James Hughes Ph.D.
Public Policy Studies
71 Vernon St.
Hartford, CT 06106
An earlier, but substantially different, version of this essay was published in Transhumanity, April 28, 2002
Biopolitics is emerging as an axis of modern politics alongside economic politics and cultural politics. Transhumanists, people who embrace technologies that extend and enhance regardless of their effect on “natural” life spans, limitations or social institutions, are the progressive end of the new biopolitical continuum. BioLuddites, who call for bans on technologies that threaten the “natural,” are conservative end of the new biopolitics.
But biopolitics only complicates the preexisting political landscape, they doesn’t supplant it. There are Christian fundamentalists, centrists and socialist-feminists forming alliances to to oppose human genetic engineering and nanotechnology. But the transhumanists are, so far, much less diverse, mostly adhering to one or another flavor of libertarianism. Democratic transhumanists, pro-scitech social democrats or Left technoutopians are conspicuously absent from their theoretical niche in this new political landscape. This essay is an attempt to identify democratic transhumanists and urge their coalescence.
Democratic transhumanism stems from the assertion that human beings will generally be happier when they take rational control of the natural and social forces that control their lives. Faith in science and democracy was more closely linked in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and technoutopian radicals dominated its shadow, the romantic Left Luddites. Since World War Two however Luddism has superceded technooptimism on the Left, while libertarians have become the leading champions of technology. Luddism has also risen to ascendence in Western bioethics, which has a professional interest in fear-mongering about new technologies. President Bush’s new Bioethics Commission and the struggle over embryo use in research makes clear the increasingly important role that bioethicists will play in the emerging biopolitics.
I argue why democrats should embrace science, technology and transhumanism: (1) left Luddism inappropriately equates technologies with the power relations around those technologies; democratic technology policy requires an acknowledgement of the potential benefits of technology, not simply a futile effort to slow all technological innovation. (2) Technology can help us transcend some of the fundamental causes of inequalities of power. (3) Left Luddism is boring and depressing; it has no energy to inspire movements to create a new and better society.
Then I argue that the libertarian transhumanists need to engage with democracy since (1) state action is required to address catastrophic threats from transhumanist technologies; (2) only believable and effective state-based policies to prevent catastrophic consequences from new technologies will reassure skittish publics that they do not have to be banned; (3) social policies must explicitly address public concerns that biotechnology will exacerbate social inequality; (4) monopolistic practices and overly restrictive intellectual property law can seriously delay the development of transhuman technologies, and restrict their access; (5) only alliances with other cultural and biological minorities, and a strong liberal democratic society and state can ensure that posthumans are not persecuted; and (6) libertarian transhumanists are inconsistent in arguing for the free market on the grounds of its evolved “naturalness” when transhumanists are champions of the artificial.
Finally, I present a eleven-point program for democratic transhumanists: (1) Build the transhumanist movement, (2) Guarantee morphological freedom and bodily autonomy, (3) Defend scientific research from Luddite bans, while embracing legitimate safety and efficacy regulations, (4) Protect scientific access to knowledge from overly aggressive intellectual property law, (5) Expand federal funding for research into transhuman technologies, (6) Create national health plans which include transhuman tech, (7) Expand federal support to education, (8) Provide job retraining and an income to the structurally unemployed, (9) Solidarize with sexual, cultural, and racial minorities, especially with morphological minorities such as the disabled and transgendered, (10) Support rights for Great Apes, dolphins and whales, (11) Strengthen democratic world government.
Politics of the 21st Century
Political movements in the industrialized world in the 20th century have been defined by two broad axes, economic politics and cultural politics. Economic conservatives are generally opposed to the social welfare state, trade unions, taxation, business regulation and economic redistribution. Economic progressives generally favor all these measures. Cultural conservatives are generally nationalists, ethnic chauvinists or racists, religious conservatives, and opponents of women’s equality, sexual freedom and civil liberties. Cultural progressives are secular, educated, cosmopolitan, and supporters of civil liberties and minority rights. Being situated along one of these dimensions has predicted well one’s position on a variety of other issues on that dimension, but has not predicted well one’s position on the other axis. The issues within each axis have developed an ideological consistency that held them together.
In Table One below, movements and parties can be parsed into one corner or another of the terrain, or the many points in between.
The emergence of biotechnological controversies, however, is giving rise to a new axis, not entirely orthogonal to the previous dimensions but certainly distinct and independent of them. I call this new axis biopolitics, and the ends of its spectrum are transhumanists (the progressives) and, at the other end, the bio-Luddites or bio-fundamentalists. Transhumanists welcome the new biotechnologies, and the choices and challenges they offer, believing the benefits can outweigh the costs. In particular, they believe that human beings can and should take control of their own biological destiny, individually and collectively enhancing our abilities and expanding the diversity of intelligent life. Bio-fundamentalists, however, reject genetic choice technologies and “designer babies,” “unnatural” extensions of the life span, genetically modified animals and food, and other forms of hubristic violations of the natural order. While transhumanists assert that all intelligent “persons” are deserving of rights, whether they are human or not, the biofundamentalists insist that only “humanness,” the possession of human DNA and a beating heart, is a marker of citizenship and rights.
The biopolitical spectrum is still emerging, starting first among intellectuals and activists. Self-described “transhumanists” and “Luddites” are the most advanced and self-conscious of an emerging wave of the public’s ideological crystallization. We are at the same place in the crystallization of biopolitics as left-right economic politics was when Marx helped found the International Workingmen’s Association in 1864, or when the Fabian Society was founded in England in 1884: intellectuals and activists struggling to make explicit the battle lines that are already emerging, before popular parties have been organized and masses rallied to their banners.
The new biopolitics will not supplant the older political axes, but rather will another dimension of complexity to contemporary politics. As in Figure 2 below, we will find biopolitical alliances that crosscut all of our previous alliances, and various amalgams of biopolitics with economic and cultural conservatism.
A peculiarity of current biopolitics however is that while bio-conservatives have formed alliances from right to left to oppose cloning, stem cell research, genemod food, and other biotech innovations, until very recently the majority of transhumanists have been libertarians. As a consequence, issues of equality and solidarity get scant attention from defenders of biotechnological choice and progress. This essay is an attempt to address that gap, and to argue for a “democratic transhumanism.” Democratic transhumanism is more than a missing permutation of political ideas, but also the natural extension of the ideas of the Enlightenment, and the rationalist and radical democratic tradition it birthed.
