Year-End Letter and Donation Request




MTA Members & Friends,

2016 has been a year of change, including for the MTA. We had a successful conference in April that included the election of a new president of the MTA, Chris Bradford. We have a new member of the Board of Directors, Wendy Smith, and an expanded management group, including a new Chief Financial Officer, Drew Ostler, and a new Chief Marketing Officer, Caleb Jones. More recently, the MTA constitution was amended to allow for the election of a new CEO, Blaire Ostler. We are very excited about the expansion of our leadership team and have received an overwhelming amount of support from the association. Thank you!

The MTA continues to be involved in humanitarian projects, including sponsoring a clinic in Bwethe, Uganda. MTA leadership is also collaborating with local non-profits that offer free tech training and job placement to low-income individuals. Look for more information in our upcoming annual report.

In 2016, MTA membership has continued to grow. MTA leadership has a vision for helping to expanding our outreach and membership. These include expanding our meetup groups and other social events, development of MTA introductory courses, and expanding the presence of the MTA at other conferences, such as the recent Sunstone Northwest Conference.

Plans are well underway for our upcoming annual conference. Look for announcements and a call for papers to come soon.

As the end of the year approaches, we hope you will consider donating to support the efforts of the MTA to grow our humanitarian efforts, expand our membership, and enhance our annual conference. Donations to the MTA are tax deductible in the U.S. and can be made online here (see “Financial Donation” on the column to the right). Any donation, large or small, is greatly appreciated. Of course, we encourage recurring donations as small amounts add up to significant benefit over time. The MTA is committed to full transparency of our finances and our financial reports are available here.

Thank you for your continued support of the MTA. We look forward to making it even better in 2017 and beyond!

Christopher Bradford
President, Mormon Transhumanist Association

Blaire Ostler
CEO, Mormon Transhumanist Association

Lincoln Cannon to Present at Theologians Testing Transhumanism

Photo credit: brainchildvn

Lincoln Cannon will present on Mormon Transhumanism at Theologians Testing Transhumanism in Berkeley, California, on Wednesday 7 December 2016 at 6pm Pacific. Lincoln is a board member, founder, and former president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association. He will present live remotely via Skype in the Donner Lab Auditorium at UC Berkeley. Attendance is free and open to the public.

Theologians Testing Transhumanism strives to respond to the need for critical inter-disciplinary ecumenical exchange. This mission has continued and expanded and has engaged in topics such as the dialogue between religion and contemporary science behind transhumanism. The group affords a rare opportunity for theologians and scholars from various disciplines to have a sustained, critical conversation among diverse worldviews and theological perspectives. The group exists to galvanize interdisciplinary theological research and dialogue by engaging the transhumanist movement, evolving theological enterprise in creative critical interaction as it encounters the always newly emerging crises of our scientific, technological, and social world.

More information is available at the Theologians Testing Transhumanism website:

http://theologyandtranshumanism.weebly.com/upcoming-meeting.html

Blaire Ostler Appointed to CEO of the Mormon Transhumanist Association





The Mormon Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce Blaire Ostler has been appointed to serve as Chief Executive Officer by Christopher Bradford, President of the association. She was unanimously approved by the board of directors.

Christopher Bradford, board member and President of the Association, said, “I'm very pleased to have Blaire serving as the CEO of the Mormon Transhumanist Association. Blaire has brought a strong voice to the leadership of the association in her role as a member of the Board of Directors and has a great vision for the development of the MTA. Blaire is passionate and compassionate and I'm confident her leadership will be a great benefit to the Association. I look forward to working even more closely with her.”


Carl Youngblood, board member and Vice President of the Association, comments, "The MTA is fortunate to have such a capable and compassionate person at the helm. I'm grateful for Blaire's willingness to serve and look forward to our future under her leadership."

Lincoln Cannon, board member and former president of the Association, said, "I'm excited about and fully support the appointment of Blaire Ostler as CEO of the Mormon Transhumanist Association. She brings an effective work ethic and contagious enthusiasm to the role. To me, she exemplifies commitment to the transhumanist values of morphological freedom and cognitive liberty. And her love for Mormonism, both as a religion and a people, has often inspired me. The Association is honored that Blaire accepted this appointment."

The Association congratulates Blaire, and thanks her for her willingness to contribute her time and talents to the success of the Association. Below is additional information about her. 

Blaire Ostler is one of the leading voices on the intersections of Mormonism, feminism, and transhumanism. She advocates for enhancements to the human body, increase cognitive function, bodily autonomy, radical reconciliation, and the religious drive to accomplish these ambitious objectives. She presents and writes on many forums, and speaks at conferences promoting Mormon Transhumanist ideals.

