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Hangout on Air: Futurists discuss The Transhumanist Wager, with Zoltan Istvan

The novel "The Transhumanist Wager", by Zoltan Istvan, published earlier this year, raises a number of key questions for futurists, in a way that is intelligent and entertaining, but also controversial and challenging.

This "London Futurists Hangout on Air" will feature a live discussion between Zoltan Istvan and a panel of leading futurists and transhumanists: Giulio Prisco, Rick Searle, and Chris T. Armstrong. Questions covered will include:

• Which aspects of the near future depicted in the book are attractive, and which are abhorrent?

• What do panellists think of the basic concept of the transhumanist wager, and of "the three laws of transhumanism" stated in the book?

• What are the best ways for transhumanists and radical futurists to use fiction to engage the wider public in awareness of the positive potential of transhumanist technologies?

Live questions

Futurists who want to join the discussion about the book and the issues raised are welcome to view the discussion live on Google+ or YouTube.

Viewers of the live broadcast on Google+ will be able to vote in real time on questions and suggestions to be discussed by the panellists as the Hangout proceeds.

To gain maximum benefit from the discussion, futurists are recommended to read at least part of the book before joining the call. (Warning: you may find that, once you start, you will be hooked!)

About "The Transhumanist Wager"

The website http://transhumanistwager.com/ starts by boldly declaring:

"The Problem: You're going to die.  The Solution: The Transhumanist Wager"

On Amazon, the book "The Transhumanist Wager" is described as follows:

Philosopher, entrepreneur, and former National Geographic and New York Times correspondent Zoltan Istvan presents his bestselling visionary novel, The Transhumanist Wager, as a seminal statement of our times. 

Scorned by over 500 publishers and literary agents around the world, his indie philosophical thriller has been called "revolutionary" and "socially dangerous" by readers, scholars, and religious authorities. The novel debuts a challenging original philosophy, which rebuffs modern civilization by inviting the end of the human species--and declaring the onset of something greater. 

Set in the present day, the novel tells the story of transhumanist Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. Fighting against him are fanatical religious groups, economically depressed governments, and mystic Zoe Bach: a dazzling trauma surgeon and the love of his life, whose belief in spirituality and the afterlife is absolute. Exiled from America and reeling from personal tragedy, Knights forges a new nation of willing scientists on the world's largest seasteading project, Transhumania. When the world declares war against the floating city, demanding an end to its renegade and godless transhuman experiments and ambitions, Knights strikes back, leaving the planet forever changed.

About Zoltan Istvan

At the age of 21, American-Hungarian Zoltan Istvan began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world. His main cargo was 500 handpicked books, mostly classics. He's explored over 100 countries—many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel—writing, filming, and appearing in dozens of television stories, articles, and webcasts. His work has also been featured by The New York Times Syndicate, Outside, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Radio, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Animal Planet, and the Travel Channel. In addition to his award-winning coverage of the war in Kashmir, he gained worldwide attention for pioneering and popularizing the extreme sport of volcano boarding.

Zoltan later became a director for the international conservation group WildAid, leading armed patrol units to stop the billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Back in America, he started various successful businesses, from real estate development to filmmaking to viticulture, joining them under ZI Ventures. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University and resides in San Francisco with his daughter and physician wife.

About the panellists:

Giulio Prisco is a writer, technology expert, futurist, cosmist, and transhumanist. A former manager in European science and technology centers, he writes and speaks on a wide range of topics, including science, information technology, emerging technologies, virtual worlds, space exploration and future studies.

Giulio is especially interested in the convergence of science, religion, technology, and spirituality. He will be participating in the Hangout from Budapest.

For more details of Giulio's ideas and projects, see http://turingchurch.com/giulio-prisco/.

Chris T. Armstrong is a secular transhumanist and self-appointed publicist of all things H+/Singularity related. He has had articles published on ImmortalLife.info, IEET.org, andBrighterBrains.org. He is currently writing his first book, At Any Cost: A Guide to The Transhumanist Wager and the Ideas of Zoltan Istvan.

Back in the 20th century, Chris was a student and researcher in Artificial Intelligence (neural modeling), Lisp programming and a professional software geek. He is also a percussionist/composer, martial artist and powerlifter.

