U.S. Transhumanist Party Virtual Enlightenment Salon with Zach Richardson, Jason Geringer, and Ben Ballweg – July 25, 2021

U.S. Transhumanist Party Virtual Enlightenment Salon with Zach Richardson, Jason Geringer, and Ben Ballweg – July 25, 2021

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Jason Geringer
Ben Ballweg
Zach Richardson
Gennady Stolyarov II
David Shumaker
Art Ramon Garcia, Jr.
Alexandria Black


The U.S. Transhumanist Party Virtual Enlightenment Salon with Zach Richardson, Jason Geringer, and Ben Ballweg of July 25, 2021, is now available for viewing on Odysee here.

On Sunday, July 25, 2021, at 4 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time, the U.S. Transhumanist Party invited its new Officers, Zach Richardson (Director of Publication), Jason Geringer (Legislative Director), and Ben Ballweg (Director of Longevity Outreach), to discuss some of their ideas, planned initiatives, and perspectives on the current condition of the transhumanist movement. The discussion focused on improving the internal functions of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, attracting volunteers, and raising the visibility of transhumanist projects and causes. An interactive discussion transpired about ways to bolster the publication and legislative-tracking activities of the USTP. The conversation also extended to subjects of general interest to transhumanists, futurists, and those seeking to learn about the transhumanist movement.

Read about Zach Richardson here.
Read about Jason Geringer here.
Read about Ben Ballweg here.

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside.

NOTE: Even though the U.S. Transhumanist Party is staunchly pro-vaccine and expressed such views during the Virtual Enlightenment Salon, YouTube algorithmically censored the video, most likely with no serious human involvement, and algorithmically rejected our appeal as well. The U.S. Transhumanist Party strongly condemns such censorship but also sees an opportunity here by encouraging people to watch and spread this video for the purpose of overcoming arbitrary barriers put forth by unintelligent and unaccountable algorithms.

 

Ben Ballweg, U.S. Transhumanist Party Director of Longevity Outreach
Louis Moreau Gottschalk – Weber’s Oberon Overture, J. 306 – Transcription for Piano, 4 Hands, Op. 83 – Recording by Gennady Stolyarov II

Louis Moreau Gottschalk – Weber’s Oberon Overture, J. 306 – Transcription for Piano, 4 Hands, Op. 83 – Recording by Gennady Stolyarov II

Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s piano transcription of Carl Maria von Weber’s 1826 Oberon Overture for four hands has seldom been performed in public, and no known recording existed of it until now. Gottschalk (1829-1869) created it in 1857, and the last documented public performance was by Eugene List (1918-1985) in Spring 1979, as briefly mentioned in a May 4, 1979, New York Times article by Joseph Horowitz.

While there exist many transcriptions of the Oberon Overture, Gottschalk’s is absolutely, monumentally unique in its extent of ornamentation, thunderous intensity, and virtuosic passages (which will be unmistakable to the listener). Perhaps the demands that this piece would place on human performers explain the rarity of any attempts to play it. It is likely that only a few remarkable pianists throughout history, including Gottschalk himself, would have had the skill, endurance, and proto-transhuman mental processing power needed to carry it out without fail.

Fortunately, with musical notation and composition software, combined with increasingly realistic digital instruments, the limitations of the human hands can be transcended, and this work can be made available to listeners as Gottschalk intended it to be heard. This recording was created using the MuseScore 3.0 by Gennady Stolyarov II between June and December 2021; the transcription itself required approximately 36 hours of meticulous work, spread out over half a year. However, elevating this piece into public awareness is certainly worth the effort. This is heroic music showing the impressive heights to which human achievement, ingenuity, and virtuosity can rise, and it is a marvelous gift from Gottschalk in 1857 to our era.

Watch the score video on YouTube here and on Odysee here.

Download the MP3 file of this composition for free here.

Download the score (published in 1901 – now in the public domain) here.

Louis Moreau Gottschalk – Pensée Poétique – Nocturne, Op.18 – Recording by Gennady Stolyarov II

Louis Moreau Gottschalk – Pensée Poétique – Nocturne, Op.18 – Recording by Gennady Stolyarov II

Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Commentary by Gennady Stolyarov II: This Pensée Poétique (Poetic Thought) was composed by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829 – 1869) in 1852-1853. It is a short nocturne – Gottschalk’s Opus 18, different from Gottschalk’s more famous Pensée Poétique, Op. 62.

To my surprise, I am unaware of any readily available recording of this quite interesting nocturne with some strong Chopin influences. Therefore, I created a rendition using MuseScore 3.0. This video follows the original Gottschalk score, to which I hope to have done justice. The last third appears to be rather virtuosic (as is much of Gottschalk’s work), and I am glad that we live in an era where programs allow us to experience these kinds of compositions in spite of the difficulty for a human to learn them.

Watch the video with the score on YouTube here and on Odysee here.

Download the MP3 rendition by Gennady Stolyarov II here.

The sheet music is in the public domain and is available here. (IMSLP page.)

Description from Gottschalk.fr (English translation):

“Rather ‘classical’ piece with a beautiful lyrical line. Found by John Doyle in Brazil. (‘A bibliographic study and catalog of works’). Published by Chabal, Paris; it can also be found at the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, from where it was extracted.”


The Vindication of Dr. Aubrey de Grey and the Dangers of “Strategic Conservatism” in the Aging-Research Community – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

The Vindication of Dr. Aubrey de Grey and the Dangers of “Strategic Conservatism” in the Aging-Research Community – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II

It appears that the Board of Directors of the SENS Research Foundation saw fit to release an Executive Summary of a second Investigative Report that was undertaken after that Board had summarily terminated Dr. Aubrey de Grey without due process. Those who followed this matter know that I did not think highly of the first “Investigative Report”. The second report is still methodologically flawed, in my view, but that is not the point, and so I will not fixate on that. The point is the conclusion, which is what I and many others anticipated: “In the end, after extensive review – and except as otherwise identified by the Firm in this Executive Summary in paragraphs one through seven, as well as in the separate Executive Summary dated September 10, 2021 concerning the Initial Investigation – we do not find evidence Dr. de Grey engaged in conduct that constituted unwelcome sexual conduct towards current or former SRF employees, or any person associated with SRF, since the founding of SRF.”

