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A transhumanist manifesto for the UK?

This online video conference meeting (Streamed live on Dec 30, 2014) is a chance to review ideas for a possible “Transhumanist Manifesto” for the UK general election in May 2015.

The next United Kingdom general election will be the election to the 56th Parliament of the United Kingdom, to be held in 2015. The terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (as amended by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013) mandate dissolution of the present 55th Parliament on 30 March 2015 and that the election will be held on 7 May 2015, unless the House of Commons votes for an earlier date. There are local elections scheduled to take place on the same day across most of England, with the notable exception of London. There are no additional elections scheduled to take place in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, apart from any forthcoming local by-elections.

As of 5 Jan, 2015:
See Revisions Here

Transhumanist Party Manifesto

Draft (still needs review and wordsmithing). v0.40, 3.10pm, 6th January 2015

 


 

Transhumanism is the viewpoint that human society should embrace, wisely, thoughtfully, and compassionately, the radical transformational potential of technology.

The Transhumanist Party calls for:

  1. Moonshot projects to take full advantage of accelerating technology.

In more detail, we call for:

  1. Economic and personal liberation via the longevity dividend from regenerative medicine

  2. An inclusive new social contract in the light of technological disruption

  3. A proactionary regulatory system to fast-track innovative breakthroughs

  4. Reform of democratic processes with new digital tools

  5. Education transformed in readiness for a radically different future

  6. A transhumanist rights agenda for the coming transhumanist age

  7. An affirmative new perspective on existential risks.

Each point is explained in more detail in the Transhumanist Party Manifesto (below).

 


 

Transhumanist Party Manifesto

1. Moonshot projects to take full advantage of accelerating technology

Accelerating technological progress has the potential to transform lives in the next ten years more profoundly than in any preceding ten year period in history.Radical technological changes are coming sooner than people think, in technology fields such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, renewable energy, regenerative medicine, brain sciences, big data analytics, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Together, these technologies will change society in unexpected ways, disrupting familiar patterns of industry, lifestyle, and thinking.These changes include the potential for tremendous benefits for both the individual and society, as well as the potential for tremendous risk.

Current policymakers rarely tackle the angle of convergent disruptive technologies, which means they react to each new disruption with surprise, after it appears, rather than anticipating it with informed policy and strategy.

Politicians of all parties urgently need to:

  • Think through the consequences of these changes in advance
  • Take part in a wide public discussion and exploration of these forthcoming changes
  • Adjust public policy in order to favour positive outcomes
  • Support Apollo-like “moonshot projects” to take full advantage of accelerating technology - projects with the uplifting vision and scale of the 1960s Apollo program.

These moonshot projects can:

  • Enable humans to transcend (overcome) many of the deeply debilitating, oppressive, and risky aspects of our lives
  • Allow everyone a much wider range of personal autonomy, choice, experience, and fulfilment
  • Facilitate dramatically improved international relations, social harmony, and a sustainable new cooperation with nature and the environment.

The policies in this manifesto are designed to expedite these positive transformations whilst avoiding adverse consequences.

2. Economic and personal liberation via the longevity dividend from regenerative medicine

Given adequate resources, human longevity could be enormously extended using technologies which are already broadly understood. Prolonging healthy lifespan would clearly benefit the very large number of citizens concerned, and it would also benefit society by preserving and deepening the experience and wisdom available to solve our various social problems.

Transhumanists aspire to indefinite healthy life extension. Rejuvenation therapies can and should be developed and progressively made available to all citizens. The resulting “longevity dividend” will have large social and economic benefits, as well as personal ones. We do not believe it would impose a dangerous pressure on resources. We call for a new moonshot project with the specific goal of ameliorating the degenerative aging process and significantly extending healthy human lifespan.

A practical suggestion is that 20% of the public research funding that currently goes to specific diseases should be reassigned, instead, to researching solutions to aging. In line with the analysis of e.g. SENS, the “ending aging” angle is likely to provide promising lines of research and solutions to many diseases, such as senile dementia (including Alzheimer’s), cancer, heart disease, motor neurone disease, respiratory diseases, and stroke.

