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Excerpt from the fictional novel The Transhumanist Wager

Posted: Thu, August 01, 2013 | By: Transhumanism



Here is an excerpt from the fictional novel The Transhumanist Wager. You can currently get the Kindle version at Amazon for only $2.99. The book has been a #1 Philosophy bestseller as well as a #1 Sci-Fi Visionary bestseller. 

In order to create the future, we have to think about it more, imagine it, get these kinds of thoughts into the neural channels of our heads so we can start to think in terms of these sorts of scenarios. We don’t want to find ourselves arriving in the future mentally unprepared. 

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Zoltan Istvan

The Transhumanist Wager

Conversation between Senator Gregory Michaelson and Jethro Knights

(INTRODUCTION: Jethro Knights has just been detained in police custody after trying to stop the terrorist attack on Cryotask, California’s largest cryonics center.) 

************

At a San Francisco police station, Jethro Knights was brought into an interrogation room with bright lights and a large, shatterproof, one-way viewing window. Inside the room were three chairs and a steel table. A nurse came in, gave Jethro some pain medication and bandaged his stomach wound. After she left, two local detectives in gray suits entered and introduced themselves. They were friendly, explaining that the interview was a standard and necessary procedure. They were careful not to insinuate Jethro was guilty of any crime—they just wanted information.

Jethro listened politely, but then told them they were wasting their time, and that they were going to be called off the case any minute.

“What makes you think that?”

“Trust me—this is a matter for some very high-up politicians.”

“Whatever,” one of them muttered, not sure whether to believe Jethro. “Let’s continue with the questioning.”

Ten minutes into the interrogation, the police captain knocked and entered the room. He bent down to the senior detective and whispered something in his ear.

“Well, apparently you know something I don’t, Mr. Knights. Someone special, with presidential authority, will be coming to question you. We’ve been ordered to cease our interview,” said the detective.

Jethro waited in the room alone for three hours. He was still filthy from the explosion. The gauze on his stomach turned partly red, and he clenched his fists to counter the aching. The painkillers the nurse had given him weren’t strong enough. Finally, he heard voices and commotion outside the room. Then a man entered. He was dressed in an ebony suit and a light blue tie. His Italian shoes were more than a thousand dollars apiece. He carried a folder of paperwork and tried to look resolute, but only managed to appear apprehensive.

“Hello Jethro.”

“Hello Gregory.”

Senator Michaelson walked toward the corner of the room, checked his cell phone, then turned it off. Afterward, he looked carefully at the four cameras on the ceiling above him. Every word was being recorded, every inch of space videoed. He would have to be very careful, he thought to himself. He cleared his throat.

“How long has it been?”

“Since the last day of philosophy class at Victoria,” answered Jethro. He knew Gregory had not forgotten.

“Yes, of course. A long time ago.”

Gregory sat down, put his right elbow on the table and let out a deep sigh. The senator was fifteen pounds heavier since the two classmates had last met, and softer from years of fancy

meals and high living. A few gray hairs poked out of his head, more the result of a burdensome marriage than a busy professional life. Jethro, on the other hand, looked nearly the same as seven years before, only more masculine. He was robust and fit from endless laps in the pool and long jogs in the Palo Alto hills. He was bronze from his California lifestyle, and his arm muscles bulged out of his shirt. Gregory realized he was no match to physically brawl with Jethro anymore, even if his opponent was wounded. He bent his head down and gazed at Jethro’s stomach injury, which was soaking blood through his shirt.

“Are you going to be okay? Has a doctor seen that?”

“A nurse has. It’s nothing for you to worry about.”

Gregory glanced at Jethro, dubiously raising his eyebrows. But then the senator’s eyes returned to the wound. Inevitably, he became nauseous. Gregory was never himself when it came to the sight of blood. It had always made him queasy as a child when he fell and cut himself or saw others scraped up. He still had a rough time getting yearly flu shots. Even though he had always wanted to watch the needle puncture his own skin, he was unable to.

Gregory turned his eyes away from the injury and said, “Jethro, I’d like to help you. I really do. I can, you know. But you’ve involved yourself in something very complex. Do you understand that?”

“What are the charges? And when does the court hear it?”

