Oct 11, 2016
Posted by Steve Fuller in categories: governance, government, human trajectories, humor, life extension, Ray Kurzweil, transhumanism
For the past two years, Zoltan Istvan has been campaigning for the US presidency on the Transhumanist Party, a largely one-man show which nevertheless remains faithful to the basic tenets of transhumanism. Now suppose he won. Top of his policy agenda had been to ensure the immortality of all Americans. But even Zoltan realized that this would entail quite big changes in how the state and society function. So, shortly after being elected president, he decides to hold a national referendum on the matter.
The question on the ballot is one that makes the stakes crystal clear: ‘The government shall endeavour to release all Americans from the constraints of mortality’. Zoltan liked this way of putting things because were he to lose to the referendum, which he half-presumed, the opportunity to air publicly the relevant issues would continue to shift naysayers in Congress to increase funding for broadly anti-death research and treatments — a step in the right direction, as far as he’s concerned.
Zoltan also liked the idea that the referendum effectively ‘rotated the political axis’, from left-right to up-down, a turn of phrase he picked up from some philosopher whose name he couldn’t remember. But this also meant that the ensuing campaign, which was fierce, attracted a motley crew of supporters on both sides.
The ‘Remainers’ (as the anti-immortalists call themselves) were composed of a mix of traditional religious believers, environmental activists and hard-headed sceptics who distrust all transcendental hype, whether it comes from religion or science. In other words, those who wanted us to remain in our normal bodies held that our fate either is confined to our current circumstances or requires that we remain in those circumstances in order for something better to happen post mortem. The stakes were so high that even the Pope was called out to argue the case, which of course he was more than happy to do, Obama-style.