[ExI] The Manifesto of Italian Transhumanists

Giu1i0 Pri5c0 pgptag at gmail.com
Thu Feb 28 13:15:52 UTC 2008

Links in

The Manifesto of Italian Transhumanists begins with "We
trannshumanists have adopted a clear and ambitious goal since the
birth of the Italian Transhumanist Association: to create in our
country the conditions for a moral and intellectual revolution with a
Promethean orientation. A revolution capable of producing radical
changes in the world of culture and daily life".

I have had the pleasure and the honor to contribute to this very
important document, together with Giuseppe Lucchini, Alberto Masala
and Stefano Vaj. But the main writer is the philosopher Riccardo
Campa, the President of the Italian Transhumanist Association and a
former Board member of the World Transhumanist Association. I hope the
Manifesto will be translated, but translating a dense document of 14
pages is not easy work. I will translate some excerpts here, and wish
to urge all Italian speakers to read the full text.

The definition of transhumanism is simple and crystal clear: "The
cornerstone of transhumanism can be summed up in a formula: it is
possible and desirable to move from a phase of blind evolution to a
stage of purposeful self-directed evolution". I agree that this simple
sentence says it all. One of my first impression is that the Manifesto
is a very reasonable document, very far from hysteria and "who is not
with me is against me" fundamentalism. Riccardo, a visionary but
pragmatic thinker, has avoided the easy mistake of proposing a
one-size-fits-all black and white worldview, and acknowledged the
_necessary_ diversity of opinions in the transhumanist community.

So, about politics: "Regarding politics, a recent poll shows that, in
qualitative terms, in the WTA there are transhumanists of nearly every
color, from the extreme left to the extreme right, and everything that
lies between the two poles… transhumanists are able to look farther
compared the traditional policy. The birth and development of the
Internet and geographically distributed virtual communities require
rethinking a whole range of issues such as the management of
technology patents, copyright standards, the phenomenon of Open
Source, telematics systems and satellite surveillance, citizen
privacy. Technological development shows the inadequacy of a
leadership still focused on the public-private dichotomy and still
reasoning in limited nation-state terms". And also: "in our synthetic
view the three major fetish ideologies of the nineteenth century -the
market, the state, the race- abandon the center stage to a higher
value, self-directed evolution".

About religion: "Transhumanism is not and should not be classified as
a religion, although nothing prevents it from being interpreted as an
alternative to religion, or as a vision that can find space inside a
religious doctrine". But also "Although open to dialogue with
everyone, we see the impossibility of an agreement over principles
with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, especially on issues such as
artificial insemination and research in biotechnology".

Much of the discussion on politics and religion is centered on Italian
politics and the disproportionate influence of the Church on it
(strange in a country where, as in most of Europe, most people do not
take really seriously a religion which is not an important factor in
their day-to-day life). But a lot goes much beyond Italy and is
applicable also to global politics and policy making.

About the scientific worldview: "The boundary between science and
science fiction is well defined. Scientific theories are one thing,
and futurist speculations are a very different thing. These two areas
have different functions. Research must develop, enrich and deepen the
scientific conception of the world, while futurology (which is not
science as it deals with futurabilia, things that may be possible but
do not exist yet) explores possible future developments of current
work. Without any certainty or faith… We will take care to avoid
speculations too bold in public policy discourse". But also: "To sum
up, only when a technology exists and is experimentally proven it can
be considered in a transhumanist policy program of action - which is
typically aimed at ensuring access to citizens. Until then, it can be
only a working hypothesis of scientists in their laboratories or
science fiction writers in their literary works. Transhumanists are
ready to recognize the importance of these speculations, because they
can give meaning and direction to activism and offer a far reaching
vision that permits seeing today's issues in a cosmic perspective".

Very far from both naive wishful thinking and bigot ultra-rationalist
fundamentalism. I agree with each and every word in the text quoted,
and I have been accused of being both a ultra-hard scientist without
imagination, and an anti-scientific cultist. Well, these two
accusations cannot be both true at the same time, and I guess I will
just continue to ignore them.

One final comment to sum everything up: Bravo Riccardo!

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