Zoltan Istvan joins the show to discuss The Transhumanist Party, his 2016 Presidential Candidacy, and technology in our present and future.

Key Takeaways:
[00:01:08] Zoltan explains the Transhumanist Party.
[00:03:10] Zoltan talks about post genderism in the future.
[00:06:45] What exactly is Transhumanism?
[00:07:55] Zoltan explains uploading your mind
[00:10:27] Expansion of the human lifespan
[00:11:03] Are Cyborg and Robotic body parts in our future?
[00:11:51] Zoltan gives his response to the skeptics
[00:12:33] We can’t stop this science, we better understand it
[00:14:01] Bionic eyes that will help people with complete blindness to see
[00:19:50] Zoltan speaks about free education
[00:25:08] How to start a political party.

Tweetables:
“The Transhumanist Party spreads the techno-optimistic message, saying the world can be better through technology.”
“The actual definitely of Transhumanism, especially the Latin, means beyond human.”
“We really can’t stop this science, we better understand perfectly and understand a lot of the ideas behind it”
“By 2024, we are hoping to be as big as the Green Party or the Libertarian Party.”

Mentioned in this Episode:
The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan on Amazon = http://www.amazon.com/Transhumanist-Wager-Zoltan-Istvan/dp/0988616114/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423823…
http://www.TranshumanistParty.org
http://www.transhumanistparty.com/
http://zoltanistvan.com/
Introduction:
Welcome to The Longevity Show. Informing listeners on important aspects on health, wealth and happiness to insure you live life to its fullest with fascinating interviews with top authors and gurus of the field. Along with the latest news in the science and technology of longevity. We’re going to reveal expert advice and amazing secrets of living a longer, happier life. And now here’s your host Jason Hartman.

Jason:
It’s my pleasure to welcome Zoltan Istvan to the show, he is the bestselling author on futurism and the Transhumanist Party and transhumanist movement. He’s a transhumanist visionary, and author of the award winning bestselling novel, The Transhumanist Wager and he’s coming to us from beautiful, and very expensive San Fransisco, California today. Zoltan, welcome. How are you?

Zoltan:
Oh, I am doing good. Thank you so much for having me on your show.

Jason:
Yeah, it’s good to have you. So, the Transhumanist Party, I think most listeners would be surprised to hear that one even exists.

Zoltan:
Yes, no, I think they will too, but what has happened is recently the transhumanist movement as a whole has grown quite substantially, and despite that, there really hasn’t been any political element to the movement, so I had decided with a few other people to form the Transhumanist Party in America. What’s funny is now there’s about 10-20 other national transhumanist parties around the world, Transhumanist Party UK, Transhumanist Part Germany. So they’re popping up all over the place.

Jason:
Why do we need a political party? I mean the transhumanist movement is quite interesting and fascinating, but just because it’s interesting and fascinating and a big part of our futures, it doesn’t mean it needs a political party, right?

Zoltan:
That had been the thinking for a long time, in fact, for twenty years, the transhumanist movement has been around for about 30-40 years, however what has happened is, there’s really not many politicians talking about some of the very complex bioethical issues that are really happening all around the world right now, for example, should government spend trillions of dollars to literally wipe out cancer, or to put robotic hearts in human beings in a way to totally eliminate a heart disease, or what about designer babies, or stem cell use, or some more complex things, people want to go post gender so there’s no more genderism. The Transhumanist Party tries to interject it’s ideas as a futuristic thinking political entity that might help other political parties, the ones that are actually going to win elections, to come up with some better strategies and ideas for dealing with the modern world, which is changing quite rapidly due to technology.

Jason:
Yeah, no question about it. It sure is. So, I was familiar with everything you said except the post gender. Tell me about that.

Zoltan:
I recently did an article on some of the new technologies that are actually hitting the concept of sexuality or gender, so for example, there’s a possibility in the future we might have designer babies, without—people would choose not to have a uterus, because you would have an artificial womb in twenty years, to have a child, meaning that women wouldn’t have to have menstrual cycles throughout their life. These are complex questions that genetic coding and genetic therapy are going to allow us all to have in the next ten to twenty years and yet no legal framework exists, well at least very little framework exists for the kind of questions that are being presented. That’s where the Transhumanist Party tries to come up with some policies and just say well at least we’re thinking about them and this is what the field of science looks like going forward 20-30 years.

