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What Goes On In The Depths Of Space? – Art by Alastair Temple

What Goes On In The Depths Of Space? – Art by Alastair Temple

what_goes_on_in_the_depths_of_space__by_smiling_demon-d8wnz3yNote: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of art.

Created by digital artist Alastair Temple, this art was featured in the 26th Exhibition of The Luminarium, “Depth”. The entire exhibit can be viewed here.

Visit Alastair Temple’s DeviantArt page and view his other art.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Sci-Fi City – Art by Maxime Delcambre

Sci-Fi City – Art by Maxime Delcambre

maxime-delcambre-sci-fi-city-md-bannerjpgNote: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of art.

Created by digital artist Maxime Delcambre, this futuristic matte painting portrays a flourishing science fiction cityscape.

Visit Maxime Delcambre’s portfolio for more of his matte paintings and illustrations.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License and was originally posted on DeviantArt.

Phoenix Station – Art by Glenn Clovis

Phoenix Station – Art by Glenn Clovis

phoenix_station_by_glennclovis-d6v3c7mNote: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of art.

Created by digital artist Glenn Clovis, this art was featured in the 22nd Exhibition of The Luminarium, “Illuminate V”. The entire exhibit can be viewed here.

Visit Glenn Clovis’s DeviantArt page and view his other art.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Future City Concept – Art by Eric Dima-ala

Future City Concept – Art by Eric Dima-ala

future_city_concept_by_frenicNote: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of art.

Created by digital artist Eric Dima-ala, this futuristic matte painting captures the glittering beauty of a bustling nighttime cityscape.

Visit Eric Dima-Ala’s website for more of his matte paintings and illustrations.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License and was originally posted on DeviantArt.

Space Elevator – Art by Glenn Clovis

Space Elevator – Art by Glenn Clovis

space_elevator_by_glennclovis-d7egmifNote: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of art.

Created by digital artist Glenn Clovis, this art was created for the 23rd Exhibition of The Luminarium, “KIBERNETIK”. The entire exhibit can be viewed here.

Visit Glenn Clovis’s DeviantArt page and view his other art.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

History of the Minoan Civilization of Ancient Crete (2002) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

History of the Minoan Civilization of Ancient Crete (2002) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 20, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2002 and published in four parts on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay earned over 32,200 page views on Associated Content/Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  ***
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 20, 2014
***

The Minoan civilization of ancient Crete has long fascinated historians and students of history. As early as about 4000 years ago, the Minoans already had a thriving culture with major commercial, esthetic, and technological accomplishments, unparalleled virtually anywhere else in the world of their time. Some have even speculated that the Greek legend of the ultra-advanced ancient city of Atlantis was based on knowledge, passed down through the ages, of the accomplishments of Minoan Crete.

This essay will examine key aspects of Minoan life and culture. We begin by looking at this civilization’s emergence and the kind of geographical environment in which it came to be. We then continue the examination of the Minoan civilization of ancient Crete by discussing the Minoan economy and government – both of which were remarkably advanced for their time and allowed the Minoans a then unparalleled degree of liberty and prosperity. We proceed to discuss this culture’s religious, esthetic, and technological aspects, the athletic activities common in Minoan Crete, and the manner in which this remarkable ancient civilization met its end.

Beginnings of the Minoan Culture

The site of Knossos, the capital of ancient Crete, possessed discernible human influences from as early as 7000 BC. The beginning of intense development can be detected at about 3000 BC.

The Minoans originated in Asia Minor and spoke a language not related to the Indo-European group. The interpretation of their scripts and any manner of their phonetics are lost to us, although Myceneans and later Greeks may have borrowed certain Minoan aspects of speech.

Centralization of government was gradually instituted with the construction of the first Palace in Knossos at about 2000 BC.

When population reached levels exceeding the available food supplies, migrations to neighboring islands were required to extend the accessible arable territory. Need of a navy also arose for purposes of transportation as well as commerce with other Mediterranean cultures for the acquisition of food and other raw goods.

Geography of Crete

Crete, a large island in the Mediterranean, lies halfway between Asia Minor and Greece, granting it a central spot in numerous ancient trade routes on the sea.

