The term transhumanism has been increasingly discussed in public for some years now. PonderingTime has asked the Ambassador of the Transhuman Party Germany, short TDP, for an interview.
PonderingTime: Mr. Eidam, you are the ambassador of the Transhuman Party Germany. “Ambassador,” that sounds like either diplomacy or someone on a persuasion mission.
Benjamin Eidam: An ambassador is literally someone who delivers a message. So often the first contact with a specific topic. Diplomacy and tact are definitely important, persuasion less. Of course, I am convinced of my message, but I am not there to convince anyone, but only to give food for thought and to be available for questions and discussions.
I can think of a few areas where this is more important than in connection with transhumanism.
PonderingTime: The Transhuman Party Germany (TPD) was founded in autumn 2015, what was the decisive motivation for it?
Benjamin Eidam: We wanted and want to ensure that modern education and decisions are implemented. We are living in a time that is bringing about ever greater changes faster and faster. Just think of the tipping points in the global climate or literally almost fantastic technologies such as artificial intelligence or CRISPR. Keyword exponential growth. There’s this saying in the digital industry: “Development has never been as fast as it is today and will never be as slow again.”
If everyone knew about it and actively worked on the future with these tools, it would be fantastic. The fact is, however, that more and more people understand less and less about what is going on. A technological singularity in real time, so to speak.
At the moment, mankind is flying in an airplane in which fewer and fewer people understand what we are doing, how and from which parts the aircraft is constructed and what the goal of the flight is at all. And who’s the captain, anyway?
To change this status quo in a sound, long-term, effective and sustainable way, we have founded TPD intending to clarify and determine the road ahead.
We, therefore, work closely with schools, associations, journalists, and filmmakers and also maintain a worldwide network of scientists, developers and company founders.
PonderingTime: And why did they decide at that time to find a political party and not an association or federation?
Benjamin Eidam: For various reasons. On the one hand from those of reputation. The party system may be outdated, ineffective and slow, but it still represents certain reliability and orientation. When you’re dealing with literally humanity-altering issues, you don’t necessarily want to talk to an association about them, but rather in the context of a political discussion, do you?
Secondly, because it is the most sensible way to achieve our goals. Ultimately, our course leads to active and contemporary, interstellar and global design. In such an extensive framework with so many relevant participants and stakeholders, this is best achieved through the lever of politics.
Last but not least, because of our inspiration, the transhumanist party in the USA. It preceded some other party formations around the world, of which the TPD is now one of the largest and most elaborate.
PonderingTime: What are the core objectives of TPD? Which points or changes should be implemented?
Benjamin Eidam: We have a very detailed program, which can also be read on our website and many partly more extensive contents, therefore here only the keywords for our focus: Education, Environmental Protection, Science & Technology, Individual Freedom, Politics, Disruption, Healthcare, Progress, and Peace. More about this in the links in the text.
On the contrary. Since technology ultimately creates everything, a man, in turn, creates technology, and transhumanism is a philosophy based on it, on the contrary, it is probably one of the most multi-faceted and fruitful ideas of modern times.
I believe that we are in a phase in which progress is increasingly moving towards transhumanism the further it thrives. One can imagine this like an hourglass, the many components of development, from solar cells to game apps, flow together in transhumanism and form its foundation. From transhumanism, in turn, a multitude of design possibilities blossom, from morphological freedom to the next step of evolution to the exploration and exploration of the entire universe.
In one sentence: Since transhumanism is based and flourishes on man and his solutions to problems in the form of technology and engineering, it is probably the most significant possible opposite of thematic monotony.
PonderingTime: Has the party already taken part in elections?
Benjamin Eidam: We have been admitted to various elections, including the 2017 Bundestag elections, but for different reasons, we have not yet taken part. Mainly because we were too late and insufficiently concerned with signatures of support).
PonderingTime: Are there people who draw a comparison or a relationship with the Pirate Party, or how do transhumanist feel about pirates?
Benjamin Eidam: Yes, they do exist. My favorite situation took place directly in the party headquarters of the pirates. When I first came to the pirates’ headquarters during the talks on social-liberal cooperation, some of those present lovingly welcomed me as an exotic. “So, you’re the weird ones with the singularity.”
In the broad perception of our target group, we are often seen as the pirate party in terms of “large,” “colorful” and “long-term” topics.
PonderingTime: If I have understood it correctly, TPD does not want to be classified in the classic categories of the German party spectrum. But is it not, on balance, a liberal party with an emphasis on technology?
Benjamin Eidam: A good question! This is not the first time that this has happened, so I reply with the voice of the members: “The Transhumanist Party is also to be seen as “left” in the sense that it is based on the same philosophical foundation, namely the equality of all human beings, and sets itself the goal of ending inequality and oppression.
Thus “leftist” ideas flow into the concepts of the TPD or form the basis of positions and approaches to solutions, which ultimately, however, lie far outside the typical political spectrum.
In summary, one can (if one wants to describe the TPD briefly with keywords) record: The Transhumanist Party is transhuman, progressive (oriented toward progress; especially human-progressive and techno-progressive), individualistic, liberal-libertarian and social.
PonderingTime: How can I imagine the typical party member?
Benjamin Eidam: Most of the members are academics of all kinds and can also be described as “progressivists,” “individualists,” “social liberals” and/or “posthumanists.”
They are all united by frustration with the realization of real possibilities. As already mentioned, we currently live in a multidimensional cornucopia of options thanks to and with technology, but conscious is that the least and is implemented far too little. It’s a bit like having a Ferrari in your garage, but either you ignore this fact, or you don’t use it. You’d rather ride a tricycle instead.
