Zoltan Istvan – The Transhumanist Wager
“When I set out to write The Transhumanist Wager five years ago, I did not intend it to become an edgy, controversial book. For much of my adult life, I have been a journalist covering environmental, wildlife, and human rights stories. My articles and television episodes—many for the National Geographic Channel—were welcomed in any culture and in any country. My stories were the type that a family could amicably discuss over the dinner table, or watch on television while happily cuddling together on a couch.
Perhaps it was the effect of the war zones I covered as a journalist, but The Transhumanist Wager soon took on much more contentious ideas of human endeavor and culture. For a human being, most conflict zones highlight a simple fact: Once presented with horror and death, one tends to quickly discover degrees of emotion and experience never imagined or thought possible before. For me and the difficult moments that I still vividly remember, those incidents gave me the powerful conviction that human life should be preserved indefinitely, at any cost.
Jethro Knights, the main protagonist in my novel, also realizes this early in his life, after almost stepping on a landmine in a war zone (a similar incident happened to me in Vietnam’s DMZ while filming a story on bomb diggers). The revelation for Jethro is so sharp, so penetrating, so intense that nothing will ever be the same for him again.
It is from this vantage point that The Transhumanist Wager was written. And it is from the landmine experience that Jethro discovers the mortality crisis not only in himself, but in every human being alive.
That crisis takes on the form of a wager—a choice that every human must make in the 21st Century: to die eventually; or to try to live indefinitely. And if we try to live indefinitely, then we should use every tool and resource of science and technology available to us, Jethro insists. And we should do it immediately.
This is the quintessential message of The Transhumanist Wager—as well as my own message to the world as an author and philosopher. A rational and scientific-minded society owes itself the strictest dedication to applying its resources and minds to overcoming that which has been the greatest downfall of our species: our mortality.”