Transhumanism & Humanity’s Future
In the future humanity might settle and create countless new worlds, but will we also create new types of humans? Today we are going to be discussing Transhumanism and Post-Humans, and whether this is an inevitable path for humanity, or something we should actively avoid or willingly embrace. The first point to acknowledge though, is that Transhumanism isn’t a specific single agreed on path, and indeed isn’t even an agreed on definition. It tends to be rather big-tent and so can only be loosely defined. Generally, Transhumanism is the notion that use of technology to extend human lifespan, intelligence, and physical ability would enhance the quality of the human life and should be actively pursued. In this context a transhuman would be someone who has had some of those changes, what we will call augmentations for today’s purposes.
There’s a lot of great thinkers and arguments on the topic, for and against and in between, from philosopher Nick Bostrom, who is probably one of the most well-known advocates of transhumanism, to Leon Kass, who believes these technologies will dehumanise us in a negative way. We’ll try to give a balanced view but I should say from the outset that I tend to feel cautious usage of augmentation can be a good thing, and strongly favor usage to help those who are disabled in some fashion, but not limited to that. In contrast, while there are those who would object to using technology to fix impairments or deficits, relatively few folks are opposed to that basic principle even when it often gives them and many of us a feeling of unease. And someone who objects to giving a blind person mechanical eyeballs might not object to giving them a pacemaker or hearing aid, or prosthetic arm if they needed one. So too, the reason enhancements
are done matters a lot. I think few folks would support banning hair dye or hair plugs or makeup, even though some consider their use a bit vain and unhealthy, and they would likely not object to a cancer patient wearing a wig or someone getting cosmetic surgery for facial scarring or damage. And those are moving goalposts too, if you go back and read material from several decades ago, fiction and non-fiction, you would have worries about this or that procedure dehumanizing people, like a mechanical heart or prosthetic hand, and yet these worries are far less common now, and so we also want to keep in mind that natural and often healthy human caution at the strange and new is not necessarily bad, but it might be a poor gauge for how folks will feel about something a generation later. Indeed, sometimes reality turns out bad and opinion grows less accepting, not more. So, we are sticking today with the term augmentation as meaning the use of technology to alter a human away from that person’s perceived natural state or away from the normal human bell curve. That leaves a lot of gray area, like if altering someone to be taller is transhumanism, particularly if they’re aiming to go from outside the normal range into the normal range, such as someone who is 4 foot tall seeking to be 5’9”, a very average height, in contrast to someone who is 5’9” seeking to be 6’4”, on the high end of normal, let alone 8’11”, the height of Robert Wadlow, the tallest recorded person.
Augmentation could also be genetically changing someone’s natural hair to one already in the standard human template. Transhumanism could also include the ability to change skin color, or gender, and each of those is variously controversial, but mostly we are interested in its use today in either how it improves the overall human condition or in how it's seen as moving outside the normal human template, for good or ill. Obviously changing gender or skin colors, say a black male changing to an Asian female, is inside the normal human template and your mileage may vary on how that option is beneficial to the human condition and both represent topics that are pretty charged at the moment. I’d rather not dig into those today, so much as use them as examples of both how complex the matter can get and how viewpoints can shift with time. We will for simplicity’s sake assume anything already considered acceptable to most people is not in the transhuman range, like pacemakers or the typical limb prosthetic. In that case a prosthetic arm that had heat sensation and touch equal to the
typical human arm would not seem likely to be controversial, though that could change. Not that if something is or isn’t controversial should be the standard for transhumanism either, but much as we don’t call people with pacemakers, hearing aids, and eyeglasses cyborgs, we don’t really need to include those in transhuman discussions either. We will be trying to keep morally neutral on the various topics today too, so we’re not really interested if someone has the right to become smarter than normal by technology so much as the technological means to do so and possible positive and negative consequences. And we deep-dived the specific
means of Brain enhancement in our episode Mind Augmentation, a couple years back. We also have concerns about transhuman or life extension technologies adding social inequality, which we discussed in more detail in our recent episode on Automated Economies and Unemployment, where there’s concerns folks who own robots will own everything, or in this case, that only the rich or powerful would get the best augmentation or life extension, and be able to keep and grow any advantages over others. Concerns over that are hard for us to discuss or address, especially as this show tries to stay away from political or ideological discussions, but those concerns can’t be ignored or easily dismissed either, we’re just bypassing them today. Lastly, before we jump in, we need to be mindful that there is both the change that occurs and the means by which it is done, for us to consider. Loosely speaking, we are okay with people becoming
smarter by study and good health habits and exercise, but drugs or brain chips might achieve the exact same thing and be considered bad. Four people might bench lift 400 pounds, one from having a nice genetic package and shape plus some hard work, one from vast effort, one from heavy steroid use, and lots of effort too, and one with a bionic arm. Our view of all four of these people is different, and our reactions can be knee jerk sometimes.
