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How much do politics really matter?
Mike Treder   Aug 11, 2010   Ethical Technology  

Radical transhumanists, singularitarians, and other technophilic transcendentalists are sometimes heard to say things like, “Soon we’ll see the end of politics.” Are they right, or are they clueless?

IEET Senior Fellow Jamais Cascio unleashed a nice rant against this kind of thinking last year. He said this:

Politics is part of a healthy society - it’s what happens when you have a group of people with differential goals and a persistent relationship. It’s not about partisanship, it’s about power.

image 1And while even small groups have politics (think: supporting or opposing decisions, differing levels of power to achieve goals, deciding how to use limited resources), the more people involved, the more complex the politics. Factions, parties, ideologies and the like are simply ways of organizing politics in a complex social space - they’re symptoms of politics, not causes.

Calls to get rid of politics can therefore mean one of two things: getting rid of persistent relationships with other people; or getting rid of differential goals. Since I don’t see too many of the folks who talk about escaping politics also talking about becoming lone isolationists, the only reasonable presumption is that they’re really talking about eliminating disagreements.

It’s the latest version of the notion that “a perfect world is one where everyone agrees with me.” It rarely gets expressed like that, of course. It’s more like…

After the Singularity, we’ll be too smart to have politics…”¨

[Or] Once we develop strong (and friendly) AI, we’ll let them make decisions for us, as they will be far smarter and wiser…”¨

[Or] In a post-scarcity, nanotech world, nobody will have politics because everyone will have what they need and want…”¨

[Or] Once we get off-world, politics will go away because you can always move away from someone you disagree with…”¨

[Or] After we can reengineer the brain, we can do away with conflict and disagreement…

No. Wrong. Bad technophile, no upload!

Politics means conflict, debate, and frustration. It also means choice. A world without politics is a world where disagreement is illegitimate. It’s a world where your ability to choose your future - to make your future - has been taken away, whether you like it or not.

More recently, IEET Executive Director James Hughes reviewed the centuries-old conflict between “Enlightenment Liberalism and Enlightened Despotism” and compared that with its present-day counterpart, “Transhumanist Liberalism vs. Transhumanist Technocracy.”

Hughes wrote:

Transhumanists are overwhelmingly and staunchly civil libertarian, defenders of juridical equality and individual rights. Most also believe democratic government to be superior to any of the extant alternatives.

But many are also suspicious of the capacity of ordinary people to make decisions that are truly in their own interests, individually or as polities. Some transhumanists explicitly argue that rather than try to win popular support for transhumanist values, far more can be accomplished by winning over powerful elites.

He described some transhumanists who are looking toward a “post-democratic minarchy,” others who apparently would welcome a global totalitarian dictatorship by a purely unselfish friendly AI, and still others who seek “an escape from politics in all its forms” image 2through the establishment of anarchist utopias at sea, in outer space, or in cyberspace.

I’m sure just about all of us would like to escape politics, if possible - especially the ugly modern form with its heavy emphasis on money, media, and manipulation at the expense of actually serving the needs of the governed.

But is that really possible, or will it become possible in the future?

We’d like to know what you think. Do you agree that we’ll be able to leave politics behind, relatively soon? Or is that just wishful thinking?

Please answer our new reader poll, which asks:

In the big picture of the future, how much do politics really matter?

  • A lot. The messy political struggles for justice, equality, and opportunity always will be with us.
  • Some, though not a lot. We should keep paying attention, but other developments matter just as much.
  • Not at all. Politics is mainly a distraction. What really counts is science, technology, and economics.

Thanks for participating!

Mike Treder is a former Managing Director of the IEET.



COMMENTS

Politics is about conflict management. No technology can eliminate conflict (when everyone has water, we will fight over champagne), so politics will continue to matter.

First imagine no religion.

Then imagine no politics.

Do you think SAIs will be involved in politics?

LOL

‘Politics’ is a bit of a vague category.
What we should be imagining, is the relinquishment of ‘Authority over others’.
If, by ‘politics’, you mean negotiation, exchange, and relationships amongst individuals, then yes, we will always have ‘politics’.
My problem with ‘politics’ as we understand it today, is enforcement. Force and fraud. Authority over the Autonomy of Others.
If we can eliminate Authority over Others (by obsoleting the problem, as Ben Goertzel suggests in Cosmic Manifesto), then we will have solved the main problem.

