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Ted Chu on Singularity 1 on 1: The time has come to set a higher goal!

Ted ChuTed Chu is a professor of economics and former chief economist for General Motors. Most recently, Dr. Chu is the author of Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential: A Cosmic Vision of Our Future Evolution. In my opinion Ted’s book is absolutely profound in the way it draws upon a dazzling variety of philosophical and scientific resources in order to place humanity within a cosmic evolutionary perspective. In that sense I will go as far as claiming that it is a one-of-a-kind book within my transhumanist library and, while it is definitely not an easy or quick read, I enjoyed it very much.

I was very happy to get Ted Chu on my Singularity 1 on 1 podcast.

Human Purpose and Transhuman PotentialDuring our 70 min conversation with Dr. Chu we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: his honest and moving personal story starting in a poor family in China and becoming a chief economists for GM; the existential midlife crisis he had at 29 and his consequent search for the meaning of life; the impact of 9.11 – surviving the attacks but losing his book manuscript; why and how he got interested in transhumanism; the importance of philosophy for setting up a higher goal; defining human and transhuman; cosmic being (CoBe) and evolution; religion 2.0 and transcendental ethics; the technological singularity; capitalism, technological unemployment and bitcoin…

(You can listen to/download the audio file above or watch the video interview in full. If you want to help me produce more episodes like this one please make a donation!)


Who is Ted Chu?

Ted ChuBorn and raised in China, and spending much of his adult life in America, Ted Chu is currently a clinical professor of economics at New York University (Abu Dhabi, UAE), and also has a home in Michigan. His ongoing research is focused on globalization, frontiers of technology and institutions, and “posthuman economics,” inclusive of the philosophic and ethical dimensions of transhumanism. Chu graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, and earned his PhD in economics at Georgetown University.

During his twenty-five years as a business economist, his work included corporate strategy, public policy research, multinational operations, and global financial markets—including roles as chief economist of General Motors and chief economist of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. Dr. Chu also held positions as macroeconomist for the World Bank and Arthur D. Little.

For the last fifteen years, his second career has been conducting independent research on the ethical and philosophical question of humanity’s place in the universe, with special reference to advanced technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. This focus was foreshadowed by his PhD thesis on the production efficiency frontier at Georgetown University. Chu has also read widely and deeply in evolutionary theory, history, politics, philosophy, and religious studies (East and West).

Dr. Chu is the founder of the nonprofit CoBe (Cosmic Being) Institute in Michigan, a senior scholar at ChangCe, a Beijing-based independent think tank, and a former president of Greater Washington Professional Forum. He has received a national award for dedicated community service and has served as a policy advisor for governments and many multinational institutions. Ted Chu’s extensive lines of interdisciplinary research have combined in-depth theoretical analysis and the fruits of practical, real-world experience.

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  • Wow! Can’t wait to read this book.

  • mmaaaxx

    Fantastic interview and I’m ready to order the book today! One question I wish you would have asked (and would ask guests regularly) is how he has or is planning to change his own life in relation to these beliefs and revelations. You touched on it a bit in this one, but the personal, social significance of extreme cognative enhancement, life extension, et al., often get short shrift.

  • CM Stewart

    Thank you, Dr. Chu and Nikola, for a thought-provoking interview. “Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential” is now on my reading list. My 2 favorite interview quotes:

    “The human species as a transitional species.” Indeed, every species is transitional. Change is a constant in the universe, and humans are part of the universe.

    ” . . put ourselves into other animals’ shoes.” Interestingly, doing so would *not* entail us wearing shoes made of human skin.

  • Condor

    Ted thank you for your generosity in sharing your thoughts that you have spent so much effort in creating and having the courage the say them. I am in a period of deep examination of my own beliefs surrounding the future of humanity and found much comfort in your ideas. I cannot wait to read your book, slowly and deeply. Nikola – thank you for bringing this man’s work to all our attention. Again, you are one of the few bright lights in my life in an otherwise shallow and dull world. You are becoming one of my heroes. Thank you for the work that you are doing. You are making a difference to peoples lives.

  • Happy you enjoyed the interview and thank you very much for your good words Condor – I really appreciate your positive input for it provides me with the motivation to keep going and improving as much and as fast as I can!

    P.S. Please do not give up on our world yet – together we can make a better future, better world and better you!

  • Diego Delgado

    Off topic – For the last year or so I’ve been fasinated by the work of Ido Bachelet, George Church (loved the interview you did with him) and their labs in creating DNA nanorobots. The medical implications for cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc are incredible, and they’re hoping to have human trials this year or next. The DNA nanobots have even demonstrated universal computing in animal models.

    I’d love to see Ido Bachelet on as a guest to hear him go into detail on nanorobotics capabilities and future.

    Here’s a few of his talks if you haven’t seen them yet, they’re really mindblowing.

    TED talk – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5KLTonB3Pg

    Google’s Solve for X talk – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA-H0L3eEo0

    Google’s Moonshot Thinking (in Hebrew, engish captions work)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzLTWU2EqP4

    Ido spoke at Singularity University but I don’t believe the video has been released.

  • I have placed Ido on my list of potential future guests Diego, please feel free to send me any contact information for him if you can…

  • Diego Delgado

    Thanks Socrates, here is his website with contact info


  • Evan Reese

    First of all, thanks for the interview. It was very inspiring.
    Reading the book now, up to page 302.
    It’s a fantastic book. I think I’ve been waiting for this kind of book for a long time, although I didn’t know it.
    The only problem I have with it is that, as someone who considers myself a strongly spiritual atheist, I don’t feel entirely welcome to Dr. Chu’s version of the Cosmic Vision. Yes, he gives what to me seems like a perfunctory nod toward atheists with a transcendental view in saying that “Nor is transcendence limited to a religious context; …” Page 53, but many other quotes I could site, particularly from Chapter 8, make it clear that he believes that theism is somehow necessary for the Cosmic Vision. He doesn’t say how precisely, but the message is pretty implicit.
    I could write an article on this, but it probably isn’t worth that much space. I will just say that the interview was inspiring, the book has a lot of great stuff in it. I would love to get behind this Cosmic Vision 100 percent. I just wish I didn’t feel as though I was crashing a party to which only theists, (no matter how abstract their concept of God), were really invited.

  • Thanks very much Diego!

  • connor1231

    I have a question that I think goes well with a post by an economist, because it has to do with inequality.

    My main concern with future technology is it’s unequal distribution, where poor don’t get it, and an “underclass” forms of unenhanced humans. Ive seen this question posed on many blogs and websites, and I have only ever found brief and unconvincing answers. So my question is this: let’s assume that future technology is not equally distributed. I know some people will claim that with coming technology, scarcity will disappear and it will be widespread and cheap, blah blah but for a moment let’s assume that doesn’t happen. After all, we can see today what a poor job the government does in equally distributing resources, look at the gap between rich and poor that is only growing. In a future with a wealthy elite upper class who can afford to enhance themselves, and a poor underclass of unenhanced humans, how would a poor person work his way into the enhanced class? Would social mobility even still exist? Menial jobs that may help someone work and save money today probably won’t exist in a century. And education might not be as valuable: what would an educated poor person do to compete with a wealthy individual with brain implants and smart pills and other forms of cognition-boosting tech.

    In this world, how would a member of the underclass possibly work their way up so they could enhance themselves? Or are they doomed to feed on the crumbs of the enhanced humans forever. That is a scary thought to me.

  • Johan Vikman

    Very interesting, bought the book right away!

  • Siphersh

    “The human adventure has become the cutting edge of cosmic destiny.” – Terence McKenna

  • I liked his optimism!

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