Transhumanists: Who Are They? What Do They Want?

Originally published on IEET.org

You want increased intelligence, transparency, life expectancy and personal freedom? Curiosity is your primary motivation and you want to reduce or eliminate sleep? Welcome, you’re H+. [ndlr: augmented human]

The Terasem Survey – a poll with 49 questions funded by Terasem Movement Inc.– was posted at surveymonkey.com from July 10-18, 2012. In that brief timespan, 818 responders offered their answers, with dozens adding optional comments.

This report summarizes who the transhumanists are (that participated in the survey), plus it illuminates what they believe and predict for the future.

Information on how the repsonders were located is available at the end of this essay.

Answers below are in numerous categories, immensely condensed, of course, because there’s 361 pages of data. Additional information that was revealed can be located elsewhere at IEET, at Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

What is your religion / belief system?

81.4% Not Religious
9.5 Christian
1.8 Jewish
1.8 Buddhist
5.0 other religions

(comments here included: “Teresemian”, “Thelema”, “collectivist”, “Panendeism”, “4th Way”, “Taoist”, “a mix of scientology and discordianism”, “Chaos Magic”, and “Okay, Seriously? People”)
What is your sexual preference?

73% heterosexual
3.4 homosexual
9.8 bisexual
1.8 asexual
6.8 pansexual
5.5 other

(comments here included: “omnisexual”, “demisexual”, “Kinsey 5”, “post-sexual”, “situationally dependent sexual”, “Saplosexual”, and “no reason you need to know, dears!”

What is your political position?

32.7% Liberal
27.4 Libertarian
15.6 Moderate
16.9 Socialist
4.2 Marxist

(many comments indicated anarchism or dislike of politics. Here’s a few: “I hate all politics”, “politics suck”, “apolitical”, “green pirate”, “waste of time”, “no”, “rebel”, ““I’d like it if there was a need for it”, “anarchist”, and “NA”)
Describe your health

18.1% Excellent
34.3 Very Good
29.9 Good
11.7 Average
5.1 Below Average
1.0 Poor
Describe your occupation

27.8% computers and mathematics
13.0 arts, design, entertainment, sports
10.5 life, physical, social science
9.1 education

(far smaller occupation representation occurred in fishing, farming, forestry (.2%), construction (.4%), legal (2.7%), and office and admin support (2.1%)
Relationship status

64.4% Unmarried
27.2 Married
6.0 Divorced
Diet

74.4% Omnivore
10.1 Vegetarian
8.0 Caloric Restriction
5.9 Paleo
1.7 Vegan
Ethnicity

85.4% White
3.3 Asian
1.0 Black
10.0 Multiple races

(comments in reply to this question include: “Human (for now)”, “this question is stupid”, “race doesn’t exist”, “Homo Mutantes”, “relevance?”, and “aren’t we beyond the importance of subspecies distinction?”

 

Level of Education

27.6% graduate degree
28.8 bachelor degree
27.0 some college but no degree

 

 

Gender

90.1% Male
9.9 Female

(numerous comments here, with various options to the above categories, including: “genderqueer”, “MTF Transexual”, “We are all part of either. Augment and who knows more than 3 natural genders may present themselves”, “transwoman”,  “androgynous consciousness occupying a male human body”, “meat popsicle”, “Pangendered”, “N/A”, “undisclosed”, “post-op (20 years) transsexual woman”, “other?”, “My biohost is xy. My consciousness is androgyne”, “Androgynous”, “Prefer not to list”, “Androgynous”, “Wannabe M-to-N”, “burned out male (ED)”, “Sort of yanno”)
Age

9.4% under 19
45.8 20-29
21.5 30-39
12.1 40-49
7.7 50-59
3.3 60-69
Place of Residence
43.8% large city
36.7 small city
11.5 town
3.3 village
4.7 rural

(additional answers included: “Narnia”, “Second Life”, and “on the internet.”
What do you see as the world political government in 100 years?

41.8% One World Government
20.1 Abolition of Government
15.5 Thousands of Small Fractured States
11.3 Dominated by Europe and USA
11.3 Dominated by East Asia

 

What is your optimal level of transparency?

