In a clarion call, Dr. Miriam Leis calls on transhumanists to get more involved in politics, business management, and perhaps even ecclesiastical hierarchies. She starts out by describing the “sad” state-of-affairs:
Although many transhumanist ideas may sound disruptive and revolutionary to the average citizen, transhumanists themselves are far less the doers, but rather passive observers and theorists.
A considerable majority of transhumanists seem to be “armchair transhumanists,” i.e. observers, theorists, waiting and hoping for the “singularity” to happen. So where are the transhumanist politicians, multi-billion company executives, high-level consultants and socio-economic elites?
While I think her premise is flawed (there are transhumanists in high-level positions), I think she is missing the point of transhumanism.
She criticizes the movement for being fractured: “internal differences and quarrels are finally weakening the movement, organization or company.” And then makes an overly general observation:
If wanting to achieve change and transformation, a focused laser beam with the power to forge a chunk of metal is far more effective than a widely dispersed, incoherent and weak flashlight that only makes somewhat visible the surface of the object being transformed.
And her final recommendation to transhumanists:
If transhumanism is planning to become a force to be reckoned with in–and really as influential as some people are concerned about–it needs people to have the “will to power.” [quoting Nietzsche]
Okay, I admit that I’m a slacker and have no “will to power,” but I think Dr. Leis misses the point of transhumanism. So what points is she missing?
- First, transhumanists are, in large measure, liberitarians, anarchists, individualists, absurdists, existentialists, anti-control freaks, people with a strong belief in leaderless organizations. They aren’t driven by power hunger. But that does not mean that they are not doers. For example, many are active in all levels of society, just not necessarily at the higher rungs. Just because I personally am anti-structure and a believer in organized chaos (as a management style), does not mean that I’m not engaged.
- Second, the top-down organizational structure that Dr. Leis seems to be describing in her post is dying out. (She even quotes Machiavelli.) Replacing it is a more bottom-up organizational structure. Change is more and more happening at the lower levels and then filtering up. With the modern methods of communications, these changes are happening faster than ever. The top-down organizations that I’m affiliated with are having a difficult time coping with change. For example, look at the problems the LDS Church leadership is currently having with same-sex marriage, feminism, race, biblical literalism, etc.
While I can understand Dr. Leis frustration with an “incoherent” group like transhumanists, her own organizational model is seriously out of date. Top-down management is on the way out. And us peons at the bottom can make a huge difference; transhumanism doesn’t need a focused “laser beam,” it just needs committed individuals . . . which it has. We transhumanists need to pursue our interests in our own way. And to hell with Machiavelli.