The Unanswered Questions: AI, Gene Editing, and Transhumanism with Zoltan Istvan

Boomer Anderson
January 29, 2020
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Republican Presidential Candidate Zoltan Istvan goes in-depth on transhumanism, gene editing, and human alteration, AI technologies and why this should be discussed at a government level.

Who is Zoltan Istvan?

Zoltan Istvan is a leader of the transhumanist movement, which advocates using radical science to improve and evolve the human being.

After graduating from Columbia University with a degree in philosophy and religion, Zoltan began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world carrying 500 handpicked books, mostly classics.

Zoltan has explored more than 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 in various media including The New York Times, Outside, Wired UK, Slate, Vice, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Radio, CNN, CBS, RT, Fox News, 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. Later, Zoltan worked for the international conservation group WildAid in Southeast Asia. Upon returning to America, he started various businesses, from real estate development to filmmaking to viticulture.

Zoltan’s award winning thriller, "The Transhumanist Wager," describes philosopher Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology.

Zoltan also writes futurist and transhumanist-themed blogs for The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and Vice's Motherboard.

Zoltan is the founder of the Transhumanist Party for which he was the 2016 presidential candidate.

As part of his campaign, he toured the country in the Immortality Bus, and on this journey he delivered the original Transhumanist Bill of Rights to the US Capitol. In 2018, he was an endorsed Libertarian candidate for California Governor.


[3:59] Near-death experiences and Volcano Boarding

[6:47] Defining transhumanism

[16:48] Human Augmentation Technologies

[21:09] Technological singularity and AI

[25:54] Measures for greater adoption

[29:03] The future of work

[31:19] Where we are in transhumanism right now

[35:25] Running a Presidential campaign


Volcano Boarding

The Transhumanist Wager

How to Live Forever with Dr. Aubrey De Grey

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Episode Transcript

Boomer Anderson 0:06
Welcome to decoding superhuman. This show is a deep dive into obsessions with health performance, and how to elevate the human experience. I explored the latest tools, science and technology with experts in various fields of human optimization. This is your host, Boomer Anderson. Enjoy the journey.

Super humans. This is a decoding superhuman first. Today we have a guest on the show. Republican primary presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan. Zoltan is a philosopher, journalist and number one best selling author of the transhumanist wager. And I wanted him to come on the show to talk a lot about that ladder topic. transhumanism is You think for a second that the podcast is getting political? Let me stop you right there. Zoltan is a wealth of information on the transhumanist movement, which is something that we really haven’t explored on this podcast. So what did we get into? We went into near death experiences Zoltan’s experience running through landmines, but also volcanic boarding of all things, what it’s like to travel for National Geographic to 100 different locations around the world. And then we get into the future of work, AI and of course, why that may be a very scary thing for most people. What I like most about this conversation is that Zoltan is bringing some questions that really need to be asked at a political level to the forefront. Specifically, what do we do about technologies like CRISPR, AI etc. You can find the show notes this one at and enjoy this episode with Republican presidential candidate This is a decoding superhuman. First, we have a presidential candidate on the show today, Zoltan, welcome to the show.

Zoltan Istvan 2:11
Thanks for having me.

Boomer Anderson 2:13
This is, you know, like I said, I’ve been looking for this conversation for a long time for a multitude of reasons. And really, because let’s just get started with your background, because there’s some crazy things that you’ve done in this life. And I just want to ask you a little bit about some of your travel experiences when you were younger. When you’re 21 how many countries did you go to?

Zoltan Istvan 2:39
So you know, I had the luck of buying a very small sailboat 25 footer, when I was, you know, 21 years old, then left, and I sailed through the South Pacific for four years and then cross the Indian Ocean up the Red Sea and into the Mediterranean. And over a seven year period, I really explored a ton of countries and towards the end of that, I began to Also working for the National Geographic Channel using my sailboat is kind of a base to explore different stories. So I’ve now explored over 100 countries. And a lot of that during that initial sale trip in my 20s.

Boomer Anderson 3:12
Were you solo? Or were you kind of traveling with somebody they’ll time.

Zoltan Istvan 3:16
So you know, the first four years were basically solo. And then I began to bring on girlfriends, so some girlfriends would stay for six months or a year and so I had a number of different girlfriends. But you know, in the end of the seven years, about 80% of the trip was solo.

Boomer Anderson 3:34
That seems like a fantastic trip. Now, one of the things I was reading about you and your background with National Geographic was the idea of, of volcano boarding. And you’ve explored this a little bit more than Frankly, I have not explored it. I’ve done sand boarding in Namibia, which I thought was very cool, but what got you interested in fall camp boarding