During the earliest days of its development, Crete was free from invasions, since no civilization had yet developed a sufficiently massive and functional navy to mount an expedition. This permitted relatively calm development, where resources could be employed for technological advancement and the arts rather than frequent warfare, subsistence, and repairs. The Minoans as a result created few defensive structures and no standing army, since the necessity for these was not present.

Crete possesses a temperate climate and highly productive soil. Large families were common, as demonstrated by houses of four to six rooms for even the poorest dwellers within the realm. Evidently, the frequent agricultural surpluses resulted in rapid population growth and hence the need for expansion and trade.

Economy

The primary vehicles of the Minoan economy were mercantile ships also equipped with armaments. They conducted journeys to mainland Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Palestine. From there they imported basic resources such as additional food to maintain a constantly increasing population.

Minoans exported refined goods, such as jewelry, wine, oil, and artwork, for Crete was home to numerous skilled craftsmen and specialists.

Present hypotheses concerning the identity of numerous Minoan documents hint at a purpose of recording commercial transactions. It is known that accuracy and calculation were valued in conducting economic deals.

Trade was centralized and commissioned by the King, whose extensive network of bureaucrats would implement detailed designs and analyze the results. Because of Crete’s small size and relatively small population, it was possible for the monarch to govern the country in a similar way to the management of a modern corporation. Nevertheless, the government did not neglect the people, and there is evidence of even the lower classes enjoying imported goods. The distribution may not have been even, yet the differences between wealth and poverty were substantially smaller than in any other contemporary culture.

Government

Crete was ruled by a monarch from the central palace of Knossos. The first ruler (and the only one whose name is known) was the legendary King Minos, described by later Greeks as being the son of Zeus and appointed by the chief deity to reign over the island.

The monarchy, however, was far from a totalitarian regime. Historian Richard Hooker describes the role of the King as a “chief entrepreneur or CEO” rather than a dictator. Numerous administrative decisions were shared by a priesthood (which was mainly female) and an immense network of bureaucrats and scribes. This semi-meritocracy was one of the most civil regimes of its time, remarkable for its lack of rigid caste structures and barriers to individual socioeconomic advancement.

Evidence suggests that the people of Crete were permitted a large degree of liberty, and no gender inequalities existed. Cretans are anomalous in that respect, having avoided the negative impacts of late Neolithic societies upon women and the poor. Perhaps this is due to the fact that their relative tranquility placed a smaller need on a strong military and a subservient workforce. Thus patriarchy and a rule of warlords never developed.

Religion

The Minoans had a matriarchal religion in which no male gods were detectable.

Cretan religion orients itself around animals, and numerous deities seem to possess a central emphasis on them. For example, “The Huntress” represents human attempts for mastery over other creatures, while “The Mountain Mother”, a diametric opposite, attempts to preserve a natural setting for animals. A popular household goddess was portrayed as entangled in snakes throughout her organism. Other goddesses possessed exteriors of birds, most notably doves.

The Minoans worshipped trees, rocks, and springs in a semi-Animist manner.

Evil figures in Minoan religion are represented as human demons with the limbs of lions and other carnivores.

Art, Architecture, and Technology

The most renowned of the palaces in Knossos was the four-story Labyrinth, the chief palace of the King in existence from 2000 to 1350 BC. Its extraordinary abundance of rooms served as a basis for legends of foreigners, such as mainland Greeks, who perceived it as a maze in which it would be humanly impossible to remember one’s way. In reality, however, it was not the crude dwelling of the Minotaur that myths describe it to be. It possessed numerous places of worship, workshops, lavish banquet halls, and a grand courtyard in the center, surrounded by four sections. This palace was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, in 1700 BC, and later by an earthquake in 1600 BC. The eruption of the Santorini volcano in 1450 BC was its greatest catastrophe, although it was restored once more by conquering Greeks. However, it fell into neglect and disrepair as Crete lost its political value around 1380 BC. This monumental work is thought to have been designed by the legendary architect and scientist Daidalus, the father of Icarus.

Minoan art seems to have been separated from mundane tasks and duties and oriented toward a purely aesthetic purpose. Numerous wall murals in palatial complexes within Knossos illustrate scenes from the animal world and everyday life, common in depiction but detached from practicality. The objects portrayed were often trivial and superficial, and there is no moral or political aim discernible in the works. Art was instead developed “for art’s sake”.

