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The Unlimited Potential of Humanity


Zoltan Istvan

In this week’s episode Brett King and Robert Tercek, Brett’s The Futurists cohost, interview two-time presidential candidate, entrepreneur, journalist and futurist, Zoltan Istvan. We dive into how the species might evolve to adapt to living with AI, a changing climate and even to life off-planet. It’s controversial, dynamic and the philosophy and ethics of humanity are front and center in the debate. We’ll see you in the future!

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this week on the futurists i think the very first policy and the one i really ran on was the majority ofyou know i think why my campaign actually did very well is i had suggested that we reduce the budget forthe military and the defense and defense american defense by 50 and allocate all that money to healthcare and technology and science so instead of an industrial military-industrial complex let's createa science industrial complex and that would filter out in so many ways that would filter out culturally everybodywould say okay we're no longer this you know war mongering nation now we're a science mongering nation which is somuch better [Music]welcome back to the futurists i'm rob tercek and i'm with my co-host brett king and what we're interested in isfinding out from the people who are thinking about conceiving visualizing and inventing the futurewe want to understand exactly what makes them tick what motivates them to do what they do and how do they do it and this weekwe've got a superb guest to join us uh he is an entrepreneur a business person who started and ownsmany businesses he's also a transhumanist a journalist anda two-time candidate for the president of the united states i'm so thrilled to have you here zoltanestevan welcome to the futurists thank you so much for having me thrilledto have you now you've been all over the place you just got back to california right so tell me about your your recent travelswell sure um i was in germany at the 2b ahead of futurist congressspeaking on transhumanism at bmw world which was amazing because bmw world wasan amazing place to speak and then i actually took my mother back to hungary who hadn't been there for 20 years andshe escaped with my father who passed away um in in 1968 and literally theywere kind of like freedom fighters had to leave the communist regime so here it is the russians again causing problems but uh it was very interesting to takemy mother back to hungary and budapest and let her see that so i had a great uh great time traveling around europe thelast few weeks excellent and you just finished a degree at oxford right well i'm actually in themiddle of the degree at oxford still okay so yes uh thankfully because i love being there it's like once you're thereyou just want to be a full-time student forever yeah i'm doing a master's degree in philosophy uh with a specialty of ethicsvery cool technology to talk about those things yeahyeah we'll certainly have an opportunity to talk about ethics in tech and ethics in a.i and in transhumanism but beforewe jump into that i want to ask you a really straight-up question which is what is transhumanism can you give usyour definition of it well sure and there are of course many definitions but the latin would say that this is beyondhuman transhumanism is beyond human but what i like to think about is in terms of technology in the body um transfumouswant to go beyond what is the physical form what is biology so we want to integrate ourselves with technologiesinto ourselves and so give me anything like exoskeleton suits that might let you climb mount everest or even something assimple as driverless cars where you use it all the time and it really changes your life but i like to think of transhumanism as the most radical 10of the technology that is out there right now and that way transhumanism canalways kind of evolve the most radical 10 of the technologies out there right nowand and what you're driving at is that this is technology that would somehow extend or enhance or augment humancapability yes a hundred percent with with um you know the specifics and a lot of you'll hear this from a lot of transgendersmany trans humans would like to overcome biological death as kind of a primary concern but a lot you know the much larger fieldis just adaptation cyborgism how do we use technology in our lives like you know virtual reality uh to to kind ofbecome almost a different species or at least interpret ourselves differently so you know we talk about technology butyou're also talking about the technology of biology right such things asobviously gene therapy is a way for us to improve humanity but things like transgenicswhere we might actually incorporate some characteristics of other species in our genes as well as the cybernetics youtalk about right yeah no doubt and you know transhumanism can incorporate uh genetic editing versus artificialintelligence everything in between and they're you know a huge push is for genetic editing to enhance ourselves buti would say like if you really ask the hundred year future it does start eliminating biology entirely assomething that's more fragile more complicated maybe something that's kind of terminal it always wants to you knowcellular nature is is terminal and so most transhumanists would say the the far future out a century or so is goingto be ones and zeros or silicon or graphene and things like that and not incorporate biology none probablyincorporate carbon things like that anymore so this is what they mean when they sayto transport or migrate your consciousness to a non-biological substrate you'retalking about basically transporting my consciousness to a chip like silicon well that would be the end goalsomething a couple hundred years in the future uh you know i don't wanna maybe it's possible here in 30 40 yearsthey're already doing some experiments in silicon valley with brainwave interfacing and consciousness and telepathy and things like that so maybewe'll get there a lot faster but yes there's no question that we want to move away from biology which in the end isjust something that kind of evolved and while it's it's been magnificent for the human race and we've had a great chanceto experience the world whatever um it really doesn't satisfy transfumous in the sense that we all dieafter it and the only thing that really can carries on is our progeny what we want is something where our consciousness our sense of self ouridentity doesn't uh get extinguished and that really has a much better chance ofbeing metal of being ones and zeros something that still can be something that's based on uh wherehas a longevity that's much longer than than what we consider the frail world ofbiology it's it's really interesting actually that if you think about like the fermiparadox one of the elements of the fermi paradox is that maybe all intelligences are now ai's inyou know in the the broader galactic community because that seems like thethe best chance you have at permanence of retaining consciousness because of the the risk to biology you know um it'sit's i think that's an interesting element aside of you know we're obviously going to come to somefork in the road at some point in the future whether it's 100 years or 200 years from now where you will have thisdecision to make does humanity evolve into machine you know machine basis or is there valuein keeping the biological energy and this is certainly clearly still a debateamongst transhumanists as well yeah yeah no doubt and let me just say you know i i think the ai age is comingbut it's going to be far shorter than people realize maybe 15 or 30 years andthen there's something else who knows it