The Transhumanist Party wants your input. They aim at "Abundance by 2035". A wild or necessary target?
We tend to regard “transhumanism” as just “humanism” at A/UK - given our interest in putting play and imagination at the core of a new citizenship, appropriate to humans and their full capacities. It seems all too human to be ambitious about our talents and visions.
And also - given that we think the dominant narratives of our technology-and-science defined future (at least) should be opened up to citizens and communities - we are well disposed to any political initiative which tries to do that.
This can be Extinction Rebellion, calling for a quick halt to carbon production, and proposing citizens assemblies as alternative power-centres, as much as the entity we’re looking at today… which is The Transhumanist Party.
They are looking for your input (Google form here) on the question, “If people in Britain really apply themselves to the task, how good could life become by 2035?” The headlines of the proposals you can react to in the Google survey are in the panel below (and presented in much more detail on this page):
[There is also a “Discourse” forum available you can join and debate them on].
We would invite you to investigate the details of “baseline” and “strategy” for these headlines, by and for yourselves. But a few observations on how they connect up, and where they depart from perhaps some of our positions, may be in order.
Take “mental health problems at least than 1%”. This comes from not just from a transhumanist interest in the mind sciences, and the possibility of highly targeted and customised treatments for individual patients’ brain chemistries. But they also want it to be the consequence of “no need to work for income”.
This implies a strong call for the provision of income and services, wherever they have been massively boosted by tech innovation, to tend towards a zero-cost. In order for humans to “transform” themselves, we must seize our productivity as citizens, and turn it into free time and deepened social security - which will, the TP holds, massively reduce stress and psychological strain.
“No homelessness” (see our blog earlier this week) again is rooted in both technological step-changes (new methods of house construction). But also an awareness that the provision of fundamental security is the best basis for a life that is open to the ingenious challenges that human nature throws up. A security that also underpins the TP’s ambition for a crime rate “reduced by 90%+”.
On environment and energy, the TP stays close to the sustainability agenda of recent years, arguing for “carbon neutrality” (though in actuality and not through fake accounting measures) and “zero waste”. Yet they look to “a reduction in meat consumption by 90%” as partly addressed by the biological production of laboratory meat, not involving sentient methane producing animals, as much as through lifestyle change (like veganism).
And their door is held open to what some in the environmental movement might despair of as a techno-fix - the possibility of nuclear fusion, a much less toxic (but much more difficult to generate) form of nuclear energy than the current form, on stream before the target date.
There are pretty clear outliers and trailblazers in the Transhumanist Party’s manifesto - real eyepoppers. These come from transhumanism’s philosophical belief that humanity’s progressive and improving instinct won’t stop at society and economy, but will advance on the human body and mind itself.
What should we make of “A healthspan of at least 90+ years”, or a “House of AI in Parliament”, or cryogenics (body freezing) and ectogenesis (babies brought to term in a non-human, artificial womb) on the NHS? One thing to say is that this element of transhumanism is a major theme in the BBC’s hit drama Years and Years. Here’s the clip when a daughter of the family at the centre of the story comes out to her parents as “trans” - but she means “Transhuman”, rather than “transsexual”.
The arguments for and against longevity tech, from a climate crisis perspective, are well-rehearsed. Will it just entrench a privileged gerontocracy, who conserve their gains against the young (Rupert Murdoch lives forever)? Or if its provision is socialised, will longevity allow us all to pace our lives better, and gather up wisdom and practice, improving our practice of citizenship? (We can see both sides.).
The AI chamber for Westminster seems worth a try, with all the caveats about data - “Garbage in and Garbage Out” - taken on board. (And to be honest, the arbitrary nature of the existing House of Lords, with its partisan and hereditary appointees, seems barely more credible than a set of machine-learning servers).
However, the prospect of ectogenesis and cryogenics on the NHS would seem guaranteed to raise popular opposition, even derision. (Ectogenesis was actually advocated by radical feminists like Shulamith Firestone in the 70s, and recently by Xenofeminists - but many feminists today would argue that women’s reproductive power still seeks a future of proper political and economic recognition).
The most outlandish and sci-fi proposal for UK policy here - that there is a continuous presence on Mars - has actually the most beautiful justification: “a continuous human presence on Mars will help transform humanity’s perspective, from being inward-looking and Earth-bound, to being outward-looking and cosmos-embracing”. If life is rare in the cosmos, is the best argument for ecological civilisation the idea that we have a cosmic responsibility to preserve it on this planet, and spread it around a barren universe?
Not exactly the topics you’d hear at a Parliamentary “Dispatch Box”. But these are wide open times, inviting revolutionary perspectives. David Wood, co-director of the Transhumanist Party, is a long-standing friend of the Alternative UK. We encourage their ambition and provocations.