Ruminations on the Journal of Transhumanism

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Sat Mar 24 2001 - 20:10:23 MST

As was noted in the last WTA announcement, I have taken over as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Transhumanism (JoT). What follows are my views on the direction that the JoT should take. In terms of its raison d'Ítre, I believe:

 The Goal of the JoT: To further academic research concerning transhumanism issues.

 The JoT Target Audience: University academics, scientists and technologists who are interested in thinking seriously about transhumanist issues.

 When we look at the activities of the WTA and the Extropy Institute and other transhumanism related organizations, we find that the JoT is the only part that is specifically intended to further academic research. This is an important niche that needs to be filled. The rational connection between the goal of JoT and its intended target audience is perhaps fairly obvious. Certainly it would be pleasing if it gained a readership outside the intended target audience but, in my opinion, a journal that does not focus on its intended audience is likely to fail. On the question of how the goal of JoT will be served, I think this should be broken down into two subgoals:

A. Research Goal: One goal for the JoT is to publish cutting edge research on transhumanist issues. This goal itself may be served in two ways:

(i) JoT will continue to publish academic research papers on transhumanist issues. I will continue the editorial policy of my predecessors which, basically, is to be a standard interdisciplinary academic journal-the uniqueness of the journal is defined in terms of a transhumanist subject matter. Each article will be up to the usual academic standards of clarity, method, etc. in the field(s) that it overlaps substantially with. Beyond that, articles can take whatever position they want, and sit
in whatever academic disciplines they want. A paper on law, for example, will
be judged by the usual standards of law journals, and a paper on engineering will be judged by the usual standards of engineering journals, etc.

(ii) JoT will publish academic book reviews. The editorial policy here will be much the same as above. Jot will accept reviews of books specifically on transhumanism and books not directly on transhumanism, so long as their relevance to transhumanist concerns can be demonstrated.


B. Educational Goal. One goal, at least at this stage, of the JoT should be to educate academics, scientists and technologists about relevance of transhumanist issues. This goal may be served in two ways.

(i) Publishing Survey Articles

(ii) Publishing an Encyclopedia.


 I hardly need mention that transhumanism is not exactly academic mainstream at this point. Yet it is difficult to think of any academic field that is not (in principle at least) relevant to transhumanist issues. For example, a student of medieval theology might have something interesting to say about superintelligence, since medieval theologians discussed the question of superintelligence (viz., God's transcendent intelligence). One way to help realize this goal would be to publish survey articles that relate current academic research to transhumanist concerns. Such articles might have titles like "Transhumanism and " where the blank would be filled in by current academic research, perhaps organized around some of the main questions of that field. Thus, hopefully, we will have articles like "Cosmology and Transhumanism", "Economics and Transhumanism", "Philosophy of Science and Transhumanism". The idea would be to pitch these papers at a level that an advanced undergraduate ought to be able to grasp. Dr. James Hughes has agreed to look into writing one such article with the theme "Transhumanism and Bioethics" The paper will summarize some of the main areas where bioethicists might pursue research, and relate it to the literature. The hope would be to lead bioethicists (particularly younger ones) to consider transhumanism as an area worthy of research. If you are interested in writing such a survey of your home discipline(s) please let me know. I also wonder if it is time to make The Encyclopedia of Transhumanism along the line of say the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. ( I realize that both WTA and the Extropian site have a FAQ section, and Anders has a great lexicon. Nevertheless, I think there exists quite a gap between what a person new to transhumanism might glean from this, and the level of discussion expected on say the extropian list. An evolving encyclopedia might help bridge this gap. Ideas, suggestions, and volunteers for this project would be greatly appreciated.


So, write those research papers, book reviews, and survey papers. Authoring an Encyclopedia article can only help that all-important Google count! J Mark








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