Democratic transhumanism stems from the assertion that human beings will generally be happier when they take rational control of the natural and social forces that control their lives. This fundamental humanistic assertion has led to two intertwined sets of Enlightenment values: the democratic tradition with its values of liberty, equality, solidarity and collective self-governance, and to the belief in reason and scientific progress, that human beings can use reason and technology to improve the conditions of life.
Within the democratic tradition there are many variants emphasizing various combinations and interpretations of liberty, equality and solidarity. The new Right represents the most minimal interpretation of the democratic mandate, rejecting any extension of liberty, equality or solidaristic social policies. The libertarian tradition seeks to expand personal and economic liberty, but to the exclusion of social policies to ameliorate inequality or democratize economic power.
The fullest interpretation of the democratic ideals of liberty, equality and solidarity is found in the social democratic tradition. As Amartya Sen has ably argued, true freedom for real people (as opposed to abstract Lockeian free men) requires access to health care, universal education, and the amelioration of social inequality. Social democracy pursues economic equality, the democratic control of economic forces, and solidaristic social policies, as well as personal and civil liberties and minority rights. The struggle for the most radical interpretation of democracy, of a deepening of liberty, equality and solidarity, is expressed in modern social democracy.
Technoutopianism and the Left
The other strain of the Enlightenment, the belief in science, reason and human progress, has been a natural complement at the philosophical level to the democratic tradition. Science and democracy are the right and left hands of what Marx called the move from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. The advances in science helped delegitimate the rule of kings and the power of the church.
Nineteenth century socialists, feminists and democrats were therefore also generally champions of reason and science. Technoutopianism, atheism, and scientific rationalism have been associated with the democratic, revolutionary and utopian left for most of the last two hundred years. Radicals like Joseph Priestley pursued scientific investigation while championing democracy and freedom from religious tyranny. Robert Owens, Fourier and Saint-Simon in the early nineteenth century inspired communalists with their visions of a future scientific and technological evolution of humanity using reason as its religion. The Oneida community, America’s longest-lived nineteenth century “communist” group, practiced extensive eugenic engineering through arranged breeding. Radicals seized on Darwinian evolution to validate the idea of social progress. Bellamy’s socialist utopia in Looking Backward, which inspired hundreds of socialist clubs in the late nineteenth century U.S. and a national political party, was as highly technological as Bellamy’s imagination. For Bellamy and the Fabian Socialists, socialism was to be brought about as a painless corollary of industrial development.
Marx and Engels saw more pain and conflict involved, but agreed about the inevitable end. Marxists argued that the advance of technology laid the groundwork not only for the creation of a new society, with different property relations, but also for the emergence of new human beings reconnected to nature and themselves. At the top of the agenda for empowered proletarians was “to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.” The nineteenth and twentieth century Left, from social democrats to Communists, were focused on industrialization, economic development and the promotion of science, reason and the idea of progress.
The Estrangement of Technology and the Left
So why did these two strains of thought become estranged in the late 20th century? Why are so many contemporary social democrats, feminists, and Greens suspicious and hostile to biotechnologies, computers and science in general? The answer probably starts with the left-romantic traditions that grew up in reaction to modern technology. William Morris’ pastoralist visions of a deindustrialized socialism, Luddite machine-wrecking by the proto-worker’s movement, and absorption into pseudo-science, spiritualism and back-to-land communalism by bohemian radicals were all reactions to capitalism. The romantics and Luddites associated technology with capitalism, and thought that they could create a healthier, more egalitarian society only by fighting the new technologies. In fact, in the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels specifically warns against clerical, aristocratic and petit-bourgeois socialists who advance pastoralism and pre-industrial production as the cure to social ills.
But it wasn’t until World War Two that the generally tight association of the Left with science, technology and reason began to be superceded by the romantic tradition. Left interest in re-engineering the nature of Man was silenced by Nazi eugenics. The gas chambers revealed that modern technology could be used by a modern state for horrific uses, and the atomic bomb posed a permanent technological threat to humanity’s existence. The ecological movement suggested that industrial activity was threatening all life on the planet, while the anti-nuclear power movement inspired calls for renunciation of specific types of technology altogether. The counter-culture attacked positivism, and lauded pre-industrial ways of life. While the progressives and New Dealers had built the welfare state to be a tool of reason and social justice, the New Left joined cultural conservatives and free-market libertarians in attacking it as a stultifying tool of oppression, contributing to the general decline in faith in democratic governments.
Intellectual trends such as deconstruction began to cast doubt on the “master narratives” of political and scientific progress, while cultural relativism eroded progressives’ faith that industrialized secular liberal democracies were in fact superior to pre-industrial and Third World societies. As the Left gave up on the idea of a sexy, high-tech vision of a radically democratic future, libertarians became associated with technological progress. Techno-enthusiasm on the Left was supplanted by pervasive Luddite suspicion about the products of the corporate consumerist machine. Celebrating technology was something GE and IBM did in TV ads to cover up their complicity in napalming babies. Activists fight the machine.
Bioethics, Technology and Democratic Values
During this period, philosophers and theologians began to address themselves to emerging ethical issues in medicine and biological research, giving birth to the field of bioethics. Although many of the early participants in the field were motivated by theology, the field quickly adopted a set of secular, liberal democratic values and principles as their basic consensual starting place. Most notably, Beauchamp and Childress have argued for the now broadly popular core bioethical principles of autonomy, justice and beneficence, which are direct corollaries of liberty, equality and solidarity.
In the seventies, countering the pervasive hysteria about in vitro fertilization and genetic engineering, and the theological warnings about playing God, there were occasional secular humanist voices such as John Fletcher who argued that humans have a right to control their own genetics. But the focus of most bioethicists’ attention was on protecting patients from unethical scientific research and overly aggressive applications of end-of-life care, protecting the public from science and technology rather than securing their rights to it. As bioethics matured it became clear that professional bioethicists gained far more traction by exacerbating the public’s Luddite anxieties than by assuaging them. If cloning is really just the creation of delayed twins, and not a profound threat to everything we hold dear, who is going to fund bioethics conferences to address it, and empower bioethicists to forbid scientific research into cloning?
