A key future use of neural electrode technology envisioned for nanomedicine and cognitive enhancement is intracortical recording devices that would capture the output signals of multiple neurons that are related to a given activity, for example signals associated with movement, or the intent of movement.
On Parfit’s View That We Are Not Human Beings Derek Parfit claims that we are not human beings, but parts of them. Specifically, each of us is the part of a human being that thinks in the strictest sense. This is supposed to solve a number of difficult metaphysical problems. I argue that the view has grave metaphysical problems of its own, that it cannot solve the problems it is said to solve, and that it is inconsistent with the view of our identity over time that Parfit adduces in its support.
Buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice, lies Lake Whillans. Despite being of the most inhospitable places on Earth, Lake Whillans was still thought to contain life. In early 2014 a team of scientists trekked across the ice, tasked with drilling 800 metres down to the lake and looking for evidence of life. Reporter Douglas Fox went with them, and he tells us about his experiences.
This is the sixth part in my series on Nick Bostrom’s recent book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. The series is covering those parts of the book that most interest me. This includes the sections setting out the basic argument for thinking that the creation of superintelligent AI could threaten human existence, and the proposed methods for dealing with that threat.
Socrates of Singularity 1 on 1 interviews Jerome C. Glenn on the current status of the world. Are we winning, losing, or somewhere in the middle? What does that even mean? Find out on this episode of Singularity 1 on 1!
In this second discussion with Glenn we cover a wide variety of topics such as: The State of the Future report; if the world is coming to an end; the definition of war and the conflicts in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine; things that changed and things that did not change since the last interview; infectious disease epidemics and the containment thereof; bitcoin - the currency and the technology; the 15 global challenges and why ethics is one of them; sea/salt water agriculture; the growing rich-poor gap and technological unemployment…
My three most favorite quotes that I will take away from the 2nd interview with Jerome C. Glenn are:
“Science is an epistemology in the house of philosophy.”
“Love works and hate doesn’t.”
[...] and my favorite one:
“What works best is idealism but tempered by realism. [...] Listen to the negative but don’t let it bury you.”
As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.
Jerome C. Glenn co-founded and directs The Millennium Project, a leading global participatory think tank supported by international organizations, governments, corporations, and NGOs, which produces the internationally recognized State of the Future annual reports for the past 16 years. Jerome Glenn invented the “Futures Wheel”, a futures assessment technique; Futuristic Curriculum Development, and concepts such as conscious-technology, transinstitutions, tele-nations, management by understanding, feminine brain drain, just-in-time knowledge, feelysis, nodes as a management concept for interconnecting global and local views and actions, and definitions of environmental security, collective Intelligence, and scenarios. He has consulted for governments, corporations, UN organizations, and NGOs. He wrote about information warfare in the late 1980s in his book Future Mind, sent his first email in 1973, and was hired by the Quakers action arm to organize the environmental programs in New England 1971. More recently he led the design and implementation of collective intelligence systems for the Global Climate Change Situation Room in South Korea, the Prime Minister’s Office of Kuwait, and now the Global Futures Collective Intelligence System
Saturday Review named him among the most unusually gifted leaders of America for his pioneering work in Tropical Medicine, Future-Oriented Education, and Participatory Decision Making Systems in 1974. He was instrumental in naming the first Space Shuttle the Enterprise and banning the first space weapon (FOBS) in SALT II. He has published over 150 future-oriented articles, spoken to over 300 organizations, written several books (Future Mind, Linking the Future, and co-author of Space Trek), and is the editor of Futures Research Methodology Version 3.0.
“Every office full of ambitious people has them. And we have all worked with at least one—the co-worker with an inexplicable ability to rise in the ranks,” wrote the Wall Street Journal recently in an article entitled What Corporate Climbers Can Teach Us. “‘How do they do it?’ we may ask ourselves or whisper to friends at work,” it continued. “They don't have more experience. They don't seem that brilliant.”
We created the Achieving Personal Immortality Roadmap. It represents the general view on the tasks of transhumanism. It is not enough detailed, because each line requires a larger amount of texts to explain it. At some point of time we will present the plans of action on the key points and will explain how and why they need to be implemented. Nonetheless, we believe it is important to demonstrate the comprehensive view on the problem of achieving physical immortality.
