The pace of change in politics over the last twelve months has been breathtaking. It’s possible the change will accelerate further over the next twelve months:
- Huge dissatisfaction exists with present-day political parties, candidates, and processes
- Ideas can spread extremely rapidly, due to extensive usage of social media
- Although many people feel alienated from mainstream politics, they have a hunger for political change.
Growing awareness of forthcoming technological disruptions heightens the general feeling of angst:
- Technological unemployment (automation) threatens to eliminate whole swathes of jobs, or to reduce the salaries available to people who continue in their current roles
- Genetic editing and artificial intelligence have the potential for people living “better than well” and even “more than human”, but it’s unclear how widely these benefits will be shared among all sectors of society
- Technologies such as blockchain and 3D printing raise the possibility of decentralised coordination – coordination with less need for powerful states or corporations
- Virtual Reality, along with new types of drug, could lead to large-scale disengagement of citizens from mainstream society – with people “tuning in and dropping out” as never before
- Breakthroughs in fields of energy, nanotech, the Internet of Things, synthetic biology, and self-learning artificial intelligence could result, intentionally or unintentionally, in extremely chaotic outcomes – with recourse to new types of “weapons of mass destruction” (including cyber-terrorism, nano-terrorism, gene-terrorism, and AI-terrorism)
- Technologies of surveillance could put more power than ever before in the hands of all-seeing, all-manipulating governments and/or corporations
- Misguided attempts to “geo-engineer” planetary solutions to potential runaway climate change could have devastating unintended consequences for the environment.
In the light of such uncertainty, two skills are becoming more important than ever:
- The skill of foresight – the anticipation and evaluation of new scenarios, arising from the convergence of multiple developing trends
- The skill of agility – the capability to change plans rapidly, as unexpected developments take on a life of their own.
An update on the Transhumanist Party of the UK
This context is the background for a significant change in a political party that was formed nearly two years ago – the Transhumanist Party of the UK (TPUK).
As a reminder, here’s a 90 second promotional video for TPUK from April last year:
The messages in that video remain as relevant and important today as when the Party was founded:
The Transhumanist Party – Transcending human limitations
Harnessing accelerating technology:
- Enabling positive social change and personal freedom,
- With no-one abandoned,
- So technology benefits all – not just vested interests.
Sustainable, bright green policies – good for humanity and good for the environment
- Policies informed by science and evidence,
- Ideology and divisiveness replaced by rationality and compassion ,
- Risks managed proactively, enabling innovation to flourish.
Regenerative solutions – for body, mind, education, society, and politics
- Smart automation and artificial intelligence addressing age-old human burdens,
- Huge personal and financial benefits from preventive medicine and healthy longevity,
- Politics transcending past biases and weaknesses.
However, despite this vision, and despite an initial flurry of positive publicity (including the parliamentary candidacy of Alex Karran), the Party has made little progress over the last 6-9 months. And in the last couple of weeks, two key members of the Party’s NEC (National Executive Committee) have resigned from the Party:
These resignations arise from the recognition that there are many drawbacks to creating and developing a new political party in the United Kingdom:
- The “first past the post” electoral system makes it especially difficult for minority parties to win seats in parliament
- Political parties need to establish a set of policies on a wide range of issues – issues away from the areas of core agreement among members, and where dissension can easily arise
- The timescales spoken about for full electoral success – potentially up to 25 years – are far too far into the future, given all the other changes expected in the meantime.
Party executives will each be following their own decisions about the best way to progress the underlying goals of transhumanist politics. Many of us will be redoubling our efforts behind Transpolitica – the think tank which was established at the same time as the Transhumanist Party. The relationship between Transpolitica and TPUK is covered in this FAQ from the Transpolitica website:
Q: What is the relation between Transpolitica and the various Transhumanist Parties?
Transpolitica aims to provide material and services that will be found useful by transhumanist politicians worldwide, including:
- Transhumanist supporters who form or join parties with the name “Transhumanist Party” in various countries
- Transhumanist supporters who form other new parties, without using the word “transhumanist” in their party name
- Transhumanist supporters inside other existing political parties, including mainstream and long-established parties
- Transhumanist supporters who prefer not to associate closely with any one political party, but who have an interest in political action.
Transpolitica is hosting a major conference later this year – on 3rd December. It’s a conference with a very practical ambition – to gather and review proposals for “Real world policy changes for a radically better future”. There will be 15 speakers, covering topics in three broad sections:
- Regulations, health, and transformation
- Politics, tools, and transformation
- Society, data, and transformation
Click here for more details, and to register to attend (while tickets are still available).
I’ll be kicking off the proceedings, with a talk entitled “What prospects for better politics?”.
Watch out for more news about the topics being covered by the other speakers.
Note that a focus on devising practical policies for a radically better future – policies which could become the focus of subsequent cross-party campaigns for legislative changes – resonates with an important evolution taking place within the IEET (the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies). As James Hughes (the IEET Executive Director) writes:
I am proposing that the IEET re-focus in a major way, on our website, with our blog, with our community, and in our work, on the explicit project of building a global technoprogressive ideological tendency to intervene in debates within futurism, academe and public policy. While we will remain a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, and will not be endorsing specific candidates, parties or pieces of legislation, we can focus on the broad parameters of the technoprogressive regulatory and legislative agenda to be pursued globally.
Regarding a first concrete project in this new direction, I have in mind our editing a Technoprogressive Policy Briefing Book, comparable to the briefing books of think tanks like the Brookings Institution, AEI, or Heritage Foundation. This project can collect and collaborate with the excellent work done by Transpolitica and other technoprogressive groups and friends. Each policy briefing would state a general issue in a couple of paragraphs, outline the key technoprogressive policy ideas to address the issue, and then list key publications and links to organizations pursuing those policies.
Next steps with the TPUK
As the official Treasurer of the TPUK, and following (as mentioned above) the resignation of both the leader and deputy leader of the Party, it legally falls to me to manage the evolution of the Party in a way that serves the vision of the remaining members. I’m in discussion with the other remaining representatives on the National Executive Committee, and we’ll be consulting members via the Party’s email conferencing systems. The basic principles I’ll be proposing are as follows:
- Times of rapid change demand organisational agility, rather than any heavyweight structures
- We will retain our radical purpose – the social changes ahead could (and should) be momentous over the next 5-25 years
- We will retain our progressive vision, in which technology benefits all – not just vested interests
- We will provide support across the spectrum of existing political parties to sympathisers of transhumanist and technoprogressive changes
- We will be ready to play a key positive enabling role as the existing political spectrum undergoes its own changes ahead – including the fragmentation of current parties and the creation of new alliances and new initiatives
- We will continue to champion the vision of (a.) Harnessing accelerating technology to enable positive social change and personal freedom; (b.) Sustainable, bright green policies – good for humanity and good for the environment; (c.) Regenerative solutions – for body, mind, education, society, and politics
- We will aim to provide actionable, practical analyses – of the sort being presented at Transpolitica 2016 – rather than (just) statements of principle
- Rather than maintain an expensive infrastructure of our own, we should feed our work into existing systems – such as H+Pedia, Transpolitica, the IEET, and the Transhuman National Committee of the United States
- As far as possible, we will remain collaborative rather than divisive
- We will hold onto our domain names
- We will retain the option to field our own candidates in future elections, in case that turns out to be the most sensible course of action at that time (this means the Party will remain officially registered with the Electoral Commission – at modest cost)
- We will offer our donors and members a refund of the payments they have provided the Party within the last six months, in case they feel they no longer support our vision.