By Spencer Kellogg | CALIFORNIA
Zoltan Istvan is a journalist, artist, and transhumanist running as a Libertarian for California Governor in 2018. His platform promotes radical science and new technologies as creative ways to decentralize power, revolutionize the economy and reclaim individual liberty. 71 Republic’s Spencer Kellogg spoke with Zoltan about his ideas and the 2018 California Governor race.
71: Advancing technologies like CRISPR and RFID implants are allowing humans to mutate our physical capabilities and challenge our philosophical essence. You have written of utilizing the RFID implant to ‘bypass security codes on your computer, send text messages and open the front door.” Do you believe we will see mass adoption of these technologies over the next few decades and what might be the impetus?
Z: We’ll definitely see mass adoption of new technologies like implants and machine organs over the next decade. If you can make something in a human’s life easier and more functional, capitalism will find a way to do it—and that means incorporating a lot of new tech into our bodies. Our flesh isn’t very strong or long-lasting. Metal parts and data will serve our lives better.
71: Your campaign strikes me as singularly unique and substantially different than anything in the Libertarian Party. Where do you see yourself within the movement, who do you recognize as some of your allies and what is your relationship with the Libertarian Party?
Z: I see myself as a libertarian who leans a bit left and loves thinking about the future. Some people will say that leaning a bit left disqualifies me from being a libertarian, but that’s ridiculous. People seem to forget I wrote one of the best selling and most widely reviewed libertarian books (The Transhumanist Wager) of the 21st century, that I interviewed with Gary Johnson to be his 2016 VP, that I’m a successful entrepreneur who hates taxes, and that I’m a long time Ayn Rand reader. There is a natural place for me in the movement. That said, the Libertarian Party needs to get a bit more realistic and open-minded about including those not precisely of their exact philosophies, otherwise, they’ll never grow. I intend to show them that. And I think the fact that last month I did about 15 million views (likely more than all other 1000+ LP candidates combined) of my work is a sure sign that the hardcore libertarians should ease up a bit to allow some new ideas in.
71: You have traveled through war zones and seen the evil of humankind… how has this influenced your interest in affecting change in the world and do you believe technology presents an opportunity for greater peace and harmony in this and other countries?
Z: Having been to multiple war/conflict zones as a reporter for National Geographic, I can tell you that death, rape, torture, and evil are quite real. Humanity must come together to end war once and for all. Greater transparency and loss of privacy, through radical and increased technology all around us, will help to make the world peaceful.
71: Universal Basic Income is being discussed as an inevitability. With the forecasted loss of jobs due to the robotics industry and the rise of A.I. are we becoming a fundamentally different society? Regarding UBI, how can you sell libertarians and conservatives on a position that amounts to a new federal welfare state? California has the toughest gun laws in the country. With the recent surge in mass shootings, do you believe America has a gun problem? If elected would you loosen gun restrictions in California or would you look elsewhere to impact this growing concern?
Z: My Universal Basic Income plan is totally unique. America owns 150 trillion dollars of mostly unused federal land—that ultimately belongs to the people. We should use that land and lease it out—and take the proceeds and pay everyone a basic income (it amounts to about $2000 a month for every American). I call this plan a Federal Land Dividend. It will not raise taxes. It will not increase the national debt. And it will shrink the need for many government services, like Social Security, Gov healthcare, and welfare. This is a totally libertarian idea, and it will be my platform for my 2020 Libertarian Presidential run. By then the speedy evolution of robotics and AI will force all Americans to face the fact that their jobs will be taken by machines in the near future. No one is exempt. We need a financial strategy in place to keep a violent revolution from happening because tens of millions have lost their jobs. That strategy starts with my Federal Land Dividend and using the most natural resource we all have. Right now, every American is worth about $500,000 if they were to get their piece of Federal land available.
71: Where do you stand on the issue of California secession?
Z: I enjoy hearing the stories and ideas about California secession, but I do not advocate for it. What California needs is simply a Libertarian Governor, which is of course why I’m running for the office.
71: Does America has a gun problem? If elected would you loosen gun restrictions in California or would you look elsewhere to impact this growing concern?
Z: We don’t have a gun problem. We have a mental disease problem. This needs to be addressed first and foremost. That’s how I will tackle the gun issue, by improving the people who own them to be responsible.
71: Recently, Bitcoin and other digital currencies and platforms have gained traction in the world of commerce and technology. If elected what would be your position on the taxation and regulation of the growing Fintech industry?
Z: I believe in eliminating all taxes over time. I think the government has enough natural resources and Federal land that they don’t need to tax citizens whatsoever. The age of robotics is upon us, and most government can be automated within a decade. Robots can fix robots. The government will eventually be totally machine run and will cost next to nothing.