Candidates for the Humanity+ Board of Directors Election

Candidates for the 2009 Humanity+ Board election:

Sonia Arrison
George Dvorsky
Patri Friedman
Ben Goertzel
Stéphane G
Todd Huffman
Jonas Lamis
Mike LaTorra
Sungjoo Ogino
Stefan Pernar
Mike Treder
Arsen Zahray


Sonia Arrison

Science is advancing exponentially and there are many exciting developments on the horizon that will transform not only individuals, but also society.  This makes Humanity+ (formerly WTA) an important organization in helping to guide a discussion about the future.

I have been writing about technology and society for over a decade, so I’m well positioned to help Humanity+ navigate the scientific and the social issues that we will face in the coming years.  My hope is that by joining the Humanity+ board, I can help the organization to engage the public and media in a constructive dialog about how to manage the issues that new technologies will create in our world.

Many people know me as a regular columnist for TechNewsWorld and as a Senior Analyst at the Pacific Research Institute.  What they may not know is that for over twenty years I have been involved with various non-profits, particularly those that help students get more involved in the issues of the day.  This background should help Humanity+ reach out to one of its key segments - the younger generation that is looking for a way to direct its passion in productive ways.

Currently, I am working on a book project investigating the politics of radical longevity.  This subject matter directly complements the focus of Humanity+ on promoting understanding, interest and participation in fields of emerging innovation that can radically benefit the human condition.  You can learn more about me at my website: www.soniaarrison.com.

George Dvorsky

I’m 38 years old and a single-dad to two boys. My personality is very cut-to-the-chase and pragmatic; I have a talent for rational and conciliatory discourse, along with a keen ability to keep everyone focused on the bigger picture. I’m able to get things done because I’m focused, I work hard and I know how to organize myself.

After meticulously studying the past to earn a degree in history, I turned my attention to science, technology and the future. I’m now one of Canada’s leading futurists and a specialist in assessing the impacts of technology on human performance.

To this end I have compiled an extensive portfolio of writing and speaking on these themes. You may have seen or heard me passionately prognosticating about science and technology on CBC’s The Hour, the BBC, Radio Free Europe, in the pages of The Guardian, or on public transit. It’s also likely that you’ve come across my work through my popular and award winning blog, Sentient Developments.

I am certainly no stranger to the transhumanist and futurist communities. Back in 2002 I helped launch Betterhumans, the first explicitly pro human enhancement ezine on the web. It was during this same year that I co-founded the Toronto Transhumanist Association, an active organization that I preside over to this very day.

In addition, I served on the WTA Board of Directors from 2004-06 and chaired the TransVision ‘04 conference in Toronto. I currently serve on the Board for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and I am the Director of Operations for Commune Media Inc., a marketing and communications company that specializes in optimizing web content. Along these lines, I have more than 10 years’ experience in media, arts and communications.

Now is a very exciting time for Humanity+ as it works to redefine itself and take organizational futurism to the next level. As a member of the Humanity+ Board I will leverage my work ethic, skills and experience to help make Humanity+ the premier futurist group in the world.

Patri Friedman

We live in interesting times - facing an upcoming century of radical uncertainty, where any number of new technologies may dramatically alter the world.  Probably for the better, but possibly for the worst.

It will be exciting time for humanity, and one in which we will see transhumanism make the same transition as personal computers and networks have in the past few decades.  Transhumanism will go from a fringe area appealing to a small group of open-minded geeks to an integral part of our society, discussed daily in newspapers and television.  (For as long as we still have newspapers, and television, that is!)

This gives those of us who have been thinking about these topics for a long time an incredible opportunity to set the tone of the building conversation.  I am interested in joining the Humanity+ board to help take advantage of this opportunity to move the organization into the mainstream and grow its membership, publicity, and influence as part of the global trend towards technology being at the center of human life.

Background: I have degrees in Math, CS, and business.  I worked at Google for 3.5 years as a software engineer, and left to become the founder and Executive Director of The Seasteading Institute (seasteading.org), a futurist nonprofit dedicated to building autonomous ocean cities to experiment with new political systems. Our goal is to bring about Politics 2.0 - a world where small groups can experiment with social systems and everyone can see what works and what doesn’t, and then modify and remix for the next attempt.  Among other things, this will ensure that there are places in the world where people can develop new technologies for human health and happiness, even if they threaten existing powers such as governments.

