In a comments thread on a post of mine earlier today, a commenter asked, “What is it that you transhumanists actually do other than talk about technologies and improve your thinking, behavior and health with smarter ideas?” Here are a few transhumanists whose accomplishments you can read about (in no particular order):
Martine Rothblatt, Chairman and CEO of United Therapeutics
Philippe van Nedervelde, CEO of E-spaces, Director of Foresight Institute Europe
Nick Bostrom, Oxford philosopher, Director of Future of Humanity Institute
Ray Kurzweil, pioneering inventor, CEO of Kurzweil Technologies
Max Tegmark, Associate Professor at MIT, leading cosmologist
James Hughes, lecturer at Trinity College, author of Citizen Cyborg
Marvin Minsky, AI pioneer and co-founder of MIT’s AI laboratory
Ramez Naam, developer of IE and Outlook, formerly CEO of Apex Nanotechnologies
Ben Goertzel, prolific author and CEO/CSO of Novamente LLC
Bruce Klein, President of Novamente LLC
John Smart, entrepreneur and futurist, founder of Accelerating Studies Foundation
Susan Fonseca-Klein, Director of Development for Methuselah Foundation
Max More, Strategic Philosopher, ManyWorlds, Inc.
Natasha Vita-More, cultural strategist and designer
Harvey Newstrom, Founding Partner, Newstaff, Inc.
Dan Stoicescu, biotech millionaire, 2nd person to pay for his genome to be sequenced
Brian Cartmell, successful Internet entrepreneur and millionaire, now VC
William Sims Bainbridge, Co-Director of Human-Centered Computing at the NSF
Terry Grossman, Director of the Frontier Medical Institute
Phil Bowermaster, telecom professional
Richard A. Clarke, formerly counter-terrorism czar for the US government
Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading
Stelarc, acclaimed performance artist
Amara Graps, astrophysicist at the Planetary Science Institute
Steve Mann, Professor at University of Toronto, cybernetics pioneer
Not bad for a movement that only includes about 10,000 people. There are thousands more. Some of them are philosophers and futurists, and I suppose that qualifies as “talk”, but professional talkers that consult with Fortune 500 companies and organizations like the CIA, put on leading technology conferences, and head major departments at universities is nothing to sneeze at.
Obviously, there is a selection effect going on whereby transhumanists that like to talk are more conspicuous and visible. For every transhumanist talker, there are 10 that actually get things done. There are many other transhumanist high-achievers I didn’t list because they prefer to stay below the radar.
Of course, it’s possible to play ring-around-the-rosie and point out why Person X or Person Y on this list hasn’t really achieved anything of value. The point is that transhumanists are obviously deeply involved with the development of technology in the real world, but at the same time we care about discussing it. No contradiction. Everyone has enough time to do both, and discussion is necessary.
And if you’re a transhumanist who was bothered I missed you on this list, my bad.