MTA Member Survey Results 2009

The Mormon Transhumanist Association announces publication of the results of the 2009 member survey. The survey asked participating members about their perspectives on matters of religion, science, spirituality and technology, as well as for feedback on the association. The survey results contain aggregated responses and demographics, without individually identifying information. The survey result document also contains general statistics about the Mormon Transhumanist Association. Questions may be directed to admin@transfigurism.org.

Candidates for the 2010-2012 Humanity+ Board of Directors seats

Jeff L Jones, PhD
Joel Pitt
Natasha Vita-More
Manas Roy
Victor Fersht
Kristi Scott
David Orban
Amy Li
Michael Vassar
Paul Grasshoff



Jeff L Jones, PhD

I have been an active member of the transhumanist community for a number of years. In 2005, I co-founded the Santa Cruz Futurists, a branch of the Acceleration Studies Foundation’s Future Salon Network. With Miguel Aznar of the Nanotech Foresight Institute, I served as moderator for the Santa Cruz Future Salon from 2005-2007. Through this and other outlets online and off, I have long enjoyed exchanging ideas with other thoughtful people, interested in exploring the future possibilities for technology and humanity.

I have a BS in Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech, and just completed a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2009. I view science and technology as essential to the progress of humanity, whether that means understanding the laws of nature, or applying that understanding to solve the challenges we face and help create a better world for our children.

Having spent the past 5 years focusing on the academic/scientific side of things, I have recently accepted a position in the private sector. I will be joining the team at Wolfram Research in January, where I hope to become more involved in the applied/technology side of things, helping to make knowledge more computable. My plans for the long term are still open, and my interests diverse, but I am considering moving more toward bioinformatics or machine learning.

I place a high value on bringing community together, and keeping myself and others informed with as broad a view as possible of the landscape of ideas which hold promise for extending the capabilities and possibilities for humanity. While I have long been an advocate for technology as a positive transformative force in society, I also recognize that it is important to be aware of the potential risks and pitfalls of rushing forward with solutions that are not fully thought through. Together, through public discussion and communication, through local and global action, I believe that we can build greater awareness and a positive future for humanity over the next century. I would be pleased to serve on the Board of Directors for Humanity+ for you, as it would mean working towards all of these goals.


Joel Pitt

What do you think of when you think of a transhumanist? No doubt it depends on how many transhumanists you’ve met. I live in New Zealand but I’ve also been fortunate to visit the Bay Area several times, and during those visits I’ve met some really interesting people, some of whom would identify with the transhumanist label. These people with dazzling minds and unique perspectives on life, people who I really appreciate existing in the world.

However, I’m also aware of the impression that some of the general public has of the whole idea and to that end, I often come across as pretty normal. I don’t proselytize about the future to everyone I meet, I don’t think life and human beings are shitty and future technology is our only salvation. Right now I’m human, and so I enjoy the experience that affords me. I may be one of the first to leap at new ways of experiencing the universe, but I’m in no overwhelming rush to change things for the sake of change.

So what I’m trying to get across is, I come across as a normal 27 year old guy. Despite growing up feeling somewhat neural atypical among my peers, I fit in with social situations and feel comfortable around almost any group. My friends joke that I emit “zenogens”, a particle that calms and soothes those around me and I think that for anyone that’s talking about high-technology that’s an important, uh, trait. It’s important to try to alleviate future shock in order to get people interested rather than scared about the new society-changing devices that are on the horizon, since scared people don’t always make the most rational decisions.

I would relish the opportunity to contribute to Humanity+. Why am I appropriate? I’m a multi-disciplinary scientist, I did a double major in Computer Science and Molecular Biology. I then turned around and did a PhD in Ecology. After that I was funded by SIAI and Novamente to work on the open-source AGI framework OpenCog. Now I’m currently taking stock and will either develop a start-up using OpenCog, or do a post-doc related to AI, natural language processing, or robotics.

In my “spare” time I create electronic dance music, DJ, and run a sound camp at the New Zealand equivalent of Burningman. I also contribute to, and helped to found DrugR which is a organization to work towards treating drug abuse as a health issue instead of a criminal one. I think this is also relevant as more people begin using prescription medicines for off-label uses, and as we develop technology that interfaces with the mind.


