We had the amazing opportunity to interview Mr. Zoltan Istvan. In this interview, he tells us about how radical science and technology can be used as a tool for human evolution to make our lives and society better. As a transhumanist who is very much into cryptocurrency and bitcoin, he describes himself as a wanting to become an intermediary between the scientists and the people, where he can create a cycle of “funding the scientist through the people to give back to the people”. Please read and find out why.
Interview Date : 20th May 2020
Using Bitcoin in Presidential Campaigns
I have raised political funds with Bitcoin for the Transhumanist party in 2016. I began that campaign back in 2014, and so in 2015, I was one of the very first candidates to accept Bitcoin. Back then, it was kind of revolutionary. As a science political party, and we did and still do support cryptocurrency. When we talk about the radical top 10% of science, that includes cryptocurrency as well. It is a brand new way of dealing with money and exchangeable value. So, it seemed very natural for my team, and I thought “why don’t we accept Bitcoin?” At the time, we were not very savvy with the other coins as none of us were true cryptocurrency experts, and again this is 2015 before the big explosion of Bitcoin. However, we adopted it, and it was great.
When we first got into Bitcoin in the beginning, at the time, Bitcoin was trading for a very low price. Honestly, we were so disorganized, and the campaigns get so crazy that we lost some of it and were never able to find it again. It wasn’t a huge amount of money even when it was at 20 000 dollars, but we were very new to taking Bitcoin for donations. I think it is a fabulous, quick, and efficient way of doing business completely private, and you do not need to worry about your business being tracked by a third party. A transhumanist looks for functionality. We look for the ability to do things in a simple efficient and fast manner, the kind of way may be a machine would do. So, cryptocurrency makes perfect sense to us because of that.
Crossing the Line of Chaos
I subscribe to most libertarian values because they are big supporters of crypto, blockchain, and big supporters of “do whatever you want to do and keep your hands off me”.
That is a good perspective, and I have been a libertarian for a long time. My novel “The Transhumanist Wager” is the best selling libertarian novel of the century and describes the libertarian ideologies. However, libertarians can at certain times go too far in their wish of freedom in their wish of what almost becomes anarchy. I am not one of those libertarians that are far out there. I am more of a center libertarian, somebody that says “ it is good to have government as long as the government is transparent and voted for democratically“.
However, I have experienced that some of the libertarians I deal with, they do not want driver licenses or stoplights, and such ideologies that can cross the border. I am kind of right in the middle with a lot of the values.
We need to be a little realistic. If not, imagine if libertarianism had a complete free-for-all with cryptocurrencies, who make sure that somebody does not hack or steal anything. Even most libertarians will say “we need a national decentralized managing organization” or ”we need police”. They might not want firefighters (I would like to have firefighters), but at some basic level, you have to have some governmental services that stand for the best interest of the people. The key to that lies in making sure that the back garden is very transparent, and it answers to the people.
What is or is not Human Augmentation depends. Transhumanism is usually the top 10% of the radical science and technology that are out there. It is hard to know what, exactly, human augmentation is because of the rapid change in the field. Now, to some extent, human augmentation has been quite popular, like most grandmothers have an artificial hip, a lot of people have orthodontic treatments, etc. Would we call this human augmentation? Technically yes, it is.
This type of human augmentation is a way that 1 in 4 people, especially senior citizens, have something like a metal plate inside their bodies. So, we have already crossed over to the line of cyber and human augmentations. However, what is human augmentation, is when something is elective.
For example, I have a chip in my hand that opens my front door, start my car, trade Bitcoin, etc. This example is a little bit more like real human augmentation because I have chosen to do this and not for any medical reason. I enjoy the idea of putting things into my body and changing who I am. That is that more transhumanists would call “Human Augmentation”. It is funny to see many older people have things in their bodies like a pump valve or something similar, so human augmentation itself.
New Age of Paralympics
The paralympic already crosses over to the transhumanist age. For example, when you talk about some of the sprinters who use the blades, they can sprint almost as fast as humans today. Maybe in 5 years, they will be able to sprint faster than an ordinary human body, and so now you are crossing over to the transhumanist angle.
Now, a game called cybathlon has become part of the Paralympics. Cybathlon is the world’s first cyber Olympics, where you mostly have disabled people who are putting on headsets that allow them to ride a bicycle. Even though they have no leg, they race around the track by thinking in your brains to get their artificial legs getting to work. I wrote an article about this for the New York Times recently, and this is a new type of Olympics that is even more than the Paralympics. We call it the Cyber Olympics. It required an immense amount of technology, especially brain wave technology: the kind of technology where your brain waves are bound to an artificial limb. By using that, it is not your legs that will be running, but it will now be a robotic leg that you can move through your brain activity. It is a fascinating technology, and many people need this kind of technology, like people who maybe cannot move their arms or legs. The Cyber Olympic and other such events and competitions help spur the development of these technologies so that the average person who maybe gets in a terrible accident can now have mobility and continue a somewhat regular life.
A not-functioning Colonial Capitalism
I also believe that, at some point, there might be an enormous explosion in terms of the system collapsing. We almost saw a collapse in 2008 with the loans, and who knows what will happen because of the coronavirus. America is talking about going to negative rates, and they are printing all this money. You cannot just print money, because money represents food, housing, and materials, etc., so you need real value. The more you print, the more inflation will happen, and so many more problems get started. The monetary system is fake.
What I think might sink the system almost more than just paper currency is the concept of colonialism; there are so many big capitalists out there who are not playing by fair rules. These usually are rules everybody might agree to, like legal rules.
There is a vicious circle of super-rich people having control over the market. For example, Trump gives all his money to his big business buddies, and the big business buddies circulate all of it to the big businesses. Eventually, the people will revolt, especially as inequality grows. That is where cryptocurrency can come in. It is not like we are all going to go out with our pitchforks against the super-rich, but more like, we are going to look for alternatives on how we can make ourselves survive, thrive and prosper in a way that does not rely on the big banks or the big giant pharmaceutical companies for drugs. The whole system in itself is distorted, which why Bitcoin has such a massive following with libertarians and other people. There is a sense that we can use cryptocurrency to free ourselves from the chains that capitalism has put on us.
I like capitalism, but what we have here in America is not true capitalism; it is colonial capitalism. It is more like an oligarch, where a group of wealthy people pass money to another group of wealthy people. In America, for example, we have 48% of people that have some kind of government support. Even now, during the coronavirus shutdown here in California and the rest of the country, corporations are trying to invite workers to go back to work. However, people make more money from the government by staying at home than they do at work. The system has become completely screwed up. We need a system where you work hard, you get your cryptocurrency, and nobody can take it from you. Also, the cryptocurrency coin shall be worth a loaf of bread and other commodities. It needs to be a fair system. If it is not equitable, it will collapse.
Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada
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