The Transtopian Principles V. 1.2
- Reason, critical thinking. The Mother Of All (Transtopian) Principles. Its importance is obvious; only by means of reason and critical thought can we survive and prosper (over longer periods of time). Science and technology, which heavily depend on rational thought, are for example absolutely crucial for improving the human condition. Without them, we have no hope of conquering death, disease and other biological shortcomings.
- Flexibility. In order to have progress (improvement), old ideas must be discarded when they have been convincingly proven wrong or have become insufficient, and new, better ones adopted in their place. Dogma often leads to stagnation and decay, and should be avoided as much as possible. Therefore, Transtopianism will be an evolving philosophy. The principles are open to (relevant) criticism, and might change considerably over time (hence the version numbers). This does not mean, however, that a philosophy (such as Transtopianism) can and should be completely dogma-free; it has to stand for something or else it would be "nothing". So although the phrasing and other technical aspects will be subject to change as time goes by, the core values will remain constant. The desire to transcend the [limitations of the] human condition is one of these central values or basics of Transtopianism, see also below.
- Basic Transhumanism.The belief that we can, and should, try to overcome our biological limits by means of reason, science and technology. Transhumanists seek things like intelligence augmentation, increased strenght and beauty, extreme life extension, sustainable mood enhancement and the capability to get offplanet and explore the universe. These goals are to be achieved with the aid of contemporary and future technologies such
as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, cryonics, megascale and space-time engineering, AI, and mind uploading . In other words, (hardcore) transhumanists seek to become posthuman (demi-)gods -- "persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity, self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals''.
- Atheism/Skepticism. Transtopianism rejects religious dogma and belief in the supernatural. The rational approach to these things is that they are untrue/don't exist until proven otherwise. Or, as Occam's Razor puts it: one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything. If religion simply remained the personal choice of people to live irrationally, then that wouldn't be such a problem (for non-believers). Many religions however, including very large ones like Christianity and Islam, seek to "convert" (brainwash, frighten into submission) others, and want to give their often oppressive ideas the status of common law. To know what happens when theocrats come to power, one only has to look at the Dark Ages and countries like Afghanistan and Iran. It goes without saying that Transtopianism firmly rejects such behaviour, though it does advocate tolerance towards those religious groups and individuals that don't bother others with their beliefs. For more detailed arguments against religion and other superstitious beliefs, visit Arguments for Atheism or search these sites.
- Immortalism. This is the philosophy that it is both possible (trough scientific/technological advances) and desirable to attain physical immortality. The standard question of "why would you want to live forever?", can probably best be answered with another question: "why (on earth) would you, assuming that you are free and in good health, want to die?" See also this article by Ben Best. For those that die before genetic engineering, robotics, nanotechnology and mind uploading can provide (virtually) unlimited life extension, the only hope is cryonics. This is the experimental procedure whereby patients who no longer can be kept alive with today's medical abilities are preserved at low temperature for treatment in the future. It may be a long shot, but since the alternative is certain death, the choice should be easy. That the procedure is quite affordable (when funded with life insurance) further adds to the logic of signing up for suspension. It goes without saying that the proposed transhuman nation would have a state of the art cryonics/medical facility. For more information about cryonics, click here.
- Intelligent hedonism. Obviously (eternal) life without "fun" (in whatever form; this is a highly individual thing. By no means is it limited to sex, drugs and rock & roll) would be meaningless. Pure hedonism must be tempered with foresight however, in order to avoid unpleasant experiences or even death. Sometimes enjoyment must be postponed in order to reap greater benefits later. In other words, Transtopianism doesn't promote a lifestyle that is purely directed at quick satisfaction of random desires, but values planning ahead. In fact, given the enormity of the Transtopian goals (building an island nation, transcending the human condition etc.) a lot of planning ahead will be necessary. For some possible scenarios for future bliss, visit The Hedonistic Imperative.
- A liberal attitude. Anything should be allowed as long as it doesn't harm the others (within your contract group). This means that things like possession, sale and use of any drugs (for recreation or medication) as well as other victimless crimes like gambling, prostitution, euthanasia,
abortion, keeping and bearing arms for recreation/self-defense etc. should be
legal. It goes without saying that increased individual freedom can only work properly when linked to increased responsibility for one's actions. Those acts that duly remain "not done", like murder, rape, theft, stalking, fraud, damage to persons and property and severe slander should be punished firmly (so that the punishment fits the crime).
Another important "liberal" issue is the rejection of taboos. Everything, including current "hot topics" like race, gender, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and religion must be discussible in a normal manner, without resorting to knee-jerk reactions, flaming, physical violence or ignoring the opponent. The truth is more important than the "political correctness" of the day. By denying or stigmatizing a problem it will likely only get worse; taboos breed hypocrisy, corruption and stem critical thinking. In a world of double standards, ultimately everybody is a loser.
- Personal empowerment. From "Five Things You Can Do To Fight Entropy Now", an essay by Romana Machado: "To be prepared for a future that may be full of difficult changes, and survive in an entropic world, take personal responsibility for your security. If you are good at self-defense, you need not regard yourself as a powerless victim. Self-defense encourages your sense of autonomy and personal power. Following a course of study in martial arts may help you to develop the proper attitude towards the use of force in self-defense. Learn the proper use of devices and techniques that can protect you from harm."