Minoan cities possessed plumbing and sanitation systems reaching into the confines of every home. The exact means by which they realized this was, unfortunately, lost following their decline and not recovered until 17th century Europeans had again attained this skill.

Sports

The renowned sport of ancient Crete, open to both genders and subjecting all to the same standards, was bull leaping. This was a dangerous pastime, but harmless and humane to the athlete and the animal if performed with skill. A bull would be released to charge toward the jumper. Once it was in sufficient proximity, the performer would attach his hands to the bull’s horns and vault onto the creature’s back. Another common objective was to somersault from such a position to a state of standing on a spot of land directly behind the bull.

Boxing was also a favorite activity, as portrayed in numerous wall murals. The precise regulations are unknown, but this is perhaps a source of inspiration for later Greeks, who adapted the sport to the Olympic Games.

Fate of the Civilization

The Minoans’ isolation from foreign threats caused them to maintain feeble frontiers, and gradually mainland powers such as Mycenae developed, with the fleet and army to overcome them.

The task of conquest was perhaps lightened for the Myceneans by the explosion of the Santorini volcano, four or five times more massive than the cataclysmic eruption of Krakatoa in 1888. This, along with a similar catastrophe on a nearby island from the volcano Thera, inflicted devastating blows upon Crete’s population and economy, crippling it and rendering it susceptible to invasion.

Under Achaean occupation, Knossos gradually withered away into an insignificant village, the cultural level of the Myceneans being too primitive to maintain the complexities of the civilization which they had conquered.

Nevertheless, evidence suggests that Cretan script was somewhat adopted by the occupants. Elements of Linear A, the original (and yet un-decoded) alphabet of the Minoans, have been spotted in Linear B, the early writing of the Myceneans.

Myths maintained a memory of this civilization in such fascinating works as the tale of Theseus and his struggle against the Minotaur for over 3000 years. Only between 1900 and 1931, during the extensive excavations conducted by archaeologist Arthur Evans, did details begin to surface about the true identity of this culture. Archaeologists and historians discovered a humane and prosperous society that existed during a relatively savage time, a society that provided many of the early foundations of Western civilization.

Sources

“Knossos.” http://www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21123a/e211wa03.html

Hooker, Richard. “The Palace Civilizations of the Aegean.” http://richard-hooker.com/sites/worldcultures/MINOA/MINOANS.HTM

Iraklion Museum. “City of Knossos: The Palace of King Minos.” http://www.dilos.com/region/crete/kn_01.html.

Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Without intending it, Patrick Henry communicated a truth that is becoming increasingly apparent in our era: we can one day be truly free if humans achieve indefinite life extension; without it, we will be both unfree and eventually dead. Within our lifetimes, we will either have liberty and no death, or death and no liberty. We cannot have both liberty and death.

Donate today to the fundraiser to Help Teach 1000 Kids That Death is Wrong.

References
Death is Wrong on Amazon
* Paperback version
* Kindle version
Death is Wrong Official Home Page

– “Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “Liberty Through Long Life” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “Life Extension and Risk Aversion” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware” – Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald – The Intercept – March 12, 2014
– “Longevity Escape Velocity” – Wikipedia
SENS Research Foundation
Movement for Indefinite Life Extension Facebook Page

“Death is Wrong” Discussed on Mashable and Slashdot – Post by G. Stolyarov II

“Death is Wrong” Discussed on Mashable and Slashdot – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
March 16, 2014
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I was pleased to see that Mashable’s Rebecca Hiscott wrote a fair, thoroughly researched, and factually accurate piece on Death is Wrong. Ms. Hiscott interviewed me on March 13, 2014, and incorporated my remarks in her new article, “Children’s Book Teaches Kids ‘Death is Wrong’”. I am hopeful that this development will aid in spreading the book’s reach and impact. The book was also listed on Slashdot, where a brief but fair and factual description has triggered quite an intense discussion, with both supportive and contrary arguments.

I am also pleased that the Amazon ranking for Death is Wrong has increased to unprecedented levels.

The book is now ranked #6 in the Kindle store in both Children’s eBooks and Children’s Nonfiction in the category of “Science, Nature & How It Works”, as well as #88 overall in the category of all Children’s Books on Science, Nature & How It Works. Could Death is Wrong become a bestseller? If so, its long-term impact on the culture could be just what I aspired toward – educating the next generation of life-extension researchers and activists, so as to accelerate the arrival of indefinite longevity for us all.