might be the quantum age might be some kind of other age where things just really evolve into different types ofyou know uh quantum matter whatever and tell quantum intelligence but the point is that yeah it's going to go from biology tomachine intelligence and then to something else and probably something else after that but it keeps getting smaller more sophisticated morecomplicated and more interesting now to some of the folks that are listening this probably sounds a littlestrange um they're probably saying that sounds a lot like science fiction which you know science fiction is no stranger to thefuturist program we are happy to indulge in it um but that's not what we're talking about we're actually talkingabout something that you can see happening around us today and you could argue that humanity has strivedthroughout its existence to transcend the limitations of the human lifespan of our biological clocks inside of us uhthat's that's what civilization is all about finding ways to organize people together to transcend the basiclimitations of life and finding durable ways to transmit knowledge to the next generation allwe're doing now is using advanced technology to accelerate that process i mean maybe that's too simplistic but howdo you respond to that to say that transhumanism something happened right now and not in the future well i mean considering you know wherewe were a hundred years ago certainly we're in the transhumanist age i just think um you know like i saidat the start that if if you take my definition of transtumors being the most radical 10 of the technologies most ofus don't actually have access to that 10 yet for example the robotic eye is something that's big on the horizon foreveryone because it can kind of take in facebook we can do this kind of podcast through it there's a million differentthings that ties directly to your your neural system you know right to your brain and you know there's so manythings that could come from a robotic eye and you can't see in ultraviolet ways yes yes and you can see snakes inthe dark you you can see you know if there's a fire in the house it might wake you up in the middle of night say oh there's carbon monoxide in there orwhatever million reasons that we would want to do it but even though they're experimenting with it and some peopleactually have robotic eyes that the fda has approved it's really not available in a sense that we can go out andvoluntarily exchange our eye and get a better eye even though some of those robotic eyes can already see more uhcloser when it concerns like telescopically and what not already but the point is a lot of this technology isstill out there and only available maybe to the medically disabled or things likethat they're actually the disabled often get the transfumous technologies first which is which is wonderful of coursebecause we can we can help that out um but it's not always in our hands howeverif you really look at us driving around cars flying in jet airplanes doing podcasts online you know i mean wereally are in a transfumous age compared to 100 years ago they'd probably think this is all witchcraft 100 years agothat's exactly right yeah no it's not look at two of us are wearing eyeglasses right that's a mechanical way to correct for biological vision uh you know peoplehave cochlear implants uh they're now experimenting with all kinds of contact lenses some people have pacemakers otherpeople have artificial joints you know so bit by bit we are where we can where it's medically possible we're startingto replace parts of our biological body but maybe with machines before we look at augmentation of existing humanitywhich is obviously you know part of this you know one of the side effects of transhumanism is going to be theelimination of disabilities right i think that's um that sort of flows into your your conversation there zoltan youknow um you know like even um the robotic prosthesis um you know i'm a bigfan of the work of dr hugh herr and some of the you know some of the developments going on there but um you know how do wedeal with the fact that in a few years something like this bionic eye or arobotic prosthesis like a you know robotic arm or limb will be more advanced than our humanlimbs and people may make a decision ethically you know where does this sit where if someone says all right i'mgoing to cut off my my arm it's a perfectly good arm but i'm going to get a better arm out of a robotic prostheticwell i i think you know i think this this question is already on the minds of many biohackers i'm actually a littlesurprised because i had forecasted about two years ago that sometime in the next 48 months somebody would cut off theirarm and put on a robotic arm and at this point they're doing it for show it's kind of a media thing but there is avery solid possibility within seven to ten years these robotic limbs might be better than what we have now and peoplewill electively start doing them and i think um when you come to that point it's going to be sort of like socialmedia there's a bunch of people out there that say oh i don't want to go on facebook i don't want to go on twitter i don't want to do this but if you're in ajob that requires that and so many jobs do these days then you sort of have to and i feel the samething is going to happen with robotic limbs at some point if you're both in construction you and your neighbor andthe neighbor can now lift three times the weight you can lift it's got a robotic arms he's going to be making more money he'sgoing to be taking care of his family better he's going to be getting the bigger house there are social concerns that will probably force us into thecyborg age capitalistic concerns i'm not saying they're good i'm just saying that this is the way technology has been thatthose who use it often have an advantage and therefore they acquire it faster and firstyou know this this is interesting as a policy conversation but you know obviously youran for president a couple of times um but as you look at governments like youknow china and the united states uh european governments and so forth whichgovernments are starting to think about this sort of stuff at a policy level or are we stillstill absent that in the in the public conversation well i think for sure the bidenadministration has done better in you know pushing forth technologies including climate change technologiesand things like that than the the previous administration but i gotta say you know when you really look at a placelike china uh even though there's a huge amount of social control there's you know maybe it's a dictatorship and thesekinds of things they seem to be very open-minded to transhumanism and i and i i wonderif a lot of it is cultural you know we live in a very judo christian nation where people are scared of cyborgism peopleare scared of these things robotic eyes nobody our privacy is such a sacred youknow kind of thing um whereas in china there's like look this is very functional for the nation as a whole andembrace this stuff and so i feel like they may be truly the first transhuman nation and they're spending a hugeamount of money on ai i got to say though just having been in germany there were some wonderful things that i saw inmunich's wonderful new technology and of course japan is always there so it's a worldwide effort effort i just think toto begin with though america has to really keep on the ball can't just be silicon valley always carrying the ballit has to be a a a government that embraces us we want to lead the world into thetransfumous age because as you know as this great democracy we don't want to fall behind and we certainly don't wantsomebody like russia and china to lead these technologies because that becomes something very