The current foundation phase of “Transhumanist” politics deserves a critical discussion of the philosophical principles that implicitly underlie its new political organization. As part of the effort towards a self-critical evaluation of political transhumanism, which is undoubtedly still in a very early phase of development, this chapter discusses the philosophy drafted by the founder of the “Transhumanist Party of the USA”, Zoltan Istvan, in his bestselling novel “The Transhumanist Wager” (2013) dedicated to develop the vision of a better society. Istvan called the philosophy underlying his meta-national, if not global, vision “Teleological Egocentric Functionalism”. We discuss the achievements, contradictions and dialectics of and within this philosophy; its possible relation to realistic social policy programs; as well as the potential implications and consequences. The goal is to achieve a more considered overall discourse at the contested new ideological interface between humanism and transhumanism which could define an influential zeitgeist of our time.
Politics is being shaped by our responses to the prospect of accelerating, exponential technological change. Technosceptics deny accelerating change will occur. Technoconservatives accept that accelerating change poses radical questions, and want to stem the tide of change. Technolibertarians believe accelerating change will be for the best, and technology and capitalism just need to be left to work their wonders. Technoprogressives believe accelerating change poses serious risks as well as rewards, and that we can maximize the rewards and minimize the risks through public policy.
Authors Peter H. Diamandis and Steve Kotler have created just about the perfect handbook when it comes to envisioning a technically advanced, democratic and thriving society. Written in 2012, this book is still an important read for anyone who’s interested in a technical future where humanity finally rises above the mire it has been tethered to for millennia.
Today, I retract my support. Although EA’s core intention is morally commendable - donating “expendable income” to world-improving causes - there are multiple details in its strategy and organization that are sloppy, simplistic, ethically dubious and downright foolish.
It pains me to reach this conclusion. Here’s how it happened:
I just finished reading Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. This is a nonfiction book in which Ford predicts that all jobs will soon be automated away, and that this will lead to an economic crash, since no one will have any money to buy anything. I’ve written about this idea before, and Ford’s position hasn’t changed much since his previous book, Lights in the Tunnel.
In 2008 i was shocked to read that Lehman Brothers had accumulated a total debt of $613 billion: imagine what the world could do with that much money, money that just one firm managed to lose. At the time i was in Africa and i remember checking the GDP of African countries: i was amazed to realize that (in 2008) this amount was more than the GDP of any African country.
It is hard to believe, but in five years the money spent to save Greece from bankruptcy amounts to 350 billion euros (as calculated by the Greek statistics agency ELSTAT), which is about $400 billion.
In Nick Bostrom’s essay, Transhumanist Values, he states in the first sentence that transhumanism is “a loosely defined movement.” Further into the essay, he lists five “examples of currents within transhumanism.”
At some point technology will allow us to live forever. With billionaires spending millions on research  and huge corporations such as Google getting in on the act, very soon we are likely to see rapid advances in life expectancy – with the ultimate aim of radical life extension. All diseases will be cured, and the cellular aging that leads to the deterioration in body and mind will be slowed and eventually reversed so that everybody can choose how long they want to live for.
“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
So said white supremacist Dylann Roof to black members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as he systematically executed nine, leaving one woman and a five-year-old child to bear witness to the slaughter.
The US and Cuba resumed diplomatic relations today for the first time in 54 years. The US embargo of Cuba continues, in part because of people who have never been to Cuba but claim to be victims of Cuba, like Marco Rubio.
Let’s assume technological unemployment is going to happen. Let’s assume that automating technologies will take over the majority of economically productive labour. It’s a controversial assumption, to be sure, but one with some argumentative basis. Should we welcome this possibility? On previous occasions, I have outlined some arguments for thinking that we should. In essence, these arguments claimed that if we could solve the distributional problems arising from technological unemployment (e.g. through a basic income guarantee), then freedom from work could be a boon in terms of personal autonomy, well-being and fulfillment.
There’s a common belief that people who don’t have jobs somehow just aren’t trying hard enough, and this belief is therefore based on the idea that there are enough jobs for everyone. To get a job, all one really needs to do is just try hard enough.
Our struggling economy. Our struggling democracy. The income gap. Technology and artificial intelligence. At first glance, these things might not seem connected, but upon closer inspection, I find they’re all part of one impulse, and together they create the web of humanity—and our future.
The Singularity is near! That’s what a lot of us futurists have been planning for since we first came to understand the exponential growth rate of information technologies. What this technological singularity entails, however, is an entirely different question, and one of which requires radical thinking. One such author, C. James Townsend, has ventured himself on the quest of answering this very question – not just from a scientific or technological viewpoint, but equally an economic and political one as well!
The small community of Kyarumba, Uganda, is located in the southern end of Rwenzori Mountains (aka Mountains of the Moon). It straddles a wild river that is prone to flooding. The community recently got electricity.
It’s been in the news a lot lately. Women make up 50% of the users of technology, but hold only 17.6% of Computer Science degrees. Why is there such an imbalance? I’ve been reading about it and find myself stumped…it doesn’t make any sense.
You have probably noticed it already. There is a strange logic at the heart of the modern tech industry. The goal of many new tech startups is not to produce products or services for which consumers are willing to pay. Instead, the goal is create a digital platform or hub that will capture information from as many users as possible — to grab as many ‘eyeballs’ as you can. This information can then be analysed, repackaged and monetised in various ways. The appetite for this information-capture and analysis seems to be insatiable, with ever increasing volumes of information being extracted and analysed from an ever-expanding array of data-monitoring technologies.
Last Thursday was launch day for Pope Francis’s historic anticapitalist revolution, a multitargeted global revolution against out-of-control free-market capitalism driven by consumerism, against destruction of the planet’s environment, climate and natural resources for personal profits and against the greediest science deniers.
I have found that most of the big supporters of UBI are millennials and younger. This isn’t surprising, as they have the most to lose if we do nothing about the rising costs of being alive in the US, and the least to lose if we do change our economic policies from scarcity to abundance. Millennials have come of age in a terrible job market combined with huge student debt. Many of them live at home, because they lack the basic income needed to launch an adult life. Their earnings-to-debt ratios define them as a group.
A few years ago, Gulu was the center of an ugly uprising that left northern Uganda in dire straights. Since the defeat of the rebel group–the Lord’s Resistance Army–the area is in recovery, but is still poor.
Our objectives in being in the Gulu area were threefold:
The 2016 Presidential elections are well underway. As usual, many topics will be discussed, but there are many other important policies that will be left untouched. The scripted, binary world of American Politics leaves out much of importance during its process, preferring instead to emphasize fear tactics as a means of garnering votes.
One of the more important issues on the table for me is Universal Basic Income. This is not welfare, or assistance, or social security. This is a guarantee that every single human being in our society has shelter, food and health care. UBI is a call to finally use our technology to provide the most basic needs to all our citizens.
In 2001, U.S. military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015.
These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now, not counting state and local spending on the military.
Few political advisors would suggest running on a platform of open hostility toward the elderly. Most families include an older person, after all, and everyone who lives long enough will become older themselves someday.
Seniors vote in greater numbers, too.
That may be why the GOP isn’t openly presenting itself as the “anti-elderly party.” But how else are we to interpret its deeds and actions? Its leading presidential candidates are pushing cuts to Social Security, while its congressional budgets would end Medicare as we know it.