22.8% 100% transparency
13.3 90% transparency
12.1 80% transparency
9.6 70% transparency
5.5 60% transparency

 

How much sleep would you prefer to survive on?

44.7% no sleep
19.8 1-2 hours
20.3 3-4 hours

 

If you had an extra 100 years of life, what would you do?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 2
What do you predict in the next 50-100 years?

56.5% accelerating progress, then Singularity
25.8 humans will slowly progress
13.3 expand through solar system in 100 years
1.0 expand through galaxy in 50 years
2.8 extinct in 100 years
0.9 extinct in 50 years
What is very important to you in the future world?

61.6% more personal freedom
43.5 kinder people
20.5 less work
13.5 more luxury

 

Do you want immortality? If not, why?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 1

 

What are your top ambitions?

85.1% brain enhancement
84.8 maximizing health
80.4 radical ife extension
72.3 immortality
68.9 ending war
68.4 ending oppressive governments
61.4 ending environmental destruction
60.7 ending social inequity

(categories that were far less important were: colonizing the moon (34.8%), ending property and money (31.4), cloning (22.0), and ending gender (17.3)
Most Admired Transhumanists

45.7% Steven Hawking
38.8 Ray Kurzweil
29.4 Michio Kaku

(in comments, Aubrey de Grey received the most admiration; dozens of other individuals were also named)
Indicate your personality traits

33.2% realist
28.7 optimist
2.7 pessimist
9.9 cautious
12.4 ambitious

(two of the lowest categories were: “lazy” (2.5%), and “depressed” (3.4%)

 

Your favorite Hobbies

88% Reading
62.1 Multimedia
59 Self-Improvement
54.4 Gaming
45.1 Exercise
40.5 Travel
31.0 Dining
24.4 Cooking
17.5 Alcohol
14.4 Drugs

 

 

What is your main reason for wanting immortality?

52.7% Curiosity
43.8 Challenges I want to tackle
24.9 I want more pleasure
When do you think the Singularity will arrive?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 3
By which methods will immortality arrive?

Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 3
What is your favorite life-extending option?
Answer is in Terasem Survey, Part 4
If you died and could return in another body, what gender would you want to be?

53.6% Male
18 Female
13.4 Hermaphrodite
14.9 Asexual
—-

My personal thoughts and observations?

Too many to list here, but I’ll convey the a pair of statistics that caught my attention.

1. Most transhumanists are young, but their primary goal is still immortality / radical life extension. This phenomenon surprised me; I didn’t realize that people under 40 years old, or under 50 years old, were the least bit concerned about death. (I’m 60)  My POV? I’m thrilled that the 20ish crowd is committed to ending aging and death! Do they see themselves as the first generation to transcend death, or at least push it back multiple decades? Congrats to them!

2. Transhumanists are largely alike in almost every category, except one. Most are non-believers, for example. Most are white, male, urbanites, educated, etc. Only in Politics is there absolutely no overwhelming majority. Indeed, there’s a wide schism between pro-government and anti-government camps.

Libertarians and Anarchists are a large, outspoken, feisty contingent that has and will continue to clash with with Liberals, Moderates, Socialists, etc. Additionally, when the future is predicted, the two groups envision widely-disparate scenarios. Will there be One World Government?  Will there be Abolition of Government? Or thousands of small fractured states?
A full summary of the Terasem Survey will be posted at Terasem Movement Inc.‘s website later this year.

——-

I was assisted in the Terasem Survey by my project collaborator, Teresa Dal Santo Ph.D., a Research Associate at University of California San Francisco, with expertise in conducting qualitative and quantitative studies, and specialties in research methods and statistical analysis.

My thanks to everyone who assisted us in gathering the responders, especially:

David Orban, who notified his 2,798 Facebook friends, his 3,480 Twitter followers, and his 5,732 Google+ people-in-whose-circle-he-is

Alex Lightman who notified his 5,000 Facebook friends and his 3,500 subscribers

Rachel Marone, ex-editor of hplusmagazine.com, who made our survey the feature article on July 12.

IEET also permitted me to post an announcement.

Amara Angelica declined to post a link to the survey at KurzweilAI.net, where she is Editor, due to concerns about privacy issues and the methodology of the survey.


Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Managing Director and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.

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