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Archive for the ‘Transhumanism’ Category

Transhumanism: Meet the cyborgs and biohackers redefining beauty – CNN

Posted: May 31, 2020 at 2:53 am


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Written by Karina Tsui, CNN

Today, we can alter our bodies in previously unimaginable ways, whether that's implanting microchips, fitting advanced prosthetic limbs or even designing entirely new senses.

So-called transhumanists -- people who seek to improve their biology by enhancing their bodies with technology -- believe that our natural condition inhibits our experience of the world, and that we can transcend our current capabilities through science.

Ideas that are "technoprogressive" to some are controversial to others. But to photographer David Vintiner, they are something else altogether: beautiful.

Neil Harbisson was born with achromatism, or total colorblindness. In 2004, he had an antenna implanted into his skull that allows him to perceive colors as audible vibrations. Credit: David Vintiner

Designing the world's first home computers

Made in collaboration with art director and critic Gem Fletcher, the book features a variety of people who identify, to some degree, as "transhuman" -- including a man with bionic ears that sense changes in atmospheric pressure, a woman who can "feel" earthquakes taking place around the world and technicians who have developed lab-made organs.

Fletcher was first introduced to the transhumanist subculture via the London Futurist Group, an organization that explores how technology can counter future crises. Upon meeting some of its members, the London-based art director approached Vintiner with the idea of photographing them in a series of portraits.

Describing himself as an "eyeborg," Rob Spence installed a wireless video camera in place of his right eye. Credit: David Vintiner

"Our first shoot was with Andrew Vladimirov, a DIY 'brain hacker,'" Vintiner recalled in a phone interview. "Each time we photographed someone new, we asked for referrals and introductions to other key people within the movement."

One of Vintiner's subjects, James Young, turned to bionics after losing his arm and leg in an accident in 2012. Young had always been interested in biotechnology and was particularly drawn to the aesthetics of science fiction. Visualizing how his body could be "re-built," or even perform enhanced tasks with the help of the latest technology, became part of his recovery process.

But according to the 29-year-old, the options presented to him by doctors were far from exciting -- standard-issue steel bionic limbs with flesh-colored silicone sleeves.

James Young has always been drawn to the aesthetics of science fiction. Following his accident, he came to see "re-building" his body as part of his recovery process. Credit: David Vintiner

"To see what was available was the most upsetting part," Young said in a video interview.

"What the human body can constitute, in terms of tools and technology, is such a blurry thing -- if you think about the arm, it's just a sensory piece of equipment.

"If there was anyone who would get their arm and leg chopped off, it would be me because I'm excited about technology and what it can get done."

China cosmetic surgery apps: Swipe to buy a new face

Japanese gaming giant Konami worked with prosthetics sculptor Sophie de Oliveira Barata to design a set of bionic limbs for Young. The result was an arm and leg made from gray carbon fiber -- an aesthetic partly inspired by Konami's "Metal Gear Solid," one of the then-22-year-old's favorite video games.

Beyond the expected functions, Young's robotic arm features a USB port, a screen displaying his Twitter feed and a retractable dock containing a remote-controlled drone. The limbs are controlled by sensors that convert nerve impulses from Young's spine into physical movements.

"Advanced prosthetics enabled James to change people's perception of (his) disability," said Vintiner of Young, adding: "When you first show people the photographs, they are shocked and disconcerted by the ideas contained within. But if you dissect the ideas, they realize that they are very pragmatic."

James Young's bionic arm features a USB port, a screen linked to his Twitter account and a retractable dock containing a remote-controlled drone. Credit: David Vintiner

Young says it has taken several years for people to appreciate not just the functions of advanced bionic limbs but their aesthetics, too. "Bionic and electronic limbs were deemed scary, purely because of how they looked," he said. "They coincided with the idea that 'disability is not sexy.'"

He also felt there was stigma surrounding bionics, because patients were often given flesh-colored sleeves to conceal their artificial limbs.

What -- and who -- will define beauty in the year 2050?

"Visually, we think that this is the boundary of the human body," Young said, referring to his remaining biological arm. "Opportunities for transhumanists open up because a bionic arm can't feel pain, or it can be instantly replaced if you have the money. It has different abilities to withstand heat and to not be sunburned."

As Vintiner continued shooting the portraits, he felt many of his preconceptions being challenged. The process also raised a profound question: If technology can change what it is to be human, can it also change what it means to be beautiful?

"Most of my (original) work centers around people -- their behavior, character, quirks and stories," he said. "But this project took the concept of beauty to another level."

Liz Parrish claims to be the first person to successfully undergo dual gene therapy to "treat" biological aging. Credit: David Vintiner

Science's impact over our understanding of aesthetics is, to Vintiner, one of the most fascinating aspects of transhumanism. What he discovered, however, was that many in the movement still look toward existing beauty standards as a model for "post-human" perfection.

Speaking to CNN Style in 2018, Hanson said that Sophia's form would resonate with people around the world, and that her appearance was partly inspired by real women including Hanson's wife and Audrey Hepburn, as well as statues of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

Related video: Meet Sophia, the robot who smiles and frowns just like us

But with her light hazel eyes, perfectly arched eyebrows, long eyelashes, defined cheekbones and plump lips -- Sophia's appearance arguably epitomizes that of a conventionally beautiful Caucasian woman.

How ancient Egyptian cosmetics influenced our beauty rituals

"When I photographed Ben Goertzel, he vocalized how he took no time to consider how he (himself) looked -- it was of no interest to him," the photographer recalled of the photo shoot.

Vintiner saw a certain irony: that someone who was unconcerned about his own appearance would nonetheless project our preoccupation with beauty through his company's invention.

It also served as a reminder that attractiveness may be more complex than algorithms can ever fathom.

Ben Goertzel, one of the scientists behind Sophia the robot. Credit: David Vintiner

"I fear that if we can design humans without any of the 'flaws' that occur in our biological makeup, things will be pushed further and further towards a level of perfection we can only imagine right now." Vintiner said. "Look at how plastic surgery has altered our perception of beauty in a very short space of time.

"If the transhumanists are right and we, as humans, can live to be several hundreds of years old, our notion of beauty and the very meaning of what it is to be human will change dramatically."

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Transhumanism: Meet the cyborgs and biohackers redefining beauty - CNN

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May 31st, 2020 at 2:53 am

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Everything coming to HBO Max in June 2020 – Mashable

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All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission. By Alison Foreman2020-05-28 11:00:00 UTC

HBO Max may have just hit the market, but we already know what it's bringing next month.

In June 2020, the streaming service will offer tons of new movie titles like Titanic, Ad Astra, Doctor Sleep, Bridget Jones's Baby, A Cinderella Story, Speed Racer, The Bucket List, The Neverending Story, The Good Liar, Uncle Buck, When Harry Met Sally, and more.

As for TV, HBO Max will debut new seasons of Search Party, Doom Patrol, and Summer Camp Island alongside the series premieres of Perry Mason, Karma, I May Destroy You, and I'll Be Gone in the Dark. Plus, we'll get Seasons 1-24 of South Park and a standup special from Yvonne Orji.

Check out everything coming to HBO Max in June 2020.

After three painful years, Search Party is finally back. The dark comedy from Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter originally premiered on TBS in 2016 with its spectacular second season arriving in 2017. Now, it has been picked up for its third and fourth seasons at HBO Max so if you're new to the search party, now's the perfect time to catch up.

This satirical joyride follows Dory (Alia Shawkat) and her gaggle of entitled friends as they seek to solve the mysterious disappearance of Chantal Witherbottom. Stupidly funny and surprisingly tense, this series checks all the boxes and escalates in ways you can't imagine.

How to watch: Search Party Season 3 premieres June 25 on HBO Max.

