Extropy Institute Closes


After 17 years, the Extropy Institute (the initial pioneer in transhumanist thinking) is shutting down. Extropy was a neologism devised by founder Max More as the opposite of entropy, i.e., extropy signifies increasing order rather than increasing disorder. While the Institute formally eschewed any specific political philosophy, it attracted a lot of supporters with a distinctly libertarian bent.

While transhumanism is hardly a household word, it has gained sufficient prominence among intellectuals and policy wonks to have been denounced by scholar Francis Fukuyama, author of Our Posthuman Future, as the world's "most dangerous idea." The Institute has announced a strategic plan aimed at promoting the "proactionary principle" which is conceived of as the policy opposite of the "precautionary principle" The precautionary principle can be accurately summed up as "never do anything for the first time," so perhaps the proactionary principle can be condensed to "move forward and allow human creativity to solve new problems as they arise."

The Extropy Institute did hard ground-breaking intellectual work toward fostering a future in which humanity will be able to transcend the limits placed on us by our genes and our environment. Good luck to founders Max More and Natasha Vita-More and Tom Bell in their new campaign to promote the proactionary principle.

Disclosure: I have never been a member of the Extropy Institute, but perhaps my fellow-traveling tendency is best exemplified by the fact that the vanity plate on my car reads "EXTROPY."

NEXT: Gay Car On the Freeway, or, the Eternal Return of Glen A. Larson

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  1. You have but one car?

  2. Yep, just one car and it’s ten years old. In fact, I didn’t own any type of motor vehicle until I was 41 years old. You see, I work for a non-profit magazine which means, by definition, that there are no profits–thus I drive a nice but used car.

  3. And here I’d always pictured you as the chopper type, Ron.

  4. Huh, I read that whole article before I noticed that it’s EXtropy, not ENtropy. God, I hate my stupid brain.

  5. In the marketplace of ideas, the institute’s closing might appear as a defeat for open minds…or was the execution flawed?

  6. gaijin; Perhaps another way to look at it is that they’ve decided to specialize rather than promote the broader notion of transhumanism. After all, there are other transhumanist groups, e.g. World Transhumanist Association.

  7. Vanity plates? Mr. Bailey, I’m… stunned, frankly.

  8. What amuses me is the rejection of religion by most of the same people who buy into this sort of nonsense. Libertarians have raised gullibility to almost cosmic levels.

  9. Disclaimers, please! Does Mr. Bailey hold stock in any cyborg technology or brain-uploading companies? And is he selling short?


    You see, I work for a non-profit magazine which means, by definition, that there are no profits–thus I drive a nice but used car.

    Actually, a non-profit organization (for tax purposes) can have all the profits it can con people out of. What it can’t do is distribute those profits to anyone. While a non-profit can pay market rates for goods and services, it cannot pay dividends or make other distributions of net revenue.

    Thus, Reason Magazine can clear millions of dollars a year as a non-profit, so long as it does not engage in “private inurement” by distributing its net revenues.


  11. Bob:

    Really? So a philosophy of utilizing proactive rational thinking and self-enhancement technologies is more absurd than believing that men have been born of virgins and risen from the dead (without use of IF or extensive bionanoscience?)

    Sure, that was a little snarky, but Transhumanists aren’t all crazy. A portion are “true believers”, dead set in some vision of the future. Most transhumanists and transhumanist-sympathizers, in my experience, are rational, skeptical people who support the expansion of technologies and practices that enhance human functionality and durability (like Ron Bailey); nothing more, nothing less.

    (disclosure: I was a member of ExI for several years, until I refused to renew my dues after being run off their mailing list by Mike Lorrey. They will be missed.)

  12. You see, I work for a non-profit magazine which means, by definition, that there are no profits–thus I drive a nice but used car.

    … with vanity plates. 😕

  13. Plus, I know for a fact that Nick Gillespie has a pool.

  14. No doubt it’s a nice but used pool.

  15. *pours a cocktail of brain-enhancing drugs on the floor for his departed homies, er fellow-travelers*

  16. *er, their organization*

  17. “Entropy” doesn’t actually mean “increasing disorder”. It simply means “disorder”. (There are better definitions but for the purpose of this conversation that’s good enough.) So there could be either increasing or decreasing entropy with time in a system. The term “information” is already in standard use as the opposite (well, the negative) of entropy.

  18. For those sympathetic to Transhumanist ideas…

    Following the dissolution of the Extropy Institute, I’d like to announce a new voice for libertarian-leaning transhumanists:

    The World Transhumanist Society will provide an alternative outlet for transhumanists who consider the belief in control of enhancement technologies by a world government (as advocated by the leading voices in the WTA) as the ultimate eugenic nightmare to be avoided at all costs.

    The WTA under the dominant control of James Hughes is little more than a vehicle for the promotion of his own Marxist beliefs in the dissolution of nation states and establishment of a world government distributing eugenics as it sees fit.

    I urge all those sympathetic to transhumanist ideas to renounce the WTA and express sympathies with or support for its new alternative…

    the World Transhumanist Society

    The WTS stand for…


    Look out for:


    In the meantime, anyone interested is most welcome to email me here:



    Simon Young
    author: Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto (New York: Prometheus Books, 2006)

  19. Healthy libertarians who appreciate what liberty can do for health! I love transhumanist thinking- Got some issues of Extropy. One cover features drawings of a currency measured in “Hayeks”. It’s for an article: “Competing Private Currencies”. It’s the 2nd/3rd quarter 1995 issue. Anyone else have that one?

  20. …perhaps my fellow-traveling tendency is best exemplified by the fact that the vanity plate on my car reads “EXTROPY.”

    Ron Bailey for President!

  21. If my philosophical framework was the basis for two decades of willfull inaction on climate change, I’d probably disconnect the phones and stop picking up my mail, too.

  22. The World Transhumanist Society (new rival to the WTA) is for Transhumanist sympathizers who suspect (together with thousands of respected scientists ignored by the media) that ‘climate change’ is an age old natural phenomenon, and have studied enough human history to recognize that ‘global warming hysteria’ (GWH) is the latest in a long long line of frantic, apocalyptic doom-mongering, product of a deep-rooted psychological desire of some to see the ‘end to the world’- in reality, a projection of their own unconscious desire for the sweet oblivion of death…


    Simon Young
    Author: Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto (Prometheus Books, New York, 2006)
    Founder: The World Transhumanist Society
    (coming soon at worldtranshumanistsociety.com)

  23. s.m.,

    The philosophy eschews force mot action. Also, there is nothing in the data to indicate that the current trends are both anthropogenic and strong enough to possibly justify government force. There is however abundant evidence which indictes solar cycles are responsible for the current and historical episodes of global warming.

  24. For gods sake please don’t turn this into a global warming discussion.


  25. …Make that: “The philosophy eschews force, *not* action.”

  26. The finest idea is Extropy’s project for building a “Library” for Transhumanism. There is too much disassembly of knowledge in transhumanism. Extropy is an unswerving source and an independent resource. I hope Max, Natasha and Greg make sure that the library is preserved for everyone to go to learn about transhumanism.

    My students are worried about the future. I would like the library to provide information about how the Proactionary Principle can be used to actually come within reach of countless apprehensions about the future.


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