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Transhumanism 2024: A new future for politics?

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Transhumanism 2024: A new future for politics?

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Presentation made by David Wood on 2nd October 2021 to the London Futurists event "A new future for politics?" This includes 15 possible policies for mayoral campaigns in major cities in the UK in 2024.

A video recording of this presentation, along with subsequent discussion, can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJLHx5T8BFI

Presentation made by David Wood on 2nd October 2021 to the London Futurists event "A new future for politics?" This includes 15 possible policies for mayoral campaigns in major cities in the UK in 2024.

A video recording of this presentation, along with subsequent discussion, can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJLHx5T8BFI

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Transhumanism 2024: A new future for politics?

  1. 1. STEERING TECHNOLOGY FOR PROFOUND SOCIAL PROGRESS 1. Technology is about to change everything – for good and for ill 2. Technology is about to change numerous aspect of city life 3. We need to get ahead of technology, and steer it in beneficial directions 4. Done well, a city can experience profound social progress as a result 5. But most politicians are distracted from these issues, or misunderstand them 6. They’re focussing on present-day issues, rather than on near-future ones 7. Failing to anticipate is, in many cases, anticipating to fail 8. So let’s elevate the discussion of these technology opportunities and risks 9. If one party focuses intensely on these issues, others will need to respond NBIC+
  2. 2. WHY MAYORAL ELECTIONS? 1. Mayoral elections have on recent occasions used a supplementary vote system, in which voters express a first and a second preference for candidates 2. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first preference vote, that candidate wins 3. If no candidate receives more than 50% of first preference votes, the top two candidates proceed to a second round and all other candidates are eliminated 4. The first preference votes for the remaining two candidates stand in the final count 5. Voters’ ballots whose first and second preference candidates have both been eliminated are discarded 6. Voters whose first preference candidates have been eliminated and whose second preference candidate is one of the top two have their second preference votes added to that candidate’s count Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_London_mayoral_election – so fewer worries by electors about “wasting their votes”
  3. 3. WHY TRANSHUMANISM 2024? 1. “Transhumanism” is an accurate description of the possibilities enabled by new technology: humans transcending ages-old limitations • Limitations in physical body (decay, aging, and disease) • Limitations in our thinking (addressed by AI) • Limitations in our emotions and psychology (addressed by neurotech) • Limitations in our social relationships (adverse power dynamics) 2. It’s time to promote the ‘T’ word, and challenge misunderstandings of it • It’s a philosophy from which everyone can benefit: transhumanism for all • It’s about openness, diversity, liberty, creativity, vitality, agency (=cognotech)
  4. 4. A NEW FUTURE FOR POLITICS? 1. From “everyone online” to “everyone empowered” 2. From “smart city” to “trusted city” 3. Automation that uplifts rather than deprives 4. Local superdemocracy and citizens’ assemblies 5. From GDP to IHSF (Index of Human and Social Flourishing) 6. A city that flourishes whilst carbon neutral 7. Healthcare for open- ended youthful lifespans 8. Accelerate access to neurotechnologies and psychoactive substances 9. Selectively embrace genetic editing 10. Incentivise meat from non-sentient sources 11. A city that is a champion of the transhumanist and cosmist revolutions 12. Uphold morphological and social freedom 13. The human right to cryonic preservation 14. Steer the Singularity: anticipate AI breakthrough 15. Education fit for the new future: STEM and beyond AI and automation Biotech & neurotech What matters most
  5. 5. FEEDBACK ON THE POLICIES 1. Which policies would you prioritise? 2. Which policies would you remove? 3. Which policies would you add? • Ideally transhumanist-distinctive but otherwise non-partisan 4. Which policies would you change or reword? 5. Or would you take a different approach altogether? 6. How do you think people could help this campaign? Neither “left wing” nor “right wing” but “up wing”