A Cinderella Story (6/1) A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song (6/1) A Monster Calls (6/1) A Perfect World (6/1) Ad Astra (6/6) Adventures In Babysitting (6/1) Amelie (6/1) An American Werewolf in London (6/1) Another Cinderella Story (6/1) Bajo el mismo techo (aka Under the Same Roof) (6/19) Beautiful Girls (6/1) Black Beauty (6/1) Bridget Jones's Baby (6/1) Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn (6/19) Cabaret (6/1) Chicago (6/1) Clash Of The Titans (6/1) Cornfield Shipwreck (6/16) Cradle 2 the Grave (6/1) Crash (6/1) David Attenborough's Ant Mountain (6/16) David Attenbouroughs Light on Earth (6/16) DeBugged (6/16) Doctor Sleep (Directors Cut) (6/27) Doubt (6/1) Dragons & Damsels (6/16) Dreaming Of Joseph Lees (6/1) Drop Dead Gorgeous (6/1) Dune (6/1) Ebony: The Last Years of The Atlantic Slave Trade (6/16) El asesino de los caprichos (aka The Goya Murders) (6/12) Elf (6/1) Enter The Dragon (6/1) Entre Nos: The Winners (6/19) Far and Away (6/1) Final Destination (6/1) Final Destination 2 (6/1) Final Destination 3 (6/1) The Final Destination (6/1) Firewall (6/1) First Man (6/16) Flipped (6/1) Forces of Nature (6/1) Ford V. Ferrari (6/20) Frantic (6/1) From Dusk Til Dawn (6/1) Full Metal Jacket (6/1) Gente De Zona: En Letra De Otro (6/1) Going Nuts: Tales from Squirrel World (6/16) Hack the Moon: Unsung Heroes of Apollo (6/16) Hanna (6/1) Havana (6/1) He Got Game (6/1) Heaven Can Wait (6/1) Heidi (6/1) Hello Again (6/1) Hormigas (aka The Awakening of the Ants) (6/26) In Her Shoes (6/1) In Like Flint (6/1) Into the Lost Crystal Caves (6/16) It Takes Two (6/1) Jason Silva: Transhumanism (6/16) Juice (6/1) Knuckleball! (6/16) Leonardo: The Mystery of The Lost Portrait (6/16) License To Wed (6/1) Life (6/1) Lifeforce (6/1) Lights Out (6/1) Like Water For Chocolate (6/1) Looney Tunes: Back in Action (6/1) Love Jones (6/1) Lucy (6/1) Magic Mike (6/1) Mans First Friend (6/16) McCabe and Mrs. Miller (6/1) Misery (6/1) Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (6/1) Mr. Wonderful (6/1) Must Love Dogs (6/1) My Dog Skip (6/1) Mystic River (6/1) New York Minute (6/1) Nights In Rodanthe (6/1) No Reservations (6/1) Ordinary People (6/1) Our Man Flint (6/1) Patch Adams (6/1) Pedro Capo: En Letra Otro (6/1) Penguin Central (6/16) Personal Best (6/1) Pompeii: Disaster Street (6/16) Presumed Innocent (6/1) Pyramids Builders: New Clues (6/16) Ray (6/1) Richie Rich (6/1) Rosewood (6/1) Rugrats Go Wild (6/1) Running on Empty (6/1) Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer (6/16) Scanning the Pyramids (6/16) Secondhand Lions (6/1) She's The Man (6/1) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (6/1) Space Cowboys (6/1) Speed Racer (6/1) Splendor in the Grass (6/1) Summer Catch (6/1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (6/1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (6/1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 (6/1) Tess (6/1) The American (6/1) The Bucket List (6/1) The Champ (6/1) The Daunting Fortress of Richard the Lionheart (6/16) The Fountain (6/1) The Good Liar (6/13) The Good Son (6/1) The Goonies (6/1) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (6/1) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (6/1) The Hunger (6/1) The Iron Giant (6/1) The Last Mimzy (6/1) The Losers (6/1) The Neverending Story (6/1) The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter (6/1) The Parallax View (6/1) The Stepfather (6/1) The Time Traveler's Wife (6/1) The Woodstock Bus (6/16) Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (6/1) Titanic (6/1) TMNT (6/1) Torch Song Trilogy (6/1) Transhood (6/24) Tsunamis: Facing a Global Threat (6/16) Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (6/1) Tweety's High-Flying Adventures (6/1) U-571 (6/1) U.S. Marshals (6/1) Unaccompanied Minors (6/1) Uncle Buck (6/1) Veronica Mars (6/1) Versailles Rediscovered: The Sun Kings Vanished Palace (6/16) Vitamania (6/16) Walking and Talking (6/1) We Are Marshall (6/1) Weird Science (6/1) Welcome to Chechnya (6/30) Whale Wisdom (6/16) When Harry Met Sally (6/1) Wild Wild West (6/1) Wonder (6/1) X-Men: First Class (6/1) Youve Got Mail (6/1)

4th & Forever: Muck City: Season 1 (6/1) Adventure Time Distant Lands: BMO (6/25) Age of Big Cats: Season 1 (6/16) Ancient Earth: Season 1 (6/16) Apocalypse: WWI: Season 1 (6/16) Big World in A Small Garden (6/16) Digits: Season 1 (6/16) Doom Patrol: Season 2 Premiere (6/25) Esme & Roy: Season 2A Premiere (6/25) Expedition: Black Sea Wrecks: Season 1 (6/16) #GeorgeWashington (6/16) HBO First Look: The King of Staten Island (6/4) Hurricane the Anatomy: Season 1 (6/16) I May Destroy You: Series Premiere (6/7) Ill Be Gone in the Dark: Docuseries Premiere (6/28) Infinity Train: Season 2 Premiere (6/10) Inside Carbonaro: Season 1 (6/2) Karma: Series Premiere (6/18) King: A Filmed Record Montgomery to Memphis (Part 1 & Part 2): Season 1 (6/16) Looney Tunes (Batch 2): Season 1 (6/16)Perry Mason: Limited Series Premiere (6/21) Popeye (Batch 2): Season 1 (6/16)Realm of the Volga: Season 1 (6/16) Sacred Spaces: Season 1 (6/16) Science vs. Terrorism: Season 1 (6/16) Search Party: Season 3 Premiere (6/25) Secret Life of Lakes: Season 1 (6/16) Secret Life Underground: Season 1 (6/16) Secrets of the Solar System: Season 1 (6/16) South Park: Seasons 1 - 23 (6/24) Space Probes!: Season 1 (6/16) Speed: Season 1 (6/16) Spies of War: Season 1 (6/16) Summer Camp Island: Season 2 Premiere (6/18) Tales of Nature: Season 1 (6/16) The Celts: Blood, Iron & Sacrifice: Season 1 (6/16) The History of Food: Season 1 (6/16) The Secret Lives of Big Cats: Season 1 (6/16) Viking Women: Season 1 (6/16) Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! (6/6)

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Everything coming to HBO Max in June 2020 - Mashable

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May 31st, 2020 at 2:53 am

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Scientists Just Watched Artificial Neurons ‘Speak’ to Real Neurons Using Light – ScienceAlert

Posted: May 24, 2020 at 7:43 am


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Our neurons talk in melodies; understanding their rhythms has proved key to creating a new device that could join their conversations.

Just as glasses can aid our struggling eyes, the hope is that artificial brain matter could one day aid our brain bits that aren't working as well as they could be.

An international team of researchers has developed a neuroprosthetic that uses light as its communication medium, unlike previous devices used to communicate with neurons that speak in electrical outputs. This technique is called optogenetics, and provides greater targeting control than seen so far in electrical-based equivalents.

"Advances in optogenetic technology allowed us to precisely target neurons in a very small area of our biological neuronal network," said biomedical engineer Timothe Levi from The University of Tokyo.

Optogenetics involves modifying the biological neurons as well. The three to four-week-old, lab-grown biological neural network was genetically engineered to produce light-sensitive proteins derived from algae that trigger neurons to respond when exposed to blue light.

Scientists can quite precisely choose which type of neuron or location of a neural network to modify with these opsin proteins.

The researchers used the artificial neural network to produce binary rhythms of blue light targeting an area 0.8 by 0.8 millimetres within the larger biological network. The biological neurons responded through changes to their own rhythm locally as well as across the entire network. Their response was captured using calcium imaging and electrode sensors.

(Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo)

"The key to our success was understanding that the rhythms of the artificial neurons had to match those of the real neurons," Levi explained.

"Once we were able to do this, the biological network was able to respond to the 'melodies' sent by the artificial one."

As the electrode array the team used to sense the neural response was four times larger than the area stimulated, the researchers point out it is likely they did not capture their full response.

Still, the experiments provide important information for creating efficient neuroprosthetic communication, the team wrote in their paper, explaining that their ability to target a very small group of neurons promises higher information transmission for future devices, possibly even down to the single neuron level.

While some people have ambitious dreams of bio-hybridly enhanced humans (transhumanism), we're still a long way from that yet.

Descendants of these artificial neurons have the more practical potential to explore neurological problems, and perhaps, one day, assist those who have experienced traumatic brain injuries. But they still have many melodies to share before we can reach that stage.

This research was published in Scientific Reports.

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Scientists Just Watched Artificial Neurons 'Speak' to Real Neurons Using Light - ScienceAlert

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May 24th, 2020 at 7:43 am

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Heres Everything Coming to HBO Max in June 2020 – Cord Cutters News, LLC

Posted: May 23, 2020 at 2:49 pm


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HBO Max is wasting no time adding to its content library just days after its initial launch. June brings a whole new list of TV shows, movies, and HBO Originals all included in the brand new streaming service.