Zoltan Istvan 3:59
so You know, in what happened is in 1995, when I was saying on this trip, I sailed by this, this wonderful country called Vanuatu, but this island of Tonga, there’s a volcano like that constantly exploding. It’s one of the world’s most photographic volcanoes, and it’s constantly shooting up stuff. And but when you see the volcano, you say, Oh my god, it’s a perfect slope. It’s like 2000 feet up there, and it’s just pure sand. Of course, upon closer inspection, there are a lot of like lava bombs and things like that. It looks like the perfect slow. So later, when I was working for National Geographic in 2000, actually 2002 I think I, I remember the story, pitch the story, brought my snowboard to this place and did one of my very first National Geographic story channel stories, TV stories for them on this subject. And of course, this is the very first time volcano surfing or volcano boarding had really been launched formally. At least caught on camera, and the was discussed and national and it kind of went viral this video so everyone started talking about Of course, you know it’s not that different than soundboard and going down pumice. pumice is just what volcanoes shoot off. It’s kind of this ash, it turns into something very flaky sort of like snow except it’s warm. And the only difference with volcano boarding is in this volcano particular volcano, there’s a bunch of things flying over you what we call lava bombs. And your goal is to get to the bottom really quickly without being hit. And you know, there’s a couple grave sites on this volcano from just people that go up and look these people have been killed they get hit by these rocks coming out and they’re just like they go right through you. And so it’s it’s scary. But you know that said this is how what how the sport launch and now there’s like six or seven volcanoes around the world that actually volcano boarding takes place on summer active some are not but you know it’s grown into a bigger sport.

Boomer Anderson 5:51
So point of clarification here What the hell is a lava bomb?

Zoltan Istvan 5:55
So when you know a lot of bomb is, you know when molten lava gets spewed out of the Aquino’s, that’s what turns into the Hard Rock. But when it comes out, it just looks like you know, this big piece of kind of liquid metal or liquid rock. And you have to watch those out now at nighttime, or at least at dusk, that’s the safest time to do the volcano morning because you can see them glowing in the sky. In the daytime, it’s actually very difficult, because you can’t really see them, and they just kind of like plop down. And of course, sometimes they’re the size of a Volkswagen. Other times, they’re just the size of a tiny rock, but either way they’re burning. So if they go right through it, they go right through because they’re so hot. And you know, that’s how people have died. And of course, you understand this is a volcano very far away from anything. There’s no hot I don’t know if there’s a hospital on the island. So you know, you’re in trouble if anything happens.

Boomer Anderson 6:47
That’s crazy. And so I’m starting to see a kind of a theme and I want to get to transhumanism here in a second. But along this trip, you had experiences in Yemen. Sounds like Vanuatu As well, as well as Vietnam that were quote unquote near death experiences can we walk through some of those and sort of how that shaped you in tour really becoming interested in transhumanism?

Zoltan Istvan 7:15
Well, yeah, I think what happened is I just, you know, through these adventures, you have a bunch of near death experiences or at least very close to death experiences like you know, I end up this pirate attack situation off and off gay men were and this is one of the one of the times I had my girlfriend with me and I, I knew that some boat was approaching us and if you get approached, we’re seven miles off the coast. You get it you hear an engine off the coast gay men where there are a ton of pirate attacks. You know, something is not right is happening but so I hit my girlfriend like deep into the boat, and then I waited. And then this boat showed up that was actually longer than my boat because I had a small boat. And these four guys were like mast with machine guns. And I think I might fail but I have this thing called the radar detector, which Is this like little metal thing that makes you look like a big ship? That’s what it does on radars. So they must this must have been like the E mini Navy or whatever. And these are like pirates Don’t get me wrong doesn’t matter really. If you’re if you’re in the military and you go out to take money from somebody, even if you’re in the military, you’re a pirate that’s what you’re doing. And so uh, you know, these guys came out and thinking I was probably picked me up and radar thinking I was a big ship. Were really kind of disappointed to find out I was just tiny little, you know, guy floating. So they just said they were kind of like they pulled up they tied up my bow, they pointed their guns, but they were a little bit confused that I was a small tiny bowtie was smaller than theirs. Like, you know, why are we pirating this guy, but you know, despite that I was smart enough to know right away, I had money. I just handed them that they can see a bunch of jerry cans and gasoline. They took that I had a little bit of booze, even though they’re probably Arabic, they still took that. And we also had a ton of cigarettes that we used in terms of trading. So I gave them all that and they just like kind of pushed off and just said and then drove off. And that was it. You know, it was it was really weird because there was no language and I couldn’t understand the game any. But you understand when men have machine guns pointed at you? Yeah, but you know, so it was it was a terrible experience a little bit funny in a way as well because like I said, I think they were expecting a major shift to do a full pirate attack on that’s why they’re all dressed up and ready to go. And all sudden they find this little tiny yacht. You know, it looks like a little teapot and they’re probably like, Who’s this crazy guy sailing across the world and this little 25 foot boat who would do that.

Boomer Anderson 9:36
And so, similar situation in Vietnam, you almost stepped on a landmine and I’ve done the Vietnam sort of jungle, it could get pretty thick, right? he not know where you’re stepping, etc. Talk us through that because I’ve heard that that helps shape really what your experiences and your interest in trading. humanism because I would love to see just why you connected so well with transhumanism.

