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Zoltan Istvan is the first unashamedly and unabashedly openly transhumanist presidential candidate in the history of the United States. His political campaign, his Immortality Bus Tour and his book the Transhumanist Wager, have managed to get a huge amount of global media coverage and stir a debate. For good or for bad, much of that debate has been revolving not only around Istvan’s ideas but also around his personality and leadership style. With much of the criticism coming from within the wider transhumanist community itself. Whatever the case may be, when I heard that Istvan is visiting Toronto for WEST conference I thought that I can’t pass the opportunity to get him for an interview.
During our 86 min conversation with Zoltan Istvan we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: a personal update since our first interview when he says I contributed to launching his career; the details surrounding the founding and running of the Transhumanist Party and his presidential campaign; overcoming his libertarian bias to aim for the political center; guaranteed minimum income; living indefinitely and if there is something Zoltan will not do to accomplish it; the reappearing question of whether Istvan is Jethro Knights or not; his chances of winning the elections and the potential for jumping on the Democratic bandwagon; Teleological Egocentrical Functionalism; if and how fiction can influence a political movement; making a transhumanist TV show; difference between visibility and impact of scientists versus that of journalists/bloggers; getting money to fund science; the number of nuclear war-heads; why he doesn’t use his last name; the possibility of running for state or municipal elections; writing a book of non-fiction and a sequel to the Transhumanist Wager…
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Who is Zoltan Istvan?
Bestselling visionary author Zoltan Istvan, an American-Hungarian, began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world at the age of 21. His main cargo was 500 handpicked books, mostly classics. He’s explored over 100 countries—many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel—writing, filming, and appearing in dozens of television stories, articles, and webcasts.
His work has also been featured by The New York Times, Outside, Wired UK, Slate, Vice, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Radio, CNN, CBS, RT, Fox News, the Travel Channel, and in much other media.
In addition to his award-winning coverage of the war in Kashmir, he gained worldwide attention for pioneering and popularizing the extreme sport of volcano boarding. Zoltan later became a director for the international conservation group WildAid, leading armed patrol units to stop the billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia.
Back in America, he started various successful businesses, from real estate development to film-making to viticulture, joining them under ZI Ventures. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University and resides in San Francisco with his daughters and physician wife. Zoltan recently published The Transhumanist Wager, an award-winning fictional thriller describing philosopher Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. Zoltan writes futurist and transhumanist-themed blogs for The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and Vice’s Motherboard. Zoltan is also founder of the Transhumanist Party and is early in the process of beginning a 2016 US presidential campaign.