Natasha Vita-More

Already Humanity+ has a substantiated position as being a diverse network of expertise and talent. Coupled with this characteristic is the underscoring benefit of transhumanism’s knack for critical thinking and activism. The more skilled we are at explaining, educating, illustrating and arguing issues, the more likely transhumanism will become a truly acknowledged and respected worldview. At the recent Summit, there were many discussions about the influence of narrative/story-telling, a need for more emphasis on the arts, culture, and delving more deeply into the nature of behaviors, such as empathy. I’d like to work with you all to bring this about!

I am a university lecturer, media spokesperson, and committed activist for transhumanism. A few of my affiliations include: Fellow, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies; Advisory Board, Lifeboat Foundation; and Advisor to the Singularity University. The past couple of years, I have been invited to speak about transhumanism in the US, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Brazil, UK, Russia, Norway, Australia, Canada, and South Korea. Please refer to my CV.

Related Background.

I was one of the early contributors to the Transhumanist FAQ and the Transhumanist Declaration, which are currently sponsored by Humanity Plus. (I wrote the Transhuman Statement in the 1980s.)

Since the 1990s, I have produced and hosted the cable TV show “TransCentury Update” on transhumanism, which viewing audience exceeded 100,000 in the Los Angeles area. I was a council member of the International Interactive Communications Society (LA/Santa Monica), which spearheaded VR and the VRML users group. I launched the Transhumanist Art & Culture website, which formed a nexus for artists, designers, scientists and science fiction enthusiasts. One of the projects was to produce “Timothy Leary in Conversation” which exhibited at the London’s Institute of Contemporary Art. In 1997 I designed the future human prototype “Primo Posthuman” which has become a stable in both academic and popular publications, including mentioned Raymond Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, amongst other books which contextualize the sciences and technology of human enhancement. In 2003 I was elected as President of Extropy Institute and held that position for four years. I am currently a Fellow of IEET, on the Scientific Board of Lifeboat Foundation, and an advisor to such organizations as Alcor Life Extension Foundation and SIYM International.

Persona Info. My research concerns the aesthetics of human enhancement and radical life extension, with a focus on NBIC+. I am currently writing my dissertation as a PhD Candidate, University of Plymouth, Faculty of Arts, School of Art and Media. I hold an MPhil, University of Plymouth, Faculty of Technology, School of Communications, Computers and Electronics and an MSc, University of Houston, Future Studies, Social Sciences and Humanities. I was filmmaker-in-residence, University of Colorado and currently hold Certificates in Nutrition and Sports Training, American Muscle & Fitness Association. I am a strong proponent human rights and ethical means for human enhancement, which view I have written about and published in Artifact, Technoetic Arts, Nanotechnology Perceptions, Annual Workshop on Geoethical Nanotechnology, Death And Anti-Death, and my bi-monthly column in Nanotechnology Now. In 2009 I was Guest Editor of The Global Spiral academic journal.

Mention. I have been featured in Wired, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, Net Business, Teleopolis, and Village Voice; referenced in more than a dozen non-fiction and academic books; and have appeared in over twenty-four televised documentaries on the future and culture. My artistic works have exhibited media works at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Brooks Memorial Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, Women In Video, Telluride Film Festival, and United States Film Festival and recently “Evolution Haute Couture: Art and Science in the Post-Biological Age”. I have been the recipient of several awards: First Place Award at Brooks Memorial Museum, Special Recognition at Women in Video, WFS Best Graduate Project for “Futures Podcast Series” online, and Futurist Web Forecaster’s Award.

Personal Note. Many transhumanist work hard to have their social views recognized, especially views which frame issues concerning identity and sexuality. Other transhumanists focus on religious issues, which includes secular and nonsecular beliefs of atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Mormonism, for example. The one area where there is great unity is in the area of ethics, and I believe that this area will grow and become even stronger than it is today with an expansion of knowledge and skills which will place transhumanism in the front of ethical issues and solutions.

My own view is that I am not religious, but hold dear my personal position on life and self-responsibility and the need to do whatever I can to help others who do not have many of the benefits that I have been given in life and have worked hard to achieve. My socio-political view is a focus on problem-solving.


Manas Roy

Manas Roy is a Guest faculty of Philosophy, in an Evening College, India. My motivation in running for the Humanity+ board is a desire to become engaged with a broader variety of transhumanists around the world; to assist the Humanity+ via my experience in managing organizations and also potentially to contribute my expertise and experience in Philosophy & Technology to help Humanity+; may connect more closely with individuals doing transhumanist-focused in Philosophy, Phenomenology and academia and may lead towards a Transhumanist’ Concertive Humanities.