Current politics is a direct reprecussion of man’s metaphysical structure of understanding. The strong (Cartesian) subject has as its consequence the subjugation and objectification of anything within the beholder’s eye (or any sense for that matter). This way of thinking is what has made modern science possible in the first place.
If we think back not to long ago, it was the objects that were strong and the subjects that were weak, we lived in fear of Thunder and Lightning as gods or rules by gods. 

Essentially politics is about power because _everything_ is about power, and politics has a stake in how we order the world and our relationships between subjects who are fascinated with ordering this _everything_, rather than working together with this _everything_ man wishes to be the one in power, the one who wields the thunder and lightning and bends them to his will.

This is not the time nor place, nor is there space enough to comment accordingly. Yes, the future holds politics but whether those politics continue to be about personal power and gain remains to be seen. If the subject can grow out of it’s subjugating and oppressive stance and stand on the same terrain as all else, if he is able to see the world as co-constituted then it is possible that politics will mature to be about finding power together to move us forward into the future rather than about selfish personal gain. I am skeptical that this will occur without tragedy.

What a lot of critics of politics in the futurist communities seem to be reacting to when they criticize “politics” is:
(1) unthinking or reflexively justified conformist partisanship,
(2) dependence on myopic, parochial, and short-term justifications for indirect support of far-reaching policy commitments (via support for a particular candidate), and
(3) heavy and uncritical manipulation of cognitive biases for winning and retaining popular support (which tend to get internalized in the minds of the manipulators).

All of the above makes it hard to challenge status quo thinking and policy-making that could lead to human extinction and is leading to global catastrophes (e.g. global climate change, regional wars and instability with nuclear war potential).

Also, it isn’t just libertarians who want to “move beyond” politics. An egalitarian “resource-based economy” also would require a tremendous amount of consensus:
http://www.thevenusproject.com/a-new-social-design/resource-based-economy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacque_Fresco
http://www.rbefoundation.com

“Radical transhumanists, singularitarians, and other technophilic transcendentalists”


Just can’t resist classifying all singularitarians as “technophilic”, can you?

“Politics means conflict, debate, and frustration. It also means choice. A world without politics is a world where disagreement is illegitimate. It’s a world where your ability to choose your future — to make your future — has been taken away, whether you like it or not.”

You really interested in what we think?  Doesn’t seem like it.

You might be making a virtue out of necessity. As Cascio wrote, “It’s not about partisanship, it’s about power.”;
politics as far as I know is concerned with checking those who want excessive power. What is pleasant or virtuous about that? it is a grind.

Humans are driven by two instincts, survival and reproduction. Survival requires us to co-operate, so it requires organization and structure. Reproduction drives us to compete, to “prove our worth” as a genetic carrier. Thus, we will always form hierarchies, and individuals will always strive to “place themselves first” within those hierarchies, so “politics” will always be with the human race.

The best we can do is to find ways to harness these two instincts to serve humanity by finding ways to prevent individuals from hijacking collective systems and resources to achieve personal goals, which I think we will do as our society becomes more transparent and we as individuals become more accountable to each other and the collective and we restore the accountability of the collective to the individual.

We’ll always have politics. We’ll just find ways to make them less destructive and more constructive.

Here is where something is wrong: “It’s a world where your ability to choose your future — to make your future—has been taken away.” This is the lament of the libertarian: that he cannot live the life he wants, though such a life would be utterly amoral.
I don’t go by what people say anymore, but by their behavior; and their behavior indicates men not only want to choose their future, they also want to own the future as their possession.

You are more than welcome to your opinion Mike.  Believe me I am the last person you’ll find condemning freedom of speech.

That being said, you asked us our opinions on whether politics will be needed in the future.  You then proceeded to ask whether those people who think it won’t are clueless and devoted the vast majority of this post to a “rant” that essentially accused those same people of being naive dreamers.  You’ll have to forgive me for thinking that IEET isn’t really interested in everyone’s opinion.

While I basically agree with Mike’s opinion on this specific issue, that politics is and will remain extremely important and there is no way to escape from it, I also see Matt’s point.

As demonstrated also by the latest polls, a majority of the frequent readers of this blog are highly imaginative transhumanist thinkers. Accusing them of being naive dreamers is not only wrong, but also unfair.

