May 19, 2016

The Future Is Now for the Transhumanist Party

Posted by in categories: genetics, geopolitics, robotics/AI, transhumanism

This new SF Weekly story is one of the best long features on transhumanism I’ve ever read. It covers a myriad of futurist subjects. It’s out in print today too.

When John Lennon released “Imagine” in 1971, his lyrics about a brotherhood of man living life in peace struck many people as a simple, even anodyne, response to the Vietnam War. Although politically liberal, Lennon was no doctrinal Marxist — only three years earlier, his song “Revolution” had shrugged off people who “go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao.” But the song struck many evangelical Christians as ghoulish, and for some, “Imagine” eventually came to be a sort of national anthem for the repressively secular, globalist state that was thought to be emerging: the anti-Christian New World Order that later became talk-radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ fever dream.

Left Behind, a series of 16 books written between 1995 and 2007 that details a possible end-of-the-world scenario, starting from when all good Christians go to heaven in an instant (the Rapture) until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, specifically calls out “Imagine” as a weapon in Satan’s arsenal of seductive propaganda. The Antichrist in Left Behind is a suave, cosmopolitan Romanian named Nicolae Carpathia — the product of the fused sperm of two gay atheist academics, as it happens — who uses the global confusion in the aftermath of the Rapture to become Secretary General of the U.N. and eventually dictator of a world government that tattoos its citizens with the Mark of the Beast, damning them for eternity.

However clumsily written, Left Behind was for a time the best-selling adult fiction in the United States (partly because megachurches bought copies in bulk to distribute among their congregations) and a major cultural artifact whose high-water mark coincided with the 2004 election. Muscular, evangelical-inflected Republicanism has declined somewhat, as libertarians and later xenophobic populists gained ground in the party, but the anxieties that Left Behind played off of are very real: secularization, cultural dissolution, and the loss of something innately human to encroaching technology.

Zoltan Istvan of the Transhumanist Party is the closest thing to the Antichrist — as imagined in Left Behind, anyway — whom I’ve ever met. Telegenic, articulate, and blond, the 43-year-old Marin technologist who formerly worked in real estate cheerfully advocates for a post-capitalist future of artificial intelligence, DIY genetic modification, and the eventual demise of death itself. To put science and technology to the fore of the national agenda, he’s running for president.

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  1. Bennie Beaver says:

    Religions and innately humans have historically correlated with witch burning, severed heads, & war under every excuse holy fanatical could imagine.

    The truth is that today religions pan for every rational supposable to co-opt science in confirmation of their nonsensical blind faith.

    I grew up in a family of fanatical religion. My families history is full of preachers. Today I largely comport with Zoltan Istvan and Ray Kurzweil, and I have since the 1960s.

    In the 1950s my dad, a farmer, gambler, musician, summer time carpenter building barracks for the army in Alaska, whose farther was a preacher, would send me walking a few miles on Sundays to catch a ride with my preacher/farmer uncle. One Sunday at the age of 14 I refused to walk to my uncle’s to go to church telling my dad, that if going to church makes one happier, healthier and more successful, who wouldn’t go. Dad wouldn’t go, so I never went again.

    Science is the next great hope for a better world. The world has traveled over centuries like a graphic sine wave from war to peace-time endlessly. It’s time for a new sine wave of peace lasting for a day, month, year, century, forever to the end of time. Without that peace mankind will not survive the coming singularity with weapons smaller and more powerful that only one deviate mind could walk into a city and destroy it, plus.….