I have been engaged with a research work on the topic entitled-‘Metaphysics of Presence’ since 2004 and outcome of that experience were the new concepts of: (1) Déconcert, (2) Photosyntagmatics (3) The Déconcert Theory: a 21st Century Philosophy; and (4) Déconcert: The new School, as Conertive Humanities.

After Post-Graduation in ‘Philosophy & Religion’, I cleared the National Eligibility Test (N.E.T. for Lectureship) examination (December, 2003) in the subject(s)-‘Buddhist, Jaina, Gandhian & Peace Studies’ and was awarded by the University Grants Commission, India. My research interests include: Metaphysics, Existentio-Continental Phenomenology, Déconstruction, Narrative Approaches to Religious Phenomenology and Peace Studies. Theoretical orientation in Phenoanalytic and Phenological interpretations with evaluative Anthropological transcendences. Few research papers have already been published in International Journals and had received a good repute. The most recent publication is on the topic – “Derrida’s Philosophical Deconstruction” in ‘Transcendent Philosophy’ Journal (Volume 9. December 2008, pp. 237-246). I also have keen interest in Peace research. The last work on “Nonviolence & Peace” was internationally published in “The Gandhi Way” Journal (Issue – 97); and had received a good audience from the readers. In addition to my academic assignments in N. S. Evening College, India, I serve as an administrative staff, Assam University, India.

My strength lies in understanding the mechanics of spin and the power of storytelling. If we want to convince the world of our ideas, the philosophy we tell must be compelling, accurate and optimistic, even while presenting a Trans humanized world. The positive philosophy may be in language society can understand and I can help craft the language and image that transhumanism needs to carry it from the fringes of philosophical thought to the mainstream as ‘Photosyntagmatics’: a Concert-O-Déconcert. As much as we think about the future, we reside and can only act in the here and now. Therefore, I seek practical solutions to deal with issues today, on the ground, which affect not only the transhuman movement, but the rest of humanity.

I am thankful for this opportunity and determined to make the best of it.

E-mail: mchristophroy@gmail.com

Web Page: www.mchristophroy.com


Victor Fersht

I am vice-president of Open Institute and International University of Labor Unions. Both based in Russia with branches in China, Switzerland and USA. We have more than 10000 students. I live half year in Seattle, USA and second part in Russia and China. I am PhD in clinical psychology with main interest in abstract technologies for longevity and immortality. As an example of such technology I can mention “classic science thought experiments for mental life extension” or “thought experiments with abstractions of infinity, uncertainty or relativity”.

Russia and East European countries are huge market for Humanity+. Our students could be a great source for new members because they have strong interest for such issues and intend to be involved in western research on humanity. I suggest using our resources for making Russian and Chinese version of Humanity+ web site and recruiting new members in these countries. I could manage such process in Humanity+.

Kristi Scott

Background:

I have just turned 30 at the time of submission. I am a little bit Midwest girl, been with my husband for 14 years, and all around fan of emerging technologies and society. I am a mother of three beautiful children who keep me focused on the future world in which we are creating for them to grow up in. Discussing the future of technology and society are of great importance to me, not only because of my passions, but because of their future reality and ours that shouldn’t be taken lightly. My interests in h+ come from a strong background of exposure to the fears surrounding technological futures. This has prepared me to examine the realities of the topics and what it means for people to have technology affect their daily life. The intertwining and inseparable paths of society and technology are what I seek to understand both academically and professionally.



H+

  • Freelance writer for h+ magazine since the inaugural issue in 2008.
  • Attended Transvision 2007 and assisted with the Longevity Divided Seminar pre-conference
  • Presented at both the h+ Summit and the Biopolitics in Popular Culture seminars in 2009
  • Futurist Board member for the Lifeboat Foundation
  • At the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies I’ve served as an intern, writer, volunteer, teaching assistant and coordinator since 2007
  • Since 2007 I have worked with the Journal of Evolution and Technology as a reviewer, copyeditor, layout editor and was recently published in the journal in 2009


Academic

  • Currently working on my PhD in Mass Communications and Media Arts where my research will involve further exploration of film and society’s awareness/knowledge of emerging technologies (topic still in development).
  • Over the past three years I have presented and published on topics ranging from identity, body modification, society, cosmetic surgery and emerging technologies.
  • Member of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities
  • Blogger for the Women’s Bioethics Project
  • For my Master’s thesis I did research comparing the personalities of real life individuals to their Second Life avatars
  • BA in Public Relations with an Advertising emphasis



Visions:

My motivation for being on the board is to meet more people within the h+ community from around the world, but also to hear from people that are outside of the h+ community and what their perceptions are. I think it is important for the h+ community to be heard and to hear from all parts of the globe and that this also includes parts of the United States that might not already be part of the discussion.