I have only recently become active in the futurist and transhumanist community, but have been interested in these topics since childhood.  I live in Mountain View, CA with my wife and 3-year old son, in a small intentional community called Tortuga.  You can learn more about me at my ancient homepage, patrifriedman.com, or my blog, patrissimo.livejournal.com.

Ben Goertzel

I’ve been on the WTA board for part of 2008, and it’s been a fascinating experience, yet I found that during this period I wasn’t really able to do most of the things I had wanted to do when I joined the board, because the rebranding effort (rebranding WTA as H+, making the new website, launching the H+ magazine, and so forth) wound up taking most of the year.  Most of the initiatives I wanted to undertake as a board member wouldn’t have made sense to undertake in the midst of a rebranding effort.

So, I am very much looking forward to the possibility of continuing on the board in 2009, and finally getting to do the stuff I had hoped to do in 2008!

Should I be re-elected to the board, I anticipate focusing on three areas:

1) Helping with the H+ magazine.  Specifically, I would like to do the following:

A) explore potential partnerships with publishers who may be interested in releasing a paper version of the magazine

B) expand the roster of contributing authors to the magazine by reaching out to the science and engineering communities for new contributors who are working on H+ related technologies but haven’t necessarily thought of themselves as transhumanists, and convincing them to write articles for H+

C) play a role in designing an online, Web 2.0 ish companion to the PDF/print magazine

D) help innovate regarding potential business models for an online and online/print magazine

2) Helping to recruit H+ membership among the scientific and engineering community (with a focus on academia, but also industry).

I note that, a little further in the future, I would like to help H+ launch some sort of social network site aimed at bringing together H+ oriented scientists and engineers.  This could wind up being an outgrowth of the AGI-network site, aimed at AI researchers, which I’m trying to launch this year.  However, I think that trying to build a network like this in 2009 would be a mistake for H+, because the magazine is in itself a big project that needs to be gotten off the ground, and there’s a danger in dispersing energy across too many different areas.

3) Assisting with general fundraising for H+, as much as is possible.  My focus here will be on fundraising targeted toward the H+ mag, as that is something I think I can speak to eloquently and sell effectively.

OK, enough of specific plans.

Now, a general philosophical/strategic statement: although I was in favor of the rebranding of WTA as H+, I did not and do not view it as a dilution of WTA’s vision.  I strongly feel that H+ must remain a transhumanist organization, and continue to advocate active exploration of paths toward a positive transhuman future—where this is taken to include moderately-radical things like body modification and life extension and nutraceutical intelligence enhancement, but also more significantly radical things like cryonics, Singularity, cyborgs, uploading, and so forth.

Which of these aspects we highlight on the front page of our website is a subtle issue; but, those voting in this election should have no doubt that if re-elected to the board I will be ardently advocating for H+ to explicitly include the more radical aspects of transhumanism within its umbrella.

I don’t think H+ should have a “credo” in the sense that there should be some list of ideas or technologies that all members need to embrace.  I think it’s fine if H+ defines itself as a “network of related ideas and visions”, of which some members may embrace some elements, and other members may embrace others.  But I think this network needs to be inclusive of both the more moderate and the more radical aspects of the transhumanist vision.

Finally, the rest of this statement gives some general information about me

First of all: I’ve been an avid transhumanist for as long as I can remember.

Most of my time recently has been spent actively trying to bring about transformative technologies.  Since 1997 I have been leading commercial software R&D projects in the area of Artificial General Intelligence, aimed at producing AI systems with general intelligence at the human level and ultimately beyond.  Since 2001 I have also been working, in parallel, on the application of AI technologies in bioinformatics, with a specific focus on using AI to accelerate the path to life extension.  If you’re interested in exploring my work in these areas, check out the websites of my companies Novamente LLC
(novamente.net) and Biomind LLC (biomind.com).

