Transhumanism, Universal Basic Income, And A Republican Named Zoltan

How this Republican is taking a page from Andrew Yang’s playbook.

Zoltan Istvan is a radical.

He’s leading the “radical science movement” by addressing basic questions on science, technology, and how these topics impact on humanity. Author, futurist and technology advocate, Istvan is now adding presidential candidate to his list of accomplishments. His strategy is to use the scientific method as a tool to help solve many of today’s difficult and controversial issues. While this offers a pragmatic and logical path for problem solving (and a bit untested in the political context), his path is not without controversy itself. Istvan is a bold advocate of the transhumanism and an early support of Universal Basic Income.

He’s taken on politics in the past. He ran against President Trump in 2016 as the Transhumanist Party candidate and ran for governor of California on the Libertarian ticket in 2018. His world view is certainly fast forward. Istvan looks to add “transhuman-centric” to the social lexicon and to shift the concept from a fringe idea to something that more mainstream and perhaps even inevitable. It’s yet to be seen how his ideas will align with politics — inside and outside the Republican Party.

I’ve known Zoltan for several years and always found him to be a smart and engaging thinker on a wide variety of topics. He’s unafraid to tackle big issues with even bigger ideas and while doing it, stir the pot. I couldn’t wait to throw some questions his way and see what happens!

Give us a perspective on transhumanism and its context in today’s evolving world.

Transhumanism is a social movement dramatically growing in size. More and more people are realizing our future is combining radical science and technology not only in our lives, but also in our bodies. For some this is scary, but like all progress, it’s inevitable. And once it happens, we’ll wonder why we didn’t embark on the transhumanist age quicker.

Central to this discussion is Universal Basic Income. You’ve been a champion since 2015. Can you give us your basic plan?

I began supporting a universal basic income with my coming out article at Vice in 2015. Basic Income just makes so much sense in a world that will be automated away. The new version of my basic income is more reliant on not raising taxes, and therefore it’s bipartisan. Even Republicans like me can get behind it without thinking we are overwhelming the taxpayer. Mine plan is called a Federal Land Dividend, and I’ve been promoting it since I ran for California Governor in 2017 and 2018 as an endorsed libertarian.

What are the basic differences between your plan and Andrew Yang’s?

My Universal Basic Income utilizes the 150 trillion dollars of Federal land America has — most which is unused. It argues that it’s better to use that land to end poverty in America than to preserve it for thousands of years. But my plan does not touch any national parks whatsoever. This is strictly for the land that most American never ever see or even know about. So, America would lease out that land and resources to business and use the profits to pay a monthly dividend to all Americans. If you divide $150 trillion dollars of land by 325 million Americans, who get nearly a half million dollars each. So we want to monetize that half million dollars that belongs to each and every American — and pay them a monthly dividend. Other basic incomes rely on raising taxes or forming new taxes to pay for them, such as Andrew Yang’s version the Freedom Dividend. Yang has done a great service for Universal Basic Income by popularizing it, and his Democrat version is very interesting and well thought out. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular. However, my version is the Conservative Republican version of a UBI, and it’s the only version that doesn’t raise taxes — which is precisely why our very divided Congress might favorably vote on it. Honestly, I think my Federal Land Divided has the best shot of actually being passed in Congress since both Democrats and Republican get what they want for their constituents.

Much of your futuristic vision is certainly transformative, but it’s also very frightening for many people. How can you put into perspective the emergence of a transhuman reality?

What people have to realize is that science and technology historically have dramatically raised the standard of living. With that in mind, we can trust that future innovation will do the same for people. Radical ideas always seem scary and bizarre at first, but then once we see how functional they are, it’s great. Technologies like implants that test us for optimum health, or exoskeleton suits that let the elderly move freely again, or robots that read books to our children at night are all a bit weird, but yet, they will be here soon if they’re not already here, and they will make our lives better.

Why did you choose the Republican Party?

I’ve worn many hats when it comes to politics, and frankly, I don’t really see the divide everyone else sees in politics. I see only the need to help America improve and get to the future. But as an entrepreneur with multiple businesses, I have always been fiscally conservative and I’m no fan of higher taxes. So, joining the Republicans was a good fit, even though I’m pro-choice, pro-legalizing drugs, pro-immigration, and even secular. But I think there are plenty of conservatives out there that also think like me. They are socially liberal, but are strict with how they view finances and the economy, and they aim for smaller government overall. And I think my campaign can reach them — those millions of discontent moderate Republicans. Finally, I think we can really put up a good challenge to Trump.

So, what keeps this transhumanist up at night?

China keeps me up at night. Over the last 10 years, China has been taking over the field of radical science and technology — and their population is four times ours. They are winning the AI and genetic editing races, in my opinion — which are the most important technologies of the future. We need to always remember — they are not a democracy. If they grow to be the world’s largest power, then Earth may become an authoritarian-influenced world. America must stop China from becoming so powerful. We must remain competitive against them. Otherwise the future will belong to a culture that is foreign to the West and to democracy. This keeps me up at night. We must do something! That’s why I’m running for President. Forget about making America great. Let’s save America and the democratic world before it’s too late.

Yes, Zoltan is a radical. But will he be today’s radical Republican? Perhaps he’s a type of time traveler who is testing tomorrow’s ideas today. And in the process, planning a revolution that is waiting around the corner. Only time and votes will tell.

You can find out much more about Istvan and his run for the Presidency at his website.



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I’m a technology theorist driving innovation at humanity’s tipping point.