Humanity 8.0 Podcast: Episodes 11 and 12

Humanity 8.0, Episodes 11 and 12 are a conversation between Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the Transhumanist Party and author of the children’s book Death is Wrong, and Dr. Ahmed Bouzid, host of the podcast.

Episode 11:

Episode 12:

Episode 12 marks the end of Season One of Humanity 8.0. Season Two will kick off on January 20th, 2023!

The conversation starts with the observation that it is progressives, those who believe in science most ardently, that are most cautious about how to deal with complex problems, whereas those who call themselves “conservative” are the ones who are most vocal about wishing to push the envelope and drive innovation.  Is there a paradox to “progressives” being precautionary and “conservatives” proactionary, or is this an illusion? The conversation also touches on other burning questions such as: ‘Is there such a thing as an enlightened billionaire or is that an oxymoron?’, ‘Can people who are scandalized about environmentalists throwing paint on pieces of art claim any moral high ground when denouncing those they accuse of “art-terrorism”?, and  is calling Death the worst of all evils, to be hated and feared, the path to a much more anxious way of living, in contrast to making peace with its reality and being ready to leave if and when it comes?’

Main Topics

Transhumanism, Death, Religion, Innovation, the Precautionary Principle, the Proactionary principle.


Image credit: Humanity 8.0 logo

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5 replies

  1. First of all, Bouzid is a consistently good interviewer, probably because he interviews people whose wavelength he can occupy, at least for the duration of the interview. It also means that he remains impassive, which means he neither mimics nor resists the interviewee’s expressive style. (It reminds me of Jack Friday from ‘Dragnet’.) This is not a trivial achievement.

    On the substance of the interview with Stolyarov: I’m somewhat surprised that the young Stolyarov found the idea of death so problematic, especially since he seems to be a Christian. If a child is introduced to Jesus at an early age, one understands that to render God human is to inject mortality. The question then is how one spiritually manages that mortality. This was the struggle Jesus faced his entire life. In the secular era, his ‘self-sacrifice’ was easily interpreted as suicide. In any case, if we’re moving into an era of indefinite longevity (even though I was surprised/disappointed to learn that 122 years is the longest a person has lived), then the question of why one should live a life of a certain duration becomes more elective. Why should there be campaigns to keep people alive longer, when they increasingly have a choice in the matter? They may simply decide to go because they’ve done enough and have had enough. Part of my thinking is influenced by students whom I’ve surveyed over the years (and reported on SERRC). For them, extended longevity is the *least* attractive feature of broadly ‘transhumanist’ policies. In fact, they tend to see it (perhaps rightly) as a preoccupation of middle-aged people, who are ignoring the difficulties that younger people already have making their way in the labour market, due to oldsters hogging up the available jobs.

  2. Professor Fuller is mistaken in his assumption that I am a Christian. I am, and have always been, an atheist, materialist, and rationalist. I stated this early on in my interview with Dr. Bouzid. Given this fact, I wonder how it would affect Professor Fuller’s assessment of my remarks.

    I will note also that there *are* many Christians within the contemporary transhumanist movement, and there is even a Christian Transhumanist Association, headed by Micah Redding. My empirical observation is that there is not necessarily a negative correlation between religious belief and support for radical life extension, but this, of course, depends on one’s specific theological framework. I have met Christians who would be quite happy to live for 200 or more years if that meant an opportunity to do more good works to glorify their God. I have also met atheists who dismiss life extension out of hand, conflating it with the religious belief in immortality in heaven. My view is that status-quo bias (inability to imagine a world much different from the present one) is a more significant hindrance to people’s acceptance of radical life extension, whereas a disposition toward curiosity and innovation are strongly correlated with support for radical life extension.

  3. My apologies. I only listened to the second interview, where you talked about the kids book on death, which is the most interesting thing you seem to have done. And I know about Micah Redding, who is perfectly fine — and in fact, I see a close connection between the Abrahamic religions and transhumanism. (But I’m not sure how atheism helps transhumanism…) In any case, I think you should talk to actual kids about what they think about indefinite longevity. They’re not as keen as you think — unless you regard your mission as one of indoctrination. In any case, why did you attend Hillsdale College, of all possible American colleges? That’s what led me to think you were a ‘closet Christian’.

  4. Greetings, Professor Fuller. I would suggest that you watch the first part of the interview, as I discuss my motivation for having attended Hillsdale and the fact that I was a vocal atheist and transhumanist even while I was there. I would describe my major motivations for selecting Hillsdale as being pragmatic rather than ideological, but it was also a more tolerant and less ideologically monolithic place when I attended, as compared to today.

    Regarding children’s responses to death, my understanding is that the immediate responses are almost always some mix of bewilderment, outrage, deep sadness, and dread. It is only the various cultural coping mechanisms, many of which evolved over millennia, which are responsible for quickly ridding most kids of those feelings. But those coping mechanisms (or, more accurately, excuses and rationalizations for death) are the true indoctrination here. I am trying to show kids that they have a choice of how they respond; they do not have to acquiesce to the cultural pressures to make peace with death or put it out of their minds. Instead, I aim to validate the initial, justified responses to death that kids intuitively develop and to help channel those responses into constructive, life-affirming, world-improving endeavors.

  5. OK, I’ll grant you the Hillsdale point even without watching the earlier video. But it’s the business about kids that really concerns me, since I’ve actually made a point of talking to kids periodically about transhumanism. And there are many things that kids like about it, but the indefinite longevity bit isn’t one of them. In the second interview, you point out that the readership for your book is about age nine and upward, and by that time they will have gone through whatever initial trauma they might have experienced about learning that death happens (say, age 4 or 5) and will have come to a more considered view. Here Christianity helps, if kids are introduced the life of Jesus at an early age, since it keeps them open-minded about what it might mean to die and somehow return in some other form. This doesn’t make death less problematic but it points to what might be important about the experience of dying, especially if it involves a kind of disembodiment. I would recommend that you write a kids book that takes resurrection more seriously, and stop modelling humans on plants and animals that already happen to live longer (but with diminished cognitive capacity).

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