On the more academic side, I have carried out an active research career, resulting in the publication of nearly 80 papers and ten scientific books.  Before entering the software industry I served as a university faculty in several departments of mathematics, computer science and cognitive science, in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

As well as carrying out future-focused science and technology development, however, I have also been actively involved in the futurist community, via doing writing and organizing aimed at helping us to collectively better understand our future and encourage it to unfold in a positive way.  I have authored two books focused on the future of technology and society: Creating Internet Intelligence (Plenum, 2001) and The Path to Posthumanity (Academica, 2006).  I also co-founded the non-profit AGIRI (Artificial General Intelligence Research Institute), which organized a very successful 2006 workshop in Bethesda; and am involved in organizing the follow-up AGI-08 conference (agi-08.org) conference which will be in Memphis in March 2008.

I am also the Director of Research of the Singularity Institute for AI, and in this role am working with my colleagues there to better understand how the human race may go about creating a positive future for humanity that also includes very advanced AI systems.

I am physically based in Washington DC, but I travel to San Francisco several times per year, so if elected I will have frequent options for F2F communications with any board members located there.

General information about my human life can be found at my website, goertzel.org

Stéphane G

Background: I am a twenty-five old man, living in France. Specialized in Risk Management (not only financial), I also studied political sciences (University Paris X) and law (University Toulouse 1).

I discovered Transhumanism almost three years ago and have been a member for the last two years. In October 2007, after a conference in Paris where I met other transhumanists, I co-founded the French chapter of the WTA. From then, we are growing; we made a blog, a forum, a mailing-list and a website, and have a good lot of motivated and skilled people. I co-lead (with the latter) those web-tools, supplying them with science and political news, update, and h+ events.

Me & Humanity+: Reader of the mailing list, I fed myself with the different argumentations and assisted to the debate and the evolutions of the ML.

I won’t surprise anyone if I say that Humanity+ also changed recently. Since the last board election, many projects have been launched and are in progress, we have many objectives. I want to participate, work and make us succeed, especially for the fund-raising and the spread of Transhumanist ideas, aiming not only transhumanist members but also sympathizer like scientist, student or whatever they are.

But to achieve our goal, we need to obtain the acceptance of a large part of the population. Then we can’t stay in a position where we can’t convince people, where we fright a large part of them. Whatever our own personal objectives are, we have to change this.

To enable a wide acceptance for the ideas, research and technologies we support, I think we need to develop a perspective and an argumentation that are trustworthy, reasonable and sufficiently attractive.

Thanks for your consideration.

Todd Huffman

In my early teens I became conscious of the limits of the human condition and became increasingly interested in how humans could grow past those boundaries.  One of the greatest joys I had was the discovery I wasn’t alone.  Others also saw a future where we would be able to transcend the limitations of our current state of violence, disease and hate through a thoughtful but ambitious application of human effort.  The WTA has been instrumental in providing a framework for making cognitive and moral decisions over the last decade of my life, and I’ve decided I’d like to carry the torch as a member of the WTA Board.

Over the last decade I’ve worked on a variety of projects to extend human capabilities, in both conventional science and in more forward leaning fields.  In the conventional sciences I’ve worked with a number of cutting edge laboratories at UCLA, ASU and Texas A&M with degrees in Neuroscience and Bioinformatics.  More related to the WTA I’m an active adviser to the Methuselah Foundation, worked with the cryonics organizations Alcor Life Extension Foundation and Suspended Animation, as well as a variety of other transhumanist projects.  I am currently commercially developing interfaces for mobile computing as part of my lifelong fascination with wearable computers.  I also spend considerable amounts of time cultivating memetic substrates, most notably with the BIL Conference (next occuring Feb 7-8, ‘09, www.BILconference.com) but in other less-anarchic technology conferences PodCampAz and GeekWeek.

Humanity needs a place where ideas of consequence can be subject to rational (and sometimes irrational) debate and dissemination.  As a board member for the WTA I’ll foster a haven for curious minds by supporting efforts to bring our message to university environments, a place where learned debate is flagging.  I also support efforts to maintain relevancy to the rest of humanity and improve accessibility by being mindful of language and brand identity.  I’ll help evolve the WTA structure to keep pace with a rapidly changing world.

