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Letter to the Editor: Politics and the Future of Transhumanism

As technological change speeds up and trans-humanist thought becomes a serious tool in the armoury of society, perhaps it is time to become more sophisticated about the political circumstances in which it appears.

Trans-humanism may be at a highly vulnerable point in its young history as it moves from speculative thinking to public policy influence. It is at just such a time that its machinery (institutions and media) have to be most wary of tactical infiltration by ideologically motivated individuals and organisations from all sides of the political spectrum.

I am less concerned with individuals here (after all, everyone has a right to be wrong and to fight their corner) than I am with activist organisations – in particular, under more extreme conditions, we should be wary of the appropriation of trans-humanism by political enthusiasts from the fringe.

A ‘contempt for the herd’ in a standard and ignorant misreading of Nietzsche, is implicit in some forms of New Age politics and transhumanism can be misread as the evolution of the ubermensch of fascist dreams. Similarly, fundamentalist green thinkers may can iimply that humanity is a form of parasite on the earth and it is only a small step to seeing that this ‘parasitism’ can be cured by new technologies. Some may take Ayn Rand to her furthest limits of unjustified elitist nonsense. Yet others invoke the engineer’s love of planning without any knowledge of what ‘soviets+electrification’ actually meant in terms of terror and mass murder.

So long as any of these views are fringe, we can live with this but any attempt by any organisations with simple views on complex issues to gain a presence in official or scientific trans-humanism as its official popular ideology through the back door is very concerning and should be resisted. The wider population are anxious and ill-educated in science and so highly vulnerable to manipulation from the commanding heights of any culture that may claim to be technologically advanced.

Technologists and engineers who go into politics and public policy must learn the trade first and certainly study some history. History is a non-linear complex system and it spits out planners, elitists, theoreticians and ideologues who think in simplistic or linear terms. The social management of the coming technological revolution is far too important to be left to people with ambitions far in excess of their experience or abilities and public policy collaboration between transhumanists, administrators and politicians is urgently required.

Yours Sincerely,

Tim Pendry
Chairman – TPPR –