She considers herself to be radically Mormon with ancestral heritage dating back to Mormonism’s origins. She says, “Mormonism is in my DNA. My existence is the product of nine generations of robust Mormon feminists, and medical professionals and experts. I was born a Mormon Transhumanist.”


Blaire holds a BFA in Design from the International Academy of Design and Technology-Seattle. She is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in philosophy with an emphasis in gender studies. She is passionate about esthetics, religion, human sexuality, queer theory, social philosophy, and art. She and husband Drew reside in Utah with their three children.

Mormon Transhumanist Association at Sunstone Northwest




Mormon Transhumanist Association board member Blaire Ostler and Chief Marketing Officer Caleb Jones will speak at the Sunstone Northwest Symposium in Seattle WA on November 19, 2016.

The theme of the conference this year will be "Relationships, Religion, and Race". Conference information, a complete schedule, and registration are available on the Sunstone Northwest conference website. The Mormon Transhumanist Association is sponsoring the conference and will be available for any questions regarding the Association at the symposium.

MTA Constitution amended



It was proposed by the Board of Directors of the Mormon Transhumanist Association to separate the roles of President and CEO to offer greater flexibility to the Association. The President will be at liberty to designate a CEO. The proposal

replaces: “The President shall be the chief executive officer of the Association and shall, subject to the control of the Board of Directors, supervise and control the affairs of the Association and the activities of the officers.” (Article V, Section 6)

with: “The President shall, subject to the control of the Board of Directors, supervise and control the affairs of the Association and the activities of the officers.”

With voting now complete, the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the Association has been approved by an absolute super majority of two-thirds of the voting membership.

Join the Association and be part of the world's largest religious transhumanist group!

Wendy Smith, Carl Youngblood, and Don Bradley Elected to Mormon Transhumanist Association Board of Directors



The Mormon Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce the results of the 2016 director election. Each year, terms expire for three of the nine seats on the board of directors. This year, the seats occupied by Karl Hale, Carl Youngblood, and Don Bradley expired. The Association thanks Karl, Carl, and Don for the leadership and service they've provided. Voting members of the Association have elected the following three persons to serve as directors for the 2016 to 2019 term:

Wendy Smith
Carl Youngblood
Don Bradley

The Association congratulates Wendy, Carl, and Don, and thanks them for their willingness to contribute their time and talents to the success of the Association. Below is additional information about these directors.

Wendy Smith

Wendy holds a BA in Economics and has built her career as a Mortgage Broker over the past 12 years. She is passionate about human rights and advancement, and is active in local politics and her community. Wendy loves travel, the outdoors and co-parenting freethinkers with her husband, Chad. Together they reside in Draper, Utah with their two daughters, Kathryn and Olivia, who attend a French Dual-Immersion school.

Carl Youngblood

Carl has worked as a software engineer for over eighteen years, and is currently employed by Podium in Provo, UT. Carl served a mission in Londrina, Brazil from 1994-96. He received a BA in Portuguese with a music minor from Brigham Young University and an MS in computer science from the University of Washington. He and his family enjoy traveling, and recently spent a number of years working in Norway and England. Carl is especially interested in religious adaptations to secularism, and the theological hermeneutic of demythologization. He also enjoys the performing arts.

Don Bradley

Don Bradley is a historian specializing in Joseph Smith and Mormon scripture. Don holds a BA in History from Brigham Young University, and is finalizing his MA in History at Utah State. His writings include "'The Grand Fundamental Principles of Mormonism': Joseph Smith's Unfinished Reformation" and "The Lost 116 Pages: Rediscovering the Book of Lehi" (forthcoming). Don has a passion for exploration and discovery, is a single dad, and describes himself as "an individualist in the service of a community."

Information about all directors of the association is available here:
http://transfigurism.org/pages/about/board-of-directors/



Drew Ostler and Caleb Jones Appointed to Management Positions of the Mormon Transhumanist Association



The Mormon Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that it has appointed Drew Ostler to serve as Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer and Caleb Jones to serve as Chief Marketing Officer.

The Association congratulates Drew and Caleb, and thanks them for their willingness to contribute their time and talents to the success of the Association. Below is additional information about these leaders. 

Drew Ostler

Drew Ostler was born and raised in the Bay Area where he developed a love for education, sports, STEM, and Mormonism. He served an LDS mission to Rome, Italy and holds a BA in Marketing and MBA from BYU. He has extensive experience in risk management, consulting, financial modeling, and strategic analysis with such companies as LANDESK, State Farm, Domo, Real Salt Lake, and Disney. Drew resides in Utah with wife Blaire and their three children. 