Zoltan Istvan 10:06
Well, you know, the thing with gay men is that when the pirate thing happened, it was like two or three minutes of complete. Ah, you know, and you don’t really know how to think if people got guns pointed at you, so you don’t have time to think you’re just kind of react Vietnam was I was covering a story for National Geographic on bomb diggers there are, you know, we Americans drop massive amounts of bombs in Vietnam, about 10 or 15%. Those bombs never exploded, because that’s just the kind of the fail rate. And if you dig up a six foot bomb, that’s like, you know, so huge and you can dismantle it, you can sell the metal for like $1,000. Now, the people that are selling this metal, usually farmers who make $1 a day. So if you find one bomb, you can make like a year supply of farming. So as a result, there’s this natural tendency for younger males in Vietnam specifically to go out with the shovels instead of foreign And to dig for these bombs. Hopefully they find unexploded bombs. So I was covering this story for National Geographic, and I was covering it for about five or six days. And the thing about is you’re in the D. MC, the demilitarized zone, you know, it’s filled with, you know, it’s filled with landmines. You know, it’s filled with unexploded bombs. And it’s nerve racking, it just gets in your brain, like, Oh, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get killed here. And then of course, you’re in for my story, all’s I did was interview landmine victims, because the people that end up digging for these bombs, they rarely get hurt by the bombs, they get hurt by the land mines in the search for the bombs. So that was that whole story. And then we came to a point when they were, you know, we saw something in the ground, they saw something in ground that I hadn’t is here, I’m carrying around a camera and all this. And one of the guys sort of pushed me out the way and said, Look, this is probably something and we started looking very carefully. And indeed it was a landmine that had I, you know, taking maybe another step I probably would have, I could have potentially stepped on it and exploded But after six days of freaking out, and also after covering other conflict zones, this was the moment in my mind as a journalist where I kind of broke down and I said, you know, what, I’m sort of done with being a war zone and conflict person caught, you know, corresponded, I’m going to done I need to go back to the States because when you cover this kind of stuff, you it gets in your head, you get PTSD, there’s all these other things. And it was that night in my hotel that I said, you know, maybe I should do something with my life, dedicated to overcoming death, not necessarily covering it in terms of what I was covering in war zones, and these conflict areas, and, and that’s really when the transhumanism thing got into my brain. And the next day I started looking into it what was out there and lo and behold, there’s an entire movement that’s out there dedicated to trying to overcome death with science and technology. And that instant with the with the land mine where the guy pushed me out of the way was really the core part of that decision to go just after that. I was sold on the This is what I want to do with my life. I don’t want to film these ones. These stories are wonderful, but they’re dangerous. I mean, I was gonna get hurt.

Boomer Anderson 13:06
And it just because this is the first episode, we’re really diving into transhumanism, there’s a few pieces that we probably need to lay out here. First, your own definition of transhumanism, but also just when you’re looking at when you were investigating transhumanism, because you come from that background of in a way that conflict journalism, how did you start investigating it?

Zoltan Istvan 13:36
Well, so first off, I kind of known about transhumanism because I’d been a science fiction geek. And I studied at university and all these other things. I just didn’t realize that I could maybe do something with my life that was not journalism, you know, inspired and actually join it, like, how do you join a social movement, like the example for your listeners, and I’d be like, well, how would you join the environmental movement or their group That you could do. Are there studies would you do maybe a PhD in environmental studies? Well, all of a sudden, when I decided I want to go into it, I was like, Well, wait a sec, how do I do it? And in my case, I decided to write a book because I always had wanted to write a book, and that was named the transhumance wager. And I was quite lucky after four years of writing, the book took off became a best seller in science fiction and things like that, and launched my career into the public sphere, of transhumanism, but just so your listeners really know. I mean, a technical definition of transhumanism would be that it’s a kind of a multi million person, social movement around the world of people that want to use science and technology to radically modify the human being and modify the human body can be anything from exoskeleton suits, or brain implants, or even simpler things like driverless cars, or maybe genetic getting’s. I have friends that want to grow eyeballs on the back of their head, because they think that that’s something that we need when we were, you know, evolution with the thought we were running away from a cheetah. We should have had an eyeball in the background. forehead. So we have people that are trying to use genetic editing to now do that. That’s kind of what transhumanism is.

Boomer Anderson 15:07
And so we’ve had the people, for instance, Dr. Aubrey de Grey has been on the show before, and he has just to kind of delineate the two he has a movement on more on the anti aging side of things. transhumanism, are we referring more towards almost self Cyborg in or is there an overlap between the two?

Zoltan Istvan 15:29
Well, I would say there’s a huge overlap. So during my former presidential campaign, in 2016, Aubrey de Grey was my longevity advisor. So, you know, he’s a great guy and but you’re right, he is dedicated strictly to anti aging stuff, whereas I am much more catering I suppose to a younger crowd. You know, it’s funny. The anti aging battle is often determined by age groups. You know, younger people don’t want to Younger people don’t worry about dying and older people do. And so that’s kind of this big problem that we often have. with, you know, the transhumanism movement is it’s hard to get young people interested in life extension technology. So, ultimately, what’s happened is transhumanism has become this kind of movement that really is about merging people machines without necessarily living forever aspect to it. However, I’m middle aged man, I’m not so young anymore. I’m 46. So I really do want to live forever. So I tend to side very often with Aubrey on his ideas, and I would like to move transhumanism transhumanism more towards this idea of not just merging with machines and having fun as a cyborg and experimenting with ourselves, but also to not die.