Today most bioethicists, informed by and contributing to the growing Luddite orientation in left-leaning arts and humanities faculties, start from the assumption that new biotechnologies are being developed in unethical ways by a rapacious medical-industrial complex, and will have myriad unpleasant consequences for society, especially for women and the powerless. Rather than emphasizing the liberty and autonomy of individuals who may want to adopt new technologies, or arguing for increased equitable access to new biotechnologies, balancing attention to the “right from” technology with attention to the “right to” technology, most bioethicists see it as their responsibility to slow the adoption of biotechnology altogether.
Bioethics is proto-biopolitics. As public debate and biopolitical ideologies crystallize and polarize, bioethicists will increasingly be revealed as partisan activists rather than experts applying universally accepted ethical principles. In fact, the mask has already seriously slipped. While President Clinton’s Presidential Bioethics Commissison was broadly representative of academic bioethics, the political design of President Bush’s Bioethics Commission is quite naked. Bush chose Leon Kass as Grand Vizier of his committee, a man who is opposed to every intervention into human reproduction from in vitro fertilization to reproductive cloning, capping the ascendance of Luddism in bioethics. Kass in turn stacked the committee with both conservative bioethicists, such as Mary Ann Glendon and Gilbert Meilander, and conservatives with little or no connection to academic bioethics, such as Francis Fukuyama and Charles Krauthammer. The current campaign of the Bush administration and Kass’ committee is to criminalize the use of embryos and embryo cloning in research.
Although the backbone of opposition to stem cell research using embryos research comes from the right-to-life movement, the Christian Right has been joined by the Left bio-Luddites. Jeremy Rifkin, long a gadfly organizing left-right coalitions to oppose gene patenting, cloning and surrogate motherhood, distributed a petition in March which was signed by more than a hundred prominent bioethicists and progressive activists implicitly endorsing the Republican-backed Brownback legislation in Congress to criminalize medical research using embryos. Fortunately, the coalition in support of embryo cloning research quickly contacted many of the signers and discovered they had no idea that they had endorsed the criminalization of medical research. Now pro- and anti-embryo cloning petitions for progressives and conservatives have proliferated, making clear both that biopolitics is orthogonal to the pre-existing political landscape, and that bioethics is increasingly a political, not merely academic, exercise.
Why Democrats Should Embrace Transhumanism
Luddism is a political dead-end for progressive politics. Progressives must revive the techno-optimist tradition if they want to achieve the goals of furthering liberty, equality and solidarity.
First, left Luddism inappropriately equates technologies with the power relations around those technologies. Technologies do not determine power relations, they merely create new terrains for organizing and struggle. Most new technologies open up new possibilities for both expanded liberty and equality, just as they open new opportunities for oppression and exploitation. Since the technologies will most likely not be stopped, democrats need to engage with them, articulate policies that maximize social benefits from the technologies, and find liberatory uses for the technologies. If biotechnology is to be rejected simply because it is a product of capitalism, adopted in class society, then every technology must be rejected. The mission of the Left is to assert democratic control and priorities over the development and implementation of technology. But establishing democratic control over technological innovation is not the same as Luddism. In fact, to the extent that advocates for the democratic control of technology do not guarantee benefits from technology, and attempt to suppress technology altogether, they will lose public support.
Second, technology can help us transcend some of the fundamental causes of inequalities of power. Although we will never eliminate inequalities of intelligence and knowledge, the day is not far off when all humans can be guaranteed sufficient intelligence to function as active citizens. One of the most important progressive demands will be to ensure universal access to genetic choice technologies which permit parents to guarantee their children biological capacities equal to those of other children. Technologically assisted birth, eventually involving artificial wombs, will free women from being necessary, vulnerable vessels for the next generation. Morphological freedom, the ability to change one’s body, including one’s abilities, weight, gender and racial characteristics, will reduce body-based oppressions (disability, fat, gender and race) to aesthetic prejudices.
Third, Left Luddism is boring and depressing; it has no energy to inspire movements to create a new and better society. The Left was built by people inspired by millenial visions, not by people who saw a hopeless future of futile existential protest. Most people do not want to live in a future without telecommunications, labor-saving devices, air travel and medicine. The Next Left needs to rediscover its utopian imagination if it is to renew itself, reconnect with the popular imagination, and remain relevant. The Next Left needs visionary projects worthy of a united transhuman world, such as guaranteeing health and longevity for all, eliminating work, and colonizing the Solar System.
Why Transhumanists Should Embrace Democratic Values
What reasons can we mobilize to convince generally libertarian transhumanists to embrace egalitarianism, majority rule and the social welfare state? The best argument would be a proof that social democracy maximizes social welfare better than the chimerical unfettered free-market. But this is also the most difficult argument, since it weighs actual existing states against as yet unobserved perfect markets. Of course, the democratic Left is not immune to this style of argument either, pitting actual existing capitalisms against idealized democratic socialisms. Unfortunately, when both sides restrict themselves to empirical comparisons of states and social policies there are too many mitigating circumstances to come to many conclusions other than that the complete elimination of markets or of states do not generally work very well. Political convictions are largely a matter of faith.
What then of arguments from within the transhumanist worldview?
First, state action is required to address catastrophic threats from transhumanist technologies. Most transhumanists acknowledge that nanotechnology, genetic engineering and artificial intelligence could cause catastrophes if used for terrorist or military purposes, or accidentally allowed to reproduce in the wild. Contemplation of these catastrophic scenarios has led prominent transhumanists, such as Max More the founder and president of the Extropy Institute, to move away from libertarianism and to endorse prophylactic government policies. Requiring nanotechnology firms to take out insurance against the accidental destruction of the biosphere just isn’t very practical. What insurance policy covers accidental destruction of the biosphere? How could the externalities of bioterrorism be internalized into a cost accounting of a gene therapy firm? Only governments are in a position to create the necessary levels of prophylaxis, and most transhumanists can agree on this point.
Second, only believable and effective state-based policies to prevent adverse consequences from new technologies will reassure skittish publics that they do not have to be banned. Because of the weakness of social democracy in the U.S., current technology policy is dominated by ignorant hysteria on one side and greed on the other, politicians feeding off of populist Luddite hysteria and corporate anti-regulatory lobbyists. Publics must be offered a choice other than that of unfettered free-market technology versus bans. If transhumanists do not acknowledge the legitimacy of regulation, and attempt to craft and support responsible legislation, they cede the field to the Luddites. These choices require strong social democratic governments, such as those of Europe, that can act independent of corporate interests and vocal extremists. We need a strong social democratic regulatory apparatus that does not block transhuman technologies for Luddite reasons, but that also will ensure that transhuman technologies are safe and effective. The case of cryonics shows how spectacular frauds or iatrogenic disasters can set back acceptance of transhuman technology altogether. Human enhancements must be proven safe before being used, but not held hostage to vague Luddite anxieties.
