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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Friday, July 18, 2008

WTA changes its image

Following a membership vote, the World Transhumanist Association will be changing its image to the extent of trading under the "doing business as" name "Humanity Plus" and using a stylised "h+" as its logo. This decision was made by the Board, which sent it to the organisation's financial members for ratification or rejection. It follows an extensive review by the WTA Board over the past few months.

For the record, I voted in favour of these moves. However ambivalent I am about the word "tranhumanism" and its cognates, I am in broad agreement with the goals of the WTA and am a member in good standing. As I see it, the proposed move is very cautious and may do little either for good OR ill. However, if the Board believes that such initiatives can help it in its wider efforts to make the WTA more attractive as an organisation to fund and support, then, in the absence of some compelling argument to the contrary (and I haven't heard one that seems compelling), then I think the membership should be supportive. Clearly, various soundings were taken, so I'm hopeful that a total public relations overhaul - with a neat logo, a contemporary-sounding trading name, and a revamp of the website and everything else - might make the WTA a more attractive proposition to others who largely agree with its pro-technology emphases.

The new name and logo may themselves cause some confusion and/or have some undesirable connotations, but we can probably live them, and the decision can always be reversed a few years down the track if it has turned out, by then, to have been counterproductive.

There was some very spirited debate, with a wide range of viewpoint, some of which I find congenial - while some sounded bizarre. But that's the transhumanist movement, a very broad one in the ideas that it welcomes. In the end only 108 people actually voted, and the majority in favour of the change was overwhelming.

The breakdown was:

- Yes, 75 votes, 69.44%
- No, 22 votes, 20.37%
- Abstain, 11 votes, 10.19%


Glendon Mellow said...

The new name and logo sound better already.

As an outsider to transhumanism (I've gone to a couple of meetings here in Toronto), the name is confusing. I wasn't sure if it had something to do with transgendered (which in some circles I think it does lend itself to that being a choice) or with futuristic-y humans, or what. In the end, it sounded a little cultish. Just the name mind you - the people were the usual spectrum of folks.

Humanity plus is descriptive and positive sounding. "-Isms" can be a turn-off.

Anonymous said...

Bugger - I'm going to have to go back and change about 20 references to the WTA in my thesis! now where's that 'find and replace' button......?

Russell Blackford said...

Anonymous, I wouldn't worry too much. It's official name is still (and will continue to be) the World Transhumanist Association. It'll just be trading as "Humanity Plus". Just put in a footnote if you don't want to make a whole lot of replacements. I'm not even sure when it'll happen, but I guess the website might shed some light on that.