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Radical Futurism for Newbies (A Brief Reading List)
Ben Goertzel   Jun 13, 2012  

This article presents a series of links to online articles and essays, that I feel are useful for bringing “newbies” up to speed on some of the main currents of modern transhumanist / radical-futurist / Singularitarian thinking, science and technology.

When assembling these links I was heavily biased toward articles that were short, punchy and don’t require much technical background; but in a few cases I chose articles deviating slightly from these properties, because I wanted to include a certain topic and couldn’t find anything sufficiently “short + simple + explanatory” on that topic.

Omission of an article or its author here should certainly not be taken as a negative statement.

Nearly all of the authors included here have also written a bunch of other relevant stuff, and/or given a bunch of relevant talks, so searching these authors’ names on the Net will dig up a lot of other relevant material.

I thought, for a bit, about assembling these articles (perhaps plus or minus a few) into a book titled “Our Transhuman Future” or some such. Maybe that will happen one day. But for now, it’s a lot easier to assemble a Web page!


A classic call for transhumanist action by Max More, the main author of the formal philosophy of transhumanism… 
A Letter to Mother Nature

A humorous argument against trans-simianism by some conservative apes: 
A Thinking Ape’s Critique of Trans-Simianism

The Transhumanist Declaration, a brief list of principles of the philosophy of transhumanism, co-authored by a number of transhumanist thinkers associated with the Extropy Institute and the “World Transhumanist Organization”, an organization more recently re-named “Humanity+”
  The Transhumanist Declaration

Giulio Prisco and I briefly summarize our Cosmist philosophy of life, the universe and everything:
 Ten Cosmist Convictions

Exponential Advance & the Singularity

The classic article by Vernor Vinge from 1993, that introduced the notion of the “Technological Singularity”: 
The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era

Richard Loosemore and I argue why an “intelligence explosion” leading to a technological Singularity is a plausible thing to expect:
 Why an Intelligence Explosion is Probable

Singularitarian thinker Eliezer Yudkowsky briefly reflecting on
 The Power of Intelligence

Inventor and Singularity pundit Ray Kurzweil summarizes his argument that the Singularity is near, based on studying the exponential advancement of various critical technologies: 
The Law of Accelerating Returns

Jose’ Cordeiro on the “Energularity”, the exponential increase in energy consumption going along with the Singularity: 
The Energularity

I argue that we could create a Singularity in less than a decade, with a concerted effort focused on creating advanced artificial general intelligence:
 The Years to the Singularity, If We Really, Really Try

Max More argues that a gradual Surge is more likely than a sudden Singularity,
 Singularity and Surge Scenarios

Futurist John Smart argues that once a species passes its Singularity, it probably vanishes from the sort of physical domain we live in, and enters orders of being more supportive of massive intelligence, such as perhaps the interiors of black holes:
 The Transcension Hypothesis: Sufficiently Advanced Civilizations May Invariably Leave Our Universe, and Implications for METI and SETI

Radical Life Extension & Expansion

Transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom, writing in 2002 on the website, summarized the reasons for trying to eliminate aging quite succinctly:
 The Case Against Aging

Bostrom’s charming, insightful fable about the value of combating aging:
 The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

Aubrey de Grey, currently the planet’s leading advocate of life extension research, argues in more detail why the end of aging is an important thing to be focusing on:
 Old People Are People Too: Why It Is Our Duty to Fight Aging to the Death

Aubrey briefly summarizes his notion of the “Methuselarity”, as distinct from (though potentially coupled with) the Singularity, 
The Methuselarity and Longevity Escape Velocity

Life Extension Magazine’s review of Aubrey’s book “Ending Aging” gives a quick summary of its main points and themes
 Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime

An article I wrote a couple years ago, discussing some ways that AI can help advance the cause of radical human longevity.
 AIs, Superflies and the Path to Immortality

Natasha Vita-More considers how the human body may get intentionally morphed and evolved as technology advances:
 Designing Human 2.0

Nanotechnology & Synthetic Biology

The first chapter of nanotech pioneer Eric Drexler’s classic 1986 popular-audience book on nanotech, 
Engines of Creation

A brief overview of the state of the art in nano, from the Foresight Institute
 An Overview of Nanotechnology

Josh Hall’s tantalizing concept of nanotech utility fog: 
Utility Fog

Two Indian scientists, Paras Chopral and Akhil Kamma, have written a very clear overview of the emerging field of synthetic biology — which may be considered a special variety of nanotechnology. 
Engineering Life through Synthetic Biology

AI & Robotics

Robotics pioneer Hans Moravec speculates about the future of robotics:
 Robots, After All
AI researcher Josh Hall reflects on machine ethics, and the desirability of creating AIs that are not only smarter than people but also more ethical:
Ethics for Machines

Pei Wang’s overview of the modern field of Artificial General Intelligence:
 Artificial General Intelligence: A Gentle Inroduction/a>

Mind Uploading & Brain Computer Interfacing

Neuroscientist Randal Koene on the feasibility and desirability of mind uploading (note, he prefers the phrase “substrate independent minds”):
 A Window of Opportunity

Neuroscientist Ken Hayworth summarizes (in an erudite, witty, and scientifically sound way) the argument that mind uploading really does comprise a meaningful form of radical life extension: 
Killed by Bad Philosophy

In case you die before mind uploading becomes feasible, cryonics may be the best option, as noted by SF author and physicist Gregory Benford in this brief essay: 
Considering Cryonics

Giulio Prisco’s humorous but heartfelt reflection on the possibility of getting mind-uploaded from the texts and videos one has left behind:
 Mind Uploading via Gmail

A brief article I wrote about brain-computer interfacing:
 Brain-Computer Interfacing: From Prosthetic Limbs to Telepathy Chips

The Global Brain & the Transformation of Society

Francis Heylighen, probably the foremost proponent of the “Global Brain” concept, outlines his vision:
 From World-Wide Web to Global Brain

In Chapter One of his classic book The Transparent Society, SF writer and futurist David Brin summarizes his vision of a future characterized by “sousveillance”, in which privacy is gone and everyone watches everyone:
 The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

Modern-Day Luddism

It’s also worthwhile to know what some of the more intelligent opponents of the development of radical-futurist technology are saying:

Technologist Bill Joy’s classic essay, arguing for halting various sorts of technology development to preserve the Earth for humans in our current form:
 Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us

A newspaper column co-written by Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil, urging the government not to release genetic information on dangerous viruses:
 Recipe for Destruction

In an interview summarizing the key themes of his book “Enough”, environmentalist Bill McKibben argues that advanced technology development has gone far enough:
 “We Are Plenty Good Enough”

Existential Risks

Nick Bostrom’s classic article on the risks advanced technology may pose to humanity as a whole:
 Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios

Hugo de Garis’s forecast of a war between pro and anti advanced technology forces:
 The Coming Artilect War

The Singularity Institute for AI, a California futurist organization, views advanced AI as a major existential risk; these brief comments by Michael Anissimov summarize some of the reasons why: 
Why is AI Dangerous?

The Ultimate Nature of the Universe

Nick Bostrom gives a brief summary of his fairly compelling argument that we probably live in some sort of computer simulation:
 The Simulation Argument: Why the Probability That We Are Living in a Matrix is Quite High

Giulio Prisco argues for the creation of a new spirituality embracing radical transhumanist ideas:
 Engineering Transcendence

Ben Goertzel Ph.D. is a fellow of the IEET, and founder and CEO of two computer science firms Novamente and Biomind, and of the non-profit Artificial General Intelligence Research Institute (

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