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Key digital innovation trends for 2023, Q&A with Zoltan Istvan

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Zoltan Istvan, Public Figure in Transhumanism

How could you describe your career path in a few words?

My career has certainly been unorthodox. After graduating with a degree in Philosophy from Columbia University in New York City, I began working as an on-camera journalist for the National Geographic Channel. I often covered conflict zones and witnessed some terrible things. On one assignment along the former demilitarized zone in Vietnam, I almost stepped on a landmine. This experience shocked me and convinced me I should dedicate my life to transhumanism, a movement whose main goal is overcoming death with science. 

Back in the USA, I began work on a novel called The Transhumanist Wager. It was about a man named Jethro Knights who would do anything to overcome biological death. The book became a bestseller and launched my career as a public figure in the science world.

A few years later, I began a series of political campaigns as a science candidate, the first time this had ever occurred in the USA. The campaigns, including a 2-year run for US President, were a hit even if I never had a real shot a winning; major media broadly covered them. One of the more important results of this was the publishing of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, which I authored before it became crowdsourced. A new version was published by Wired Magazine. Additionally, the campaigns led to many opportunities; for example, I had the honor to speak at World Economic Forum and World Bank events.

Over the last few years, I’ve continued to actively spread transhumanism in my essay writings, which include multiple articles for The New York Times and Newsweek. I’ve also written a few new nonfiction books. I’m also a graduate student at the University of Oxford, studying Practical Ethics in the Philosophy Department. FinalIy, I run a multi-continent vineyard business, where my wineries are trying to infuse transhumanist nootropics (brain drugs) into wine. I have vineyards and wineries in Bordeaux (France), Mendoza (Argentina), and Napa Valley (California). My 2022 Malbec is now entering wine competitions.

Lastly, a feature documentary on my work called Immortality of Bust is on Amazon Prime and internationally on Plex TV. And a biography on my life by Dr. Ben Murnane, Transhuman Citizen: Zoltan Istvan’s Hunt for Immortality, is set to be published on June 28, 2024, by Changemakers Books.

What are the highlights of the key digital innovation trends for 2022? Can you give us some major examples?

The biggest digital innovation trend in 2022, and now 2023, is certainly AI. ChatGPT came out at the end of 2022 and changed the world. Quickly following in its footsteps were Google’s Bard and other generative AIs. And a multitude of start-ups where I live in Silicon Valley are following suit, complete with their own variations of AI that offer use and value to people and business globally. 

Futurists like myself like to believe we know what’s coming, but nobody in my field saw how fast near-superintelligent AI would arrive. That’s the thing with innovation; most governments, universities, and nonprofits don’t know what the next big transformative technology is going to be, mostly because there’s such secrecy around such profitable technology. Only the engineers and CEOs of companies developing such radical tech is aware of its launch date.

With this in mind, organizations must attempt to plan their futures based on what “might” come out. For example, a trend of fusion energy innovation in the last year might mean much easily accessible energy is here in 10 years' time. This could redefine how we perceive clean energy—and the investments we make today, which could easily be obsolete 2030.

Based on your experiences, what are the impactful trends in digital innovation that are becoming more important in the context of 2023?

I could talk about AI forever, as it’s the biggest game changer in town. But let’s focus on another giant trend in 2023: extreme longevity. When I began actively promoting life extension science in 2014, the companies around it were worth a few billion dollars combined. Now Bank of America is reporting by 2026, extreme longevity science will be worth around 600 billion dollars. This is a huge difference. 

What’s happened is billionaires from Mark Zuckerberg to Sam Altman to Jeff Bezos have started pouring money into start-ups trying to get humans to live far longer. These entrepreneurs have a history of success. So suddenly, real progress is being made with the science. Wheelchair bound people are being cured of paralysis. Blind people can now see with new robotic scanner tech built into their nervous system. Genetic therapies are being designed to slow down aging. 

In the next five years, a few human trials will be taking place for significant longevity drugs. Don’t be surprised to see a pill or injection hit the market before 2030 that will make you live quite a bit longer

In your opinion, how can they create high value for organizations?

With both significant progresses occurring in both AI and extreme longevity, businesses will be transformed. The key, of course, is how organizations can generate value from these benefits. 

In my opinion, organizations must hire people with the ability to quickly deal with these new technologies. What use is AI to a media company that doesn’t know how to benefit from it; media companies therefore need futurists, trend experts, and maybe even technology philosophers. The same goes for governmental agencies that ignore addressing long term health benefits from their constituents living much longer in the future. Organizations must hire talent that understand innovation. Science and technology is changing and evolving too quickly to be left without seers of such radical change.

Of course, understanding technological impact is only half the battle. Organizations must also be able to create value from innovations. In a world where AI both takes and gives jobs, care must be taken that the proper balance is struck between how technology impacts the workplace. Just because AI can replace human workers doesn’t mean that should happen. Organizations must remember what they exist for: to generate value for the people that belong to them.

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