So, other than the initial allegations against Aubrey de Grey, which, at worst, would have consisted of him sending two questionable e-mails (which were overlooked by the recipient for nearly a decade) and making a joke in poor taste (which there is no evidence that he made), there is… no evidence… of any unwelcome conduct! So this was all… much ado about nothing! It was all… a tempest in a teapot, stirred up to displace Dr. de Grey from his position on the eve of his success in raising an unprecedented $28 million for true rejuvenation biotechnology research. As many have suggested, and as I will reiterate, any harassment allegations here were just a pretext. The real motive is the power struggle within the field, between the initial visionaries like Dr. de Grey who built it up from ideas alone to a vibrant network of organizations, and those who came later, riding on the visionaries’ coattails, and who mistakenly wish to “mainstream” the field by appealing to the gatekeeper institutions through rhetoric of “strategic conservatism” (one of Celine Halioua’s favorite terms – indeed, the underpinning of her goal to turn aging research into a “boring” field that gets rid of the radical-life-extension aspirations). The “strategic conservatives” cannot have a man with a long beard, who speaks of 1,000-year lifespans, as the spokesperson for this movement, so they needed to find a pretext to oust him. Not only that, but they managed to hoodwink those of more left-leaning sympathies by exploiting the tendency to automatically believe women who accuse influential men of harassment – even though believing such allegations here plays right into the hands of the same interests who would wish to corporatize and render exclusive the pursuit of longevity research, to “tone it down” so that gatekeeper institutions provide their grants and imprimatur of “respectability” while the general public gets no say and no benefit. Those on the Left who wish to support harassment victims have understandable motivations, but it is so, so easy to twist those motivations to the service of one of the very corporate networks whom those same left-leaning individuals profess to despise, often quite explicitly.

What the “strategic conservatives” did not realize is that the grassroots movement that has emerged over the years to support the vision of SENS and the pursuit of longevity escape velocity is simply not inspired by the timid focus on “healthspan” or “compression of morbidity”. By getting rid of the ambitious visionaries who lit the spark of this movement, the “strategic conservatives” also undermine the foundation beneath themselves. They will not succeed in “mainstreaming” anything, because the gatekeeper institutions and their spokespeople see right through any version of the toned-down rhetoric anyway. What they may succeed at, unfortunately, is in ruining the crucial philanthropic sector within longevity / rejuvenation research, which will be needed for a long time to bridge the gap between early-stage academic research and late-stage commercial application. We need for-profit corporations and investors in the field as well, but the “strategic conservatives” wish to corporatize everything and remove the role of philanthropy and grassroots support altogether. That would spell suicide for the longevity field.

The SENS Board stated, “Our respect for Dr. de Grey and his work remains deep and unwavering. His accomplishments are singular; he brought this Foundation — this profound scientific moment, truly — into being. While our separation was necessary, we intend to move forward with SRF in a way that honors his legacy.” Of course, this leaves open the unanswered question of why the Board considered the “separation” to be “necessary” – and why they wish to relegate Dr. de Grey merely to having a “legacy”. (He is very much alive and active, after all!) Most likely, some of them do actually regret this course of action, but their thinking may be along the following lines: “Aubrey de Grey got this movement this far, but from now on he is more of a liability than an asset. We can take it from here.” Well, no, they cannot. In order to have even a slight probability of success, the SENS vision requires support from at least appreciable segments of the general public and from the dedicated core of activists within the life-extension movement. Without them, there is no movement – just stagnation. But there will be a movement wherever Dr. de Grey goes. The SENS Research Foundation Board of Directors would be wise to invite him back.

Thank you to Immortalists Magazine for featuring this article, which will be republished in its blog in November 2021.

Aubrey de Grey Did Not Receive Fair Treatment in the Investigation Commissioned by the Board of Directors of the SENS Research Foundation

Aubrey de Grey Did Not Receive Fair Treatment in the Investigation Commissioned by the Board of Directors of the SENS Research Foundation

Gennady Stolyarov II

I have read the “independent” investigative report that was commissioned by the Board of Directors of the SENS Research Foundation – the same Board that fired Dr. Aubrey de Grey before the investigation was completed and now, it seems, is using this report as ex post justification of its preconceived decision. Here are the insights I can glean from reading this report; not all are original to me, and many have pointed out some of these observations already. However, it is useful to summarize them here to spread understanding of just how flawed this report is.

1. This report underscores the essentially ubiquitous fact that, in corporate America, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. There is no true possibility of a neutral, independent investigation when the investigator is financially compensated by one of the parties with a preconceived interest in the outcome. Whatever the personal ethics of the investigator, it would remain the case – and this is true for any paid professional contractor – that she would be concerned about where her future revenue stream would be coming from. Releasing a report that challenged or undermined the well-publicized intentions of (and actions already taken by) her clients – the Board of the SENS Research Foundation – would have jeopardized her future opportunities to be retained by the same clients or similar corporate Boards, whose interest is not so much in the objective truth, but rather in ratifying the legitimacy of the Board’s actions after the fact and mitigating adverse publicity.

It was naïve for many of us to give this investigation the benefit of the doubt and hold our peace while it proceeded, with the hope that it might have actually shed light on the situation in an impartial manner. Indeed, the mistake that we supporters of Aubrey de Grey have made is to assume throughout this process that all sides would have the intention of bringing the facts to light and making proportionate conclusions based on the evidence. Instead, the far more typical calculus of “cui bono” and motivated reasoning were clearly in play here.

2. The standard of “preponderance of evidence” utilized in the report is incredibly weak and subjective – essentially amounting to whether, in the opinion of the investigator, a given event was more likely than not to have occurred. This is not proof; it is not beyond reasonable doubt; it is not even clear and convincing evidence. Essentially, all of the assertions in this report are the investigator’s personal opinions that some chain of events was plausible. But the report does not actually bring any fundamentally new factors to light. None of this would hold up in a court of law or any official investigation by a governmental body (and even such an official investigation would not be warranted in any event, because no violation of law was ever made or even alleged).

3. It remains the case, based on what the report was actually able to corroborate, that the only definite actions that Aubrey de Grey was known to have taken were the sending of two ill-advised e-mails nearly a decade ago, which were poorly worded and definitely had a high likelihood of being misunderstood. To be sure, I consider those e-mails to have been a mistake on Aubrey’s part (and he does as well), but they stemmed from his own European cultural context, in which the sentiments expressed would have been considered far more innocuous than they would be in the United States of 2021. To punish a person with a loss of a prominent position and jeopardy to that person’s career, retroactively, for statements that would not have been and were not considered offenses a long time ago when they were made, and which are not at all criminal, civil, or otherwise actionable offenses even today, is a draconian perversion of justice. It implies that not only is anyone vulnerable to incredibly harsh penalties for any mistake or minor lapse in judgment, but even that a comparatively mild statement that would have been dismissed or overlooked in the past could become career-ending retroactively if societal norms change many years later. The fact that “Complainant #1” actively collaborated with Aubrey de Grey for nearly a decade after the ill-advised comments were made suggest that those comments were reinterpreted much more recently to have a motivation that nobody attributed to them in the past.