Third, social policies must explicitly address public concerns that biotechnology will exacerbate social inequality. Libertarian transhumanists have a forceful answer to the challenge that biotechnology will be used for totalitarian applications: in a liberal society, each individual will choose for themselves whether to adopt the technologies. But what is their answer to the threat of growing class polarization? Biotechnologies will make it possible for the wealthy to have healthier, stronger, more intelligent and longer-lived children. Overcoming popular resistance to technology will require not only assuring publics that they are safe and will not be forced on anyone, but also that there will be universal, equitable access to their benefits through public financing. In other words, genetic choice and enhancement technologies must be included in a national health insurance program.
Nanotechnology and artificial intelligence will also exacerbate inequality by contributing to structural unemployment through automation. Work will be increasingly unnecessary in the 21st century. If techno-optimists do not work to ameliorate structural unemployment through expansions in the welfare state, job retraining, establishing a shorter work-week and work-life, and a guaranteed social income, then we are likely to see the return of old-school Luddism, machine-smashing by the unemployed.
Fourth, monopolistic practices and overly restrictive intellectual property law can seriously delay the development of transhuman technologies, and restrict their access. Applications of intellectual property law that are over-generous to corporations may restrict access to information and tools in ways that slow innovation. By engaging with law and public policy, transhumanists can protect the public commons in biomedical information essential to the advance of science.
Fifth, only a strong liberal democratic state can ensure that posthumans are not persecuted. The posthuman future will be as threatening to unenhanced humans as gay rights or women’s liberation have been to patriarchs and homophobes, or immigrant rights are to nativists. While libertarian transhumanists may imagine that they will be able to protect themselves if they are well-armed and have superior reflexes, they will be severely outnumbered. Nor is civil war an attractive outcome. Rather transhumanists must understand their continuity with the civil rights movements of the past and work to build coalitions with sexual, cultural, racial and religious minorities to protect liberal democracy. We need a strong democratic state that protects the right of avantgarde minorities to innovate and experiment with their own bodies and minds.
Transhumanists must also come to some terms with congenial wing of the animal rights movement since, like animal rights, transhumanism is opposed to anthropocentrism. But rather than rights for all life, transhumanist ethics seeks to establish the solidarity of and citizenship for all intelligent life. Transhumanists look forward to a society in which humans, post-humans and intelligent non-humans are all citizens of the polity. Consistent with this would be the demands of the Great Ape Project for an extension of human level protections to the great apes.
Sixth, libertarian transhumanists are inconsistent in arguing for the free market. The dominant argument for the free market on the part of libertarian transhumanists comes from Hayek: that the market is a naturally evolved, emergent phenomenon without conscious guidance, which allocates resources better than planning. But the goal of transhumanism is precisely to supplant the natural with the planned, replacing chance with design. The key to transhumanism is faith in reason, not in nature.
In any case, the assertion that the market s naturally evolved while governance structures and polities are artificial impositions on nature is bad sociology. All functioning markets require norms, rules, laws, legislatures, police, courts and planning. All democratic polities require the action of millions of autonomous agents aggregating their interests, expressing themselves in voluntary behavior, and creating an emergent political system. The market is not any more natural than democracy, even if being “natural” was a transhumanist virtue.
Weaving a New Democratic Transhumanism
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transhumanists
At the 2003 Transvision conference Vanessa Foster, the chair of the National Transgender Acton Coalition, took the podium in the “The Future of Sex and Gender” workshop and announced that she was a pre-operative transsexual. Her presentation was built around the theme of the village mob’s attack on a misunderstood Frankenstein’s monster. Between images of beautiful transsexuals and stills from Frankenstein movies, Ms. Foster declared that transsexuals were the first transhumanists. As history we can debate the point, but as politics it was an historical moment. Transhumanism as a vanguard civil rights movement had arrived, and the stunned but open expressions on the faces of the largely straight male audience showed the work that transhumanists still needed to do to reach out to the disparate constituencies that will build democratic transhumanism.
There are many constituencies and ideological threads that need to woven into democratic transhumanism. First among them there are the disparate movements working to deepen our understanding of human rights to include the rights to control the body, such as transsexuals, the shock troops of transhumanism. Reproductive rights activists, who insist that women have subsidized access to reproductive and contraceptive technology, are natural allies of a democratic transhumanism. Although many feminists have been influenced by ecofeminist bioLuddism and left Luddite arguments about the danger of corporate technology, there is a broader feminist constituency that sees no contradiction between women’s empowerment and using technology to expand their control over their lives. Only a democratic transhumanism, which embraces the need for safety regulation, can respond adequately to the legitimate concerns about the dangers flags about medical technology raised for feminists by spectacular disasters like hormone replacement therapy.
An ideological thread that has grown in academia for the last twenty years, inspired by left feminists’ rejection of ecofeminist bioLuddism, is found in the cyborgology of Donna Haraway. In 1984 Donna Haraway wrote “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s,” as a critique of ecofeminism, and it landed with the reverberating bang of a hand grenade. Haraway argued it was precisely in the eroding boundary between human beings and machines, in the integration of women and machines in particular, that we can find liberation from the old patriarchal dualisms. Haraway concludes “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess,” and proposes that the cyborg is the liberatory mythos for women. Haraway’s essay and subsequent writings have inspired the new sub-discipline of “cyborgology” or “cyberfeminism,” made up of culture critics who use the cyborg metaphor and the postmodernist questions Haraway poses to explore the woman-machine interface. As yet there has been little cross-pollination between the left-wing academic cyborgologists and the transhumanists, but the mutual recognition and ties are growing.
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are also natural allies of democratic transhumanism since the right to control one’s own body means being able to share it with other consenting adults. The alleged natural law philosophers attacking gay rights and gay marriage are deploying the same arguments against human enhancement, and when they attack gays and lesbians’ use of reproductive technology they provide a natural link issue. While in-vitro fertilization allows lesbians to have children without having sex with a man, cloning would allow them to have a child related to only one parent. Work on fertilizing eggs with the DNA from another egg, or replacing egg DNA with sperm DNA, would allow gay parents to both have a genetic link to their children.