dangerousone of the challenges we face as a country in the united states is that uh is this belief that somehow america isexceptional right we've been telling ourselves that for 200 years and this faith in american exceptionalism meansthat it's very hard for us to accept lessons from other countries because we're supposed to be the first the bestthe biggest whatever whatever mythology we're telling ourselves as a national narrative but the problem with that is it blindsus to advances that are happening so if there's a country that we view as an antagonist or a competitor these daysit's china then it's hard for us to take in any information about that countrythat doesn't reinforce that perception of china as the you know as the adversaryso it's hard for us to accept that there might be lessons for us there um certainly there's plenty as you pointed out to criticize about china but whatwe're missing there is that the chinese leadership consists in a large part of engineers people who are scientificallytrue and in fact people understand how to build systems and maintain systems now i contrast that with the pointyou've made you've made the observation that most american politicians are lawyers and most of congress isdominated by lawyers and if you wonder why we have such convoluted laws and such a complex regulatory process andsuch a crazy scheme for immigration in such a crazy convoluted tax system and it goes on and on and on you go throughany aspect of where the government touches you it's super complicated why because it's written by and for lawyersit's like the full employment act for attorneys every time they pass a new set of laws in the united statesone of the observations or criticisms of the u.s is that because we're dominated bylawyers and legalistic minds in policy we don't focus on end goals or outcomesinstead we focus on process because that's what attorneys are focused on did you go through the process and you endup in a situation where a bureaucratic part of the government can say like well we did the 10 steps in the process but no one's accountable for the outcomesnow you ran for president you did it twice there's no small undertaking tell me about your motivation why did you feellike we needed to change the national level and the leadership what gap were you trying to fill by running for presidentsure and let me just say in in the first presidential uh campaign i had a policythat really was trying to restrict the amount of lawyers in office and it's notthat lawyers don't have a great you know something in society they do their jobs but if you have 40 50 percent incongress running the show lawyers are designed to stop things they're designed to look at all the fine details and whenyou're trying to run a nation you can't always just stop things with fine details sometimes you just got to get out in front and and run with the ballin the open space and i i feel like we had more doctors we had more nurses we had more teachers we had morecontractors you know plumbers in office i bet we'd get a lot more done and ialmost wonder if there should be some kind of law pass or at least some kind of financial mandate where we support those kinds of careers getting intopublic office as a way to diversify our government but you know when you run for office first off it's pretty takes ahuge toll both in your family and your personal life and it's a little hard to be on the camera all the time and doingthese things but i i think the main reason i ran is because there are no politicians out there talking about thebig questions none of them are addressing genetic editing none of them are addressing ai at least they're notaddressing it in a very specific way when you for example had the presidential debates you didn't hear big giant questions about ai and you know ican tell you we barely had a conversation on ubi and things like that yes yes and i can tell you you know atoxford in the philosophy department the biggest question right now is artificial intelligence wow what are we going to do10 15 20 years when these things are maybe as smart as us who knows what's going to happen what are the ethicsshould we go forward and yet this would be something you would think leaders of our country would be you know formingcommittees doing this doing that and instead um it's just too dangerous of a question because as soon as you talkabout it you lose voters they kind of look at them the voters look at it right at it as they would look at me which wasoh zoltan has some interesting ideas but he shouldn't be elected those are weird questions let's talk about taxes or immigration and yet ai is the mostimportant question and so is genetic editing these kinds of questions that we can start embodying it just it's sadly they don'twant anything about it well you know you've got there's so many implications just to ai the techno unemployment anglethat rob and i often debate that on this show um but the the the ethics ofgene therapy you know in vitro and then you know um you know like you know massmass inoculation you know like just just think of the reaction to the covert vaccine and now you're suddenly going tobe talking about doing gene therapy to eliminate parkinson's or alzheimer's from the genome right you know how how'sthat gonna you know play at it from a policy perspective but we are going to have to deal with this at some point inthe next few years we're going to have to have this debate so the longer you're talking about it the broader um you knowyou can you can get in terms of consensus building on this the easier path to policy so i i don't get thewhole avoidance of this i get it from a politics perspective but it is it's like cutting off yournose despite your face and and this is one of the reasons that i think china isis going to have significant advantages in the 21st century because this sort of stuff they seeas an um elements to enable china to outperformthe united states economically and intellectually you know and and yeah so that's a real concern particularly when it comes to airight when it comes to ai the nation that gets to a real nationwide scale aithat embodies their cultural values and their way of thinking in a way that's a new arms race they'llachieve a kind of supremacy and everyone else is going to have to catch up i know you've written a bit about that share with us your views all the time no it isan arms race and i mean when you talk about it and this is why it's so baffling that america doesn't want toconfront these things we have an arms race with genetic editing too super soldiers eliminating disease eliminatingaging and whoever gets their first is going to not only get the patents but they're also going to have the economicfallout from it which is going to be massive they're going to become these are trillion dollar industries maybe multi-multi-trillion dollar industriesso it's imperative that an american america gets their first that a democratic kind of nation achieves thesethings because i worry especially with ai the idea that you could send viruses out to other ais as they're alreadydoing in cyber security warfare and whatnot so if you have the upper hand you can hold the upper hand anddefinitely in fact this is almost different than the arms race because the armature race was kind of like 60 40 youcan still destroy each other but in the ai arms race it's whoever gets to the top ends up controlling the geopoliticaluh kind of environment entirely and because it's not you can't one can't destroy the other one only only the topone can kind of sprout out viruses and everything else has to remain subdued and therefore you have this uh you knowthis this thing where it's not mutual destruction it's just simple victory and of course if china or russia gets