Beyond the fear and chaos of contemporary life and a proliferation of an Industry of Fear Mongering, there is good news to share.
A new era is at hand: the era of Sustainable Superabundance. In this era, the positive potential of humanity will develop in truly profound ways.
The key to this new era is to take wise advantage of the remarkable capabilities of twenty-first century science and technology: robotics, biotech, neurotech, greentech, collabtech, artificial intelligence, and much more.
These technologies can provide all of us with the means to live better than well – to be healthier and fitter than ever before; nourished emotionally and spiritually as well as physically; and living at peace with ourselves, the environment, and our neighbours both near and far.
This is not a vision of today’s society writ large – a mere abundance of today’s goods, services, activities, relationships, and rewards. It’s a vision of a superabundance, with new qualities rather than just new quantities.
This is not a vision of returning to some imagined prior historical period – to some supposed bygone golden age. It’s a vision of advancing to a new society, featuring levels of human flourishing never before possible.
This is not a vision restricted to the few – to an elite percentage of today’s humanity. It’s a universal vision, for everyone, of a wide, diverse fellowship in which all can freely participate, and in which all can enjoy unprecedented benefits.
This is not a vision of the far-off future – something relevant, perhaps, to our great-grandchildren. It’s a vision of change that could accelerate dramatically throughout the 2020s – a vision that is intensely relevant as the year 2020 comes into view.
This is not a vision of a fixed, rigid utopia. It’s a vision of the collaborative creation of a sustainable, open-ended, evolving social framework. In this new framework, every one of us will be empowered to make and follow our own choices without fear or favour.
In this vision, the sky will no longer be the limit. In this vision, the cosmos beckons, with its vast resources and endless possibilities. In this vision, our destiny lies in the ongoing exploration and development of both outer and inner space, as we keep reaching forwards together to higher levels of consciousness and to experiences with ever greater significance.
However, before the paradise can be enjoyed, the time of decision awaits us. BWe will have to face some hard, critical choices – choices that will determine our future. If we chose poorly, technology will do much more harm than good. If we chose poorly, a bleak future awaits us – wretched environmental decline, bitter social divisions, and a rapid descent into a dismal new dark age. Instead of the flourishing of the better angels of our human nature, it will be our inner demons that technology magnifies.
We need to steer firmly away from courses of action which would precipitate any such outcome. We need to resist simplistic ideas or beguiling coalitions that would mislead us onto a slippery slope of accelerating humanitarian degradation. Instead, we need to select and uphold the set of priorities that will facilitate the timely emergence of sustainable superabundance.
These are tasks of the utmost importance. These tasks will require the very best of human insight, human strength, and human cooperation.
If we choose well, constraints which have long overshadowed human existence can soon be lifted. Instead of physical decay and growing age-related infirmity, an abundance of health and longevity awaits us. Instead of collective dimwittedness and blinkered failures of reasoning, an abundance of intelligence and wisdom is within our reach. Instead of morbid depression and emotional alienation – instead of envy and egotism – we can achieve an abundance of mental and spiritual wellbeing. Instead of a society laden with deception, abuses of power, and divisive factionalism, we can embrace an abundance of democracy – a flourishing of transparency, access, mutual support, collective insight, and opportunity for all, with no one left behind.
If we choose well, the result will be liberty on unparalleled scale. The result will be people everywhere living up to their own best expectations and possibilities, and then more. The result will be a transformed, improved humanity, taking stellar leaps forward in evolution, as technology increasingly uplifts and augments biology. The result will be to advance beyond mere humanity to transhumanity.
Time for Action
As the 2020s approach, with their accelerating pace of change, with ever more potent technologies in wide circulation, and with a perplexing variety of tangled interconnections threatening unpredictable consequences, there’s something that is very important for us to collectively keep in mind.
The thought that deserves sustained attention, in the midst of all other considerations, is the central insight of a group of people known as transhumanists. This insight concerns the magnitude of the forthcoming transformation from humanity to transhumanity.
It’s not just that this transformation is possible. It’s not just that this transformation could be relatively imminent – happening while many people alive today are still in the primes of their lives. It’s that this transformation, handled wisely, could have an enormous positive upside. It’s that this transformation, handled wisely, is deeply desirable.
This insight is grasped, today, by only a minuscule fraction of the earth’s population – by a meagre sprinkling of transhumanist pioneers. However, it is time for these transhumanist pioneers to speak up. The few can become many.
As the 2020s approach, it is time for transhumanists to challenge and reorient the public narrative. It is time to raise the calibre of the collective conversation about the future.
It is time to affirm how the future can be hugely better than the present. It is time to clarify how human nature is but a starting point for a journey to extraordinary posthuman capability. It is time to emphasise that, whereas the evolution of life has been blind for billions of years, it is now passing into our conscious, thoughtful control. It is time to point out that, whereas the evolution of society has been dominated for centuries by economic matters and struggles over scarce resources, centre stage can soon feature the blossoming of abundance. And it is time to proclaim that powerful enablers for these exceptional changes are already arriving, here and now.
In short, it is time for transhumanists around the world to step up to the responsibility as catalysts of the forthcoming transformation. It is time for transhumanists to inspire and support people everywhere to join together in the historic project to build the era of sustainable superabundance. It is time to apply transhumanist wisdom to identify and uphold the best choices in anticipation of the tumult of disruption that lies ahead. It is time to ensure that technology brings universal benefit, rather than being something we will come to bitterly regret.
At present, we can glimpse only the broad outlines of the coming era of sustainable superabundance. It is the fundamental responsibility of transhumanists to discern the forthcoming contours with greater clarity, and to help humanity as a whole envision and navigate the pathways ahead.
Together, let’s apply our skills, our time, and our resources to paint more fully the picture of sustainable superabundance. Let’s transcend our present-day preoccupations, our unnecessary divisions, our individual agendas, and our inherited human limitations. Let’s grasp the radical transformational power of new technology to profoundly enhance our vision, our wisdom, our social structures, and our effectiveness.
Together, let’s map out constructive solutions to the obstructions and distractions that impede progress – solutions combining the best of technology and the best of humanity. Let’s build productive alliances that weaken the forces resisting positive change. Let’s prepare to take advantage of the growing momentum of an inspirational worldwide technoprogressive movement. Let’s anticipate how we will dislodge the grasp on power held by today’s backward-looking vested interests. And through an emerging shared understanding of the vital benefits transhumanist policies can bring to everyone, let’s transform fearful opposition step-by-step into willing partners. The few can become many.
In this way, we can accelerate the transition to sustainable superabundance. The sooner, the better.
This article is an extract from the opening chapter of the book Sustainable Superabundance