The Transtopian Principles

Personal empowerment taken to its logical conclusion; common sense codified.

General goal: infinite existence under the best possible conditions.
Primary means: reason, science, and technology.
Motivation: enlightened self-interest.

Transtopianism is a memetic complex, a collection of mutually supporting (and partially overlapping) concepts, lifestyles, worldviews, and philosophies. Though none of its separate components, grouped together in 12 Principles, are particularly new or unique, the combination is. Transtopianism is a typical example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts; its rational enlightenment "spontaneously" emerges from a collection of useful but individually limited memes, just like human consciousness "spontaneously" emerges from a collection of sophisticated yet individually limited brain cells.

Central to Transtopianism is the view that we should seek to void all limits on our freedom, including those imposed by the "laws" of nature -- a concept known as "arch-anarchy" [T.O. Morrow, 1990]. This state of absolute personal freedom is to be achieved by rational means like science and technology, not by wishful thinking or superstition. Transtopianism may include some "speculative", or even what one might call "religious" or "spiritual" elements, but these are all placed within a solid framework of common sense, where they belong. Transtopianism is designed to be the ultimate rational "rebellion" against anything and everything that stands in the way of personal growth and empowerment. Unlike most supposedly similarly-oriented philosophies (LaVeyan Satanism & Objectivism, for example), it recognizes that in order to realize this ideal we must leave the flesh and most of its evolved habits behind. We must evolve beyond them by literally becoming one with our technologies, guided by our rational desire to become like our finest imaginary gods: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent. That is the true significance of gods; they are the embodiment of man's deepest aspirations and desires, which, until recently, were doomed to remain just that. Fortunately, the times they are a-changing...

These Principles represent an (ever evolving) ideal towards which those seeking to pursue their enlightened self-interest should strive; it can't realistically be expected that any unaugmented mortal could actually live up to them completely. We all have our inevitable mental and physical weaknesses, and only (advanced) technology can truly set us free. Transtopianism doesn't promise instant "Absolute Perfection"; this is something which, presumably, lies somewhere beyond the Spike in the realm of SIs and Powers. It can, however, highlight certain memetic and physical tools that can make the journey towards the event horizon swifter, more exciting & comfortable, and ultimate success more likely. Transtopianism is equally about improving life in the here-and-now as it is about harnessing the awesome power of the imminent technological Singularity and ascending to a state of "virtual" godhood.

Transtopianism is closely related to its parent philosophy Transhumanism, but there are also some notable differences. These are, among others:
a) A much stronger focus on the Singularity, though not as narrow and absolute as that of "pure" (Yudkowskian) Singularitarianism.
b) The explicit inclusion of specific technologies / procedures, most notably cryonics, and
c) "politically charged" memes. Transtopianism does neither pretend nor desire to be "politically neutral", let alone "politically correct", even though politics play just a relatively minor role in the Principles as a whole.
d) A more individualistic, pragmatic, and "realistic" approach to morality and ethics.
e) Auxiliary "lifestyle" elements, including, but not limited to: childfreeness, nootropic, entheogenic, and hedonistic drug use, dance music, (techno)gothic memes and paraphernalia, fiscal and financial freedom, food supplements, homeopathy, and other forms of "alternative" medicine, advanced self-defense techniques, and cyberpunk-style computer wizardry.
This sprawling memetic complex is currently still in its early evolutionary phases, but already it is a distinct Transhuman subspecies with, if nothing else, a lot of potential.

So, Transtopianism is basically a greatly expanded yet at the same time more tightly focused and stricter codified, darker, bolder, neocyberian, technogothic, Singularitarian version of Transhumanism. A bit like early Extropianism, before it was gradually transformed into something blander and (supposedly) more "respectable". Unlike Transhumanism, which is above all a descriptive and open philosophy, Transtopianism aims to become a real (underground) movement; a practical lifestyle that leads directly towards an eternal, infinite virtual paradise of pure power, knowledge, and bliss -- Transtopia.