thereand putin has said this before he said whoever gets to the great ai first is gonna you know be that as the victorwith all the spoils so we really need to watch this now this is why i wish politicians would take it more seriouslyi i do understand that military leaders are and i know they're probably pushing the politicians but at the same time iwish politicians would come out openly and say listen this is america's game we better be in it before it's an irony isn't it we're themost technologically advanced society in the world and we have leaders who are technologically illiterate and you see that when forinstance they interview people like mark zuckerberg you know when when congress calls those people forward and interviews themit's embarrassing to watch our 70 and 80 year old senators try to formulate an intelligent question i mean it's almostlaughable right but these are our leaders these are the people formulating policy so zoltan what policies would yourecommend that the united states enact that we're not currently enacting well i think the very first policy andthe one i really ran on was the majority of you know i think why my campaign actually did very well is i hadsuggested that we reduce the budget for the military and the defense and defense american defense by 50and allocate all that money to health care and technology and science so instead of an industrialmilitary-industrial complex let's create a science industrial complex and that would filter out in so many ways thatwould filter out culturally everybody would say okay we're no longer this you know war-mongering nation now we're ascience mongering nation which is so much better and i think it's really a matter of budget you know 20 percent ofthe gdp still remains for defense and i think you know the point of the story is if you spend that for science you spendthat for health care we could take care of real wars we have a war against cancer we have a war against alzheimer'swe have a war against disease out there that we should be fighting and we could win if we put the resources there sothat's that would be my very first policy is reduce the budget of the military take the spare money and put it directly into science which woulddefinitely help america more than i can think of anything else right now well you know i imagine that's going to get a lot of votesyeah um the military-industrial complex right but umzoltan it's interesting you know that you were studying at oxford you know you're studying ethics but you're alsostudying philosophy because um you know i i want to get into that after the after the break in terms of wherethis takes us philosophically as well but um in in the in in the time that you'vebeen in the transhumanist community what progress have we made here that you cansort of identify you know either societally or in terms of policy that isstarting to see real benefit well i i think for one thing since i've been around maybe 10 years in the insort of the public life my novel the transfumous wager came out and that sort of pushed me to this publicity uh iguess level of publicity um we sort of have been tackling disabilities they are actually being um uh eliminated to someextent people are getting better for example you had an arm shut off into 2010 the neural systems weren't veryfunctional back then now people can get an arm shot off and still start playing the piano with the robotic arm so youare seeing things like that take place i think a lot of the technologies are still in their infancy genetic editingwe've had a few you know like they had the thing in china where they did something with the two daughters and tried to get rid of hiv but then thewhole world came down with the moratorium and it was kind of like swash i wish we would move forward with some of these ideas even if there are risksto some individuals because the broader implications for the public could be massive in terms of saving lives andsaving uh you know saving people from death and so i think in the real world transhumanism as a community has grown alot it's grown as a movement you hear it all the time but a lot of the best technologies are still out thereprobably in the next five to 15 years with brain interface with some of the actual advancements that the fda isgoing to pass with genetic editing those things are going to start really changing our lives i wish i had morepositivity to say here but a lot of it is still you know in research and tryingto get through the governmental system so that it can be implemented in our lives before we go to break i want to ask youone last question so we've had a couple different speakers talking about the future on the show who were concernedabout the emotional response to the future in particular john hagel who's the legend you know in terms of hisability to forecast digital change and network change and he's now focused his entire consulting practice this is a guywho ran a big chunk of deloitte and a big big chunk of mckinsey he's changed his entire consulting practice now tofocus on emotional responses fear of the future talk about fear of the future because many of the conceptsyou're sharing right now they're going to instill a fear response and some of the folks that are hearing about it wellto be honest i think a lot of fear comes from your cultural baggage um or if you're uh let's say a born-againchristian then you really don't want to chip in anywhere in your body especially not in your brain or anything like thatand even if you're somebody who's not doesn't have any kind of cultural baggage you still need still may be afraid ofyou know cameras all over the place that are taking away your privacy i feel like oneof the big problems in society is not looking at the history it's really clear when you look at the historyhistory shows that the world has gotten better people's lives are longer there's more prosperity less people are dying atbirth people are happier and it's always because science and technology has made it that way there are vaccines there arethis there's that and people's lives get better you can see it on any kind of grass any kind of scale so you just haveto think no matter how crazy the technology is that graph and scale is going to continue now believe me when weintroduced anesthesia and all these other things and fire whatever it was people freaked out they thought oh thisis magic and witchcraft it's always magic and witchcraft but the historical scale shows that things are gettingbetter our lives are getting better and that's what we need to base our our content and base our feelings on itthat we can trust science and technology after hundreds and hundreds of years of making the human race a better placeyeah this is the story of humanity we suffer for millions of years then we finally figure out a way to kind ofincrementally make it a little bit better and people can resist that they cling to the past it's like what we know theyclean they clean they resist resist and then finally the science gets a little bit better and now it can be implementedand what do you know long behold it works and then we immediately take it for granted and then we complain about it when it doesn't work you know iexperienced that when i was doing mobile video at first uh in in 1999 people thought putting a video on a phone wasridiculous i got kicked out of people's offices because they told me i was out of my mind by 2001 it was a thing smallbut here it is 20 years later and now everybody's using video on their mobile phone to communicate and we totally takeit for granted but in the beginning it was preposterous and that movement from preposterous to possible to probableto now we take it for granted and it's fully deployed i think it's quite an interesting time it only