Book Review: The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan
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I’ve always been told that one should write what they know, and Zoltan Istvan has taken his colorful and exciting past and done just that: eloquently entwined fiction and reality into a gripping and daring tale that has the capacity to capture and enlighten an audience, while still sharing and surmising zealous beliefs and intrepid ideas.
For those new to transhumanism, the book offers a perfectly detailed description that outlines the most obvious questions and concerns, while still capturing your attention with an enticing and dynamic story. As for those who were somewhat familiar with what the terminology entailed from the get-go, the narrative provides not only an extensive interpretation of transhumanism, but sparks an internal logical and philosophical debate throughout the bulk of the text as well. Istvan clearly states his message as to what the transhumanist movement offers for the betterment of your life, and the furtherance of our species.
This book can easily be pegged as the precursor for the change that is already beginning around the world. Many of the technologies discussed are already underway or in developmental stages; and sadly many terrorist movements in response to these transhuman innovations are also taking place.
On the whole, American society seems to be tolerant, even supportive of technological advancement, and is evolving at a steady pace to greet the new era that will soon be upon us. However, for those anxiously awaiting radical and revolutionary changes, progress may seem to be merely trudging along, especially for those desiring life extension technology in their lifetime. Understandably, people need time to evolve from their “baggage culture” before fully embracing the [easyazon-link asin=”B00BQZK6MU” locale=”us”]transhumanist movement[/easyazon-link] as a way of life; however, one can only hope the majority can continue to acclimate at an increasing pace so as to avoid drastic measures, such as those suggested in the book. In our vain society, people generally want to look, feel, and perform at their best, thus accepting the “transhumanist wager” would appear the most obvious choice. On the other hand, one can easily see how “power corrupts, absolutely” (Lord Acton) and religious fanatics can be quite persuasive at times, as demonstrated in the book and throughout history. Once our amygdala is primed, dystopia prevails. Nonetheless, Istvan continues to inform us that our biological human state is outdated per current technological and evolutionary standards, and stresses the need to renew and update our fragile bodies.
Undeniably the novel presents a clear, perhaps somewhat extreme path to global transhumanism and offers a glimpse of a utopian type future, without bureaucracies or welfare states, and with significantly less violence and bloodshed throughout the world. But more important than idealistic goals for the future, Istvan grants the reader an opportunity to truly reflect on personal beliefs and strongly held values, identifying deep-rooted programming based on cultural influence, engrained in bias, prejudice and negativity, and saturated in society’s expectations.
Additionally, he addresses the suppression instituted by world leaders; asserting that in their attempts to exert control and maintain power, people have often been denied the right to question. As a result, many have simply forgotten to ask what leading character Jethro Knights emphasizes as the most important question: why?
If nothing else, this book sets a precedent for a paradigm shift, stimulating analytical thought, deep introspection, and much deliberation. The Transhumanist Wager implores you to open your mind, think critically, to “reason before reflex” (Kevin Russell), and most importantly to question everything of value in society today.
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