Dear friends and members of the Mormon Transhumanist Association,
2014 was a strong year for our Association, which has grown to nearly 500 members, and continues to be the world's largest advocacy network for the ethical use of technology and religion to extend human abilities. As you'll see in this annual report, we've been busy connecting, discussing, conferencing, and serving. Thank you, all, for the many ways you've each contributed and supported.
One of the highlights of the year, for me, was the 2014 Conference. I enjoyed sharing with you the diverse perspectives of Mormon Transhumanists, listening to excellent presentations from Mormon philosopher Adam Miller and Transhumanist designer Natasha Vita-More, and engaging many of you personally in fascinating and inspiring discussion. Now the 2015 Conference is just around the corner. Keynotes will be Mormon essayist Kristine Haglund and Transhumanist technologist Ralph Merkle. Hope to see you there!
Another highlight was the launch, at year's end, of an official blog for the Association. The Transfigurist is an extraordinary exploration of science, religion, technology, and spirituality, with emphasis on Mormonism and Transhumanism. The authors are remarkable, sharp-minded and big-hearted. Check out their work. Submit your own. And if you haven't already, subscribe today!
Maybe the coolest development of the year was the Association's increased emphasis on humanitarian applications of technology. Our humanitarian managers, Hank Pellissier and Roger Hansen, inspired many of us to do a bit more than we have before to contribute to globalizing the benefits of technology. You can read more about the details later in this report.
These are challenging times. Rapidly changing and decentralizing technology is stretching traditional cultures and disrupting social norms. Religious fundamentalists are globalizing their escapist and nihilistic doctrines, stifling human aspiration with oppressive theologies, and gathering recruits to their violent causes. Anti-religious zealots are escalating small-minded ridicule and reductionist esthetics that would shame humanity away from our greatest hopes for compassion and creation beyond present notions of suffering and death.
I'm encouraged by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and by the Mormon and Transhumanist principles that motivate more immersive and practical understandings of that Gospel. I'm also encouraged by you, and by our Association. Your personal stories of change, overcoming disillusionment and expanding minds and provoking action, together reinforce my confidence in a better world. It would be difficult to exaggerate how much I value that. Thank you.
Members of the Mormon Transhumanist Association affirm the following:
In annual elections held in April, voting members of the association elected Chris Bradford, Joseph West and Nathan Hadfield to serve as Directors from 2014 to 2017. The newly composed board appointed Carl Youngblood as Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Dorothy Deasy as Secretary, and Nathan Hadfield as Chief Information Officer.
We sincerely thank outgoing director and secretary Brad Carmack for his dedicated service.
Director and President
Director and Vice President
Director and Secretary
Director and Treasurer
In 2014, the Board of Directors approved the formation of a management team to execute on the vision and direction established by the board.
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Operations Officer
Chief Legal Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Information Officer
March 11, 2015
In the interest of ongoing transparency, the Board of Directors of the Mormon Transhumanist Association is pleased to release the following leadership performance review. Each member of the Board independently evaluated the performance of the Board as a whole and the performance of CEO Lincoln Cannon, who is appointed by the Board to manage the Association. Secretary of the Board, Dorothy Deasy, gathered and compiled the evaluations into a single review, which follows.
The Board of Directors of the Mormon Transhumanist Association is generally performing its function well. It is comprised of intelligent and compassionate people, who provide good counsel to management on request. It consists of independent, creative, mostly academically-trained thinkers who are able to work together respectfully and articulately toward a consensus on vision, strategy, and policy. There is a diversity of perspectives, including gender, faiths, and sexual orientations, while being able to achieve a unity of directional vision. The Board performs its functions efficiently, with the ability to respectfully and productively disagree, bringing cohesive leadership to the Association.
This past year, the organization restructured roles, delegating task completion to domain managers. This shifted the focus of the board to be strategic rather than tactical, relieving some time-pressure burdens. The Board is still feeling its way through the transition to produce improved strategic output. This past year the Board established a Humanitarian Projects committee (led by Hank Pellissier and Roger Hansen), developed a policy for moderating discussion forums, worked on guidelines for partnering with other religious transhumanist organizations, began work on a website refresh, and organized an annual conference with strong keynote speakers.
A key goal for the Board moving forward is to bring clarity and commitment to the strategy-setting role. The Board needs to consider more objective ways of defining and measuring its performance and improvement over time. Another key objective is to better involve and mentor other members of the Association in activities so as to develop leadership for the future.
The Board meets on a monthly basis. Most Board members attend board meetings regularly. (There are periods of time when scheduling conflicts arise, resulting in some occasional or partial attendance, but we have fairly consistently achieved the quorum required by the constitution.) Meetings are always well organized and focused, and action items are always noted and followed up on until they are completed or reprioritized. The Board adheres closely to the rules and guidelines established by the constitution to ensure fairness, transparency, and fidelity to the stated goals of the Association.
The requirements of the Board are flexible enough to be satisfied by the part-time involvement of each member, without financial compensation. The Board has done a good job of crafting and supporting Association initiatives on a voluntary basis.
