Re: A Message to the Membership

From: Robert Owen (
Date: Wed Jan 05 2000 - 13:33:35 MST

Robert Bradbury wrote:

> On Tue, 4 Jan 2000, Robert Owen wrote:
> > What you describe is a situation in
> > which Extropians found themselves outlawed, or at least officially
> > prohibited from engaging in their practice. In the Western democracies
> > this would not be a political but a constitutional (i.e. legal) issue, and if
> > there was a remedy, it would be found in the courts, and not in social
> > or political action.
> Robert, if you accept the general premise that a THism/EIism philosophy
> is one that allows indefinate extension of ones longevity, then one may
> also want to accept that one should have a choice as to when to end
> your conscious life. Currently that is legally prohibited in all
> but one state and a couple of countries.

Dear Robert,

Right now I want to emphasize two things: [1] my propositions with
respect to euthanasia had in fact the form of contrafactual condi-
tionals; I personally endorse without qualification your position that
it is a travesty of democratic principles to deny citizens freedom of
choice with respect to the voluntary termination (or suspension) of
biological life.

[2] I take the hypothetical threats mentioned by you and others to
the realization of Transhumanist aims quite seriously; I do not over-
look the possibility of a constitutional crisis but simply assess that
threat on a comparative basis -- for example, if the use of a potent
bacteriological agent such as Anthrax-B against the United States
by a foreign power is assigned a threat-value (relative to Extropians
and everyone else) of 1.00, what value is to be assigned to, say, the
implementation of the adoption of a constitutional ammendment by
a massive and politically sophisticated coalition of religious conserva-
tives that compromised access to the technologies needed to practice

My estimate -- and of course it is merely that -- would be something
like 0.125, at most 0.20. Of course this number represents a distinct
possibility, and I chose this case because it illustrates what almost
certainly is the Achilles' heel of Extropianism -- namely the dependence
on technology access to and utilization of which it cannot control.

What this suggests to me is not a need for political action but the
consideration of the possibility of private ownership of the requisite
technology by an incorporation of Transhumanist interests. If you
reply that this leaves the possibility of expropriation by the State
open, I must agree. But at what point do we desist from the pro-
jection of possible impediments and get on with it?


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA

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