I recently got together with Congressional candidate Gabriel Rothblatt who is very possibly the first openly transhumanist political candidate in the United States.
Peter: Can you say a bit about what you’ve achieved in Florida, exactly what office you are running for, the locale etc.?
Gabriel: I’m running for the House of Representatives, America’s ‘House of Commons’ in Florida’s 8th Congressional District. Currently the 8th district is made up of Brevard and Indian River Counties with a small population in Orange County too. It includes the Space Coast and Northern Treasure Coast, with attractions such as well as the Indian River Lagoon, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The 8th district used to be one of the youngest in the country, the silicon valley of the 70’s. It is now one of the oldest and its electoral politics have become much more focused on conservative social issues instead of the advancement of America’s space program.
I’ve observed an interesting paradigm where the ‘good old-boy club’ which generally determines the Republican outcome is mirrored by a ‘good old-girl club’ which does the same for the Democrats. I had to overcome a handpicked primary challenger to become the democratic nominee, a testament to how effective simple hard-work and grassroots efforts can still be.
On top of being the father of four, a dedicated husband and Property Manager, I’ve been active in many groups from Cubscouts, PTO and School Advisory Committee to Leadership Brevard and Toastmasters with countless voluntary, business, social and political activities in between. I’ve already achieved a great amount in the few years of community involvement here in Florida. Both in my own accomplishments and in the forced reactions from the incumbent, I’m proud of what we have done and where we are going. We’ve seen my opponent introduce legislation on issues he has denied existed and modernize his positions on space, all coincidentally within the weeks after I qualified for the ballot.
P: In setting up this interview you mentioned that it was time for h+ to become political. What do you mean?
G: Every movement begins as a fringe, successful movements eventually grow to become dominant trends, and that entails having a political voice. Especially in America there is great divide growing between science and politics, a divide that in a time of enormous technological growth, itself poses an existential risk for humanity. We cannot continue to let government ignore and fail to respond to the rapidly changing technological world around us. Transhumanism, must gain mainstream acceptance, or lose out to the idiocracy of luddites with thermonuclear capabilities.
In the early 90’s we saw some of the first movements towards the acceptance of ‘queers.’ Now twenty years later we are seeing a tsunami of supportive legislation. Same in the 50’s and 60’s with civil rights, the 10’s and 20’s with suffrage. Transhumanism is the next battleground for civil rights, and it needs leaders to do more than pontificate in chatrooms and internet comments.
Transhumanism, like feminism is more than just a single issue, it’s a philosophy and relates to many issues. Consumer Protections, Veterans, Healthcare, Property Rights, Civil Rights, Surveillance and Sousveillance, the 2nd amendment, personhood, immigration, disabilities… technology and multi-culturalism have changed how we interact with everything, in my opinion transhumanism is a path to understanding these relationships.
I consider myself the oldest millennial. It’s a self-proclaimed title admittedly but 30 is an age of maturity. Every day, Millennials begin crossing that threshold and as they do we are seeing the future mature before our very eyes. Throughout time this has often come with changing trends, but never before has a generation been at the cusp of as much change as this one faces. Those of us young and old who believe that technology should enhance our lives and not destroy it need to draw a line in the silicon.
P: How does your association with transhumanism influence your campaign? Is it a help or a hindrance?
G: My personal identification and experiences as a transhumanist has certainly informed my world view. Those connections and inspirations have led me to where I am, in those terms, I would never have gotten here and I owe them the entirety of my progress.
There are definitely people who choose to see my belief in transhumanism as a weakness. My former primary opponent grabbed on it quickly and did persuade a number of people that it made me unfit to express my political positions. The incumbent hasn’t yet made any clear statements, but I was banned from a ‘conservative’ group after the June 23rd, 2014 TIME Magazine article.
Ultimately, I haven’t seen anyone who wasn’t going to judge me for being African-American and/or Jewish, judge me for being a transhumanist. More people have shown respect and intrigue than aversion. In today’s media world controversy is king, and if being ‘weird’ gets me more exposure, I win. I also find it’s important to stand your ground, defending yourself, hiding from your affiliations and beliefs never works. Ghandi said ‘first they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,’ I only have one step left.
P: can you say something about the transhumanist elements of your campaign or your platform?
G: My platform is predominantly about making education a solution and not an industry. My campaign does seek to educate people about the realities of the present and the choices of the future. It is my intention that through this campaign many people will take a closer more serious look at what transhumanism is and how they may already be, unknowingly well in its grasps. I always get a good chuckle when someone creates a vlog critical of transhumanism or posts anti-Terasem messages on FB.