Jason:
I mean certainly, these are very big issues and you didn’t even mention cloning and genetic—well you did mention genetic engineering I guess, not specifically with those words, but there’s certainly very complex issues, no one would deny that. I mean, it gets into the whole realm of, are we playing God, and this kind of stuff. But is it enough for a political party? I mean usually political parties are based on the concept of—there’s the labor party, the unions, and that kind of group that wants more from government and bigger government and then there’s the party of the people who are more conservative, or libertarian, that they want less government. Is there enough here for an actual political party, or is it just to bring up issues to existing parties?

Zoltan:
That’s the million dollar question and I think a lot of people are also asking that, but I think one of the important things to understand is that the Transhumanist Party is a political entity is not anticipated getting voting in any time soon. My presidential candidacy for 2016 is not realistic in terms—

Jason:
That’s not going to happen.

Zoltan:
Yeah, no, and when I formed the party and when I actually wrote some of my articles about it, I am very open about admitting that, but it very much helps that people can see a potential Presidential Candidate and try to imagine what it would mean to actually have a transhumanist as a president, what would he do different than a normal politician would do, and so that’s where the uniqueness of our political ambitions come into play, is that they are able to imagine some of these scenarios in such a different way than politics usually play out. For the next 6 years, even until 2020 or maybe even 2024, the main goal of the Transhumanist Party is just to spread a techno-optimistic message, saying the world can be better through technology and radical science, however, many Americans, at least in America, are somewhat conservative when it comes to various outlooks. There’s the entire religious aspect of America, too, that might not be on board with transhumanism. So, we’re trying to, in a political way, push forward the agenda, that says “well this helps people, this helps their health, this helps their wellbeing, and this will also help put in some kind of policies, that later can be of course modified, but at least gets the ball rolling.

Jason:
Techno-optimistic, I love that. Great word. Okay, good. Well, that’s quite interesting. Tell us about transhumanism in general and let’s talk about that a moment, and then kind of circle back to the political side of it. There’s so much going on, it’s so fascinating. Maybe just for listeners who don’t know, or who aren’t exactly sure of the definition, what is transhumanism? I mean, is it us turning into a computer? Is it us just living longer? Is it us becoming mechanical, but with our same brains? What is it, exactly?

Zoltan:
Sure, and also, I apologize to your audience. I have a little bit of a flu, so if you hear my cough, and my voice is a little hoarse, but the actual definitely of transhumanism, especially the Latin, means beyond human. So, that’s ultimately what most transhumanists are trying to do, they’re trying to use technology and science to radically enhance the human being, and to enhance the human experience. Now, that can mean anything from robotic hearts, with complete replacement of the human heart to something robotic, or mind uploading, which is what something like Ray Kurzweil is working on, where you actually would upload your entire consciousness, memories, identity, into a machine, so that you are not limited by biological parts which naturally are limited in lifespan. One of the main goals of almost all transhumanists, is this idea of trying to live indefinitely. It doesn’t mean they want to be immortal forever, they just don’t want to have the spectra of death always over them, being able to choose when they live and die on Planet Earth. I think transhumanists want to overcome death using science and technology, that’s probably their primary goal.

Jason:
So overcoming death, what about just the expansion of lifespan? It seems like we’re on the verge of making pretty dramatic progress there.

Zoltan:
Oh we’re absolutely on the verge of it. I would say within 10-15 years, our lifespans are going to probably increase increase 30%. They’re now doing such incredible things with 3D printing of organs, organ failure is probably the main cause of death in general, so we’re going to, in the next 15 years, reach a point where if you live in a country that offers some of this radical technology, probably in America, for example, and mostly Europe, you’re going to be able to live significantly longer. They’re also talking about being able to stop or reverse aging. They’ve had a number of successful experiments with mice and other things like that, where they have literally been able to rejuvenate organs and reverse the aging, not just stop it. It’s just a matter of applying some of those of techniques to human beings and seeing if it works. That’s kind of the holy grail of transhumanism, is to stop aging and to eventually get your body back to an age that you want to be at, and for most people that’s between 35 and 45.