Amazon Kindle Store Ranking on March 16, 2014
Amazon Kindle Store Ranking for Death is Wrong – March 16, 2014

There remains time to donate to the Indiegogo fundraiser to spread Death is Wrong to 1000 children, so as to extend its impact even further.

Slate is Wrong about “Death is Wrong” – Article by Eric Schulke

Slate is Wrong about “Death is Wrong” – Article by Eric Schulke

The New Renaissance Hat
Eric Schulke
March 16, 2014
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There is an article at Slate that talks about the children’s book Death is Wrong and the fundraiser to distribute 1,000 copies of it to children.

The article’s author, Joelle Renstrom, writes,

“In late February, Stolyarov and the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000 to distribute 1,000 free copies to kids. The campaign ends on April 23, and so far the funds fall well short of the goal.”

The goal is 33% funded after 33% of the days. That seems right on track to me. I don’t know why Slate would feel the need to exaggerate that point to make it seem like our funding progress was not favorable to us.

“But there’s a difference between curing grave diseases, which would increase our lifespans, and ‘solving’ death. Stolyarov sells kids an updated myth of pharaohs, the fountain of youth, and Gilgamesh cloaked in the singularity, the theorized point at which technology and superior artificial intelligence fundamentally alter life. He implies that death is the Problem and that solving it will ensure smooth sailing, which is irresponsible at best and disastrous at worst.”

To imply that death isn’t the problem, that you can go through deaths of people you know and then yourself, and that it is not worth smoothing out those parts of the seas of life, and to call it irresponsible and possibly disastrous to do so, is unfounded, self-back-patting – assertive flippancy at its finest. No offense. I’m sure Ms. Renstrom has plenty of redeeming qualities, but that statement is not one of them.

Sure, we fight to keep death at bay indefinitely, but we will be happy if the world’s collective efforts help lead to 500-year lifespans, or 200-year lifespans, or indefinite life spans with 77% of people dying by accident within the first 800 years anyways, etc. We support a variety of potential pathways that could bring about more good futures for more people. We support anti-aging research initiatives like SENS and many others. The critics at Slate think they’re clever for associating what we aim for with the negative image of immortality as portrayed by book and film sensationalists that make up immorality-themed stories. In the movies, it is the unspoken word that Zombies are only supposed to move slowly, but that is irrelevant to life and death causes, too.

Having a trendy, knee-jerk, cynical, superficial response to this life-and-death topic is not acceptable. Think this through more. It is, “life is good; make it work”, not, “life could be bad; justify why it’s good before making it work”.

“Stolyarov rails against acceptance, even when unaccompanied by belief in the afterlife; he rejects the Buddhist position of experiencing pain caused by death while knowing death has released a loved one from suffering. Instead, he targets an audience that could conceivably solve death before he has to stare it down, which is neither braver nor better.”

He is working on one of the most intellectually forward moving projects of our times, and he does it in a world where primary and secondary schools don’t put a lot of critical-thinking coursework into their curricula, and where it shows. It’s a world where 85% of the people claim that they know an invisible pal in the clouds can be telepathically begged to bend the laws of physics for them. Of course what he is doing is great and brave; he stands up in the face of and helps the as-of-yet ungrateful, often antagonistic masses.

“Death Is Wrong makes immortality seem within reach, describing doubling a roundworm’s life via genetic mutation and the cell-rejuvenating Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence proposed by bio-gerontologist and anti-aging crusader Aubrey de Grey.”

The tools to do it are here now. It is within reach. For example, diseases that are like the forms of damage that accumulate in and around the cells of our bodies and that cause us to age to death, have already been worked on with success in laboratories around the world. Also, some gene recombination has already stopped some diseases. We know how to work on this kind of stuff. We just have to determine to get it done now. So let’s rally people to this cause rather than directing them away from it.

“Representing a legitimate problem as a solution invites disaster, especially if it means ignoring issues such as overpopulation.”

Population is on a decline in many industrialized countries when you subtract immigration. So there is one of many solutions to a potential overpopulation crisis.

