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The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Four Years of Advocating for the Future – Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at RAAD Fest 2018

The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Four Years of Advocating for the Future – Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at RAAD Fest 2018

Gennady Stolyarov II


This is the video that American voters need to see prior to the 2018 elections. Watch it here.

On October 7, 2018, the U.S. Transhumanist Party marked its four-year anniversary. On September 21, 2018, at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, CA, Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II spoke in advance of this occasion by highlighting the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s recent achievements – including a doubling in membership over the past year, the revived Enlightenment Salons, a Platform that rivals those of the two major political parties, and Mr. Stolyarov’s own candidacy in 2018.

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our free Membership Application Form. It takes less than a minute!

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Values page.

See the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform.

See the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, Version 2.0.

Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s subsequent meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 on September 22, 2018 here.

View Mr. Stolyarov’s official page for his candidacy for the Indian Hills General Improvement District (IHGID) Board of Trustees.

Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the “Meet the Candidates” Night of the Indian Hills General Improvement District

Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the “Meet the Candidates” Night of the Indian Hills General Improvement District

Gennady Stolyarov II


The video recording of Gennady Stolyarov II’s presentation at the “Meet the Candidates” Night (October 17, 2018) at the Indian Hills General Improvement District has been posted here.

Mr. Stolyarov’s candidacy has previously been unanimously endorsed by a vote of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s members.

There is some technical flaw with the audio around 8:52 – the time that Mr. Stolyarov discusses protecting homeowners’ property rights and opposing the establishment of a homeowners’ association. You will hear several parts of these remarks simultaneously – but you will likely still be able to discern Mr. Stolyarov’s position. About a minute afterward, the proper linear audio stream resumes.

After completing his presentation, Mr. Stolyarov issued the following written statement:

I am pleased with the outcome of “Meet the Candidates” Night at the Indian Hills General Improvement District this evening. The seats were nearly all filled, and approximately 25 residents appeared in person. All candidates’ responses were recorded and will be posted on YouTube in the coming days. I will provide links as soon as I become aware of them.

I was able to use the allotted time to present my intended messages regarding my qualifications and my priorities of maintaining essential infrastructure, promoting growth, supporting technological and factually, rationally grounded solutions, and being attentive to all residents and representing the District as a whole in a nonpartisan manner. The statements and questions were thoughtful and generated a civil, meaningful discussion about events in the District. This is what political activity should be about – not factionalism, tribalism, or blind partisanship.

Many residents and the other candidates appeared to be sympathetic to my approach and positions – and my hope is that this will enable them to recognize me as a good consensus candidate who can draw support from all constituencies in the District. I stated at the event that I would be honored to work with any of the other candidates if they are elected to the Board alongside me.

Whether my objective of not being last in the vote count can be met remains to be seen; this election will probably surprise everyone. However, this event most definitely helped – and I hope the videos will help as well.

Early voting in Douglas County begins this Saturday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Courthouse in Minden. I have been conducting research on the ballot questions and candidates in the contested races for several hours per day; now I am close to finalizing my own preferences.

Please inform any of your acquaintances who reside in the Indian Hills GID about me and my candidacy!

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our free Membership Application Form here. It takes less than a minute!

Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2018 Nevada Ballot Questions

Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2018 Nevada Ballot Questions

The New Renaissance Hat
Gennady Stolyarov II
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The Nevada Transhumanist Party offers the following brief statements of position on the ballot questions currently before Nevada voters in the 2018 General Election.

Summary
Question 1: Support
Question 2: Support
Question 3: Support
Question 4: Support
Question 5: Oppose
Question 6: Oppose

 

Ballot Question 1 Marsy’s Law Crime Victims’ Rights Amendment Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to: (1) remove existing provisions that require the Legislature to provide certain statutory rights for crime victims; and (2) adopt in their place certain expressly stated constitutional rights that crime victims may assert throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 1 as an expansion of the rights of crime victims to render those rights more symmetrical to the protections that those accused of criminal acts already receive. The Nevada Transhumanist Party strongly holds that due process is vital for both the accused and the victim of a crime. Section X of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform states, in part, that “each individual should be sentenced based solely on the consideration of the nature of that individual’s crime, its context, and its severity.” However, the nature, context, and severity of a crime can only be ascertained if victims are permitted to participate in the justice process, with full protections of their safety and right to be heard. One of the most important protections of Ballot Question 1 is “To have all monetary payments, money and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.” This shifts the focus of the justice system toward compensating the victim, instead of simply enriching the state. A restitution-oriented justice system is ideal where the damage from a crime can be repaired or compensated monetarily, as this approach actually endeavors to make the victims whole and thereby undo as many of the ill effects of the crime as possible. The more lives can be repaired in this way, the fewer obstacles to innocent individuals’ flourishing will exist, and the faster our society will progress in economic, moral, and technological dimensions.

 

Ballot Question 2 Sales-Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall the Sales and Use Tax Act of 1955 be amended to provide an exemption from the taxes imposed by this Act on the gross receipts from the sale and the storage, use or other consumption of feminine hygiene products?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 2 as a protection for the morphological freedom of individuals. The morphological freedom of female individuals is infringed by asymmetrical taxation of products that those individuals uniquely require. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party does not oppose sales taxes per se, exemptions from sales taxes for the necessities of life are reasonable if such taxes pose impediments to individual quality of life or even the ability to afford those necessities.

