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Transhumanists: Who Are They? What Do They Want, Believe, and Predict? (Terasem Survey, Part 5)
Hank Pellissier   Sep 9, 2012   Ethical Technology  

You want increased intelligence, transparency, life expectancy and personal freedom? Curiosity is your primary motivation and you want to reduce or eliminate sleep? Welcome, you’re H+.

The Terasem Survey - a poll with 49 questions funded by Terasem Movement Inc. - was posted at from July 10-18, 2012. In that brief timespan, 818 responders offered their answers, with dozens adding optional comments.

This report summarizes who the transhumanists are (that participated in the survey), plus it illuminates what they believe and predict for the future.

Information on how the repsonders were located is available at the end of this essay.

Answers below are in numerous categories, immensely condensed, of course, because there’s 361 pages of data. Additional information that was revealed can be located elsewhere at IEET, at Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

What is your religion / belief system?

81.4% Not Religious
9.5 Christian
1.8 Jewish
1.8 Buddhist
5.0 other religions

(comments here included: “Teresemian”, “Thelema”, “collectivist”, “Panendeism”, “4th Way”, “Taoist”, “a mix of scientology and discordianism”, “Chaos Magic”, and “Okay, Seriously? People”)

What is your sexual preference?

73% heterosexual
3.4 homosexual
9.8 bisexual
1.8 asexual
6.8 pansexual
5.5 other

(comments here included: “omnisexual”, “demisexual”, “Kinsey 5”, “post-sexual”, “situationally dependent sexual”, “Saplosexual”, and “no reason you need to know, dears!”

What is your political position?

32.7% Liberal
27.4 Libertarian
15.6 Moderate
16.9 Socialist
4.2 Marxist

(many comments indicated anarchism or dislike of politics. Here’s a few: “I hate all politics”, “politics suck”, “apolitical”, “green pirate”, “waste of time”, “no”, “rebel”, ““I’d like it if there was a need for it”, “anarchist”, and “NA”)

Describe your health

18.1% Excellent
34.3 Very Good
29.9 Good
11.7 Average
5.1 Below Average
1.0 Poor

Describe your occupation

27.8% computers and mathematics
13.0 arts, design, entertainment, sports
10.5 life, physical, social science
9.1 education

(far smaller occupation representation occurred in fishing, farming, forestry (.2%), construction (.4%), legal (2.7%), and office and admin support (2.1%)

Relationship status

64.4% Unmarried
27.2 Married
6.0 Divorced


74.4% Omnivore
10.1 Vegetarian
8.0 Caloric Restriction
5.9 Paleo
1.7 Vegan


85.4% White
3.3 Asian
1.0 Black
10.0 Multiple races

(comments in reply to this question include: “Human (for now)”, “this question is stupid”, “race doesn’t exist”, “Homo Mutantes”, “relevance?”, and “aren’t we beyond the importance of subspecies distinction?”


Level of Education

27.6% graduate degree
28.8 bachelor degree
27.0 some college but no degree




90.1% Male
9.9 Female

(numerous comments here, with various options to the above categories, including: “genderqueer”, “MTF Transexual”, “We are all part of either. Augment and who knows more than 3 natural genders may present themselves”, “transwoman”,  “androgynous consciousness occupying a male human body”, “meat popsicle”, “Pangendered”, “N/A”, “undisclosed”, “post-op (20 years) transsexual woman”, “other?”, “My biohost is xy. My consciousness is androgyne”, “Androgynous”, “Prefer not to list”, “Androgynous”, “Wannabe M-to-N”, “burned out male (ED)”, “Sort of yanno”)


9.4% under 19
45.8 20-29
21.5 30-39
12.1 40-49
7.7 50-59
3.3 60-69

Place of Residence

43.8% large city
36.7 small city
11.5 town
3.3 village
4.7 rural

(additional answers included: “Narnia”, “Second Life”, and “on the internet.”

What do you see as the world political government in 100 years?

41.8% One World Government
20.1 Abolition of Government
15.5 Thousands of Small Fractured States
11.3 Dominated by Europe and USA
11.3 Dominated by East Asia


What is your optimal level of transparency?