Well my opinion is that politics is checking power-seekers, little else. Look at what is happening to gay marriage in CA, it isn’t about gay marriage now, it is about expensive attorneys and unending legal battles. It is win-win for lawyers. Gay marriage—as abortion and guns—has become a political football. Abortion, guns, gays. How sweet.
And politics has become celebritized in general—Palin is the crown princess of celebrity politics, waiting to run for president in the next decade. So here are two questions for starters: isn’t being cynical justified in some cases? is doubting Princess Palin being too cynical?

...this is cynical & pessimistic, but not hopeless (hopeless would be, say, a fundamentalist who takes eschatology too seriously). However politics today is in fact stuck in the past, as synopsed above by Ben: “1) unthinking or reflexively justified conformist partisanship, (2) dependence on myopic, parochial, and short-term justifications for indirect support of far-reaching policy commitments (via support for a particular candidate), and (3) heavy and uncritical manipulation of cognitive biases for winning and retaining popular support (which tend to get internalized in the minds of the manipulators)”.
Palin is the new avatar of this stale politics; unfortunately she is not a short-term politico, she will be active in politics for decades as she appears by all indications to represent a powerful rightwing feminist meme. The choice is clear now: voting for Obama in 2012 is the way to go. We have to play with the cards we are dealt, we haven’t evolved to the point we can demand, “let us shuffle a new deck of cards.”
In deciding what to do, you might first ask yourself, “do I want another Bush-type? or someone such as Mitt Romney, or even Palin herself?”. If not, then what is the alternative—at this time—to voting for Obama? there is not enough time between now and 2012 for a viable third party to mature; besides, Obama deserves another chance. Libertarianism is not only an impractical, outmoded ideology, but also libertarians are too hard to deal with as allies. And what can a libertarian do that a moderate conservative cannot?

I think humans spend much too much time and energy practicing the strange belief that they should run far too much affecting others - that some of them should decide for all the rest of them.  I think any part of politics that would coerce a human being to act against his/her own judgment in any matter not impinging on the freedom and well-being of another human being is beyond wrong, it is massively destructive.  If you call any process, democratic or not, of deciding to do that or believing you should be able to do that “politics”, then I am not interested and find the very notion horrific.

Even the precarious venture of making tea has within the dangers of political dispute. The shared teapot is one place where no ground may be conceded, (if you drink tea you will know this). Of course you may choose to use the anarchic teabag to solve your communal disagreements? Politics is inescapable, and whilst the freedom to disagree is preserved we must all strive to work, to live, and to struggle together.

“You just don’t get it? The idea is that we are all supposed to learn to live together”. The real lesson? And these words inspire spiritual and ethical evolution, and an evolving philosophy, not merely political machinations, or by discarding debate and viewpoint altogether.

Apathy leads to our destruction for sure, (being born of selfishness), yet the lack of ability to choose is just as destructive, (and may also lead to apathy?) We should be thankful that we all still have the opportunities to express our views and have the freedoms to express ourselves. What future is there for philosophical zombies, with or without feelings and emotions?

Connectedness is the wisdom that embraces all viewpoints?

These sort of people don’t spend a good portion of their lives pursuing power to throw in the towel, there is no way at this time to convince them to cease & desist. Let’s examine a discrete phenomenon, the Bush family: they want to push their collective advantage as far as they can. When you pay attention to their behavior rather than what they say, you realize the Bushes do not much accept an upper limit to power; Barbara Bush even announced publicly after her son Jeb was elected governor of Florida that, “all America must be ruled by a Bush.” It was a facetious remark, but she meant it.
Question is, how do you de-condition an electorate, an electorate whose instincts are largely shaped by a political system in place since 1789? We here at IEET might agree on certain things, but how do you convince the electorate to change?

The founding fathers of the U.S.A. realized that most human societies naturally took the form of monarchies (or dictatorships) so they created checks and balances on power to help constrain that popular impulse (including, later, a customary two-term limit for the presidential office). Over two-hundred years later we have in some ways a more meritocratic and egalitarian culture where most people have at least some opportunities to pursue a life of their choosing.

As technoprogressives affiliated with a think-tank devoted to developing ideas and analysis within that domain, I think our aim in influencing people who explore our topics should be to help them appreciate emerging tech issues from a broadly progressive stance and find ways to transform progressive potentialities into actualities through the manner new tech is developed, adopted, and regulated. We should focus mostly on the big bio-political issues, including identifying and evaluating them, and let the less weighty ones get sorted out in the political process (unless one happens to work in politics or is heavily involved in politics).

