Extropy NOW!

(Originally published in Extropy#17 , Vol.8, No.2 - 2nd Half 1996)

Extropy means creating order from chaos; striving for ever higher levels of human life – optimizing both the quality and quantity of our lives. An extropian world-view seeks to dynamically maximize intellect and knowledge, in order to control and shape our lives and future. Technology, the practical implementation of human ingenuity, is part-and-parcel of this vision. In fact, to many of us, radical future technology is what initially attracted us to extropian ideas - symbolizing a 'Great New World'. Is this focus justified?

Do you identify extropianism primarily with having a keen interest in future technology? Are you looking forward to the day when science will give you a longer life, help you overcome your limitations, give you a fulfilled life? Do you wish that progress would 'hurry up''- you can't wait to start living an extropian life? Well, don't wait. Extropianism is not only a philosophy for the future – it is about getting the most out of life today, as well as tomorrow. To simply wait for the future to rescue us from today's limitations is to abdicate responsibility - a very entropic thing to do! The future is here, we can be transhuman - is we so choose.

Technology is only a means to the end of Optimal Living. Are we actually fully utilizing technology, including that derived from philosophy and psychology, to optimize our lives now – both in quality and quantity? Nanotechnology will not feed, clothe or re-build us for many years to come. Cryonics, however important, is only a safety net of unknown fabric. Fortunately, we 'Extropians' have the knowledge and attitude to benefit now – we don't have to be enslaved by mysticism, society's conventions, ignorance, or pessimism. We don't have to imprison ourselves by our destructive emotions, childhood trauma, or genetic limitations. We have the potential for dramatically improving our lives, right now. We can effectively double the time that we spend truly Living, starting today. We can do this by improving our skills, remaking our personalities - our selves. It is not only exotic technology, but also ancient wisdom properly implemented that can help us transcend current limitation. Our optimism is dynamic, and pro-active. We need to transform ourselves to achieve personal extropy.


What is Optimal Living? It comprises long term physical and emotional health, fulfillment, and happiness; not wasting our lives on irrelevant or unpleasant tasks. How much time do we spend on sub-optimal activities? If our work is not a pleasure, we are off to a bad start: We probably spend at least 50% (55 hrs/week) of our total waking lives preparing, commuting and working, and that's not even counting time wasted vegetating away because of stress, frustration and exhaustion. Most of us spend at least another 20% (22 hrs/week) of our waking lives on other tasks which we regard as necessary evils rather than pleasures. These may include shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, gym, fixing things, doing taxes and other red-tape, and filling 'social obligations'.

Have you ever done an audit of your actual life? How much of our lives do we waste with people we don't really like; or in relationships which are far from optimal? What percentage of your time do you spend doing things you want to do, rather than have to? What is our LQ (Living Quotient)? How can we get from 30% to 60% or 40% to 80% (effectively adding maybe 30 years to our lives), or even from 10% to 90% (does 10% even qualify as living)? Fortunately, many of us enjoy our work most of the time, but is it optimal? What would we do if we could wave a magic wand?

There are no magic wands. But, we have something almost as good: intellect, knowledge, freewill. We just need to learn how to weave them in just the right way. Before we explore solutions, let's look at another requirement, money.


Extropy is to a large extent a function of money. Most of the leading-edge technologies that we want for a healthier, safer and longer life are expensive. Quality generally carries a premium: Health foods and supplements, timely and effective preventative and corrective medical care, healthy living environment (low on pollution and noise), safe cars, homes and equipment, anti-aging drugs and cosmetics, cryonics. How much do you think artificial neurons or genetic engineering will cost initially? Hot (and healthy) bodies are an expensive hobby. Education and knowledge have their price. Freeing ourselves from unfulfilling work, unpleasant environments, and dreary chores costs money. Food for the soul, be it art, scientific discovery or (interplanetary) travel, has to be paid for. Even relationships cost spare time to be enjoyed. Boundless Expansion, limitless mental and physical growth, seems to require boundless resources.

How can we achieve the dual objectives of reducing wasted time and making money? By learning the skill of managing and making money, and by discovering ways of making money that we enjoy, we can kill both vampires with one stake. I regard three issues as crucial:

Goal definition Most of us were not taught to regularly search our souls for our deepest desires and to analyze them rationally. Many of our goals seem to be defined by others: our parents, friends, lovers, bosses, the media, society. Others emerge from vague feelings, or are 'forced' on us by seemingly immutable circumstance. How often do we actually take the time to clearly identify and review what we want to do now, in a year, in ten, in thirty? To determine who we want to be? To carefully analyze conflicting emotions and wishes, and to subject them to a reality check? It is no trivial task to identify rational goals for which one is also passionate. Many people never manage it. What a waste! Our goals represent the meaning our lives have. Effective goal definition skill is one of the virtues we may need to acquire or improve – others are covered under self-transformation.

