>Discussing transhumanism and human technology interaction in our latest podcast with ZoltanThe article below is a summary of perspectives discussed in the podcast “Becoming one with Technology, with Zoltan Istvan” found here.
Though you can find transhumanists “by the millions” around the globe, you will not find many quite like Zoltan Istvan. His dedication to the cause of transhumanism has marked his political and public life and deserve a brief introduction.
Zoltan is one of the most vocal figures in the U.S today fighting to bring about an informed public conversation around the topic of fully integrating technology into our lives, and ultimately to kindle a transhumanist rights movement. Zoltan is the founder of the Transhumanist Party in the United States (US) for which he ran as the presidential nominee, and a journalist published by Vice’s Motherboard, Wired and Techchrunch. He is also the author of the Transhumanist Wager and the Transhumanist Bill of Rights. Recently Zoltan has given talks at the United Nations, World Economic Forum, and at the Global Innovation Forum in Armenia.
For Zoltan, transhumanism is a social movement; one made up of people who want to use “radical science and radical technology to upgrade the human body” and human experience. It is not the product of some kind of technological determinism, it is socially and politically reflexive. The ideology’s reflexivity also lies in its proclaimed abidance to the scientific method. Many people, technically, have embraced transhumanism insofar as they have integrated technology in some part of their bodies. Zoltan recounts around “half a million brain implants”, “types of artificial hips”, and millions more “pacemakers” being placed in humans. These are often understood as necessary integrations and/or due to medical imperatives which are less nuanced than reasons that would animate a transhumanist. Indeed, the transhumanists see their primary goal as “overcoming[ing] death” which brings them to decide to add technology to their bodies, replace parts artificially or even merge with machines down the line.
Zoltan highlights some level of path dependency of technology in current technology, at least as microprocessors get cheaper and better, and we continue to write more and more code. We are bound to arrive at a point in civil discourse where the most pressing issue will be: how far do we want to take technology -especially vis-a-vis our own bodies? If history can teach us anything, we can expect that government and politicians will lag behind in tackling these questions and being proactive with such technological innovation. The technology in question might already be obsolete by the time lawmakers wrap their heads around it. Zoltan envisions a powerful civil rights movement born around people that want to seize the opportunities that technology offers in terms of overcoming physical/natural limitations.
Cyborg rights, for example, are important to give people the right to voluntarily put implants in their body or plug their brain to some cloud and communicate seamlessly with others. We will have to spell out the answers to “the machines age” or “machine intelligence age” where robots will have some semblance of empathy and thoughts.
“How far… ‘till we start marrying these robots?”
Naturally, people should always be allowed not to embrace technology, and refuse this next step in human development for x reasons… though these people will simply be “less functional”, the transhumanist quipped.
Accommodating society to technology
Universal Basic Income (UBI), endorsed by Mark Zuckerberg among others, has become a recurrent concept mentioned in our podcast and forum. Obviously many people are of the opinion that the ‘big exodus’, that will see the transition of most jobs from humans to machines seems inevitable and requires fresh solutions. UBI might be that solution. UBI, according to Zoltan, could be in the form of a federal land dividend. Simply put, it departs from the observation that huge swaths of land in the U.S are owned by the government — mostly true for other countries as well. From this unused land that could be worth around 200 trillion USD, the presidential candidate proposes that with a special interest, the federal government could pay every American approximately 1700 USD/month or around the medium income in America. Alaska does this already. The proposal also stems from a long term outlook on the world — why are we being so conservative? In anticipation of a future of “post scarcity” for human beings, transhumanists assert that we should be using the resources that are today available in our rich lands with no contempt. It is likely that — within “2 to 3 generations” — humans will not be needing all the untapped minerals that exist in the national territory. There are pressing social issues today that could be addressed with these resources. Finally, UBI takes time and needs to be gradual in its implementation, it needs to start today if it is to have an impact on people in the long run.
AI could help us overcome impediments linked to our decision-making abilities. A “majority” of the people that run countries don’t have basic computer skills according to Zoltan. We could start using algorithms for most decisions made if we are able to build them in such a way that allows just that. Rumors were spreading in 2016 about IBM’s Watson running for president, to bringing the Transhumanist Party to question if the AI would not be a more honest candidate, unfettered by lobbyists or narratives or money. While appealing, we would still need to establish some checks and balances such as not allowing that AI to go beyond certain levels of intelligence, and at least preserve either the ability to be equal to AI or to “become one with AI”.
Along with that last thought, Zoltan assumes a rarer stance. Maybe privacy is the issue, he says. Maybe there will not be a need to protect our thoughts if we all live in a perfect network of minds. Privacy is essentially a “bourgeois concept” that appeared relatively recently in history. Privacy came during feudal systems where it was used to divide people and prevent them from cooperating efficiently. Their concept of privacy seems irrelevant to the age of machines. There will be a point in the future where privacy will be significantly less, where everyone is transparent about their identity and thoughts. Maybe “safeguards” would be in place, where it will be fine to have all sorts of thoughts that are part of being a human being. We might end up being in a “hive mind” where transparency is fluid. Liberty will be better served by total transparency and will be accepted. We are constantly battling each others’ opinions today, a hive mind could eliminate misunderstandings.
“Let it all flow out” — Zoltan Istvan
Resources/concepts recommended during the podcast and where to find them:
How can you get involved?
SingularityNET has a passionate and talented community which you can connect with by visiting our Community Forum. Feel free to say hello and to introduce yourself here. Exchange ideas, chat with others and share your knowledge with us and other community members on our forum. We have now launched the #AGICHAT, and we invite you to participate in our themed discussions. Read more about #AGICHAT here.
We are proud of our developers and researchers that are actively publishing their research for the benefit of the community; you can read the research here.
For any additional information, please refer to our roadmaps and subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed about all of our developments.
More from AI/ML
>Announcing our AI collaboration with Ping An TechnologyInvestment, Innovation, IntelligenceEditor’s note: The logo above now reflects the Ping An Technology …
>In the first part of this series, we discuss the vision of the Odyssey Hackathon and introduce the team members …