“Charges? Why even talk with an old classmate like that? There are no charges right now.”

“Then let me go free.”

“Jethro, you know I can’t do that. This is very serious. You’ve fooled with some very big fish—and their reputations. You’ve roped them into your live media trap and they are not happy. They want to be quickly extracted from this mess. You can do that by going on the record and downplaying any misconceptions.”

“Why waste seconds of my life with stupid requests, Gregory? You know I won’t do that.”

“Jethro, be reasonable. I’m here by order of the President. Do you understand? The President of the United States—the most powerful man in the world.”

“Anyone who swears on a Bible to get inaugurated into his job doesn’t qualify as powerful to me. Especially when it’s a former trial lawyer who does it.”

“For Christ’s sake, Jethro, don’t be like this. Just like you were ten years ago in class.”

“You’re wasting my time. You should leave now.”

Gregory was appalled. He forgot what it was like to deal with someone so unreasonable, so unyielding. If people were like that in Washington, D.C., nothing would ever get done, he thought.

“I’m trying to help you here. This is your life. And it’s going to be made miserable by us.”

Jethro smirked, saying, “We’ll see about that. Do your best—and I’ll do mine.”

“Your best is going to be spending the rest of your days in prison. Can’t you see that?”

“No, I can’t. Especially not before the whole world knows Reverend Belinas and Redeem Church hired a bunch of thugs to murder innocent law-abiding transhumanists. And if I find out the President or you are involved, I’ll do my best to bring down his presidency and your seat on the Senate.”

Gregory squinted, shooting a quick glance at the window where a half dozen people were watching. “You must be crazy,” he retorted. “That’s outrageous. There’s no proof of that at all.”

“Then why are you so scared? Why come down here personally to California, sweating it out on a jet flying at full speed from Washington, D.C.? Or were you playing golf in Arizona? Or sailing your daddy’s rickety pile of splinters off the Hamptons?”

“This is a matter of national security, Jethro. And you know who I am now. That’s why I’m here.”

“Sure. You’re here to carry on the fight against transhumanism, which helped win your Senate seat for you. And which your pal, Reverend Belinas, convinced you is at the core of the nation’s best interests. I’ve read the damn newspapers, Gregory. What I really want to know is exactly why you’re so afraid of it? Why so much fear about being transhuman?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never been completely against transhumanism—there are just ethnic and religious imperatives to consider and respect.”

“Transhumanists don’t hinder ethnic or religious people from reaching their supposed immortality. So why the hell should ethnic and religious people be able to hinder transhumanists from reaching their immortality?”

“Come on, Jethro. For everyone’s safety, life extension and human enhancement science shouldn’t travel at light speed like you’re proposing it should.”

“If it doesn’t happen rapidly, then it’s not going to do anything for you and me—or for anyone else alive right now. We’ll all be dead first.”

“What’s so wrong with that, Jethro? Our children will figure out how to handle transitions like that, handle power like that. Maybe our grandchildren. And, hopefully, they won’t mutate the species into something crazy and nonhuman. You know the dangers of artificial intelligence, of cyborgism, of cloning, of bioengineering. It could trigger apocalyptic events in civilization. We wrote papers on those topics.”

“I’m not afraid, Gregory. What prompts alarm in me is how you and your government want to ruin not only the potential of this country, but also the path of those who are going to transition into more advanced beings in search of immortality and omnipotence, and maybe even participate in a great singularity. These advances are going to pass, one way or another. And your current second-rate moral system—your weak, pretend-God-will-take-care-of-us bullshit—is a waste for our species’ possibilities. You people want to pretend that democracy, religious inspiration, and unbridled consumerism are going to last forever and carry us all to bliss; that the American Dream is right around the next corner for everyone. You spend hundreds of billions of dollars on lazy welfare recipients, on mentally challenged people, on uneducated repeat criminals, on obese second-rate citizens bankrupting our medical system, on murderous war machines fighting for oil and your oligarchy’s pet projects in far off places. All so you maintain your puny forms of power and sleep better at night. Well, I’ve got news for you: Sleeping isn’t going to exist in fifty years. Do you understand what I’m getting at? The changes are going to be utterly dramatic. Utterly pervasive. On every level of our existence. And your lies and rules are no longer enough for the new guard nipping at your heels. A fresh nationwide morality will soon seize the future—a more capable system of ethics and power ideology.”

