Every now and then, our electoral system produces one of those quintessentially American characters who coopts the energy of the presidential voting cycle to become a national celebrity and elevate an obscure social movement into greater popular visibility. In 2016 that person was Wesley’s guest Zoltan Istvan, who propelled himself and transhumanism into international notoriety by touring the United States as a candidate for president on the Transhumanist Party ticket, promising to end death as he drove across the country in the “immortality bus” designed to look like a coffin.
In 2020 Istvan made headlines again, this time, by running in the Republican presidential primaries. His purpose in all he does is to popularize transhumanism, a futuristic social movement that seeks to create a “post-human” future freed from suffering. The movement looks to technology as the means of attaining the long-held human dream of immortality and the more modern yearning for radical individual bodily self-transformation.
But is it really that, or a quasi-religion to give materialists a reason to hope? Is it ushering in a new form of eugenics? Indeed, is there such a thing as a “better” human being? Is intelligence the most important attribute, as Istvan claims, or is love the essential human virtue, as Wesley asserts? This much is sure: Transhumanism matters because it focuses quite explicitly on issues germane to human exceptionalism and the kind of future we will leave for our progeny.
Zoltan Istvan is an American transhumanist, journalist,entrepreneur, political candidate, and futurist. Formerly a reporter for the National Geographic Channel, he now writes futurist, transhumanist, secular and political-themed articles for major media, including The New York Times, Vice’s Motherboard, Wired, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Newsweek. Istvan regularly appears on television and video channels discussing futurist topics. He is widely perceived as one of the world’s most influential transhumanists and is the author of The Transhumanist Wager, a philosophical science fiction novel.