If we extended our lives by 200 years, or if we succeeded in uploading our minds to an artificial substrate, would we undermine our sense of personal identity? If so, would it be wiser to avoid such radical forms of enhancement? These are the questions posed in chapter 4 of Nicholas Agar’s book Truly Human Enhancement. Over the next two posts I’ll take a look at Agar’s answers. This is all part of my ongoing series of reflections on Agar’s book.
Published on Mar 26, 2014, Yeb Saño, head of the Filipino delegation, delivered an emotional speech at the UN climate negotiations last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SSXL.. Now he explains how climate change is making people hungry and exhorts the world to fight it together. Join the fight: http://www.oxfam.org/foodclimatejustice Note: Yeb mentions that "across the globe by the year 2020 at least 50 million more people are at risk of going hungry because of climate change." This statistic should refer to 2050, not 2020.
Lesotho is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world. More than half of its population live below the poverty line and the poorest people are the least likely to get the healthcare they need. A quarter of people living in rural areas have to travel more than three hours to reach their nearest heath facility.
The Boston Globe reported that enrollment in the UMass Boston undergraduate gerontology program has fallen by two-thirds, to a mere 13 students, over the last decade. A relaunch in 2010 failed to yield more students. For that reason, UMass Boston’s decision to suspend the gerontology undergraduate program was a bow to reality.
Historians place the beginning of culture about 10,000 years ago, when our early ancestors abandoned hunter-gathering in favor of settling into communities, cultivating crops, and domesticating live stock.
In this 42 min video of beautiful footage of earth from space, we also get a grim look at how fragile our world is and how people are negatively affecting it.
This is an educational video “IMAX: The Earth”, produced by the JPL and NASA. Uploaded for an introductory course on Astronomy. ASTR110 section 01, Ancilla College, Donaldson Indiana. Published under the Creative Commons License and in the Public Domain.
Producer: JPL/NASA. Published on Nov 14, 2013
Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren’t comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)
By 2050, Earth will likely be home to more than nine billion people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. In a special eight-month series, “The Future of Food,” National Geographic investigates how to meet our growing need for nourishment without harming the planet that sustains us. Published on Apr 18, 2014
Lucy is a movie about a woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a mind enhanced genius.
Lucy is set in a world that is run by the mob, street gangs, drug addicts, and corrupt cops. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), a woman living in Taipei, Taiwan, is forced to work as a drug mule for the mob. The drug implanted in her body inadvertently leaks into her system, changing her into a superhuman. She can absorb knowledge instantaneously, is able to move objects with her mind and can’t feel pain and other discomforts.
Ian Morris has stuck his dog's ear in his mouth, snapped a selfie, and proclaimed "Man Bites Dog." His new book War: What Is It Good For? Conflict and Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots is intended to prove that war is good for children and other living things. It actually proves that defenders of war are growing desperate for arguments.
I recently published an article in the Journal of Evolution and Technology on the topic of sex work and technological unemployment (available here, here and here). It began by asking whether sex work, specifically prostitution (as opposed to other forms of labour that could be classified as “sex work”, e.g. pornstar or erotic dancer), was vulnerable to technological unemployment. It looked at contrasting responses to that question, and also included some reflections on technological unemployment and the basic income guarantee.
How might the Obama Administration best respond to wave after wave of "NSA revelations" that roil and cloud the political waters? Ironically, almost none of Edward Snowden's leaks—or those of Julian Assange—revealed anything that was illegal per se. What they have done is stir a too-long delayed argument over what should be legal!
There’s a new study out which, press outlets are telling me, shows that the United States is now an oligarchy, ruled by the rich and powerful, and perhaps that the US has been sliding in this direction for decades.
Martin Telefont explains how the famous BlueBrain project is starting to use Semantic MediaWiki to store the information about cells. Martin is talking about their use case and challenges they have faced. Published on Nov 17, 2013
Martin is responsible for collecting and evaluating biomedical information used by the Blue Brain Project, with a special focus on proteomics. He also heads the project’s efforts in automatic information classification and extraction as well as in-house ontology creation, curation and matching to public ontologies. Before joining BBP, Martin worked in neuroscience and proteomics at the University of South Dakota.
His last research project focused on tracking changes in protein expression in female rats associated with the presence or absence of steroid hormones. In this work he had to link lists of proteins from high throughput experiments to existing knowledge in the literature. This prompted him to invest time on automatic information classification and extraction. He also has an active interest in ontology as applied to the representation, storage and processing of knowledge present in the biomedical literature.
In this video, using high-speed-cameras, The National Science Foundation explains how fish can help scientists understand how to create new materials that can go faster and be more flexible. They also want to develop new “smart materials” to adapt to the environment. Published April 17, 2014.