I often have to wonder why life-extensionists have to be the bearers of facts like these to people who use these concepts to try to discredit projects and organizations of life-and-death significance. It’s one thing to work to discredit people; it’s another thing to do it without having your facts straight, and it’s yet another messed-up thing altogether to do all that, but not even inquiringly or half-jestingly, but assertively.

What about the potential underpopulation crisis?

But it doesn’t even matter in this context; death comes first. If you’ve got two problems, and impending death of you and people you know is one of them, then you work on the death as the top priority. Death is definitely not the hands-down, go-to solution when you think about a may-be/could-be population challenge of an unknown form. It’s way down at the bottom of that list, if it’s even on there at all. In the meantime, many groups and organizations continue to work on forecasting for and planning for scenarios like those. It’s a nearly moot alarmist point to say that transhumanists and supporters of indefinite life extension can’t and don’t think of the big picture of things. I like Joelle Renstrom’s concern for it, though, and I encourage her to get involved with one of those organizations, too, and help plan ahead.

“The transhumanist declaration acknowledges technology’s double-edges: “humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. … Although all progress is change, not all change is progress.” This consideration is missing from the book. Part of preparing kids for a technological future is teaching them that not all technology is necessary or beneficial, and that we can make technological mistakes.  Putting all our eggs in the “technology will fix everything” basket is even more dangerous than putting them all in the “death is wrong” basket. What if technology doesn’t cure death? What if it, or the rush to develop it, actually causes death?”

What if, in our rush to quadruple-check every “what if”, we forgot to move forward toward the cures, and we all died needlessly? People like me, Gennady Stolyarov, and many others work with projects that help advance our understanding in those regards, too. Why would we even be accused of neglecting those considerations? We don’t support pioneering of new ground by putting on blindfolds and running at full speed through the jungle swinging a machete. Hey wait, I think I just described a straw-man that the author of this article created. I’m calling “straw man” on that point.

The presentations at the conferences we support, the authors of the books we help promote, the organizations we choose to associate with — they talk about, monitor, work with, and report on risks, ethics, sustainability, and related matters all of the time. We or people that we know, work with places like Longecity, SENS Foundation, Methuselah Foundation, Fight Aging, Campaign Against Aging, Coalition to Extend Life, Longevity Alliance, Maximum Life Foundation, Humanity+, Lifeboat Foundation, IEET, Singularity Network, Foresight Institute, Cryonics Network, and many others.

“Stolyarov might argue he’s advocating adaptation, and thus survival, but curing death would constitute artificial selection—a drastic and deliberate change in our own evolution. Inherent in that argument is a troubling notion of human exceptionalism—that we shouldn’t have to play by evolution’s rules. Stolyarov suggests we select ourselves (those who can afford it, anyway), rather than leave it to nature.”

Artificial is a kind of natural. It is natural for humans to use their tools and abilities to do what they can do with them. Human beings are exceptional. The universe didn’t (seemingly) sit empty for millions of years, with dust balls whistling in the wind, comets and cosmic gas flying by, no sentience or record of such, and then have the miraculous occurrence of sentience through human form spring up from that dust—just so that this intellectual power-tool in a land of endless wonder, potential, and mystery, could decide itself to be less significant than the ducks and the trees and allow itself to disassemble from its miraculous, universe-control-potential form, back into inanimate dust and vapor trails. It is important to use our human opportunity to leverage resources to uncover as many of the mysteries of the big picture of existence as possible.

“Kids could grow up not just afraid of death, but also afraid of failing to fix it. Stolyarov makes death a powerful nemesis that could rule their lives—just as it’s ruled his.”

What an insulting and baseless speculation to assert. If you’re going to insult somebody, at least add enough fallacy-free substance to it to hold it up.

People like the author of the Slate article want children to continue growing up afraid of life. They want death to continue to drag down their spirits and traumatize them. They want children to think that wars and the greedy people make death an appealing and noble exit. They tell people that it’s better to be intellectually lazy and forget about working on their challenges, that it’s better to lay down and die, that life is too hard and dreary. They don’t want children to think about fixing death, because they can’t conceive of having a spine when it comes to standing up to tough danger. They want indifference to remain a powerful nemesis that rules children’s minds, so they can’t see the true dangers in death and respond appropriately.