So, Ben, perhaps the reply to the question, “how much do politics really matter?”, might be
‘not a whole lot.’
Bush exits stage left, Palin enters stage right; the Cold War ends, the “War On Terror” begins. One is given to wonder: to what purpose retain today’s politics if the world is increasingly dystopian—meaning today’s politics are outmoded.

...“Over two-hundred years later we have in some ways a more meritocratic and egalitarian culture where most people have at least some opportunities to pursue a life of their choosing.”

Certainly things have changed; but whether or not things have improved is an open question. And naturally you know that the very worst people have at least some opportunities to pursue a life of their choosing, too.

Personally, I think science, technology, and economics are at least as important as politics in shaping the nature of the world we live in.

However, markets tend to evolve by drift while hierarchies change with more conscious intent, so beyond being conscientious consumers politics is important as an expression of deliberative intentionality (how deliberative depends on the electorate and the issues that move them).

I think that given the fragile nature of modern technological infrastructure and the 9-11 effect it was inevitable that some aggressive response to non-state terrorism would occur. Science, technology, and economics can support the worst kinds of behaviors as well as the best ones. Politics helps determine how such influences are expressed in society.

Aristotle made complaints such as that his country was going to hell, the youth were corrupted, etc. Problems with government and the electorate are very old. Some things surely won’t turn out as we might prefer (privacy is being redefined, e.g., as how information is used and by who) but in the bigger picture things could be much, much worse.

“Aristotle made complaints such as that his country was going to hell, the youth were corrupted, etc. Problems with government and the electorate are very old.”

Such would rather negate libertarianism; to the degree libertarianism has been able to do anything about inhibiting the state, ‘it’ has been a failure. If youths were to be described as “corrupt”—nihilistic in the 21st century—this and more would indicate too few responsible people exist to do without the state. For instance, irresponsible parents means government child protection services, etc. So if the state as it is (it will remain as omnipotent as it is now) is accepted by libertarians I would have no argument with them; libertarianism would be understood as merely a romantic standard in such a case. Again, I am merely pessimistic—not apocalyptic.

“Epidemics, pollution, energy, terrorism, and so forth. Virtually all those problems are the result of having too large a population. And that’s politically unmentionable.” -Marvin Minsky, Transvision 2007, http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/people-blog/?p=72

The problems in today’s world - the increase of which politics can only slow down, not prevent - stem from the old fact that the majority of people, in all times, are not so terribly constructive, but rather the opposite. When populations were small, the problems caused by this unfortunate fact were small. A population size several magnitudes larger doesn’t mean the problems scale linearly.

Let everyone decide for themselves and suffer the consequences of their choices in full, without intervention, and you need no politics. For it to work, you need only smart people - smart, conscientious, responsible, altruistic people - which is what natural selection - remember that old nuisance? - has been moving the species towards and things have been improving. Now that the age of natural selection is more or less over, with massive population growth in the previously-least-favored-by-natural-selection parts of the species, what are our choices? Continue with pretending that politics can solve the mounting problems? Unfortunately it looks like it, because the truth is unpalatable to the majority, the tyranny of which the political system must pander to.

Below is a somewhat digressive 17 theses nailed on the door of the topic of libertarianism, yet not written in hostility, if only we could be free in the year 2011, or 2020, etc. The core of it IMO is by the time we could evolve to a virtuous condition, virtue would be outmoded. Ethics are based on conventions
To think we can be genuinely free soon is jumping the gun (as it were). It can be expressed biopsychologically: animalistic urges—power, sex, violence—must be carefully inhibited by ‘minimauthoritarians’, to the point wherein human appetite is not entirely corrosive. Libertarianism is, in the long run, harmless, as the ‘Aggression Principle’ tones down libertarians baser nature. Plus there is no real traction if the numerous libertarian denominations & splinters cannot unite. Libertarianism does make sense as ideology, but beyond that is a nonstarter. I’m socially conservative, but only to the point of advising youths and others who are confused by the surfeit of ethical models presented to them, thrown at them; DUMPED on them by their cagey elders—no wonder at all youths are confused. Repression should only be compassionate, not ‘tough love’, and repression ought to be utilized only to the degree human appetite is a clear, undeniable threat. That is to say libertarianism doesn’t address such threats enough, or not so the public has been able to comprehend, whereas a moderate conservatism and or moderate liberalism has, and does, publicly address the ethical deficit to some extent. Nothing wrong with libertarians studying the great works of free market thinkers. But they shouldn’t take it so seriously, we haven’t nearly reached the stage in our evolution where we can be free. Certain libertarians are falsely modest when they say they don’t know exactly what to do but perhaps others smarter might someday know what to do: such is nothing but pie-in-the-sky wherein the dicey future of complex, complicated ethics and mores recedes safely out of sight to vex people decades from now, not us today. Not to scapegoat libertarians; however they are active in h+, they are highly motivated; and writing such isn’t to allude to self-serving ideology/behavior, it is not to to allude to how allegedly libertarians merely want fewer regulations and lower taxes for “them & theirs”; it is worse than that: libertarians sincerely, mistakenly, think at this time and for the foreseeable future that enough responsible people exist.