The Roadmap to Personal Immortality is list of actions that one should do to live forever. The most obvious way to reach immortality is to defeat aging, to grow and replace the diseased organs with new bioengineered ones, and in the end to be scanned into a computer. This is Plan A. It is the best possible course of events. It depends on two things – your personal actions (like regular medical checkups) and collective actions like civil activism and scientific research funding. The map is showing both paths in Plan A.
However, if Plan A fails, meaning if you die before the victory over aging, there is Plan B, which is cryonics. Some simple steps can be taken now, like calling your nearest cryocompany about a contract.
Unfortunately, cryonic could also fail, and then you can move to Plan C. Of course it is much worse – less reliable and less proven. Plan C is the so called digital immortality, that means one could be returned to life based on the existing recorded information about that person. It is a not the best plan, because we are not sure how to solve the identity problem, which will arise, and also we don’t know if collected amount of information would be enough. But it is still better than nothing.
Lastly, if Plan C fails, we have Plan D. It is not a plan in fact – it is just hope or a bet that immortality already exists somehow, maybe there is quantum immortality, or maybe the future AI will bring us back to life.
All Plans demand particular actions now – we need to prepare to all of them simultaneously. All of the Plans will lead to the same result – our minds will be uploaded into a computer and will merge with AI. So these plans are in fact multilevel defense mechanisms against death structured in the most logical way.
This map is the political program of the Longevity party – this is what we are going to do. We presented the Roadmap together with Alexei Turchin near the White House as an action to increase public attention for life extension.
Aging is the main cause of death. Slowing down aging is an extremely complicated task that requires collaboration of hundreds of scientific labs and clinical facilities. It is not going to happen on its own. Active members of the society must signal that they are ready to fight for their right to live.
That’s why Alexei Turchin and I came to the White House on August 16 to set an example for transhumanists of the world how one should fight for their interests. We presented the Achieving Personal Immortality Roadmap and “I demand funding for anti aging research” and “Immortality” posters. The Roadmap reflects our point of view on what each person should do to preserve their life.
We call upon everyone who shares the ideas of radical life extension to do street actions with us. Let’s do poster sessions in front of the White House, rallies, art actions, simply meet on a regular basis in bars. Join our Facebook group – Longevity Party. Together we will change the situation and will help raise enough funding for scientific research in human longevity.
Self-control and attentiveness are cornerstones of moral character, and our capacity for these virtues are about half hard-wired. A child’s capacity for self-control predicts their adult likelihood of a successful life, and of myriad bad habits. I discuss the relationship of attention to moral behavior, the ways we can build a more mindful society, and how we can practice self-control and mindfulness with techniques like fasting, exercise and meditation. But many of us, even if we have above average capacities for self-control and attention, will also benefit from the growing number of technologies that enable self-control, from stimulant medications and treatments for addiction to gene therapies and brain-machine devices.
Within the next few years, autonomous vehicles—alias robot cars—could be weaponized, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fears. In a recently disclosed report, FBI experts wrote that they believe that robot cars would be “game changing” for law enforcement. The self-driving machines could be professional getaway drivers, to name one possibility. Given the pace of developments on autonomous cars, this doesn’t seem implausible.
I had the opportunity to see Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, with Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, and Morgan Freeman, only last week, more than three months after the film’s release in theaters. Before seeing the film I satisfied my Transcendence cravings with an old, still unnamed copy of Jack Paglen’s script that can be found online (it appears that Paglen’s screenplay was part of what is known as the Black List, a list of popular but unproduced screenplays in Hollywood).
The transfer of used military equipment from the armed forces to police departments around the country has been accompanied, at least to a certain extent, by a shift in public thinking. The news media have played a critical part in that shift, both in its coverage and in what it chooses not to cover.
The recent sci-fi movie Lucy includes questionable science, laugh-out-loud dialogue, strange psychedelic graphics, a well-worn plot, an idiotic chase scene, and ridiculous violence, but I liked it a lot. It is a guilty pleasure on a par with G.I. Jane and T2.
