Posted: Thu, January 31, 2013 | By: Hank Pellissier
Transhumanists, in my experience, are cheap. Penny pinchers. Stingy. When I was Managing Director at IEET, I launched a cellphone drive to help destitute Africans communicate with each other. My goal was to collect 5,000 cellphones. Hummpph! After a month of begging I collected only 75 mobiles - about 45 from my immediate family (my Mom found several at garage sales, and my CEO brother got his employees to donate) and about 30 from a generous Mormon transhumanist, named Roger Hansen.This means… ZERO… from non-Mormon Transhumanists.
Later, when I tried to raise money for Transhumanity.net, I received only one donation - from David Kekich of Maximum Life Foundation, who contributed $300. Thanks!
Why are transhumanists parsimonious? Miserly? Why are we so bad at “giving”? I’m not any better; ask my wife about all the wretched birthday presents, or lack of, she’s received from me in 25 years.
So… I was happy when I discovered, via Facebook, that a transhumanist group - the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) recently devoted itself to being on-going philanthropists - via the micro-lending organization, KIVA. The link to their activity is HERE.
To find out more about this rare, and - I hope - highly infectious - transhumanist benevolence, I interviewed Lincoln Cannon, the MTA founder/director, via email:
Hank Pellissier: How did you arrive at the idea to be “charitable”? And why did you decide to do it, via KIVA?
Lincoln Cannon: While browsing the Kiva website, I discovered that they promote friendly competition between lending teams, and that the top two teams are Atheists and Christians. A few thoughts came to mind: first, I like competition in compassion; second, using the Internet to extend our ability to act with compassion is an expression of the kind of Transhumanism that inspires me; and third, wouldn’t it be mind-bendingly cool if Mormon Transhumanists were one of the top teams competing with Atheists and Christians?
I’ve been using Kiva personally for some time. The web app is easy to use, financial requirements for participation are low enough that most of us in the developed world can participate, and the loans are generally repaid according to expectations. The system let’s you re-lend the same $25 over and over again, making a much larger impact over time than you might have originally expected you could make with only $25. After using it myself, I tested it with my oldest son, who figured it out right away and made his first loan without any problems.
Hank Pellissier: Is Roger Hansen participating in this? He’s very generous - He helped me with my Africa cellphone drive.
Lincoln Cannon: Roger Hansen is certainly involved - his humanitarian work regularly takes him to Uganda, where he’s seen first hand the benefits of microloans for persons living in less developed locations. In fact, I believe he’s in Uganda now, and wrote from there a blog post about our Kiva project.
Hank Pellissier: Who have you lended to thus far? What nations? What occupations?
Lincoln Cannon: Since inception 5 days ago, our team members have provided 13 loans to persons in Uganda, the Philippines, Palestine, Lebanon, Bolivia, the Ukraine, and Mongolia. The recipients are using the loans to purchase mobile phones, home appliances, cafe supplies, sewing machines, dairy and farming supplies, and vehicles, generally for business purposes.
Hank Pellissier: What criteria do you look for in lending?
Lincoln Cannon: My favorite loans are those related to tools that will empower persons to work faster or smarter than they could without. After all, I’m a Transhumanist. When I look at tools, even if they’re as simple as sticks or wheels, I see Humanity transcending itself.
Hank Pellissier: Lincoln, can you give me a brief pitch on why Transhumanists should donate to KIVA - through you?
Lincoln Cannon: The Mormon Transhumanist Association promotes radical flourishing in compassion and creation through technology and religion. While we’re not a religious organization or affiliated with any religious organization, we do support our members in their personal religious affiliations, Mormon or otherwise, and encourage them to adapt Transhumanism to their unique situations. Our Kiva lending team is an expression of our mission, bringing together our members in an application of technology to empower compassion. Please do join the team! Let’s give the Atheist and Christian teams some competition they’ve never before imagined. Here’s our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/l/1AQGrAcARAQFKeOdtTW70tq1MWW_7IwfZG63t_n_75-wJqQ/www.kiva.org/team/transfigurism
Hank Pellissier: Want to also pitch your upcoming conference, while we’re at it?
Lincoln Cannon: Of course. Everyone is invited to the upcoming 2013 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association in Salt Lake City on 5 April. Keynote speakers will be Aubrey de Grey and Richard Bushman! Register now: http://www.facebook.com/l/SAQHRVi1IAQH_UoMmnhFQ65Vyn95C1FecoqfYs_glhkXgqQ/transfigurism-2013.eventbrite.com/
Ready to open your wallet? Here’s a sample of a Kiva microlending grant:
Otgonchuluun Mongolia | Green | Services | Tailoring
A loan of $1,825 helps Otgonchuluun to purchase an eco-friendly, electric and gas consuming car to reduce the transportation costs of his business.