Along with the fact that complex systems react often highly non-linearly to even small changes in variables, the key issue ignored in population studies and policies is that 1 is not as different from 1,000 as 10,000 is different from 10,000,000 (even though the magnitude difference is the same). Only a few centuries and decades ago we were playing the game in the tens and hundreds of thousands; now in tens and hundreds of millions, yet we haven’t adapted to the change - we still pretend our numbers haven’t really changed (there’s just more of us, more of the same, no need for policy changes), that magnitudes don’t matter.

The severity of the issues cannot be understated nor can the ineffectualness of political solutions be overstated - and, deservedly, ridiculed.

“Not enough responsible people” is not putting it starkly enough.

There has always been an abundance of clueless (and proud of it), irresponsible, sadistically-violent, power-hungry people driven only by pleasure and instant gratification without a shred of compassion or common sense.

Now that segment of the population - while probably a smaller percentage than historically due to education - in absolute numbers has turned into a veritable tidal wave, an unprecedented superabundance, that, combined with the explosion of energy-consumption per capita, is irrevocably changing the living environment for the worse for all its inhabitants and their descendants.

Mere politics-as-usual is too little, too late. The solutions require civilization-wide adjustments, nothing short of rethinking the human purpose on this small, wet rock, this pale blue dot.

Transhumanism seems to have some ideas worth considering.

Agreed on all points, MF.
Believe it or not, I don’t even like politics—it’s something along the lines of a dog instinctively returning to its own vomit (that’s a Biblical allusion, as you probably know). Politics is like sports mania, you can’t get away from it; you overhear conversations about baseball, the NFL, and so forth, and sometimes it’s interesting—sometimes not. After a while, you absorb it osmotically, you get interested in which offensive tackle broke the most opposing team-members legs, or something like that. Politics appears very similar to sports, politics must be remotely linked to ancient Roman gladiators, and the Senate of those times. It’s unpleasant to think of how bad memes from thousands of years ago are intermingled with more positive memes.
Wish we knew where to start; merely to get to Square One would be a relief.

Regarding the gladiatorial nature of politics, it is not unusual for people in politics to have had a previous life in sports or entertainment (Illinois’ Rod Blagojevich was a “golden gloves” boxer).

I have only seen clips from the film online, but “Idiocracy” has an amusing depiction of contemporary natural selection operating on relatively smart versus relatively stupid people (at the start) and a future president who is a professional wrestler - and among the smartest people around.

First few minutes of Idiocracy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSROlfR7WTo

Personally, I don’t think humanity is in danger of an Idiocracy scenario because if we don’t destroy ourselves and our technology doesn’t destroy us first (a big “if” - I’m inclined to say more likely than not given the challenge of building a superintelligent AGI that is benevolent much less does anything interesting with its power) we will enhance our capacities and merge with our own technology to take on the bigger challenges of the universe - like development of space habitats, harnessing energy from the solar system, populating the galaxy with a-life seeds, and trying to avoid eventual heat death through more advanced physics. People who want to use technology to live permanently in the land of the lotus-eaters will fall by the wayside as more focused producers further transcend the human condition and augment their capacities (though personal identity eventually will get much fuzzier than today, as memories and knowledge are swapped in a software format).

“Politics” in some form will probably exist as long as there are individual minds but it is in the meantime that contemporary mainstream politics, especially socio-cultural ideological battles, will be really vital for ensuring the future resembles more of a utopia and less of a dystopia (though I’m sure there will be compromises along the way, like privacy and some of the most selfish and harmful expressions of freedom, e.g. engaging in warfare).