One activist who saw that link and ran with it is veteran gay rights activist Randy Wicker. Wicker was one of the first gay rights campaigners to go on radio and television in the early 1960s, and he was active in gay rights in New York City till the 1990s. Then in 1996, when an international backlash started against the cloning of the sheep Dolly in Scotland, Wicker had an epiphany. He saw that the right to clone was a fundamental reproductive rights issue and gay rights issue since “Cloning renders heterosexuality's historic monopoly on reproduction obsolete.” Wicker started the Clone Right United Front with other gay rights activists, then co-founded the Human Cloning Foundation, and has become a national spokesman on cloning as a reproductive right.
Wicker is fighting an uphill battle trying to fight the hysterical opposition, especially in light of the many birth defects that still plague mammal clones. But he is beginning to have some progress convincing gay activists, such as Chandler Burr, author of A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origin of Sexual Orientation, who acknowledges that cloning and reproductive technology would allow gay couples to have children that were related to only one or both of their parents, and therefore poses a profound challenge to heterosexism. "It takes us another degree further from the idea that babies are produced only by two heterosexual people having heterosexual intercourse.”
Another enormous constituency for democratic transhumanism are the millions of people that are made criminals by laws against cognitive liberty, i.e. laws against illicit drugs. Drugs are of course a significant public health problem, but the Drug War only makes that problem worse, while it diverts resources from vital social needs. If people’s use of drugs makes them sick, they should be cared for by the health care system, not by a prison. But our drugs and other brain control technologies will only become more complex, and the technologies of surveillance and repression more powerful. A society that denies us the right to put cannabis in our brain is a society more likely to deny us a right to the many intelligence and mood modifiers that will soon be available. Instead of allowing individuals to use brain technology in self-determining ways, and helping those who have problems, the Drug War is increasingly threatening to use brain technology as a weapon of control. For instance, the emerging lines of drug vaccines are not simply developed as voluntary tools for people trying to kick addictions, but as preventive measures that businesses can require their employees to take, allow with regular drug testing. A far better use of public monies, as transhumanist David Pearce proposes in “The Hedonistic Imperative,” would be to develop better drugs with fewer health risks. Ironically, after warning of the anti-democratic consequences of mass intoxication in Brave New World, Aldous Huxley came to the opposite conclusion toward the end of his life, after a positive experience with mescaline. In Doors of Perception he writes “The only reasonable policy is to open other, better doors in the hope of inducing men and women to exchange their old bad habits for new and less harmful ones. Some of these other, better doors will be social and technological in nature, others religious or psychological, others dietetic, educational, athletic. But the need for frequent chemical vacations from intolerable selfhood and repulsive surroundings will undoubtedly remain. What is needed is a new drug which will relieve and console our suffering species without doing more harm in the long run than it does good in the short.”
Fighting the Drug War puts democratic transhumanists in solidarity not only with the millions of political prisoners serving time for nonviolent drug use and possession, but also with the new cutting edge activists for cognitive liberty, such as Wrye Sententia and her Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, who says "We seek to establish, promote, and protect the right of each individual to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, to engage in multiple modes of thought, and to experience alternative states of consciousness."
Disabled Cyborgs and Secular Scientists
Disabled cyborgs, using the latest assistive technology and their eyes fixed on medical progress, are also natural allies of democratic transhumanists who would support both their rights to social integration and their technological liberation. Disabled people in the wealthier industrialized countries, with their wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, novel computing interfaces and portable computing, are the most technologically dependent humans ever known. Some disabled people are consciously embracing the transgressive image of the cyborg. Paraplegic journalist John Hockenberry made the point that disabled people are pushing the boundaries of humanness in an article in Wired:
Humanity's specs are back on the drawing board, thanks to some unlikely designers, and the disabled have a serious advantage in this conversation. They've been using technology in collaborative, intimate ways for years - to move, to communicate, to interact with the world. …People with disabilities - who for much of human history died or were left to die - are now, due to medical technology, living full lives. As they do, the definition of humanness has begun to widen.
Probably the most prominent symbol of disabled transhumanist activism these days is Christopher Reeve, the former Superman actor who became a tireless campaigner for biomedical research after a horse-riding accident left him quadriplegic. Reeve has been especially important defending the use of cloned embryos in stem cell research.
Extreme disability activists have been alienated from human enhancement technology by the idea that technologies which reduce the incidence of disability, such as prenatal screening, genetic engineering and even assistive technologies like cochlear implants, are genocidal “eugenics.” But most disabled people are not Luddites. Most disabled think we can allow parents to choose to have non-disabled children and that technology can be used to overcome or cure disabilities, while we fight for equality for people with disabilities. Certainly those rights would include the right of adults to choose not to be “fixed,” and to choose to live with bodies that aren’t “normal.” The right not to be coerced by society to adopt a “normal” body is also a central demand of transhumanists.
There is now also a small, explicitly transhumanist organization for people with disabilities, the Ascender Alliance. Founded by Briton Alan Pottinger, the Ascender manifesto acknowledges the disability rights movements’ critique of “eugenics” and concern that human enhancement may leave behind the disabled. But instead of embracing Luddism, Pottinger calls on the disabled to embrace transhumanism in order to remove “political, cultural, biological, and psychological limits to self-realization and augmentation” since “every human being has the right to ascension.”
Pottinger’s assertion that society has an obligation to assist every individual’s right to self-improvement suggests another reason that the disabled are a strong democratic transhumanist constituency, in addition to their transgression of “humanness”: they are generally strong supporters of the social welfare state, and one of the strongest arguments for it. The disability rights activists are already campaigning worldwide for increased government monies for assistive technology, and they will be key allies in the democratic transhumanist demand that everyone who has need of a cyborgological implant or gene therapy to correct a disability should have one through public subsidy. The costs of the treatments and technologies will have to drop and their safety and reliability increase, but eventually the demand that the blind should see, the lame walk and mute speak will become part of the overall political agenda.
More generally patient advocacy groups and scientific lobbies share a broad interest with the transhumanist movement in seeing more public financing of medical research and protecting the freedom to conduct research from bioLuddite bans. The struggle over NIH funding for, and bills criminalizing, stem cell research have mobilized an enormous coalition in defense of scientific research. The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, principal pro-stem cells lobby, includes dozens of powerful Washington lobbies, including patient groups like the American Diabetes Association and the American Infertility Association; physician organizations like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; individual research universities such as the University of California System, and education associations such as the American Council on Education; foundations like the one founded by Christopher Reeve; and industry groups like the Biotechnology Industry Association and National Venture Capital Association. The broad alliance of patient, provider and educational groups against the right-to-life lobby and the Republican Party is extremely good news for a democratic transhumanism, and hopefully the trend that will continue as the Bush administration continues to pursue policies hostile to science.
