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While I personally loved the first half of The Transhumanist Wager and disliked much of the second, I am convinced that the novel is a must read for anyone interested in the future of our civilization.
In my view, the novel is full of interesting and controversial contradictions. For example, on the one hand, Zoltan Istvan is a philosophically sophisticated author using elements from Plato’s Republic, Nietzsche’s Overman (Übermensch), Thomas Moore’s Utopia, Zen Buddhism, and other eastern and western philosophies. On the other hand, Zoltan has chosen to give us a kind of simplistic, Atlas Shrugged-style of a plot in its black-and-white depiction of an evil government and the lone hero who dares to stand up to it. Regardless of my personal views, however, I enjoyed reading the book and believe that it does a good job of mapping out the dangerous period that our civilization will have to navigate in the next several decades.
During my interview with Zoltan Istvan we cover a variety of topics such as: what is the Transhumanist Wager; how and why he got interested in transhumanism; his protagonist Jethro Knights and some autobiographical elements of the novel; the potential for conflict between transhumanists and anti-transhumanists; Ayn Rand, objectivism and their impact on the Transhumanist Wager; competition, human nature, and death; transhumanism and the technological singularity; the ideal state of Transhumania and the price we have to pay to accomplish it…
My favorite quote that I will take away from Zoltan Istvan is:
Morality is often defined by the amount of time we have left.
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About the Author:
At the age of 21, American-Hungarian Zoltan Istvan began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world. 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 Syndicate, Outside, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Radio, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Animal Planet, and the Travel Channel. 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 filmmaking 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 daughter and physician wife.