Their research is revealing more about what it takes to truly swim like a fish
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), aerospace engineer Michael Philen and his team at Virginia Tech are investigating the biomechanics of fish locomotion, in hopes of contributing to the next generation of robotic fish and underwater submersibles.
The researchers are studying how fish use their muscles to swim efficiently and execute underwater maneuvers, such as darting around in perfectly synchronized schools.
Philen and his team also are developing new smart materials, such as a bioengineered hair that is modeled after the hair cell sensors on the side of fish that allow it to detect minute changes in water flow.
The research in this episode was funded by NSF award #0938043, EFRI-BSBA: Multifunctional materials exhibiting distributed actuation, sensing, and control: Uncovering the hierarchical control of fish for developing smarter materials.
Published on Apr 14, 2014, Blaire Morriss, Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health, explains how people can increase their health.
Blaire Morriss is a Nurse Practitioner at the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health and an Instructor in Clinical Nursing at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. At VCIH, Blaire provides Integrative Health Consultations and Mindfulness Based Health Coaching. She received her graduate degree in nursing from Vanderbilt University and because of her passion for integrative heath and mind/body healing also attended Duke University’s program in Integrative Health Coaching. Blaire has training and extensive experience in multiple healing modalities and has lectured on facets of Integrative Health for over five years.
Has human evolution and progress been propelled by war? The question is not an easy one to ask, not least because war is not merely one of the worst but arguably the worst thing human beings inflict on one another comprising murder, collective theft, and, almost everywhere but in the professional militaries of Western powers, and only quite recently, mass, and sometimes systematic rape.
We Will Live Again looks at the unusual and extraordinary operations of the Cryonics Institute. Follow Ben Best and Andy Zawacki as they maintain the ninety-nine deceased human bodies stored at below-freezing temperatures in cryopreservation. Meanwhile, cryonics movement founder Robert Ettinger, long-retired from overseeing operations at the Institute, still lives nearby, self-publishing books on cryonics, awaiting the end of this life and eagerly anticipating the next. Published on Apr 9, 2014.
This is the third part of my series on Nicholas Agar’s bookTruly Human Enhancement. As mentioned previously, Agar stakes out an interesting middle ground on the topic of enhancement. He argues that modest forms of enhancement — i.e. up to or slightly beyond the current range of human norms — are prudentially wise, whereas radical forms of enhancement — i.e. well beyond the current range of human norms — are not. His main support for this is his belief that in radically enhancing ourselves we will lose certain internal goods. These are goods that are intrinsic to some of our current activities.
It’s been 50 years since Isaac Asimov devised his famous Three Laws of Robotics — a set of rules designed to ensure friendly robot behavior. Though intended as a literary device, these laws are heralded by some as a ready-made prescription for avoiding the robopocalypse. We spoke to the experts to find out if Asimov's safeguards have stood the test of time — and they haven't.
This is the second post in my series on Nicholas Agar's new book Truly Human Enhancement. The book offers an interesting take on the enhancement debate. It tries to carve out a middle ground between bioconservatism and transhumanism, arguing that modest enhancement (within or slightly beyond the range of human norms) is prudentially valuable, but that radical enhancement (well beyond the range of human norms) may not be.
This lecture shows how we blame the victims of poverty, unemployment, and racism for their lot rather than the real villain, the inequality of Imperial America, at home and abroad. The result is that it creates a faux narrative embraced by faux Liberals(conservatives masquerading and talking like REAL progressives) that ultimately end up blaming our fellow citizens, instead of this rotten, greedy, and immoral system we live in. Published on Mar 14, 2013
Find out how science can create real super-soldiers with enhanced strength, unbreakable bones and inexhaustible endurance from Rusty of Youtube channel Science Friction. Do you have what it takes to become the next Captain America? Find out. Links to research below! Published on Apr 1, 2014
Become superhuman. Rusty’s series Science Friction breaks down the real science behind comic book and sci-fi superheroes and tells you how to attain those abilities for yourself
And I want to thank my good friend Tom Small for the awesome glowing green serum effect!
Danger and death are part and parcel of being alive. But with a few notable exceptions, it’s hard to find straightforward information online on how to make sense of stuff that potentially threaten our health and wellbeing. Which is a pity, because as well as being important for making smart decisions, there’s some really cool science behind how what we touch, breathe, eat, or otherwise come into contact with affects our health.
I live in Washington State, and all the news for the last two weeks has been the unthinkable Oso mudslide. Slides are not unusual here, although I have never heard of one with this much destructive force. It got me reflecting about the relationship between earth and water.