If you see a gigantic coffin on wheels cruising into your town in the coming months, take it as a good sign.
That’s the Immortality Bus, captained by transhumanist presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan.
To transhumanists like Istvan, death is a problem — a policy issue — to be overcome.
What better way to raise awareness of that than with a coach-sized coffin?
Istvan, who says that he has “a solid 85%” chance of living forever, is planning a nationwide bus tour on the way to a stop at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, where he’s dropping off a “cyborg bill of rights.”
But first, he’s raising $US25,000 in an Indiegogo campaign to build the tricked-out bus. Once the funding period ends, Istvan plans to depart from San Francisco just weeks later with a crew of futurists, doctors, activists, and journalists.
“We aim to replicate the great American bus tours of the 1960s, but in the 21st Century,” he tells Business Insider. “We’ll have robots, drones and a biohacking lab on board. Lots of fun stuff!”
To Istvan, transhumanists are people who want to use science and technology to radically improve human life and experience. He estimates that between 1 to 3 million people around the world identify as transhumanist, with about 150,000 of them in the US. About 90% of the movement is under 35.
The transhumanist party has 65 people involved, including four officers, twelve advisers, and five managers. Everyone is a volunteer.
The platform has three pieces:
• Funding: Get people to spend resources on overcoming biological ageing and death.
• Culture: Spread a pro-science culture that organizes around increasing the quality of human life.
• Existential risk: Raise awareness that an asteroid could hit the planet, and recognise that artificial intelligence could have negative consequences.
Istvan doesn’t think he has a serious shot at becoming president next November. But in 2020 or 2024, the possibility of the Transhumanists becoming a third-party on par with the Greens or the Libertarians starts to become a little more plausible.
That’s because, according to Istvan and other futurists, technology is improving at an exponential rate. Google chief engineer Ray Kurzweil has said that
“as exponential growth continues to accelerate into the first half of the twenty-first century … it will appear to explode into infinity, at least from the limited and linear perspective of contemporary humans.”
Today it’s a new smartphone. Tomorrow it’s designer babies, 3D-printed organs, and the potential arrival of self-aware artificial intelligence, culminating in the moment — often called the Singularity —
when mechanical intelligence supplants human intelligence.
These aren’t exactly the topics you’d hear from mainstream 2016 candidates.
“I’m not under any delusion that we’re going to win the election — we’re struggling to get onto state ballots” Istvan says.
But “as the future gets quicker and comes at us faster, the transhumanist party is going to grow,” he says. “When you look at some of the other politicians, like Hilary or Jeb Bush, they simply are not addressing the questions that are going to be relevant in the future: they’re not going to touch the concept of designer babies, they’re not going to touch the concept of how to use artificial intelligence in the military.”
But Zoltan and the transhumanist party he founded will address all of these issues.
“By 2024 if we can get bigtime investors and Silicon Valley people on board,” he says, “we might have a shot at affecting politics.”
To donate to the campaign, check out the “Immortality Bus with Presidential Candidate Zoltan” on Indiegogo.
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