I am located in the Midwest and see this location not as a hindrance or disconnection in my work. I’m connected online and quite accessible. Instead I see my location as an opportunity to not forget the locations that exist right here that want to be involved and might be interested if they were more aware of what is going on. I have traveled in the past outside of the Midwest for presentations in New York, Austria, Oxford, California and I hope to be able to do more in the future.

If elected, I intend on offering what expertise and knowledge I have to my fellow board members and intend on learning from their expertise and knowledge.

It would nice to get the Students Network back again as a focus if possible, so that the student network has involvement opportunities. This network is a way to talk to the next generation about what they think is important and the directions they think we are headed.

I aim to listen and be heard because I believe that h+ is important and should be something that is credible, respected and understood better.


David Orban

With its new brand, and current list of activities, Humanity+ is now ready to dramatically enlarge its membership. The time is right for a much broader public to not only feel, but also more deeply understand and act upon the promise of a radically enhanced human condition. As a Humanity+ Board member I will propose, and if adopted help to implement concrete, and effective actions to increase membership, make the organization more visible online, and offline, encourage a clear articulation and implementation of its goals worldwide.

I am an entrepreneur, and activist, with a broad technology, and management experience. Some of my current affiliations: Advisor, and European Lead of the Singularity University, Founder and Chief Evangelist, WideTag, Inc., Advisory Board Member, Lifeboat Foundation. More information on http://www.davidorban.com/about.

Very active online, I want to bring to Humanity+ the kind of broad visibility and participation in the online social conversations that it deserves in all the appropriate forums, like Twitter, YouTube, FaceBook, etc., and other new emerging ones eventually. With quantitative analysis easily available online, it is possible to set, share, manage and achieve measurable goals for the success of Humanity+ activities.

Sharing my time between Europe, and the USA, when elected to the Humanity+ Board of Directors, I want to make sure that the coordination between the central Humanity+ organization, and the numerous, active local chapters is increased, and brought to superior mutually beneficial effect.


Amy Li

Unlike many people in the transhumanism community who comes from a scientific or research background, I came from an art and design background. I was born and raised in China and transplanted and educated in the US. I have a very good understanding of eastern philosophy as well as the western culture, and this often times allow me to understand humanity cross different cultures better, and able to put things into perspective. I’m fluent both in Chinese and English. The growing speed of Chinese economy and emerging technology has created a very interesting dynamic in our current society. I’m hoping to utilize my language skill, understanding of both cultures to support the humanity plus organization in its effort of connecting better with China, and attract talented interesting participants from China.

In my professional pursuit, I’m a multidisciplinary creative director and designer, specialized in creative marketing strategy and user interface design, for global brands like Yahoo, AT&T, Mercedes, Evian, Oakley, Frito-lay, etc. I’m passionate about combine design, technology and human factor to create state of the art products that impact our daily life. One of these examples is an iPhone app call Have2P. It is a fun and creative app that addresses a universal human need in a new high-tech fashion. It was showcased as app of the week in NY times, and also featured in Gizmodo. I also have years of experiences specialize in designing visually engaging web sites with intuitive interface, flash animations, emails and landing pages with strong focus on branding and UX design. Please visit my website to see my portfolio and my experiences.

I’m fascinated by the fact that how our current society has evolved and changed over the years, and different disciplines has been crossed, and people are a lot more open about sharing and become more accepting about ideas and technology that can expand human capacities in different areas. I think this next decade will be a very important decade for h+ organization and transhumanism. I was very inspired by the recent H+ Summit at Irvine. I was connected with a lot of cool like-minded people, and I also saw the areas I can really help with the organization in branding, creative marketing and design. As an artist and designer who has a lot of scientist friends, I seen so many beautiful and powerful ideas got lost because of poor visual communication, branding and marketing. So one of my true passions in life is to be able to utilize my skills to help and make changes in areas I could. H+ is an organization that I see great potential of becoming influential in different issues that I deeply care about and can be a champion for emerging technology that impact our human life in this decade, I can definitely see myself contribute a great deal in different aspect of this process, and I also would love to be a part of this rejuvenated board to make that happen!


