Transhumanist politics – Wikipedia

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Transhumanist politics constitutes a group of political ideologies that generally express the belief in improving human individuals through science and technology.

The term "transhumanism" with its present meaning was popularised by Julian Huxley's 1957 essay of that name.[1]

Natasha Vita-More was elected as a Councilperson for the 28th Senatorial District of Los Angeles in 1992. She ran with the Green Party, but on a personal platform of "transhumanism". She quit after a year, saying her party was "too neurotically geared toward environmentalism".[2][3]

James Hughes identifies the "neoliberal" Extropy Institute, founded by philosopher Max More and developed in the 1990s, as the first organized advocates for transhumanism. And he identifies the late-1990s formation of the World Transhumanist Association (WTA), a European organization which later was renamed to Humanity+ (H+), as partly a reaction to the free market perspective of the "Extropians". Per Hughes, "[t]he WTA included both social democrats and neoliberals around a liberal democratic definition of transhumanism, codified in the Transhumanist Declaration."[4][5] Hughes has also detailed the political currents in transhumanism, particularly the shift around 2009 from socialist transhumanism to libertarian and anarcho-capitalist transhumanism.[5] He claims that the left was pushed out of the World Transhumanist Association Board of Directors, and that libertarians and Singularitarians have secured a hegemony in the transhumanism community with help from Peter Thiel, but Hughes remains optimistic about a techno-progressive future.[5]

In 2012, the Longevity Party, a movement described as "100% transhumanist" by cofounder Maria Konovalenko,[6] began to organize in Russia for building a balloted political party.[7] Another Russian programme, the 2045 Initiative was founded in 2012 by billionaire Dmitry Itskov with its own "Evolution 2045" political party advocating life extension and android avatars.[8][9]

Writing for H+ Magazine in July 2014, futurist Peter Rothman called Gabriel Rothblatt "very possibly the first openly transhumanist political candidate in the United States" when he ran as a candidate for the United States Congress.[10]

In October 2014, Zoltan Istvan announced that he would be running in the 2016 United States presidential election under the banner of the "Transhumanist Party."[11] By May 2018, the Party had nearly 880 members, and chairmanship had been given to Gennady Stolyarov II.[12] Other groups using the name "Transhumanist Party" exist in the United Kingdom[13][14][15] and Germany.[16]

According to a 2006 study by the European Parliament, transhumanism is the political expression of the ideology that technology should be used to enhance human abilities.[17]

According to Amon Twyman of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), political philosophies which support transhumanism include social futurism, techno-progressivism, techno-libertarianism, and anarcho-transhumanism.[18] Twyman considers such philosophies to collectively constitute political transhumanism.[18]

Techno-progressives also known as Democratic transhumanists,[19][20] support equal access to human enhancement technologies in order to promote social equality and prevent technologies from furthering the divide among socioeconomic classes.[21] However, libertarian transhumanist Ronald Bailey is critical of the democratic transhumanism described by James Hughes.[22][23] Jeffrey Bishop wrote that the disagreements among transhumanists regarding individual and community rights is "precisely the tension that philosophical liberalism historically tried to negotiate," but that disagreeing entirely with a posthuman future is a disagreement with the right to choose what humanity will become.[24] Woody Evans has supported placing posthuman rights in a continuum with animal rights and human rights.[25]

Riccardo Campa wrote that transhumanism can be coupled with many different political, philosophical, and religious views, and that this diversity can be an asset so long as transhumanists do not give priority to existing affiliations over membership with organized transhumanism.[26]

Some transhumanists question the use of politicizing transhumanism.[who?] Truman Chen of the Stanford Political Journal considers many transhumanist ideals to be anti-political.[27]

Democratic transhumanism, a term coined by James Hughes in 2002, refers to the stance of transhumanists (advocates for the development and use of human enhancement technologies) who espouse liberal, social, and/or radical democratic political views.[28][29][30][31]

According to Hughes, the ideology "stems from the assertion that human beings will generally be happier when they take rational control of the natural and social forces that control their lives."[29][32]The ethical foundation of democratic transhumanism rests upon rule utilitarianism and non-anthropocentric personhood theory.[33] Democratic transhumanist support equal access to human enhancement technologies in order to promote social equality and to prevent technologies from furthering the divide among the socioeconomic classes.[34]While raising objections both to right-wing and left-wing bioconservatism, and libertarian transhumanism, Hughes aims to encourage democratic transhumanists and their potential progressive allies to unite as a new social movement and influence biopolitical public policy.[29][31]