3. An inclusive new social contract in the light of technological disruption

Emerging technologies – in particular automation – are likely to impose significant strains on the current economic model. It is far from clear how this will play out, nor what are the best strategies for response. Society and its leaders need to consider and discuss these changes, and draw up plans to deal with different outcome scenarios.

Transhumanists anticipate that accelerating technological unemployment may cause growing social disruption and increased social inequality and alienation. A new social contract is needed, involving appropriate social, educational, and economic support for those who are left with no viable option of 'earning a living' due to unprecedented technological change.

A form of “negative income tax” (as proposed by Milton Friedman) or a “basic income guarantee” could provide the basis for this new social contract. Some observers feel it may take an Apollo-scale program to fully design and implement these changes in our social welfare systems. However, political parties around the world have developed promising models, backed up by significant research, for how universal basic income might be implemented in a cost-effective manner. The transhumanist party wishes to act on the best of these insights.

A practical suggestion is to repeat the 1970s Canadian “Minincome” guaranteed income experiment in several different locations, over longer periods than the initial experiments, and to monitor the outcome. Further references can be found here and here.

4. A proactionary regulatory system to fast-track innovative breakthroughs

The so-called “precautionary principle” preferred by some risk-averse policy makers is often self-defeating: seeking to avoid all risks can itself pose many risks. The precautionary principle frequently hinders intelligent innovation. The “proactionary principle” is a better stance, in which risks are assessed and managed in a balanced way, rather than always avoided. Any bias in favour of the status quo should be challenged, with an eye on better futures that can be created.

Transhumanists observe that many potentially revolutionary therapies are under research, but current drug development has become increasingly slow and expensive (as summarised by “Eroom's law”). Translational research is doing badly, in part due to current drug regulations which are increasingly out of step with public opinion, actual usage, and technology.In practical terms, the Transhumanist Party recommends:

  • Streamlining regulatory approval for new medicines, in line with recommendations by e.g. CASMI in the UK
  • Removing any arbitrary legal distinction between “therapies for ill-health” and “therapies for enhancement”.

5. Reform of democratic processes with new digital tools

The underpinnings of a prosperous, democratic, open society include digital rights, trusted, safe identities, and the ability to communicate freely. Transhumanists wish to:

  • Accelerate the development and deployment of tools ensuring personal privacy and improved cyber-security

  • Extend governmental open data initiatives

  • Champion the adoption of “Democracy 2.0” online digital tools to improve knowledge-sharing, fact-checking, and collective decision-making

  • Increase the usefulness and effectiveness of online petitions

  • Restrict the undue influence which finance can have over the electoral and legislative process.

Government policy should be based on evidence rather than ideology:

  • Insights from the emerging field of cognitive biases should be adapted into decision-making processes

  • New committees and organisations should be designed according to debiasing knowledge, so they are less likely to suffer groupthink

  • AI systems should be increasingly used to support smart decision making.

All laws restricting free-speech based on the concept of “personal offence” should be revoked.

Smarter forms of international cooperation should reduce costs from duplicated efforts, resulting in significant savings for the transformational moonshot projects described in this manifesto.

6. Education transformed in readiness for a radically different future

A greater proportion of time spent in education and training (whether formal or informal) should be future-focused, exploring

  • Which future scenarios are technically feasible, and which are fantasies

  • Which future scenarios are desirable, once their “future shock” has been accepted

  • What actions can be taken to accelerate the desirable outcomes, and avoid the undesirable ones

  • How to achieve an interdisciplinary understanding of future scenarios

  • How resilience can be promoted, rather than society just having a focus on efficiency

  • How creativity can be promoted, rather than society just having a focus on consumption

  • The intelligent management of risk.

Lifelong training and education should become the norm, with people of all ages learning new skills as the need becomes apparent in the new age of automation. Educational curricula need to be able to adapt rapidly.

We would mandate that each university and educational establishment makes an increasing proportion of its material freely accessible online every year.

