“The future will be a mix of utopian and dystopian”. An interview with futurist Zoltan Istvan

#exclusive Transhumanism is still a strange concept in Romanian culture. There are so few researchers or writers interested in working in this field. How to define it, how to speak about it or how  to imagine an entire world based on such an issue like immorality, trans-human race or apocalyptic era? #hibridmedia magazine discussed with futurist Zoltan Istvan. We found interesting things about Posthumanism, Transhumanism or about his recent book: The Transhumanist Wager, a novel which combines philosophy with science-fiction field in a fictional way.


Rares Iordache:  How can we define Transhumanism? Can we discuss about a real viral phenomena or is it more than that? There are cultures where the Transhumanism is regarded with skepticism. Also, if he is a viral phenomena, then he is one in progress, which must conquer new territories.

Zoltan Istvan: Transhumanism can be defined as a movement to use science and technology to advance and improve the human being and experience. It is much more than just a viral phenomena, it is a real movement with many hundreds of thousands of scientists, futurists, technologists and just regular people contributing to the improvement of the human species.


R.I.: Transhumanism or posthumanism? Is it just a semantic distinction or can we talk about a partial equivalence? Posthumanism is the general concept while Transhumanism is the radical one. Its opponents criticized some ideas like those exposed by Hans Moravec, Nick Bostrom or even Ray Kurzweil. The last one is not radical, but more focused on some straight ideas, I think.

Z.I.: Posthumanism implies something that is “after” the human species. We are quite far from this concept still as a species, and while the term is useful for understanding our future and for science fiction, “transhumanism” is a far better term. Transhumanism means “beyond human” and we are already moving beyond the natural human. In fact, we have been moving beyond the natural human for centuries. We are just gathering speed as technology increases. We are becoming more transhuman everyday.


he_transhumanist_wager_cover_award_smallR.I.: Your novel, The Transhumanist Wager, is very appreciated. What is it about: a philosophy of transhumanism written in a short story style or an ode dedicated to immortality touched through science and technology? Your fictional character is a philosopher which intends to become immortal, but this has been always, in fact, the humanity dream.

Z.I.: I’ve been grateful that my book has been so well received. It’s won an award, been featured numerous times on popular television shows, and was a #1 bestseller in Philosophy and Sci-Fi Visionary on Amazon. I think my actual book description gives the simplest explanation of what the book is about, including it’s main character Jethro Knights:

Set in the present day, the novel tells the story of transhumanist Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. Fighting against him are fanatical religious groups, economically depressed governments, and mystic Zoe Bach: a dazzling trauma surgeon and the love of his life, whose belief in spirituality and the afterlife is absolute. Exiled from America and reeling from personal tragedy, Knights forges a new nation of willing scientists on the world’s largest seastead, Transhumania. When the world declares war against the floating libertarian city, demanding an end to its renegade and godless transhuman experiments and ambitions, Knights strikes back, leaving the planet forever changed.


R.I.: Tell me in how many countries was translated your book?

Z.I.: So far, my book hasn’t not been translated yet. I am in talks to have it translated in Hungarian, German, and Korean at the moment.


R.I.: The future is a dystopian world. How it sounds such an idea?  How do you see it as futurist?

Z.I.: I believe the future will be a mix of utopian and dystopian. Perhaps it is best that way, after all. Too much perfection might make the species boring and complacent. As far as the future, I personally look forward to becoming cyborgs and discovering what strong artificial intelligence can do for me and the species. That’s going to be an exciting ride.


R.I.: Philosophy and futurism, a strange connexion. Is it a hybrid, a mixture between two distinct elements?

Z.I.: Philosophy and futurist go together like cousins. They are both needed to find the best path forward. It’s not use to be a visionary without logic, and it’s no use to be a computer without creativity.


Bestselling visionary author Zoltan Istvan, an American-Hungarian, began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world at the age of 21. His main cargo was 500 handpicked books, mostly classics. He’s explored over 100 countries—many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel—writing, filming, and appearing in dozens of television stories, articles, and webcasts. His work has also been featured by CNN, Fox News, The New York Times Syndicate, Outside, San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, BBC Radio, Travel Channel, and in much other media. Zoltan recently published The Transhumanist Wager, a fictional thriller describing philosopher Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. Source


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