Zoltan vs. Zerzan: technology vs. anarcho-primitivism — a Stanford debate

November 14, 2014

 7 pm

Stanford University Geology Corner Auditorium (320-105)

Free and open to the public

The Stanford Transhumanist Association is thrilled to announce a debate between Zoltan Istvan and John Zerzan on the future of technology and its ethical implications. Is technology the source of our problems, or is it their ultimate solution? Come and hear the views of two thinkers who stand, and arguably have defined, the two polar opposite views on the effects of technology and its role in alleviating suffering.

Zoltan Istvan is a futurist, journalist, and bestselling author who writes about politics, atheism, and transhumanism, among other topics. He strongly defends the view that technology has the potential to fundamentally transform human existence in positive ways, such as the elimination of involuntary aging and disease. He started his journalist career at the age of 21 by beginning a sailing journey around the world. He has visited over 100 countries, many while working for the National Geographic Channel. His work and ideas have also been featured by The New York Times, Outside, San Francisco Chronicle, Slate, Wired UK, BBC Radio, Fox News, and CNN. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University. Zoltan recently published the visionary novel The Transhumanist Wager, which was a #1 bestseller in Philosophy on Amazon. On October of 2014, Istvan announced his intention to run for U.S. President for the Transhumanist Party, a political organization he founded that focuses on science, medicine, and technology.

John Zerzan, a member of Stanford’s ’66 class, is a prominent writer and philosopher who writes about anarchy and primitivism. Zerzan has argued over the years that civilization has intrinsic problems such as a necessary degree of alienation without which it cannot exist. He points to the vast degradation of nature, the poisoning of our environment, and our collective indifference to these horrors, as clear examples of the external and psychological effects of human civilization. Zerzan proposes that ancestral communities in the paleolithic sustained a non-alienated and non-oppressive form of life based on primitive abundance and closeness to nature. He argues that we need to abandon our pursuit of technology and return to the positive principles found in primitive societies if we are ever to be satisfied and live in harmony. Some of John’s most famous books include Elements of Refusal (1988), Future Primitive and Other Essays (1994), Running on Emptiness (2002), Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections (2005) and Twilight of the Machines (2008).