4. The allegations that Aubrey de Grey “interfered with the investigation” ultimately disregard the possibility that Aubrey could have been genuine in his stated motivation to help rehabilitate the reputation of “Complainant #2” after she made unsupported allegations which could, indeed, have jeopardized her career. The investigator interprets Aubrey’s e-mail to an intermediary as a threat to the career of “Complainant #2”, when Aubrey was much more likely expressing an objective fact – that few people in the longevity industry would be willing to work with someone who makes allegations of predation so lightly. The “Why risk it?” consideration is likely going to lead many in the community to tread extremely lightly around the accusers for the indefinite future. Aubrey himself could have been able to avert that particular outcome if the misunderstandings that prompted the allegations had been resolved.

5. Moreover, if Aubrey de Grey sensed that the investigation was not conducted in an objective or impartial manner, and that the actions of the SENS Research Foundation Board already placed the punishment before any official determination of guilt, then he would have had a clear and highly understandable incentive to attempt to tell his side of the story through channels outside of the investigation. If he had fully complied with the investigator’s admonitions, the outcome would have likely been the same; a determination of his guilt was a foregone conclusion based on the “he who pays the piper” principle. In that situation, Aubrey would have simply quietly acquiesced to his own professional destruction. Perhaps he would have been shown some leniency, perhaps not; the history of show trials demonstrates that compliance and even confessions by the accused seldom improved their outcomes and indeed lent legitimacy to the severe penalties that were imposed.

6. Even this report exonerates Aubrey de Grey from having interfered with the funding of the doctoral research position of “Complainant #2”. This would have been one of the principal allegations explaining the resentment that “Complainant #2” felt against Aubrey de Grey. If the rest of her actions were precipitated by that perception, and the initial perception was mistaken, then it is reasonable to expect that the rest of the narrative motivated by that perception would unravel under closer genuine scrutiny.

7. Moreover, this report, in its own telling, fails to identify any other concrete allegations against Aubrey de Grey beyond the relatively mild allegations which were made by “Complainant #1” and “Complainant #2”. There is no pattern of harassment or abuse, no legions of women who were somehow preyed upon. Indeed, the characterization of predation made by “Complainant #2” against Aubrey de Grey can be seen as clearly libelous even if the investigator’s understanding of the facts were ultimately shown to be correct. The term “predator” should be reserved for the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, not someone who made a few poorly thought-out attempted compliments from which no other actions ensued – especially considering that many of the years between 2012 and 2021 contained no incidents of any nature documented within the report.

8. The report is sloppily written and has obvious errors in dates. On page 14 of 16 of the report, three e-mails addressed to Aubrey de Grey are mentioned as having dates in July 2019, when the events to which the e-mails refer could clearly only have taken place in July 2021. It seems that the motivation to release a report with these conclusions was so strong that shortcuts were taken in proofreading the report for basic accuracy. While anyone can make typographical errors, a robust internal editing process should have caught them. This also raises the question of what other, more fundamental errors were left undetected in the course of the internal review of drafts of this report.

9. I am left with no option but to conclude that the SENS Research Foundation Board acted in a deliberate and premeditated manner to displace Aubrey de Grey from his Chief Science Officer position, despite Aubrey de Grey being the originator of the SENS program and an indispensable presence to the research efforts that comprise this program. Instead of seeking to facilitate a truly independent investigation that could have brought genuine facts to light and resolved this immense misunderstanding, it is my impression that the SENS Research Foundation Board conceived of the investigation as a tool to validate and ratify the preconceived intention to remove Aubrey from his role. This is why the punishment came before the determination of guilt. This is why the Board failed to utilize the plethora of milder measures that were available to address any concerns of interference with the investigation on Aubrey’s part. I have no doubt that multiple members of the SENS Research Foundation Board are good people and did not intend any harm to Aubrey; I believe, however, that they were tragically misled by those who did have such motives. Perhaps they, too, naïvely believed that the investigation could be truly independent and impartial, rather than motivated by the agenda of whomever got the idea to engage the firm in the first place. Perhaps they thought that an independent investigation that exonerated Aubrey would be trusted more in the court of public opinion than an approach of the organization standing resolutely with one of its own (which is what should have been done, if for no other reason than loyalty to Aubrey and deep respect for his tremendous contributions to aging-research and advocacy endeavors for over two decades). The fact remains, though, that the cynical among the Board members were able to lead the rest along with a plan for the premeditated destruction of Aubrey’s career and reputation. By doing so, they irreparably damaged the standing of the SENS Research Foundation and made it unworthy of the tremendous dedication and trust placed in it by thousands of donors and activists within the longevity community. We always donated and stood by the SENS Research Foundation because of our admiration and support for Aubrey de Grey, not for the people who ousted him. We always understood Aubrey’s efforts to be the impetus behind the SENS Research Foundation; what remains is an empty shell. What could have motivated some on the Board of the SENS Research Foundation to remove Aubrey? The recent immense success of over $28 million collected via the PulseChain Airdrop fundraiser would certainly have been a tempting prize. Those who might have considered Aubrey to be too outspoken, too eccentric, too liable to “damage the respectability” of aging research with establishment “gatekeeper” institutions, would have seen the allegations against Aubrey as a convenient way to sideline him and then take custody of the funds. The tragedy is that now the funds raised through enthusiasm for the cause of longevity are at risk of being directed into more status-quo-acquiescent channels.

10. At this stage I am of the view that Aubrey de Grey should proceed to create a new foundation, where he remains in complete control, and there is good reason to believe that the researchers and new donations will follow his lead. It is unfortunate that the SENS Research Foundation Board has chosen to consign its organization to irrelevance, but we cannot let faux-outrage over some mildly inappropriate comments derail the far more essential mission of saving over 110,000 people who die per day of the diseases of aging. This entire episode also illustrates the folly of setting up organizational boards that are outside the control of the founders and prime movers of the organizations. In such situations, petty, short-sighted, fear-driven, and narrowly conventional motives come necessarily to predominate over the original vision and ambition of the founder(s). After so many stories of founders being displaced by the institutional machinery they have acquiesced to, surely it is time to learn the lesson – both for nonprofit organizations and for-profit startups. An organization succeeds because of the merits and vision of its founder(s); without the founder(s) the organization becomes a mere husk, replicating conventional patterns until it fades into the background with millions of other similar organizations. What we seek, on the other hand, is an organization that will bring humankind into the era of longevity escape velocity. We should all support any efforts by Aubrey de Grey to create such an organization.