Eric Schulke was a director at LongeCity during 2009-2013. He has also been an activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension and other causes for over 13 years.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
March 14, 2014
******************************

Do you wish to actually live in a free society, rather than just ponder what one would be like? For some, the desire to live in liberty is so strong that they would echo Patrick Henry’s immortal words, “Give me liberty or give me death!” More than just those words should be immortal; in fact, you should be. Without intending it, Patrick Henry communicated a truth that is becoming increasingly apparent in our era: we can one day be truly free if humans achieve indefinite life extension; without it, we will be both unfree and eventually dead. Within our lifetimes, we will either have liberty and no death, or death and no liberty. We cannot have both liberty and death.

Death is Wrong is my new children’s book on indefinite life extension, beautifully illustrated by my wife Wendy Stolyarov.  The book is an educational primer which presents, in a concise, accessible manner the philosophical desirability and scientific feasibility of lifting the upper limit on human lifespans through the application of science and medical technology. We are currently in the midst of an Indiegogo fundraiser to spread this book to 1000 children, free of cost to them.  Death is Wrong does not take any political positions and does not advocate specifically for libertarianism, since we seek to focus on life extension in the book and to attract as universal a base of support as possible. It is certainly feasible to hold almost any political persuasion and to advocate the radical extension of human lifespans. Yet I, as a libertarian, see the defeat of senescence through medical progress to be an indispensable component to achieving liberty.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

The U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims that humans have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While the right to life is a negative right – the right not to have others infringe on one’s life – it is nonetheless indisputable that the positive condition of life is the prerequisite for the exercise of any kind of liberty and the pursuit of any kind of happiness. If one is dead, there is nothing – no choice, no growth, no self-actualization – and not even a memory of any past deed or previous fulfillment of one’s goals. Without life, liberty is impossible, and yet biological decay propels us all toward the loss of the very potential for liberty. Death obliterates everything: our precious individual universes, full of sensations, insights, thoughts, and aspirations are forever snuffed out, deprived of the possibility of ever fulfilling any goal or actualizing any ideal.

In “Liberty Through Long Life” – written in April 2013 – I described the possibilities for improving the prospects of liberty just on the horizon, facilitated by accelerating technological progress – from emerging methods of online education to cryptocurrencies to seasteading and space colonization. I explained that libertarians should want to live as long as possible in order to see and benefit from the fruits of these tremendous innovations.

Just two months after I wrote “Liberty Through Long Life”, most of us in the Western world found out just how unfree we truly were. Especially in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency and its counterparts in many Western countries are spying indiscriminately on hundreds of millions of innocents, it has become apparent that the political struggle for liberty in today’s climate has encountered barriers that appear, at present, virtually insurmountable. I am not referring to failure to achieve the libertarian political ideal or even a directional approach toward such an ideal – despite the ardent, passionate, unquestionably dedicated work that activists for liberty have done during and between the past several election cycles. The situation today is worse than that. Even abolishing the Orwellian spying apparatus and penalizing those officials who concealed and then endorsed it appears to be seen as out of the question by the political elite, no matter how great the pressure from the public and how completely useless the mass spying has turned out to be. More than ten months after Snowden’s revelations, all of the powerful people who orchestrated the mass surveillance remain in their offices, and Snowden is a fugitive in Russia. Now it has even been disclosed that the NSA has devised programs to harvest data from private hard drives, webcams, and microphones by infecting personal computers with malware in mass. Can we expect to see an end to what we would have, just one year ago, considered an unimaginably intimate surveillance – or, more likely, will the gatekeepers of the current political order assemble all of their power in the effort to perpetuate it? Achieving mere non-perversity – not to mention liberty – as an immutable principle for contemporary Western political arrangements to follow, would appear to be a Herculean task.