takes about 20 years for this stuff tograb hold and to really go to mass scale let's take a quick break you'relistening to the futurists i'm brett king and my co-host rob tursek and we are interviewingzoltan estevan ran for president twice and he's a trans humanist we'll be right back after thisbreak [Music] welcome to breaking banks the number oneglobal fintech radio show and podcast i'm brett king and i'm jason henricks every week since2013 we explored the personalities startups innovators and industry players driving disruption in financial servicesfrom incumbents to unicorns and from cutting edge technology to the people using it to help create a moreinnovative inclusive and healthy financial future i'm jp nichols and thisis breaking bankshey there welcome back to the futurists i'm rob terczyk with co-host brett king and this week we are interviewing zoltanistvan and zoltan is a is a futurist about as hardcore futures as you can possibly imagineone of the main concepts that he has developed he's got a lot of interesting ideas if you look at his wikipedia pageyou can read about all of them one of the ones i want to bring up is about immortality and transcending thelimitations of human life and the acronym here is tef and it stands for teleological egocentricfunctionalism so zoltan tell us a little bit about the tef sure well tess is is the philosophythat's based in my novel the transhumas wager and basically it's just kind of broken down through the words teleological means something that's ofdesign egocentric means it's based on the individual and functionalism means it's rational and reasonable and so it'syou know it's almost like a a fun version of the scientific method basically except for the differencebetween maybe the scientific method and this is that it inherently tests inherently believes that there isa design in the universe not one that's done by god not one that's necessarily done by any kind of spiritual thing butit's this design that we are improving no matter how you look at the universe um things are organizing in a way to getus to a place that's more complex than where we came from and that place for many transhumanists the very first stopis to try to overcome death and the reason we want to overcome death is because we love life we think life isgreat we don't want to you know we just don't want to die and then then it's kind of gone forever we spend our 80 years here so tef's first and kind offoremost uh thing that advocates for is really that in this design in this evolution of humanity humanity intowhatever kind of trans human being we're going to become we're trying to overcome death biologically so that we cancontinue this journey of whatever we're going to go into it's sort of been this pursuit ofhumanity for the ages right um you know immortality you know the elixirs of lifethe fountain of youth this is this is if you like at the core of humanexistence it's like the ultimate um you know like you've got the big questionsof why are we here but ultimately the ultimate human existence is where we can remove death and so there are you knowas as we've debated there are sort of two paths to that there's there's biological immortality um but there isthe the easier path from a technology perspective may be technologicalimmortality um but where do you lie in terms of the issue where thatenhancing or augmenting humanity could potentially create two classes of humanbecause either based on the cost of these enhancements or augmentations orbased on say religious beliefs and or moral or ethical considerations some people may not want to be enhanced umand you could have like a fork of inhumanity in terms of our evolutionwell you know let me just say first i almost think we already are in two classes the the rich on average live 25longer than the poor and then the the things they have access to good clean food clean water housing it's alreadycompletely in my opinion an unfair system which is why i've been a big supporter of universal basic income butthat's another story but so i think um in the future though this might become worse and and inequality is growing sothere's really you know it's one of the things i've been telling people as much awesome technology as we createif half the world gets left behind and we create a dystopia we're going to look back and say oh we blew it you know soit's something like we all humanity has to go all together and you have to make all these technologiesavailable and don't be wrong i'm not like trying to defeat uh capitalism or things like that i'm just saying thatthere has to be a point when all of us actually improve uh the lives of everyone in in order so that we don'tend up the species that has destroyed like all the hollywood movies are just like that you know they always end withsome bad guy ruling the world that can't be the case in transhumanism i don't want to think that i spent my entirecareer defending transhumanism only to have a dystopia occur so there has to be some kind of government safeguards oreconomic policies in place that make it so that all of us go and that even if we are two classes um because i'm not surethat's unavoidable i would wish we could at least the the second class would have all the basics covered food housing theywould be very happy and again that's why i support a universal basic income but i am worried as well that we're going toend up in a dystopian there will be two classes and that's going to be up to people to look deep inside themselves and make the right choices it's it'svery yeah i think that that question of economics you know you've raised it soi'll throw it in there you know um we again rob and i talk about this frequently on the show but um you knowat a certain point in terms of human advancement there's only so much that capitalism andeconomics can do for us when it comes to these advances that humanity can makeand the advances we'll need to make just in terms of climate mitigation and resilience and food scarcity and all ofthose sorts of things they go almost beyond economic considerations that we mayneed to sort of think about you know what's the purpose of the economy if it's not to look after the basic needsof citizens um you know like you could argue that the american economy is the most successful economy the world's everseen but if you look at the basic needs of citizens then you could argue it's afailure right particularly in respect to health care and and so forth so from an economic policy perspectiveyou know in 20 or 30 years how do you see the whole transhumanist movementaffecting the way we think about capitalism and economics well you know i i think at the at the very core of it istechnology improving the world the more technology we have the better the world is going to be and the reason i thinkthat is because it's technology and science that cures the diseases it's a technology and science that might beable to reverse obesity which causes people to die early it's technology and science i mean you have friends who areworking on splicing their their skin with dna plant dna so that they can go out into the sun and photosynthesize maybe thereis a cure for the six thousand kids that are starving to death every day that isn't about growing more food butactually changing who they are so i think that the quicker we get to the transhumanist era the faster we're goingto be able to stop suffering worldwide across the world that comes a lot of it comes from our biology now that's rathergrandiose thinking and radical but in this sense it's been very conflicting for me because i want to get to thefuture as quickly as possible at the same time in the meantime i don't want to see all this suffering and this samething is happening at oxford when i just took an entire week