Michael Vassar

In 2009, after over a decade of amateur involvement including raising over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the 2007 Singularity Summit, I became professionally active in the H+ world. As the president of the Singularity Institute, I substantially expanded the number of people both peripherally and seriously involved in H+ affairs. Last October, during a major recession, I scaled up the Singularity Summit, making it the largest H+ conference to date. The conference also took place in a new city for such events, New York, at the 92nd Street Y where people such as Bill Clinton and Albert Einstein have spoken in the past. Earlier this year I initiated the SIAI Fellows program. This program has rapidly brought new people, primarily graduate students, into the H+ community on a full time basis. Within it, our newest community members have worked on software and on papers, cultivated their technical knowledge and professional skills, and prepared themselves to play a much larger role in the community than they otherwise would have. I have also, in the last year, given interviews for media outlets such as Forbes, GQ and Esquire, as well a much larger number of smaller media companies, and have traveled extensively to speak with scientists about the potential and the risks of their projects and about how the former might be preserved while greatly reducing the latter.

Increasing the efficacy of human aspirations is my major objective in life. Both history and experience lead me to believe that the most promising tool for doing this is cultivated explicit reflection. Agents with common knowledge that they are all rational and honest cannot disagree about matters of fact. As far as I can tell, given their propensities to change their minds, lack of explicitly understood terminal values, and history of explaining values in terms of mythical features of the world, humans should be far from confident that they disagree regarding values either. I hope that by working with the other members of the H+ community I can help to bring about common understanding of our varied perspectives, clarification of belief and values, and effective cooperative action. Accountability within a group for conformity with explicit norms of reasoning can help us to do this, as can the understanding how much better dialogue is possible than people are used to expecting. With better analysis of the implicit content of our varied positions I expect that we can see opportunities to contribute to shared goals more effectively. My experience with SIAI over the last year makes me expect that I can contribute greatly to such analysis.

Prior to joining the Singularity Institute, I was a Founder and Chief Strategist at SirGroovy.com, an online music licensing firm. Prior to that, I have worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan, and at have worked on nanoscale technologies including soft lithography e-beam lithography and optical tweezers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. My nanotech involvement with the H+ community includes co-authoring the Lifeboat Foundation “Nanoshield” paper with Robert Frietas, writing “Corporate Cornucopia”, an examination of the consequences of molecular nanotech monopolies, for the Center for Responsible nanotechnology and presenting on nanotech security with Mike Treder at Transvision 2004. In 2007 I gave the presentation “Folk-Psychological Conceptions of Willpower and Their Implications for Policy”, a very favorably received analysis of how differing implicit beliefs about willpower shape liberal, conservative and libertarian thought.

I hold an M.B.A. from Drexel University and a B.S. in Biochemistry from Penn State.


Paul Grasshoff

I see that humans have immense capacity to feel both joy and pain. The seeking of joy or the avoidance of pain are the root motivations behind nearly every human goal. I’m interested in how people balance their short term goals with their long term goals, and how people integrate their personal desires with their vision of what’s best for their community. I want to see people work together more efficiently to achieve their goals.

I’m not a specialist; I’m a generalist. I’m good at considering a wide range of options, and focusing on whatever would be most helpful for the task at hand. I don’t consider myself to be a particularly innovative thinker, but I’m a very good editor and critic.

Why am I involved with H+? I intend to help transhumanist culture have a positive influence on the culture at large. Whether or not I’m on the board, I’ll volunteer a bit of my time each month to help with the nitty gritty of H+. I’ll have more influence as a member of the board.

Please vote for me.

H+ Newsletter: Welcome to the 2010s

A new H+ newsletter is now available in PDF form.

Read and enjoy!!

Contents

  • H+ in the 2010s (Ben Goertzel)
  • H+ Summit 2009 (Alex Lightman)
  • Updates from H+ Chapters (Marcelo Rinesi)
  • H+ Board Elections
  • Join H+
  • H+ Discussion Forums (Coming Soon)

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