And speaking of knee jerk reactions, we have to be mindful of unexpected consequences to an enhancement. The man able to use his bionic arm to lift a car is likely to hurt his knee, or rip out his spine, if those aren’t enhanced too. This is a common joke with comic books, and includes other examples like superman grabbing a plane that’s crashing and the thing ripping in half because the Man of Steel’s indestructible fist just hit two palm-sized bits of the thin air frame, or he caught it on the ground and landed and ripped the road apart with his feet. Having eyeballs able to shoot laser beams, but being otherwise human, like Cyclops from the X-Men, ought to dissolve his head. We have no 100% reflective materials so his head has to be absorbing all that destructive energy and heat. And for that matter a society that’s not too
fond of mutants ought to find an excuse to drag him in for tissue samples to find out what this miracle material is that reflects light, so we can grow it and use it for a million amazing things. Transhumanism tends to draw parallels to comic books a lot and there’s the other big thing to remember: In a society able to make a superpower, be it by genetic alteration, random mutation, or something like Iron Man’s suit, other people will have it too. It might not be something so common you can pick it up at the Dollar Store or have it covered by your insurance. These alterations might be rare, but so are tanks and jet fighters and rockets and nukes and racecars and there are still tons of them. Spiderman and Batman and Ironman and Superman are mostly shown working in their home city, and that begs the question of why all these major crimes and world-shaking plots get planned under their nose rather than some other place, as well as what happens to every other city that presumably gets just as many accidents and issues, but has no superhero. In a transhuman world though, even if not everyone has some special
ability, every town likely has its Batman or Spiderman, and they are probably wearing a uniform and complaining about getting stuck with the night shift this week, like so many police, fire, EMS, hospital workers, and other first responders. In this kind of a world, getting saved from falling off a tall building becomes normal, as do the superhuman abilities of people who do the saving. This does not mean things stay the same, just that they renormalize. It’s not a zero-sum game. A world full of folks with superhuman abilities or magic or giant brains is very changed, see our Superpowers episode for more discussion of that. Incidentally I tend to think a pill or treatment that enhances everyone’s IQ by 20 points or strength by 20% is unlikely, it’s more likely it would tend to change the shape of the bell curve, not just its center.