June 1: 4th & Forever: Muck City, Season One Adventures In Babysitting, 1987 (HBO) Amelie, 2001 (HBO) An American Werewolf in London, 1981 (HBO) The American, 2010 (HBO) Another Cinderella Story, 2008 Beautiful Girls, 1996 (HBO) Black Beauty, 1994 Bridget Joness Baby, 2016 The Bucket List, 2007 Cabaret, 1972 The Champ, 1979 Chicago, 2002 A Cinderella Story, 2004 A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song, 2011 Clash Of The Titans, 2010 Cradle 2 the Grave, 2003 Crash, 2005 (Directors Cut) (HBO) Doubt, 2008 (HBO) Dreaming Of Joseph Lees, 1999 (HBO) Drop Dead Gorgeous, 1999 Dune, 1984 (HBO) Elf, 2003 Enter The Dragon, 1973 Far and Away, 1992 (HBO) Final Destination, 2000 Final Destination 2, 2003 Final Destination 3, 2006 The Final Destination, 2009 Firewall, 2006 Flipped, 2010 Forces of Nature, 1999 (HBO) The Fountain, 2006 (HBO) Frantic, 1988 From Dusk Til Dawn, 1996 Full Metal Jacket, 1987 Gente De Zona: En Letra De Otro, 2018 (HBO) The Good Son, 1993 (HBO) The Goonies, 1985 Hanna, 2011 (HBO) Havana, 1990 (HBO) He Got Game, 1998 (HBO) Heaven Can Wait, 1978 Heidi, 2006 Hello Again, 1987 (HBO) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2012 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 2013 The Hunger, 1983 In Her Shoes, 2005 (HBO) In Like Flint, 1967 (HBO) The Iron Giant, 1999 It Takes Two, 1995 Juice, 1992 The Last Mimzy, 2007 License To Wed, 2007 Life, 1999 (HBO) Lifeforce, 1985 (HBO) Lights Out, 2016 (HBO) Like Water For Chocolate, 1993 (HBO) Looney Tunes: Back in Action, 2003 The Losers, 2010 Love Jones, 1997 Lucy, 2020 (HBO) Magic Mike, 2012 McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 1971 Misery, 1990 Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, 2008 (HBO) A Monster Calls, 2016 (HBO) Mr. Wonderful, 1993 (HBO) Must Love Dogs, 2005 My Dog Skip, 2000 Mystic River, 2003 The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter, 1991 The Neverending Story, 1984 New York Minute, 2004 Nights In Rodanthe, 2008 No Reservations, 2007 Ordinary People, 1980 Our Man Flint, 1966 (HBO) The Parallax View, 1974 Patch Adams, 1998 (HBO) A Perfect World, 1993 Pedro Capo: En Letra Otro, 2017 (HBO) Personal Best, 1982 Presumed Innocent, 1990 Ray, 2004 (HBO) Richie Rich (Movie), 1994 Rosewood, 1997 Rugrats Go Wild, 2003 Running on Empty, 1988 Secondhand Lions, 2003 Shes The Man, 2006 (HBO) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, 2011 (HBO) Space Cowboys, 2000 Speed Racer, 2008 Splendor in the Grass, 1961 The Stepfather, 1987 (HBO) Summer Catch, 2001 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, 1993 Tess, 1980 (HBO) Tim Burtons Corpse Bride, 2005 The Time Travelers Wife, 2009 Titanic, 1997 TMNT, 2007 Torch Song Trilogy, 1988 Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, 1997 (HBO) Tweetys High-Flying Adventures, 2000 U-571, 2000 (HBO) U.S. Marshals, 1998 Unaccompanied Minors, 2006 Uncle Buck, 1989 (HBO) Veronica Mars, 2014 Walking and Talking, 1996 (HBO) We Are Marshall, 2006 Weird Science, 1985 (HBO) When Harry Met Sally, 1989 Wild Wild West, 1999 Wonder, 2019 (HBO) X-Men: First Class, 2011 (HBO) Youve Got Mail, 1998

June 2: Inside Carbonaro, Season One (TruTV)

June 4:

Were Here, Season Finale (HBO)

HBO First Look: The King of Staten Island (HBO)

June 5: Betty, Season Finale (HBO)

June 6: Ad Astra, 2019 (HBO) Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! (HBO)

June 7: I May Destroy You, Series Premiere (HBO)

June 10: Infinity Train, Season 2 Premiere

June 12: El asesino de los caprichos (AKA The Goya Murders),2020(HBO)

June 13: The Good Liar, 2019 (HBO)

June 14: I Know This Much Is True, Limited Series Finale (HBO) Insecure, Season 4 Finale (HBO)

June 16: #GeorgeWashington, 2017 Age of Big Cats, Season One Ancient Earth, Season One Apocalypse: WWI, Season One Big World in A Small Garden, 2016 The Celts: Blood, Iron & Sacrifice, Season One Cornfield Shipwreck, 2019 The Daunting Fortress of Richard the Lionheart, 2019 David Attenboroughs Ant Mountain, 2016 David Attenbouroughs Light on Earth, 2016 DeBugged, 2018 Digits, Season One Dragons & Damsels, 2019 Ebony: The Last Years of The Atlantic Slave Trade, 2016 Expedition: Black Sea Wrecks, Season One First Man, 2017 Going Nuts: Tales from Squirrel World, 2019 Hack the Moon: Unsung Heroes of Apollo, 2019 The History of Food, Season One Hurricane the Anatomy, Season One, 2018 Into the Lost Crystal Caves, 2016 Jason Silva: Transhumanism, 2016 King: A Filmed Record Montgomery to Memphis (Part 1 & Part 2), Season One Knuckleball!, 2019 Leonardo: The Mystery of The Lost Portrait, 2018 Looney Tunes (Batch 2) (6/22), Season One Mans First Friend, 2018 Penguin Central, 2019 Pompeii: Disaster Street, 2020 Popeye (Batch 2) (6/22), Season One Pyramids Builders: New Clues, 2019 Realm of the Volga, Season One Sacred Spaces, Season One Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer, Documentary Premiere (CNN)

Scanning the Pyramids, 2018 Science vs. Terrorism, Season One The Secret Lives of Big Cats, Season One Secret Life of Lakes, Season One Secret Life Underground, Season One Secrets of the Solar System, Season One Space Probes!, Season One Speed, Season One Spies of War , Season One Tales of Nature, Season One Tsunamis: Facing a Global Threat, 2020 Versailles Rediscovered: The Sun Kings Vanished Palace, 2019 Viking Women, Season One Vitamania, 2018 Whale Wisdom, 2019 The Woodstock Bus, 2019

June 18: Summer Camp Island, Season 2 Premiere Karma, Series Premiere

June 19: Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn, Documentary Premiere (HBO) Entre Nos: The Winners (HBO) Bajo el mismo techo (AKA Under the Same Roof), 2020 (HBO)

June 20: Ford V. Ferrari, 2020 (HBO)

June 21: Perry Mason, Limited Series Premiere (HBO)

June 22: Hard, Series Finale (HBO)

June 24: South Park, Seasons 1-23 Transhood, Documentary Premiere (HBO)

June 25: Adventure Time Distant Lands: BMO, Special Premiere

Doom Patrol, Season 2 Premiere Esme & Roy, Season 2A Premiere Search Party, Season 3 Premiere

June 26: Hormigas (AKA The Awakening of the Ants), 2020

June 27: Doctor Sleep (Directors Cut), 2020 (HBO)

June 28: Ill Be Gone in the Dark, Docuseries Premiere (HBO)

June 30: Welcome to Chechnya, Documentary Premiere (HBO)

Disclaimer: To address the growing use of ad blockers we now use affiliate links to sites like Amazon.com, streaming services, and others. Affiliate links help sites like Cord Cutters News stay open. Affiliate links cost you nothing but help me support my family. We do not allow paid reviews on this site. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Heres Everything Coming to HBO Max in June 2020 - Cord Cutters News, LLC

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May 23rd, 2020 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Transhumanism

Introducing When the Sparrow Falls, the Debut Novel From Neil Sharpson – tor.com

Posted: May 15, 2020 at 9:41 am


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Will Hinton, executive editor at Tor Books, has acquired North American rights to two books by debut novelist Neil Sharpson, from his agent Jennie Goloboy at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. The first book, When the Sparrow Falls, is scheduled for publication in spring 2021.

Part thriller, part literary science fiction, When the Sparrow Falls is an exploration of the coming AI revolution, transhumanism, totalitarianism, loss, and the problem of evil.

In the future, AI are everywhere. They are our employers, our employees, our friends, lovers and even our children. Over half the human race now lives online.

But in the Caspian Republic, the last true human beings have made their stand, and their repressive, one-party state is locked in perpetual cold war with the outside world.

The republic is thrown into chaos when the virulently anti-AI journalist Paulo Xirau is found dead in a bar. At his autopsy, the unthinkable is discovered: Xirau was AI.

Security Agent Nikolai South is given a seemingly mundane task; escorting Xiraus widow while she visits the Caspian Republic to identify her husbands remains. He is stunned to discover that the beautiful, reserved, Lily Xirau bears an unearthly resemblance to his wife, who has been dead for thirty years.

As Nikolai and Lily delve deeper into the circumstances surrounding Paulos death, trying desperately to avoid the attentions of the murderous Bureau of Party Security, a tentative friendship between the two begins to blossom. But when they discover Xiraus last secret South must choose between his loyalty to his country and his conscience.

Neil Sharpson said:

Ive been living in the Caspian Republic (whether as a play, screenplay or novel) for around nine years now and its almost impossible to believe that the journey is finally at an end. Its a story about one man trying to survive in a brutal regime who is given one final chance to make amends to the woman he let down. Im incredibly grateful to Will Hinton and the team at Tor for choosing this book, and to Jennie Goloboy, the best agent any writer could ask for. And most of all to my wife Aoife, who never doubted for a second, even when I did. And while its certainly not a place Id recommend moving to, I sincerely hope people enjoy their time in the Caspian Republic.