Dr. Rachel Armstrong, Senior TED Fellow and Living Architect, is a Black Sky Thinker, whose ambition and work pushes the boundaries of thought far beyond the blue sky. In this video she discusses ideas for organic like living environments and buildings that integrate themselves with nature.
One example of Rachel’s Black Sky work is as Project Leader for Persephone. Persephone is a crewed interstellar craft, to be assembled in Earth’s orbit, within a hundred years. Rachel is responsible for designing and implementing a giant natural computer that will form the interior of a space ship. The craft or ‘Worldship’ will feature a new approach to building materials called ‘living architecture’. Pioneered by Dr. Armstrong, it suggests it is possible for our buildings to share some of the properties of living systems.
Rachel has a diverse and exciting portfolio of internationally recognised, multi-disciplinary inpossible work and projects. These are characterized by their audacity and visionary long-term goals, with ever changing outcomes that have presented new discoveries within their development. A selection of which can be explored here.
On August 9, at around 12 in the afternoon, Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were attacked by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. With his hands in the air, telling Officer Wilson that he was unarmed, the officer shot Brown several times, killing him as a result. This was the eyewitness account told by Brown’s friend Dorian.
Nikola Danaylov (a.k.a Socrates) talks with Jonathan Mugan about his book The Curiosity Cycle and how to teach children about important concepts related to the world of science and technology. They also discuss the importance of the future of learning and methods on how mind’s will evolve.
During our 30 min conversation with Mugan we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: his journey from the “soft” half of knowledge – arts, into the “hard” half – science; his book The Curiosity Cycle; building smart robots and educating children; why he focused on “curiosity” rather than “intelligence” and “cycle” rather than a “score”; tips for teaching your kids in the most effective manner, dealing with automation and technological unemployment…
(You can listen to/download the audio file above or watch the video interview in full. If you want to help me produce more episodes like this one please make a donation!)
Who is Jonathan Mugan?
Dr. Jonathan Mugan is a computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning. He is the author of The Curiosity Cycle: Preparing Your Child for the Ongoing Technological Explosion. Dr. Mugan received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin. His thesis was centered in developmental robotics, which is an area of research that seeks to understand how robots can learn about the world in the same way that human children do. Dr. Mugan also held a post-doctoral position at Carnegie Mellon University, where he worked at the intersection of machine learning and human-computer interaction (HCI) as a member of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory. His work focused on enabling devices such as smart phones to learn a user’s privacy preferences. He received his B.A. in Psychology and his M.B.A. from Texas A&M University. He has three children.
Positive moods are a virtue, both in enabling enjoyment of life and in supporting prosocial behavior. But it is not the only kind of happiness, and in excess can be quite excessive. Along with positive moods we also want to cultivate flourishing, a sense that overall our lives are meaningful and going well. What are the public policies and life behaviors that support positive moods and flourishing lives? As we enter a “hedonistic imperative” future in which we are able to tweak our moods with “happy-people-pills-for-all” how will we find the right balance of positive mood to achieve flourishing lives?
The WHO medical ethics panel convened Monday to discuss the ethics of using experimental treatments for Ebola in West African nations affected by the disease. I am relieved to note that this morning they released their unanimous recommendation: “it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.”
MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte discusses what it means for the atomic world to turn digital.
Nicholas Negroponte, founder and Chairman Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, as well as the founder of the One Laptop per Child Association, seems to think so. Negroponte spoke to Big Think about the transformative power of technology and how it can help feed the world in a sustainable way. Grazing livestock, for instance, puts stress on the environment; since the 1970s, the Amazon rainforest lost an area the size of California to deforestation, driven in large part by making room for cattle. We need these trees to absorb the excess CO2 warming up our atmosphere.
Human beings seem to have an innate need to predict the future. We’ve read the entrails of animals, thrown bones, tried to use the regularity or lack of it in the night sky as a projection of the future and omen of things to come, along with a thousand others kinds of divination few of us have ever heard of. This need to predict the future makes perfect sense for a creature whose knowledge bias is towards the present and the past. Survival means seeing enough ahead to avoid dangers, so that an animal that could successfully predict what was around the next corner could avoid being eaten or suffering famine.