“No way. You’re absolutely wrong, Jethro.” Gregory quivered, distraught. “What we are right now is enough. The nation doesn’t need a new morality. We don’t need people to change. Humans are fine just the way they are.”

“The bold code of the transhumanist will rise. That’s an inevitable, undeniable fact. It’s embedded in the undemocratic nature of technology and our own teleological evolutionary advancement. It is the future. We are the future. Like it or not. And it needs to be molded, guided, and handled correctly by the strength and wisdom of transhuman scientists with their nations and their resources standing behind them, facilitating them. It needs to be supported in a way so that we can make a successful transition into it, and not sacrifice ourselves—either by its overwhelming power, or a by fear of harnessing that power. You need to put your resources into

the technology. Into our education system. Into our universities, industries, and ideas. Into the strongest of our society. Into the brightest of our society. Into the best of our society. So that we can attain that future. We don’t have a day to spare for you to make those changes. The promise is too great.”

Gregory pulled away from the table. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re insane, Jethro. Totally insane. Shall we stop all help for the poor, for criminals, for the mentally challenged, for the sick of the world, for developing nations that need us? Just to fuel transhuman goals? Because you think the promise is so great?”

“Mostly, and brutally, yes. We need to divert the resources to the genuinely gifted and qualified. To the achievers of society—the ones who pay your bills by their innovation, genius, and hard work. They will find the best way to the future. Not the losers of the world, or the mediocre, or the downtrodden, or the fearful. They will only drag us down, like they already have.”

“You’re evil, Jethro.”

“Don’t pretend to me that you don’t know what I’m saying. You haven’t fought for a damn thing in your life. It’s all been handed to you. Nonetheless, you still feel far more superior and entitled than others—than the little people you feign concern about.”

Little people, Gregory thought, stunned. How the hell could he know that?

“But mostly, Gregory, don’t pretend to me that you give a damn one way or the other. For you, this is about politics, and your ego, and your dinner parties, and what others think of you. For me, however, this is about the future. The transhuman future that I want to be a part of, that I want to exist in, that I want to thrive in. And to reach my full potential: the invincibility of the omnipotender.”

“Mortals shouldn’t act like God, Jethro.”

“Yes, they should. And more importantly, they shouldn’t be afraid to try.”

Gregory shook his head in exhaustion. He lowered his eyes and stared at the table in front of him. Inevitably, he was drawn to look again at Jethro’s bloody stomach wound. He didn’t know why he had to see it once more, but he did—and it made him sick. He didn’t want to understand any of what Jethro was saying nor want to discuss it anymore. For a moment he wasn’t sure who was crazy.

The senator abruptly stood up and walked tensely around the room. When he came to a stop, he saw the camera above him, aimed right at his face. It helped Gregory to focus, knowing others were watching and supporting him, knowing he wasn’t alone to face this transhumanist.

“Look, I’m not here to discuss philosophy with you, Jethro,” Gregory said sharply. “You’ve contributed to the demolition of a building in a major U.S. city where people have died. I’m here to figure out a game plan. We want you to go on record as saying this was all done by some rogue militia group in Ohio, where it all started with Dr. Bach’s childhood friend.”

“Bullshit. It came all the way down from the top—from Reverend Belinas. I will make sure the whole world knows it.”

“No one will believe you. Such a spiritual man as Reverend Belinas would never be privy to such petty things.”

“You heard what his thug said on live TV. I’m not taking back a statement of one of his very own terrorists. My tech people can trace phone calls, emails, bomb purchases, anything. We’ll nail him—and maybe you too.”

“You’re insane. You can’t take on America, Jethro.”

“Not America, Gregory. Just the idiots and the anti-transhumanists in America.”

Senator Michaelson was aghast. He didn’t know what else to say or do. It was astonishing that Jethro wouldn’t cooperate at all.

He stood there in silence for a long time, and then said, “This is your last chance, Jethro. You will lose this war against us. Prison will be a dark, lonely place.”

“I’ll remember you said that, Gregory—when it’s my time to stick you in one.”

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