Saturday, June 18, 2016

Zoltan Istvan: The Pro-Cyborg Candidate

I'm not saying that Zoltan Istvan wouldn't make a great President or that he won't cure death and make us all immortal but I am saying that if he'd like to be taken seriously in either role, maybe he should stop driving around in a coffin-bus.
Yes a coffin-bus. It's a bus shaped like a coffin and yet
he's not the craziest person running for President right now.
"It must be some kind of tele-pornic
masturbatulator! Fantastic!"
-1900's Guy
Look, I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but even Istvan has to admit that coffin-bus isn't super-presidential. It doesn't exactly scream 'you can trust me with the missile codes,' but then that's not what this is about. Istvan's actual goal is to-huh? Wait, hang on, exactly which part are you having a hard time with, the running for President thing or the bus? Because both sound kind of crazy town. Or are they? Well yes, obviously, but look at our computers and cellphones. These magic slabs of glass and plastic let us talk to each other over vast differences, give us access to the sum of human knowledge and can even be used to look up pictures of people doin' it. That would have sounded like sorcery to people a hundred years ago but then that's Istvan's point. 

No, not the porn-slabs, the future. Zoltan Istvan isn't running for President because this election cycle isn't circus-y enough already, he's running to call attention to the cause of transhumanism and he's doing it by driving around the country in The Immortality Bus and explaining to people just what the hell transhumanism is.
Although I suspect that whoever designed his website
might have thought he was running for Terminator.
We had a choice to address the problems
we face as a nation or to come up with
hilarious selfie-filters. Guess which won?
Transhumanism, as a philosophy, advocates human evolution and improvement by biological or technological means. Cool right? Yes, but it's also a political party with Zoltan Istvan as their 2016 Presidential candidate. He's sort of like their Bernie Sanders but instead of income equality, Istvan is outraged at the fact that people get old and die. According to the Transhumanist Party's website, they want to put science and technology first instead of whatever the hell our national priorities are now. Anger and Snapchat? It's hard to tell. Anyway, check out the Transhumanist Party's website, specifically their Bill of Rights. 

I keeping my eye on you...
You should totally click on the link and read it for yourself, but I'll sum up. Basically it states that all humans, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs and advanced sapient life forms are entitled to extended life and that it's the government's job to make that happen up to and including protecting us from the threats posed by war, global warming and confusingly, artificial intelligence. I guess robots are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness unless it looks like they might turn on us, then it's open season on those guys.

What could possibly go wrong?
If you can get past the part about cyborgs, it some of it sounds pretty reasonable. Transhumanists believe in equal rights, they're anti-war, sure they want to make us all immortal, but why is that so out there? Who wouldn't want to live forever? I mean here is a political party that doesn't want to stop with universal healthcare, they want to eliminate aging, disease and illness entirely which, assuming the planet has infinite space and resources, seems like a swell idea.

We do have infinite space and resources right? Huh? No? Oh. Well that does seem like a problem, but not necessarily an insurmountable one. Article 5 of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights specifically calls for 'all nations and governments to embrace and fund space travel...' You know, just in case we fuck up this planet and need a new one.
"So immortality, cyborgs and warp drive. No problem President Istvan,
anything else we can do for you? A unified field theory, or maybe a snack?"
On the other hand, immortality might
be a more achievable goal than figuring
out whatever's wrong with these people.
If my tone sounds a little, you know, condescending and rude it's not that I disagree with all the Transhumanist's goals. I totally think they have some good ideas. Science and technology should absolutely be where we focus our resources, but I'm not convinced that shooting for immortality is the best use of our time. Maybe start with, I don't know, cancer? Or maybe social issues like violence and bigotry? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for having my brain transferred into some kind of deathless cyborg body someday, I'm just not sure I'm ready to get behind a guy driving around in a coffin-bus.

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