of studies on the environment it's it's clear that we'rescrewing up the plan it's totally clear um with climate change but it's what's not so clear is how much we should spendon fixing the environment with new radical technologies geoengineering bioengineering all these other thingsand that's what is actually one of the big debates right now at oxford is not do we reduce our global footprint but dowe actually just put all our money and energy into technological fixes and i have the same thing with humanity andtranshumanism do we try to get everyone to the transfumous age as quickly as possible will that mitigate thesuffering the least or do we try to slow down and actually make it that everyone's lives is better i don't havethe right answer yet it's just a big debate uh you know i think if you want if if you want to define what a futurist is ithink you've defined it right there which is we're all in a hurry to get to the future we're just trying to figureout what's the safest and most ethical way to get there you know and people are going to take differentpaths i mean there's no way to control it in fact i think as i listen to you zoltan i hear you sayingthat there's a role for government to play and some of the folks listening to this might sort of react to that becausewe've been primed to react to any definition of government being active or taken a role in industrial policy forinstance in a negative way because we've been indoctrinated for 50 years with this neoliberal concept uh that you knowgovernment should be small enterprise should be free markets should be free and so forththat's been the dominant if you say you know economic theory but you can actually say it's kind of the dominant philosophy of governing right we'vewe've turned the whole uh perspective of government into an economic exercise it's all cost and benefit and should wespend here and should we not spend there um where i don't think prior to the 70sthat was how they viewed government government was there to check on the wildness of business you know the more uh the more radical impulses ofbusiness and business was out of control i think at this stage right now with global companies that you know so largethat their their their on valuations exceed the gdp of most countries on the planeti think it's safe to say we're back in the gilded age right we're now in a technological yielded age and these countries are hard to manage theythey're they're almost unregulated kim stanley robinson calls them umtransnational corporations i think that's a great way of thinking because they transcend sort of nationalboundaries and nationals yeah i call them globe spanning information empires right they are empires they'reaccountable to nobody the us government is having a very difficult time formulating regulatory policy it's anopen question of whether you know our federal trade commission can even regulate the companies at this scaleso uh we're right in the middle of politics philosophy and economics and i want to turn it back to zoltan to tellme a little bit more about your philosophy of government and your philosophy about free markets how do you respond to a free marketeer who says ohyou're just a guy you're shill for big government do you want to control business well i think one of the the big and youkind of mention this is one of the the most important laws in the books is our uhview of how we deal with monopolies i also agree with you that technology companies have simply become too largeunmanageable they just can't even be regulated and i think maybe what we need is and this wouldn't you know thebillionaires don't necessarily have to hate this idea because in the end of the day it's not whether they have one giantcompany it's a question of whether they have maybe three or four big companies but i do think the government should step in with strongeranti-monopolistic practices that would keep companies smaller and keep themmore nimble and let a lot of the startups in silicon valley actually have a chance to make it not necessarily bebought out and this kind of environment this kind of playing field would be far better for the average consumer in myopinion than these giant monopolies have become so big they're bigger than countries and you're right they can't beregulated anymore and then they have often people at the very top of the chain of command whether it's elon muskor mark zuckerberg or whatever that are just to my you know opinion eccentric and and not necessarily you know doingthe best for humanity i want people at the they're uninformed about philosophy they have noknowledge of ethics they demonstrate no ability to implement ethics in their business or manage that process and theyseem to be amoral in the sense that they're just about hey we can do this and we're not even going to think about the pros and cons or you know maybe thearguments again government's just going to become ai it's just going to be a down in the future that's the best wayyou know but that that process you say that bret but but how many people want algorithmic justice i mean anyone who'sdealt with the legal system knows that that is a very complicated and nuanced set of arguments right uh there's no ai thatcould handle a court case right now yeah no i i tend i tend to think that the way to do this is when companiesbecome too big they just need to be stopped and people need to say look you need to break off into other companieswith new leadership and you know as an entrepreneur myself it's like yes that sucks but i'm still going to beable to make all the money that i want to make it's just not going to be as easy and yet for the consumer that mightmake all the difference because instead of one google you might have four different kinds of search engines who are then competing and making theprocess better and who knows maybe with that kind of competition people the companies might become even bigger and better than they had it's really just aquestion of because i've got to be honest like given how i i'm a believer at this point that social media might beakin to something like smoking i bet in 10 15 years we're gonna wake up and say wow uh this is actually sort of adisease and we need to regulate it on a real way because it's hurting people's lives like i see my mother who's 75years old and she's on facebook and she believes what she reads it wasn't designed and they know that and maybeyou and i and brett don't think that way but there are so many millions of americans that are being trueand i feel like somebody needs to step in and say just like they stepped in with smoking hey this is bad for youit's bad for the country it's causing division we're gonna we're on the brink of sometimes it seems like a civil warthis can't be good so therefore it needs to be stopped and i think in that way this is where a lot of my sort oflibertarian inclinations fall apart because i say wow you know we need someone to step in and make it so thatwe don't destroy ourselves just so someone else can make a dollar the broader context of sort of thetranshumanist movement and these things you're talking about setting policy you know reaching consensus working out whatis good for humanity what is bad for humanity um you know the humanity plusuh movement and so forth there's been some contention around this so you know one of the greatest challenges we've gotis just formulating ethics when you have such like just look at the abortion issue in the united statesright now trying to get an agreement on what the ethics of you knowearly life is and you know and birth and women's uh bodily autonomy and thosesort of things just the ethics of that is a massive minefield how do we create an ethical you know how do we getconsensus on ethics when it comes to things