Musical Prime Numbers in Base 7, from 2 to 20021 (4817 in Base 10) – Composition by Gennady Stolyarov II

Musical Prime Numbers in Base 7, from 2 to 20021 (4817 in Base 10) – Composition by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II

You have never heard music quite like this before.

This is the musical expression, in Base 7, of every prime number from 2 to 20021 (4817 in Base 10). The video displays each prime number in Base 10 and Base 7, alongside the corresponding notation. It also presents the system for musically mapping the prime numbers, explains the rules for composing within this system, and discusses some of its possibilities.

This is not an entirely algorithmic composition, since the human-driven approach to splitting the notes representing each prime number enables the music to be as consonant as possible while adhering to the rules of the system. This work was composed by Gennady Stolyarov II between February 12 and March 4, 2021. It is played using the MuseScore 3.0 software. It is likely unplayable by a single human pianist, although two pianists might succeed in performing it.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

This composition and video may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

 

 

Allegro Risoluto, Op. 91 (2021) – Musical Composition by Gennady Stolyarov II

Allegro Risoluto, Op. 91 (2021) – Musical Composition by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II

This composition by Gennady Stolyarov II coveys the sense of proceeding with swift determination, even through challenging settings and terrain. Occasionally there is an opportunity for respite to enjoy the scenery. Watch the video on YouTube here and on Odysee here.

This work was composed by Mr. Stolyarov on January 22-27, 2021, and is played using the MuseScore 3.0 software. This composition received an Honorable Mention at the 2021 Rodrigo Landa-Romero International Composition Competition

Download the MP3 file of this composition here. (Left-click to listen, right-click for download options.)

Find the score of this composition here.

This composition is intended to be playable by a human on piano, and those with pianistic abilities are encouraged to try and free to record and publish videos of themselves doing so.

Photographs taken by Gennady Stolyarov II from the trails of C-Hill above Carson City, Nevada, on April 26, 2018.

This composition and video may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

End of 2020 Solo March, Op. 90 (2020) – Musical Composition by Gennady Stolyarov II

End of 2020 Solo March, Op. 90 (2020) – Musical Composition by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II

Composed to commemorate the end of the most difficult year in recent history, this march by Gennady Stolyarov II conveys both the struggle and turbulence of the year left behind and the aspiration toward a brighter future. The piece is one of contrast and duality; it does not always move in the direction of brightness, since as the pandemic has taught us, there can be both incremental improvements and (sometimes sudden and dramatic) setbacks. Nor does the piece end definitively in a major or minor key; it ends in the key of C, but which C? The outcome of the battle between progress (potentially exponential progress) and ruin (potentially catastrophic ruin) is up to us humans to determine in 2021 and far beyond. And yet this composition also uses the principles of harmony to convey its moods, because it is through such a structured approach that humans ultimately rescue meaning out of the chaos and have a chance to restore order to a turbulent world.

Because 2020 was a year during which solitude became the default and the norm, this piece is written for solo piano, which also suggests that the conflict between progress and ruin is one that is experienced and participated in by each individual uniquely on that individual’s terms. Humankind is not really marching forward together and is perhaps more divided than ever; rather, the efforts and choices of each individual are what ultimately chart the trajectory of the long arc of history. Also, this march is one that can actually be played by an individual human!

This march was composed by Mr. Stolyarov during December 21-24, 2020, and is played using the MuseScore 3.0 software.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE the video of this composition in order to spread rational high culture to others.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

Career Advice – Short Story by Gennady Stolyarov II

Career Advice – Short Story by Gennady Stolyarov II

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The short story below was authored by Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, and is one of the entries in the Society of Actuaries 14th Speculative Fiction Contest. It was published as one of the contest entries here.

You can read all of the entries here and vote for your choice of three of them here, until April 15, 2021. You are encouraged to read all of the entries, and also to consider supporting Mr. Stolyarov’s story, which contributes to the realm of non-dystopian science fiction. Remember only to vote one time!

Wuhan Center – Photograph by Baycrest

On December 8, 2008, the overhead projector in the classroom glowed blue and white from the Skype interface as the Professor established the connection with the caller on the other end. “Mr. Yoo, can you hear me?” the Professor inquired. “Yes, I can,” came the somewhat static-laced response.

“Welcome, Mr. Yoo. I apologize for any technical difficulties in advance. We are still quite new to this technology. In fact, I had to jump through hoops to get the Mathematics Department to allow me to install it on a college computer. But it is quite remarkable that we can get a remote speaker to address the students now. I know that Skype can sustain video as well, but our Internet connection speed is still insufficient for that.”

“That is not a problem,” replied Mr. Yoo. “I am happy to speak to your students, and to show them some career possibilities they had not considered before. Hopefully my remarks will resonate with them even if they cannot see me.”

“Absolutely, this is why we invited you.  Students, this is your opportunity to learn from a truly outstanding actuary,” proclaimed the Professor. “Just a year ago in 2007 Mr. Yoo became a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, which means he had to pass a sequence of some of the most rigorous exams in the world. But what is especially impressive is that Mr. Yoo passed every single actuarial exam with a perfect score – the only person to ever do so. Normally the Society of Actuaries would not publish the exam results at this level of detail, but they made an exception for Mr. Yoo. What is more, he specifically requested to be closely monitored by the exam proctors at every moment that he was writing his exams. Multiple people confirmed that he absolutely did his own work and provided unique, thoughtful answers to the essay questions. I was so astonished when I learned about this, but even more astonished that Mr. Yoo reached out to our college and our department and actually suggested this presentation himself. Unfortunately, I urgently have to grade papers before the end-of-semester deadline, so I will be unable to stay, but you are in excellent hands for this class session. Since you will graduate next semester, this is an opportune occasion to explore what careers are possible with a mathematics degree.”

“Thank you, Professor, for this introduction. I am honored by your good words,” began Mr. Yoo. “I understand that you have a student here who has passed several actuarial exams already.”

The Actuarial Student sat up in his chair, a bit surprised at the direct mention. “Yes, that would be me,” he replied.

“And quite a dedicated student also,” the Professor noted. “It seems to me he spent all of his time outside of class – evenings, weekends, lunch breaks – studying for the actuarial exams, and he has already passed four of them.”