Boomer Anderson 16:48
And, you know, so many points of gratitude towards you for having a longevity advisor in politics in a day and age when I’m not sure many politicians do. So, let’s talk about some of these technologies. And some of these, I guess, pieces of technology that you’ve seen not only in kind of the human augmentation realm, but also in that path to living forever. What have you seen that’s very promising? And sort of that merger between man and machine?

Zoltan Istvan 17:20
Well, you know, I think the the one technology that a lot of people are excited about, and I’m most excited about is really the brain implant technology. So you know, we have a couple of different companies now like Elon Musk has one called neural link. And Brian Johnson has one in Colonel they’re all in California, and people putting hundreds of millions of dollars into this technology so that we can interface in real time with a machine, give you an idea and ideas and maybe 10 years time you and I would be able to do this podcast, just in our brains. Okay, maybe it’s not gonna be 10 years, maybe it’ll be 20 years, but there’s no question at some point. This podcast will be able to be just done in our head and once that kind of thing happens, that’s going to be incredible in terms of work and trading stocks and Google mapping because it’s all in your brain. But, you know, the idea is to try to take a cell phone and put it into here. And you know, why have it on the outside when you could have it inside your body? And that’s really one of the most amazing transhuman technologies. Right now that’s going forward. And there’s just been an amazing amount of outreach and work in terms of how far I mean, they’re doing drone races with mind reading headsets in Florida, just using this type of, you know, technology, brainwave technology, and how far does it go? You know, that’s the question. And just, you know, from a workforce and, you know, point of view, it’s, they’re starting to lay off a ton of mid level traders that are, you know, in the stock market in the New York Stock Exchange, things like that, because AI is able to trade justice equally. But how can we keep these jobs? Well, a lot of people like Elon Musk would say, well, we keep these jobs by Having machine interface in real time in our brains. And that way, we don’t need to fire people because they’re just as good as the machine. And whether that’s true or not as hard case to make right now. But certainly there’s no question that if you can interface with machine, you’re going to be quicker and making decisions. And that could save capitalism from this onslaught of automation. That’s sort of inevitable at some point.

Boomer Anderson 19:21
So let’s go into that. Because one of your criticisms of this race to the singularity are not really criticism, but one of the things that you’ve talked about is sort of a potential for opposition on the path to Singularity is AI. And it’s also something that I do think about as well, like Skynet, for instance, just to look directly at Terminator there. How do you foresee is it simply neural link and those types of companies that prevent us from going on, you know, getting decimated by AI or is there something else that we’re missing right now that needs to be Alright, the sponsor for today’s podcast is a member of the toolkit that I use on an almost daily basis to upgrade my state of being and have used it actually, for the past couple of years, the guys over at neuro hacker collective have done a fantastic job. You’ve heard me rave about the original stack, as well as quality of mind on the show. But now, I’m so excited because the suite of products has grown of quality of focus for that near term bump. You have clean mind caffeine free for all my caffeine sensitive listeners out there. But their latest product which just came out is Oh, so exciting. It’s called a turnus. And it’s a 38 ingredient formula containing the most researched and premium ingredients on earth for supporting cellular health. This is key to combating the symptoms of aging. If you want to check out a turnus kolia mind focus or any of the neuro hacker products because Over to neuro hacker calm and plug in the code Boomer, you’ll get an additional 15% off your order. Enjoy.

Zoltan Istvan 21:09
Well, I mean, I would say and you know, despite being a libertarian minded person, I would say this is probably one of the few times we really going to need some government intervention and government oversight. Because, you know, you brought you brought it up. I mean, Terminator is a great movie. But it’s also the right way to look at this in many ways. We have a 50/50 chance of a robot that’s as smart as us being nice to us or not being nice to us. And if it’s not, if it’s smarter than us, and it’s not nice to us, it could be the end of humanity, so or at least a big challenge for humanity. So we need to, in many ways, I say, you know, I don’t know, improve the situation so that bad things don’t happen from AI. And that means some type of oversight and companies like Google that might be doing it or working with Google. I don’t want to say oversight, but The military can work with these companies that are working on stuff. I mean, you have comp quantum computing coming through the pipeline right now to these are all going to advance AI immeasurably. You know, it’s we coming to an era where this is a global security issue, have an AI be able to turn off all the power grids on planet Earth at once we can be sent to the Dark Ages. I think governments need to be involved. I think we need leaders involved.

Boomer Anderson 22:24
So let’s dive headfirst into this because you struck somewhat of a pain point with me. And when it comes to on an international level right now, there are many discussions not being had. AI is one of them. crispers one of them blockchain. I guess they’re just afraid that I’ll take over their jobs. But how come we are not having these conversations on an international regulatory level, let alone the United States?