Jonas Lamis

The WTA faces an amazing opportunity in the decade ahead: The ability to be the leading voice and community focused on the application of accelerating technologies to better the human condition.  While the WTA has admirably embraced this mission, it is now time to accelerate our focus and reinvigorate our membership.

The work done to re-brand our organization as Humanity + is the first step in creating a current and relevant presence for our organization.  Our next steps must include positive outreach, community building, political awareness, youth influencing and even industry partnering.  As an entrepreneur, analyst, and futurist, I am looking forward to helping build a powerful presence for our organization. 

My work as founder and Executive Director of SciVestor, and Director of Partnerships for the Singularity Institute have prepared me to take an active role as a member of the WTA board.  I look forward to serving the membership and and bringing a focused approach to building credibility and success for our organization.  You can learn more about me at: http://lamisphere.com/

Mike LaTorra

Mike LaTorra writes and teaches in Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. He is author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao. He serves as Chairman of the Humanity+ Board of Directors, and director of the Membership Committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and as President of the Daibutsuji Zen Temple in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Mike has served on the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association (now Humanity+) since 2002.

Sungjoo Ogino

My best greetings to all the Transhumanists over the world, from Japan where the morning Sun is rising earlier than in most other parts around our lovely planet… And my best wishes, too, for a happy and successful year 2009, in which we can surely advance together closer and closer toward a posthuman future.

I am not like most transhumanists who are specialized or honor-titled in science and technology. I majored in English literature and minored in Journalism with a BA at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, Korea. After then I studied pedagogy and anthropology at Tuebingen Universitaet in Germany. All of my studying had been, is and will be continuing for the pursuit of a better Humanity and now an even better the Humanity+ I share with you.

After marriage, I came to Japan where I have volunteered for more than 10 years as a coordinator of many international activities between the Japanese and people who come to Japan from other various countries, and I have also worked as a translator in plenty of events. I can speak Japanese, Korean, English and German. Now I’m learning Chinese and Spanish as well, hoping to talk with as many human beings as possible in their own languages.

Since I was introduced to transhumanism and became involved with the WTA in Japan, I have met many transhumanist friends. Each of them has some brilliant specialties in his/her own field and world. I think that they are maybe more eligible to run for the H+ Board than I am.

However, looking back over my career as a coordinator, I can notice that I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of capable and excellent friends and co-workers… With collaborating with them, I could bring most of my activities to the delightful success. Many people who know me well say that I am an efficient coordinator who makes the others do their best with my sincerity.

I understand that most transhumanists gifted with specially amazing talents are too busy devoting themselves to their own responsibilities. (Dear transhumanist friends, I am standing here instead of you and I will do my very best to share yours, too.)

I actually live in Chiba, the cyberspatial city, invented by William Gibson in his early novel “Neuromancer”. But I can mention that this side - not only here in Japan but also in Korea, China, and some other countries in Asia - of our planet is just dawning in the H+ point of view. This is one of the reasons I decided to run for the H+ Board this time.

The other day a H+ friend in Japan said to me: “You are doing a groundbreaking work in trying to connect Transhumanists in Japan!” Yes, I strongly want to contribute for it. And I have been making efforts to succeed.

I created a blog for Japanese Transhumanists with growing potential in Japan (http://starbt0726.hp.infoseek.co.jp/) and I am translating much about the WTA into Japanese there and introducing it to the Japanese society, too. Besides, I have also been coordinating some meetings in the real world and in cyberspace with many diverse H+ friends, not only in Japan but also from other countries. In addition, I hope to bring the TransVision2010/11 to Chiba, Japan, to deepen and widen the H+ notions to the Japanese and Asian audiences.

Chiba will open her doors for you all to continue through Japan to explore and discover H+ in Asia, as William Gibson did with “Neuromancer” in 1984.

Finally, I have also other reasons to want to be one of the H+ Board members. I believe there are already many Asian H+s who are doing personally their groundbreaking works in their own countries, as I am in Japan. I hope to gradually visit many other Asian countries in order to find them and to encourage a lot of current and potential H+ each country, too. I will, first of all, give them our regards and love at heart and then connect us to one another and to the H+ strongly.