The effects aren’t likely to be uniform and of course many might refuse it entirely or take different versions, but the impact on society will be huge and in unpredictable ways. A society where everyone sleeps 6 hours a night on average and wakes fully refreshed is a very different society than one where people often find themselves awake till nearly dawn trying to get to bed and feel exhausted after the full 8 or 9 hours of sleep. This is a reminder that transhumanism is not limited to superpowers or superintelligence or even to various cybernetic or genetic enhancements, and that little things, when global, can be enormous. A society in which diabetes or Alzhiemer’s is simply eliminated is a very different one in so many ways, and while that’s not something that we traditionally think of in the realm of Transhumanism, so many of the more near term goals of Transhumanism are those less flashy but very real outcomes, not just the big bionic arms and brain implants. Consider this: You don’t get sick, don’t get tired, never feel low on energy. You can still experience normal emotions but the brutal strikes of depression or other more hormonal or chemically imbalanced overwhelming emotions go away. Not involuntarily, I might add. You can choose to experience it or not and to the
degree or circumstance you want, but it removes the crippling aspect. That’s a hyper-productive world and one where people still presumably get mean and sour but less from chronic aches and pains or exhaustion and emotional fatigue. That’s also a very attractive world to a lot of folks, and I think a point needs to be restated that there is the method and the result, and we want to be careful not to assume we’re fighting old battles again. For instance, a person can certainly make a case that genetically enhancing a child in the womb is immoral, but we must remember that people have been engaging in selective breeding with the intent of producing superior kids for a very long time. Emphasis on “Intent”, because they did know all about breeding for traits and routinely did it with animals. Also, Intent matters more than effectiveness, because
some lady drinking a bizarre brew from a local witch or herbalist that she believed was going to make her child be born handsome or healthy differs from some advanced technology doing it only by our assumption that the latter is effective and the former was as useful as a placebo. While we have often banned procedures, like witchcraft or potions, we’ve never banned people seeking to have their kids come out better, and I’d have a hard time imagining we would. So we probably need to take for granted that as genetic engineering becomes available, it is going to happen. I think we’ll skim over the concept of designer babies, and the challenges
ethical and technical involved, in favor of giving that its own episode down the road, but we probably need to ask How would you stop it? All you need is one country willing to let the science and procedures be conducted, or even just decriminalized, and suddenly it becomes a tourist stop. Ban travel there and suddenly their neighbor becomes a tourist stop, especially the border towns, and they figure they might as well help because there’s money to be made and if they don’t make it, another neighbor will, but with the same result. I think the legal justification for banning travel to a country solely based on medical procedures they perform there would be pretty iffy. After that, well, if someone travels to some resort island, by themselves or with their partner, and comes back pregnant, what could be said or done? Assuming folks even know about the trip, what next? Mandatory genetic screening of fetuses? That’s a hard one to sell, but if so, then what. Mandatory abortions or euthanasia for genetically enhanced children? I’d imagine the lifespan of the career of any politician who suggested that would be measured in hours, same as if they suggested it for children with genetic disorders.
This all assumes there’s any need for folks to travel to anywhere to get a procedure done by someone else. It might be a pill you can order in the mail or just the encrypted data for a 3D printer available by crypto currency on the dark web. Anyway, that leaves you a child who, through no fault of their own, is genetically enhanced – or cybernetically for that matter - who society now needs to deal with. Star Trek dealt with
this plot, and badly, though I enjoyed the episode, in “Dr. Bashir, I Presume”, where the federation is stated to not allow genetically engineered children into Starfleet and is kind enough in the end to let the Dr Bashir, who was genetically altered by his parents as young child, to remain in Starfleet, saving lives, so long as his father took a plea bargain to spend a couple years in prison, for his crime of producing a heroic and magnificent doctor. Their reasoning is that back in the 20th century, in Trek Canon, some genetically engineered people tried to take over the world. I find that absurd as a reason but plausible as something people might argue for, your mileage may vary. But I’m really not expecting modern courts to be kind to laws or rules preventing a kid with a genetically enhanced IQ from attending school or having to have a proverbial scarlet letter on their head or being banned from employment or forcibly sterilized. At least going forward, we have had some tragic historical cases. That is essentially the path civilizations need to be willing to go down to prevent such engineering being done once such technology gets discovered, and I don’t think most will choose to embrace such bans, which is why I tend to assume it will get normal fast. Kids smarter, healthier, stronger, faster
than prior generations, probably just a little bit, incrementally, many of us would argue that’s been our open goal for countless generations. Fortunately, genetic engineering in the womb isn’t the only route to such things, so we do have other options. Nanotechnology or options like gene-editing and CRISPR might make it possible to alter every cell’s DNA in an adult organism, not just an embryo, and enhancements which adults can choose for themselves or which can be reversed alter things immensely. Technology can bring problems – nanotech brings many itself – but it also offers solutions. Many of the concerns of altering ourselves are about people doing it both irreversibly and when the subject is not an adult of sound mind. Obviously that excludes children but we often worry if someone wanting a radical change to themselves is mentally healthy, and being able to both make and reverse changes cheaply and safely alters things a lot.
