Zoltan Istvan is a journalist and blogger who strongly supports transhumanism, a concept that promotes the idea that humans can utilize the advancement of technology in order to live forever. His rise to stardom began after writing a controversial sci-fi novel called The Transhumanist Wager, but he is also well known due to some of his rather outlandish statements. In 2016, Istvan ran as an independent candidate for president with very little support. He is now running for California governor as a libertarian, and though he is promising a libertarian platform, some of his ideals and scientific views seem to promote another worldview. This could be because he lacks experience of either a scientific or political background.
While transhumanism promotes the idea that humans can advance technology to eventually live forever, it also suggests that this goal will be achieved without any ethical consequences.
Its proponents believe that humans will take this next step through robots, which will require a rewriting of ethical codes for the new species. Most transhumanists also avoid mentioning the ethical problems of making civilization hackable or the potential of a technological enslavement. Unfortunately, some people, like Istvan, are actually going into politics based off of this transhumanist mindset.
Throughout this video, Mr. Istvan continuously talks about reversing aging and how robotics and AI can extend human life. He then tries to prove that this is ethical. While what Mr. Istvan says may seem appealing, there is a major underlying flaw in his plan. Making the human body hackable, as mentioned earlier, is not what will move humanity forward. Because he has attracted a great deal of support, been lauded as “Humankind’s savior,” and has been consulted by the U.S. Navy, unfortunately, many influential people are beginning to take Mr. Istvan seriously.
Mr. Istvan claims that his entire political campaign is based mostly off of libertarian principals, however, if libertarians actually offer his campaign serious consideration they will lose all their credibility that still remains after the self-inflicted wound of nominating Gary Johnson.
Libertarians claim that their core ideology is to limit the size of the government, abolish a welfare state, and promote civil liberties, but Istvan promises to enforce radical economic and lifestyle changes so it better suits his “scientific” agenda. His book The Transhumanist Wager includes quotes concerning how a human should safeguard his existence over that of anyone else, as well as calling all religion “bullshit,” which reminds one of the two important lessons in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
While he is free to think as he wants, a systematic belief of this nature may increase the size of the government, which history shows can easily lead to the belief that even genocide is morally permissible. And in regards to morals, his are not the greatest. He is quoted saying, “It is great for kids to do drugs.”
There are better libertarian alternatives to Mr. Istvan, even with a similar mindset. John Mcafree is a Libertarian candidate who has been trying to gain traction. His time in Belize may have damaged his reputation, but he actually promotes reasonable policies such as upgrading our grid system while ensuring that we are able to retain our privacy and civil liberties. This proposed increase of privacy even includes holding the NSA accountable of violations against the laws and civil liberty. Former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen is another solid choice who’s currently considering running as a Libertarian or a Republican to challenge Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Congressman Justin Amash and Senator Rand Paul, although they are Republican, also share many of the principles of the Libertarian Party. Needless to say, we need to make sure that credible candidates reach office and that we don’t elect people with un-American ideologies such as Zoltan Istvan.