Transhumanism: the politician

Perhaps the Singularity – the moment at which accelerating technology gives birth to a supra-human superintelligence – is at hand. The world’s first openly transhumanist politician is serving in a national parliament. Giuseppe Vatinno was elected in July for the Alleanza per l'Italia party in the Italian parliament.

New Scientist interviewed him about his philosophy. Vatinno explained that transhumanism “aims to free humanity from its biological limitations, overcoming natural evolution to make us more than human”. Is there a danger of making us less human? “Becoming less human is not necessarily a negative thing,” says Vatinno, “because it could mean we are less subject to the whims of nature, such as illness or climate extremes.”

He admits that transhumanism is a kind of religion of science and technology because it provides ethical principles. “The scientific method implies an absolute honesty in producing data and searching for the truth. It could be a model of correctness. A philosopher might argue that a flower is blue rather than red, but science tells you unambiguously what colour it is.”

Italy, with its centuries of Catholic tradition, may seem a strange place for transhumanism to emerge as a political force. However, as Giulio Prisco, transhumanism editor for KurzweilAI, points out, Italy has long nurtured an interest in transhumanism. Former PM Silvio Berlusconi invested in MolMed, a company which aims to raise average life expectancy to 120 years and beyond. And the Futurist movement of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, played an important role in shaping the ideology of Italian fascism. (Transhumanism tends to be sympathetic to the right-wing political themes of autonomy and free enterprise.)

Transhumanism has splintered into various denominations. Vatinno describes himself as an “extropian”, a species of transhumanism , which strives for practical improvements in human welfare, like life extension technologies, research into artificial intelligence, space exploration, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

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