like human augmentation neural chips you know all of those sort ofthings well i think to begin with you really need to take it more seriously and that's a a tough call because how do youget someone to take more seriously but if you had somebody a president really cared about this they might say you knowgo on national television say you know what country's coming to a challenging time we're seeing china do these crazythings that are ourselves as well let's form a committee or let's form some kind of exploration of this stuff maybe anorganization like nasa except specifically that targets ethics simply i mean this is you know i'm part of theuh center of uh practical ethics at oxford and that's what you know julian savalesko did when he founded thatinstitute he's like wow the world needs more ethics and so hopefully we will come to a time when we have a lot morepeople dealing and asking these questions but right now everything's being so politicized that i'm i kind offeel like a lot of the ethics is getting drowned out and the field of ethics is just not keeping up with moore's lawwhich is kind of the fundamental problem is technology and science grow far quicker than we can even think about wecan't do enough podcasts to to talk about these issues because in silicon valley the next generation of chip isalready being born and it changes the dynamics of the conversation we're having today and that i don't have anyanswer for i just know we need more ethicists let's talk about the singularity becausewhere all this leads to this arms racist competition this ever increasing pace of innovationuh this all points to some form of super intelligence tell me a little bit about your view onthe singularity well sure you know the transsuma's view is that the singularity is this time when artificial intelligence becomes sosophisticated that first off our understanding of it can know is no longer possible it's just way beyond ourhuman understanding and you know someone i think david kelly have wired and said uh you know the next five minutes willbe more complicated of history the next five minutes than the entire historical uh time before that so we're talkingabout massive change in the singularity that is way beyond our three pounds of meat that we carry on our shoulders andfor this reason it's kind of a quasi uh spiritual concept in the transfumous community we'd speak about it like whoknows what's going to happen well there'll be things like technological resurrection where you're able to reyou know maybe either go back in time or refig configure reverse engineer atomic matter and print out dead people thatonce were alive just as they once were i mean crazy weird concepts in our transhumanist community but the point isit's really a fun thing to think about and if ray kurzweil is right um you know it probably is at some point in the next50 years we will come to a point when these machines become so sophisticated artificial intelligence that they keepgrowing and they simply leave us behind and if we're not merged with them and this is the key about the singularity ifyou want to take place in singularity you're going to have to upload or at least have a cyborg mind that cankeep up with it because if you can't then you're going to miss it completely and it could be happening in the blink of an eye i like ian banks banks'sapproach to this in the culture novels i think that melding of you know technology and biology and you know thethe the culture series is is what i would like to envisage is the sort of perfect balance between those two worldsand also you know you you had those technologically advanced humans the augmented humans that you know saw thatsaw their um responsibility of taking care of you know these other human cultures that were sort of more naturalhumans as well but let's let's get a bit more sci-fi here zoltan we've got about you know we'vegot a few minutes left in the podcast because that wasn't sci-fi enough [Laughter]it's all been sci-fi this one's great this is a great episode um uh you know looking out 30 to 50 yearsum obviously the ability to download consciousness into a you know a digitalconstruct to to use a digital avatar of ourselves whether in the in the metaverse or the meat versus as uhothers call it and so forth all of that but what technologies or what advancementsthat humanity is set to make most excites you about the future what do youthink um you know in terms of what individual things or collectively could reallychange the way we view the human species and sort of our purpose as a speciessure well let me just say um you know for your listeners that uh there's a documentary that came out in one of mypresidential campaigns called immortality or bust and uh it juxtaposed this when i was driving a coffin acrossthe country with my father dying at the same time here i was trying to spread life extension my father was dying andmy father died from his fifth heart attack and so what really i i thinkattracts me is even though i speak a lot of ai and technology is really when weget the 3d bio printing and stem cell technologies the ability to re recreate ourselves you know had myfather been able to kind of had his own heart printed out or even an artificial heart he might still be here alive todayand since a quarter of us are going to die from heart disease this is massive but it's not just heart disease it's most people die from organ failure sodefinitely i'm believing in the next 15 to 25 years there will routinely bebioprinted organs that we put in our bodies that allow us to live a lot longer and that's going to be wonderfulbut the in the in the greater scheme of things we're going to have to get away from biology and into something thatincorporates um 1 0 silicone probably graphene graphene is a lot better than silicone and so that will be thatprobably the new material the future less we come up with another one and i think we're gonna either be uploadourselves and continue to have biological selves here or maybe the upload itself will help us and maybeit's not a perfect upload maybe it's some kind of compilation of ourselves but the point is i'd say within 50 yearsi would be very surprised if we don't have little angels on our shoulders that are almost our identical personalitiesmaybe making really good decisions for us they might be in our head they may be just through a chip implant they may bewatching us all over because we have cameras or scanners and things like this but don't be surprised if there's a lotof roberts and a lot of brett's and a lot of zoltans walking around helping us do the kind of things that we're doingincluding maybe attending meetings and putting on podcasts so i see one people think people don't talk about is theythink oh i don't want to have more than one me out there but i actually think it's going to be very useful from a workperspective is from a philosophical perspective to have many of us out there even if they're just digital copies thatare imperfect and so i see in a 50-year future given ai given brain implants given um uploading possibilities thatthere will be a lot more humans it just won't be physical form it'll be much more digital and those digitalswill have lives of their own sort of like family members that bring back maybe goods commerce ideas art thingslike that and so in the future i see a lot more population just not necessarilyof ourselves our own you know mini knees i guess but um it's it's going to beradical in that sense and i think it's something that a lot of people don't think about they don't realize that if they had a chance to upload themselvesthey wouldn't just upload one version themselves for survival reasons they might upload 100 and that's really goingto change the dynamics almost like traffic in