Caleb Jones

Caleb Jones is a husband, father, programmer, and member of the LDS Church. He has a Computer Science degree from BYU. He is passionate about science and religion; a critic of rigidity, he enjoys exploring the strengths and limits of both, and sees the two as necessary and complementary in constructing enlightening, inspirational narratives. He is influenced by futurists like Freeman Dyson and Peter Diamandis, and Mormons like James E. Talmage and Neal A. Maxwell.


Information about all officers of the Association is available here: http://transfigurism.org/pages/about/management/

Lincoln Cannon to present at Digital Hollywood



On May 5, 2016, former MTA President Lincoln Cannon will be presenting remotely at Digital Hollywood in a panel on Transhumanism: science fiction or reality.

For more information, see http://www.dhsessions3.com/Thursday16Sp31.html

MTA featured in the New Yorker



On April 20, the MTA was featured in an excellent article by Dawn Chan in the New Yorker. Take a look:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/mormon-transhumanism-and-the-immortality-upgrade

The article asks, "Can the Mormon transhumanist movement reconcile technological progress with religious prophecy?" and includes excerpts from interviews with Christopher Bradford, Lincoln Cannon, and Carl Youngblood.

Join the Association and be part of the world's largest religious transhumanist group!

Christopher Bradford elected new MTA President




At the March meeting of the Board of Directors of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, the Board elected Christopher Bradford as the new President and CEO of the MTA. Chris is a founding member of the MTA and has previously served as Vice-President and has been on the Board of Directors since its founding. Chris and his wife, Lucy, have eight children. Chris spent most of his youth overseas in the Middle East and Europe, returning to the U.S. to graduate with a degree in Linguistics from BYU. Professionally, Chris is VP of Engineering at Ancestry; he also enjoys performing, especially musical theater and choral music; reading; and philosophy.

This leadership change coincides with the tenth anniversary of the founding of the MTA. Throughout this decade, the MTA has been headed by Lincoln Cannon, who has done a tremendous job as President and CEO. Lincoln will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and will, of course, continue to be actively involved in the MTA. We are grateful for his service -- past, present, and future.

Please direct any questions about this change to admin@transfigurism.org.

Voting Members Amend Constitution with Extended Affirmation


Voting members of the Mormon Transhumanist Association have amended its constitution to extend the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation. Together, the Transhumanist Declaration and the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation define the purpose of the association.

The original version of the Affirmation had three points, all of which remain unchanged in the new version. The new version has six points, two of which appear before the original three points, and one of which appears after the original three points. Here is the full text of the new version:

1) We are disciples of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is to trust in, change toward, and fully immerse our bodies and minds in the role of Christ, to become compassionate creators as exemplified and invited by Jesus.

2) We understand the Gospel to be compatible with and complementary to many religions and philosophies, particularly those that provoke strenuous pursuit of compassionate and creative exaltation.

3) We seek the spiritual and physical exaltation of individuals and their anatomies, as well as communities and their environments, according to their wills, desires, and laws, to the extent they are not oppressive.

4) We believe that scientific knowledge and technological power are among the means ordained of God to enable such exaltation, including realization of diverse prophetic visions of transfiguration, immortality, resurrection, renewal of this world, and the discovery and creation of worlds without end.

5) We feel a duty to use science and technology according to wisdom and inspiration, to identify and prepare for risks and responsibilities associated with future advances, and to persuade others to do likewise.

6) We practice our discipleship when we offer friendship, that all may be many in one; when we receive truth, let it come from whence it may; and when we send relief, consolation and healing, that raises each other together.

Any change to the association constitution requires the support of an absolute super majority of voting members. This high bar means, in practice, that change to the constitution is likely to happen rarely. So far, in the history of the association, the constitution has changed only once before. In 2010, voting members approved an amendment to simplify the director election process, to adopt an updated version of the Transhumanist Declaration, and to make association affiliations with other organizations optional rather than mandatory.

The constitution requires all members of the association, both basic and voting, to support the Transhumanist Declaration and the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation. The association does not rigidly enforce any particular interpretation of these statements. Nor does the association enforce narrow understandings of "support". A person may be a member of the association in good standing while sincerely holding to an interpretation of the statements that differs from that of another member, or while not fully agreeing or even constructively disagreeing with parts of these statements, so long as that member supports the Declaration and Affirmation on the whole.

For reference, here too is the full text of the Transhumanist Declaration:

1) Humanity stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the future. We envision the possibility of broadening human potential by overcoming aging, cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering, and our confinement to planet Earth.