Most American scientists are secular, civil libertarian and lean toward the Democrats. Scientists believe passionately in scientific freedom, are incredulous at neoLuddite attacks on technological progress, and suspicious of the religious fundamentalist base in the Republican Party. Scientists have grown even more restive under the Bush administration as it dismissed the scientific consensus on stem cells, climate change, Headstart and abstinence-oriented sex education. When the President’s Council on Bioethics recommended the banning of therapeutic stem cell cloning, every practicing scientist voted against the resolution. The Bush has further alienated the scientific community by promoting scientists to government posts solely on the basis of their political and religious views. Bush’s post-9/11 restrictions on visas for foreign scientists and students were condemned by the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Those restrictions recently cost MIT a $400,000 research grant to explore artificial intelligence when it refused to allow the National Security Agency to vet its foreign graduate students.
The Bush administration’s anti-intellectualism harkens back to Spiro Agnew’s attack on intellectuals as “effete snobs.” Bush’s political advisor Karl Rove told the New Yorker that the definition of a Democrat was “somebody with a doctorate.” Bush has half as many Ph.D.s in his cabinet as Clinton did, and he moved the Office of Science and Technology Policy outside the White House and cut its staff. Thanks to these trends a left-leaning, pro-science politics, i.e. democratic transhumanism, would have a natural base among scientists.
While libertarians celebrate high tech entrepreneurs and innovators, they occasionally have qualms about the effects that monopolists like Microsoft and overly aggressive interpretations of intellectual property law have on innovation. In reaction to monopolists libertarians have supported voluntary efforts, such as the open source movement. If we all used Linux, a free open-source operating system, we could force Microsoft to improve Windows, or at least that’s how the argument goes. The goal of the open source movement is challenge the monopolists from below, by building a community around the constant refining of hopefully more robust and cheaper information technologies. Most libertarians are far more skittish of government “trust-busting,” or any “defense of the commons” that declares the genome and industrial innovation to be public property. Democratic techno-optimists, on the other hand, are already distinguishing themselves by their willingness to use anti-trust law, restrictions on intellectual property, and regulatory standards to protect competition, scientific innovation and the public good.
For instance science writer Annalee Newitz has pointed to an emerging “biopunk” ethos in the work of artists and anti-corporate genetics researchers. Biopunks are committed both to the benefits that can can emerge from genetic technology, and to opposing the madness of patents on discovered genomes that allow corporate control of genetic data which should be in the public domain. Biopunks protest both "bioLuddites and apologists for the biotech industry." Newitz finds biopunk sensibilities expressed in groups like the Coalition of Artists and Life Forms (CALF), a loose network of artists who celebrate biotechnology while remaining critical of its capitalist exploitation and limitations. Biopunk sensibilities among scientists, Newitz argues, can be seen in the growing call for the “open sourcing” of scientific information, from the human genome databases to scientific journals. Gene sequencers working within the Human Genome Initative, for instance, deposited their data in the publicly accessible GenBank, and now researchers outside of corporate labs deposit gene expression data in the public Gene Expression Omnibus database.
One biopunk effort is the National Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Data Center (fMRIDC) established by brain scientist Michael Gazzaniga and others at Dartmouth College. The fMRIDC aggregates enormous files of brain scans into a supercomputer to create an atlas of normal and dysfunctional brains, at work and at play. When cognitive science journals began to require that the data used in studies they published be submitted for public use in the fMRIDC scientists balked. Some researchers were involved in proprietary medical and pharmaceutical research and others simply wanted to be the sole exploiters of their data. But as Gazzaniga and collaborator Daniel Rockmore argued in the Chronicle of Higher Education “shared databases speed the development of the disciplines that use them. Recent advances in informatics-or data mining-make it possible to use databases as primary research material. The resulting meta-analyses give researchers ideas for new experiments, cut down on duplication of effort, and allow researchers from other disciplines to work in the field.” Most brain research had received public financing in any case, which obliged researchers to share their data. In a related effort the International Cosortium on Brain Mapping has compiled data from the brains of 7000 subjects.
TechnoGaians and Viridians
I like to think (and the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
like pure water
touching clear sky.
Richard Brautigan "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace”
A democratic transhumanism also needs to make the case to skeptical and hostile Greens that the new technologies can be developed safely, and deployed in ways that prevent and repair the damage we are doing the ecosystem and human health. This argument connects with the strain of tech-positive environmentalism, sometimes referred to as TechnoGaianism, which has grown up with the “appropriate technology” and “alternative energy” milieu, reflected in journals such as the Whole Earth Review.
Walter Truett Anderson is an example of a technogaian political philosopher. In To Govern Evolution and Evolution Isn't What It Used to Be Anderson proposed the only way for humanity to avoid catastrophe in the ecosphere or in our biomedical interventions is to take democratic responsibility for managing nature, both in the ecosystem and in our genome.
Today the driving force in evolution is human intelligence. Species survive or perish because of what people do to them and to their environments. The land and air and water system are massively altered by humankind which has become, as one scientist put it, 'a new geological force…Even our own genetic future is in our hands, guided not by Darwinian abstractions but by science and medical technology and public policy," he continued. "This is the project of the coming era: to create a social and political order -- a global one -- commensurate to human power in nature. The project requires a shift from evolutionary meddling to evolutionary governance.
Technogaianism applied to ecosystem management is found in “reconciliation ecology” writings such as Michael Rosenzweig Win-Win Ecology. Rosenzweig boils down his approach to the redesign of human habitat for ecosystem compatibility to several simple steps.
First, drink deeply from the natural history of the species you want to help. Study their reproductive cycles, their diets, and their behavior. Abstract the essence of their needs from what you observe. Then apply it without worrying whether your redesign of the human landscape will resemble a wilderness. It won't, so feel free to be outrageously creative.
