The problem – Is a person the kind of thing that can die on earth and be alive somewhere else? To understand this consider a thought experiment. If we make a perfect copy of you—complete with your thoughts and memories—is that copy really you or just a duplicate? (If you think the copy is you, then the waking up in heaven scenario is not problematic; if you think it’s just a copy, then the thing that wakes up in heaven isn’t you.)
We review the new science fiction thriller Ex Machina. We talk about how this is one of the better movies we’ve seen about AI, and how in general movies seem to be getting better at handling these topics. However, we question whether the movie’s use of the phrase “Turing Test” really makes sense, and whether the notion of a lone genius unilaterally creating a humanoid robot is very believable. Around the twenty minute mark we give a brief spoiler warning before discussing the plausibility of the movie’s ending. While we find numerous things to nitpick about, in the end we highly recommend this movie as a film all science fiction and film fans should see.
In INHUMAN KIND, Motherboard gains exclusive access to a small fleet of US Army bomb disposal robots—the same platforms the military has weaponized—and to a pair of DARPA’s six-foot-tall bipedal humanoid robots. We also meet Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, renowned physicist Max Tegmark, and others who grapple with the specter of artificial intelligence, killer robots, and a technological precedent forged in the atomic age. It’s a story about the evolving relationship between humans and robots, and what AI in machines bodes for the future of war and the human race.
Read Now: The Evil ‘Star Wars’ Robot Who Owns the Term ‘Meatbag’ - http://bit.ly/1Hy6KLU
IEET Fellow Evan Selinger spoke at the University of Florida on October 13, 2014.
To make wise decisions when confronted with outsourcing technologies that can fundamentally impact our sensibilities, we need a clear sense of what technological outsourcing is, why it often promises more than it can deliver, and how to judge when to avoid it. The task before us, therefore, is to grasp the phenomenological contours of what I call the outsourcing illusion.
THIS IS MY RESPONSE TO THE EDGE QUESTION OF A FEW YEARS BACK: WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? MY ANSWER: The intrinsic beauty and elegance of mathematics allows it to describe nature. Many believe this seeming axiom, that beauty leads to descriptive power. Our experience seems to show this, mostly from the successes of physics. There is some truth to it, but also some illusion.
I had the good fortune to be asked back on to the Robot Overlordz podcast this week. I am the guest on episode #163 during which I chat with the hosts (Mike Johnston and Matt Bolton) about the ethical, legal and social implications of sex robots. We also talk about related issues from the world of AI and futurism.
Novelty and nanotechnology are deeply intertwined. The search for nanostructure-enabled materials has driven research funding in nanotechnology for well over a decade now; the exploitation of novel properties has underpinned the commercialization of nanomaterials; and concerns over potential risks has stimulated widespread studies into what makes these materials harmful. Yet ‘novelty’ is an ephemeral quality, and despite its close association with nanotechnology, it may be an unreliable guide to ensuring the long-term safety of materials that emerge from the field. If this is the case, do we need to find alternative approaches to developing advanced materials and products that are safe by design?
For the first time in U.S. history, a supreme court has granted a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of two lab chimpanzees, effectively recognizing them as legal persons. While the future of the chimps has not yet been decided, it’s a huge step forward in establishing personhood status for highly sapient animals.
This fascinating (if long) essay - Engineering the Perfect Baby (from Technology Review) - explores the scientific and moral ramifications of “germ cell genetic engineering” or the changing of genomes in ways that can be inherited and passed-down, parent to naturally conceived child.
An advanced artificial intelligence (a “superintelligence”) could pose a significant existential risk to humanity. Several research institutes have been set-up to address those risks. And there is an increasing number of academic publications analysing and evaluating their seriousness. Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies represents the apotheosis of this trend. In this article, I argue that in defending the credibility of AI risk, Bostrom makes an epistemic move that is analogous to one made by so-called sceptical theists in the debate about the existence of God. And while this analogy is interesting in its own right, what is more interesting is its potential implication. It has been repeatedly argued that sceptical theism has devastating effects on our beliefs and practices. Could it be that AI-doomsaying has similar effects? I argue that it could. Specifically, and somewhat paradoxically, I argue that it could lead to either a reductio of the doomsayers position, or an important and additional reason to join their cause. I use this paradox to suggest that the modal standards for argument in the superintelligence debate need to be addressed.
We asked “How should technoprogressives enter electoral politics?” One hundred and one of you responded. Only 15% thought technoprogressives should focus on building “Transhumanist parties,” and another 5% thought we should focus on building “Technoprogressive parties.”
My title is needlessly provocative, and may ultimately disappoint, but bear with me a moment. I’ve recently been reading Andrew Keen’s book The Internet is not the Answer. It is an interesting, occasionally insightful, but all too often hyperbolic, personalised and repetitive critique of the internet age. I recommend it, albeit in small doses. But this is a digression. I do not wish to give a full review here. Instead, I wish to dwell on one idea that struck me while I read it.