So what does the transhuman landscape look like in the coming century or two? And of course, is everyone going to become one? The second is easier than the first to answer, but it still has to be vague. I don’t really expect humanity thousands of years from now to be identical to now. ‘Human’ is more likely to be a family rather than a species in the taxonomic ranks, maybe even an order or class, like Mammals. That’s likely to include artificial intelligences
that never had DNA, uploaded human minds, uplifted animals, and ten million flavors of genetically and cybernetically altered humans. I’d imagine that would include a lot of people who are identical to modern humans and what we normally call ‘baseline humans’ in these discussions, which would be you or I, those folks some centuries back might disagree. For my part, I’m not really expecting some sci fi style clash of the supermen and baseline humans, especially as it’s likely to be very much a spectrum kind of thing, a sliding scale of what qualifies as baseline or post-human rather than a binary state. That broad range is probably including people who some might view as augmented yet are the loudest opponents of some other change, then get angry when folks from their own side call them augmented too. But what does this look like? Well implantation is already here, it’s just limited in options. We essentially have artificial eyeball technology for instance, and I don’t mean cameras, but artificial eyeballs constructed along human eye conventions. Our problem is getting them
wired in and it’s the issue we have with brain implants on mice and apes too. We essentially have to build a robot surgeon who can work at the microscale to accurately connect huge numbers of nerves. That is not just on-the-horizon tech these days but close enough we’re knocking on the door, and eyes are probably the hardest organ to attach to the brain with a replaced prosthetic. Just giving someone telescopic sight or infrared vision though is likely, for a long while to come, to be about having either a pair of goggles with you, possibly carried by a drone, or just to have computer software ship the image to those nerves rather than to the eyeball, but again from some other camera. A thing to remember on transhumanism is that not many of us really relish the notion of getting our arm cut off even to be replaced by a better one or our eyes gouged out, even for corrective surgery. Medical technology advancements that help folks who have suffered such a loss will go on and probably with the open and approving support of the public. Down the road when it's gotten mundane and safe, folks will incorporate
some cool new features into themselves, as a blind person with an artificial eyeball is just as likely to want the ability to see in the infrared as someone normally-sighted. Cool color changing abilities or zoom features and of course camera snapshots would be common. Eventually this might get to be a common minor change for people like getting an ear piercing, especially if we have regenerative technologies to replace the original organ with a cloned or grown one too. For the rest of us though, that drone option is an example of how technologies might be adapted for baseline humans, to run them parallel to directly augmented ones. You just have peripherals rather than implants, much as we carry gear in our pockets, or wear them around our wrists, rather than swallowing them. But we’re limited in what we can carry and hold,
so anything light we can carry is great, but so is a posse of robots that carries our gear, and follows us around. Or so could an exoskeleton instead. We have this impression technology like this must involve penetrating your body, at least a little, with some sort of brain jack but there’s no particular reason you can’t go wifi, or even brain-scanner in a hat. Generally speaking it’s going to be a lot easier if you’re fine with adding a few strains of nanobots to the countless thousands of bacteria and viruses already hanging out in your body doing work, some vital to you living, without sharing your DNA. You are not just your DNA, you’re an ecosystem, and adding some bits and pieces which aren’t classically organic could be viewed as adding some fire detectors and cameras to a wilderness, it’s not totally unchanged but the addition benefits that wilderness, as we can now intercede against disasters. The obvious analogy, or rebuttal, is that
some people might pave that ecosystem over and put in a city or a strip mall, the equivalent of going very cyborg with extensive and visibly metallic body parts. For that matter though, we can probably tailor some existing organisms to serve as nanobots. We tend to assume organic is inferior to machinery but that’s a very binary and limited point of view, especially in the classic sci fi context of what Isaac Asimov, in his robot novels, called a C/Fe civilization, with carbon based humans and iron based robots. He wrote those in an era of vacuum switches before we had semiconductors, since then we tend to think of computers as silicon, but humans contain a lot of iron and steel robots would include carbon among the iron, so even then the notion of blending was there. Carbon fiber is very strong, as is diamond. Both