 

Ballot Question 3Energy Choice Initiative Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 3 to eliminate the coercive energy monopoly currently held by NV Energy and allow individuals to choose their utility and source of energy, much like they are able to choose which furniture or which cars to buy today. NV Energy has used its monopoly position to stifle and penalize the deployment of economical rooftop solar systems, which allow homeowners to autonomously generate their own electricity and even earn some money doing so. The suppression of such opportunities is a travesty of justice and needs to be reversed.

The NV Energy monopoly is not only harmful to technological progress, renewal energy, and affordable electricity costs; it is also a danger to the health and safety of homeowners. This is because of NV Energy’s arcane, deliberately circular call-center system, which gives consumers “the runaround” when consumers attempt to contact NV Energy to request emergency service related to failures in the electrical panels on their homes. NV Energy has connected the main circuit-breakers on many such panels to its “smart meters”, which require the intervention of an NV Energy technician to disable to that the circuit-breakers can be worked on and repaired or replaced. However, NV Energy does not offer consumers a dedicated emergency response to promptly allow access to those consumers’ own electrical systems in situations where hours and even minutes matter for preserving life and property.

The Nevada Transhumanist Party considers particularly reprehensible the “No on 3” campaign in Nevada – orchestrated and almost exclusively (99.99%) financed by NV Energy and its connected organizations – which has been disingenuous in its messaging and which has created many mistaken impressions on the part of the public. Question 3 would only deprive NV Energy of its monopoly powers; it would not mirror the California-style (pseudo)-“deregulation” of the late 1990s, nor would it thwart any renewable-energy projects. Quite the contrary, it has been NV Energy and only NV Energy that has stifled efforts by consumers and rooftop-solar installers to create genuine alternatives to NV Energy’s electrical grid and its intentionally cumbersome and restrictive policies.

Question 3, indeed, would require that the Nevada Legislature “ensure that protections are established that entitle customers to safe, reliable, and competitively priced electricity;” and “protect against service disconnections and unfair practices” – protections that are currently absent because of the NV Energy monopoly’s political connections, asymmetrical lobbying clout, and the regulatory capture of the Public Utilities Commission.

Nevada’s voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3 in 2016 (72.36% voted in favor). Now that NV Energy has launched a last-ditch campaign in reaction to the jeopardy in which its monopoly finds itself, voters should inform themselves and see through the misleading rhetoric of the “Coalition to Defeat Question 3” (i.e., NV Energy). The Nevada Transhumanist Party staunchly supports Question 3 as the pathway toward major technological progress and innovation in the realm of energy, harnessing the forces of market competition to provide cleaner, more affordable electricity for all Nevadans.

 

Ballot Question 4 Medical Equipment Sales Tax Exemption AmendmentSupport

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 10 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the exemption of durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for use by a licensed health care provider from any tax upon the sale, storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 4 to exempt durable medical equipment from sales and use tax. These taxes can often run into the thousands of dollars for sick and dying patients and could compromise the quality of their care. We support any measure that helps make medical equipment affordable and more widespread.

 

Ballot Question 5Automatic Voter Registration via DMVOppose

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Chapter 293 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to establish a system that will automatically register an eligible person to vote, or update that person’s existing Nevada voter registration information, at the time the person applies to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles for the issuance or renewal of any type of driver’s license or identification card, or makes a request to change the address on such a license or identification card, unless the person affirmatively declines in writing?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party opposes Ballot Question 5. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party supports efforts to render voter registration easy and seamless, the particular requirements of Ballot Question 5 would entail the DMV being mandated to insert disclosures that encourage voters to select a major political-party registration by including a statement “that the person will not be able to vote at a primary election for candidates for partisan offices of a major political party unless the person indicates a major political party affiliation”. Such wording – which would essentially compel a State agency to advertise for the major political parties – would further skew the political arena toward the major political parties and would entrench their dominance. Voter registration should furthermore always occur on an opt-in, rather than opt-out, basis; this is the only approach that consistently respects individual autonomy and choice to participate in the political system or to abstain from such participation. Opting in should be easy and made available through a variety of methods (including electronic, same-day registration), but the presumption of registration can create logistical difficulties for some individuals and conceivable situations where an automatic “updated” registration generates needless contradictions in a person’s registration status, which would actually render it more difficult for that person to subsequently cast a vote.

 

Ballot Question 6Renewable Energy Standards Initiative Oppose

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require, beginning in calendar year 2022, that all providers of electric utility services who sell electricity to retail customers for consumption in Nevada generate or acquire incrementally larger percentages of electricity from renewable energy resources so that by calendar year 2030 not less than 50 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by each provider to its retail customers in Nevada comes from renewable energy resources?“ (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party opposes Ballot Question 6. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party supports economical renewable energy and the acceleration of efforts to develop technologies to render as much of our energy supply renewable as possible, the ability to affordably generate 50 percent of the total electricity through renewable energy resources is ultimately a technological challenge, not a political one. If the technology is ready, and the market is robust and competitive enough to deploy it to consumers at more attractive prices than fossil-fuel energy, then a 50-percent or greater renewable proportion of electricity will be achieved by 2030 without the need for a mandate. If, however, the technology cannot yet render renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels, then the only effect of the mandate would be to push up costs and constrict supply of electricity to consumers. The surest way to bring about a future of greater renewable energy is to repeal the NV Energy monopoly which has been standing in its way. Through competition, both technological and marketing innovations will thrive and will deliver renewable energy solutions to consumers.  Ballot Question 3, rather than Ballot Question 6, is therefore a superior means toward that goal.