Education should take greater advantage of MOOCs, and the possibility for people having their knowledge certified without enrolling in a traditional college. MOOCs can be usefully complemented with location based learning labs ("makerspaces") absorbing some of existing library empty space, preserving the "open knowledge" of libraries and expanding it into "open education and learning". The Transhumanist Party anticipates a time where, apart from lab work, the whole of tertiary education will be delivered online.

We urge revisions in patent and copyright laws to discourage hoarding of intellectual property:

  • Reduce the time periods of validity of patents in certain industry areas

  • Make it much less likely that companies can be granted “obvious” patents that give them a throat-choke on subsequent development in an industry area

  • Explore the feasibility of alternative and complementary schemes for facilitating open innovation, such as reputation economies or prize funds.

7. A transhumanist rights agenda for the coming transhumanist age

Transhumanists wish to:

  • Hasten the adoption of synthetic (in-vitro) meat, and the abolition of cruelty to farm animals

  • Explore the gradual applicability of selected human rights to sentient beings, such as primates, that demonstrate relevant mental life, and also advanced AIs, that need such rights to function in their respective purpose.

Transhumanists champion the concept of morphological freedom:

  • The rights of all people, including sexual and gender minorities, to bodily self-determination

  • Free access to modern reproductive technologies, including genetic screening, for all prospective parents

  • Making it easier for people, if they so choose, to enter a state of cryonic suspension as their bodies come close to clinical death.

Transhumanists envision support a radical future for consciousness:

  • Enhanced mental cooperation as minds become more interconnected via brain-to-computer interfaces and other foreseeable brain/mind technologies, which will enable the ability to share qualia at rapid speeds.

8. An affirmative new perspective on existential risks

Some emerging technologies – in particular artificial general intelligence and nanotechnology - are so powerful as to produce changes more dramatic than anything since the agricultural revolution. The outcomes could be extraordinarily positive for humanity, or they could threaten our very existence.

Existing technologies are already posing potential existential risks to the well-being of humanity: consider nuclear weapons, and the risks of accelerated climate change (triggered, according to scientific consensus, by unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases).

Transhumanists believe, without being complacent, that sustained human innovation can mitigate all these risks, once they are fully understood. We call for significant resources to be applied to working out how to ensure that the outcomes are positive.

The wise management of these existential risks is likely to involve innovations in technology (e.g. the development and production of cleaner energy sources), economics (e.g. a carbon tax to redress the market failure of unpenalized negative externalities), and politics (e.g. the collaborative creation and enforcement of binding treaties). The end outcome will be the successful harnessing of technologies, both old and new, for the radical enhancement of humanity.

 


 

Next steps

To support the Transhumanist Party:

 


 

About this document

(This section will be removed from the public version of the document.)

To be added to the set of people with the ability to add comments to this document, please contact the lead editor, David Wood.

(In that case, you’ll also see the comments that other reviewers have added.)

When finished, this document will represent the views of the UK Transhumanist Party (name to be confirmed). It contains an agenda of policy recommendations that politicians will be urged to support during the campaigning for the UK General Election held on 7th May 2015.

Significant parts of this document may be useful to Transhumanist Parties in other countries.

Relevant online links:

See here for an archive of the previous text of this document.

To see comments that have been resolved (e.g. proposed textual changes), click on the Comments button at the top right. (This requires that you are logged in with a Google account that has been granted access to comment on this document.)

Contributors to this document (or previous versions) include: Julian Snape, Alexander Karran, Dirk Bruere, Anders Sandberg, Amon Twyman, Calum Chace, Johan Paulsson, Nikola Sivacki, Peter Morgan, Ilia Stambler, David Pearce, Kris Notaro, Tero Keski-Valkama, Ben Goertzel, Natasha Vita-More, Michael Hrenka


In the general election, voting will take place in all parliamentary constituencies of the United Kingdom to elect Members of Parliament (MPs) to seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of the Parliament.

This will be the 55th general election for the United Kingdom since 1801 (earlier elections took place for parliaments in Great Britain and Ireland), though the resultant Parliament will be the 56th, as the first Parliament came about after the co-option of members from the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland.




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