Zoltan Istvan 22:54
Well, I’ll tell you, I simply it’s like you would think that AI as Putin said Vladimir Putin said this, you know, Whoever runs the AI age runs the world. And you would think this is the most important national security issue, you would have thought between Trump and Hillary, during the last debates or even the democratic debates, we would be talking about this. The problem is, as soon as you start talking about this stuff to the average person, they think, Oh, this is too weird, or this guy’s kooky or, and they lose votes. It’s not beneficial for a mainstream politician to talk about these so called sci fi ideas, even if they’re here in reality, because they’re not good talking points. It’s not like I’m going to help you, I’m going to make you pay lower taxes or you’re going to get better health insurance. Everyone’s like, Yay, Ai, you know, blah, blah, blah. Despite that, we know from history that scientific progress is often the most important, you know, stimulus for product. You know, what happens in the world, and genetic editing and AI are easily the two most important topics I’d say right now, I think in the world, you know, maybe there’s environmental crisis as well, but there’s a good chance of both those types of science fields. can also help the environmental crisis. But nobody talks about it because it doesn’t win votes. In fact, it often loses votes in the polls. So main politicians don’t talk about it. Nobody wants to talk about

Boomer Anderson 24:10
it. So is it because the politicians as it’s kind of the dog wags the tail here a little bit, too, but is it because the politicians don’t understand it? Or is it because mainstream doesn’t understand it is terrified by it and wants to push it underneath the rug?

Zoltan Istvan 24:26
Well, I think it’s probably a combination of both. It’s hard for me to imagine, you know, I’m not sure how Trump is like, emailing smartphones and things like that.

Boomer Anderson 24:35
He’s really got Twitter.

Zoltan Istvan 24:37
Well, I mean, you know, you know, so we don’t we don’t know his expertise in terms of using these types of devices and feeling comfortable, I think like you and I, to get on Skype or to get on zoom and wherever you know, it just we can figure it out very quickly. And so how much more so is an AI and issue for these people are trying to say wait robot is going to take over the military and bomb. That’s great. You know, that’s kind of the reaction. And I think that reaction is quite similar with the majority of Americans and majority of people in the West, who are also not necessarily interested. You know, my mom, for example, would be like, she hears AI. And it sounds like some things your mind remains, you know, from the moon, some science fiction movie she saw 30 years ago. And the problem is that that’s not what it is in Silicon Valley, where I know that there are thousands of thousands of engineers driving to their job every single day to work on the new coding for an AI that might one day run the country, or control nuclear weapons, or things like that. And so, you know, I’m hearing ground zero in terms of a lot of this technology. And this is the real world. This is what pushes it forward. But I don’t know how to convince mainstream people or politicians to be interested in this. It just seems like it’s a taboo subject.

Boomer Anderson 25:54
And turns out just like there needs to be almost a behavior change among society, right and how we look at these things. And I guess, you know, some of the work of people like Buckminster Fuller, and a few others come to mind, like we’re exponentially increasing the amount of people that have their finger on the button to Pandora’s box, but our intelligence is not exponentially increasing. How do you, like how do you even begin to solve that problem?

Zoltan Istvan 26:24
Well, you know, to begin with, I think the best thing people can do is try to have a lot of scientists and engineers run for office. And of course, that’s sort of my big calling to is I’m running, trying to toot my horn and say, Look, why isn’t science at the forefront of any kind of presidential campaign, or any kind of congressional campaign or whatever it is. So I do think when you talk about politics, we just need to embrace it. It’s just from a historical point of view, it’s like like said nothing really moves the world as much as science and certain technology and I think what the internet did to the world, so we just need to get people to embrace Understanding from historic point of view how important it is. But it might take something more dangerous. It might take something like North Korea saying, Oh, it’s not that we have the bomb, we have the AI, and all sudden they send a virus that wipes out all the CIA’s databases, that would be a message. And that’s the that’s the promise that’s now it’s almost like some cyber war. And we need to that might be what happens in order for our country and our military to have a wake up call that this is the new frontier. This is where our resources have to be spent. And, unfortunately, then the people would fall then congrat you know, Congress and senators, whatnot, and we would say, Okay, let’s, let’s, let’s spend some money on this. Let’s take this seriously. But right now, it’s just not a good talking point just loses voters.

Boomer Anderson 27:50
And is there anybody out there doing it right, right now, in terms of countries?

Zoltan Istvan 27:56
Well, you know, I’m a fan of at least Andrew Yang Talking about these things as a Democratic candidate. And so that’s been good. At least he’s bringing up some of these issues that are new. Unfortunately, you know, he’s really only being heard by millennials and millennials don’t need that much interaction with these ideas. I mean, it’s, you know, these are millennial ideas, Millennials all know what AI they’re all interested in future. They’re all interested in genetic getting, these are not the generation that’s pushing this aside that the generations that’s pushing these ideas aside, or the older ones, beyond even Gen X the boomers, like people like my mom who are just like, I, you know, I’m just worried about Social Security, you know, instead of like how these kind of genetic editing might affect the entire planet, and a new kind of breed or race of people or something like that. And, you know, so the way to talk to people about is is unfortunate, I haven’t discovered the magic yet to do my best. And I’m not sure how many other people are doing it because, you know, I’m not gonna win any campaigns talking about that. And that’s kind of one of the big problems here is until I can win a campaign on this I’m not sure how far this message actually goes.