Now, the latter is of course by no means guaranteed. The years or decades ahead are not only the most promising, but also the most dangerous in all of human history. Traditional weapons of mass destruction will continue to be a serious threat up to the very end, though their power will soon pale next to the destructive potential of "Transhuman" technologies like advanced genetic engineering, neural interfaces and augmentations, nanotech, and AI; the harbingers of the Singularity...or horsemen of the Technocalypse.

That's the way it is -- no guarantees, merely infinite positive and negative potential. Technology can be both a creator and a destroyer, and those who control it hold the keys to both Heaven and Hell. Sugar-coating reality only makes sense if you've already (subconsciously) decided that you're not, and never will be, a "player". It's the attitude of a passive victim, a wishful thinker. We can be players, though. Not as lone, isolated individuals, but as "united individualists" pursuing a common goal: a good time here on Earth followed by an eternity in Upload Heaven. United we stand, and all that. We already have the vision, and together we might find ways to turn our combined talents into hard cash, cash into cutting-edge technology, and technology into godhood. The Singularity...could be us, if we put some effort into it.

We were born to be princes of the universe.
No man could understand;
My power is in my own hand.

-- Queen; Princes of the Universe

Do you have an unusually strong taboo-smashing rational instinct that allows you to see further than the flock o' sheeple, and the intelligence, courage, and resolve to use it to full effect? Are you ready to shed your limited, fleshy mortal coil and become a true technogod? Are you hardcore -- are you a Transtopian? Well, if you agree with the Principles, the answer is "yes". More or less by definition. Whether you like it or not. But let's not dwell on introductions, Enlightenment awaits!
[Click on the large red links to view the complete & unabridged version of each Principle, or scroll down and (then) use the navigation links at the bottom of the page if you want to proceed sequentially]

  • I.Rationalism Reason (rational thinking) is good because it leads to practical, useful results. If applied systematically, it can significantly improve the quality of one's life. Irrationality is (potentially) dangerous and inefficient, and should therefore be avoided as much as possible.

  • II.Memetic Evolution Transtopianism is a continuously evolving philosophy, a logical consequence of the search for perfection which lies at its core. We need to avoid stale, impractical dogmas, while at the same time preserving those values that are clearly reasonable and helpful in improving our condition, or at least aren't detrimental to this goal.

  • III.Intelligent Hedonism Pleasure and happiness are the highest (known) good, the most logical "meaning of life", and (therefore) the interim Supergoal of Transtopianism. Positive emotions and sensations are inherently valuable; their profound, unconditional "goodness" becomes immediately apparent to all who experience them, and in their absence life is -by definition- at best bland and meaningless, at worst unbearable to the point of suicide. In order to be able to experience true eternal bliss as gods in virtual Eden (which, thanks to exponential scientific and technological progress, will soon be a very real possibility -- see also "Transhumanism" and "Singularitarianism") we must curb our more dangerous and impractical hedonistic impulses, and focus on becoming part of the financial and technological elite. At the same time we should also try to seize the day as often as possible, for there may be no tomorrow; this balancing act is the essence of Intelligent Hedonism.

  • IV.Cryonics Cryonic suspension is an experimental procedure whereby patients who no longer can be kept alive with today's medical abilities are preserved at extremely low temperature for treatment in the future. To have one's brain or whole body frozen or otherwise preserved upon death is the rational, civilized, and aesthetic thing to do.

  • V.Transhumanism Transhumanism (>H) is the belief that we can, and should, try to overcome our biological limitations by means of reason, science, and technology. Transhumanists seek things like intelligence augmentation, increased strength and beauty, extreme life extension, sustainable mood enhancement, and the capability to leave the planet and explore the universe. These goals are to be achieved with the aid of contemporary and future technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, cryonics, AI, and mind uploading. In other words, (hardcore) Transhumanists seek to become posthuman (demi-)gods; "persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity. Self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals."