I’m an extremely passionate advocate for Space, which is very much the essence of and a major driver for transhumanism. I also have a great amount of empathy for our veterans returning from wars and the difficulties of living with the realities and stigma of being ‘disabled.’ These issues highlight the already widespread, and long history of transhumanism. It’s now finally a time that we can connect the dots and begin pushing for public acceptance and equality for those already living as transhumanists and those who may choose to become one.
The issue of choice and more centrally, liberty, is something transhumanist I intend to push for. Specifically, I believe we may need an addition to our Bill of Rights to ensure our liberty in a exponentially technologically world. That is, what I would describe as the Freedom of Form, a right to exist and to transform into whatever extant reality possible. This would protect future beings who would chose to make adaptations to their body in an effort enhance their appearance, enjoyment or safety. It would maintain rights and protections for beings in stasis or virtual perpetuity.
P: What has been the reception for your ideas on the street level?
G: Most people, especially those directly interested or involved in space find them fascinating. Not all necessarily agree but appreciate my vision and respect my intellect for entertaining them. There are others however who can’t seem to muster more than the word weird, and then try to link me into every other term they can think of and don’t like.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C Clarke.
I’m a futurist and a visionary, I don’t expect people immediately to comprehend my ideas, they wouldn’t be unique if they did. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, I don’t always agree with myself.
I make a great spokesperson for natural and developed reasons. I’m attractive, articulate, and active in the community. When people actually meet me, they see that I’m a nice, honest, hard-working and a charismatic person. It’s only easy to hate and despise me and my ideas when they remain foreign and abstract, again why I believe that transhumanism needs to become political, visible, and identifiable. It’s already everywhere you go, it shouldn’t be so taboo.
P: I know you are especially interested in promoting space exploration and related ideas. Can you say a bit more about this?
G: My ten year plan is to see a thousand people living in space with launches occurring daily. I’d like to attain weekly launches of heavy lift rockets within 5 years. Between SpaceX, SLS and the competition those two will inflict on others, I’m confident with the right leadership we can crowdsource the remaining difficulties. I also am a strong advocate for new, revolutionary ideas about access to space, including a spce elevator.
I am a Volunteer Ambassador for the Seasteading Institute and strongly believe that the Port of Canaveral offers everything the first ocean stations need as a home berth. Florida is already home to many ocean based industries including Victory Casinos, The World and Freedom Ship. I believe that along with these, NASA, Disney and the contractors around Canaveral, Titusville and Palm Bay will find the ocean to be a productful and profitable playground from which to experiment with potential space programs.
Both seasteading and spacesteading open up enormous amounts of real estate, industry, opportunity and freedom. Government and religion has stretched from coast to coast on every continent. There is so little room to grow within the confines of terrestrial society, I believe pursuing the future cities and culture that sea/spacesteading allows will give us an explosion of new diversity. But there is also an important reciprocating reality of sea/spacesteading. The process of living in these more foreign environments necessitates technologies and methods that are optimally efficient, and the application of those systems in our cities and towns actually makes us more sustainable on land and earth.
It’s always been in our nature to explore, without boundaries to push, stars to reach for, being human loses much of its meaning.
P: What do you think your chances of winning are?
G: No handicapper yet ranks this race as competitive. My opponent has been in elected office longer than I’ve been alive and this is a Republican leaning district. I actually find comfort in that, I’m looking to for an astronomical challenge, pun intended. No race anywhere has seen a candidate like me before, this district has new lines, there is an anti-incumbency fervor in the wind and Florida is voting on medical marijuana. If anything is for sure, it’s that this election will be an anomaly.
P: Who is your opponent?
The incumbent is Bill Posey, aka Birther Bill because he is the Representative who asked for Obama’s birth certificate on the floor of congress. He is a climate change denier and believes that vaccinations cause autism. He often says supportive statements to the notion the Earth is only 6k years old and makes devastating legislation to women and science. It’s amazing this man represents America’s Spaceport, one of its top tech centers and the continent’s most bio-diverse estuary.
P: How can people learn more about you and follow the campaign?
G: My website is http://gabrielrothblattforcongress.us/ and my twitter handle is @gabeisgreat. I’m available on many social media platforms, regardless of the outcome of this election, this will be an interesting race to watch.