22.8% 100% transparency
13.3 90% transparency
12.1 80% transparency
9.6 70% transparency
5.5 60% transparency


How much sleep would you prefer to survive on?

44.7% no sleep
19.8 1-2 hours
20.3 3-4 hours


If you had an extra 100 years of life, what would you do?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 2 

What do you predict in the next 50-100 years?

56.5% accelerating progress, then Singularity
25.8 humans will slowly progress
13.3 expand through solar system in 100 years
1.0 expand through galaxy in 50 years
2.8 extinct in 100 years
0.9 extinct in 50 years

What is very important to you in the future world?

61.6% more personal freedom
43.5 kinder people
20.5 less work
13.5 more luxury


Do you want immortality? If not, why?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 1


What are your top ambitions?

85.1% brain enhancement
84.8 maximizing health
80.4 radical ife extension
72.3 immortality
68.9 ending war
68.4 ending oppressive governments
61.4 ending environmental destruction
60.7 ending social inequity

(categories that were far less important were: colonizing the moon (34.8%), ending property and money (31.4), cloning (22.0), and ending gender (17.3)

Most Admired Transhumanists

45.7% Steven Hawking
38.8 Ray Kurzweil
29.4 Michio Kaku

(in comments, Aubrey de Grey received the most admiration; dozens of other individuals were also named)

Indicate your personality traits

33.2% realist
28.7 optimist
2.7 pessimist
9.9 cautious
12.4 ambitious

(two of the lowest categories were: “lazy” (2.5%), and “depressed” (3.4%)


Your favorite Hobbies

88% Reading
62.1 Multimedia
59 Self-Improvement
54.4 Gaming
45.1 Exercise
40.5 Travel
31.0 Dining
24.4 Cooking
17.5 Alcohol
14.4 Drugs



What is your main reason for wanting immortality?

52.7% Curiosity
43.8 Challenges I want to tackle
24.9 I want more pleasure

When do you think the Singularity will arrive?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 3 

By which methods will immortality arrive?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 3 

What is your favorite life-extending option?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 4

If you died and could return in another body, what gender would you want to be?

53.6% Male
18 Female
13.4 Hermaphrodite
14.9 Asexual


My personal thoughts and observations?

Too many to list here, but I’ll convey the a pair of statistics that caught my attention.

1. Most transhumanists are young, but their primary goal is still immortality / radical life extension. This phenomenon surprised me; I didn’t realize that people under 40 years old, or under 50 years old, were the least bit concerned about death. (I’m 60)  My POV? I’m thrilled that the 20ish crowd is committed to ending aging and death! Do they see themselves as the first generation to transcend death, or at least push it back multiple decades? Congrats to them!

2. Transhumanists are largely alike in almost every category, except one. Most are non-believers, for example. Most are white, male, urbanites, educated, etc. Only in Politics is there absolutely no overwhelming majority. Indeed, there’s a wide schism between pro-government and anti-government camps.

Libertarians and Anarchists are a large, outspoken, feisty contingent that has and will continue to clash with with Liberals, Moderates, Socialists, etc. Additionally, when the future is predicted, the two groups envision widely-disparate scenarios. Will there be One World Government?  Will there be Abolition of Government? Or thousands of small fractured states? 

A full summary of the Terasem Survey will be posted at Terasem Movement Inc.‘s website later this year.


I was assisted in the Terasem Survey by my project collaborator, Teresa Dal Santo Ph.D., a Research Associate at University of California San Francisco, with expertise in conducting qualitative and quantitative studies, and specialties in research methods and statistical analysis.

My thanks to everyone who assisted us in gathering the responders, especially:

David Orban, who notified his 2,798 Facebook friends, his 3,480 Twitter followers, and his 5,732 Google+ people-in-whose-circle-he-is

Alex Lightman who notified his 5,000 Facebook friends and his 3,500 subscribers

Rachel Marone, ex-editor of, who made our survey the feature article on July 12.

IEET also permitted me to post an announcement.

Amara Angelica declined to post a link to the survey at, where she is Editor, due to concerns about privacy issues and the methodology of the survey.

Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Managing Director and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.


Thanks for this great survey!  I view this as a very powerful expert consensus, to help me or anyone, on what is morally right, and how I should and shouldn’t behave - what our goals and priorities should be and so on.  The world so desperately needs this kind of expert moral advice, we can all consult, to enable our morals to keep up with our exponentially growing powers.

For example, clearly we should be 100% open in everything we do.  The world is getting better (almost half of all transhumanists are young - in their 20s), the most important thing for us to be working on, is brain enhancement, (not immortality of the body), one world government should be a priority… and so on.  We need so much more of this kind of measurement of moral expert consensus, in way more detail, to help us all live better lives.  We all can’t be expert in everything, so we need to know, concisely and quantitatively, what all our trusted experts believe, like this, to help us all live moral lives.  Thanks for all that participated in this survey, and I hope people will also continue to help participate in other surveys, such as those going on at

The world is desperately seeking after trusted moral advice on the best way to behave- transhumanists experts should step up to fill the void!!  What, really, do we all believe and value, and how is this trending?  Everyone desperately needs to know.

Brent Allsop

Being a white old geezer myself, I was struck, but not surprised, by the predominance of white boys in our ranks, which made the old Paul Kantner song White Boy pop into my head.  Without wanting to make any particular point i present the lyrics here:

Where will you go what will you do
What will you see when your night is thru
What can you do where will you go
When the people of this planet send you away from here
My bo

Where do you come from white boy what is your land
Everybody else knows where they come from
You don’t know your home you never did you never can
You can’t find a place in this land


Blacks and Reds and Apaches and Jews
All know where they come from but you don’t seem to know
Baby do you understand

You appeared in the Caucasus mountains the southern Russia of now
And you spread your peculiar form of death from Mexico to Moscow
You surprised the Europeans the Egyptian too
All of a sudden you appeared on their land
You made mountains for the Incas built pyramids for the Pharoah man
And you grew and you lived by their hands


Viking Roman fair hair Alexander Emperor slave.
D’you come from the earth D’you come from the sky?
Nobody seems to know You build and you burn create and destroy,
You rule me now fair skin man with an unfair hand.

Where did you come from where were you born
Where were you living when the earth was formed
What can you do where will you go
When the people of this planet send you away from here
My bo…

  “I view this as a very powerful expert consensus, to help me or anyone, on what is morally right, and how I should and shouldn’t behave - what our goals and priorities should be and so on.”

I don’t know about morally right (per say), but I do agree that the surveys really do help summarize who transhumanists generally are and what their views are.  Its very curious that the overwhelming majority of transhumanists are white.  You better hope people don’t mistake you for a white supremacist sect.

“61.6% more personal freedom
43.5 kinder people”

If moral and ethical obligations exist then enhanced minds should follow them.
If there is more interconnectedness between communities and individual minds at the speed of light then there will be true collective decision making.
If there is more collective decision making using transhuman interconnectedness technologies of minds then there is more of a chance that minds will utilize Direct-Democracy and perhaps Consensus Based Voting.
If the enhanced mind uses Direct-Democracy and perhaps Consensus Based Voting, then one of the fundamental beliefs of Anarchism is then realized.
If enhanced minds actually want to see “more personal freedom” and “kinder people” they will abolish modern day corporatism, which is based on free market capitalism which states that lower prices, wages, and higher profits are preferable.
If the enhanced mind abolishes modern day capitalism in favor of a kinder world and more personal freedom, then they are again leaning towards a type of anti-capitalism Anarchism.
If the enhanced mind prefers Direct-Democracy and perhaps Consensus Based Voting and the abolishment of capitalism, then they are indeed Anarchists.
If the enhanced mind is Anarchist in nature, then we humans should start evolving anarchism immediately.

I wonder why over half of the participants want to return as male, given that 90.1% already are.  My expectation is that I (we) will be able to assume any existing or so far imaginary gender configuration on a temporary basis.  But if restricted to the 4 choices given, being male currently, returning as the same is my lowest preference.  Any other option implies higher chances for growth.  I find this particular result quite discouraging.

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