One of the most outrageously creative of technogaian thinkers is the science fiction author and cyberpunk ideologist Bruce Sterling. In January of 2000 Sterling returned to his polemicist roots and penned a 4300-word manifesto for a new “Viridian” green political movement. Sterling accepts the urgency of climate change and species depletion, but his principal complaint about contemporary Green politics is that they are Luddite and dour. He calls for a sexy, high-tech, design movement, to make attractive, practical ecological tools. Although Sterling steadfastly refuses to argue for political activism or partisan engagement, like FM-2030 he outlines a third way between capitalism and socialism involving controls on transnational capital, redirecting of militaries to peacekeeping, sustainable industries, increasing leisure time, guaranteed social wage, education reform, expanded global public health, and gender equity. The Viridian movement has attracted hundreds of people to participate in its list, and to receive weekly missives from Sterling about ecologically appropriate, but exciting, technologies.
The new molecular technologies do carry serious environmental risks that need serious regulatory oversight, a form of oversight most libertarian techno-enthusiasts are unwilling to embrace. But the technologies also promise radical new environmental benefits. Crops can be genetically engineered which require less agricultural land, pesticides and fertilizer, and provide more essential nutrients. In Our Molecular Future, Doug Mulhall outlines a vision of a “nanoecology,” using a convergence of nanotechnology, genetics and artificial intelligence to prevent and repair ecological destruction. The new technologies will allow us to design new industrial processes that use fewer resources and create fewer wastes; to repair the damage we have already done to the ecosystem; and to protect ourselves and the ecosystem from natural threats such as asteroids and gamma ray bursts. For Mulhall, it is our responsibility to the ecosystem to develop these technologies and use them to protect Earth’s ecosystem.
Nanotechnology pioneers Eric Drexler and Chris Peterson also address the possible ecological applications of nanotechnology in their book Unbounding the Future. Even Greenpeace appears to be coming around on the utility of nanotechnology. In its 2003 review of nanotech and AI titled “Future technologies, Today’s Choices” Greenpeace says there is no need for bans on nanotech, or even new regulatory structures, and that “new technologies...are also an integral part of our solutions to environmental problems, including renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and wave power, and waste treatment technologies such as mechanical-biological treatment.”
Although population growth rather than population control should be our goal, a high-tech society with a thorough guarantee of individual rights and a strong democratic state – in other words, the goal of a democratic transhumanism - is the best guarantee of a low birth rate. Science and technology make possible contraception, and the industrial employment that encourages smaller families. Liberal democracies provide women with education, employment opportunities and publicly financed family planning, contraception and abortion, giving them the means and incentives to control their fertility. Affluent liberal democracies also require children to be educated instead of worked in farms and factories. They invest in public health to reduce the childhood mortality rate. They ensure the well-being of the elderly through old age pensions. All are measures that reduce parents' incentives to have children as investments in their future.
And Everybody Else…
In some sense, as machine intelligence becomes more sophisticated and increasingly automates manual, service and intellectual labor, we may all become “disabled,” and we may all have to struggle for our right to Social Security as a basic human right. On March 22, 1964 The Ad Hoc Committee on the Triple Revolution sent a long letter to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. The letter was signed by 34 left-wing intellectuals, including leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society Todd Gitlin and Tom Hayden, leaders of the US Socialist Party Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington, the Nobel-prize winning biologist Linus Pauling, the economists Robert Heilbroner and Gunnar Myrdal, the futurist Robert Theobald, and my cousin (five times removed) the sociologist Everett C. Hughes.
The three revolutions that the letter described were the revolution in armaments, which required new international arrangements to avoid apocalypse; the global human rights revolution, which required a commitment to democratization of every country, starting with civil rights for Negroes; and the “cybernation” revolution, automation, which would require the establishment of a universal basic income since there would soon be widespread structural unemployment.
The traditional link between jobs and incomes is being broken. The economy of abundance can sustain all citizens in comfort and economic security whether or not they engage in what is commonly reckoned as work. Wealth produced by machines rather than by men is still wealth. ….(Therefore society should provide) every individual and every family with an adequate income as a matter of right.
Responding to the Triple Revolutions piece in the New York Review of Books in 1965 the sociologist Daniel Bell dismissed the idea that there would soon be widespread unemployment from automation since it was only impacting a couple of industries. Evidence of such an effect would require that there be rising productivity economy-wide at the same time as rising unemployment.
Flash forward to the “job-loss recovery” of 2003. Since 2001 the U.S. has lost 2.7 million jobs. As the economy has picked back up none of those jobs are coming back. They have all either gone to the developing world or been taken by machines. As a consequence the economic recovery has seen dramatic gains in productivity. According to the U.S. Labor Department the amount an employee produces for each hour of work rose almost 2% just between April and June of 2004.
The job-loss recovery was also predicted by Hans Moravec in his book Robot. But he goes on to note that society will be unlikely to put up with growing inequality and concentration of wealth.
It is unlikely that a future majority of service-providing “commoners” with more free time, communications and democracy than today would tolerate being lorded over by a dynasty of non-working hereditary capitalists. They would vote to change the system. The trend in the social democracies has been to equalize income by raising the standards of the poorest as high as the economy can bear. In the age of robots, that minimum will be very high.
He then suggests that capitalism will come to an end and that society will need to provide a universal basic income
Incremental expansion of such a subsidy would let money from robot industries, collected as corporate taxes, be returned to the general population as pension payments. By gradually lowering the retirement age, most of the population would eventually be supported. The money could be distributed under other names, but calling it a pension is meaningful symbolism. Social Security pension payments begun at birth would subsidize a long, comfortable retirement for the entire original-model human race.
Similarly Marshall Brain, the computer scientist and entrepreneur who founded the successful HowStuffWorks website and book series, is promoting his “Robot Nation” epiphany, that half of all jobs in the U.S. will be lost to the developing world or robots by 2055. Brain suggests that all Americans receive a guaranteed basic income of $25,000 a year, paid from a general fund supported by progressive taxation, corporate fines and the sale of public resources. Brain argues that basic income is necessary for the survival of capitalism: no consumers, no capitalism.
Moravec and Brain join a growing international movement of economists and activists advocating a “basic income guarantee” (BIG). BIG is the answer to the next wave of Luddite machine-wrecking by angry displaced workers. The Luddites have no faith that democracy can allow everyone to benefit from technological innovation, and the libertopians think we don’t need democracy since we have the stock market. But Brain, Moravec, and the BIG movement aim to prove that democracies can provide universal economic benefits while advancing the technological innovation necessary to pay for them.