Lincoln Cannon is both an inspiring leader and an organized manager. He leads by sharing a vision and then taking practical and consistent steps to carry it out. Lincoln balances near-term goals with ones that are more long-term and speculative. He has a talent for "thinking big" and recognizing the broader implications of current trends. Lincoln excels at thought leadership. He has a gift for articulating complex ideas in ways that are inspiring and easy to understand. He is the public face of the Association and the driving force behind its continued existence, leadership, vision, and passion.
Lincoln leads by example. He is open and encourages divergent points of view. He is comfortable with ambiguity and nuance. He strives to move people beyond “black and white” thinking. As the Association is best served by finding common ground between potentially antagonistic world views, this element of Lincoln's perspective is valuable for the Association. He attempts to weave a middle way through all conflicts.
As some of the speculative issues related to transhumanism begin to materialize in society, Lincoln may be increasingly challenged to navigate Directors’ viewpoints on ethical issues.
Some highlights of his leadership include:
Lincoln’s key strengths include:
The Mormon Transhumanist Association joined a broad coalition of activist groups, companies, and online platforms to hold a worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA's mass spying regime.
Dubbed "The Day We Fight Back," the day of activism was announced on the eve of the anniversary of the tragic passing of activist and technologist Aaron Swartz. The protest was both in his honor and in celebration of the victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act two years prior, which he helped spur.
Former association director Brad Carmack presented on Mormon Transhumanism at Transhuman Visions 2.0 East Bay in Piedmont, California, joining a line-up of world-renowned Transhumanist thinkers including Max More and Natasha Vita-More.
Continuing an annual tradition, members and friends of the association celebrated Future Day, March 1, by gathering for lunch at Thanksgiving Point Tower Deli in Lehi, Utah.
Future Day was first celebrated in 2012 as a way of focusing and celebrating the energy that more and more people around the world are directing toward creating a radically better future. For members of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, this is a great opportunity to share thoughts and questions about a future of radical flourishing in compassion and creation through technology and religion.
The 2014 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association was held on April 4 in the auditorium of the Salt Lake City Public Library. As with past conferences, speakers explored themes of Mormonism, Transhumanism and Transfigurism, with particular attention to topics at the intersection of technology, spirituality, science and religion.
Keynote speakers at this year's conference were Mormon philosopher Adam S. Miller and Transhumanist designer and theorist Natasha Vita-More. Adam is a professor of philosopy at Collin College in McKinney, Texas, and an editor and author of several works on Mormon theology. Natasha is a professor at the University of Advancing Technology, Chairman of Humanity+, and a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. She has exhibited at numerous festivals worldwide and published in dozens of journals and books.
Other presenters included James L. Carroll, A. Joseph West, Michael LaTorra, Brad Carmack, Donald Bradley, Jr., Giulio Prisco, Dorothy Deasy, Micah Redding, Christopher Bradford, Don Bradley, Pace Ellsworth, Chelsea Strayer, Michael Adam Ferguson, Roger D. Hansen, Carl Youngblood, Allen Hansen, Randal A. Koene, and Michaelann Gardner. Recordings of their presentations can be found on YouTube.
The association sponsored the recording of a panel discussion on "Atheists & Mormons: Exposing Myths, Dispelling Stereotypes," a free public event in the Nancy Tessman Auditorium at the Salt Lake City Public Library, and made the recording available to the public for free on its YouTube channel.
The panel discussion was organized by the American Atheists and was moderated by Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah. Panelists included Brigham Young University professors J. B. Haws and Richard Holzapfel; American Atheists president David Silverman; and author Joanne Hanks. The panel addressed public perceptions of atheists and Mormons, tackling common stereotypes of both groups, dispelling myths, and answering audience questions.
Silverman stated that the purpose of the panel was to challenge how atheists and religious people think of each other. "A better understanding of where we're all coming from is needed to share political and social space. We're happy to hear that both sides want to close that gap and are willing to take part in doing so."
The panel was a "warm-up" event for the American Atheists National Convention, held the next day at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center.
The Mormon Transhumanist Association and the American Atheists are not affiliated and no endorsements are implied.
The Mormon Transhumanist Association was pleased to co-sponsor the Religion and Transhumanism Conference in Piedmont, California, along with the Brighter Brains Institute and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology.
Lincoln Cannon, president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, also spoke at the conference.
Recordings of the presentations were provided by the association.
The Board of Directors of The Mormon Transhumanist Association released an official statement in response to the charges of apostasy raised by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints against Kate Kelly of Ordain Women and John Dehlin of Mormon Stories.
"Recent events present a crucial opportunity," the statement reads, "both for the LDS Church and for Mormons who dissent from mainstream views, to reinforce precedent for reconciliation and atonement. The MTA encourages all involved in or affected by these events to think of and pray for each other, and to avoid actions that would harm each other, weaken families and friendships, or further polarize or homogenize our religion. Compassion, genuinely informed by and concerned for each other's interests, is our best way forward."
Although the Mormon Transhumanist Association is not affiliated with any of these organizations, most MTA members are also members of the LDS Church, and some MTA members have strong differing opinions about these events.