are made of carbon and indeed the miracle material of the last decade, graphene, is made entirely of carbon. So don’t think organic and think ‘weak’. Instead, think that there are around a hundred elements in this Universe and only a fraction are involved in life. By mass you’re 65% oxygen, 18% carbon, 9.5% Hydrogen, 3.2% Nitrogen, 1.5% Calcium, 1.2% Phosphorus. 0.4% Potassium, 0.2% Sulfur, Sodium, and Chlorine each, 0.1% Magnesium and every other element in nature makes up less than a thousandth of your mass, and most of that being iron, fluorine, and zinc. Would
it be a bad thing for your body to contain some additional elements? It already does, including radioactive bits like Uranium and precious ones like Gold and ultra strong ones like Titanium and Tungsten, just from our natural environment. So would an engineered or artificial nanobot or microbe that was a bit heavier on those really change anything to the ecosystem that is you? The answer of course is yes, we’re not pumping you full of little machines or microbes for no reason after all. What is or isn’t natural is a question folks raise a lot but one which always seems peculiar to me. Artificial is generally defined as man-made and that essentially includes humans too. Oh, I don’t mean in the trivial sense that your parents gave birth to you and were presumably both human. Rather, they raised you and did so with at least one of several entirely made up languages we created that influences all of your thinking, placed in your entirely artificial crib with your artificial walls and pictures and bottle and clothes constantly surrounding you in the literal physical sense while they poured a culture into you that we made. You’re about as ‘natural’ as a wooden chair and part of your current ecosystem involves a vast artificial dataweb in which you live and breathe. We joke about unplugging ourselves from the world,
or world wide web, on vacation or downtime, but we’re only half joking… and it's too late anyway, because we’ve got wifi. I generally tend to feel that trying to draw an official line between what’s not natural but acceptable, and what is not, gets kind of weird, with no generally agreed on definitions. My glasses, my belt, my watch, these are fine. Okay those don’t pierce the skin, but piercings certainly do, so do tattoos, which I suspect will start including circuitry and electronics sooner than not, so does a pacemaker. And these things are part of you. I think though that everyone will draw the lines in different places, not just on how much tech but of what type and so on. I myself would feel really weird at the
idea of being uploaded entirely to a computer somewhere but wouldn’t have an issue with being composed of a trillion tiny machines that happened to be artificial as opposed to the trillions I’m already composed of that are evolved, which is to say, a product of trial and error, especially if that was a gradual shift. But when it comes to shifting your entire mind around, just uploading it to a computer for instance, it's not really a cut and paste thing. You’ve got your brain stored on cells and you can presumably copy that onto a harddrive then emulate those. Your brain is still there with “you” still in it. This tends to favor the gradual approach then of replacing failed neurons with something artificial but that level of nanotech also just lets you replace that neuron with another identical neuron or just repair it, all while keeping a copy of the stage it was in for restoration if you get gross brain damage, like being shot in the head. And people do survive and recover from that sometimes so the fact that
machines are stitching you back together rather than the classic repair technique wouldn’t seem any different then sewing you up with a needle and thread rather than letting it scab over. I freely acknowledge though that we are bringing up a lot of slippery slopes and stretching some analogies. This is generally why I don’t like the term post-biological anymore than I like the term transhuman, because it implies that there’s some real line or space between human and post-human or biological and artificial. I don’t have good replacements for either, mind you, but then I don’t really ever expect many folks to regard themselves as transhuman anyway, any more than a cyborg. Personally I rather expect the first real human-intelligent AI will prefer to think of itself as a human too, and my hunch is we would be wise to encourage that. So what is life like in a transhuman society? You don’t get sick anymore, you might not age in any meaningful sense. You’re probably as strong as a horse and able to jog or run all day long