 

Mr. Stolyarov is the Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party and Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
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Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our free Membership Application Form here. It takes less than a minute!
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This post may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II). Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.
Fifth Enlightenment Salon – Discussions on Longevity, Gene Therapy, Overcoming Disabilities, Animal Lifespans, Education, and Privacy

Fifth Enlightenment Salon – Discussions on Longevity, Gene Therapy, Overcoming Disabilities, Animal Lifespans, Education, and Privacy

Gennady Stolyarov II
Bill Andrews
James Kohagen
Bobby Ridge
John Murrieta


On October 13, 2018, in the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment and its furtherance today, Gennady Stolyarov II, Bill Andrews, James Kohagen, Bobby Ridge, and John Murrieta met for the fifth interdisciplinary discussion – hosted by Mr. Stolyarov – on science, culture, education, advocacy, and policy. Subjects discussed included the following:

– The recent RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego
– Developments in the field of gene therapy
– Advances in epidural stimulation for treating and overcoming spinal-cord injuries
– Long-lived organisms and their similarities and dissimilarities to humans
– How animal experiments can become more humane
– How contemporary science still has far to go to accumulate even fairly basic information about certain organisms
– How the study of lifespans can be included in educational curricula starting at early childhood
– Whether privacy will remain in a more technologically interconnected future.

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside by filling out an application form that takes less than a minute.

Find out about Death is Wrong – the illustrated children’s book on indefinite life extension.

Future Grind Episode 28: Ryan O’Shea Interviews Gennady Stolyarov II on the State of Transhumanist Politics

Future Grind Episode 28: Ryan O’Shea Interviews Gennady Stolyarov II on the State of Transhumanist Politics

Gennady Stolyarov II
Ryan O’Shea


Listen to Ryan O’Shea’s interview with U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II on the Future Grind podcast, where they discuss the state of Transhumanist politics. Mr. Stolyarov responds to some of the most detailed and well-researched questions that he has been presented with regarding contemporary political issues in the U.S. Transhumanist Party and transhumanist movement. The U.S. Transhumanist Party thanks Mr. O’Shea for enabling a thoughtful discussion that will be of interest to our listeners.

– Watch/listen on YouTube.

– Listen/download on the Future Grind website.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply online here in less than a minute.

Description by Ryan O’Shea: In this installment of the Future Grind podcast host Ryan O’Shea sits down with Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the US Transhumanist Party. Gennady took the reins of the Transhumanist Party when the organization’s founder, Zoltan Istvan, stepped down after his campaign for President in 2016. In addition to his work work with the Party, Gennady is a published author and composer, and he has contributed articles to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, the Brighter Brains Institute, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and many more. They discuss the current state of transhumanist politics, why Gennady believes that they are important in the first place, and how he feels that transhumanism can transcend socialism, libertarianism, and all other conventional ideologies.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 22, 2018

U.S. Transhumanist Party Meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 22, 2018


On September 22, 2018, representatives of the U.S. Transhumanist Party met in San Diego, California, during RAAD Fest 2018, in order to provide an overview of recent efforts and future prospects, discuss approaches to advocacy with several leading transhumanist public figures, and field audience questions regarding the transhumanist movement and its goals.

Watch the video of the meeting on YouTube here.

Participants at the meeting included the following individuals:
Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, U.S. Transhumanist Party
Arin Vahanian, Director of Marketing, U.S. Transhumanist Party
Newton Lee, Chairman, California Transhumanist Party, U.S. Transhumanist Party Education and Media Advisor
José Luis Cordeiro, U.S. Transhumanist Party Technology Advisor and Foreign Ambassador to Spain
Natasha Vita-More, Member of Los Angeles City Council (1992-1993), Elected on a Transhumanist Platform, Executive Director of Humanity Plus
Bill Andrews, U.S. Transhumanist Party Biotechnology Advisor
Charlie Kam, Director of Networking, California Transhumanist Party
Elizabeth (Liz) Parrish, U.S. Transhumanist Party Advocacy Advisor

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form here.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Apply here.

Andrés Grases Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era

Andrés Grases Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era

Gennady Stolyarov II
Andrés Grases


Andrés Grases, the publisher of the Transhuman Plus website (http://transhumanplus.com/) interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, CA, on September 23, 2018. During the course of this conversation, both the contemporary state of transhumanist politics and future directions are covered – along with the challenges to reforming the educational system, the need to create open access to academic works, the manner in which the transition toward the next era of technologies will occur, the meaning of transhumanism and its applications in the proximate future – including promising advances that we can expect to see during the next several years.

Watch the video here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply online here in less than a minute.

How Transhumanism Can Transcend Socialism, Libertarianism, and All Other Conventional Ideologies – Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the VSIM:18 Conference

How Transhumanism Can Transcend Socialism, Libertarianism, and All Other Conventional Ideologies – Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the VSIM:18 Conference

Gennady Stolyarov II


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, discusses the key strengths and weaknesses of libertarianism, socialism, conservatism, and left-liberalism, the common failings of these and all other conventional ideologies, and why transhumanism offers a principled, integrated, dynamic approach for a new era of history, which can overcome all of these failings.

This presentation was delivered virtually by Mr. Stolyarov on September 13, 2018, to the Vanguard Scientific Instruments in Management 2018 (VSIM:18) conference in Ravda, Bulgaria. Afterward, a discussion ensured, in which Professor Angel Marchev, Sr., the conference organizer and the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Ambassador to Bulgaria, offered his views on the dangers of socialism and the promise of transhumanism, followed by a brief question-and-answer period.