Boomer Anderson 29:03
So I guess once let’s play a little game of tennis here and just volley a couple of ideas, if you don’t mind on the future of work, how do you just calm people so that they realize that this stuff needs to be talked about? It’s not necessarily scary, and you should embrace it rather than run from it and fight it?

Zoltan Istvan 29:26
Well, you know, I try to tell people that governments will have to implement a universal basic income at some point. And I’m a fan of universal basic income. And I think that’s really the only way to address automation at this point. I mean, okay, you know, maybe we can merge our brains with robots, and then compete against somebody even that probably doesn’t last long. I just think, at some point, 20 3040 years, robots are just better and smarter than us at everything. Now, the thing about this, though, is that it doesn’t mean that robots will take over the world, it might mean that the human race can live in some kind of automate. Luxury communism, you know, and not that I’m necessarily a fan of any of that. But it is the idea that maybe nobody works. Everybody is just an artist everybody does what they want. If you’ve seen the cartoon Wally, maybe we just float around his large entities and, and you know, relax all day and enjoy your basic income that could very well be the future of humanity. I don’t know if that’s a good one. Because, you know, I, maybe people, some people get five PhDs, but probably most people just watch sitcoms all day long.

Boomer Anderson 30:31
You know, I this wouldn’t be like a great excuse to buy Netflix, right?

Zoltan Istvan 30:35
Yeah, yeah. No, of course. So and I so I worry. But I do think that luxury is something that the human race is going towards, and I do think robots will do many more jobs in the future, including having robots in our house houses that make us lazier and life easier. Again, I don’t know if we get laser, maybe we’ll you know, recoup and do some as a species and you know, find art and do other things that are really do podcasts. All day long, you know, amazing things, you know, and spread knowledge. But, you know, I don’t know. You know, most people that get a day off work, don’t don’t often spend it doing the most productive things. However, maybe that’s because they’ve been working so hard, but the future is probably not working and robots doing everything.

Boomer Anderson 31:19
So I want to go back to something you said earlier about neural link and sort of where we are in transhumanism right now. Versus where we’re going to be when neural link eventually happens. What do you see as sort of if you’re a beginning transhumanists for an exploratory one. What do you see is kind of the ways people should dive into us this. The chip in the arm is quite popular. But what other things do you think that transhumanist can get into now and what technologies do you see near term coming up that you think are useful?

Zoltan Istvan 31:56
Well, you know, I mean, I like this, your viewers know I have a chip in Plant in my hand and, you know, it’s fun, it opens my front door, I can do things like start a car and send a text message and, you know, users passwords or keys, trade, Bitcoin, stuff like that. But I think mostly, you know, that’s one thing to do, they can do some of the neuro nootropics where they can kind of take some brain drugs and see if that works, then they can play with some of the genetic editing tricks that are out there some home kids, but you know, from a transhumans point of view, it’s really only if you’re significantly disabled at this moment, that you can do something sort of elective like, obviously, if you’ve lost your leg in a landmine instant, you can put on a prosthetic leg and arms can work off the neural system already. So you can grab a beer or learn to play piano with a robotic arm, but it’s really the disabled community that’s having the best benefits from transhumanism right now. That said it’s possible within a few years time. Robotic tech arm limb technology will get so good that some biohackers I’ve heard they might do it soon we’ll start amputation. limbs electively to put on robotic limbs. And, you know, that’s really saying, Well, how far do you go? Now? I’m willing to do that myself. But the robotic limb has to be more functional than this limb right here. Am I right? You know, right, our left arm. For me to do that, it has to make sense. And we’re still, you know, 510 years at least away from that. But, you know, people might start doing it sooner. They might do it as soon as 1218 months

Boomer Anderson 33:30
I presented last year at a conference that’s no longer existing, called body I think it’s the body hacking conference in Austin, Texas. And it was a transhumanist conference and very much into the the cyborg game thing. And there was a lot of prosthetic limbs that were incredible in terms of what they’re able to do that exoskeleton technology is amazing, and very promising. Now, I’m going to just kind of back a step here. If We talked earlier about the idea of the cross section between the how to live or forever discussion, and transhumanism. What are you some lifestyle habits that you think people should be embracing today in order to get to the point where technology is able to help us get to escape velocity?

Zoltan Istvan 34:24
Well, you know, at this moment, there are a number of drugs you can take, but nothing’s really proven. It still remains the very best thing is just to don’t eat too much. And exercise every day something cardiovascular, if you know you have certain genetic issues, try to deal with them with drugs that can help you. I mean, there are some people that take a lot of pills a day, I’m not one of them. I’m only 40 you know, fit 46 but I will do work out every day and I do try to eat organic foods and stuff like that and not too much meat. I just think you No, you just have to take care of yourself. A lot of it is a mental state. We are approaching an age when the FDA though is probably the next year to there’s already been a few approved, will be approving drugs for life extension. There’s a number of them in the pipeline. It’s just it’s not 100% sure that they work. Honestly, some people would swear that they work. Others will say, we’re not sure yet. So, but we’re within a year or two, we’re probably I would start taking pills too.