Will Hinton added:

It is a rare and joyous occasion to discover a debut novel brimming with this much talent, insight, poise and heart. The voice of Nikolai South is indelible and the world he brings us into is unforgettable, part Le Carr, part Philip K. Dick, and many layers besides. Sharpson asks questions, and gives a few answers, about what is gained and what is lost in the way we live in the 21st century that will keep me thinking for a long time. I cant wait for you to read it!

When the Sparrow Falls is scheduled for publication in spring 2021 by Tor in the US and by Rebellion in the UK.

Neil Sharpson lives in Dublin with his wife and their two children. Having written for theatre since his teens, Neil transitioned to writing novels in 2017, adapting his own play The Caspian Sea into When the Sparrow Falls.

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Introducing When the Sparrow Falls, the Debut Novel From Neil Sharpson - tor.com

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May 15th, 2020 at 9:41 am

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Five Essay Collections to Read in Quarantine – Willamette Week

Posted: April 24, 2020 at 12:54 pm


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Make It Scream, Make It Burn, Leslie Jamison

Leslie Jamison knows how to write a good personal essay because she doesn't assume you want to read about her personally. This was true in her first collection, Empathy Exams, and it is true in her second, Make It Scream, Make It Burn, which pieces together the things that interest Jamison most. In "Sim Life," Jamison examines our e-companions, those virtual characters we find ourselves strangely invested in. In "The Quickening," she reflects on the anxieties of pregnancy, at times addressing her unborn daughter directly, drawing the reader into the most private spaces of pre-parenthood. Each essay is an exercise in thoughtful restraint, never allowing itself to be confused for the work of a diarist.

On its most superficial level, Black Is the Body is a collection about storytelling within the familyas Bernard lays out in the subtitle, these are 12 stories from her grandmother's time, her mother's time, and her own. Beneath that, Black Is the Body is an expertly crafted collection about blackness in America, as only Bernard has lived it. One essay, "Interstates," documents the time when Bernard, her parents, and her white fianc pulled over to change a flat tire, exposing the family to every prejudice that may pass them on the highway. Other stories examine the relationship between white and black life in the American South, two experiences "ensnared in the same historical drama."

There are some writers who leave the worlds of devout religionworlds that are at once large, and impossibly smalland spare no second thoughts, rejecting both the baby and the bathwater. Meghan O'Gieblyn's debut collection leaves no thoughts behind, turning to her upbringing of conservative evangelicalism for a series of essays offering razor-sharp cultural criticism on the state of American life. "Ghost in the Cloud," a particular strong point, sews together the parallel theologies of transhumanism (technology that works to avoid death) and Christian millennialism (salvation that works to avoid death). O'Gieblyn is unapologetic in her takes, producing wholly original commentary slated for these times.

Mary-Kay Wilmers, one of the founders of the London Review of Books and its sole editor since 1979, has a lot to say about writing, and women, and the ways women write for themselves and for men. Human Relations and Other Difficulties is the product of a veteran career in book reviewing, and it showsthe essays are clever, frank and delightfully readable. Some provide the literary commentary that Wilmer is known foron Joan Didion, Alice James and Jean Rhyswhile others turn inward, looking to Wilmer's own life as a child and a parent. "There's nothing magical about a mother's relationship with her baby," Wilmer writes of early motherhood. "Like most others, it takes two to get it going."

If there were ever a time to renew your love for the natural world, as the late poet Mary Oliver did throughout her career, it's now. Upstream, a collection of essays published three years before Oliver's death, is the author in her purest formreflecting on the beauty of codfish, grass, and seagulls on the beach. Life, as she writes about it, is precious in all things, without ever dipping into sentimentality. Oliver's meditation on her literary counterparts, including Walt Whitman, a childhood "friend," gives rare insight into the making of the poet, while other essays invite the reader to observe the outdoors with new eyes.

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Five Essay Collections to Read in Quarantine - Willamette Week

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April 24th, 2020 at 12:54 pm

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The Proto-Communist Plan to Resurrect Everyone Who Ever Lived – VICE UK

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Is there anything that can be done to escape the death cult we seem trapped in?

One of the more radical visions for how to organize human society begins with a simple goal: lets resurrect everyone who has ever lived. Nikolai Fedorov, a nineteenth-century librarian and Russian Orthodoxy philosopher, went so far as to call this project the common task of humanity, calling for the living to be rejuvenated, the dead to be resurrected, and space to be colonized specifically to house them. From the 1860s to the 1930s, Fedorovs influence was present throughout the culturehe influenced a generation of Marxists ahead of the Russian Revolution, as well as literary writers like Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky, whose novel, The Brothers Karamazov, directly engaged with Federov's ideas about resurrection.

After his death, Federovs acolytes consolidated his ideas into a single text, A Philosophy of the Common Task, and created Cosmism, the movement based on his anti-death eschatology. Federov left the technical details to those who would someday create the prerequisite technology, but this did not stop his disciples: Alexander Bogdanov, who founded the Bolsheviks with Lenin, was an early pioneer of blood transfusions in hopes of rejuvenating humanity; Konstantin Tsiolkvosky, an astrophysicist who was the progenitor of Russia's space program, sought to colonize space to house the resurrected dead; and Alexander Chizhevsky, a biophysicist who sought to map out the effects of solar activity on Earth life and behavior, thought his research might help design the ideal society for the dead to return to.

The vast majority of cosmists were, by the 1930s, either murdered or purged by Stalin, muting the influence of their ambitious project but also leaving us with an incomplete body of work about what type of society resurrection requires or will result in, and whether that wouldas some cosmists believe nowbring us closer to the liberation of the species. Now, I think it is obvious thatdespite what todays transhumanists might tell youwe are in no position, now or anytime soon, to resurrect anyone let alone bring back to life the untold billions that have existed across human history and past it into the eons before civilizations dawn.

To be clear, I think cosmism is absolute madness, but I also find it fascinating. With an introduction to Cosmism and its implications, maybe we can further explore the arbitrary and calculated parts of our social and political order that prioritize capital instead of humanity, often for sinister ends.

**

What? Who gets resurrected? And how?

At its core, the Common Task calls for the subordination of all social relations, productive forces, and civilization itself to the single-minded goal of achieving immortality for the living and resurrection for the dead. Cosmists see this as a necessarily universal project for either everyone or no one at all. That constraint means that their fundamental overhaul of society must go a step further in securing a place where evil or ill-intentioned people cant hurt anyone, but also where immortality is freely accessible for everyone.

Its hard to imagine how that worldwhere resources are pooled together for this project, where humans cannot hurt one another, and where immortality is freeis compatible with the accumulation and exploitation that sit at the heart of capitalism. The crisis heightened by coronavirus should make painfully clear to us all that, as J.W. Masonan economist at CUNYrecently put it, we have a system organized around the threat of withholding people's subsistence, and it "will deeply resist measures to guarantee it, even when the particular circumstances make that necessary for the survival of the system itself." Universal immortality, already an optimistic vision, simply cannot happen in a system that relies on perpetual commodification.

Take one small front of the original cosmist project: blood transfusions. In the 1920s, after being pushed out of the Bolshevik party, Bogdanov focused on experimenting with blood transfusions to create a rejuvenation process for humans (theres little evidence they do this). He tried and failed to set up blood banks across the Soviet Union for the universal rejuvenation of the public, dying from complications of a transfusion himself. Today, young blood is offered for transfusion by industrious start-ups, largely to wealthy and eccentric clientsmost notably (and allegedly) Peter Thiel.

In a book of conversations on cosmism published in 2017 titled Art Without Death, the first dialogue between Anton Vidokle and Hito Steyerl, living artists and writers in Berlin, drives home this same point. Vidokle tells Steyerl that he believes Death is capital quite literally, because everything we accumulatefood, energy, raw material, etc.these are all products of death. For him, it is no surprise were in a capitalist death cult given that he sees value as created through perpetual acts of extraction or exhaustion.

Steyerl echoes these concerns in the conversation, comparing the resurrected dead to artificial general intelligences (AGIs), which oligarch billionaires warn pose an existential threat to humanity. Both groups anticipate fundamental reorganizations of human society, but capitalists diverge sharply from cosmists in that their reorganization necessitates more extraction, more exhaustion, and more death. In their conversation, Steyerl tells Vidokle:

Within the AGI Debate, several solutions have been suggested: first to program the AGI so it will not harm humans, or, on the alt-right/fascist end of the spectrum, to just accelerate extreme capitalisms tendency to exterminate humans and resurrect rich people as some sort of high-net-worth robot race.

These eugenicist ideas are already being implemented: cryogenics and blood transfusions for the rich get the headlines, but the breakdown of healthcare in particularand sustenance in generalfor poor people is literally shortening the lives of millions ... In the present reactionary backlash, oligarchic and neoreactionary eugenics are in full swing, with few attempts being made to contain or limit the impact on the living. The consequences of this are clear: the focus needs to be on the living first and foremost. Because if we dont sort out societycreate noncapitalist abundance and so forththe dead cannot be resurrected safely (or, by extension, AGI cannot be implemented without exterminating humankind or only preserving its most privileged parts).