  • VI.Singularitarianism The technological Singularity is the postulated point or short period in our future when our self-guided evolutionary development accelerates enormously (powered by nanotech, neuroscience, AI, and perhaps uploading) so that nothing beyond that time can reliably be conceived. It is the birth of superhuman intelligence and the end of life as we know it, perhaps of life period. Barring massive, global man-made or natural disasters, the Singularity will probably take place sometime during the first half of this century. Instead of passively awaiting, unconditionally supporting, or mindlessly opposing this event which, without a doubt, is both the greatest threat and the greatest opportunity mankind has ever faced, Transtopians want to harness the Singularity's awesome power through the directed, systematic, and careful application of "transhumanizing" technologies -- they want to become the Singularity. From a survivalist point of view, this is the most rational strategy.

  • VII.Atheism Religion, in the traditional superstitious and dogmatic sense, is at best harmless folly, but more often than not it is a force that is diametrically opposed to one's freedom, well-being, and even very surival. Religion enslaves and atrophies the mind, stimulates violently (self-)destructive behavior, and hampers (life-saving) progress. It is fundamentally incompatible with true rationalism and the scientific method, and needs to be rejected utterly for both practical and "moral" reasons. It's time to stop worshipping gods, and aim at becoming gods.

  • VIII.Egoism Most "traditional" (Judeo-Christian etc.) morals and ethics should be rejected as they, instead of being useful tools for personal growth and empowerment, only make life more difficult than it already is. From a rational Egoist's perspective, that which serves his enlightened self-interest (infinite existence under the best possible conditions) is "good", that which is neutral towards it is "acceptable", and that which works against it is "bad". Potentially harmful or even lethal "altruistic" impulses, guilt, shame, and other such evolutionary garbage should be suppressed or, better yet, eliminated altogether.

  • IX.Tough Liberalism An eye for an eye (proportional retribution) and the Golden Rule (anything goes, as long as "innocents" aren't harmed against their will) are fair and logical principles, and should be the main pillars of (private, contract group) law.

  • X.Mental, Physical & Financial Empowerment To be prepared for a future that may be full of difficult changes, and survive in an entropic world, one should take personal responsibility for one's security. Self-defense encourages one's sense of autonomy and personal power, so it is wise to learn the proper use of devices and techniques that can protect you from harm. Reject fear, meekness, pacifism and all other self-castrating mental patterns. Experiment with things like food supplements, diets, and exercise techniques in order to become stronger and healthier. Get as rich as possible, for money is the key to health, happiness, and -ultimately- godhood itself.

  • XI.Non-Procreation Transtopians don't breed because, assuming that one wants to be a good parent, children are a serious drain in terms of time and resources, are likely to increase stress, ruin relationships, and will severely limit one's freedom. It is a very empowering decision not to have children, especially for women, who, due to tradition and biology, must sacrifice (much) more. It means that one doesn't bow to nature's and society's pressures to conform; by saying "no" to procreation, you reject being just another link in life's mindless chain of births and deaths, just another runner in an endless relay race. In the spirit of Egoism, you confirm that you are an end in itself, not just a walking incubator or sperm donor. Other elements of the procreational complex such as phenylethylamine-induced highs (love), ritualized bonding (marriage), and copulation (sex) also tend to -sometimes seriously- erode one's mental stability, rational faculties, and autonomy, and should consequently be avoided as well -- or at least approached with due caution and skepticism.

  • XII.Dynamic Pessimism Though Transtopians have no doubts about man's enormous potential to overcome his biological and social limits, they are generally less optimistic than "regular" Transhumanists and Singularitarians about the future. Annihilation is a very real possibility; in fact, it is much more likely than a positive outcome. Nonetheless, Transtopians are by no means technophobes or defeatists because they recognize that the very technologies that threaten our future can, when used properly, improve life far beyond our wildest dreams and save us from other (socio-political, economic, and natural) disasters that loom ever larger on the horizon. Indeed, without technology and progress we would remain at the mercy of an uncaring, entropic universe, and would soon fall prey to degeneration, misadventure, and disease. Death is programmed into our very genes. The status quo is literally a dead-end, and therefore not an acceptable option.