  6. 6. 1. FROM “EVERYONE ONLINE” TO “EVERYONE EMPOWERED” Being online is only the start of our digital empowerment. AI-powered personal digital assistants (search agents), as well as enabling significant efficiencies and cost-savings, can empower all citizens rather than distract us, intimidate us, constrain us, or manipulate us. Key to acceptance of these assistants will be democratic oversight of the associated software systems, rather than these systems being operated by opaque mega-corporations.
  7. 7. 2. FROM “SMART CITY” TO “TRUSTED CITY” Being a “smart city” is not enough. Smart in what sense? The surveillance and identification systems that sense and monitor what is happening throughout the city should prioritise openness and fairness, in ways that deliver clear benefit to all citizens and can gain everyone’s trust. Legitimate privacy concerns will be respected, whilst instances of crime and terrorism can be reduced, and resources deployed more efficiently without waste.
  8. 8. 3. AUTOMATION THAT UPLIFTS RATHER THAN DEPRIVES Automation should be welcomed wherever it makes lives safer, reduces work that is back-breaking or soul-destroying, or enables key goods & services to be provided at lower cost. The social safety net should be reconfigured to avoid victimising or penalising people who lose their jobs as a result of automation. This new social safety net can include features that might be called “UBI v2.0” (details to be worked out).
  9. 9. 4. LOCAL SUPERDEMOCRACY AND CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLIES AI and automation can uplift the practice of democracy. This is not “decisions made by AI on behalf of humans” but “decisions made by people in consultation, facilitated by AI” Vibrant citizens’ assemblies (or other similar groupings), aided by transparent AI systems, can accelerate reaching deep agreement on the best ideas, wherever their source. In this way, local politics will feature less divisive partisanship and more constructive collaboration.
  10. 10. 5. FROM GDP TO IHSF (INDEX OF HUMAN AND SOCIAL FLOURISHING) Instead of focusing on measuring and trying to improve GDP – the total financial value of goods and services exchanged – politicians should switch to defining, measuring, and improving IHSF – the Index of Human and Social Flourishing (name subject to change). The IHSF should increase as the requirements for a good quality of life reduce in cost; it should fall when more citizens feel they are being “left behind” against their will, or when other “landmines” risk being detonated.
  11. 11. 6. A CITY THAT FLOURISHES WHILST BEING CARBON NEUTRAL Being carbon neutral doesn’t need to involve a reduction of human or social wellbeing. Green growth, wisely directed, can uplift the IHSF. The city should accelerate taking extensive advantage of next generation green technologies. In this way, buildings and transport systems will provide higher qualities of life at the same time as avoiding any net negative impact on the environment.
  12. 12. 7. HEALTHCARE FOR OPEN- ENDED YOUTHFUL LIFESPANS Significantly more funding should be provided to develop and deploy treatments that keep bodies and minds youthful and vigorous – biorejuvenation therapies that prevent the build- up over time of biological damage, undo the trauma of aging, and detect and reverse chronic illnesses early. • Cancer, dementia, heart failure, stroke, diabetes, immune failures In this vision of the not-so-distant future, people will be as healthy and as engaged in all aspects of life at the age of 90 as when aged 40. This will make the longevity dividend real.
  13. 13. 8. ACCELERATE ACCESS TO NEUROTECHNOLOGIES AND PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES Laws banning the use of various nootropic and psychedelic drugs in the UK are ill-informed and are overdue revision. These compounds, when used with due guidance and supervision, can boost many aspects of mental vitality. Likewise, forthcoming AI-powered neurotechnologies have the potential to significantly improve mental creativity, rationality, interpersonal relationships, and democratic participation, and should also be accelerated.
  14. 14. 9. SELECTIVELY EMBRACE GENETIC EDITING Techniques such as CRISPR have the potential to edit human genomes to remove causes of rare genetic diseases and to enable numerous other improvements. Viable applications should be explored promptly and, when found safe, and subject to ongoing vigilant monitoring, legislative barriers against their use should be removed. This will benefit from an improved culture of open scientific enquiry, freed from ideology, with greater respect for data.
  15. 15. 10. INCENTIVISE MEAT FROM NON-SENTIENT SOURCES Incentives should be provided for people to switch their diets away from meat from slaughtered animals. Meat that is cultivated in labs should be preferred: It’s healthier, better for the environment, and avoids killing sentient animals. With incentives, costs can decrease rapidly. This policy is also in line with the transhumanist vision of championing the wellbeing of all sentience.