An attempt to expand the middle ground between technorealism and techno-utopianism, democratic transhumanism can be seen as a radical form of techno-progressivism.[35] Appearing several times in Hughes' work, the term "radical" (from Latin rdx, rdc-, root) is used as an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the root or going to the root. His central thesis is that emerging technologies and radical democracy can help citizens overcome some of the root causes of inequalities of power.[29]

According to Hughes, the terms techno-progressivism and democratic transhumanism both refer to the same set of Enlightenment values and principles; however, the term technoprogressive has replaced the use of the word democratic transhumanism.[36][37]

Hughes has identified 15 "left futurist" or "left techno-utopian" trends and projects that could be incorporated into democratic transhumanism:

These are notable individuals who have identified themselves, or have been identified by Hughes, as advocates of democratic transhumanism:[38]

Science journalist Ronald Bailey wrote a review of Citizen Cyborg in his online column for Reason magazine in which he offered a critique of democratic transhumanism and a defense of libertarian transhumanism.[22][23]

Critical theorist Dale Carrico defended democratic transhumanism from Bailey's criticism.[39] However, he would later criticize democratic transhumanism himself on technoprogressive grounds.[40]

Libertarian transhumanism is a political ideology synthesizing libertarianism and transhumanism.[28][41][42]Self-identified libertarian transhumanists, such as Ronald Bailey of Reason magazine and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, are advocates of the asserted "right to human enhancement" who argue that the free market is the best guarantor of this right, claiming that it produces greater prosperity and personal freedom than other economic systems.[43][44]

Libertarian transhumanists believe that the principle of self-ownership is the most fundamental idea from which both libertarianism and transhumanism stem. They are rational egoists and ethical egoists who embrace the prospect of using emerging technologies to enhance human capacities, which they believe stems from the self-interested application of reason and will in the context of the individual freedom to achieve a posthuman state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. They extend this rational and ethical egoism to advocate a form of "biolibertarianism".[43]

As strong civil libertarians, libertarian transhumanists hold that any attempt to limit or suppress the asserted right to human enhancement is a violation of civil rights and civil liberties. However, as strong economic libertarians, they also reject proposed public policies of government-regulated and -insured human enhancement technologies, which are advocated by democratic transhumanists, because they fear that any state intervention will steer or limit their choices.[45][46][23]

Extropianism, the earliest current of transhumanist thought defined in 1988 by philosopher Max More, initially included an anarcho-capitalist interpretation of the concept of "spontaneous order" in its principles, which states that a free market economy achieves a more efficient allocation of societal resources than any planned or mixed economy could achieve. In 2000, while revising the principles of Extropy, More seemed to be abandoning libertarianism in favor of modern liberalism and anticipatory democracy. However, many Extropians remained libertarian transhumanists.[28]

Critiques of the techno-utopianism of libertarian transhumanists from progressive cultural critics include Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron's 1995 essay The Californian Ideology; Mark Dery's 1996 book Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century; and Paulina Borsook's 2000 book Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High-Tech.

Barbrook argues that libertarian transhumanists are proponents of the Californian Ideology who embrace the goal of reactionary modernism: economic growth without social mobility.[47] According to Barbrook, libertarian transhumanists are unwittingly appropriating the theoretical legacy of Stalinist communism by substituting, among other concepts, the "vanguard party" with the "digerati", and the "new Soviet man" with the "posthuman".[48] Dery coined the dismissive phrase "body-loathing" to describe the attitude of libertarian transhumanists and those in the cyberculture who want to escape from their "meat puppet" through mind uploading into cyberspace.[49] Borsook asserts that libertarian transhumanists indulge in a subculture of selfishness, elitism, and escapism.[50]

Sociologist James Hughes is the most militant critic of libertarian transhumanism. While articulating "democratic transhumanism" as a sociopolitical program in his 2004 book Citizen Cyborg,[31] Hughes sought to convince libertarian transhumanists to embrace social democracy by arguing that:

Klaus-Gerd Giesen, a German political scientist specializing in the philosophy of technology, wrote a critique of the libertarianism he imputes to all transhumanists. While pointing out that the works of Austrian School economist Friedrich Hayek figure in practically all of the recommended reading lists of Extropians, he argues that transhumanists, convinced of the sole virtues of the free market, advocate an unabashed inegalitarianism and merciless meritocracy which can be reduced in reality to a biological fetish. He is especially critical of their promotion of a science-fictional liberal eugenics, virulently opposed to any political regulation of human genetics, where the consumerist model presides over their ideology. Giesen concludes that the despair of finding social and political solutions to today's sociopolitical problems incites transhumanists to reduce everything to the hereditary gene, as a fantasy of omnipotence to be found within the individual, even if it means transforming the subject (human) to a new draft (posthuman).[51]

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Transhumanist politics - Wikipedia

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