Zoltan Istvan has written a very powerful book called The Transhumanist Wager. For anyone interested in the future of humanity (umm… that should be all of you) this is a must read. SERIOUS WONDER asked Zoltan what he hopes to accomplish with this book and what he has in mind for the future.
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Zoltan Istvan / Q & A / for Serious Wonder
SW: Why did you write The Transhumanist Wager?
Z: “My main goal was to inspire readers with a powerful artistic statement that would challenge their ideas of life and death. The rapid advancement of life extension science and technology will drastically change everything in our society far sooner than most people realize. I hope The Transhumanist Wager serves as a wake-up call for people—informing them they no longer need to die; informing them death should be treated as a disease, and not a destiny.”
SW: Right wing conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and Texe Marrs call Transhumanism “Satanic” and call technology and robots the “the beast and the great deceiver”… Are these extreme Christian propagandists really ready for a war on technology?
Z: “These extreme Christians are absolutely ready to wage war on technology. To their credit, they understand how impactful the rise of transhuman science and technology will be on civilization. They realize it will make the core of their 2000-year old religious beliefs laughable. Inevitably, they’ll want to do everything in their power to keep technology and science from allowing humans to pursue their transhuman destiny. Their ultimate aim is to permit only that technology which is in line with their backwards dogma—which is very little according to the tenets of the bible.”
SW: What are your near future and far future goals for your activism?
Z: “I’m currently creating networks of transhuman activists across America and beyond that will begin systematic confrontations against those that are hostile to life extension and human enhancement science. I plan to use aggressive tactics that will garner media attention for spreading transhumanism. Of course, I’m also using my novel The Transhumanist Wager as a tool for how passionate that activism should be. One of the central problems of the transhuman movement is that it’s so small. We need to exponentially swell the numbers of people involved. Activism will grow the movement and attract a younger generation to its ideas. My end goal is to help create an organization that is similar to “Transhuman Citizen” in my novel—one that will take on anyone that stands in the way of our life extension goals.”
Z: “It’s asinine how little prepared the world is for this imminent technological tsunami. People everywhere are ignoring the paradigm shift that is only decades away from occurring. Human immortality, Artificial Intelligence, cyborg implementation, mind uploading, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, cloning—it’s all about to swiftly affect everyone everywhere. People ignore this because the “system” has swamped them with mortgages, need-to-buy cars, zombie movie, Sunday church services, and Super Bowls. People have become conditioned to be apathetic to anything not immediately in front of them. What I want to do is to get people off their asses—to get them directly involved in not dying. Apathy leads to death. In the 21st century, apathy is a disease as much as cancer, diabetes, or AIDS is. Anything that doesn’t lead to pushing the transhuman movement forward and extending one’s life is something that leads to death. So I want to push people into activities that make us all live longer—like going back to college and studying for careers in science; funding transhuman research instead of funding church programs; creating progressive art that facilitates science and technology based goals; and getting people to support transhuman ideals instead of trinket-buying consumer habits.”
SW: We know that in every organization, cult, and culture we see darkness AND enlightenment. How can the transhmanist movement self monitor so that we don’t allow the negative minority to control this movement and how can we uplift the players that want to help humanity?
Z: “Self-monitoring is essential for finding the best path forward—both for the individual and society. We must commit ourselves to always use reason in our actions; we must commit ourselves to always be on guard against making the same poor decisions of the past. If we all act reasonably and make smart choices, a negative minority will not be able to achieve power because the majority will never allow it to happen. This is the best way to ensure that the enablers of humanity will be able to successfully move us forward.”
Z: “Yes, positively. Barring no world wars or cataclysmic global disasters, I think we’ll have digital immortality by about 2040. And I think many of us will quickly discard the human body in favor of a much more permanent and complex digital self. While our flesh may be the winning evolutionary vehicle so far in evolution, it’s a fragile costume better described as a coffin. Some may say that my 2040 estimate is too optimistic, but people forget that AI should be smarter than us in most everything within 15 years. Even technologists greatly underestimate how much faster life extension research will take place once machine intelligence takes over the domain of science. One self aware supercomputer is going to be like the combined brain power of all Google employees to the tenth power. Science will never be the same. The speed of growth will be unprecedented.”
SW: Would you ever write a Transhumanist children’s book?
Z: “As a father of a 2-year old, yes I would. And it’s on my list of things to do with my wife, a physician. Teaching kids pro-science ideas early on (as opposed to the Santa Claus/Mickey Mouse/Barbie Doll fairytales) is very important to me.”
Z: “#1: Insist that everyone on the planet receive a secular liberal education from pre-school all the way through college. Make it into a global law and have governments pay for it. Every human being must end up with a four-year college degree or die trying, regardless of your age.
#2: Religion must be broadly taught as something backwards and childish. Laws must insist that religion remains a private matter everywhere in the world, if practiced at all. Religion should not be in schools; it should not be celebrated on holidays; and it should never be anywhere in the government. The fact that US Presidents swear on bibles at their inaugerations make me sick. How insulting to a supposed rational-minded society.
#3: Read and reread The Transhumanist Wager. All kidding aside, everyone everywhere should make a personal plight of self discovery in the sciences. Reading and learning from the multiple of amazing pro-reason books out there is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. Set out one year of your life and read all the best books in the transhuman field. Everyone needs to carefully and logically consider what their wager in life is—what part advancing technology and the coming Singularity is going to play in their life. Everyone needs to find their best path and pursue it passionately.”
“From page one, Istvan sweeps us away into the land of the not so distant future, where transhumanism has found its place in common society, despite the strong oppression received by religious groups. The story follows Jethro Knights, a blatantly honest transhumanist, through a flowing, highly immersive narrative and we soon find ourselves unable to stop reading. At times, the dialogue will have us heartily agreeing, gripping the edge of our seats, or pausing for a contemplative stare off into distance. Yet, just pages later, it will put us into a place of introspective discomfort as it challenges and shakes the foundations of ideology with stark philosophy. From cover to cover, this book is an edgy, riveting masterpiece that will long linger with anyone who reads it.” – Kevin Russell
Image : Mikko Kinnunen