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In 1998, the World Transhumanist Association (WTA) was founded as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce. It began working toward the recognition of transhumanism as a legitimate subject of scientific inquiry and public policy.
In contrast to the techno-utopianism of Extropy Institute, WTA officials considered that social forces could undermine their futurist visions and needed to be addressed. A particular concern is the equal access to human enhancement technologies across classes and borders. In 2006, William Saletan of Slate reported a political struggle within the transhumanist movement between the libertarian right and the liberal left resulting in a more centre-leftward positioning of Humanity+ under its former executive director James Hughes.
In 1998, the WTA established the Journal of Transhumanism. In 2004, it renamed its journal the Journal of Evolution and Technology and transferred it to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and launched a webzine/blog called Transhumanity.
The WTA also held an annual conference called TransVision. Past conferences include:
- TransVision98, June 5–7: Weesp, The Netherlands, Europe
- TransVision99, June 4–6: Stockholm, Sweden, Europe
- TransVisionMM, July 15–16: London, England, Europe
- TransVision01, June 22–24: Berlin, Germany, Europe
- TransVision03, June 27–29: Yale University, USA, North America
- TransVision04, August 6–8: University of Toronto, Canada, North America, with nearly 125 participants including Steve Mann, Robert K. Logan and Robin Hanson.
- TransVision05, July 22–24: Caracas, Venezuela, South America
- TransVision06, August 17–19: University of Helsinki, Finland, Europe, with a simultaneous virtual online conference. The theme of the conference was Emerging Technologies of Human Enhancement.
- TransVision07, July 24–26: Chicago, USA, North America. The theme of the conference was Transforming Humanity: Innerspace to Outerspace.
In 2006, the WTA adopted the following programs of activity:
- Campaign for the Rights of the Person: A campaign to modify national laws and international human rights conventions to establish (a) that bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and cognitive liberty should be explicitly recognized and protected, (b) that universal access to enabling technologies (including such things as education and medicine) is a right in itself, and a precondition for all other rights, (c) personhood, sentience, and capacity for having morally relevant interests are the bases of rights-bearing, not humanness or the human genome.
- Campaign for Longer Better Lives: A campaign for a multinational research program to develop therapies to slow aging.
- Campaign for Future Friendly Culture: A campaign to encourage balanced and constructive portrayals of longevity, human enhancement and emerging technologies in popular culture.
In 2008, as part of a rebranding effort, the WTA changed its name to "Humanity+" in order to project a more humane image.
The objectives of Humanity+ are:
- to support discussion and public awareness of emerging technologies;
- to defend the right of individuals in free and democratic societies to adopt technologies that expand human capacities;
- to anticipate and propose solutions for the potential consequences of emerging technologies;
- to actively encourage and support the development of emerging technologies judged to have sufficiently probable positive benefit.
Programs and activities
Humanity+ have organised a series of conferences. The most recent Humanity+ conference was on December 1–2, 2012, at the Seven Hills Conference Center at San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA.
Humanity+ has spawned a host of chapters around the world. In total, there are dozens of formed or forming local groups—one on virtually every continent. A dozen transhumanist groups in the United States, Europe, South America, Australia and Asia have also formally affiliated with Humanity+.
Shortly after the WTA changed its name to "Humanity+" in 2008, it launched H+ Magazine, a quarterly magazine on transhumanist news and ideas that has since changed its organization, leadership, and format several times. The magazine produced five issues from 2008 through 2009, each released as PDF-based digital editions, and one released also as a print edition available in retail stores. The publisher changed from Humanity+ to Betterhumans LLC beginning with the second issue, with R. U. Sirius the editor of all five issues. In 2010, with R. U. Sirius continuing as editor, the magazine transitioned into a web-only publication not based around complete issues, and its publisher was switched back to Humanity+. The website is currently managed by Peter Rothman. Notable contributors include Michael Moorcock, Rudy Rucker, Woody Evans, John Shirley, James Hughes, and Douglas Rushkoff.
- Sutherland, John (2006-05-09). "The ideas interview: Nick Bostrom". The Guardian.
- Extropy Institute (2006). "Next Steps". Retrieved 2006-05-05.
- Hughes, James (2004). Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-4198-1.
- Ford, Alyssa (May–June 2005). "Humanity: The Remix". Utne Magazine. Retrieved 2007-03-03.
- Saletan, William (2006-06-04). "Among the Transhumanists". Slate.com. Archived from the original on 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2007-03-03.
- Bailey, Ronald (2004-08-11). "The Transhumans Are Coming!". Reason Online. Retrieved 2007-03-02.
- Daly, Bernard (2004-10-25). "Transhumanism". America: The National Catholic Weekly 191 (12).
- TransVision 2006 - Emerging Technologies of Human Enhancement
- "Programs of the World Transhumanist Association".
- Blackford, Russell (2008). "WTA changes its image". Retrieved 2008-11-18.
- "WTA Constitution and By-Laws".
- Newitz, Annalee (2008). "Can Futurism Escape the 1990s?". Retrieved 2008-11-18.
- "Magazine Issues". H+ Magazine.
- "H+ Magazine". Fall 2008.
- "H+ Magazine". Spring 2009.
- "H+ Magazine". Summer 2009.
- "H+ Magazine". Fall 2009.
- "H+ Magazine". Winter 2009.
- "Print Issue on Sale Now!". H+ Magazine. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
- "A new publisher for H+ Magazine". H+ Magazine. 18 July 2010. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
- "About Us". H+ Magazine. Retrieved 2012-11-29.