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Have you heard much science-talk in the presidential debates? Or on the campaign trail? Or maybe in interviews by the leading candidates? Me neither. Yet, nothing is going to change our lives more in the next 10 years than the radical science and technology starting to engulf us.
CRISPR genetic editing technology--performed last year on human embryos in China--has the ability to eradicate diseases so we never get ailments in the first place. Exoskeleton technology has the ability to wipe out the wheelchair--and thus end disability and mobility issues for tens of millions of people. Tiny chip implants could thwart many of the two million domestic violence cases in the US every year by alerting authorities when a crime is committed. The robotic heart could end heart disease--something that will kill a third of everyone we know. And robots will take as much as 75 percent of the jobs from people in the next 25 years. And like it or not, capitalism won't survive as we know it when that happens.
Do these sound like important conversations our nation's potential leader should be having? Of course. Yet, are they having them? No--basically not whatsoever.
Sadly, politics has become "politically correct" business. And this makes politicians happy to play to a largely science-illiterate public that assumes taxes, immigration, terrorism, and faith are what really matter.
Cut that dishonest politicking out! It's hard to imagine anything mattering more to our species and planet Earth than the burgeoning field of transhumanism. Nothing will change the world more than radical technology and science. Consider the matter of designer babies--and whether in five years we can augment our children's intelligence. Because if we don't, and China does it first, a generation of Chinese kids will be literally wired way better than Americans--leaving us unequipped to lead the world.
What about AI and the global arms race all national militaries are engaging in? Whoever creates a superintelligence first will indubitably rule the world if they want. Their AI will be able to control the internet, power grids, drone armies, and maybe even nuclear weapons. Yet, no politician is even mentioning this incredible fact--that in 10 or 20 years time, we may create a superintelligent machine that laughs at the 3-pound piece of meat we all carry around on our shoulders.
What ails me most about our science-silent presidential candidates is that the media would have a field day with them tackling these issues. It would be good, worthy news; coverage and the national conversation would spike. Let Hillary Clinton address the growing promise of artificial wombs, and whether it will fundamentally change the abortion question. Let Donald Trump talk about building skyscrapers when drones and robots do all the labor and lifting--leaving no one with jobs. And if no one has jobs, let Bernie Sanders discuss whether a Universal Basic Income is needed to keep a violent revolution from happening in his new socialist world. Finally, let Ted Cruz discuss his supercharged faith with a younger generation quickly going godless. While we're on it, we all want to know if Cruz is going to limit life extension technology and research because it challenges the Christian deathist version of needing to die to meet Jesus in heaven. Why not? George W. Bush stopped federal funding on stem cell technology for years for religious reasons--even though stem cell technology has now helped millions around the world and shows promise of being one of the most important technologies of the 21st Century.
It's time to have these thorny science conversations--to ask ourselves how far science can go and if we're ready to take it that far. Do we need a Transhumanist Bill of Rights in the age of cyborgs, biohackers, and sapient artificial intelligences? Can the 2nd Amendment about the right to bear arms handle all the complexities of the 3D printing revolution--where you will soon be able to print grenades and rocket launchers in your home? Also, should we allow human soldiers into combat (where they might lose their lives) now that we have drones and robots to replace them?
These are tough questions with no easy answers. But America was founded on the promise of rising up to challenges--and being the very best in the world at overcoming those challenges. Let's continue on that road. Let's ask the questions and move the dialogue forward. Demand your potential leaders talk about transhumanism and how they feel about radical science upending the human species and civilization.