The date for the 2016 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) has been announced. The conference will take place on Saturday, 9 April 2016, at the Salt Lake City Public Library. One of the two keynote speakers will be Eric Steinhart, professor in the Department of Philosophy at William Paterson University, and author of “Your Digital Afterlives: Computational Theories of Life after Death.” The other keynote speaker will be announced later.
The aim of this conference is to address the many issues and topics that lie at the intersection of technology and religion, and their impacts on society, and culture including art, music, entertainment, and on society in general.
The annual Conference of the MTA is the main gathering of religious and spiritually oriented transhumanists, and believers interested in transhumanist ideas, since 2012. Before launching the MTA Conferences, the MTA sponsored the 2010 Transhumanism and Spirituality conference and the 2009 Mormonism and Engineering conference. Like the MTA itself, the Conference is open to non-Mormons and every year so far there has been a non-Mormon keynote, starting with yours truly in 2012.
For non-Mormon transhumanists, the Conference and the related social programs are unique opportunities to become more familiar with a society built upon the most transhumanist religion. I have written about my own first experience in “Stranger in a strange Mormon neverland.”
I attended the MTA Conference and gave talks in 2012, 2013 (see also my article “Man will become like God, say Mormons and transhumanists in Salt Lake City” on KurzweilAI), and 2014, and I look forward to being there in 2016.
Eric’s book has received rave reviews. “Beautiful and inspiring and thought-provoking, and (I think) genius,” wrote MTA President Lincoln Cannon in a comment to Eric’s 2014 promotional article published in the IEET website.
In Eric’s own words, Your Digital Afterlives develops and defends several digitalist approaches to life after death, including both “hard” (brain scanning) and “soft” (personality capture) forms of mind uploading, and promotion to higher levels of simulation, and uses these approaches to life after death to build a comprehensive philosophical framework for the transhumanist vision.
Uploaded humans with software bodies will inhabit virtual worlds designed by natural Gods – God-like world-making engineers.
“Following Dawkins, Your Digital Afterlives argues for an evolutionary theology,” says Eric. “But divine evolution requires divine self-reproduction. Just as some organisms reproduce asexually, so gods reproduce asexually. Gods evolve by means of recursive self-improvement.”
“As gods evolve, they become more powerful, more intelligent, and more benevolent. Less perfect gods beget more perfect gods in a never-ending process. This is radical polytheism: every god surpasses itself in every possible way by making every possible better version of itself. As gods evolve, they begin to run universes. As these universes grow more complex, they contain increasingly complex things, like human lives.”
Evolving Gods will build evolving, better and better worlds. “If our universe is surpassed by every possible better version of itself, then your life will also be surpassed by every possible better version of itself,” says Eric.
“Better versions of your life inhabit better versions of our universe. After you die, you will live again.”
If you, like me, find Eric’s ideas intriguing, and if you can attend the MTA conference, I look forward to seeing you in Salt Lake City next April. If you wish to submit a paper for the conference, the deadline is February 1, 2016.