Dorothy Deasy, Director and Secretary of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, was interviewed by The Columbian on the topic of religion and Transhumanism.
In the interview, Dorothy discussed the importance of bridging religious ideals with how we will relate to rapidly changing technology, doing our best to guide technology in directions that are beneficial for society, and avoiding abuses that may arise from some conceptualizations of advancing civilization.
The Mormon Transhumanist Association, led by Association members Hank Pellissier and Roger Hansen, is dedicating itself to the cause of alleviating poverty in Uganda, where 67% of Ugandans live below the poverty line, 24.7% are trapped in extreme poverty, and 2.5 million children are orphans, largely due to AIDS.
Hank Pellissier is the founder of Transhumanity.net and ImmortalLife.info, and author of Invent Utopia Now: Transhumanist suggestions for the pre-Singularity era. He has worked as a professional journalist for many years, writing columns and feature articles for NYTimes, Salon.com, SFGate.com, GreatSchools.org, and other publications. He has been a member of the Mormon Transhumanist Association for nearly three years.
Although an atheist, Hank says he is fond of the MTA because it has been extraordinarily generous in his charity drives. When he was Managing Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology (IEET) in 2012, he launched a cell phone drive for IEET's African Futures Project, and MTA members contributed 40% of the total collected mobiles (thanks to Roger Hansen's efforts). Hank also admires the association's KIVA team that has existed since January 2013, with 19 members contributing 93 loans. He praised the association's KIVA activity in his essay, "Transhumanist Philanthropy?! Yes! MTA Sets up KIVA Account."
Roger Hansen is an MTA member who has done extensive volunteer work in Uganda, setting up solar energy systems, clean water systems, and children's playgrounds. He is soon retiring from his position as Planning Group Chief for the Bureau of Reclamation in Provo, Utah. Roger maintains a blog called Tired Road Warrior that often relates his thoughts and experiences regarding Uganda. "I live part-time in Uganda and in Navajoland," Roger writes, "and would like to see the human and ecological environment in both areas of world greatly improved. ... [I am] less excited about life extension (a transhumanist obsession) than I am about the possibilities of using technology to improve conditions in developing countries. [I have] A belief that technology is one potential savior for the developing world, particularly in areas like Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia."
Lincoln Cannon, co-founder and president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, joined other researchers, authors, and industry leaders at the Venurists' Cryonics Convention in Laughlin, Nevada, to discuss the prospect of imminent immortality.
Lincoln explained how the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of America's fastest-growing churches, is compatible with the goals of transhumanism. His presentation may be viewed on YouTube.
|10,000||monthly visits to Transfigurism.org|
|6,838||Facebook page likes|
|571||Facebook group members|
|557||YouTube channel subscribers|
|415||Twitter feed followers|
|113||Google+ page pluses|
|117||Meetup group members|
|105||Google group members|
|50||LinkedIn group members|
|26||LinkedIn page followers|
|17||Scribd library subscribers|
The Association welcomed 100 new members in 2014.
65 members participated in our annual survey in 2014. The following charts illustrate a portion of the data collected from this survey.
Members of association contributed generously to charity campaigns in Uganda that were conducted by Roger Hansen and Hank Pellissier, managers of MTA humanitarian projects. They also provided funding for several KIVA microloans.
Uganda Orphanage Chicken Farm
This campaign was extremely successful. In two months, $3,100 was raised to build a chicken farm of 200 chickens to help an orphanage in Jinja achieve self-sufficiency. The MTA was the largest contributor to this campaign. MTA members donated about $1,100. The Chicken Farm appears headed for success - the chickens will be laying eggs in about 5 weeks.
Uganda Carpentry Workshop for AIDS Orphans
This successful campaign raised $1,073. It was almost entirely funded by MTA members; MTA members donated about $835. The money purchased tools for the carpenters. They are very grateful. Hank Pellissier has been invited to give the commencement speech at their graduation ceremony on January 17th. He will thank MTA contributors in his presentation.
Kikoy Dresses for Uganda Orphans
This campaign raised $900 to give orphan girls dresses, tailored by Ugandans. MTA members donated about $250 to this campaign.
DeWorm Ugandan Children at Kasese Humanist Primary School
This very short campaign raised $2,675 in two days. MTA members contributed $130.
Uganda Computer Training School in Masaka
This project is praised by many as an “ideal MTA project” because it promotes education in technology as a path to prosperity. Roger Hansen initiated this project. MTA members contributed about $340 of the total $488 raised. Roger and other Mormons will be installing this school, beginning in January.
Swing Sets for Rural Uganda Orphanages and Schools
Another campaign initiated by Roger Hansen. MTA members contributed all $831 that this campaign raised. Roger will be installing swing sets in January. Hank hopes to help him.
Total contributions to Uganda campaigns: $3,486
Total KIVA microloans: $4,175
|Licensing and Taxes||$0.00|
|Cash on Hand 1/1/14||$6,777.18|
|Cash on Hand 1/1/15||$4,630.38|