Visit the website of the U.S. Transhumanist Party here.

Download and view the slides of Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation (with hyperlinks) here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form here.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Apply here.

Review of Ray Kurzweil’s “How to Create a Mind” – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Review of Ray Kurzweil’s “How to Create a Mind” – Article by G. Stolyarov II

G. Stolyarov II


How to Create a Mind (2012) by inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil sets forth a case for engineering minds that are able to emulate the complexity of human thought (and exceed it) without the need to reverse-engineer every detail of the human brain or of the plethora of content with which the brain operates. Kurzweil persuasively describes the human conscious mind as based on hierarchies of pattern-recognition algorithms which, even when based on relatively simple rules and heuristics, combine to give rise to the extremely sophisticated emergent properties of conscious awareness and reasoning about the world. How to Create a Mind takes readers through an integrated tour of key historical advances in computer science, physics, mathematics, and neuroscience – among other disciplines – and describes the incremental evolution of computers and artificial-intelligence algorithms toward increasing capabilities – leading toward the not-too-distant future (the late 2020s, according to Kurzweil) during which computers would be able to emulate human minds.

Kurzweil’s fundamental claim is that there is nothing which a biological mind is able to do, of which an artificial mind would be incapable in principle, and that those who posit that the extreme complexity of biological minds is insurmountable are missing the metaphorical forest for the trees. Analogously, although a fractal or a procedurally generated world may be extraordinarily intricate and complex in their details, they can arise on the basis of carrying out simple and conceptually fathomable rules. If appropriate rules are used to construct a system that takes in information about the world and processes and analyzes it in ways conceptually analogous to a human mind, Kurzweil holds that the rest is a matter of having adequate computational and other information-technology resources to carry out the implementation. Much of the first half of the book is devoted to the workings of the human mind, the functions of the various parts of the brain, and the hierarchical pattern recognition in which they engage. Kurzweil also discusses existing “narrow” artificial-intelligence systems, such as IBM’s Watson, language-translation programs, and the mobile-phone “assistants” that have been released in recent years by companies such as Apple and Google. Kurzweil observes that, thus far, the most effective AIs have been developed using a combination of approaches, having some aspects of prescribed rule-following alongside the ability to engage in open-ended “learning” and extrapolation upon the information which they encounter. Kurzweil draws parallels to the more creative or even “transcendent” human abilities – such as those of musical prodigies – and observes that the manner in which those abilities are made possible is not too dissimilar in principle.

With regard to some of Kurzweil’s characterizations, however, I question whether they are universally applicable to all human minds – particularly where he mentions certain limitations – or whether they only pertain to some observed subset of human minds. For instance, Kurzweil describes the ostensible impossibility of reciting the English alphabet backwards without error (absent explicit study of the reverse order), because of the sequential nature in which memories are formed. Yet, upon reading the passage in question, I was able to recite the alphabet backwards without error upon my first attempt. It is true that this occurred more slowly than the forward recitation, but I am aware of why I was able to do it; I perceive larger conceptual structures or bodies of knowledge as mental “objects” of a sort – and these objects possess “landscapes” on which it is possible to move in various directions; the memory is not “hard-coded” in a particular sequence. One particular order of movement does not preclude others, even if those others are less familiar – but the key to successfully reciting the alphabet backwards is to hold it in one’s awareness as a single mental object and move along its “landscape” in the desired direction. (I once memorized how to pronounce ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ as a single continuous word; any other order is slower, but it is quite doable as long as one fully knows the contents of the “object” and keeps it in focus.) This is also possible to do with other bodies of knowledge that one encounters frequently – such as dates of historical events: one visualizes them along the mental object of a timeline, visualizes the entire object, and then moves along it or drops in at various points using whatever sequences are necessary to draw comparisons or identify parallels (e.g., which events happened contemporaneously, or which events influenced which others). I do not know what fraction of the human population carries out these techniques – as the ability to recall facts and dates has always seemed rather straightforward to me, even as it challenged many others. Yet there is no reason why the approaches for more flexible operation with common elements of our awareness cannot be taught to large numbers of people, as these techniques are a matter of how the mind chooses to process, model, and ultimately recombine the data which it encounters. The more general point in relation to Kurzweil’s characterization of human minds is that there may be a greater diversity of human conceptual frameworks and approaches toward cognition than Kurzweil has described. Can an artificially intelligent system be devised to encompass this diversity? This is certainly possible, since the architecture of AI systems would be more flexible than the biological structures of the human brain. Yet it would be necessary for true artificial general intelligences to be able not only to learn using particular predetermined methods, but also to teach themselves new techniques for learning and conceptualization altogether – just as humans are capable of today.