Money-making skills Making money, includes both effective management of expenditure and investments, as well as knowing how to create wealth. These skills that can be learned, just like any others. One of the common myths is that investment capital is the biggest barrier to starting a business. Not so. What is in short supply, are good ideas and motivated, skilled entrepreneurs – investors are plentiful. Are we utilizing our advanced extropian knowledge and technology to develop better investment and business plans? Are we using our smarts to realize how valuable investments are to our future life-style? A good investment can grow 10 fold in 10 to 15 years. Every $100,000 invested can give us at least $1000 per month income, forever. Those are the tame options; starting a business can yield much better returns – apart from eliminating dependence on the whims of some boss. Integrating our personal goals with money-making skills makes work profitable as well as pleasurable.

Self-transformation In addition to goal definition and money skills there are other personality traits, virtues and skills that will help us optimize living. I would rate a rational, optimistic philosophy of life as fundamental to achievement. Such a philosophy affirms the possibility of objective knowledge, helps to eliminate contradictions and asserts the efficacy and value of the individual. It lays the foundations for a workable personal ethic which helps us tell right from wrong, both in theory and in practice. We can utilize the emerging science of psychology to help us overcome faulty past programming to mange emotional responses and improve our thinking. Ethics and psychology can assist us in turning chores into pleasures, and enhance relationships. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), Branden's self-esteem techniques, critical thinking training, and rational ethics are some of the tools available to us. Information technology can help us acquire the knowledge needed in whatever fields we choose to be active.

Onwards, Now!

Optimal Living requires that we dynamically define and review our goals, acquire the skills and knowledge needed to achieve them, and most importantly, to actually implement our plans. Setting the highest goals for ourselves, and total rational commitment to achieving them – maximizing our own extropy – is what really makes us Extropians. We should individually and collectively investigate all possible avenues to overcome limits now. Let's not be too dazzled by sexy future technology; some of our most effective means of self-actualization are of the mundane variety. In addition to using the latest longevity drugs or computer systems, we should consider the effectiveness of time and money management, diet and exercise – and even such quaint wisdoms as building good character, and knowing who we are and where we are going.

Let me throw down the gauntlet: I want it all, and I want it now! I challenge every reader to do the same. How can we co-operate to help each other extrope? What knowledge of philosophy, ethics, psychology, longevity research, business, finance, information systems, etc. can we share, pool or trade now to help us achieve shared objectives? I am convinced that our collective wisdom and energies are horribly under-utilized. Let's see if we can find sufficient common motivation for spontaneously ordered co-operation to emerge from our precious individuality. Not many people share our thrill of riding the crest of the Future Shock Wave. In fact, few understand our special surfing language at all. Doesn't it make sense to benefit each other? How about initiating some extropic program?

Whatever advantages a co-operative approach may have, it must never detract from the inescapable individual responsibility for personal growth. Responsibility for our lives must neither be abdicated to the future nor to others. The priority is to do an audit of our lives: how we spend our time and money, our physical and mental health, our long and short-term goals, our strategies for achieving them, plus a review of technology (including philosophical and psychological) used to help achieve our goals. Are we satisfied with our time utilization? Are we happy with our financial plans? How do we break out of the mental prisons which hold us back? Let's carefully review our options and overcome the limits within ourselves. Let's make sure that we squeeze the last drops out of any technology that may promote our goals. Let's not waste the next 20 or 50 years just fantasizing about the future. Let's take charge – today. Order from chaos, now.

Appendix: Some 'Extropy Now' Technology

Knowledge derived from philosophy, psychology and cognitive science may not be as sexy as nanotechnology or genetic engineering but it offers some of the most profound enhancements we can achieve today.

Objective Philosophy - Making reality comprehensible and thus controllable. Understanding the nature and limits of knowledge helps us define and optimize our lives. Effective means for identifying wrong philosophies and 'knowledge'. (Extropian PrinciplesObjectivism - Pancritical Rationalism)

Rational Ethics - Effective, practical principles to help us define and achieve goals. Re-defining ourselves, our character, our virtues. Practical guides on how to tell right from wrong – for ourselves and in relation to others. (Rational Ethics: Principles for Optimal Living)

Scientific Psychology - NLP to help reprogram limiting emotional responses. Self-esteem techniques. Goal setting techniques. Time management. Effective and fulfilling communication and relationships. EQ enhancement.

Cognitive Development - CPP (Cognitive Process Profile) Cognitive assessment and development system. Courses in rational, critical and constructive thinking. IQ enhancement.

Physical Health & Longevity - Effective diet and exercise (CRON diet). Preventive and corrective medicine. Safe cosmetic and functional enhancements. Not limited to FDA approved drugs and procedures. Cryonics, as reserve parachute. (Cryonics)

Information Technology - Internet (search engines), CD-ROM information, expert systems

Investments - Utilizing IT and our advanced extropian knowledge of the future plus our open mind philosophy/ perspective to gain investment advantages. Idea Futures? Predicting company success and failure. Using philosophy/ psychology to set goals and investment motivation and discipline.

Peter Voss, Dec 95 (+Sep 00)