and maybe don’t need to sleep. You might have carpentry as a hobby, but your garage is missing a lot of tools like measuring tapes, because you’ve never needed one, you just know distance and angles. Your hand wields a knife or chisel with a steadiness any surgeon or sculptor would envy. You aren’t really capable of panic or terror or deep depression beyond when you choose to experience these things intentionally. And some might question if you’re really human
anymore without these, or already post-human. Your mind might be able to speed up, what we call framejacking, so that you could watch a hummingbird’s wings flap, or watch a backlog of movies one day by just leaning back against a tree and closing your eyes. Or leaving them open, and you might be able to see out the back of your head or from a dozen cameras around your body, and in infrared and ultraviolet. You don’t know how to do arithmetic really, you know higher math and could work it out, but you just never had to think about any problem because you no sooner see two numbers and think add or multiply before you know the answer. You can choose to remember any
moment of your life in crystal clear detail, and anytime you look at an object and feel puzzled, the whole basic entry on whatever it is comes up in your mind. You’ve never played darts because it’s like tic-tac-toe, nobody ever wins or loses because none of you ever miss except by random fate, so you might as well toss dice. Not that any of you do that either since you can make them land as you want. And that’s not really particularly superhuman
either, except Speed Superintelligence, one of the three types we contemplate along with Networked Intelligence, like a Hive Mind, and Quality Intelligence, which is a bit vague but the difference between a human brain and ten chimps with more total brain power. See our cyborgs episode or superpowers episode for more extreme versions or a deeper dive on these possible abilities, but I want to close for today by emphasizing that none of those aforementioned abilities is necessarily outside our current lifetime, none really are very high-tech and most wouldn’t even require putting machines inside you, there’s almost always a work around to grant a given ‘ability’ without getting invasive, except to modify the brain. And even that would have non-invasive exceptions, like transcranial stimulators or some peripheral brain augmentation that was scanning your mind and doing lots of the extra work. It recognizes you contemplating a math problem and displays the answer or stimulates it back into your head. I sometimes refer to mind augmentation as something akin to a shadow assistant or a third lobe of your brain, just computerized, even though we’d expect it to be distributed throughout your head, but an external computer tied into your mind by non-invasive scanning might qualify as that.
One could argue that we already do brain augmentation through language, relating problems to others to bring their mind in on it, and that having an assistant or secretary or accountant or even a specialist you visit like your doctor is already brain augmentation, a networked mind but done simplistically and low bandwidth by speech and writing rather than wiring, and a basic model we can expand and improve on with computers wired into or scanning or stimulating your brain, rather than wholesale altering it. And that’s a good point to close out on, because while we often discuss brain augmentation and how it might make you so far beyond human as to view each other nowadays like insects, I’ve noticed that by and large folks don’t really work that hard to improve their intelligence even using known techniques, so I’m not thinking folks will race out to do that. Especially as you probably need to ask if you can actually radically increase your own intelligence. Are you even you anymore if your mind is so far beyond human that it no longer relates to what you used to be? I’d imagine not, maybe gradually over time you might make minimal improvements and relate to a baseline human like we do kids, but I’m also not sure folks would feel much need to. Greg Egan’s 1994 novel Permutation City gives some interesting examples of this. So, the fastest scenario for us to colonize the galaxy would be essentially 100,000 years, with a new planet being colonized roughly every second on average, and we’ll be talking about that more next week. That means a lot of elbow room for those wanting to go play God to head off and grab a whole solar system and build a massive supercomputer around it, what we call a Matryoshka Brain. But outside of a specific Technological Singularity Scenario,