The latter portion of the book is more explicitly philosophical and devoted to thought experiments regarding the nature of the mind, consciousness, identity, free will, and the kinds of transformations that may or may not preserve identity. Many of these discussions are fascinating and erudite – and Kurzweil often transcends fashionable dogmas by bringing in perspectives such as the compatibilist case for free will and the idea that the experiments performed by Benjamin Libet (that showed the existence of certain signals in the brain prior to the conscious decision to perform an activity) do not rule out free will or human agency. It is possible to conceive of such signals as “preparatory work” within the brain to present a decision that could then be accepted or rejected by the conscious mind. Kurzweil draws an analogy to government officials preparing a course of action for the president to either approve or disapprove. “Since the ‘brain’ represented by this analogy involves the unconscious processes of the neocortex (that is, the officials under the president) as well as the conscious processes (the president), we would see neural activity as well as actual actions taking place prior to the official decision’s being made” (p. 231). Kurzweil’s thoughtfulness is an important antidote to commonplace glib assertions that “Experiment X proved that Y [some regularly experienced attribute of humans] is an illusion” – assertions which frequently tend toward cynicism and nihilism if widely adopted and extrapolated upon. It is far more productive to deploy both science and philosophy toward seeking to understand more directly apparent phenomena of human awareness, sensation, and decision-making – instead of rejecting the existence of such phenomena contrary to the evidence of direct experience. Especially if the task is to engineer a mind that has at least the faculties of the human brain, then Kurzweil is wise not to dismiss aspects such as consciousness, free will, and the more elevated emotions, which have been known to philosophers and ordinary people for millennia, and which only predominantly in the 20th century has it become fashionable to disparage in some circles. Kurzweil’s only vulnerability in this area is that he often resorts to statements that he accepts the existence of these aspects “on faith” (although it does not appear to be a particularly religious faith; it is, rather, more analogous to “leaps of faith” in the sense that Albert Einstein referred to them). Kurzweil does not need to do this, as he himself outlines sufficient logical arguments to be able to rationally conclude that attributes such as awareness, free will, and agency upon the world – which have been recognized across predominant historical and colloquial understandings, irrespective of particular religious or philosophical flavors – indeed actually exist and should not be neglected when modeling the human mind or developing artificial minds.

One of the thought experiments presented by Kurzweil is vital to consider, because the process by which an individual’s mind and body might become “upgraded” through future technologies would determine whether that individual is actually preserved – in terms of the aspects of that individual that enable one to conclude that that particular person, and not merely a copy, is still alive and conscious:

Consider this thought experiment: You are in the future with technologies more advanced than today’s. While you are sleeping, some group scans your brain and picks up every salient detail. Perhaps they do this with blood-cell-sized scanning machines traveling in the capillaries of your brain or with some other suitable noninvasive technology, but they have all of the information about your brain at a particular point in time. They also pick up and record any bodily details that might reflect on your state of mind, such as the endocrine system. They instantiate this “mind file” in a morphological body that looks and moves like you and has the requisite subtlety and suppleness to pass for you. In the morning you are informed about this transfer and you watch (perhaps without being noticed) your mind clone, whom we’ll call You 2. You 2 is talking about his or he life as if s/he were you, and relating how s/he discovered that very morning that s/he had been given a much more durable new version 2.0 body. […] The first question to consider is: Is You 2 conscious? Well, s/he certainly seems to be. S/he passes the test I articulated earlier, in that s/he has the subtle cues of becoming a feeling, conscious person. If you are conscious, then so too is You 2.

So if you were to, uh, disappear, no one would notice. You 2 would go around claiming to be you. All of your friends and loved ones would be content with the situation and perhaps pleased that you now have a more durable body and mental substrate than you used to have. Perhaps your more philosophically minded friends would express concerns, but for the most party, everybody would be happy, including you, or at least the person who is convincingly claiming to be you.

So we don’t need your old body and brain anymore, right? Okay if we dispose of it?

You’re probably not going to go along with this. I indicated that the scan was noninvasive, so you are still around and still conscious. Moreover your sense of identity is still with you, not with You 2, even though You 2 thinks s/he is a continuation of you. You 2 might not even be aware that you exist or ever existed. In fact you would not be aware of the existence of You 2 either, if we hadn’t told you about it.

Our conclusion? You 2 is conscious but is a different person than you – You 2 has a different identity. S/he is extremely similar, much more so than a mere genetic clone, because s/he also shares all of your neocortical patterns and connections. Or should I say s/he shared those patterns at the moment s/he was created. At that point, the two of you started to go your own ways, neocortically speaking. You are still around. You are not having the same experiences as You 2. Bottom line: You 2 is not you.  (How to Create a Mind, pp. 243-244)

This thought experiment is essentially the same one as I independently posited in my 2010 essay “How Can Live Forever?: What Does and Does Not Preserve the Self”:

Consider what would happen if a scientist discovered a way to reconstruct, atom by atom, an identical copy of my body, with all of its physical structures and their interrelationships exactly replicating my present condition. If, thereafter, I continued to exist alongside this new individual – call him GSII-2 – it would be clear that he and I would not be the same person. While he would have memories of my past as I experienced it, if he chose to recall those memories, I would not be experiencing his recollection. Moreover, going forward, he would be able to think different thoughts and undertake different actions than the ones I might choose to pursue. I would not be able to directly experience whatever he choose to experience (or experiences involuntarily). He would not have my ‘I-ness’ – which would remain mine only.

