By Hank Pellissier | 26 March 2019
A survey I conducted in 2010 of 818 transhumanists identified “brain enhancement” as the #1 priority, with “maximizing” health and life extension as #2 and #3. The top three “values” of the U.S. Transhumanist Party (the Core Ideals) are #1) Life Extension, #2) “a cultural, societal, and political atmosphere informed and animated by reason, science, and secular values”, and #3) “to reduce and eliminate existential risks.”
I believe all these ambitions are important, but over-rated and mis-placed. My opinion, after ten years as a transhumanist, is this: the #1 goal of H+ should be the Abolition of Suffering. My view is advocated by multiple transhumanists, notably David Pearce, but… we’re in the minority.
Here’s three reasons why Abolition of Suffering deserves top consideration:
#1: Eternal Pain = Torture. It is shallow-thinking to not recognize super-longevity in a state of pain as undesirable; in fact, it is masochistic/sadistic. Ask yourself this: would you rather live 60 years in a state of bliss, joy, love, ecstasy, or at least moderate happiness, than exist for 120 years in pain, fear, anguish, despair, and horror? Quality of life is far more important than quantity, IMO.
I have three friends who suffer from depression. When I talk about “ending death”, they sigh forlornly and admit that they are “ready to die”, “sick to death of themselves”, and “have been punished by life long enough.” These people don’t want or need additional decades of misery, they need “happy days” as soon as possible. Hundreds of millions of humans live with chronic physical, mental, and emotional pain, and even the rest of us would appreciate higher doses of joy.
#2: Marketing “Ending Pain” sells better than “Ending Death.” When I tell acquaintances I’m a transhumanist and our #1 goal is elimination of death, they usually roll their eyes and dismiss me as a death-phobic weirdo. Sure, we can castigate these critics with the “Deathist” slur, but it is a superior strategy, I believe, to find common ground. Informing folks that the primary ambition of transhumanists is to elevate human happiness advertises us as charity-givers of cheerfulness, humanitarians of happiness, altruists of euphoria. Instead of billing ourselves as Slayers of the horrible Grim Reaper, we can offer ecstasy, contentment, increased friendship networks, psychedelic discoveries, purpose in life, etc. Recruitment will skyrocket!
#3: “Abolition of Suffering” is more Inclusive. Teenagers usually aren’t nervous about death, but they’re anxious about depression, body shame, bullying, and disempowerment, and don’t like their elders groaning and moaning in anguish. Religionists believe death opens a gate to heaven, but they experience the same pain from auto accidents, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s as atheists do, and they’re on board with extinguishing this.
My activist plan to end suffering is to launch a website called Paradise2040 – to promote cessation of suffering in the next 21 years. The website will be ‘practical’ but fun and imaginative; it will list dozens of pains from hangnails to herpes to homelessness with links to research-supported cures and potential futurist remedies.
Reprinted with permission by the author.
Hank Pellissier formally served as the Managing Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He’s the author of several books including Invent Utopia Now, former editor at Transhumanity.net, and founder of BrighterBrains.org. Pellissier has raised charity funds via GoFundMe.com and Indiegogo for “TransHumanitarian” projects in The Philippines and Africa that have dewormed 1,100 children and provided food, clothing, shoes, socks, tools, and educational supplies. In western Uganda he’s launched eight health clinics (one is “H+ Clinic”), one science centre, and he co-founded BiZoHa – the world’s first atheist orphanage.
Aubrey de Grey interviewed by Ray Kurzweil
Peter Diamandis – Human Longevity and The Future
Peter Thiel – Innovation for Life Extension
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