Boomer Anderson 35:25
Yeah, I’ve got the Do It Yourself CRISPR kids here, as well as the at home biological age test. And so I’m looking forward to trying out a few of these analytics and things that are coming on to market very shortly now. So just a couple of things just to round out this this main discussion here around the the politics side of things. Talk to us a little bit about the campaign. I would love to hear more about that.

Zoltan Istvan 35:55
So sure, you know, we’re on a number of major state ballots be For Super Tuesday, which is March 3 of 2020. So, about six, eight weeks away, we’re also on the New Hampshire ballot, be participating in the Iowa caucuses, hopefully coming here and, you know, just about two weeks time now, maybe two and a half weeks. So we’re on enough ballots to make a pretty big difference. I would say we have very little chance to win the nomination against President Trump. However, we are spreading a message of transhumanism and I like this, you know, say that my time running for office might happen in 2028 or 2032, when I run and maybe could win one day. So right now we’re just there spreading a message of science technology and trying to get Republicans and the Republican candidate to embrace science and technology more, they actually have a very bad problem with that. And it’s mostly the democrats that have been pretty good with that. And that’s one of the reasons I’m actually running as a Republican is to say, Listen, I’m as an entrepreneur, I have been fiscally conservative. I am dramatically socially liberal and libertarian, but I you know, I’m Happy to say to the republican party and run from it’s like, it’s time that your party ends up embracing how technology is going to affect the human race. It’s, you know, the the, it what’s happened is environmentalism is owned by the left, essentially. And I don’t want transhumanism to be owned by the left, I want there to be a balance. I want both. I think things work off best in the balance. I’m not really right or left and I’m not a centrist. I’m just somebody who understands that the best way forward is that we, as a democracy, people put in their input, there’s good inputs from all sides. And I want to make sure that Silicon Valley and technology, the transhumanist, movement itself is balanced. And that’s really one of the reasons I’m running to try to tell people, we need to innovate. We need to out innovate China, which is gaining ground in AI in genetic editing. We need to make sure that transhumanism doesn’t turn hard left because it is it’s turning on the socialist and that’s not good for capitalistic markets, in my opinion, at least from a Silicon Valley. perspective. And we need to just have some balance out there. We need Republicans to not be so afraid of science and technology, but rather say, Well, how can we play a part and moving America forward so that we’re a transhumanist nation, and China doesn’t get there first, because, as we mentioned, with AI, this is a national security issue to getting to be into the transhuman stage doesn’t mean just because you’re religiously or morally against it. That’s to some extent irrelevant, if China or Russia get there first. If America wants to remain competitive, we need to stay on the forefront. And as long as we have republicans in office and in Congress, they need to also embrace that. So that’s a lot of my message on these major balance that I will be on when people start looking into me. And of course, I’m in Texas and California. So those are kind of the two largest states with delegates. So I know that you know, I’m touring around these states and people are, I’m talking to people. Most people don’t find my message very nice. Most people as we talked about earlier, just like, you know, he’s off to some crazy Island or they’re interested but only interested in a sense, like, it’s nice to hear this. Hey, I’m just here to spread a discussion right now. But maybe in eight years, I’ll be here to win.

Boomer Anderson 39:09
Zoltan and this has been absolutely amazing conversation. There’s a few questions that I like to ask everybody before wrapping up and you can consider these rapid fire questions. There’s six of them. So let’s just let’s get cracking. What’s your favorite place to vacation?

Zoltan Istvan 39:29
Right now my favorite place to vacation is Cabo San Lucas in Mexico because I’m a big fan of surfing,

Boomer Anderson 39:36
surfing or oily. Do you like surfing just

Zoltan Istvan 39:39
surfing surf?

Boomer Anderson 39:41
Awesome, awesome, favorite or book that has had the most impact on you, your life and how you show up to perform in it?

Zoltan Istvan 39:51
Well, of course, my own book, The transou

because it took so long, right, but really, I’m Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Okay. has been the most important in terms of understanding the value of integrity. And in times when people don’t want to listen to me on the campaign trail, I’m glad that I have been formed in a way of integrity because it’s hard to see ideas that people don’t like.

Boomer Anderson 40:14
Yeah, and the story of Howard work is pretty incredible. I go back to that book at least once every year. It’s a great way to Yeah, not one and of course the the one that came after it Atlas Shrugged significantly shaped the way I think that’s for sure. What what piece of technology have you purchased in the past 12 months that has excited you or significantly elevated your productivity? Who

Zoltan Istvan 40:50
god you know, I gotta say I’m one of like the worst consumers and I can’t even think of anything new that has come into my my life recently, and I’m So bad because I don’t even have that much technology in my house. We have like small robots and things like that.

