Zoltan Istvan is the New Atheist who is running for President of the United States. Istvan’s extreme scientism leads him to embrace the crackpot notion that soon science will be able to make us all immortal. We have already seen that Istvan’s views rely heavily on blind faith, where he actually thinks scientific discoveries and breakthroughs are just a matter of spending money. Istvan’s faith is a dangerous form of faith in that he wants to take large amounts of money away from defense spending and redirect it toward life extension science because he believes we can actually purchase immortality.
But his faith does not end there.
For the mere sake of argument, let’s enter the delusional, scifi world of Zoltan Istvan and pretend we truly can purchase immortality with scientific discovery. If that was the case, two obvious concerns rise to the forefront and to his credit, Zoltan mentions them and then tries to address them.
Zoltan spells out the objections:
There’s two questions I get asked all the time. The first is, “Well, great, you want to solve human mortality, but that leaves Earth with an even greater overpopulation problem, so how do you deal with that?” And the second one is, “So how can we keep the elite, the really rich people of the world, from taking advantage of these technologies and leaving the rest of us behind?” And I’ve written articles on both these topics, because I think they’re both so critical.
After spending many years thinking about this, and surely talking with like-minded atheists who also buy into the transhumanism cult, we can expect Zoltan to give us the best possible answers to these questions. So let’s consider his response.
I’ll start with the elite. You know, the new generation elites, the Elon Musks, the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Bill Gates — they are not the kind of elite that I believe is going to allow a substantial discrepancy between the rich having access to some of these transhumanist technologies that come into play, and the poor not having any access. First of all, they’re all very liberal-leaning — same thing with Google — so I think they’re going to make sure that as a policy, everything is as widespread and as cost-effective, basically as free as possible in the digital age. I have more confidence in the future than other people do, who remember the barons of the 20th century — the steel people and stuff like that who were literally sort of Darwinian. I don’t see the future being Darwinian like that. I think the new crowd is going to make it so we stay stable, make sure we lift the poor out of poverty.
Huh? Are you kidding me? So we don’t have to worry the elite, the really rich people of the world, will take advantage of these technologies and leave the rest of us behind. Why? Because “the new generation” elites are different. They’re nice and “liberal-leaning.” This has to be the most stunning example of blind faith I have seen all year. Istvan’s answer to a very serious question is nothing more than him having Faith in the Rich!
Of course, this Faith in the Rich in contradicted by the empirical evidence as life extension technology already exists today. One such example is the heart transplant. Is it true that there is no substantial discrepancy between the Elon Musks, the Mark Zuckerbergs, and the Bill Gates of the world and those who are poor when it comes to receiving a heart transplant?
A heart transplant costs around 1.2 million dollars. That figure is completely out of reach for someone living in poverty. Even people in the middle class cannot afford that unless they have an excellent health care plan. Yet this is not a problem for Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. Together, these three men have over 100 billion dollars.
Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates could do something about this inequality today. Each man could agree to keep 10 million dollars to continue living a life of great comfort and then give away the remaining money to pay for transplants for the poor. 100 billion dollars buys you about 100,000 heart transplants (currently, there are about 3500 heart transplants a year, worldwide).
Of course, very few people expect the “liberal-leaning” new generation of rich people to give up most of their money to make such life extension technology more available and equally accessible for it runs contrary to human nature. The reason why Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates won’t part with so much money is because money represents power and influence. And it’s a rare human being who voluntarily relinquishes power.
So that brings us back to Zoltan’s faith. Any group of people who developed the technology to make humans immortal would be a group of people who possess more power than ever before in history. This is because it is highly unlikely any such technology would be some one-time fix, like some sort of immortality vaccine. Instead, immortality is likely to be conditional and dependent on technology – to remain “immortal,” the enhanced humans would likely have to keep purchasing upgrades, maintenance, and new versions of their immortal states. People like Bill Gates would thus have the power of life and death over his customers. Given the man cannot make MS Word downloads freely available to all, why in the world would anyone believe he, or someone like him, would make life extension technology freely available to all? Today, if you don’t like Windows 10, no big deal, as you can still find and use older operating systems. But what if you needed to upgrade to Windows 10 to stay alive?
Zoltan has more to say:
So there is this kind of upward climb that’s happening all over the world, and it’s happening because of science and technology. And I believe that, under our capitalistic system, it’ll probably continue that people will get nicer. People will want to get the poor to have access to these technologies, more so than has been in the past. It’s in the best interest of a capitalistic society that everyone buys this stuff and everyone has access to it. So I’m definitely a believer that we’re going to end up in a place that has more equality than before, and it’s made that way because the nature of technology allows it. Things inevitably get cheaper — that’s why people have access to cell phones in mud hut villages in Africa. Everyone has access to this incredible technology, and will continue to do so.
This is childish, wishful thinking. Apart from the faith that “people will get nicer” and ensure “that everyone buys this stuff and everyone has access to it,” does it really make sense to compare cell phones to life extension technology? Have heart transplants, which have been around since the late 1960s, become easily available in the mud hut villages of Africa? Of course not.
It’s rather amazing to see that Zoltan thinks his fanciful life extension technology will lead us to a place that “has more equality than before” when it’s just the opposite. Right now, and throughout all of history, death has been the great equalizer. For the one thing that unites Bill Gates and the man living in a mud hut villages of Africa is that they will both die. Gates’ money can’t change that. Yet that is the very thing Zoltan wants to change. A world with immortality technology is a world where the elite, the really rich people of the world, can take advantage of these technologies, leaving the rest of us behind. And to the degree that they share it is the degree to which they hold the ultimate power over us – the power of life and death. Istvan’s replies to this objection are little more than babytalk, invoking faith in the niceness and altruism of those in power. It’s clear to me Istvan, and the transhumanists, have no real, substantive response to this objection.
And it only gets worse when we consider the second objection.