My movement will go forward on from East to West first in Asia and eventually to the other Continents that are accelerating their H+’s development, like that of the Sun.

Will you be able to agree and sometimes accompany me?

Stefan Pernar

“This is no place to stop - half way between ape and angel” Benjamin Disraeli

The world of nanotechnology, transhumanism and artificial intelligence has fascinated me ever since I picked up Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near and read it cover to cover. In fact I was so inspired that I wrote a philosophical themed novel in which a transhuman artificial intelligence causes a hard take off singularity and in the ensuing chaos argues with the protagonist about matters of good and evil. After publishing Jame5 - a Tale of Good and Evil in late 2007 it received some encouraging praise by among others Dr. Stephen Omohundro - President of Self-Aware Systems and Advisor to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence as well as Miguel F. Aznar - Director of Education for the Foresight Nanotech Institute.

In the ensuing months I founded the Beijing Futurists Society in early 2008 and quit my job with a large multinational company where I was a director and regional IT auditor for the past 10 years to focus full time on my next book. My next book - which I hope to finish in 2009 - takes the basic premise I arrived at in Jame5 namely ‘That is good what increases fitness’ and expands it into a holistic rational philosophy of morality entwining evolutionary philosophy, rational choice theory and Kantian metaphysics. In doing so I hope to provide valuable guidance applicable today for self modifying transhumanists, AGI developers and non-transhumanists alike that will stand the test of time and ultimately lead to a positive transcension.

About Stefan Pernar: Stefan is a 33 year old German philosophical writer and entrepreneuer living in Singapore were he founded and runs the the Singapore Futurists Society and is organizing the Singapore Darwin Day 2009 among other activities. He spent 25 years working and living in Asia and held various director level positions over his decade long corporate career.

Mike Treder

I’ve been proud to serve on the WTA Board since its formation. I believe the intersection of emerging technologies and human interests will provide some of our greatest ethical challenges-and most exciting humanitarian opportunities-in the years to come. My aim is to support the World Transhumanist Association in taking on the tough questions, encouraging open debate, and standing up for the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities.

Background: After a 20-year career in media and communications, I co- founded the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology in 2002. CRN is a non-profit research and advocacy organization concerned with the major societal and environmental implications of advanced nanotechnology. We promote public awareness and education, and the development of effective recommendations to maximize benefits and reduce dangers.

In addition to my work with CRN, I am a consultant to the Millennium Project of the American Council for the United Nations University, a Research Fellow with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a consultant to the Future Technologies Advisory Group. I also serve on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Lifeboat Foundation, and I’m a member of the World Future Society.

I have published more than 40 articles and papers, and have been interviewed numerous times by the media. As a sought-after speaker on the societal implications of emerging technologies, I’ve been privileged to address conferences and groups in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil.

Arsen Zahray

I’m 23 year old male from Lviv, Ukraine. I read a lot. My favorite authors include Jonathan Stroud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Peter Drucker, Richard Dawkins, Ray Kurzweil, Stephen Hawking, Daniel & Bennett Goleman and others. 

We all know the story about the fox and the hedgehog. The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. The story tells, that it is better to be a hedgehog. I am a fox.  Most people study one big thing, and they know it perfectly. I have a lot of different interests, which automatically implies, that in every field I know, there will be people, who are smarter than I am. I believe that those are people, competing here with me for director board sits.

So, why might you like to have a fox on the board?

I am not the smartest person in the group, and I know it. Having a group, where everyone believes being smarter than everyone else sometimes makes it challenging to make right decisions. This problem is especially apparent in groups, where all the members are extremely smart. The group usually is more, than just the sum of capabilities of its members, and having a “fox” in the group sometimes makes a group act more like a team.

I’m a polymorph. If a team lacks something, I can choose to morph into it.

I have traveled a lot (Russia, Egypt, India, Nepal etc), and have lived in several countries (UK, Austria, Poland). This does not make me an expert on all of those countries, but, WTA still might benefit from this experience.

Posted by secretary on 2009/01/10 •
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