Boomer Anderson 41:09
That’s cool. I mean, I guess me about the small robot. I want to hear what it was

Zoltan Istvan 41:13
sure, yeah, just so your your, your audience can see it. It’s right there. But the main thing is that I had a small robot on the 2016 campaign trail when I had my crazy coffin bus immortality bus driving across the country. And that four foot robot rode shotgun, but I also have two daughters, a nine year old and a five year old. And those my children grew up with a robot, which is now about five years old. And because it’s four feet tall, it’s kind of an integral part of their lives. It does about 1000 functions, so that robots really played it and an amazing kind of emphasis on on being there with my children can teach you to play karate can kind of talk to you. It has basic AI so can answer things. So the kids as they were learning language, were able to play with it. So that’s really the most fastest piece of technology. I have my house. It’s amazing though it’s five years old. So it’s totally obsolete now. But it still is still is quite fun to play with.

Boomer Anderson 42:10
You’ve written books you’ve run for president, you’re running for president, that requires an immense amount of focus. What’s your top trick for enhancing focus?

Zoltan Istvan 42:21
I think my top trick is just really working out every day, 30 minutes and not really ever allowing anything to get in the way of that. I think it’s absolutely critical that one does that because when I run or I jog, I’m no longer able to get onto my computer and I’m just kind of focused on how my brain is operating. And, and it just takes something out of me and give something back. And otherwise I’m just like, kind of a nervous wreck and I just I need if I don’t work out, I kind of go a little bit crazy. I feel like I’m not crazy in a bad way. But I feel like that gets my energy levels to where I need. And so I think I think working out For me has become absolutely critical and just being able to run my daily life, I can’t sleep if I don’t work out.

Boomer Anderson 43:07
Well, then have a maybe you’ve answered this question in this in the workout answer, but how do you unwind?

Zoltan Istvan 43:16
So, every night, I pretty much have a glass of scotch. And oftentimes, I will watch a documentary a night, and I tried to make a habit of it. So because I started my career for National Geographic, really for the channel, where I was a documentarian, it’s I just love documentaries. And frankly, there’s always enough to watch like, I watch as many documentaries as I can, and of course, some great movies, oftentimes geared towards the subjects that I I like

Boomer Anderson 43:47
so that begs a second question favorite documentary at the moment or what comes to mind.

Zoltan Istvan 43:58
So, just your your Your audience knows too I made my own documentary called inside the brutal Kashmir conflict. And one of the conflicts that I I worked for. But you know, interestingly enough, and I’m not saying it’s my favorite, but I’m gonna just tell you that I recently watched them the new documentary that’s out on the making of the original Star Wars movies. And I find like Star Wars has been so influential in the public sphere, that it’s really great for me to take a look back and study at the study of how somebody made something so important. And as somebody who’s out there trying to sort of lead a movement forward and do these kinds of things. I have really take these documentaries that explore how other people have changed the world as as very important. And so I would say, you know, the most favorite documentary right now just because I’ve watched it twice, is the one on Netflix that shows Actually, it’s on the Disney Channel, Disney plus channel which just came out On the original making the first three Star Wars, because how do you take an idea like that and get it to be everybody in the world knows it. That’s a very special thing.

Boomer Anderson 45:09
Absolutely. Before the last questions all tonight, I just want to say thank you so much for doing what you do, because you’re pushing questions for that need to be push. And I really appreciate anyone who’s willing to take that chance and put themselves out there. So thank you. These are all questions that need to be addressed. Because if they don’t, then we’re going to have a big problem soon. So thank you so much for that. Final question. Where can people find out more about you the campaign and everything that you do?

Zoltan Istvan 45:41
Sure. Well, you know, our campaign website is and soul 1020 but we also have my own personal site, which is And one thing you know, we didn’t talk about but if your viewers have any questions on any of the topics I’ve been discussing, like you know, in the camp, Like artificial wombs or AI or crazy stuff like that, you know, I have written over 200 and I think 25 mainstream media articles, some for the New York Times some for my son for Newsweek, on any topic, so any topic, your listeners might have just Google my name, you know, and like marriage and transhumanism or something, and you’ll probably find a nice one, maybe two articles on it. So googling is sometimes the easiest way to find my work.

Boomer Anderson 46:26
And maybe I’ll have you back on for around to religion of transhumanism, because I know that’s a topic that you’ve, you’ve at least linked to before.

Zoltan Istvan 46:35
But yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. Please do. I love talking about religion and transhumanism. It’s, it’s in order for America to move forward. I think a lot of religious people are going to have to embrace somehow a transhumans point of view, in their view. And of course, I have talked a lot quantum archaeology and a lot of these weird concepts. So yeah, let’s do that sometime. That’s always a fun topic of mine.

Boomer Anderson 46:56
Absolutely, Zoltan, thank you so much for taking the time. I know You’ve got a busy day full of interviews, but I really appreciate you taking the time to bring us all this education on transhumanism. Thank you.

Zoltan Istvan 47:09
Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Boomer Anderson 47:11
Tell the superhumans listening out there have an absolutely epic day.

Alright guys, what did you think of the show? Do you agree that we should start having these conversations about artificial intelligence blockchain universal basic income at a government level? Well, let me know. Send me an email at Those of you who’ve sent emails to that list know that I respond to each and every one if you liked the episode, please share it with your friends comment on whatever social media channel you’re on. Or just connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know what you thought. The show notes for this one again, right that’s ZOLTAN and have an epic day!

Zoltan Istvan
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