“A formidable effort,” acknowledged Mr. Yoo. “So you know that the actuarial exams are not the sort that one can just study for and be assured of passage. Being knowledgeable and competent regarding the subject matter will not suffice; one needs to be ultra-competent, and ultra-swift, and even then success is not guaranteed – and some will be blindsided by a completely new type of question, or follow a promising but false lead, or simply run out of time. Many will fail, and not for lack of trying. This, however, is true not just about actuarial exams; it is true about the world in general, and certainly about the kind of world you will be stepping into when you graduate. But I do not mean to discourage you; while you cannot avoid the difficulties of the actuarial exams if you wish to have a successful actuarial career, you can avoid many of the broader difficulties of life through a prudent and creative career choice.”

“Fascinating,” remarked the Professor. “I am quite sorry that I cannot be present for the rest of your remarks, but such are the rigors of the academic workload.”

“Perfectly understandable,” Mr. Yoo reassured the Professor, who then walked out with a stack of student papers. “I am sure you have been following the news recently,” Mr. Yoo continued to address the seated students. “No one could miss the bursting of the housing bubble,
the precipitous stock-market crash, the scramble by the federal government to bail out large banks. Yet nobody will bail out ordinary people, particularly young students such as yourselves, about to graduate into the deepest recession for the past 75 years. Even though you had no hand in causing this crisis, you will bear its greatest burdens. Even a few years ago, when I was still studying for my actuarial exams, it used to be that if you passed one exam, you were a prime candidate for an entry-level job, and then you could earn while you learn and work your way up. No longer! Now, even if you passed four actuarial exams, you are far from guaranteed to have even one job offer; if you do get one, it will be due to a combination of luck and determination. Job openings are scarce these days; companies are in panic mode and reluctant to hire. You might apply to a hundred of the job openings that remain, and you will start cherishing the rejections you get, because at least the employers will have communicated with you; you will be most fortunate if you get a single interview and a single offer after months of searching.”

The Actuarial Student listened to these words with a sense of validation for some of his prior misgivings about the job-search process – validation that gave him no satisfaction. Virtually everyone he had spoken to – professors, career counselors, friends of family – told him that he should have no trouble finding a job. And yet already he felt that his initial applications had disappeared into the void. Something about this entire situation did not reconcile with the facts; contrary to the common narrative about the actions that could assure a prosperous future, it seemed that the entire world was about to slide inexorably toward calamity. Almost nobody else had shared this hunch of his, and certainly no official source of information had expressed it – until he heard Mr. Yoo’s remarks.

“So, in light of this situation, you might be wondering, ‘Is it even worthwhile to pursue an actuarial career?’ Do not give up on it so quickly,” Mr. Yoo continued. “This is a systemic, macroeconomic crisis, and every previously lucrative profession is going to have similar shortages of openings. If you try becoming a lawyer or a doctor, you will likely have immense debt from your schooling and no job waiting for you at the end. At least the actuarial exam fees are affordable enough that you will not need to take on debt – but the work you do while you study for them will need to change. I know of a way to bypass the job-search abyss, but it will require an especially creative approach toward the identification and management of risk – skills that actuaries need to excel at.”

Now the Actuarial Student was laser-focused on Mr. Yoo’s every word. Previously, in his academic studies, a clear path toward success was always laid out before him. That path could be quite challenging on occasion, but he could always expect that rewards would be commensurate to effort. Here Mr. Yoo was suggesting a similar possibility – some way to bypass the indeterminacy of the job-search process and find a set path of progress once again.

“You may find what I am about to say difficult to believe, especially if you have always followed the conventional expectations of you because it seemed to be the easier way toward good grades, respect, or simply being allowed to be left to your own devices during what little spare time you could engineer for yourself.” How had Mr. Yoo so accurately pinpointed the Actuarial Student’s true underlying motivation with that latter mention? The Actuarial Student saw largely blank, indifferent looks on his classmates’ faces; they did not seem to identify with Mr. Yoo’s characterizations – but he already knew that he was different, and it seemed that Mr. Yoo had found a way to relate to his way of thinking. “What if I told you that following your personal ideas precisely when they are unconventional is the key to success? This is the case not just for your personal values and worldview, but also even your idiosyncratic tastes and preferences. For example, who among you is a vegetarian? Raise your hands; I can see you even though you cannot see me.”

No hands were raised; this was a predominantly conservative college where traditional ideas about food consumption prevailed.

“For the meat-eaters among you, then, how many of you believe in only eating from among a limited subset of animals – cows, pigs, chickens, fish – but not exotic or unusual animals that are not bred for consumption in the Western world?”

Several of the students exchanged quizzical looks. “What in the world does this have to do with actuaries?” whispered one of them. However, a few hands went up in response to this question, and the Actuarial Student’s hand was among them.

“There is an important wider benefit to humanity arising from this avoidance of consumption of exotic animals,” Mr. Yoo continued. “You should keep in mind that the study of risk is foundational to actuarial science, and actuaries look to other scientific disciplines to identify key contributing factors to various risks. Epidemiologists have known for a long time that most devastating infectious diseases originate through unusual contact between humans and animals – although this is not commonly recognized by the general public, yet. Eating animals which have not been raised for food over the course of millennia is the practice which poses the greatest risk of causing a novel pathogen to jump from animals to humans. People’s immune systems are unprepared for such new pathogens, and they can spread rapidly and trigger a worldwide pandemic before our public-health measures have the opportunity to respond. If you remember SARS from 2002, it was caused in this way as well.”

“But SARS caused relatively few deaths, virtually all of them in Asia, and petered out before reaching the Western world,” another student interjected. “Surely this is a minor risk compared to the others that people encounter every day!”

“So it may seem, until one finds oneself amid a pandemic!” Mr. Yoo replied. “I am sure that many people ninety years ago, prior to the Spanish influenza’s onset, considered it a similarly improbable and minor risk. Yet just because a particular peril has not affected people for a long time, does not mean it will not return! The next deadly flu season may even happen during the late winter a few months from now! Likely it will not be anywhere as deadly as the 1918 influenza, but it should motivate people to put their guard up – if they are rational, that is.”

“But what does all this have to do with searching for actuarial jobs?” asked another student impatiently. “I don’t know much about what actuaries do, but I’m pretty sure that epidemiology is not it.”

“I am not suggesting that actuaries become epidemiologists. What I am suggesting is that the students of today create their own jobs that would address this risk of a global pandemic that could kill millions of people,” Mr. Yoo replied.

“Are there opportunities to do this already?” inquired the Actuarial Student.

