About the Vital Progress ("VP") Summit  2004   

Online in February 15 - 29, 2004
— Learn why this Summit is so urgently needed, how it will work, what it will accomplish, and who should participate in bringing about ethical and proactive development of human enhancement.

Extropy Institute invites top scientific, technological, philosophical, and cultural thinkers to share knowledge and exchange ideas about working to improve the world’s understanding of biotechnology and science of human enhancement to improve and extend life. Beginning Sunday, February 15 through 29th, the Summit presents a 2-week virtual discussion and debate of President Bush's Bioethics Council's ultraconservative  Beyond Therapy report. Summit keynotes are addressing the use of the well-known "Precautionary Principle" by anti-biotech activists as a rallying tool to turn people against the science, medicine and biotechnology that could cure disease and improve life.

President of Extropy Institute and Chair of the VP Summit, Natasha Vita-More says, "We have a responsibility to protect ourselves, our children and our loved ones in determining what choices to make about the future of our health. We must research and develop ethical means for the investigations of emergent sciences and technologies of human enhancement. No one has the right to tell any human that he or she must go into the later years of life in crippled or feeble states with no resolve. No organization, no policy, no person should have the absolute power and authority to hinder scientific and medical advances that can and do help millions of people throughout the world. Yet it is our responsibility to seek out ways to make sure that ethics is primary and human enhancement is available to all that seek it."

The Increasing Threat to Human Advancement.

Throughout history, the advancement  of science has always been met with superstition and fear.  For every improvement to the human condition, there have always been those who thought it would be better for things to remain in their former condition.  This lead to the long Dark Ages, where no progress occurred at all.  The Renaissance and Enlightenment finally broke us free from that grim era. Our struggles for human rights has taken us further. We were born into a world where perpetual progress based on science and creativity seemed inevitable.  However, recent years have seen a backlash against advancements toward extending health, enhancing intelligence, understanding emotions, and the ever-increasing control we now can take over our own destinies. We now face an unprecedented battle for the future of humanity. Groups intent on halting scientific advancement are growing in their political influence over governments and legislation.   It is our opportunity to stand up and work towards ethical and safe development of science and technology and to ensure that it is available to all humanity.



Recent years have seen a backlash against advancements toward extending health, enhancing intelligence, understanding emotions, and the ever-increasing control we now can take over our own destinies. We now face an unprecedented battle for the future of humanity. Groups intent on halting scientific advancement are growing in their political influence over governments and legislation.

One such group is the Presidential Bioethics Council, led by Leon Kass who once opposed in vitro fertilization.  They have published a report known as Beyond Therapy that is aimed directly at deciding the future of many of our technology-dependent values and goals.  The preface of the report states:

"In keeping with our mission, we have undertaken an inquiry into the potential implications of using biotechnology 'beyond therapy,' in order to try to satisfy deep and familiar human desires: for better children, superior performance, ageless bodies, and happy souls. Such uses of biotechnology, some of which are now possible and some of which may become possible in the future, are likely to present us with profound and highly consequential ethical challenges and choices. They may play a crucial role in shaping human experience in the fast-approaching age of biotechnology."

Many other organizations with similar goals have added their agreement to this report.  These voices are often promoted in The New Atlantis, which seems appropriately named after the Platonic vision of a perfect, unchanging society now lost.  This publication aims to shape "the nation's moral and political understanding of all areas of technology", but does so by opposing technological advances at every turn.  These groups often use the sensible-sounding "Precautionary Principle" to block technology.  This principle correctly warns that technology can be dangerous.  But instead of focusing on methods to safely advance technology, proponents of this principle demand absolute proof of complete safety before any technology can be developed.  This allows a variety of political extremists such as extreme environmentalists, extreme bioconservatives, and modern Luddites movements to block technological advancement based on scare-tactics and unproven "what-if" scenarios.


The Summit is Extropy Institute's balanced response to three major publications in the area of bioethics.  The first of these is Beyond Therapy, which is the report from the President's Council on Bioethics headed by the bioconservative Leon Kass and aided by the defensive Francis Fukuyama.  The second is The New Atlantis publication, which serves as a rallying point for the neo-Luddite anti-technology movement.  The third is the Precautionary Principle itself, which is being adopted by a number of groups to block rather than safeguard further technological advances.

To counter these anti-technology initiatives, Extropy Institute presents the VP Summit to be accomplished in several phases.  The first phase will be a collaborative, multi-disciplinary online event in February which will bring together all kinds of transhumanists, future-friendly promoters, and ideas from advocacy groups such as the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.  The people need technology to fix biological problems, and they need your help.  As Christopher Reeve has said, "I never thought politics would get in the way of hope."


The VP Summit is aimed toward real, practical results.  Early deliverables from the February phase of the project will include a balanced response to the Precautionary Principle, a policy and values statement to counter Beyond Therapy, and a comprehensive collection of links to pro-advancement groups, journalists, publications, and educational resources. The VP Summit will be the beginning of a concerted effort from a broad alliance toward the goals of continued progress and improvement of the human condition.  We can counter the bioconservative fear of technology by emphasizing its use to improve the dignity and quality of human life.


The word "blog" is short for "web log".  It is an online, chronological log that records events, points to resources, and shares information about these events.  Blogs provide an online venue for exchanging ideas and information without losing the personal touch. Blogs are gaining popularity on the Internet, and are beginning to replace static websites as the preferred method for direct communication.  Blogs make it easy for multitudes of users to provide information in a format that is easily integrated together.  Over time, the information becomes better integrated and more efficient. The first phase of brainstorming and blogging is just the beginning.


We can harness this newest form of Internet communication as an effective forum to launch this project with the people, resources and perspectives needed to debate and publish our carefully addressed pro-technology message for the future!

Watch for more details about the Summit in the next update.  You can read the core materials produced by invited keynote bloggers during the two-week online event.  Then others can participate in related forums, make comments on the keynote blogs, and help develop associated resources.  Your participation is vital to secure your future!  You can join the Summit with a $15 donation here.

Don't let future progress stop!

Extropy Institute   10709 Pointe View Drive   Austin TX 78738    www.extropy.org    info@extropy.org    Tele: 512.263.2749