Thus, Kurzweil and I agree, at least preliminarily, that an identically constructed copy of oneself does not somehow obtain the identity of the original. Kurzweil and I also agree that a sufficiently gradual replacement of an individual’s cells and perhaps other larger functional units of the organism, including a replacement with non-biological components that are integrated into the body’s processes, would not destroy an individual’s identity (assuming it can be done without collateral damage to other components of the body). Then, however, Kurzweil posits the scenario where one, over time, transforms into an entity that is materially identical to the “You 2” as posited above. He writes:

But we come back to the dilemma I introduced earlier. You, after a period of gradual replacement, are equivalent to You 2 in the scan-and-instantiate scenario, but we decided that You 2 in that scenario does not have the same identity as you. So where does that leave us? (How to Create a Mind, p. 247)

Kurzweil and I are still in agreement that “You 2” in the gradual-replacement scenario could legitimately be a continuation of “You” – but our views diverge when Kurzweil states, “My resolution of the dilemma is this: It is not true that You 2 is not you – it is you. It is just that there are now two of you. That’s not so bad – if you think you are a good thing, then two of you is even better” (p. 247). I disagree. If I (via a continuation of my present vantage point) cannot have the direct, immediate experiences and sensations of GSII-2, then GSII-2 is not me, but rather an individual with a high degree of similarity to me, but with a separate vantage point and separate physical processes, including consciousness. I might not mind the existence of GSII-2 per se, but I would mind if that existence were posited as a sufficient reason to be comfortable with my present instantiation ceasing to exist.  Although Kurzweil correctly reasons through many of the initial hypotheses and intermediate steps leading from them, he ultimately arrives at a “pattern” view of identity, with which I differ. I hold, rather, a “process” view of identity, where a person’s “I-ness” remains the same if “the continuity of bodily processes is preserved even as their physical components are constantly circulating into and out of the body. The mind is essentially a process made possible by the interactions of the brain and the remainder of nervous system with the rest of the body. One’s ‘I-ness’, being a product of the mind, is therefore reliant on the physical continuity of bodily processes, though not necessarily an unbroken continuity of higher consciousness.” (“How Can Live Forever?: What Does and Does Not Preserve the Self”) If only a pattern of one’s mind were preserved and re-instantiated, the result may be potentially indistinguishable from the original person to an external observer, but the original individual would not directly experience the re-instantiation. It is not the content of one’s experiences or personality that is definitive of “I-ness” – but rather the more basic fact that one experiences anything as oneself and not from the vantage point of another individual; this requires the same bodily processes that give rise to the conscious mind to operate without complete interruption. (The extent of permissible partial interruption is difficult to determine precisely and open to debate; general anesthesia is not sufficient to disrupt I-ness, but what about cryonics or shorter-term “suspended animation?). For this reason, the pursuit of biological life extension of one’s present organism remains crucial; one cannot rely merely on one’s “mindfile” being re-instantiated in a hypothetical future after one’s demise. The future of medical care and life extension may certainly involve non-biological enhancements and upgrades, but in the context of augmenting an existing organism, not disposing of that organism.

How to Create a Mind is highly informative for artificial-intelligence researchers and laypersons alike, and it merits revisiting a reference for useful ideas regarding how (at least some) minds operate. It facilitates thoughtful consideration of both the practical methods and more fundamental philosophical implications of the quest to improve the flexibility and autonomy with which our technologies interact with the external world and augment our capabilities. At the same time, as Kurzweil acknowledges, those technologies often lead us to “outsource” many of our own functions to them – as is the case, for instance, with vast amounts of human memories and creations residing on smartphones and in the “cloud”. If the timeframes of arrival of human-like AI capabilities match those described by Kurzweil in his characterization of the “law of accelerating returns”, then questions regarding what constitutes a mind sufficiently like our own – and how we will treat those minds – will become ever more salient in the proximate future. It is important, however, for interest in advancing this field to become more widespread, and for political, cultural, and attitudinal barriers to its advancement to be lifted – for, unlike Kurzweil, I do not consider the advances of technology to be inevitable or unstoppable. We humans maintain the responsibility of persuading enough other humans that the pursuit of these advances is worthwhile and will greatly improve the length and quality of our lives, while enhancing our capabilities and attainable outcomes. Every movement along an exponential growth curve is due to a deliberate push upward by the efforts of the minds of the creators of progress and using the machines they have built.

This article is made available pursuant to the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author, Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II). Learn more about Mr. Stolyarov here

Ideas for Technological Solutions to Destructive Climate Change – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Ideas for Technological Solutions to Destructive Climate Change – Article by G. Stolyarov II

G. Stolyarov II



Destructive climate change is no longer a hypothesis or mere possibility; rather, the empirical evidence for it has become apparent in the form of increasingly frequent extremes of temperature and natural disasters – particularly the ongoing global heat wave and major wildfires occurring in diverse parts of the world. In each individual incident, it is difficult to pinpoint “climate change” as a singular cause, but climate change can be said to exacerbate the frequency and severity of the catastrophes that arise. Residing in Northern Nevada for the past decade has provided me ample empirical evidence of the realities of deleterious climate change. Whereas there were no smoke inundations from California wildfires during the first four summers of my time in Northern Nevada, the next six consecutive summers (2013-2018) were all marked by widespread, persistent inflows of smoke from major wildfires hundreds of kilometers away, so as to render the air quality here unhealthy for long periods of time. From a purely probabilistic standpoint, the probability of this prolonged sequence of recent but consistently recurring smoke inundations would be minuscule in the absence of some significant climate change. Even in the presence of some continued debate over the nature and causes of climate change, the probabilities favor some action to mitigate the evident adverse effects and to rely on the best-available scientific understanding to do so, even with the allowance that the scientific understanding will evolve and hopefully become more refined over time – as good science does. Thus, it is most prudent to accept that there is deleterious climate change and that at least a significant contribution to it comes from emissions of certain gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere as a result of particular human activities, the foremost of which is the use of fossil fuels. This is not an indictment of human beings, nor even of fossil fuels per se, but rather an indication that the deleterious side effects of particular activities should be prevented or alleviated through further human activity and ingenuity.

