Transhumanists go to jail! or: TransVision 99 Stockholm

Anders Sandberg (
09 Jun 1999 18:57:32 +0200

"I hope this is the last time transhumanists go to jail for their views" a participant wrote on the whiteboard. But the TransVision 99 participants were a smiling, eagerly discussing lot who didn't seem the least fazed by holding the conference at Långholmen, once one of Sweden's major prisons but these days a conference hotel.

TransVision this year had participants from England, the Netherlands, France, Germany, South Africa, Denmark and Sweden. There were both familiar faces and new people, and plenty of net.acquaintances met each other in the flesh for the first time.

The saturday session began with a short presentation of the different participants and their groups, and a discussion of how to make the WTA even more useful. Overall, advertising transhumanism directly doesn't seem to work, but people join the organisations when they hear about the existence of something called the transhumanist movement with ideas similar to their own. In the afternoon Anders Sandberg presented some of the methods for intelligence amplification that are currently available. Ant Brooks presented the Net in Africa and the five "secret weapons" that might help it in the future. Waldemar Ingdahl explained the need for and possibilities of making transhumanism not just a hobby but a livelihood. Henrik Öhrström concluded with an overview of what genetic modifications can do about common diseases such as arteriosclerosis, bad backs and aging.

On Sunday we turned towards the place of transhumanism in society and its relationship with other ideas. Remi Sussan showed how complicated the situation is, with transhumanism sharing views with groups it otherwise disagrees with, and having fundamental differences with groups that are often considered related. Nick Boström presented some of the questions of bioethics we have to learn how to discuss, debate and think of. Alexander Bard criticized transhumanism from a mobilist perspective, suggesting that it might be better off as a social network than a philosophy. Max M proposed a way for more transhumanist networking through a web portal.

Of course, the real TransVision was never the seminars, it was the discussions that flowed between them, in the coffee breaks and long, long into the night. Everything from the meaning of life to cryptography, from Dilbert to megascale engineering. No doubt other guests at the hotel wondered what was going on when they heard the discussions.

The next TransVision will be held in London in the year 2000. The Stockholm TransVision was the last of its millennium, the London TransVision will be the first of its millennium. In between there will be a year of even more growth, discovery and enthusiastic transhumanist questioning.

See you all soon!

To read Max M's diary from the conference, see It might be a truer account of the events than mine :-)

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y