Yesterday I listened to the Singularity 1 on 1 interview with Zoltan Istvan, a US Presidential candidate who is running as a transhumanist.
It gave me a new appreciation for what Zoltan has accomplished, and I recommend everyone listen to it. Although I do not agree 100% with Zoltan’s positions and his strategy regarding the Transhumanist Party (which is not really a party at all), I am excited about some of his future plans. Zoltan is frank that his campaign has been a one man show up to now, which has been one of the major criticisms of his campaign. Zoltan argues however that this has been a good thing he has been able to directly implement his ideas with out a lot of infighting. The interview made me realize that really Zoltan’s bus tour has been key to the media attention has received. The hippie-esque bus, and pictures of activists standing with signs in front of The Capitol or in front of an ICBM silo provide good visuals for the media to use. The bus also conjures up imagery and memories from the counter-cultural 60s and 70s. No doubt Zoltan recognized this from his work on TV. The images of committed activists in the movement “on the ground” are more visually compelling than transhumanists pontificating in lecture halls or the dense highly technical writings of “activist” bloggers and authors.
I also think some people overestimate the amount of damage Zoltan might do to or has done to brand of transhumanism. It is very hard for me to gauge how people are responding to Zoltan. However, I tend to think that just making lots of people aware that “transhumanism” exists is a big step forward, even if some of the specific policies he associates with that label are wonky.
There are things to learn from the success of his campaign. I disagree with Zoltan’s overall thinking about the TNC-US (which he sees as floundering =/). The TNC-US may take longer to get off the ground than the one-man Transhumanist Party, but some form of community involvement in decision making and vision is critical for the long-term health of any movement. As far as I can tell, the TNC is being built around community engagement, while the TP was set up specifically to not allow it.