One of the major problems of todays transhumanist movement is that we are currently unable to equally distribute even basic life-extension technology such as nutrition, medicine, and medical care. At least initially, transhumanists vision of a world in which people live forever is one in which the rich live forever, using the wealth theyve built by extracting value from the poor. Todays transhumanism exists largely within a capitalist framework, and the countrys foremost transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan, a Libertarian candidate for president, is currently campaigning on a platform that shutdown orders intended to preserve human life during the coronavirus pandemic are overblown and are causing irrevocable damage to the capitalist economy (Istvan has in the past written extensively for Motherboard, and has also in the past advocated for the abolition of money).

Cosmists were clear in explaining what resurrection would look like in their idealized version of society, even though they were thin on what the technological details would be. Some argue we must not only restructure our civilization, but our bodies so that we can acquire regenerative abilities, alter our metabolic activity so food or shelter are optional, and thus overcome the natural, social, sexual, and other limitations of the species as Arseny Zhilyaev puts it in a later conversation within the book.

Zhilyaev also invokes Federovs conception of a universal museum, a radicalized, expanded, and more inclusive version of the museums we have now as the site of resurrection. In our world, the closest example of this universal museum is the digital world which also doubles as an enormous data collector used for anything from commerce to government surveillance. The prospect of being resurrected because of government/corporate surveillance records or Mormon genealogy databases is sinister at best, but Zhilyaevs argumentand the larger one advanced by other cosmistsis that our world is already full of and defined by absurd and oppressive institutions that are hostile to our collective interests, yet still manage to thrive. The options for our digital worlds development have been defined by advertisers, state authorities, telecom companies, deep-pocketed investors, and the likewhat might it look like if we decided to focus instead on literally any other task?

All this brings us to the question of where the immortal and resurrected would go. The answer, for cosmists, is space. In the cosmist vision, space colonization must happen so that we can properly honor our ethical responsibility to take care of the resurrected by housing them on museum planets. If the universal museum looks like a digital world emancipated from the demands of capital returns, then the museum planet is a space saved from the whims of our knock-off Willy Wonkasthe Elon Musks and Jeff Bezos of the world. I am not saying it is a good or fair idea to segregate resurrected dead people to museum planets in space, but this is what cosmists suggested, and its a quainter, more peaceful vision for space than what todays capitalists believe we should do.

For Musk, Mars and other future worlds will become colonies that require space mortgages, are used for resource extraction, or, in some cases, be used as landing spots for the rich once we have completely destroyed the Earth. Bezos, the worlds richest man, says we will have "gigantic chip factories in space where heavy industry is kept off-planet. Beyond Earth, Bezos anticipates humanity will be contained to O'Neill cylinder space colonies. One might stop and consider the fact that while the cosmist vision calls for improving human civilization on Earth before resurrecting the dead and colonizing space, the capitalist vision sees space as the next frontier to colonize and extract stupendous returns fromtrillions of dollars of resource extraction is the goal. Even in space, they cannot imagine humanity without the same growth that demands the sort of material extraction and environmental degradation already despoiling the world. Better to export it to another place (another country, planet, etc.) than fix the underlying system.

Why?

Ostensibly, the why behind cosmism is a belief that we have an ethical responsibility to resurrect the dead, much like we have one to care for the sick or infirm. At a deeper level, however, cosmists not only see noncapitalist abundance as a virtue in of itself, but believe the process of realizing it would offer chances to challenge deep-seated assumptions about humanity that might aid political and cultural forms hostile to the better future cosmists seek.

Vidokle tells Steyerl in their conversation that he sees the path towards resurrection involving expanding the rights of the dead in ways that undermine certain political and cultural forms,

The dead ... dont have any rights in our society: they dont communicate, consume, or vote and so they are not political subjects. Their remains are removed further and further from the cities, where most of the living reside. Culturally, the dead are now largely pathetical comical figures: zombies in movies, he said. Financial capitalism does not care about the dead because they do not produce or consume. Fascism only uses them as a mythical proof of sacrifice. Communism is also indifferent to the dead because only the generation that achieves communism will benefit from it; everyone who died on the way gets nothing.

In another part of their conversation, Steyerl suggests that failing to pursue the cosmist project might cede ground to the right-wing accelerationism already killing millions:

There is another aspect to this: the maintenance and reproduction of life is of course a very gendered technologyand control of this is on a social battleground. Reactionaries try to grab control over lifes production and reproduction by any means: religious, economic, legal, and scientific. This affects womens rights on the one hand, and, on the other, it spawns fantasies of reproduction wrested from female control: in labs, via genetic engineering, etc.

In other words, the failure to imagine and pursue some alternative to this oligarchic project has real-world consequences that not only kill human beings, but undermine the collective agency of the majority of humanity. In order for this narrow minority to rejuvenate and resurrect themselves in a way that preserves their own privilege and power, they will have to sharply curtail the rights and agency of almost every other human being in every other sphere of society.

Elena Shaposhnikova, another artist who appears later in the book, wonders whether the end of deathor the arrival of a project promising to abolish itmight help us better imagine and pursue lives beyond capitalism:

It seems to me that most of us tend to sublimate our current life conditions and all its problems, tragedies, and inequalities, and project this into future scenarios, she said. So while its easy to imagine and represent life in a society without money and with intergalactic travel, the plot invariably defaults to essentialist conflicts of power, heroism, betrayal, revenge, or something along these lines.

In a conversation with Shaposhnikova, Zhilyaev offers that cosmism might help fight the general fear of socialism as he understands it:

According to Marx, or even Lenin, socialism as a goal is associated with something elsewith opportunities of unlimited plurality and playful creativity, wider than those offered by capitalism. ... the universal museum producing eternal life and resurrection for all as the last necessary step for establishing social justice.

In the conversations that this book, cosmism emerges not simply as an ambition to resurrect the dead but to create, for the first time in human history, a civilization committed to egalitarianism and justice. So committed, in fact, that no part of the human experienceincluding deathwould escape the frenzied wake of our restructuring.

Its a nice thought, and something worth thinking about. Ours is not that world but in fact, one that is committed, above all else, to capital accumulation. There will be no resurrection for the deadthere isnt even healthcare for most of the living, after all. Even in the Citadel of Capital, the heart of the World Empire, the belly of the beast, the richest country in human history, most are expected to fend for themselves as massive wealth transfers drain the public treasuries that mightve funded some measure of protection from the pandemic, the economic meltdown, and every disaster lurking just out of sight. And yet, for all our plumage, our death cult still holds true to Adam Smith's observation in The Wealth of Nations: "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."

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The Proto-Communist Plan to Resurrect Everyone Who Ever Lived - VICE UK

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April 24th, 2020 at 12:54 pm

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Nationalists Claim They Want to Redefine Conservatism, but They’re Not Sure What It Is – Foreign Policy

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual state of the nation speech in front of Fidesz party members in Budapest, Hungary, on Feb. 16. Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

Lets go back to 1989, said Christopher DeMuth, a former official in the Reagan administration, as he introduced Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the guest of honor at the National Conservatism conference held in Rome on Feb. 3-4 before the coronavirus ravaged Italy. It was a way to invite Orban to recount his remarkable political career, but it could have been the subtitle of the whole conference, underlining the official title: God, Honor, Country: President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and the Freedom of Nations. Never mind that the guest of honor has been rolling back the freedom of Hungarians in recent yearsand since the conference has secured the authority to rule by decree.

The two-day summitwhich gathered some of the most prominent conservative intellectuals and political leaders of the nationalist persuasionwas replete with nostalgia. Heartfelt appeals for the restoration of a supposedly golden age before the end of the Cold War rang out in the baroquely frescoed hotel hall, where speakers alternated on stage to articulate their slightly diverging brands of conservatism.

The era they were evoking predated the most aggressive phase of globalization: George H.W. Bushs new world order, the European Unions Maastricht Treaty, NATOs expansion into Eastern Europe, the introduction of the euro, and other elements of a 30-year process of rapid globalization that the nationalists loathe.

Social conservatives and traditionalists were represented by speakers like Rod Dreher, a writer for the American Conservative, and the Italian historian Roberto de Mattei, a traditionalist Catholic. De Mattei spoke about the dictatorship of relativism, a phrase made famous by Pope Benedict XVI before being elected to the papacy that is described as a system that doesnt recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of ones own ego and desires.

National conservatives gravitate around these types of moral absolutes. Even the French politician Marion Marchal could be included in that loosely defined category. The 30-year-old distanced herself at the conference from her aunt Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right party National Rally, striving to represent a smarter, more intellectually inclined branch of conservatism, one that chastises transhumanism while hailing integral ecology as a quintessentially conservative cause. The notion of integral ecology claims that climate change and unfair economic and social practicessocietal problems more often associated with the leftare seen not as distinct problems but as a dimension of a single crisis affecting our age.

DeMuth, the former Reagan speechwriter Clarke Judge, the former U.S. diplomat G. Philip Hughes, and John OSullivan, currently the head of the Danube Institute in Budapesta think tank with ties to Orbans governmentwere the Cold War warriors representing the old Reagan consensus. Leaders of far-right parties from across Europe such as Spains Vox, Alternative for Germany, the Netherlandss Forum for Democracy, Polands Law and Justice, the Sweden Democrats, and Brothers of Italy expressed the European right-wing element.