Jason:
That’s interesting, you didn’t say the cliche 29.

Zoltan:
Yes, no, it is interesting. There is a debate going on about what exact age you would want to go to, but the thing is, the longer you live, at first they might just be able to stop aging, and then we’re going to be able to reverse it slowly, and then you’re going to be able to potentially go to any type of age that you want. It’s just really a matter of coordinating the genes and also coordinating how you apply it into the human body and reversing this stuff in exactly the same way that we actually grow older. It’s very complex and there’s no promise that it’s  it’s actually going to occur in the next ten or twenty years, but it’s probably guaranteed with no cataclysmic events for the human race, no asteroid, no nuclear war, nothing like that, we’re probably deftly within the end of this century going to have mastered many of these techniques and you will find human beings living probably indefinitely, some of them living in machines, and many of us having cyborg parts, meaning robotic organs. I just did an article for my column in Motherboard Vice, which is on robotic hearts. They’re talking on ten years having robotic hearts that are equivalent or better than any olympian out there in the world, so it’s not just we’re going to have another heart, we’re going to have hearts that are the equivalent of the an olympian, all of us. What kind of difference in our life will that mean? Will we all run ultra marathons? Will we all be able to swim super fast? It’s amazing what the future is going to bring for longevity and health

Jason:
Yeah, it really is, but what do you say to people Zoltan that say, “This is weird,” I mean some people listening, I’m sure are saying, “That’s weird, I don’t want to be a cyborg.” It really speaks to what is the definition of a person. I’d say largely that definition revolves around one’s consciousness, which is something that we haven’t been able to duplicate with technology or computers, we can’t even define what it is. How do you respond to that?

Zoltan:
I’d say to begin with, Europe and America have now put in a couple billion dollars in some of these brain initiatives, so I am hopeful because we now have so much funding for looking into what consciousness is, we’ll have a better grasp of it within 5-10 years. It’s really a matter of funding. I think up until now a lot of people haven’t been sure if it was worth putting those kind of resources into what is happening the human being but I think everyone is like, “Wow, ok, so we really can’t stop this science, we better understand perfectly and understand a lot of the ideas behind it, so I think we’re going to have a much better grasp within a decades time of what consciousness is, how are memory interplays with it and stuff like that, but first off, there will be many people that are afraid of this type of change, of what’s happening to the human being, of putting in cyborg and robotic parts in their body, but a lot of us, when we first saw cell phones, we were pretty skeptical by thinking, “I’ll never use one, I’ll never carry one everywhere in my pocket,” and now even senior citizens, like my mom and dad, carry their cell phone everywhere, use the internet on it when they go to Starbucks coffee. It’s something that took 10, 15, 20 years to become commonplace, but I think the same thing will happen with cyborg body parts and robotic body parts. I was just doing an article on the artificial eye, they now have a bionic eye and basically blindness or total blindness no longer really exists, if you have access to this technology. They can basically almost anyone see, and there are now a couple other studies going on where they’re going to take care of the entire population of blind people, so if everyone has access to this technology, it’s very likely that within 5-10 years, nobody on the planet will have no such thing as complete blindness. They will all see versions of light, and other things, be able to cross the street, and navigate their own homes. This is beautiful technology so it may seem strange, but we’re all potentially going to have bionic eyes in 20 or 30 years, and the reason is a bionic eye can already see in ways that are super human, it already has telescopic vision, for example, some of the blind people have telescopic vision when the normal person doesn’t. It just takes time, but once you see the usefulness for some of these ideas and some of this technology, I think many people will subscribe to it, especially as they see how it improves their lives.

Jason:
Well, Steve Austin had one, he was the bionic man on television, The Six Million Dollar Man. What’s interesting about it is that maybe with the price of technology dropping so much, maybe this would be a lot less expensive than The Six Million Dollar Man, whereas if you adjust for inflation back in the time that was made, that would be a lot more than six million dollars today, just to keep it relative and in perspective, but I’d argue that it’d be less expensive. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

Zoltan:
It is, and I think one of the things that people always worry about is the expense, but I like to bring up the idea of cellphones again. Even in some very poor villages in Africa that have no power but maybe a solar panel with a battery for power, they have cell phones. Cell phones have become so cheap and it’s the quintessential technology now around the globe and if you can, in the poorest villages in Africa find cell phones, then it’s probably likely overtime, and I’m not saying it’ll happen immediately, because of course, always when technology comes out it usually is expensive for the first few years, but eventually I believe that this transhumanist technology will be affordable to everyone around the globe, or at least the majority of the people around the globe and it won’t just be for the rich, or for the elite. It will be something that everyone will take on, because it’ll improve everyone’s health.