- Acknowledging the importance of autonomous territory. Freedom is crucial for survival and flourishing. Getting a good cryonic suspension for example is extremely difficult due to all kinds of bureaucratic barriers (ideal suspensions would begin before deanimation to minimise the period of (warm) brain ischemia, but anti-euthanasia laws forbid this, even if it is the patient's explicit wish. Even in the case of "normal" post mortem suspensions it is often difficult to start work on the patient in time). Other unreasonable government/ society-imposed restrictions on self-defense, use of drugs, certain medical therapies, "controversial" scientific research (like cloning), business regulations and heavy taxes all can seriously deminish the quality of life, or even threaten it outright. These and many other problems would be solved if transhumanists had their own country (city state/ micronation network). Since obviously no existing country would be willing to sell a piece of its territory for this purpose, it would have to be built at sea. Hence the Transtopia project. It goes without saying that, once space colonization becomes financially and physically easier, any serious freedom seeker will move to this "final frontier". For the time being however, an ocean-based artificial island is about the best we can do.
- Money/material wealth. Proper funding is a key point in not only the autonomy project, but also in everyday life. Money can buy you just about anything, including beauty, health, safety, freedom, happiness, respect, and probably even eternal life. So, although its not really a goal in itself, it certainly is important. Money is an extremely powerful tool in the right hands; it gives you the luxury to focus on the really important things in life. No matter what your agenda is, a fat bank account will help considerably to smoothen the way. This is especially true for transhumanists, who wish to use the latest technologies to improve their everyday condition, and have the rather ambitious goal of becoming posthuman. In fact, wealth and power may be absolutely crucial to survival when the Singularity comes, probably around the middle of the next century (see also below). Therefore, aquiring wealth will be an important sub-goal of the Transtopia project.
- Preparing for the Singularity. "SINGULARITY: The postulated point or short period in our future when our self-guided evolutionary development accelerates enormously (powered by nanotech, neuroscience, AI, and perhaps uploading) so that nothing beyond that time can reliably be conceived. [Vernor Vinge, 1986]" (Lextropicon). New technologies have always first been the exclusive domain of the rich and powerful before they trickled down to the general population. There is no reason to assume that this won't be the case with the technlologies that will make Super Intelligence (SI), (be it completely artificial or an uploaded human or group of humans), and thus the Singularity, possible. Of course it could be that the first SI(s) will be benevolent, and will help the rest of humanity to ascend, but they might as well be malevolent or indifferent and wipe out all life on earth to prevent any competition. In fact, that would probably be the most rational action. If a SI is the only intelligent being in the universe, then it's presumably safe. In any case safer than with known others around. Now, how can outside diversity benefit the SI? Through a) entertainment b) providing extra computing power to solve problems that might threaten the SI, like the end of the universe (if there is such a thing
at all). Do these advantages outweigh the risks? Rationally speaking, they don't. A SI has ample computing power and intelligence to entertain itself and to solve just about any problem (it's auto-evolving and can always grow extra brain mass to increase its output -- it can even turn the whole known universe into a computer, given enough time. And time it has, being technically immortal). Why would it want other entities around that are powerful, unpredictable, beyond its control? There is a lot at stake for a SI (eternity), so presumably it will be very careful.
Apart from this, the Singularity might also cause the extinction of (trans)mankind by accident, due to some runaway technology. Nanotech is often mentioned in this context, with nightmare scenarios of countless hordes of self-replicating nanites turning the earth and everything on it into a grey goo. This scenario is considerably less probable than SIs causing trouble, however.
Does this mean that we should try to stop the technological advances that will lead to the Singularity? No, it doesn't. First of all, it would probably be pointless anyway. At this stage, only a world-wide disaster like WW3 or a massive meteorite impact could stop the Singularity, the cure being worse than the disease. Even if it were possible to stop the Singularity without bringing around the end of the world, it would still effectively mean a return to the Dark Ages (most technologies, certainly computers and such, would have to be destroyed or at least heavily restricted, scientists killed or locked up etc.). Not only is this morally undesirable, but also suicidal; we need technological progress to conquer death. What good would be preventing the end of the world if you'd still die of old age, an accident or disease?
No, the only rational action is to make sure, at all costs, to be among the first people to have access to the breaktrough technologies. In other words: become as rich and powerful as you can. Since transhumanists share certain unique goals that are closely related to the Singularity (many want to become SIs and live forever), it would be only logical to co-operate to have the best possible starting position when the Singularity comes. Hence the next principle.
- Co-operation with like-minded people. In order to successfully overcome many everyday problems, achieve autonomy, get wealthy, reduce damage from Y2K and ultimately survive the Singularity, it will be necessary to co-operate. Individual members of the transhuman community don't stand much of a chance, but if we can effectively combine our forces we just might pull it off. It's a long shot, but the only one we have. One of the functions of the Transtopia project will therefore be providing a framework for a transhuman mutual aid group, whose main goal is to prepare for the Singularity.
Miscellaneous thoughts on sea-based autonomy |
>H links collection |
Vernor Vinge on the Singularity (article) |
Five Things You Can Do To Fight Entropy Now (essay) |
Law of the High Seas |
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Last updated : 25-08-98