The presence of younger speakers of the generation, such as Marchal, the Dutch politician Thierry Baudet, and the British author Douglas Murray, could hardly overcome the sense that the leaders convened were mostly envisioning the future by looking in the rearview mirror.

The United Kingdoms formal departure from the European Union in January was widely hailed as the latest step toward the resurrection of a pre-1990s world order organized around the principle of national sovereignty and rooted in the loyalty of local communities. The first step was the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, and although some of the speakers would be uncomfortable wearing Make America Great Again hats in public, the implicit belief they share is that Trump is the long-awaited dismantler of the liberal internationalist orthodoxy and embodies the resurgence of what they call national conservatism.

The national conservative crowd gathered for the first time in the summer of 2019 in Washington, D.C., in a conference organized by the Israeli philosopher and political theorist Yoram Hazony, whose widely criticized book The Virtue of Nationalism became the manifesto of the national conservative movement. Fox News host Tucker Carlson and then-U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton were among the main speakers at that event.

The Rome conference was the second step in Hazonys effort to mobilize the somewheres against the anywheres, to use the British journalist David Goodharts terminology, referring to the perception that nationalists are rooted in a single homeland (somewhere), whereas the elite are more cosmopolitan with no spatial allegiances (anywhere). This is indicative of the movements wider effort to shift conservatism away from its internationalist tilt and to recentralize the importance of the nation-state.

To accomplish this, the movement aims to redefine an older brand of conservatism that was ostensibly corrupted by the rules-based liberal order in the 1970s and steered away from its original purpose of preserving a traditional version of national sovereignty. That change in direction produced, among other things, a U.S. expansionist foreign policy, increasing reliance on international organizations, cultural homogeneity, misplaced faith in the free market ideology, and an aggressively individualistic outlook captured in Margaret Thatchers famous adage There is no such thing as society. National conservatives, in contrast, want to return to a world order in which nation-states are the primary actors and based on the belief that human beings are mutually dependent on national communities that are ultimately bound by shared values, culture, and history.

But this broad set of objectives makes it difficult to understand why the Rome conference was themed around former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and St. John Paul II, two late Cold War-era leaders who generally articulated the kinds of universalistic, global visions that nationalists wish to break from.

Indeed, Reagan spoke throughout his entire political life of the United States as the shining city upon a hill, a beacon of freedom for all mankind whose values could and should be exported globally. He reinvigorated the tradition of American exceptionalism, described the struggle against the Soviet Union in moralistic terms, praised international institutions like the United Nations as forces for good, and emphasized individualism and free market capitalism. No one doubts that Reagan was a nationalist, but his version of nationalism was colored with a decidedly internationalist outlook.

John Paul is a source of pride in Polish nationalist circles due in part to the close association between Catholicism and Polish national identity but also because of the lead role he played in helping the country regain a more genuine form of independence in the 1980s. But the institution John Paul led was defined by its international scope and universal valuesthe Catholic Churchs institutions disregard national borders, and the values it champions are thought to apply to every community, nation, society, and culture. After all, the kingdom of God has no national borders, and historically the Catholic Church mostly expressed its earthly power politically in the form of empire. The relatively few attempts to marry Catholicism and nationalism often resulted in heresies, violence, or some combination of the two.

The democratic government in Poland that John Pauls activities helped establish spent little time in nationalist isolation at the end of the Cold War, and it moved almost immediately into the U.S.-dominated liberal internationalist order. It began pushing to join the European Union as early as February 1991, and it expressed interest in joining NATO shortly thereafter.

This nostalgic impulse hardly fits in with the nationalist vision, though Hazony tries to justify the behavior of the 1980s generation of nationalists by arguing that their forays into internationalism were always brief and undertaken purely for practical reasons. The only military operation Reagan ordered during his presidency was the invasion of Grenada, which lasted for less than a week, Hazony told Foreign Policy, adding that he considered Reagan the last U.S. president for whom a world organized around nation-states was the default setting. In his view, it was Bushs new world order that changed the game for nationalists.

But Hazony conceded that Reagans vision contained a lot of Aynrandism, a nod to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, who argued that individuals were heroic beings solely preoccupied with their own happiness and with reason as the only absolute. That claim got harsh treatment on a stage filled with critics of free market excesses and neoliberal atomization. On John Paul, Hazony brushed it off, conceding that hes not an expert on popes.

The political alliance that Reagan cobbled together consisted of a fusion of social conservative, traditionalist, and a variety of libertarian inclinations. Of course, Reagan and his generation of nationalists serve only as a base for national conservatives. Hazonys goal is to develop a more modern fusionism that would remove the excesses of purist libertarianism while retaining the elements of the Reagan alliance that promote national sovereignty; at the same time, it would build alliances with populist European forces specialized in lambasting the EU and demonizing immigrants from Muslim-majority countries while standing in stark opposition to political theories grounded in race. Thus, in addition to formulating their political theses around ideas of nationality and values, the national conservatives also include ideas about race, culture, and religion to define their outlooks.

During last years conference in Washington, nods to white supremacism sparked furious reactions. Notably, the University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax said the United States is better off if we are dominated numerically by people from the First World, from the West, than by people who are from less advanced countries. Among Europeans, the connections of at least some of the political partners with the darker chapters of far-right history have generated heavy criticism.

Certainly some of those who were present are from parties which have far-Right pasts and other new parties who may well be a cause for concern in the present, Murray, the British author, wrote after speaking at the most recent conference.

Murray singled out some outright neo-fascist groups like Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece, and CasaPound in Italy, which are not necessarily part of the national conservatism network but whose presence still poses a larger question: Where is the threshold between acceptable nationalist parties and post-fascist groups?

Brothers of Italy, for instance, is the heir of the post-fascist party Italian Social Movement, which emerged after World War II. Although todays party is the result of several waves of reform and rebrandingand is now a significant challenge to Matteo Salvinis control of the populist voting basesome of its darker features sometimes become public. Last year, the party circulated a poster criticizing George Soros, who made a donation to a liberal, pro-EU party in Italy. It said, Keep the money of the usurers, a reference to an old anti-Semitic trope.

I am very glad this initiative is led by an Orthodox Jew, as I hope this would preserve its focus and keep away the unsavory people who may be attracted to it, one of the speakers at the Rome conference told Foreign Policy, referring to Hazony and asking not to be named to speak freely.

Although national conservatism isnt inherently xenophobic, it offers a useful paradigm for far-right groups who define their conception of the nation-state based on race, religion, and identity. As conservatives begin to reincorporate a strong nationalist element into their own political philosophies, this gives space to far-right groups to project their identitarian tendencies to a broader and more receptive audience. Because those groups tend to be more rigid and uncompromising, an authoritarian tendency seeps into the broader national conservative framework.

Critics, however, see no difference between the far-right and national conservatism, considering the latter to be a thin scholarly veneer of respectability to a fundamentally xenophobic, bigoted, and fascist reactionary movementan intellectual facade that claims Reagan and John Paul but appeals to leaders like Orban and Trump. According to this line of critique, national conservatism is not just disingenuous; its little more than an attempt to connect and organize right-wing populists across the West, similar to what former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon tried to do with his populist group, the Movement, in Europe.

Liberals and nationalists believe they are trapped in mirroring dystopias. For liberals, this new generation of nationalists is working toward a closed, authoritarian society akin to that which exists in George Orwells 1984; nationalists are convinced that liberals have already created Aldous Huxleys Brave New World. But for national conservatives, gaining legitimacy is the next crucial step in their quest to reshape contemporary conservatism.

In theory, national conservatism could offer a framework that appeals to the disparate network of right-wing elements that are disenchanted with the liberal world order that has come into being since the 1960s. As has happened in many parts of the world, the resulting groupings could eventually form well-organized political units that threaten liberal democracy from the inside. But if all this new vision has to offer is what was displayed in Romea vague sense of nostalgia, dubious affiliations, ideological confusion, Corinthian columnsthen its future prospects are poor.

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Nationalists Claim They Want to Redefine Conservatism, but They're Not Sure What It Is - Foreign Policy

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April 17th, 2020 at 7:50 pm

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‘Everyone in the worlds life is falling apart to some greater or lesser degree’ – The Irish Times

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Author Mark OConnell talks about his uncannily topical new book, Notes from an Apocalypse

The ironies are so uncomfortable we can hardly bear to acknowledge them. Mark OConnell and I meet to talk about his second book, Notes From An Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back, the day after the Government has issued a directive to shut down all public gatherings of more than 100 people in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Its mid-March, a Friday the 13th in Dublin city centre, but Grafton Street already looks like a Sunday in 1990.

OConnell is that rare breed of Irish writer, a committed essayist and nonfiction adherent who circumnavigated all domestic routes to make a name for himself as a contributor to the New York Times magazine, The Millions and the Guardian. His preoccupations tend toward classic late Gen X: technology, future shock, pop culture riffs, a quirky sense of the domestic.