This is where the similarities mostly end: we have members from all over the world, with different professions and professional backgrounds and a wide variety of goals and everyday routines.
Benjamin Eidam is the founder and former chairman of the Transhumanist Party Germany. He specializes in current and future developments in science and technology having an impact on the economy, environment, and society. He is a lecturer, speaker, and consultant on technology, digitization, and artificial intelligence.
PonderingTime: How does the TPD assess the current situation of transhumanism in Germany and Europe on the one hand, and the USA and China on the other?
Benjamin Eidam: A time comes to us. As the world becomes more futuristic through augmented reality smartphones, algorithms that know more about me than I do, and artificial intelligence that creates reality, many people are looking for an anchor, a point of help and explanation.
We are one of the most critical contacts in the German-speaking world for precisely these questions. But also, from France, Spain, Great Britain, and Switzerland, mostly through our sister parties, inquiries on these topics come to us. In Europe, and especially in Germany, the situation is above all one of uncertainty and interception, which the transhumanists are currently experiencing and offering to resolve.
In China and the USA, it’s a bit different, there are these problems, too, but culturally they deal with you differently.
In China, progress becomes the state religion and in the USA the reason for founding the company.
And since, as was the case earlier, progress means more and more transhumanism, the more unusual it becomes, the more synonymous the reactions and demands become.
This is a topic that can be discussed for days, so here is the abstract: China is heading into a transhumanist future because the state apparatus is prescribing it that way.
The USA is heading for a transhumanist future because it is an excellent way of earning money and solving problems. Like that of death for example.
And Germany / Europe are working towards a transhuman future because it creates comfort and convenience and also brings many other advantages with it. But much slower and often more thoughtful. (Which is absolutely nothing wrong!)
Let me summarize this with a quote from Victor Hugo: “The future has many names: For the weak, it is unattainable, for the fear the unknown, for the brave the chance.” Who is in which position is left to the reader?
PonderingTime: In the party’s guidelines, one statement caught my eye in particular: “Transhuman means to optimize the human” Is this not in some way a contradiction?
Benjamin Eidam: Let’s take a look at current society: it often places profit and efficiency above humanity and warmth – that’s what makes people tick. Our youngest is placed in kindergartens and afternoon care, our elders in homes. What remains are the “useful donors” who work their way to death.
Technology can literally free us. My personal vision here is that of the self-sufficiency of the individual, i.e., materially guaranteed freedom through the automated satisfaction of all basic needs.
Transhumanism is aware of our current technological possibilities and, based on them, simultaneously creates an appropriate philosophy and a goal worth striving for.
So no, on the contrary. Transhumanism makes man as human as he only wants to be because it opens all possibilities for him to be human. (For critics of the “nature of man”: I join Bernward Gesang in this regard, see Gesang: 2007)
PonderingTime: Many people have a flat stomach when it comes to “transhumanism.” One could translate it as “beyond man,” but also as “the abolition of man. In the Transhumanist Party the development is naturally seen positively, but how does it want to take away people’s fears?
Benjamin Eidam: By being the opposite of the Equilibrium argument that goes like this: Technology creates super-rich who create new technologies to build themselves an artificial utopia in which only the super-rich are allowed. And politics, of course, play a full part in this scenario.
Our goal is the opposite: technology for the benefit of all. And this is how genuinely utopian states can be achieved. For example, living space within a few weeks. Environmentally friendly energy for everyone. Access to information without any restriction and monitoring. The list could be continued at will.
I can highly recommend the book “Überfluss” or the TED Talk by Diamandis on this topic.
Technology itself is first of all value-free. I can smash ahead with an ax, chop wood or cut off slices of bread.
Transhumanism gives the philosophy in which technology is used for the benefit of all. He is inspired, for example, by effective altruism and rational utilitarianism.
Moreover, in transhumanism two currents flow together under the same goal: The next (consciousness) level. Technologically pursued it is called the technological singularity, spiritually sought it is called enlightenment. The former has existed for 250 years at the latest, the latter for thousands of years.
PonderingTime: In the literature recommendations of the TPD, some names are expected in the field of transhumanism. Ray Kurzweil, for example. The list also includes Plato with “Phaidon” and “Politeia.” How does he have anything to do with the subject?
Benjamin Eidam: When we deal with the limits of the human(possible), it is good and to a certain extent also indispensable to deal with his fundamentals. If I don’t know who I am, how can I set a (coherent) goal? How do I know that I have achieved it when I don’t even know what defines me?
To quote André-Malraux: “If you want to read in the future, you have to leaf through the past.”
PonderingTime: Finally, a look into the glass ball, how much will those transhuman activities which are picking up speed today have changed people in the year 2100?
Benjamin Eidam: If you look only from the perspective of probably the most potential technology, artificial intelligence, literally unpredictable.
If it were up to me and no singularity comes, we would live in an interplanetary network under a unified government with the form of government of meritocratic minarchism, (night watch men state) or self-sufficiency, as I call it. I have been working for quite some time on further developing this very one. In a moment it would look like this: Every human being is free, since every sociotopic, i.e., every area in which he can unfold, is self-sufficient. Tasks are limited to doing precisely what everyone wants, creating unprecedented progress and prosperity through real-time collective updates.
So, in short: free and fortunately in the universe.
For all other scenarios, there are thousands and thousands of studies and forecasts, some of them very good. The search engine of trust helps there fast and effectively.
Thank you for the interview!