Yet one of the major causes of historical reluctance among laypersons, especially in the United States, to accept the findings of the majority of climate scientists has been the misguided conflation by certain activists (almost always on the political Left) of the justifiable need to prevent or mitigate the effects of climate change with specific policy recommendations that are profoundly counterproductive to that purpose and would only increase the everyday suffering of ordinary people without genuinely alleviating deleterious climate change. The policy recommendations of this sort have historically fallen into two categories: (i) Neo-Malthusian, “back to nature” proposals to restrict the use of advanced technologies and return to more primitive modes of living; and (ii) elaborate economic manipulations, such as the creation of artificial markets in “carbon credits”, or the imposition of a carbon tax or a related form of “Pigovian tax” – ostensibly to associate the “negative externalities” of greenhouse-gas emissions with a tangible cost. The Neo-Malthusian “solutions” would, in part deliberately, cause extreme detriments to most people’s quality of life (for those who remain alive), while simultaneously resulting in the use of older, far more environmentally destructive techniques of energy generation, such as massive deforestation or the combustion of animal byproducts. The Neo-Pigovian economic manipulations ignore how human motives and incentives actually work and are far too indirect and contingent on a variety of assumptions that are virtually never likely to hold in practice. At the same time, the artificially complex structures that these economic manipulations inevitably create would pose obstructions to the direct deployment of more straightforward solutions by entangling such potential solutions in an inextricable web of compliance interdependencies.

The solutions to destructive climate change are ultimately technological and infrastructural.  No single device or tactic – and certainly no tax or prohibition – can comprehensively combat a problem of this magnitude and variety of impacts. However, a suite of technologically oriented approaches – pushing forward the deployment and quality of the arsenal of tools available to humankind – could indeed arrest and perhaps reverse the course of deleterious climate change by directly reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases and/or directly alleviating the consequences of increased climate variability.

Because both human circumstances and current as well as potential technologies are extremely diverse, no list of potential solutions to deleterious climate change can ever be exhaustive. Here I attempt the beginnings of such a list, but I invite others to contribute additional technologically oriented solutions as well. There are only two constraints on the kinds of solutions that can feasibly and ethically combat deleterious climate change – but those constraints are of immense importance:

Constraint 1. The solutions may not result in a net detriment to any individual human’s length or material quality of life.

Constraint 2. The solutions may not involve the prohibition of technologies or the restraint of further technological progress.

Constraint 1 implies that any solution to deleterious climate change will need to be a Pareto-efficient move, in that at least one person should benefit, while no person should suffer a detriment (or at least a detriment that has not been satisfactorily compensated for in that person’s judgment). Constraint 2 implies a techno-optimistic and technoprogressive perspective on combating deleterious climate change: we can do it without restrictions or prohibitions, but rather through innovations that will benefit all humans. Some technologies, particularly those associated with the extraction and use of fossil fuels, may gradually be consigned to obsolescence and irrelevance with this approach, but this will be due to their voluntary abandonment once superior, more advanced technological alternatives become widespread and economical to deploy. The more freedom to innovate and active acceleration of technological progress exist, the sooner that stage of fossil-fuel obsolescence could be reached. In the meantime, some damaging events are unfortunately unavoidable (as are many natural catastrophes more generally in our still insufficiently advanced era), but a variety of approaches can be deployed to at least prevent or reduce some damage that would otherwise arise.

If humanity solves the problems of deleterious climate change, it can only be with the mindset that solutions are indeed achievable, and they are achievable without compromising our progress or standards of living. We must be neither defeatists nor reactionaries, but rather should proactively accelerate the development of emerging technologies to meet this challenge by actualizing the tremendous creative potential our minds have to offer.

What follows is the initial list of potential solutions. Long may it grow.

Direct Technological Innovation

  • Continued development of economical solar and wind power that could compete with fossil fuels on the basis of cost alone.
  • Continued development of electric vehicles and increases in their range, as well as deployment of charging stations throughout all inhabited areas to enable recharging to become as easy as a refueling a gasoline-powered vehicle.
  • Development of in vitro (lab-grown) meat that is biologically identical to currently available meat but does not require actual animals to die. Eventually this could lead the commercial raising of cattle – which contribute significantly to methane emissions – to decline substantially.
  • Development of vertical farming to increase the amount of arable land indoors – rendering more food production largely unaffected by climate change.
  • Autonomous vehicles offered as services by transportation network companies – reducing the need for direct car ownership in urban areas.
  • Development and spread of pest-resistant, drought-resistant genetically modified crops that require less intensive cultivation techniques and less application of spray pesticides, and which can also flourish in less hospitable climates.
  • Construction of hyperloop transit networks among major cities, allowing rapid transit without the pollution generated by most automobile and air travel. Hyperloop networks would also allow for more rapid evacuation from a disaster area.
  • Construction of next-generation, meltdown-proof nuclear-power reactors, including those that utilize the thorium fuel cycle. It is already possible today for most of a country’s electricity to be provided through nuclear power, if only the fear of nuclear energy could be overcome. However, the best way to overcome the fear of nuclear energy is to deploy new technologies that eliminate the risk of meltdown. In addition to this, technologies should be developed to reprocess nuclear waste and to safely re-purpose dismantled nuclear weapons for civilian energy use.
  • Construction of smart infrastructure systems and devices that enable each building to use available energy with the maximum possible benefit and minimum possible waste, while also providing opportunities for the building to generate its own renewable energy whenever possible.
  • In the longer term, development of technologies to capture atmospheric carbon dioxide and export it via spaceships to the Moon and Mars, where it could be released as part of efforts to generate a greenhouse effect and begin terraforming these worlds.