Born in Kilkenny and now 41, he is by anybodys barometer something of a local literary star, but youd never know it: many people are shocked to find hes a Dublin resident. OConnells first book, To Be A Machine, a journey into the strange new worlds of AI and transhumanist evangelists, further segregated him from the pack in terms of subject matter and scope. As well as scoring a blurb from Margaret Atwood, it won him the Rooney Prize and the Wellcome Prize and was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize.

The author has just concluded a meeting with his editor about how to reframe the press angle on the new book. Notes from an Apocalypse is a book about survivalists and end-times obsessives, a global tour of doomsday hotspots and hideouts, from the Black Hills of South Dakota and the pasturelands of New Zealand to the wind-blown desolation of the Scottish Highlands and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

OConnell is, understandably, queasy about making capital out of a scary situation. We live in a time when speculative and dystopian fictions are overtaken by news reports in the lag between draft and publication. Since Brexit and Trump, since Black Mirror and Hypernormalisation, since the inception of non-linear warfare and the corrosion of the notion of objective truth, the future has become not just too dark, but too real to mention. Even as we speak, were still adjusting to the protocol of what will soon be termed social distancing, the eschewing of the handshake for the nod or salute, the polite but measured distance we keep between us as we chat.

But and its a big but despite the new books eschatological obsessions, despite its cast of would-be Martian land-grabbers and bunker monkeys, its a very personal work as well as a very timely one.

I could stand for it to be slightly less topical, to be honest, OConnell admits with a near-grimace. Id take 50 per cent less. Or 100 per cent, actually. Obviously its coming out at an interesting time, but I dont even know that Id want to read a book about apocalyptic anxiety right now. I was talking to my neighbour across the street, cause Id given him a copy of the book, and he was like, I cant read your book, I cant even look at the cover, Ive turned it over on the table. But people are different: some want to read into a situation and some people want to read out of it.

I put it to the author that its actually a book about the anxiety of new fatherhood masquerading as a tract about end-times preppers.

Thats exactly it, he replies. I mean, its not that its masquerading, but the apocalypse cannot be the subject for a book, because its not a thing, its an idea. This book is kind of a way for me to organise my obsessions, a sense of the fragility of everything, and a questioning as to how youre supposed to live with a sense of meaning and purpose at a time when everything seems so uncertain, and the climate that weve brought these children into, were murdering it. Thats a hard thing to face when youve already had kids.

So yeah, I was already thinking about these things, and I wanted to write about these anxieties, but I didnt have an organising principle. Then I started to read about people preparing for the end of the world, preppers and super-rich people buying land in New Zealand. Both my books are about capitalism, and that was a way for me to mediate those themes, through this central idea the Freudian thing of sublimating your terrors or anxieties or desires into a work.

I dont know that I would have gone headlong into it if I wasnt a writer, he continues. My unhealthy obsessions are the same thing as my work. There was a long period, before I knew I was writing a book about this, where I was spending a lot of time watching YouTube videos about preppers, I must have watched Children of Men I dont know how many times, I think it is the most prophetic film, it puts its finger on so many things that were already visible back then, but have become so current.

Not that it was like a therapeutic exercise, just this sense that Im already obsessed with this stuff, and its not healthy, but Im stuck with this particular source of anxiety. People are talking about the apocalypse now a lot, but what does the apocalypse mean? It just means our way of life, in our fairly privileged case, is under threat.

And apokalypsos, translated from the Greek, also means to uncover or reveal. Where theres catastrophic change theres also accelerated growth.

Whats happening at the moment is like a blacklight or something that reveals stuff that is not ordinarily visible, it absolutely shows up the fault lines in our society, but it shows up some of the good things as well. Like, people are talking more, because everyone is going through the same thing. The thing I find really extraordinary about what is happening right now is that everyone in the world is experiencing this thing in different ways, everyones life is falling apart to some greater or lesser degree.

Notes from an Apocalypse is a swift and accessible read, but despite OConnells inherent gift for the comedy of the incongruous, it is often angry. Reading about people such as Peter Thiel or Elon Musk, obscenely rich men sinking bunkers in Auckland, or making plans to colonise Mars, one thinks of privileged slobs who have trashed their own homes and now want to move, leaving the serfs to clean up their mess. The kind of men who would rather face unimaginably hostile alien territory than invest in saving their own polluted planet.

Among other things, Notes From An Apocalypse highlights the infantile aspects of the American frontier mindset, the Last Man survivalist pose. Several times while reading I was reminded of Martin Amiss 1987 essay Thinkability from Einsteins Monsters, the fear he experienced as a new parent in the midst of Cold War nuclear paranoia. Would OConnell characterise the anxiety that fuelled his new book as a sort of male equivalent of post-natal depression?

Hmm. Yes, but I dont know if its explicitly male. One question that is unresolved for me is, how much of this anxiety would I have experienced if I wasnt writing a book about the topic? Theres an emotional trajectory to the book, where at the end theres a sense of, not stoic acceptance, but tentative optimism. And thats true, thats real, I did go through that to some extent.

It was such a hard book to write, and so many of the interludes of, I wont say depression, because its not a clinical thing, but just feeling shit about things that went on for a long time. The writing of it was difficult because the topic was so heavy, but I did come through it, that note of optimism at the end was real, it wasnt something that I had to force.

The key line in the book for me is towards the end: my son is looking at the sunset and he says, Its interesting. Thats the first time I heard him say that. Its not what the book is about, but it is what drove me in a way, because as anxious as I was about the stuff that was happening, its interesting. Its very cold and arguably psychopathic to think in that way, but the fundamental human connection is there. I think if youre a writer you cant stop finding things interesting. The whole psychological dynamic of the book was wanting to be reassured or to have some belief, because when youre parenting really young kids, the big thing is to inculcate the sense in them that the world is beautiful, a good place, and its an interesting place, its not a dark and threatening place. And to hear him say that was really powerful.

As with To Be A Machine, theres a wry humour at the heart of the new book. The tone is somewhere between Louis Theroux or Jon Ronson and Dr Strangelove. This is largely because OConnell is not afraid of looking like an idiot if it means asking the reader-proxy questions.

I dont know how long I spent as a journalist for want of a better term being afraid of coming across as stupid, he says, and I learned eventually that the most valuable thing you can do as a reporter is ask a stupid question. The one thing that youre afraid of asking, because it makes you seem like a f***ing moron, thats the most important question you can ask.

Definitely with To Be A Machine, when I started writing it, I was so fascinated by the topic, I knew I had a good thing, I knew I had this milieu that was fascinating and full of crazy ideas and really eccentric people dealing with things that were of philosophical importance or whatever, but I went through a long period of feeling inadequate to the task, and I did spend time trying to get to grips with the complexity of these ideas, and reading serious books that were in various ways beyond my grasp. And I eventually realised that the stupid ignoramus position not in a comic playing-it-for-laughs way, but a person who knows nothing is actually a better point from which to grasp whats important about a topic, and a better point from which to communicate with people. As a reader I value experts in a broader sense, in the political sense or whatever, but I wouldnt want to read a book about transhumanism by a person who is an expert.

But talking about humour, certainly in my books, I hope theyre funny, but its very unknowable to me what is funny in what I write and what isnt, because for me humour in writing is just like being... accurate. A lot of situations are inherently humorous, so its just about faithfully describing things a lot of the time. I actually think if a writer isnt funny at times, doesnt use humour, or evoke it, I kind of feel like theyre not fully serious. Theres something un-serious about someone whos not funny.

Notes From An Apocalypse is published by Granta

See the article here:
'Everyone in the worlds life is falling apart to some greater or lesser degree' - The Irish Times

Written by admin

April 17th, 2020 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Transhumanism

Zoltan Istvan: The Transhumanist Candidate – Roads and Kingdoms

Posted: March 20, 2020 at 3:43 am


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This week on The Trip podcast: Zoltan Istvan has come from the future with a message New Hampshire doesnt want to hear.

Here they are in the New Hampshire Secretary of States office, paying their thousand dollars to be on the official primary ballot. They are the lesser-known candidates, the dramatic fringe of each presidential primary election up here. And they are the stars of my quadrennial quixotic reporting project with photographer Shane Carpenter. And listen, they arent like Tom Steyer lesser-known, theyre like Vermin Supreme lesser-known, Mary Maxwell lesser-known, Zoltan Istvan lesser-known. Almost nobody knows these people, but theyre running anyway. This is the fifth primary that Shane and I have spent ducking out of mainstream campaign press events to track down the people who are just obsessive, idealistic, or imbalanced enough to think they should run for president, often with no money, no support, sometimes no platform really. Of course, the idea of a non-politician becoming president was distinctly more laughable before 2016, and now it doesnt seem that funny at all. But these candidates are something different, a wild bunch, far more entertaining and thought-provoking even than the scripted candidates. Shane and I just published a feature on the lesser-known and their radical approach to democracy on roadsandkingdoms.com; I hope youll take a look. But for now, in this episode, Ive got one of the most composed and compelling of this years fringe candidates, writer and transhumanist Zoltan Istvan. We drank some 15 year old Dalwinnie Scotch and talked about exoskeletons, being escorted at gunpoint from a megachurch, and why he let someone jam a horse syringe into his hand to give him a permanent bio-chip implant.