“Not officially. No insurance company is interested in this risk yet. Indeed, after the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003, many insurers introduced policy provisions excluding coverage for business income losses arising from viruses and bacteria. So the traditional insurers mostly wish to protect themselves against having to pay for this risk. What they do not realize, however, is that if a worldwide pandemic occurs, then major business disruptions for every company are inevitable. Governments will go so far as shutting down places of business or any other venues where people could gather and spread the virus. No company will be spared major turmoil and costs of dramatic, immediate adjustments. Moreover, millions of people forced out of work and hundreds of thousands of businesses forced to shut down would mean many fewer clients for insurance companies and many fewer people able to afford insurance altogether. Thus, preventing the pandemic makes far more sense even from a purely economic standpoint than just trying to shield one’s own business from the consequences. As Ludwig von Mises put it, ‘No  one  can  find  a  safe  way  out  for  himself  if  society  is sweeping towards destruction.’”

Now Mr. Yoo was quoting Mises, who was the Actuarial Student’s favorite economist. It was as if this speech were tailored to speak directly to him!

“So no insurance company is currently focused on this pandemic risk. But this is where the opportunity exists for you to make a difference,” Mr. Yoo continued. “To prevent the devastation caused by such a novel infection, one needs to address its source and avert the animal-to-human transmission that renders the virus a problem in the first place. I can think of no better way to stop such transmission than discouraging people from eating exotic animals. This is not a major problem in the Western world, but it is an immense problem in the country where most pandemics have historically and recently originated – China.”

The Actuarial Student happened to think that consumption of exotic animals was repugnant. He had been called closed-minded before for only eating meat from a specified and limited list of animals, but he felt validated that the aversion had a rational basis behind it.

“If you are disgusted at the thought of people consuming bats or snakes, this is your opportunity to do something about it,” urged Mr. Yoo. “Do not search for jobs in the United States. Go to China and advocate against such behavior! You will find an assortment of allies, not just among epidemiologists, but also among animal-rights and anti-poaching groups, and perhaps even the Chinese Communist Party itself, if you present your effort as helping China to modernize and turn away from harmful old traditions. Collaborate with anyone you have to, regardless of what you think of them otherwise, because stopping the consumption of exotic animals would save humankind from a greater tragedy than you could possibly expect.”

“This is so weird!” one of the students exclaimed. “You are asking us to abandon our job search to do that? Couldn’t we join the Peace Corps if we want to do humanitarian work? And I can’t imagine that such a job would pay particularly well.”

“I happen to have a small pool of money that could pay stipends for living expenses to those who relocate,” Mr. Yoo replied. “In fact, I know some inexpensive hotels in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei Province, which offered discounted rates if I can persuade American students to stay there. Wuhan is a large city with all the amenities one can desire, and I believe it offers the best base of operations for combating pandemic risk. I also have enough funds to pay for actuarial exam fees, so you can study and continue to advance toward your credentials while you do this valuable work of reducing global pandemic risk.”

“Still, that seems to be more like graduate school than an actuarial career,” the Actuarial Student noted. “I know it is not uncommon to earn $60,000 per year for an entry-level actuarial job.”

“It is true,” Mr. Yoo replied, “that even in this economy you could probably eventually land a $60,000-per-year job if you try exceptionally hard or are exceptionally lucky in your search. It is also true that humanitarian advocacy in Wuhan would not pay nearly so much. However, looking to the future, I can see a way for one to earn much more money than a conventional actuarial salary. For those of you who are interested, just a bit over a month ago on October 31, a certain Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper that I can share with you about a new concept for a decentralized digital currency using a distributed ledger system called a blockchain. This digital currency will be an alternative to government-issued fiat currencies and a hedge against inflation. Rumor has it that in less than a month, the first such digital currency will be released. I strongly suggest that you be on the lookout for the term ‘bitcoin’ – the name of this currency, and that you acquire as many units of bitcoin as possible, and if you can sell any goods or services in exchange for bitcoin, so much the better. I anticipate that there will be tremendous speculative demand for blockchain-based currencies in the future. If you own any from the beginning and simply hold them for, say, nine to twelve years, you will then be able to sell them and never worry about money again.”

Most of the students’ eyes were glazed over. It was clear that they had no idea what Mr. Yoo was referring to. “Why in the world would anyone value mere pieces of computer code that anyone else can create or replicate?” one of the students asserted skeptically.

“The supply of the digital currency will be algorithmically limited to increase at a decreasing rate, removing the possibility of discretionary inflation. Also, the technology of a decentralized ledger where everyone can access the entire transaction history can ensure trust among users and remove the role of banks as intermediaries. This is especially important since our centralized banking system is the major source of monetary inflation, and blockchain-based currencies can be designed to be impervious to that risk, though not to the risk of speculation driving prices to fluctuate far more than the purchasing power of government-issued currencies ever could,” Mr. Yoo explained, taking a nuanced position on this novel concept. “Well, one might not mind the fluctuations if they occasionally result in massive increases to the number of dollars one can obtain for each unit of digital currency sold! But obtaining the currency early is the key to benefitting from the growth in the market value later on.”

“So are you proposing that we give up on getting a steady salary, because the job market is too tough, and instead settle for a stipend for living expenses while we rely on being able to sell this… bitcoin many years from now in order earn our money?” the skeptical student asked, still unconvinced. The Actuarial Student, however, had a different reaction: “Logically, there ought to be some value to the bitcoin if it is indeed designed to resist inflation – especially now with the ‘quantitative easing’ that the Federal Reserve is undertaking, which will likely boost dollar price levels soon.”

“Well, perhaps not as soon as one might fear, since some complex factors are at play actually restraining the inflationary pressures,” Mr. Yoo reassured him, “but eventually dollar inflation will indeed erode one’s purchasing power – and one will be happy to have some digital currencies to sell when that happens. In fact, selling digital currencies will be our way of financing our operations in Wuhan. If you value sound money and stable purchasing power, you are likely worried about hyperinflation right now.” Indeed, the Actuarial Student was worried precisely about that. “I would like to emphasize that the threat of a global pandemic is far more salient and proximate than that of hyperinflation. It is difficult to envision just how little purchasing power one begins to have, no matter what amount of money one has saved, if one is confined to one’s home by government order or if stores lack essential goods, even toilet paper!”

Now the Actuarial Student had to wonder whether Mr. Yoo was engaging in rhetorical scare tactics. Instead, however, he inquired, “I am still not clear on how you propose that actuaries use their skill set to reduce pandemic risk. Is this not a task for more conventional activists – people who hold demonstrations, give speeches, distribute leaflets, and try to persuade politicians?”

