a result, these we can trust more.
  • 0: How will represent.me represent those outside the online community?
  • 0: Is this really different from 38Degrees or the Govt’s Petition.Parliament.uk

James Smith, Party Leader, Something New: “Building the world’s first open-source political manifesto”

  • 5: In my understanding OpenSource, in Linux unresolved questions can cascade up and up, until eventually the founder (Linus?) has to give a decision on most intractable. Is that the case here, adn therefore are early adopters / most frequent users most powerful?
  • 3: “massively distributed deliberation” for democracy as labour puts it is a fine ambition. Massive surveillance. Massive data. Massive deliberation. … Needs massive transparency to counter maybe misbehaviour. Discuss!?
  • 3: Couldn’t this same strategy of using github as an interface for seeing diffs over manifesto changes be applied to existing parties? Why is a new party required?
  • 2: Normally open source projects only have a handful of contributors who care enough about the code to get involved in the discussion process. Surely this would break down when you have millions of people who want to have a say?
  • 2: Is it really not a problem for James if he has no info on those Open Source contributors? Am thinking of people adding anonymously info to Wikipedia which benefits themselves and which isn’t based in fact (eg some UK MPs been caught at this!)
  • 1: Why don’t you allow blocked posts into the discussion? Isn’t the whole point of democracy that somebody always will disagree?! How do you ensure objectivity if you only built on what majority agrees on?
  • 1: Could other parties use your tools and systems for their own policy decisions?
  • 1: Why limit at the British level, why not at the world level this new democracy?
  • 1: Who edits the content? How do you control the quality of the material? How about if you don’t agree?
  • 0: Open democracy and “being back hanging” ?
  • 0: Is your ‘exit strategy’ to sell your platform to main parties?
  • 0: Have there been any forks?

Jason Blackstock, Head of Department, UCL STEaPP, “Practical steps towards better public decision-making”

  • 6: How do we solve the problem that large corporates like Facebook are run by small ‘boards’, primarily for profit, which is maximised by creating the echo chambers?
  • 4: Would you applaud the local trials of UBI (e.g in Dutch citites and Finland) as good examples of the experimental approach to politics that you advocate?
  • 1: Challenges faced by policymakers? Or challenges faced by citizens? There is a fundamental difference. Outside in view vs inside out view.
  • 0: I got a remote house with custom built satitation. As we built it I learnt all about sewage functioning and deal with its maintainance. If anything I feel empowered by that knowledge. And this makes me happier. Your statement that bad toilets, or a need to manage it, can make people unhappy got no factual grounds.

Alexander Karran, Senior Researcher, Transpolitica: “Surveillance capitalism: making big data work for all”

  • 5: Instead of storing data on the block chain, why not just encrypt it so it is only visible to those it was intended for, not the platform
  • 3: Our personal data must remain ours. Irrevocably. All “T+C” null and void. By a new Digital Bill of Rights Law. … Then all corporate use is only by temporary loan with power always with the human owner. …
  • 2: Don’t we swap our data for free Facebook?
  • 1: How does your solution deal with the self mirror issue? £10 for my data is not worth my son losing his opportunity to develop?
  • 1: Do we need to start with children’s education and ensuring digital rights are as familiar to young people as their human rights?
  • 0: Block chain is not the panacea. It’s only good for venture capital….

Tony Czarnecki, Managing Partner, Sustensis: “From long-term sustainable growth to the economy of abundance”

  • 7: Why do you say that knowledge doubles each year? Maybe, it is the quantity of data, but I do not think we do double our real knowledge each year (no new quantum theory each year for example).
  • 5: Is your roadmap to shared values and democracy based on “western” assumptions? Does it cope with cultural differences?
  • 3: What is your opinion on redistributing retirement throughout one’s life instead of receiving it in bulk at the end?
  • 2: How will these proposals ever come to pass? I agree that many of these things are needed but are they politically feasible. In what sense of ‘real world’ is this real world?
  • 0: If I understand correctly it is a democratic view restricted to a part of the population with some people having more rights than others (more weight). Do I understand correctly?

Dean Bubley, Founder, Disruptive Analysis: “Technological Unemployment? We can work through it”

  • 2: If 95% of someone’s job can be automated, won’t this mean that many fewer employees are needed?
  • 2: Can you comment on models like Uber which can disrupt existing sectors very quickly – benefitting consumers but at the expense of workers?
  • 1: Don’t the short term employment gaps only exacerbate the unemployment issue in the medium term when automation replaces those jobs (e.g. we train more lorry drivers, only to have to lay larger numbers of them off from 2018)?
  • 1: “Things don’t change overnight” but most people adapt at a _much_ lower pace, if ever. Therefore things do change “overnight”, Don’t they?
  • 1: What’s your opinion about impact different political and economic ideologies could have on how tech unemployment progresses?
  • 0: Paul Mason points to 6 guys with rags doing carwashes where once we had machines. If wages are low, why invest in automation?
  • 0: Is the issue not less about the lack of work and the impact of automation on inequality and on the environmental impact of the level of consumption required to sustain wage growth in an automated world?

Chris Monteiro, Principal contributor, H+Pedia: “Perceptions and projections of futurist political scenarios”

  • 3: Does State Fascism have to be necessarily dystopian? Are we not limiting ourselves categorising like that?
  • 2: What all those sci-fi scenarios get very wrong (hopefully) is that they still show _old_ people in the future. Did we abandon all rejuvenation pursuits?
  • 2: Might VR (Virtual Reality) not give people the chance to choose their own utopia where they can spend at least part of their time?

Final review questions (but there was no time to hold this session)

  • 1: Don’t like term Transhuman!
  • 1: Education is fundamental to the way society’s work. Pity not explicitly covered in otherwise excellent meeting today
  • 0: With 2008 crash most folk are pissed off with the politial establishment. That’s why we have Brexit, Corbyn and Trump. Governments must take on current form of capitalism
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