Chris has a BFA and MFA from California Institute of the Arts in World Music. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their two fully-transhuman dogs, Buddy and Beanie. He blogs at http://carmstrong1959blog.wordpress.com/.

Rick Searle is a writer and educator living in Pennsylvania. He is an Affiliate Scholar for the Institute for the Ethics of Emerging Technology where his articles appear weekly.

Rick is the creator and writer of the blog “Utopia or Dystopia” which focuses upon the intersection of science- technology- religion- philosophy and politics. He is currently in the process of writing a non-fiction workUtopia: The Traveler’s and Builder’s Guide which looks at the potential and pitfalls of using the Utopian tradition to help think through the problems facing contemporary society.

He holds a Master’s in Political Philosophy from Lehigh University and a BA in History from Penn State University. 

Event logistics:

This event will take place between 7pm and 8.30pm UK time on Sunday 20th October.

You can view the event:

• On Google+, via the page https://plus.google.com/104281987519632639471/posts - where you'll also be able to vote on questions to be submitted to the panellists 

• Via YouTube (the URL will be published here 15 minutes prior to the start of the event).

There is no charge to participate in this discussion.

Note: there is no physical location for this meetup (despite the postcode given above - in compliance with something that the Meetup software seems to insist upon).

No Spoilers please - until the Hangout starts

To avoid spoiling the reading pleasure of people who would like to read "The Transhumanist Wager" for themselves, please do NOT post any comments in advance of the Hangout that reveal any further details of the plot.

However, anyone who attends the Hangout should be aware that all aspects of the plot are open for discussion at that time.

Join or login to comment.

  • Giulio P.

    A great discussion, thanks to David, Zoltan, Chris, Rick, and all thsoe who watched the video stream with great questions and comments. Some thoughts here:
    http://skefia.com/2013/10/21/video-hangout-on-air-futurists-discuss-the-transhumanist-wager-with-zoltan-istvan/

    1 · October 21, 2013

  • Clyde D.

    A well moderated and fluid discussion. Thank you David. It was a good panel.

    My main take-way is that AI (and AGI) might be inevitable, as we should be prepared that AI might evolve to a "being" that is different from us, and as such we have a choice - evolve (merge?) with it... or be prepared for the fact that AI might out shine humans - agree with Zoltan and Giulio on this.

    Rick put in very credible arguments on how Transhumanism should take into account the masses and their beliefs/sentiments as well if the movement is to widespread acceptance
    (Note - these are my take-aways from the discussion and not necessarily what the panelists might have meant)

    1 · October 21, 2013

  • Alexander K.

    Excellent discussion, left me with much to think about, subject matter handled well, D wood excellent chair

    1 · October 21, 2013

  • Calum

    Well done, David

    1 · October 21, 2013

  • David W.

    The YouTube version of this Hangout can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW1o5crYUYg

    2 · October 20, 2013

  • Jenina B.

    Have started reading of the book and will definitely be coming. Very strongly suggestive of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged - actually more than that, the characters are almost updates of Hank Reardon, Francisco d'Anconia and Dagney Taggart. I'm not yet sure which Istvan character is equivalent to Rand's John Galt - maybe the Dean. But in real life, I guess the John Galt of Transhumanism would be Ray Kurzweill ...

    1 · October 19, 2013

    • David W.

      Jenina - How quickly can you read? :-)
      I hope you make it to the end in time...

      October 19, 2013

  • David W.

    The new 10 minute long London Futurists Academy video "Technoprogressives and transhumanists" http://londonfuturists.com/2013/10/12/technoprogressives-and-transhumanists/ covers some ideas which set some context for this Hangout On Air discussion

    1 · October 12, 2013

  • Rick S.

    I am honored to participate and looking forward to an engaging discussion on the TW and its implications.

    1 · October 11, 2013

  • Tanya P.

    Hi everybody! Interested in what is waiting us in the near future.

    1 · October 7, 2013

  • Tanya P.

    Hi everybody! Interested in what is waiting us in the near future.

    October 7, 2013

  • Hunki D.

    My future self has been wondering when the time ripple would coalesce with the nascent morphic field, monad awaits. See you then.

    September 19, 2013

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