“But the actuarial skill set is perfect for addressing this problem,” Mr. Yoo countered. “The key is to design the appropriate incentive structure for people to stop consuming exotic animals. Laws prohibiting such consumption are not going to suffice, because such laws often already exist and are ignored. Public shaming might help deter some, but not all, or else such practices would have disappeared long ago. We need to give people an incentive to voluntarily avoid the risk – and for that we can create an arrangement that is essentially the reverse of an insurance company. An insurance company collects premiums from many individuals in the expectation of paying much larger losses for a few. However, if losses are likely to affect many people at once and to have colossal severity, this mechanism cannot function. Instead, we can pay people a premium so that they take the steps needed to avoid the risk, but also inform them that they will receive no payment if anyone in their community is discovered to be consuming an exotic animal. We set the premium sufficiently high that the recipients will be disappointed by its absence and so will take steps to prevent their neighbors from violating the terms of the agreement.”

“The privacy concerns here are huge,” one student remarked.

“You may be surprised to learn that the Chinese government will be seeking to institute a

‘social credit’ system soon, which will monitor most of its citizens’ activities in person and online,” Mr. Yoo replied. “The incentive system I describe will be quite mild and limited by comparison. Everyone in the community will be paid a premium and asked to report any information they can get about consumption of exotic animals. Each month, if nobody consumes an exotic animal, everyone gets paid again. If, however, anyone consumes an exotic animal, then the entire community will not receive the premium next month. All that people will need to do for this money is to avoid a particular action, provided they remain vigilant in preventing a narrow set of undesirable activities; indeed, perhaps some will start to see it as a kind of universal basic income. I would not be surprised if, to ensure that their premium revenues keep flowing, some citizens will form their own volunteer groups to patrol the nearby wilderness areas and ensure that no poaching of animals occurs there. We will need actuaries to calculate the premium amounts sufficient to actually have the desired effects, and determine whether the premiums need to vary based on any characteristics of the recipient, such as proximity to the areas where people are likelier to encounter wild animals.”

“Yet it seems that paying a premium to the entire population at levels that would affect their behavior can become quite expensive, quite quickly,” the Actuarial Student pointed out.

“That is correct,” replied Mr. Yoo, “and it is one reason why I cannot offer a generous salary to entry-level actuaries. However, I estimate we will have enough bitcoin to sell to cover the costs of the premiums for all of Wuhan’s citizens. We can even take our time in designing the incentive system; it does not need to be launched right away – around the mid-2010s would suffice to have the desired effect. By that time I hope that one could sell one bitcoin for several hundred dollars, after having bought it for pennies or even ‘mined’ it for free on our personal computers, which it will be possible to do during the first two years of bitcoin’s existence or so.”

Some students were shaking their heads. “This is all so improbable!” one of them exclaimed, “And even if you could sell these strange… bitcoins for a profit every time, how do you expand this system to the rest of the world? You wouldn’t be able to pay everyone, after all!”

“We would not need to pay everyone,” Mr. Yoo replied. “Just covering the at-risk areas of Wuhan would suffice. Another area where I would need actuarial analysts’ help will be constructing predictive models to determine where in Wuhan people are most likely to consume unusual animals.”

“But is it not the case that exotic animals are eaten outside of Wuhan as well?” the Actuarial Student inquired.

“Yes, unfortunately,” Mr. Yoo responded. “But…” he seemed to pause a bit, as if he were trying to carefully construct his response. “What we truly need is to create a viable proof of concept, and Wuhan will more than suffice for that. If it works for us in Wuhan, others will emulate us, and this incentive model will spread throughout China, particularly if we can convince Chinese officials that this is a good idea for doing away with superstitious old practices and driving forward the modernization of social customs in the 21st century. Yes… that is what will happen if we succeed in Wuhan.”

“And yet what leads you to be confident in the likelihood of success?” the Actuarial Student inquired. “Is there not considerable political risk in working in China?”

“Yes, there is,” Mr. Yoo acknowledged.

“And is it possible that the next pandemic would arise somewhere else while we focus on Wuhan?”

“Yes, but I think it is most likely to arise near Wuhan… Perhaps my reasons for thinking this will become more apparent to you after you complete your studies and become a Fellow.”

“And is it possible that people might not uniformly sign up for the incentive structure or –find ways to cheat and conceal the consumption of exotic animals from view?”

“Yes and yes – but we only need enough people to comply and start putting obstacles in the way of those who wish to consume exotic animals. We need to reduce such consumption enough to greatly lower the probability of virus transmission – which does not happen every time. All actuarial science deals with probabilities, not certainties. We cannot prevent all pandemics, but if we can lower the probability of the next big one by, say, 90 percent, I would consider that a job well worth dedicating the next twelve years of one’s life to!”

“Twelve years?” the Actuarial Student inquired.

“Did I mention that this is a guaranteed twelve-year opportunity? No other employer will offer this assurance, even though the starting salary may be much higher. My question for you is, if you agree with my assessment of the risk and what can be done about it, and if I have suggested a course of action that resonates with your personal preferences, then why not at least try it and see what happens?”

The Actuarial Student knew exactly why not to try it; he knew that everyone in his life would be aghast if he, after a straight-A academic record, after passing four actuarial exams, decided not even to apply for any job with a decent starting salary – and instead abandoned any notion of a conventional career path to go to China to work on a completely unproven concept with no historical precedent or indication of success, other than Mr. Yoo’s word for it, as heard from his disembodied voice over the static-ridden Skype connection. And yet Mr. Yoo made exactly the arguments that spoke to the Actuarial Student’s personal convictions – his view that technological innovation was necessary to transcend the status quo that brought about the present recession, his hope that decentralized market-driven currencies might protect against inflation, his aversion toward eating exotic meat products. At the very least, the extensive discussion of these topics by a fully credentialed actuary suggested to him that he had picked the right career field. Most other people would consider such views to be weird if not reprehensible, but here was a person suggesting that these inclinations not merely be embraced but committed to as a way of trying to… save the world from a deadly disease? As eccentric as this opportunity seemed, it was also quite appealing – but only to the Actuarial Student. It was evident that none of his classmates demonstrated any response that could remotely qualify as enthusiasm.

The classroom door opened and the Professor returned. “Well, I trust that you learned something about actuarial career possibilities today. Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Yoo. Our class is coming to an end, but is there a way for the students to contact you if they have further questions?”

“Of course,” Mr. Yoo replied. “I am happy to share my e-mail address, and if anyone wishes to follow up on the opportunity I mentioned, I will happily provide details about next steps.”

