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First Transhumanist Polititian Elected In Italy September 21, 2012

Posted by Metabiological in Transhumanism.
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I’ve sat on this story for awhile because I honestly didn’t know how I felt about it.  For those that don’t know a little while ago Giuseppe Vatinno, a politician for the Alleanza per l’Italia (Alliance for Italy) party,  became the first self-identified transhumanist to be elected to a national government or indeed a government of any kind.  He recently gave an interview to NewScientist.  Some excerpts below.

What is transhumanism?
Transhumanism is a philosophical doctrine that aims to continuously improve humanity. It promotes science and technology but with people at its centre. Ultimately, it aims to free humanity from its biological limitations, overcoming natural evolution to make us more than human.

Is there a danger that transhumanism could actually make us less human?
Becoming less human is not necessarily a negative thing, because it could mean we are less subject to the whims of nature, such as illness or climate extremes. A beautiful sunset is positive, but the black death that struck Europe in the 14th century was not. We want to retain the positive aspects of nature and reduce the negative ones.

Is transhumanism more allied with left- or right-wing politics?
In the UK and the US recently, it has been closer to the left, probably because left-wing themes such as bioethics are important to transhumanists at the moment. But economically, the movement probably leans slightly more to the right. Freedom is very important in transhumanism, leading to a focus on individuals and free enterprise.

Interesting.  While I can’t deny that it is way cool to see transhumanism enter the realm of politics I also have some reservations.  On the one hand I wonder what it actually means for Vatinno to be a transhumanist politician as opposed to a politician who happens to be a transhumanist.  To put it another way how will his transhumanist beliefs affect his actual policy decisions?  Will he vote for greater funding for anti-aging research?  Will he seek to spread the use of synthetic intelligence in government decision making?  Will he govern as more of a technocrat then a populist and if so how will he balance serving his non-transhumanist constituents while at the same time supporting goals many of those constituents will likely see as pie-in-the-sky nonesense?

A second reservation, though not as strong as the first, is how this might open up the transhumanist movement to attacks from those opposed to it.  If we’re perfectly honest with ourselves I think most transhumanists can admit that the movement is currently what we might call an elite one in that it tends to appeal to and draw it’s membership from the highly educated and the upper income earners.  While that’s fine for what it still largely a philosophical movement if transhumanism ever wants to truly break into the mainstream as an ideology it will have to appeal to the masses.  Electing transhumanists to positions of power without also building a solid base of transhumanist voters is a recipe for cultural backlash (i.e. look at those out of touch elites trying to steal power from the people!)

So in short while I repeat that it is very cool to see a transhumanist actually elected as a transhumanist I would like to temper the enthusiasm just a little bit.  Without a solid base to draw from don’t expect transhumanists to take over government any time soon.