April 13, 2024

A transhumanist in conversation

Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan answers some tricky questions from his critics.

Zoltan Istvan is an American writer, futurist and philosopher. He is also perhaps the best-known proponent of transhumanism movement. He spoke with BioEdge earlier this week. 

Q. The latest news in transhumanist circles, I gather, is that you will be running for President of the United States in 2016. What do you have to offer that the other candidates don’t?

A: Transhumanists are often seen as a strange group of people, and despite some of my radical ideas, I manage to remain very normal in daily life. I’m married, have two sweet kids, am an entrepreneur, and have worked for notable companies before, such as National Geographic. I think I can share the positive possibilities of transhumanism with the general public quite well. I think that’s my greatest asset as a candidate–being a normal guy with futurist ideas. 

Q. If elected, what are some key policies you would implement? 

A: The first policy I’d implement is creating a national framework for all citizens to live longer and healthier. America spends trillions of dollars on far off wars, but very little on actual science and longevity research. That must change. I would like to change America’s military industrial complex into a longevity industrial complex. If we’re going to be spending so much money at all, let’s spend it directly on our health and well being. 

Q. Transhumanism promises a lot — but can it solve all political problems? For instance, what is its policy on the Islamic State and radical Islam? Or how will it bring prosperity to the Democratic Republic of Congo? 

A: The Transhumanist Party is relatively new, so it’s still working out a lot of those positions on various political concerns, like foreign policy. But it stands behind sharing technologies and creating joint enterprises to lift all groups and nations out of poverty, war, and injustice. 

Q. Christians are generally suspicious of the transhumanist ideology. How would you go about winning over Christian voters? 

A: This is perhaps the toughest mission of transhumanism, to convince a mostly religious world that the rapid advance of technology isn’t against faith. Transhumanists must focus on doing good works and showing how technology can improve lives and health. If they do that, Christians and other religious people will befriend us and count us as allies in the making the world a better place.

Q. Bioethicist Wesley Smith recently argued that transhumanism undermines the notion of individual human dignity. He was also concerned about your statements regarding the legitimacy of war to promote the transhumanist cause. What do you say? 

A: Wesley is a friend and powerful thinker, but I disagree that transhumanism undermines anything, expect perhaps death and poor health. Transhumanism strengthens all of us in myriad ways.  

Regarding war and transhumanism, surely many life-changing movements and their supporters would fight for their beliefs if threatened. Transhumanism aims to provide far better lives to our families and people everywhere, and we believe that is worth standing up for. 

A transhumanist answers the hard questions: Zoltan Istvan in interview
Xavier Symons
Creative commons
politics and bioethics