“Thank you, Mr. Yoo,” the Professor said just as the bell rang.

The Actuarial Student remained in his chair for a moment, immersed in thought, as the Skype connection terminated. He overheard several students bantering as they left the classroom, “Well, that was a waste of time,” said one. “I think a snake-oil salesman could give better career advice,” another replied. “Hey, does your dad’s auto dealership still have that receptionist opening? I need to earn some spare change,” yet another whispered. “No, I think they stopped hiring after dad’s stock portfolio took a dip. Maybe you should go to Wuhan…” They chuckled as they left.

Whatever uncertainty previously pervaded the Actuarial Student’s mind had receded upon hearing that kind of derision. How could the others treat this accomplished Fellow actuary, a man who had attained perfect exam scores, in such a dismissive manner? Nothing was quite as effective as this kind of casual social injustice at motivating the Actuarial Student to do the exact opposite. He was determined to write to Mr. Yoo that same evening.

***

On March 15, 2020, the former Actuarial Student entered the coffee shop in downtown Wuhan and ordered a small piece of cake with his beverage, to celebrate becoming a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries – at last, and after considerable delay. In truth, his studies had taken a second priority to implementing Mr. Yoo’s design all these years – not to mention learning to speak Mandarin semi-fluently. The work had not been easy, and indeed he never seemed to have any permanent colleagues, just temporary contractors whom Mr. Yoo had hired to carry out routine tasks from time to time. Mr. Yoo himself turned out to be a recluse who spent all of his time in his office on the top floor of the Wuhan Center, where he did not permit visitors. Mr. Yoo only ever communicated via e-mail or the same old audio-only Skype connection where the static never seemed to improve. Why his boss never bothered to upgrade his technology despite having vast amounts of money, the former Actuarial Student could not say. Life in Wuhan could be comfortable, yet it was mostly solitary and consumed by work – vitally important and life-saving work, as Mr. Yoo never hesitated to point out. And thus, day by day, the work went on. Occasionally the opportunity arose to celebrate moments such as passing an actuarial exam or attaining a major designation – and a little bit of cake here and there did not hurt. “Go enjoy your cake,” Mr. Yoo told him in their last Skype conversation. “Believe me, this is the good timeline,” he had said, a bit cryptically as usual, but always in a strangely relatable way, as if no context needed to be explained, and so that the former Actuarial Student was not tempted to ask too many follow-up questions.

And yet, as his 12-year position was approaching its conclusion, the new Actuarial Fellow was not altogether disappointed at how it all turned out. As the crowds of local residents bustled around him, he took his place in line and spotted a minor functionary of the city government, also waiting for his coffee. “Ah, good day, and congratulations on your efforts in advancing the social progress of our city!” the official greeted him. As astonishing as it seemed even in retrospect, Wuhan now indeed had regular citizen patrols in the surrounding wilderness areas, which reduced the poaching of wildlife to nearly zero. The Citizens’ Basic Premium, originally seen as quite an oddity given its tie to non-consumption of exotic animals, became a widely relied-upon source of income for residents. Government officials, after several years of initial reluctance, were persuaded to cooperate with this arrangement and even ordered the police to thoroughly inspect all of the produce at the animal and seafood market in the Jianghan District. The police presence could seem a bit draconian at times, but Mr. Yoo assured him it was all for the best.

Somehow Mr. Yoo had managed to liquidate his holdings of bitcoin, and now many other cryptocurrencies as well, at just the right times all these years to ensure that there was always more than enough to pay Wuhan’s 11 million citizens. Building that kind of payment stream from nothing was truly mind-boggling – but it seemed a product of Mr. Yoo’s extremely good luck at having noticed Satoshi Nakamoto’s paper and taken action on its ideas before virtually anyone else.

The new Actuarial Fellow had done quite well financially himself after liquidating his cryptocurrency holdings back during the short-lived boom of 2017; he did not feel that he needed to revisit that volatile market, but at least his capital gains far exceeded any conventional cumulative actuarial salary for the same time period. He truly had the financial freedom to pursue any course in life once the term of his contract with Mr. Yoo expired.

Whether or not there would have ever been a pandemic, the Actuarial Fellow still could not be sure. However, whatever the initial motivation for it, the enterprise developed by Mr. Yoo with his help had taken on a life of its own, and the culture of China had been forever altered by it – seemingly in a reasonably good way.

As he sat down at his table and ate the first spoonful of cake, a mail carrier half-jogged into the coffee shop and approached the Actuarial Fellow’s table with a small, sealed envelope. “Special delivery from Mr. Yoo,” the carrier said and dropped the envelope. Odd, thought the Actuarial Fellow, as Mr. Yoo had never sent a paper letter before.

As he opened the letter, the Actuarial Fellow’s mouth dropped. He saw his own handwriting upon the piece of paper inside.

Congratulations to me? Perhaps not yet. I thought my actuarial studies would finally be complete after all these years, but I am only halfway through. This evening I need to go to SOA.org and download all of the past exams and solutions. I need to find all of the historical price charts of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum. I need to download all this on my thumb drive and then check my e-mail for a link to a set of documents that will describe a history I have never seen before. Then I will need to go to the Wuhan Center, to the office I was told was off-limits these past twelve years. Thereafter, the next steps – and the stakes – will be clear. Now to move forward I will need to go back.

Sincerely,

Mr. You – or, rather, I

P.S. But of course, I should have known that it is just my sense of humor to do this!

P.P.S. 2004 is not a bad time to live as an adult in my mid-thirties. The only question is, how can I persuade my younger self to act according to his preferences, however unusual, rather than what others expect of him? How can I make the strange but principled path more appealing than the obvious and conventional path? What can persuade a young person that by following one’s conscience, one can truly save the world in more ways than one will ever know?

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II’s Update Interview on the Archer Report – July 24, 2020

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II’s Update Interview on the Archer Report – July 24, 2020

Gennady Stolyarov II
Steele Archer


U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II’s July 24, 2020, appearance on the Archer Report with Steele Archer, was an opportunity for a fascinating 130-minute conversation about the forthcoming U.S. Transhumanist Party Virtual Enlightenment Salon with Dr. David Hanson of Hanson Robotics, Charlie Kam’s 2020 U.S. Presidential campaign, concerns about public reactions to the pandemic, and major issues with the contemporary media ecosystem, both with legacy and social media.

References

Trump challenged by radical presidential candidate hoping to REVERSE ageing” by James Bickerton. Daily Express. July 6, 2020.

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