  16. 16. 11. A CITY THAT IS A CHAMPION OF THE TRANSHUMANIST AND COSMIST REVOLUTIONS The city should be attractive to the innovators and humanitarians who conceive and build the technologies that enable dramatic uplifts in the human condition, including technologies to transcend ages-old limitations imposed by biology and by gravity. The city should align with humanity’s grander aspirations to journey into new levels of both inner and outer space. Particular support should be provided for those innovators who prioritise safety as well as radical positive impact.
  17. 17. 12. UPHOLD MORPHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL FREEDOM New technology brings significant new possibilities in self-expression and group-expression, including body modifications, biohacking, alternative genders, new options for child-bearing, and new structures for social collaboration. No unnecessary restrictions should be placed on consenting well-informed citizens carrying out such experiments on themselves.
  18. 18. 13. THE HUMAN RIGHT TO CRYONIC PRESERVATION Citizens should be supported if, while sound in mind, they express and document a desire for the cryonic preservation of their body on the point of legal death. Smooth relations should be established between the national health service and providers of cryonics services. Options should be explored for selective support for cryothanasia – euthanasia with a view to enabling a better cryopreservation.
  19. 19. 14. STEER THE SINGULARITY: ANTICIPATE AI BREAKTHROUGH The city needs to anticipate the possibility of a sudden self- reinforcing acceleration in the power of AI. The city should be prepared to take decisive action to steer any such development in a beneficial direction. Groups (in companies, academia, the military, or elsewhere) that are developing AI that could reach AGI levels (Artificial General Intelligence) should be severely penalised if they fail to pay sufficient attention to safety requirements.
  20. 20. 15. EDUCATION FIT FOR THE NEW FUTURE: STEM AND BEYOND Revisions in education systems should help citizens of all ages to prepare to handle the risks and take advantage of the opportunities of a society that: A. Is changing rapidly, in ways that are difficult to anticipate B. Is ultra-diverse – with a growing variety of transhumans and AIs C. Is awash with irrationality and destructive tendencies D. Has lost much of its confidence in traditional moral principles E. Is approaching a state of “post-scarcity”, characterised by abundance F. Is approaching a state of “post-work”. This involves more attention to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) but also to many other subjects. THE VITAL SYLLABUS
  21. 21. PRACTICAL ISSUES 1. A candidate needs 10 signatures supporting them, from each of the 32 London boroughs and the City of London • That is, a total of 330 signed supporters • (They’re not necessarily committing to actually vote for T-UK) • (The 2021 signature count was reduced from 33x10 to 33x2) (Covid) 2. A candidate also needs to lodge a deposit of £10,000 • (Refunded if the candidate wins at least 5% of first preference votes) 3. Success criteria? • Improved public understanding and appreciation of transhumanism • Wider adoption of T-UK policies, without subsequent loss of attention 40.0% 35.3% 7.8% 4.4% 2.0% • Media coverage – repeated and respectful YouTube prankster with 3.4M subscribers Niko Omilana 23 years old Labour Conservative Green LibDem Independent 2021
  22. 22. REMINDER: FEEDBACK ON THE POLICIES 1. Which policies would you prioritise? 2. Which policies would you remove? 3. Which policies would you add? • Ideally transhumanist-distinctive but otherwise non-partisan 4. Which policies would you change or reword? 5. Or would you take a different approach altogether? 6. How do you think people could help this campaign? Neither “left wing” nor “right wing” but “up wing”
  23. 23. A NEW FUTURE FOR POLITICS? 1. From “everyone online” to “everyone empowered” 2. From “smart city” to “trusted city” 3. Automation that uplifts rather than deprives 4. Local superdemocracy and citizens’ assemblies 5. From GDP to IHSF (Index of Human and Social Flourishing) 6. A city that flourishes whilst carbon neutral 7. Healthcare for open- ended youthful lifespans 8. Accelerate access to neurotechnologies and psychoactive substances 9. Selectively embrace genetic editing 10. Incentivise meat from non-sentient sources 11. A city that is a champion of the transhumanist and cosmist revolutions 12. Uphold morphological and social freedom 13. The human right to cryonic preservation 14. Steer the Singularity: anticipate AI breakthrough 15. Education fit for the new future: STEM and beyond AI and automation Biotech & neurotech What matters most

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