Jason:
That begs the question, what does this mean to the financial world? What does it mean to the economy? I have long talked about the wide ranging impacts of life extension, we’ve got what some call the $60 trillion time bomb, or Laurence Kotlikoff the economist was on the show, and he called it the $220 trillion time bomb, and that is all of the unfunded entitlements through, most of them are social security oriented, or medicare. Through the future, can we afford to have people living longer, certainly if they’re living longer, they’ve got to be working and contributing to the economy, it’s not like you can retire at 65 and leech off the system for 60 more years, right? You have to be an active member of the economy, right?

Zoltan:
Of course. There’s a couple of different angles there, but I agree, we have an enormous problem, and I write about this all the time in my columns.

Jason:
Or an enormous opportunity.

Zoltan:
Yeah, of course, it’s both. On the optimistic side, what I’d like to say is, if you can make people live longer and healthier, I’m oping more people will stay in the work force, and try to generate money and try to generate resources. And by doing so, they also then end up contributing more to the overall system, but I don’t know if that’s really going to sit well with a bunch of people who have been looking forward to retirement for 30 or 40 years, so clearly there’s something that’s going to need to be done. I’m hoping though that the transhumanist technology that’s just starting to happen now is literally going to launch an entire new era, like the internet did, of wealth. You’re going to see a bunch of new billionaires out there, creating things like artificial hearts, bionic eyes, robotic arms, telepathy mind reading head sets, and all sorts of radical technologies that we would consider transhumanist and taking the economy to another level because of such incredible biotechnology and just technology sciences, so let’s hope that they can offset some of the wealth loss that might come from people living to 120 and taking 60 years of social security. I’m hoping that could be the outcome.

Jason:
I think one of your biggest political faux’s will be the AARP, right? The America Association for Retired Persons probably want to see these benefits given at an earlier age, it’s a huge lobbying organization. If the transhumanist part is trying to push to kick the retirement age up to maybe 75, 85, 95 if people are living in a healthy fashion until their 120 or 150, heck, it should be even later than that. The AARP isn’t going to go for that, they’re going to lobby against you and they have lots of money.

Zoltan:
Yeah, well they have amazing and enormous resources, but we’re not at the moment trying to change or suggest to change the retirement age, but what I am hoping is that people that would may have officially retired would not actually be out of the game entirely, they might do other types of jobs and other types of creative work that makes some type of income and create and contributes to their system, but I think ultimately, and this is something that the Transhumanist Party hasn’t officially come out with, but we are looking favorably at a universal basic income, as a means to supplement potential social security down the road, if the numbers really don’t work, because a lot of economists are saying the numbers won’t work if people live that long, and we’re also looking at trying to make it so that education, one of the things we support is completely free education. Even the senior citizens would be able to go back to any college they want, or at least any government sponsored college and be able to relearn something, or find a new education. If on the horizon, there’s this idea of reversing aging, then they might choose an entire a new career. So, it’s really difficult to speculate what the future’s going to bring, but I am hoping there are technological fixes to all of the problems, including the idea that there’s just not enough money in the system to support 90 billion, or whatever the number is, of senior citizens, that are going to be there in 10-20 years, expecting the money that they’ve worked so hard for for so many years.

Jason:
Free education, that sounds like the socialists dream but somebody has to pay for it. Where’s the money going to come from to pay for that?

Zoltan:
We’re definitely not a socialist organization. We’re very politically centric, somewhere in the middle, and I actually hold quite a few libertarian views, myself.

Jason:
Well, you do live in San Francisco, though. Just had to give you a hard time.

Zoltan:
It is true, it is true. So it’s wearing off, but the idea is hopefully education would spur new econimic growth because people would have new ideas and have a new sense of wellbeing and confidence in what they want to do with their lives and I think this idea

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