Disaster Response

  • Fire cameras located at prominent vantage points in any area of high fire risk – perhaps linked to automatic alerts to nearby fire departments and sprinkler systems built into the landscape, which might be auto-activated if a sufficiently large fire is detected in the vicinity.
  • Major increases in recruitment of firefighters, with generous pay and strategic construction of outposts in wilderness areas. Broad, paved roads need to lead to the outposts, allowing for heavy equipment to reach the site of a wildfire easily.
  • Development of firefighting robots to accompany human firefighters. The robots would need to be constructed from fire-resistive materials and have means of transporting themselves over rugged terrain (e.g., tank treads).
  • Design and deployment of automated firefighting drones – large autonomous aircraft that could carry substantial amounts of water and/or fire-retardant sprays.

Disaster Prevention

  • Recruitment of large brush-clearing brigades to travel through heavily forested areas – particularly remote and seldom-accessed ones – and clear dead vegetation as well as other wildfire fuels. This work does not require significant training or expertise and so could offer an easy job opportunity for currently unemployed or underemployed individuals. In the event of shortages of human labor, brush-clearing robots could be designed and deployed. The robots could also have the built-in capability to reprocess dead vegetation into commercially usable goods – such as mulch or wood pellets. Think of encountering your friendly maintenance robot when hiking or running on a trail!
  • Proactive creation of fire breaks in wilderness areas – not “controlled burns” (which are, in practice, difficult to control) but rather controlled cuts of smaller, flammable brush to reduce the probability of fire spreading. Larger trees of historic significance should be spared, but with defensible space created around them.
  • Deployment of surveillance drones in forested areas, to detect behaviors such as vandalism or improper precautions around manmade fires – which are often the causes of large wildfires.
  • Construction of large levees throughout coastal regions – protecting lowland areas from flooding and achieving in the United States what has been achieved in the Netherlands over centuries on a smaller scale. Instead of building a wall at the land border, build many walls along the coasts!
  • Construction of vast desalination facilities along ocean coasts. These facilities would take in ocean water, thereby counteracting the effects of rising water levels, then purify the water and transmit it via a massive pipe network throughout the country, including to drought-prone regions. This would mitigating multiple problems, reducing the excess of water in the oceans while replenishing the deficit of water in inland areas.
  • Creation of countrywide irrigation and water-pipeline networks to spread available water and prevent drought wherever it might arise.

Economic Policies

  • Redesign of home insurance policies and disaster-mitigation/recovery grants to allow homeowners who lost their homes to natural disasters to rebuild in different, safer areas.
  • Development of workplace policies to encourage telecommuting and teleconferencing, including through immersive virtual-reality technologies that allow for plausible simulacra of in-person interaction. The majority of business interactions can be performed virtually, eliminating the need for much business-related commuting and travel.
  • Elimination of local and regional monopoly powers of utility companies in order to allow alternative-energy utilities, such as companies specializing in the installation of solar panels, to compete and offer their services to homeowners independently of traditional utilities.
  • Establishment of consumer agencies (public or private) that review products for durability and encourage the construction of devices that lack “planned obsolescence” but rather can be used for decades with largely similar effect.
  • Establishment of easily accessible community repair shops where old devices and household goods can be taken to be repaired or re-purposed instead of being discarded.
  • Abolition of inflexible zoning regulations and overly prescriptive building codes; replacement with a more flexible system that allows a wide variety of innovative construction techniques, including disaster-resistant and sustainable construction methods, tiny homes, homes created from re-purposed materials, and mixed-use residential/commercial developments (which also reduce the need for vehicular commuting).
  • Abolition of sales taxes on energy-efficient consumer goods.
  • Repeal or non-enactment of any mileage-based taxes for electric or hybrid vehicles, thereby resulting in such vehicles becoming incrementally less expensive to operate.
  • Lifting of all bans and restrictions on genetically modified plants and animals – which are a crucial component in adaptation to climate change and in reducing the carbon footprint of agricultural activities.

Harm Mitigation

  • Increases in planned urban vegetation through parks, rooftop gardens, trees planted alongside streets, pedestrian / bicyclist “greenways” lined with vegetation. The additional vegetation can absorb carbon dioxide, reducing the concentrations in the atmosphere.
  • Construction of additional pedestrian / bicyclist “greenways”, which could help reduce the need for vehicular commutes.
  • Construction of always-operational disaster shelters with abundant stockpiles of aid supplies, in order to prevent the delays in deployment of resources that occur during a disaster. When there is no disaster, the shelters could perform other valuable tasks that generally are not conducive to market solutions, such as litter cleanup in public spaces or even offering inexpensive meeting space to various individuals and organizations. (This could also contribute to the disaster shelters largely becoming self-funding in calm times.)
  • Provision of population-wide free courses on disaster preparation and mitigation. The courses could have significant online components as well as in-person components administered by first-aid and disaster-relief organizations.

This article is made available pursuant to the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author, Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II). Learn more about Mr. Stolyarov here