los angeles something like that think of it in terms of wow thecrowds let's let's build on that and expand it because of course we're what we're leaving out of this equation right nowyou're talking about people replicating themselves perhaps in silicon perhaps in graphene or some other substratecool concept but let's not forget we're already hyper networked we've been hyper network now for 20 years that's a bakedin expectation that people have and those digital selves will be living on the network and they'll be hypernetworked and so we arrive at the possibility of a networked mind and if you want to look for one eventthat would really rapidly set apart the people who are hyper networked and have backed up their brains to the computerto the cloud separate them from the people who don't want that kind of technological enhancementsum the network mind is going to do it because suddenly you have insect access to an ever growing and ever increasingnumber of minds and you'd have thereby kind of a force multiplier on what a human mind's capable of and no doubt there would alsobe an artificial intelligence uh augmentation as well and so you'll have like superhumansuh superhumans who are hyper might have multiple cells uh that's a scary idea i think for somepeople but for other people it's exhilarating right like you want to get there and you'd be faced with that choice you can imagine you know youwould go to like the brain backup clinic and they'd say okay would you like to network your mind or not check the box and you're like why not right like youcould choose not to if you want to keep your stuff personal but why not get superpowers why not connect with all theminds it's like longevity treatments it's the same thing as like you know like you know the longevity treatmentslike you know that question should i get it you know my next visit to the doctor or not it's like why wouldn't you get alongevity treatment if it improves your long-term health the bioprinting stuff all of that i think you know that'seventually where you run to yeah i mean you have a scenario the rich methuselahs though these like ancient geriatricswalking around who've been backed up and have all the power and money and you know and i don't know that's a kind ofweird idea the world populated with these hundred year olds or 200 year old people but it's possible yeah no and i i mean iwould personally do it i just don't know if i would want to stay there indefinitely i'm much more like aboutconnecting with one other person i would love to like the the future of love could be so amazing because you mightactually be in someone's mind and maybe you can then exit when you want but uh i'm thinking in terms of soul mate kindof connections that could be incredible what technology could actually do and i think for religious people could be great you might actually be able tocommune in real time with you know with your god or something like that there's so many different things and the samething with you know if you're uh you know doing a phd in archaeology you might be able to immerse your brain inall the archaeological inventions or ideas that have ever been done and be an expert on it in a very short time andthen really be the best in your field i mean so the future of these things is amazing um but the privacy issues are sowild and scary that i think that's really what's going to keep a lot of people from saying you know a lot of theethics is up at night trying to figure out what do we do about that yeah so i knowi know we're running out of time but i just got a couple of questions i want to wrap up with obviously what we can do tohelp the trans humanist movement and raise awareness but um where does this fit into um the wholemulti-planetary um species thing you know obviously you know we could youknow our digital cells or our like technologically enhanced cells may be better adapted adapted at living outsideof the planet well i think most trans humans want to get off planet i certainly do i think that's one of the great things about itbut i think uh you know in in in real time what i would like to do is you know i i don't know if you know my historybut i sailed for seven years mostly around the world i was alone on the boat a lot and it was just amazing going country to country reading books i dreamof a day when i can go from planet to planet in my own little spaceship so that that that could be a possibilitythrough transhumanist technology and all of us then have this new world of exploration the human race is expandingoff planet that's perfect um but i i i i think you know whether it's a digitalself or not i don't know if i feel very happy that my digital self is out there enjoying all this stuff and not me rightright that creates the conundrum as well because you're like then the digital self really isn't me it's almost like mybrother but uh you know i mean it's better than nothing i suppose but that's really realistic i mean ifwe're talking about if we can put a a realistic quotient on this discussion uhyou know look all space exploration that's happening right now is being done by robotic systems we have a space station but they're notreally in outer space they're in low orbit you know so they're not really doing space exploration you know theunited states and other countries have given up on that um and that's because of the life support systems for biological bodies that's what most ofthe payload is when you launch a rocket into space so it seems quite quite feasible or plausible i guess tosay that well if you can back yourself up onto silicon and you can send that personality out that's the way humansare going to get to other uh other galaxies mars is solely inhabited by artificialrobots and you know tele-operated machines now yeah so yeah that's rightno human consciousness and and we i totally support that i just would be sad thatit's my digital version or robotic version and not me but then maybe maybe they'll beable to figure it out or maybe by then you could commune directly with that entity out there and you're thinking thesame thoughts as one of the same so uh you know who knows how it'll end up but i thinkum either way it's gonna be very interesting and it's good times it kind of brings us back to the pointbrett was making at the beginning of the show which is if there is uh alien lifeit's probably an ai it's probably an ai and it's a machine rather than a biological systemwow okay hey great fun talking to you zoltan thanks for joining us so what you know how do people find outmore about you and the you know the transhumanist movement in general well with the transfumous movement ithink it's just best to google it there's news that comes out every day but there's a ton of facebook groups uhmaybe a hundred on uh on facebook so they're all transhumanism with some big groups and with my work you can justgoogle's old tennis phone or my website sultanichon.com or i'm on all social media and i try to post every daysomething about transhumanism so i'm there you can find it of course uh if your listeners want just try to amazonprime picked up this documentary immortality or bust about one of my presidential campaigns driving a giant coffin across thecountry it's a lot of fun it's very sad because my father dies but it really gives a good introduction because wetravel across the country meeting all the transhumanists and that's really what the movie uh was about so that wasa lot of fun if you want to ever watch on amazon prime super zoltan ishvan thank you forjoining the futurists this week we've really enjoyed the conversation thank you so much for having me[Music] well that's it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hopeyou did please 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