On March 21st, nonprofit organization Brighter Brains Institute held the first major US transhumanism conference of the year, located in San Jose, California. Titled Transhuman Strategies, the conference was host to an exciting array of speakers. Notably different from other transhumanist conferences before was the blend of both young and seasoned transhumanists, a sure sign that the science and technology advocating movement is growing among a younger demographic. Vice Motherboard had a 4-person film crew on hand to capture the event, adding to the excitement that transhumanism is continuing to break into the mainstream.
The conference talks were centered on four key questions:
What are the Transhuman Goals in the near future?
How can these Transhuman ideas permeate the mainstream?
Are there ways Transhumanism can assert itself in the political sphere?
How can Transhumanist ideas and innovations create a better world now, for billions of people on Earth?
With nearly 100 people in attendance, speakers attempted to address the questions in their own way while emphasizing their field of expertise. Digital iconoclast RU Sirius and his writing partner, Lifeboat Foundation advisor Jay Cornell, gave talks and signed copies of their new book Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity. British philosopher, lecturer, and entrepreneur Riva-Melissa Tez spoke on bettering transhumanist strategies. Russian scientist Maria Konovalenko and businessman Mikhail Batin spoke on transhumanism activism in the field of longevity. Futurist and CEO of The Foresight Company John Smart spoke on foresight development and how to attain the best future. H+ Magazine editor and computer engineer Peter Rothman discussed ways to help get funding for transhumanist projects. Adam Marblestone, "Director of Scientific Architecting" with the Synthetic Neurobiology group at MIT, spoke on new strategies to accelerate brain science. Hank Pellissier, the organizer of the event, spoke on the emerging concept of transhumanitarianism -- where transhumanists do humanitarian deeds with an emphasis on using science and technology for the greater good.
I spoke on how transhumanism has been recently entering the political arena. Increasingly, futurists are hoping that through politics, radical science and technology will gain a better foothold in society. Some of the questions I brought up in my speech apply to all Americans. For example: How will Hillary Clinton address the growing concerns of Designer Babies, now that the technology is just a few years away? What about Jeb Bush (who carries the stem cell research moratorium stigma of his older brother)? Presumably, conservatives like newly announced US Presidential candidate Ted Cruz would seek to limit such advances in technology that could turn future children into potential superhumans, even if it's in the best interest of the species' health.
Of course, not all science and technology are safe. Even amongst the transhumanist community, many aren't sure what the outcome of creating a superintelligent AI will bring. Will we use its incredible possibilities to transform the species to ever greater heights? Or will an independent AI seek to destroy us in some Terminator scenario?
Whatever happens, the quickly growing field of transhumanism and its advocates are searching out the answers right now. Some people in America might not be ready yet for some of the progressive ideas transhumanists present, but the growth of radical science and technology in our world seems inevitable. The best way to handle such change in the way humans live and evolve with technology is to make a powerful effort to understand it all far ahead of time. Conferences like Transhuman Strategies -- especially when they include a broad swath of age groups, perspectives, and nationalities in their speakers -- are a good start in trying to address the issues in our changing world.