Here is an edited and condensed transcript from my conversation with Eva. Subscribers canlisten to the full episode here. If youre not on Luminary yet, subscribe and listen (and get a 7-day free trial) by signing uphere.

Lets take a moment to appreciate the quadrennial snowball of beauty and oddity that is the New Hampshire primary.

This week on The Trip podcast: Drinking baijiu with Tom Tillotson in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

This week on The Trip podcast: Eva Castillo on Presidential politics and immigrant advocacy in New Hampshire in the time of Trump.

Nathan Thornburgh: What is transhumanism?

Zoltan Istvan: Transhumanism is a social movement, now of many millions of people around the world, that want to use science and technology to radically transform the human body and transform the human experience. Anything from exoskeleton suits to brain implants to even driverless cars. But whatever it is, its kind of the top 10% of the most radical technologies that are affecting the human race.

Thornburgh: You say there were many millions. Are these people who would actively knowingly define themselves as transhumanists, or you think its just aligned with the way that they look at the world?

Istvan: I think there are now probably millions that would say, if you ask them are you a transhumanist, they would now say, yes I am. When you ask them, is that what they consider themselves? Thats a little bit more challenging of a question. Google, for example, is probably the most transhumanist of all the companies out there, and they have the largest, what we call life extension company, a company worth billions of dollars, that wants to overcome aging. Its specifically designed to make people essentially live indefinitely. So we are getting to a point when you can now say millions and likely tens of millions who are supporters of the idea. Chinas probably leading the transhumanist movement in terms of innovationthey have the first designer baby babies and stuff like that. So there might be even many more.

But the word is just an umbrella term for many other ideas. Cryonics, singulariatism. Cyborgism. Singularity is the concept of transhumanists where they believe that AI will become so sophisticated that our human brains wont even be able to understand its sophistication. And at that point we get left behind.

The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology.

Thornburgh: The word itself, can you just break it down for me?

Istvan: Well, the Latin would say its beyond human.

Thornburgh: Okay, got it. All of our limitations are physicalchronological aging, mortality. Those are the things that youre going to supersede through technology.

Istvan: Basically, yes. And nobodys really sure like exactly what transhumanism means in terms of the specific agenda. Is it when a primate picked up a rock and made an axe millions of years ago, or is it a robot taking over a workers job, which of course is increasingly happening. Is that transhumanism, or is it brain implants? Nobody really knows, but whatever it is and it radical science is, is sort of changing the human species and the core of it is the microprocessor. It keeps evolving exponentially and we even have things like quantum computing now happening where, you know, that could revolutionize again, the microprocessor. So anything that applies to the human being, in terms of merging us with machines, is a transhuman event.

I think whats very important is that there are various versions of transhumanism. There are socialist transhumanists, there are libertarian transients like myself, and there are transceivers party transhumanism. Of course, Im, Im the founder of the transceivers party, but Im also now running as a Republican. But Ive also run as a libertarian, Ive said openly, I might run as a Democrat in the future. For me, its about the seed of transhumanism. You can take it whichever political way you want. Theres also Christian transhumanism, theres Buddhist transhumanist. So we want a worldwide movement. I want different factions. I want a decentralized idea of it. And I hope to influence it in terms of it grows and grows and grows. Because you have to understand about 80% of the worlds population believes in an afterlife. The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology. Were fighting 80% of the population. So its very important that we coalesce together as a movement that says we need to change that 80%. We need to change their mindset. And thats really where the cultural reform comes in, and why its so important to have a huge movements like environmentalism, where the trajectory is that one day we also become a billion person movement that really wants to move beyond our cultural heritage.

Thornburgh: So lets, lets posit success and you reach those 80% and flip them into transhumanists. What will that actually mean? Does that mean that they will vote for people who pour more resources into death-defying technologies or pass laws? What, practically, would having people be fired up about transhumanism do?

Istvan: Thats the best question. The great question. Thats exactly what Im trying to do. My main goal here with running for office and my main goal of spreading transhumanism is to get more money into the hands of the scientists who are making the movement happen. You have to understand, right now our United States Congress, all 535 members, all nine Supreme Court justices, believe in an afterlife, and they say they believe in God, so they have no real reason to pass laws to put money into the hands of the scientists who want to end aging and live indefinitely and upgrade ourselves to this new bionic future. Now the problem with that is if the entire government doesnt want to give money to it, it doesnt happen. Really only private industry does it. We need an American culture on board with transhumanism.

I run for office in hopes of saying, look, instead of giant military fighting warrants in Afghanistan and Iraq, were going to take that money and put it into creating a science-industrial complex in America dedicated to ending aging and upgrading the human being. Its a very different kind of way. Im interested in American healthcare, in terms of eliminating disease. And thats a very transhuman idea that our president right now doesnt share. A president whos cut the budget of the National Institute of Health.

Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.

Thornburgh: Youre running as a Republican. This is your opponent.

Istvan: You gotta you gotta hit them hard on that. One thing Trump has done that hasnt been great is hes not only cut the budget of the National Institute of Health, but he hasnt made a culture where science really thrives. In China, its thriving. Chinas our main kind of competitor at this point. So probably within five years, China lead the world in AI and genetic editing. Its game over for America in terms of leadership, and who wants not authoritarian nation to be leading the world and in science and technology. So this is where I really fault Trump. In fact, this is why Im running. This is the singular reason Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.

Thornburgh: What is your background? Take me way back.

Istvan: My career really began after I graduated from Columbia University, and I went into journalism at National Geographic. And so for five years I traveled around the world and I wrote something like 50 or 60 articles for their website, and also was on their National Geographic Today, show, doing a lot of documentary work. It was a great time in my life. I was in my twenties, I covered a lot of conflict zones, so saw some horrifying things. In Vietnam I was covering the demilitarized zone 20, 30 years after the war. And theres a bunch of rice farmers that now dig up bombs that were dropped in Vietnam from Americans, but theyre unexploded. They sell the metal. But to get there you have to go through these landmine-infested jungles. And I almost stepped on one. It freaked me out because my guide had to throw me out of the way and pointed to the ground. And after covering war zones for a while kind of gets in your head. And it was that moment in Vietnam when I said, you know, Im going to stop being a journalist and Im going to do something to try to overcome death. And of course transhumanism has been an ongoing movement since the 90s, and thats their primary job. Their primary purpose is to use science to overcome death.

Istvan: So I came home, joined the movement, wrote a novel, the novel did really well. It was called The Transhumanist Wager, became a bestseller, and it launched my career as a public figure. And because I was a journalist, I began writing some of the very first transhumanist columns. So Ive had an ability over six years to write over 230 opinion pieces and essays for major media, almost cheerleading transhumanism. Up until that point, no one had ever been optimistic about it. People had been kind of skeptical.

Thornburgh: That literally came from a near-death experience that you had.

Istvan: Its based on two or three years of covering other conflicts. Id covered the Sri Lanka conflict. I covered the Kashmir conflict between Pakistan and India. Id been doing some pretty harrowing stories and it made me, I think it kinda got in my head, I dont want to say its PTSD, but really it made me think, What if we could overcome death? And when it hit me that I could do this, I realized that this is why I want to dedicate my life to.

Thornburgh: Does transhumanism have any rights or rituals or holidays?

Istvan: Its secular. Its a very decentralized movement. A lot of the life-extension people are not interested in the robotics people, because life extension people want to biologically live longer, where the robotics people want to become machines and upload themselves. So even though they are both transhumanist and I like both groups, they dont really talk to each other. Then there are the biohackers, who are mostly young, tattooed people that are putting chips in. I have a chip in my hand. It opens my front door, starts a car, it sends a text message.

Thornburgh: You have this right now?

Istvan: I have it right now. You can touch it. Its right there. Push. Youll see. Youll feel a bump. Its a glass-enclosed microchip.

Thornburgh: Does that hurt when I press your chip?

Istvan: No. Its tiny. Its the size of a grain of rice. When you get these chip implants, you use a horse syringe you just put it in. Its kind of painful. But the chip itself is about the size of a grain rice.

Thornburgh: But that wasnt sexual what we just did?

Istvan: No. Its just a chip.

Thornburgh: How do you program this chip? Is this like a radio-frequency identification?

Istvan: Yeah. Unfortunately, the technology doesnt work with Apple phones, but it works with all Android. And so if you have an Android phone, you will actually be able to put it against my hand and then get my serial number. Of course, that freaks people out, because who has a serial number? But you can also put in medical information. So if youre unconscious and they find you, they can scan it. But in my case, Im a surfer and a jogger and when you go surfing you have to always hide your keys, and what a pain in the butt that is, because then someone can steal it when youre surfing and take your car. So in my case, its just great because all my keys are embedded into my hand and you can even do things like hold Bitcoin on it, but you cant pay it Starbucks yet.

Listen to the full episode at Luminary.

Excerpt from:
Zoltan Istvan: The Transhumanist Candidate - Roads and Kingdoms

Written by admin

March 20th, 2020 at 3:43 am

Posted in Transhumanism


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