One wants to live forever, the other wants to push reset on the US Constitution. Both are running for president in 2016. As Republican and Democrat presidential candidates prepare for December's debates, pioneering Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan and cybersecurity legend John McAfee met for the first time this week for their own debate, over several large drinks in a motel bar.
Istvan, who is currently touring the US aboard a coffin-shaped campaign bus, and McAfee both have technology at the core of their campaign policies, but in terms of specific policy this is where the similarities end.
"I can't think of a more horrific concept than immortality," McAfee told Istvan soon after meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. "It is anti-evolutionary. We need to die and die young preferably; dying is the most beautiful of all things. I'd get behind a platform where you kill everyone at 30. I would fight you tooth and nail to stop you making people live forever."
McAfee, who is a columnist for IBTimes UK, announced his candidacy for the Cyber Party earlier this year. His policies include ending the war on drugs, dissolving the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and ending military intervention overseas. But perhaps the most controversial idea that he has espoused is that if elected to the White House, he would call for Article Five of the US Constitution to be invoked – a fail-safe put in place by the designers of the constitution in order to allow the American people to change or even abolish the government.
"I want to be the people's president," McAfee said. " I would lead our people to Article Five of the US Constitution: Press reset and start over. I mean, holy hell, is the government serving us or is it serving itself? It's invading my privacy, it's restricting my movements, but it's not serving me."
In contrast to this, questions have arisen throughout Istvan's campaign about his authoritarian ambitions, which stem from his 2013 novel The Transhumanist Wager. In it protagonist Jethro Knight, a Transhumanist loosely based on Istvan, takes over the world using radical technology and presides as dictator for 17 years. Istvan has unsurprisingly distanced himself from his novel in order to pursue his political ambitions, yet some of his ideas still echo those of Knight's. One of these is advocating near total surveillance.
"It's fine to be tracked as it doesn't really change anything about my life," Istvan said, who himself has an NFC RFID chip implanted in his hand. "I don't have anything to hide – if someone has something to hide I'm worried about that. I would prefer everyone gets tracked as it would increase safety dramatically. Transparency is everything. We're all citizens. All public officials should be tracked 24 hours a day. They work for me, I want to know what they're doing."
For McAfee, one of the world's most outspoken privacy advocates, this idea is heinous.
After inviting McAfee aboard Istvan's Immortality Bus the next day, the presidential hopefuls were finally able to find some common ground. When campaign videographer Roan Horn asked McAfee if he was on board with Transhumanism when it came to sexbots, McAfee replied: "Sex with robots? I dunno man, bring me a sexbot, we'll have sex and I'll see."