Yet I do not intend to undermine hope. Eventually the world improves, and old oppressions dwindle away. Yet “eventually” can be a long time. It took millennia to put an end to the legal institution of slavery, and during the early 18th century it seemed firmly rooted in the Western world. Yet forward-thinking outliers – from the Quakers to the Enlightenment philosophes – recognized its depravity and articulated the moral case for abolition back when slave labor seemed to be inextricably integrated into the most influential economies and systems of production. William Lloyd Garrison, the great 19th-century abolitionist, recognized that the push to end slavery as soon as possible was necessary to see it ended at all. He wrote, “Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.” [1] Slavery was ultimately abolished through a long sequence of often highly sub-optimal steps – but, were it not for the uncompromising immediate abolitionism of people like Garrison, it might not have been abolished at all, or at least would have been abolished much later. If we argue for liberty today, it will still likely take decades of the most ardent advocacy and activism to undo the harms caused by ongoing and escalating infringements of every natural and constitutional right of even the most law-abiding citizens. Therefore, while I support every effort – conventional or radically innovative – to move our societies and governments in the direction of liberty, it is essential to recognize that the success of such efforts will take an immense amount of time. If you do not remain alive during that time, then you will die without having known true liberty.

Yet we should urge not just the immediate abolition of oppression – but also of death itself. The forward-thinking outliers today – thinkers in the transhumanist and life-extension movements – recognize that transitioning from today’s medical system to one in which humans could achieve longevity escape velocity – where every year lived increases life expectancy by more than one year – will likely take decades of the most dedicated efforts in research and advocacy. Dr. Aubrey de Grey of the SENS Research Foundation, one of the foremost advocates of indefinite life extension, thinks that there exists a 50% chance of reaching longevity escape velocity in 25 years, with adequate funding. Yet, in order to catalyze the culture to embrace, or at least not oppose, the research projects and medical therapies needed, the sentiment that the abolition of death for innocent humans is desirable yesterday is imperative. This is a sentiment with which libertarians can find a close kinship, for they know well the desire for liberty to be here yesterday. This does not mean that we should forsake long-term plans or disdain incremental improvement in lifespans or medical treatments. Quite the contrary, the achievement of the great goal of preserving each innocent life will be made out of a long sequence of such incremental improvements that will save an increasing proportion of people with each new feat of progress. But we should also strive to greatly accelerate progress in biogerontological research and medicine, so that the breakthroughs can come in time to save us and those whom we cherish.

Educating the next generation to work with full dedication toward both liberty and immensely longer lifespans is a key component of this new abolitionism of the 21st century. Every bit of liberty achieved for medical innovators and cutting-edge researchers in biotechnology and nanotechnology will be a boon to the rate of progress. Every bit of lifespan extension will give activists for liberty more time to reverse Western political systems’ gallop toward totalitarianism, or to develop innovative workarounds that bypass the political systems altogether. Death is Wrong breaks with the prevalent traditional approaches of teaching children about death – approaches which either attempt to justify death through arguments that devalue the moral worth of human life entirely, or else endeavor to persuade children to resign themselves to an inevitable if regrettable end and to fill their time with other pursuits to get the thought of death out of their minds.  Instead, the book confronts the predicament of human mortality head on and shows young readers that death is neither insurmountable nor just; instead, it can be defeated, albeit with great effort. My hope is that enough young minds will be motivated by Death is Wrong to acquire the skill sets in science, philosophy, and advocacy needed to accelerate the arrival of indefinite longevity. More generally, I hope that the book will challenge children to break from conventional packages of thinking and engage every single idea critically and actively, eventually arriving at practical and moral worldviews based on principles that correspond to reality rather than the surrounding majority opinion.

Every day approximately 150,000 humans die throughout the world – 100,000 of them from diseases of senescence. Every day by which we can hasten the arrival of indefinite longevity, at least 100,000 precious individual universes will be preserved and will be able to join us in contributing their ideas and actions toward a free, just, humane society that respects and protects the rights of every individual. The contribution of indefinite life extension to human survival rates will likely even be beyond the gains reached solely due to medical progress. As I explained in “Life Extension and Risk Aversion”, the longer people’s lifespans and time horizons become, the more conscientiously they will seek to avoid or diminish physical hazards that could deprive them of hundreds or thousands of years of expected life. Exceptionally long-lived humans will work with far more intensity to reduce the prevalence of accidents, infections, natural disasters, crimes, wars, and – yes – politically motivated physical harm. A society comprised of such young supercentenarians would quickly become one of libertarians.

Libertarians can help by joining the movement for indefinite life extension and supporting the fundraiser to spread Death is Wrong to 1000 children – the next generation whose work may well enable us all to live in true liberty one day. May we have liberty – and defeat death!

[1] Quoted in William H. Pease and Jane H. Pease, eds., The Antislavery Argument (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965), p. xxxv.