2) We believe that humanity’s potential is still mostly unrealized. There are possible scenarios that lead to wonderful and exceedingly worthwhile enhanced human conditions.

3) We recognize that humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. There are possible realistic scenarios that lead to the loss of most, or even all, of what we hold valuable. Some of these scenarios are drastic, others are subtle. Although all progress is change, not all change is progress.

4) Research effort needs to be invested into understanding these prospects. We need to carefully deliberate how best to reduce risks and expedite beneficial applications. We also need forums where people can constructively discuss what should be done, and a social order where responsible decisions can be implemented.

5) Reduction of existential risks, and development of means for the preservation of life and health, the alleviation of grave suffering, and the improvement of human foresight and wisdom should be pursued as urgent priorities, and heavily funded.

6) Policymaking ought to be guided by responsible and inclusive moral vision, taking seriously both opportunities and risks, respecting autonomy and individual rights, and showing solidarity with and concern for the interests and dignity of all people around the globe. We must also consider our moral responsibilities towards generations that will exist in the future.

7) We advocate the well-being of all sentience, including humans, non-human animals, and any future artificial intellects, modified life forms, or other intelligences to which technological and scientific advance may give rise.

8) We favour allowing individuals wide personal choice over how they enable their lives. This includes use of techniques that may be developed to assist memory, concentration, and mental energy; life extension therapies; reproductive choice technologies; cryonics procedures; and many other possible human modification and enhancement technologies.

Lunch Celebration of Future Day 2016



Future Day is 1 March, and the Mormon Transhumanist Association invites you to join us for lunch and casual conversation about the future at Costa Vida (1621 N State) in Orem, Utah, at 11:45am on 1 March 2016. Bring your friends and family, and of course your thoughts and questions about the ethical use of technology and religion to extend human abilities.

Holidays provide a fantastic way of channeling peoples’ attention and energy. Most of our holidays are focused on past events or individuals, or on the rhythms of nature. History and nature are wonderful and should be honored — but the amazing future we are building together should be honored as well. Future Day is a way of focusing and celebrating the energy that more and more people around the world are directing toward creating a radically better future. This is a brand new holiday — the first Future Day was in 2012. This year on March 1st Future Day will be even better! Let us all work together to continue to make Future Day a great success!

Click here to learn more about Future Day.

Annual Report and Pending Leadership Change



Dear friends and members of the Mormon Transhumanist Association,

Ten years ago, fourteen of us founded this association: Andrew West, Brent Allsop, Cameron Dayton, Carl Youngblood, Cherie West, Chris Bradford, Cory Funk, Gary Parker, Joseph West, Karl Hale, Leonard Reil, Lincoln Cannon, Marcus Flinders, and Martin Wood. Although we hear from some of these founders more often than others, all remain members of the association today.

Since that time, the association has grown to 574 members. I believe that makes us the largest formal organization of religious Transhumanists in the world -- and in human history, for that matter.

More importantly, though, our association has also become a sanctuary for the religious Transhumanist. Mormon and otherwise, we are an uncommon type (so far). That can be lonely. It has been lonely, as frequently expressed by new members when they discover us. But our association changes that.

Many have contributed substantial time and resources to make this happen. Of particular note are those who have served us as board members and managers: Andrew West, Blaire Ostler, Brad Levin, Brent Allsop, Bryant Smith, Carl Youngblood, Chris Bradford, Cory Funk, David Foster, Don Bradley, Dorothy Deasy, James Carroll, Joseph West, Karl Hale, Leonard Reil, Lincoln Cannon, Marcus Flinders, Michael Ferguson, and Nathan Hadfield. They have my gratitude, and I know from abundant feedback that they also have the gratitude of other members of our association.

Ten years ago, I accepted an appointment from our board to serve as president of the association. I have acted in that capacity since that time. And I believe I have done so in a manner that has generally represented us well. Hopefully you will agree, as you look through this annual report, which shares recent opportunities I've had to present some of our ideas and aspirations to large audiences.

Among the challenges presented to leaders of new organizations is that of establishing helpful precedents. Patterns and traditions can be hard to change, for better or worse. With that in mind, I have increasingly felt that the time has come, or perhaps is past due, to establish a leadership change precedent.

I have notified the board that I am retiring from my appointment as president. They and I have been working together on a transition plan for several months. And, in accordance with the process outlined in our constitution, we will appoint a new president in March. Afterwards, I will continue to serve on the board, as elected by voting members.

While I admit to some sadness, this is truly an exciting opportunity for our association. Transhumanists, better than most, know that change is essential to progress. Religious Transhumanists, better than most, know that change is too often most strongly resisted when and where it's needed most.