Transhumanism can be read as an intellectual and cultural movement. The objective of this movement is to enhance the human condition with the use of technological means. Enhancement in the transhumanistic sense goes far beyond everything that is regarded as normal and settled. “Enhancement” is presumably not the proper expression for this context and it should be replaced with the word “increase”.
Are there ideas which could prove so incendiary, and so provocative, that it would be better to shut them down? Should some concepts be permanently locked into a Pandora’s box, lest they fly off and cause too much chaos in the world?
Recently the journal Nature published a paper arguing that the year in which the Anthropocene, the proposed geological era in which the collective actions of the human species started to trump other natural processes in terms of their impact, began in the year 1610 AD. If that year leaves you, like it did me, scratching your head and wondering what your missed while you dozed off in your 10th grade history class, don’t worry, because 1610 is a year in which nothing much happened at all. In fact, that’s why the author’s chose it.
Filmed March 2014. Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case. “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”
A few months ago I made the case here on IEET on the future possibilities of sex crimes as a result of exponentially growing technologies, from drones to haptic body suits. I didn’t make the case to try to convince people from refraining to use these technologies – especially for sexual purposes – but rather to stoke a discussion on the possible risks of said technologies and start developing a means to mitigate these risks if and when they present themselves.
Recently, I tuned in to watch a 60 Minutes television story on a experimental cancer treatment being tested that was being hailed as near miraculous. As I saw the face of one white patient after another white patient who was cured by injecting the polio virus into a brain tumor, I started to wonder: where are all the black people? Or Hispanics or Asians? It brought to mind the popular campaign and twitter hashtag, Black Lives Matter
Did a recent graphic by the anti-gay, pro-religious-freedom American Family Association make their intentions a little too clear? The American Family Association (AFA) proudly describes itself as one of the largest and most effective “pro-family” organizations in the United States. This doesn’t mean that AFA advocates for healthcare or paid family leave or family planning or education funding or laws that protect abused children, or aid to dependent children, or other evidence based services that promote family flourishing. Nope; it means they use their legal clout and broadcast media to oppose gay rights in places like Indiana, obstruct access to abortion care, repeal universal healthcare, and defund public services and regulations.
I’ve seen some pieces in the media lately questioning this, so allow me to point to some facts based on real-world data. tl;dr: We’ll probably never power the world entirely on solar, but if we did, it would take a rather small fraction of the world’s land area: Less than 1 percent of the Earth’s land area to provide for current electricity needs.
There are many reasons to reduce or eliminate meat production, and in this week’s episode we cover them and ask the question: are we soon going to be eating synthetic meat? From resources to ethics, there is tremendous pressure to bring down the costs associated with meat. We discuss the challenges tissue engineers face in creating meat that is delicious and affordable, and discuss the limitations of recent successes like the famous $300,000 synthetic burger. We also discuss some of the most promising companies and approaches in the synthetic meat space. Finally we consider other future alternatives to livestock farming such as insect protein, soylent, and the eventual decoupling of our nutritional needs from the pleasure of eating.
Despite the power of incumbency, the backing of President Obama, and an array of wealthy and powerful backers, Rahm Emanuel nevertheless became the first mayor in Chicago history to be forced into a runoff. Sure, Jesús “Chuy” Garcia’s defeat was a setback for the left, but Emanuel’s struggle to retain his office is a warning for politicians everywhere: Corporate Democrats are likely to find themselves on the defensive in 2016 and beyond.
Marcin Gorazda explains what are the epistemic and cognitive concepts of explanation and tries to make a synthesis of both of them.
This talk was delivered during the Copernicus Center International Seminar “The Concept of Explanation in Science, Philosophy and Theology”.
Money has long fascinated me, and not for the obvious reasons. Although I’d like to have more of it, my interest is largely philosophical. It is the ontology of money that has always disturbed me. Ever since I was a child, collecting old coins and hoarding my pocket money, I’ve wondered why it is that certain physical tokens can function as money and others cannot. What is money made from? What is it grounded in? Why do certain monetary systems fail and others succeed?
We have previously announced that the Transhumanist Party will be supporting an independent candidate in the UK national elections next month, and are now glad to announce that this will be a founding party member, Alexander Karran, in the seat of Liverpool Walton.
Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”, which can be trained by meditational practices derived from Buddhist anapanasati.
The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali-term sati, “mindfulness”, which is an essential element of Buddhist practice, including vipassana, satipaṭṭhāna and anapanasati.
Mindfulness practice is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction. It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.
When Crystal O’Connor, the owner of an Indiana pizza parlor said she wouldn’t cater a gay wedding because she is a Christian, the story went viral. Not surprisingly, one immediate response was derision: “What gay couple would have pizza catered at their wedding?” “Wedding pizza—is that a thing in Indiana?”But not all comments and reactions were good humored, and daunted by an outpouring of indignation, hostility and sarcastic Yelp reviewsand pro-gay anti-religion photos, Memories Pizza closed their doors, saying they might not reopen. Some on the Left relished the thought that bigotry might have a tangible pocketbook price.