Politics has very few carrots to offer. Business has many; companies are loved, policians seldom. Politics based on carrots instead of sticks: give the populace good options to choose from for which it is rewarded substantially and things might start slipping towards the right track. Healthy and less polluting living should be a way to save money. Currently it’s usually more expensive to be environmentally and health-conscious.

This is an artificial age of scarcity (proof?: if you’re in the war biz, you have plenty of funding) and the compromises and sacrifices “we need to make” are nearly all unnecessary, bogus. Scarcity equals political “power”: you can’t rule them unless you keep them running out of money before the end of every month.

By the way, an excellent paper by Paul Fernhout on the economic dimension of socio-cultural changes is “Beyond a Jobless Recovery”:

http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery/38e2u3s23jer/2

An essential point of that paper is that it looks as though the trend of a low number of new jobs being created in the first decade of this century will only get worse with expanded automation unless we change our economic paradigm. While capitalism probably will not go away soon, many people will need alternative economies to survive. He graphs some of his suggestions you can search on the Internet as follows:

              Exchange-based           Values-based

Individual   basic income               gift economy

Communal   localism/communalism     resource-based economy


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_guarantee

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communitarianism#Social_capital

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_economy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacque_Fresco#Resource_Based_Economy

Here is a second attempt at that chart:

......................Exchange-based…..........Values-based

Individual…....basic income…................gift economy

Communal…...localism/communalism….resource-based economy

“Currently it’s usually more expensive to be environmentally and health-conscious.”

Indeed. For instance, you can buy a McDoubleburger or a Hot ‘n’ Spicy at McDonalds for a dollar; a McVege is at least 3x that amount, assuming McDonald’s even sells them anymore—if memory serves, McDonalds used to sell vegeburgers for $3.99.
In all, the rewards for being “bad” are high. The wages of sin may be eventual death, but in the meantime a sinner can live high off the hog.

As I put in my poll response, it’s premature to talk of most *anything* enduring forever. While I doubt politics as we know it vanish anytime soon, a hypothetical (and desirable!) society of abundance and freedom would at least have dramatically different political arrangements. No offense to Jesus, but if the poor are always with us we’ll have done something terribly wrong.

“No offense to Jesus, but if the poor are always with us we’ll have done something terribly wrong.”

A long row to hoe. So many bad memes: every day I interact with the poor, seeing the negative-reinforcement of bad relationships, the hard drug use, alcoholism, tobacco use, brawls…
‘Behavioral cesspools’ is the best way to describe what I see at the lower end.

Though I disagree the suggestion that folks are poor because they’re bad people, it wouldn’t matter either way under a system of distributed abundance. The behaviors in question wouldn’t necessarily cease, but poverty would. After all, the world already supports countless rich addicts. There’s no particular reason to tie consumption to such things, especially in the context of plenty.

“the world already supports countless rich addicts.”

Yes, depravity is in all classes. Bad memes, bad politics.
A long row to hoe.

well the long post I made yesterday seems to have been eaten by a glitch, so in short.

Politics is what happens when the competitive reproductive instincts seek to control and dominate the co-operative survival instinct that causes us to form collectives.

Ideally a collective shares resources equally with all members. Competition seeks to skew these shared resources into unequal shares so that individuals have access to shared resources according to “status”. High status individuals demand more than equal shares, while low status individuals are denied equal shares.

This status “game” has multiple names. When it comes to material “wealth”, we call it the market. When it comes to government “influence” we call it “politics”

Thus, we will never be free of “Politics” because it’s a natural outcome of human social instincts.

So, what should a transhumanist ideally do to support a :least harm” political system? In my opinion the single most effective policy that can be supported is Transparency.

We are developing numerous technologies that make our society vastly more transparent, not only from the top down (surveillence) but from the bottom up (sousveillence) Additionally we are becoming more transparent laterally (side to side on the same level) with more and more of our lives becoming visible to our fellow humans.

This is going to result in a society of accountability, in which every individual is accountable for their actions. The choices we make about transparency, privacy, and above all where we draw the lines between allowable privacy and unnecessary secrecy, will determine whether we progress into a desirable future in which pollution, poverty, most other problems which beset humanity have been greatly reduced, or whether the worst case scenarios of totalitarian distopias come to be.

There are many political agendas worth supporting, but if you want the single key policy which could lead to the realization of nearly all other transhumanist and progressive goals, then transparency is that keystone.

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