In the future, radical life extension will emerge as a main topic of political discussion. I can easily envision a moment a decade from now when 10 or 20 percent of representative seats in a large country will be held by transhumanists.
However, at the current time, there is only surprisingly small political activity for life extension. Why? Is it due to the inertia of traditional political thinking… which is devoted to territorial and economical questions? I don’t think so. Today most people are NOT starving…
But… they are still DYING.
The first political demonstration for radical life extension was organized by my colleague Michael Batin in Moscow on the 24th of September 2011. Michael had previous political experience in Russia’s Kostroma region where he successfully won an election against the ruling party with a party composed of retired people – the “Pensioners Party.”
100 people attended the September 24, 2011 event. Speakers talked about life extension and the philosophy of transhumanism, and I gave a speech about existential risks. Immortalist and revolutionary music was playing.
In 2012 we organized the International Longevity Party as the first-ever political party with a transhumanist ideology. We understand that life extension is a topic that can unite radical transhumanists with the needs of ordinary people.
The first international meeting of Longevity party members took place during an Aging conference in Brussels in December 2012. I suggested there: let’s go out to the main square in Brussels, carrying slogans against aging. I printed banners and the next day 20 people assembled for a short photo session near a futuristic Christmas tree.
I need to mention that my attitude to street action was changing at that time. In 2011 I was very afraid of street action because the repressive nature of the Russian government was well known. However, we have had more street protests in Russia after that election and we lost our fears during them. I also understand that I have nothing to lose – I am going to die anyway in the next 20-40 years – if we will not reach significant life extension. Plus, peaceful actions are categorized as legal expressions of freedom of speech. Additionally, I was very encouraged by a movie “How to survive a plague” about gays fighting for developing anti-HIV drugs.
After I read Hank Pellissier’s article about lack of transhuman political street action in US, I understood that I should organize one as I am now living in the USA and I know how to do it. I decided to go to Google and I wanted other activists to join me, but I decided – even if no one goes with me, I have unbending intent to go anyway, by myself.
I was lucky to find Sarah Jordan Amechazurra, Michael Anissimov, and Jason Xu, to do the action with me. I decided it was important to have an action in two cities in one time with the same slogans as it shows unity and determination.
Google is the ideal place for actions in California because of past actions with Google bus in San Francisco. Also Google is doing a lot to promote life extension by creating a Calico company which promises (from the pages of Times magazine) to “solve death.”
We decided to express our support to Google in Googleplex – Google campus in Mountain View. Some people were afraid that such action could startle Google and they would have to say that they are not transhumanist. But if Time magazine is not afraid to say it – why should we?
On the 26 of February 2014, me, Michael Anissimov and Jason Xu went to Googleplex with slogans that said “Immortality Now”, “Google, please solve death”, “Viva Calico”, and “I demand funding for anti-aging research”.
We also did a parallel action in New York’s Union Square with the same slogans, with the help of the most ever beautiful Sarah Jordan Amechazurra.
California is having a famous drought but at that day was the heaviest rain all season. We were immediately and totally wet as well were our slogans. Plus there were not many people around. We decided to stay near the sculpture of the “Green Android Robot” because it is the most recognizable structure in Googleplex.
We stood for maybe ten minutes and soon we saw a couple of security cars on the corners. Some people were looking at us from the building windows. We suggested to people passing by that they could participate.
Soon we were approached by two courteous guards who asked if we were protesting. We said that we are supporting radical life extension and a making photo session. They said that the territory is private and we can’t make any protest here. We stopped our action and took our car and drive away. It was still a strong rain and we went to Chinese restaurant.
I hope that the drought in California is now over.
My opinion is this – people who want radical life extension are very bored, after reading hundreds of blog post and books on the topic. People need action and fun that collective actions could easily provide.
I have learned several realities about actions; here they are:
1. Participants and photography are important, but bystanders are not.
2. You need actions that encourage participants to become more committed to the goal of the action.
3. People will have strong emotion during the action.
4. The main result of the action is photos on the Facebook, so you should invest in high quality photos. It is best to take photos with several different cameras with as many photographers as possible. If you have one actionist and 10 photographers that can be a “great action.”
5. The action should be short. 10 minutes. Short action provides more emotion and has less chance of problems with police. It is more like a “photo session” than a rally.
I urge you to defend your right to live, by supporting Google and other organizations which promise to work on life extension.
Alexey Turchin is a Russian writer and art collector. He was born in Moscow, Russia in 1973. Alexey studied Physics and Art History at Moscow State University. He has translated many foreign Transhumanist works into Russian, including N. Bostrom and E. Yudkowsky. He is an expert in Global Risks and wrote the book “Structure of the Global Catastrophe: Risks of Human Extinction in the XXI Century,” as well as several articles on the topic. Since 2010, he has worked at Science Longer Life where he wrote a book “Future Studies” together with Michael Batin. Now he is working on the book ‘‘Immortality”. He is one of the founders of the Longevity Party. He can be contacted via Facebook.