In the latest installment of our new (semi)regular segment, Wow! Really?, we examine little-known or unexpected facts about Hungary and Hungarian culture. Today, we turn to a Hungarian-American who wants to fundamentally change the nature of humanity.
Zoltán István, a Hungarian-American journalist entrepreneur, and candidate in last year’s US presidential election, is one of the leading voices in the world of ‘Transhumanism,’ a movement whose core belief is that, through the extensive use of technology and scientific advancement, humans will eventually be able to live forever.
Speaking to The Atlantic, István likewise described how he came to embrace the tenants of transhumanism. The former journalist came to this realization in 2003, when, while working for National Geographic in Vietnam, he nearly activated a landmine. This experience led him to quit journalism and become a full-time advocate for transhumanism: “I thought, ‘death is horrible,’…How can we get around it?”
Likewise, István is extremely enthusiastic about the integration of technology and the human body. He has a chip implanted in his hand that opens his front door at a wave, and would like to replace his limbs “with bionics so he can throw perfectly in water polo.” He sees such physical integration of humans and machines as a key part of the future, and told the Atlantic that he would be surprised if “we don’t start merging our children with machines” in the near future.”
István has appeared at events all over the world promoting his vision of a future that many would consider to be something straight out of science fiction; last summer, he took part in the Brain Bar Budapest festival, a gathering of world class scientists and thinkers held in June in the Hungarian capital. You can view his Brain Bar discussion below:
Upon launching his 2016 presidential campaign, István took Transhumanism on the road, driving around the US spreading his message in his signature “Immortality Bus,” a campaign bus that had been modified to look like a coffin. While traveling as the self-described “science candidate”, he received plenty of criticism for the atheistic nature of his views, particularly in more religious areas of the country. By his own admission, however, István’s goal in running was never to win, but rather to increase the visibility of, and drum up support for, the idea of transhumanism.
And the idea itself is catching on, particularly in Silicon Valley, where it would seem that dreams of immortality are dancing in tech barons’ heads. Nor was the 2016 election Zoltan’s last foray into politics; earlier this month, the journalist-entrepreneur-transhumanism evangelist announced his intention to run for Governor of California as a Libertarian.
If all this wasn’t enough, Zoltán István is also the self-proclaimed inventor of an entirely new extreme sport: Volcano Boarding.
Via BBC, the Atlantic, the Guardian, zoltanistvan.com, and Newsweek
Images via memory-alpha.wikia.com, zoltanistvan.com, the BBC,