which grows ever less likely, see that episode for details, you always have a wide landscape of various massive AI and post-human and transhuman minds of various types who are probably not big fans of genocide or wiping out the other clades of humanity, including baseline humans, anymore than we feel like wiping out other primates or mammals. It probably doesn’t pay to have your other neighbors see you picking on and stealing from the less augmented folks and there’s a big question of why you would need to. Neither you nor any human, even a baseline human, living in a transhuman era, is desperate for resources or starved. What exactly do you need the bigger brain for? Of course, I can think of plenty of reasons I wouldn’t mind one, but none that I’d risk my own identity to get, or for lack of a better word, my humanity. That might be my optimism talking but I’m just not seeing a world where most people alive now, or at whatever point we figure out radical life extension, are going to feel like they need to seriously alter their own mind outside their comfort zone in order to survive comfortably. More brains is only a
survival advantage in a very technological society when not having them means folks try to hurt you or steal from you, and I’m guessing a lot of people won’t want to make that exchange, at least not quickly, maybe incrementally over millennia. It’s an interesting aspect of Transhumanism and posthumanism, that it’s mostly focused on improving the human condition, and so I think for many folks, the transhumanist future, for them at least, will be about embracing their humanity better through technology, rather than trying to move beyond, alter, or abandon it. As a reminder, this is our last episode for the year but we will still be having our Monthly Livestream Q&A, this Saturday Afternoon, December 31st, at 4 pm Eastern, to answer all your questions about the show and our episodes before we head into the New Years. Today’s episode on humanity’s future was about ways we might become smarter or longer lived but hopefully we’re also be becoming kinder, wiser, and more generous too. Many of us open our hearts and make donations during the holiday season. But when you donate,
how can you feel confident that your donations are really making a big impact? You could do weeks of research to find charities, figure out what they do, how effective they are, and how the charity might use additional money. Or you could visit GiveWell.org: there, you’ll find free research and recommendations about the charities that can save or improve lives the most per dollar. Let your brain and data help do what your heart wants, for instance they worked out that it cost about a dollar to give a child vitamin A supplements while vitamin A deficiencies have a drastic impact on mortality rates, making it one of the most efficient ways to save lives. GiveWell spends over 40,000 hours each year researching charitable organizations and only directs funding to a few of the HIGHEST-IMPACT, EVIDENCE-BACKED opportunities they’ve found. Over 100,000 donors have used GiveWell to donate more than ONE BILLION DOLLARS. Rigorous evidence
suggests that these donations will save over ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND lives AND improve the lives of MILLIONS more. And using GiveWell’s research is free! GiveWell wants as many donors as possible to make informed decisions about high-impact giving. They publish all of their research and recommendations on their site FOR FREE, no signup required. They allocate your tax deductible donation to the charity or fund you choose without taking a cut. If you’ve never donated to GiveWell’s recommended charities before, you can have your donation matched up to ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS before the end of the year or as long as matching funds last. To claim the matching funds, just click in on the link in the episode, Givewell.org/Isaac,
or on the donate page, when asked where you heard about Givewell, select Youtube and Isaac Arthur, to make sure your donation gets matched, or again, just click on the link, Givewell.org/Isaac. So today is the last episode of our eighth season here on SFIA, and as mentioned, we have a livestream coming up Saturday December 31st at 4pm Eastern to finish up 2022. But we’ll leap right into 2023 next week by returning to one of our favorite topics, interstellar colonization and the strategies for claiming the stars. The week after that we’ll ask what happens if all
our dreams of a post-scarcity era of abundance never comes to pass, and what options humanity has in such a future. Then it is on to Scifi Sunday on January 15th to explore the possibility that we might live in a hostile galaxy and some of the fermi paradox scenarios that discuss that like Dark Forest Theory or Berserker Probes. As always if you want reminders and notifications when those and other episodes come out, make sure to hit the subscribe button and notifications bell. And if you would like to help support the channel, just head to our website, Isaac Arthur.net for all the ways to help, like supporting us on Patreon or joining us on Nebula.
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