Interview with Sean Henderson
by Jonathan Despres. Go to the Interviews.
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and what current projects are you involved in?
I'm a self-educated outsider to academia and politics, former Buddhist and now an Abolitionist.
What are your goals for the next decade?
In terms of Abolitionism : to continue to help to expose the agenda of those currently in power and espouse the only viable long term solution to humanity's problems - genetic engineering.
When do you think will we achieve real life extension?
I think it's better to focus on the possibilities and the work ahead than make predictions. Inspiration and optimism are good for longevity science.
Your vision of the future?
In a nutshell - an end to genetic roulette and might makes right politics. I think we as a species need to take responsibility for our genetic evolution and form a decentralized world government to end power through force or manipulation.
In the future, I believe that we're likely to see mandatory pre-implantation genetic screening for all potential human beings to ensure that they are given the best start in life and are not descriminated against by having to live with a gene set that causes them to have a disadvantage in relation to others and a detriment to their lifelong happiness. Presently the human race is creating dysgenics by allowing everyone to breed without any selection forces at work to ensure that good genes are passed on to future generation.
It's critical that government work through the protection of sentient rights : the hedonic calculus is impossible to measure and predict and utilitarianism is used to justify all manner of elitist objectives. No one wants to live in a world where they are not inherently valued and are instead viewed as an annuity.
Do you believe in Cryonics and when will it succeed?
Hopefully soon. I can't say that it isn't possible to achieve a technology that allows for cryonic suspension and re-animation - and with more investment I would expect that the technical hurdles will become speed bumps.
What kind of jobs did you do when you were younger and what are the important things you learned from them?
I've done all manner of lower end jobs - which taught me the importance of self-direction and self-improvement.
Why isn't the science of cryonics progressing at a rate commensurate to other sciences?
Lack of funding and public support due to religious ideologies.
Do you believe in a God?
No, there is no evidence and a centralized diety with omnipotent powers isn't consistent with scientific discoveries. Besides, I don't find the idea comforting at all.
What extropian values do you prefer the most and why?
Perpetual Progress - we simply can't afford stagnation or complacency. We inherently seek to improve our lot in life and lessen that which is bad while avoiding death.
Self-Transformation - there's no holy law defining what a human being should be or how they should live their life.
Practical Optimism - what is the alternative? there really isn't one
Intelligent Technology - we need to augment human capacities in order to understand how best to improve ourselves.
Open Society : information and democracy - to speed up the data transfer rate and ensure that the elite do not manipulate the masses.
Self-Direction - it's important for a person to have their own self interest in mind as others will not.
Rational Thinking - comforting thinking isn't going to change our genes, society, or lifespans.
What do you think we should do to advance the quality of life of everybody?
Mandatory genetic screening and the protection and promotion of rights for all sentient beings.
Do you see a future for biology? (considering bionics, ai, mind uploading, robotics)
yes, the world is too complex to ever completely eliminate uncontrolled organic processes on earth in the foreseeable future
The man or the woman that is a model for you? Why?
I have many role models that i take inspiration from. IMO, it's important to separate the traits that are good from the person who exhibits them when emulating. All too often we simply follow the gross example of what we see to be strong or dominant in an attempt to become more powerful ourselves within culture.
The stuff you are proud in your life?
Seeking the truth and being completely open for debate. I try to debate my thoughts openly online. I hope to inspire others to do the same by setting an example, and am proud that I've been successful in attracting attention and spreading memes that change opinions. I'm very proud of the fact that what I do with the Abolitionist Society is completely open and entirely without any profit motive or domination motive - I hope to show the world that self-satisfaction comes from a kind of integrity and not through becoming more relatively dominant than those around you.
The stuff you are not proud in your life?
To be honest, when someone shows a weakness it is an invitation for others to dominate or disparage them. Why should I tell others my weaknesses?
What would you love to accomplish before you die?
To see Abolitionism thrive as a distinct research tradition - and to have the world acknowledge the inherent veracity of the Abolitionist meme through open rational debate.
What are the languages of the universe for you?
Pleasure, pain, on/off, and the endless spinoff of opposite distinctions
Is competition good in cryonics?
It won't stop, so it will be good to ensure that the innovation is not used for power.
Imagine yourself as a space navigator and you discover a smaller, less advanced civilization on a planet, what would you do with them?
First attempt to communicate while avoiding any interraction that might have unknown and serious effects on both civilizations.
What do you think biological simulations will do to cryonics, aging or nanotechnology?
They will provide a highly useful model for further testing and verification. It's likely that simulations will provide a catalyst for a much faster rate of scientific progress.
What kind of mathematics is used in aging, cryonics & nanomedicine?
What will be the best (central), most important tool in molecular manufacturing? And why ?
I really can't predict that.
Which path should we take for immortalism, nanomedicine or biogerontology or something else?
We should explore all paths for efficacy and let human rights be the deciding factor in how the technologies are applied.
What first attracted you to the idea of physical immortality?
The desire to continue living and avoid the ravages of aging. I've worked in nursing homes and watched people deteriorate and slowly die - there's nothing good about it.
What a company can do to become sucessful in the life extension business?
Offer viable products.
How handy an indefinite lifespan would be?
Immeasurably, imagine what you could learn and accomplish, the sky is really the limit with immortality.
What would be the jobs of the future?
Less hierarchy and lifetime investment in a career and more freedom and ability to quickly learn and perform any specialty. Computerized training will likely be a critical component of this.
What do you think of the Paradise Engineering idea?
It's feasible and ethical if approached through the protection of rights.
What do you think about the singularity, when will it happen?
We already have technological progress we can't predict that changes our world on fundamental levels. I see the 'singularity' as simply a marketing gimmick.
What's the future of "information technology" for you?
Preserving/enhancing security while we increase data transfer and open communication.
What would be the great inventions/ideas of the future?
Self-sufficient homes, post-birth genetic manipulation, brain implants, regenerative medicine, downloadable education,
What should we do to improve/clean our ecology?
Promote self sufficiency and long-term ideologies.
Do you think molecular manufacturing (or anything else) could clean up pollution on earth and in space? If so, when and how?
Potentially yes, but it's better if we don't hold on to hope that we'll easily be able to erase our pollution in the future.
Your best movie ever is?
Your religion is?
Your political view?
Your web page is?
Your contact information?
Your favorite song, and your favorite style of music are?
rock and roll, 'No Salvation' by the Hellacopters
Do you know a good person that I should interview?