Universal health care and basic income systems are essential as we make the transhuman transition, not only to ensure equal access to benefits between the rich and poor, but also between the young and old. As the population rapidly ages, and the population supporting senior benefits shrinks both demographically and because of structural unemployment, generational conflict will be inevitable without programs that provide universal benefits. Either the shrinking population of angry workers will wage war on the benefits available to the growing senior and unemployed population, or we will expand the benefits of income security and health insurance to everyone.
Building a Democratic Transhumanist Majority
Currently all the self-described “social democratic transhumanists” in the world could hold a convention in an average sized classroom. That’s not the point. There is a latent majority constituency for social justice, a caring society, technological progress, and health and longevity for all. Even though no politician would get elected on a platform of ape rights, subsidized intelligence enhancements and a universal guaranteed income, the basic goals of democratic transhumanism are shared by the vast majority of people. The challenge is to find issues and struggles that demonstrate the marginality of the libertarians and bioLuddites.
In 1996 the National Opinion Research Center asked a random sample of Americans whether it was the government’s responsibility to provide health care for the sick. As has been true since the first time that survey question was asked in the 1930s, a majority, 85%, said yes. The survey also asked whether genetic screening was likely to produce more harm or more good, and two thirds, 68%, thought it would produce more good than harm. Looking for the left-leaning techno-optimists with those two tests slightly more than half of Americans, 56%, are democratic transhumanists. That is the majority waiting to be having its voice heard.
Some people say that genetic screening is a wonderful medical advance. Others think it may cause trouble. Based on what you know, do you think genetic screening will do more good than harm, or more harm than good?
Is it the government’s responsibility to provide health care for the sick? Good Harm
Yes 56% 27%
No 12% 5%
Source: General Social Survey 1996, National Opinion Research Center (N=311)
A Democratic Transhumanist Agenda
Whether it amounts to a Singularity or not, the coming decades will turn our world upside down and our expectations inside out. Radical times call for radical solutions.
Build the transhumanist movement
Build a global, future-oriented, radically liberal, Next Left
Radicalize “human rights”
- Defend the rights of all human beings oppressed because of their bodies
Democratic transhumanists should build solidarity with all those who are denied the right to control their own bodies and minds, and those oppressed because of the bodies and minds they possess. A diverse posthumanity can be best assured by expanding the bounds of tolerance and equality to include the full diversity of human beings, sexual, cultural, and racial. Racism and discrimination in all forms must be opposed. The physically disabled should have access to the social and technological assistance they need to be equal citizens. Gender must not determine rights, so civil marriage must be open to gays and lesbians. People should be allowed to define themselves as any gender they prefer, and be allowed use technology to sculpt their gender to fit those preferences, whether they fit the binary gender system or not.
- Support rights for great apes, dolphins and whales
Democratic transhumanists should join the campaigns to extend rights to great apes, dolphins and whales as a wedge to open rights to all intelligent persons, defeat human-racism, and build a cyborg citizenship.
- Guarantee the right of all persons to control our own bodies and minds
We not only need to radicalize our understanding of citizens, the bearers of rights, but also of the rights we have to control our bodies and minds, and the structures we need to make those freedoms real. The right to control our bodies and minds should include the right of sane adults to change and enhance their own minds and bodies, to own our own genetic code, to take recreational drugs, to control our own deaths, and to have ourselves frozen. Procreative liberty, an extension of the right to control our body and life, should include the right to use germinal choice technologies to ensure the best possible life for our children. Strong democratic government is required not only to protect these rights, but to ensure that the technologies are tested for safety so that consumers understand their risks and benefits. We also need strong social democracies to ensure all citizens have access to these options, not just the affluent.
Democratize technological innovation
- Support science education and federal research into transhuman technologies
Democratic transhumanists should support expanded public financing of higher education and especially science education and scientific research. American secondary school students, in particular, are woefully behind the rest of the industrialized world in their preparation for further math, science, engineering or medical education. As a consequence more American students get degrees in “parks and recreation” than electrical engineering. The priorities of federal science funding in medicine, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology should ensure that transhuman technologies are developed openly in the public sector not just by secret military and corporate labs.
- Support appropriate regulations of scientific research and technological innovation
Democratic transhumanists should defend and promote rigorous, independent safety testing of transhuman technologies, and reject Luddite bans and regulations based on vague ethical and social anxieties. International agencies should be empowered to enforce global regulations on the safety of industrial and medical technologies. The U.S. Congress should re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment, and the size and mandate of the EPA and FDA should be expanded to rapidly vet the safety of new industrial materials, drugs and medical devices.
- Protect genetic self-ownership, and the genetic and intellectual commons from patent madness
Patents on existing genomes of plants, animals and humans should be declared void. Patents on novel gene sequences should be protected, unless they end up a part of the body of a self-aware citizen, in which case that person becomes co-owner of the genetic property. Individuals must have control over their own genome, extending to the privacy of their genetic information.
Defend and extend social rights
- Build and defend universal health systems with choices
All citizens should be guaranteed equitable access to a basic package of health care services, including enhancement technologies where fiscally possible. When safe technologies cannot be provided through the public health system for political or fiscal reasons, they should be available in the private sector.
- Establish a guaranteed basic income and expand the social wage
All citizens should be guaranteed a basic income. Public financing of higher education should be expanded.
Create global solutions
- Build democratic global governance
There should be a global, standing constabulary ready to rapidly intervene to prevent wars and other disasters. The U.S. should join the International Criminal Court. The United Nations should be empowered to collect taxes on international trade and reformed to be directly representative of world opinion through direct election. World trade agreements should be coupled with effective regulation by global bodies to ensure compliance with environmental, consumer protection and worker safety agreements.
- Ensure access to technology for the developing world
Agencies in the developed world should expand research into technologies appropriate to the needs of the developing world, and support programs of technology transfer to the developing world. International institutions such as WHO, FAO, UNCTAD, UNDP, and UNESCO should be expanded to support technological diffusion in the developing world.
- Reduce global risks ot the future of civilization
Democratic transhumanists should support the creation of international bodies capable monitoring and effectively enforcing international agreements preventing the proliferation of, and requiring the destruction of, weapons and other dangerous technologies. Global programs to monitor the health of ecosystem and the threat from asteroids should be expanded.
Let the ruling classes and Luddites tremble at a democratic transhumanist revolution. Would be genemods and cyborgs! you have nothing to lose but your human bodies, and longer lives and bigger brains to win!
Transhumans of all countries, unite!