Thank you, as sincerely as I can express in writing, for your support and friendship over the years. Like many of you, I need this association as my sanctuary. You have made it that for me. And whether we will live forever or die trying, I see Christ in you.

Please enjoy this annual report, which celebrates our work this year, and promises greater works to come. Here's the link:

http://transfigurism.org/pages/annual-report/2015

Lincoln Cannon
President and Founder
Mormon Transhumanist Association

Register Now for 2016 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association



Registration now for the 2016 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association!

The 2016 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association will be held on Saturday 9 April 2016 from 9:00am to 9:00pm in Provo, Utah, at the Provo City Library. Speakers will present on the themes of Mormonism, Transhumanism and Transfigurism, with particular attention to topics at the intersection of technology, spirituality, science and religion. The conference is open to the public.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Rosalynde Welch holds degrees in English literature from Brigham Young University and the University of California, San Diego, where her dissertation focused on private conscience in early modern English literature. She writes on interreligious issues for the St Louis Post-Dispatch, and she blogs on Mormon issues at timesandseasons.org. She also serves as the managing editor of the Mormon Review, and she steals the occasional afternoon to pursue her own research agendas in early modern literature and Mormon literature and philosophy. Rosalynde and her husband, together with their four young children, make their home in St Louis, Missouri.

Eric Steinhart is the author of Your Digital Afterlives: Computational Theories of Life After Death and Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University. He works primarily on metaphysics using contemporary analytical and logical methods and tools. He is also interested in historical metaphysical systems (particularly Plotinus, Neoplatonism, and Leibniz). Steinhart grew up on a farm. He was originally trained as a computer scientist and mathematician, and worked as a software designer for several years. Some of his algorithms have been patented. He holds advanced degrees in philosophy. His past work has concerned Nietzsche as well as metaphor (analyzed using possible worlds semantics). He has written extensively on the metaphysics and computation. He is featured in the film Chronotrip, a documentary about time travel. He is increasingly interested in the philosophy of religion, focusing on the intersection of the formal sciences and theology. He is especially interested in alternatives to Abrahamic religion. He affirms the existence of transfinitely endless hierarchies of sets, computers, languages, games, strategies, and minds. He believes in the existence of more things than you do. He also likes New York City, New England, mountain hiking, all sorts of biking, chess, microscopy, and photography.

CALL FOR PAPERS CLOSING SOON

The deadline for paper submissions is 1 February 2016. Please submit your papers soon! More details can be found on our call for papers.

Registration now for the 2016 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association!

Call for Applications: Mormons and Modernism



Mormons and Modernism: Modernism, Secularism — and the Mormon Response?

Thinkers as diverse as Charles Taylor, Marcel Gauchet, John Milbank, Mark Lilla, and Louis Dupré have written about the origins of the modern period—the radical change in thought and society from the medieval period to the modern that occurred gradually and culminated in the sixteenth century. Modernism brought us the renaissance, modern science, the birth of the modern state and democracy, as well as, ultimately, what Nietzsche called “the death of God.” In the twentieth century, questions arose about modernism, such as “How should we understand its grand narratives?” and “What have been its costs to human being?” Recognizing both modernism’s difficulties and achievements, if we cannot think against or beyond modernism, can with think within it?

This seminar for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and not-yet tenured faculty will explore the emergence of modernism and its eventuation in what is often called “postmodern” thought. We will ask if Mormon thought should be understood as part of or in contrast to modernism. Do we have any unique responses to the issues that arise?

James E. Faulconer (Professor of Philosophy, BYU) will direct. The seminar will run weekdays from 11 through 29 July (except for 25 July, a state holiday). It is sponsored by the Wheatley Institution, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, where it will be held. Participants will receive a weekly stipend of $500 and may receive help with housing and travel, depending on circumstances.

To apply, please send a short vita and a one-page letter explaining your interest in the seminar topic to wheatleysummerseminar@gmail.com. Please include the names of two persons who could recommend you. We encourage minority applicants, and especially applicants from outside the US.

Application deadline is February 15, 2016.

Lincoln Cannon Featured at Ozy on Tech and Church



Lincoln Cannon, president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, is featured at Ozy in an article on "The Intersection of Tech and Church", part of a series that explores the Big Ideas shaping our tech-driven future.

"Lincoln Cannon was in his late teens when he did a religious double take. Raised Mormon — the descendant, in fact, of a Mormon apostle — he was headed for the traditional Mormon boy-to-man transition: Brigham Young University, a two-year-mission, marriage. Kind of an 'awkward time' to drift toward atheism, he reflects now."

Read more at Ozy.

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