The resilience of our entire civilization is increasingly reliant on a fragile network of cell phone towers, which are the first things to fail in any crisis, e.g. a hurricane or other natural disaster… or else deliberate (e.g. EMP or hacker) sabotage.
Everyone knows by now that self driving cars are coming soon. Somewhere in the next 3-20 years, the human driver will become a thing of the past. What will happen when these capabilities come online? We talk through the obvious and not so obvious consequences of self driving car technology, from unemployment of taxi drivers to reclaiming parking spaces from idle vehicles — and ultimately theorize that the ownership model will change drastically.
Adam Ford records Philosopher of Science, John Wilkins, about philosophy, sociology, science, and pseudoscience. What is science, what is not science? What makes something good science?
Published on Aug 12, 2014
See this post by John Wilkins at Evolving Thoughts: http://evolvingthoughts.net/2011/07/w…
Every so often, somebody will attack the worth, role or relevance of philosophy on the internets, as I have discussed before. Occasionally it will be a scientist, who usually conflates philosophy with theology. This is as bad as someone assuming that because I do some philosophy I must have the Meaning of Life (the answer is, variously, 12 year old Scotch, good chocolate, or dental hygiene).
But it raises an interesting question or two: what is the reason to do philosophy in relation to science? being the most obvious (and thus set up the context in which you can answer questions like: are there other ways to find truth than science?). So I thought I would briefly give my reasons for that.
When philosophy began around 500BCE, there was no distinction between science and philosophy, nor, for that matter, between religion and philosophy. Arguably, science began when the pre-Socratics started to ask what the natures of things were that made them behave as they did, and equally arguably the first actual empirical scientist was Aristotle (and, I suspect, his graduate students).
But a distinction between science and philosophy began with the separation between natural philosophy (roughly what we now call science) and moral philosophy, which dealt with things to do with human life and included what we should believe about the world, including moral, theological and metaphysical beliefs. The natural kind was involved in considering the natures or things. A lot gets packed into that simple word, nature: it literally means “in-born” (natus) and the Greek physikos means much the same. Of course, something can be in-born only if it is born that way (yes, folks, she’s playing on some old tropes here!), and most physical things aren’t born at all, but the idea was passed from living to nonliving things, and so natural philosophy was born. That way.
In the period after Francis Bacon, natural philosophy was something that depended crucially on observation, and so the Empiricists arose: Locke, Berkeley, Hobbes, and later Hume. That these names are famous in philosophy suggests something: philosophy does best when it is trying to elucidate science itself. And when William Whewell in 1833 coined the term scientist to denote those who sought scientia or knowledge, science had begun its separation from the rest of philosophy.
Or imperfectly, anyway. For a start the very best scientists of the day, including Babbage, Buckland and Whewell himself wrote philosophical tomes alongside theologians and philosophers. And the tradition continues until now, such as the recent book by Stephen Hawking in which he declares the philosophical enterprise is dead, a decidedly philosophical claim to make. Many scientists seem to find the doing of philosophy inevitable.
So why do I do philosophy of science? Simply because it is where the epistemic action is: science is where we do get knowledge, and I wish to understand how and why, and the limitations. All else flows from this for me. Others I know (and respect) do straight metaphysics and philosophy of language, but I do not. It only has a bite if it gives some clarity to science. I think this is also true of metaphysics, ethics and such matters as philosophy of religion.
Now there are those who think that science effectively exhausts our knowledge-gathering. This, too, is a philosophical position, which has to be defended, and elaborated (thus causing more philosophy to be done). I don’t object to that view, but for me, it is better to be positive (say that science gives us knowledge even if other activities may do) than to be negative (deny that anything but science gives us knowledge). It may be that we get to the latter position after considering the former; if so, that would be a philosophical result.
I am fascinated by science. It allows us to do things no ancient Greek (or West Semitic) thinker would have been even able to conceive of. It means we make fewer mistakes. Philosophy is, and ought only to be, in the service of knowledge (I’m sure somebody has said that before). Science is a good first approximation of that.
But scientists who reject philosophy, as if that very rejection is not a philosophical stance (probably taken unreflectively or on the basis of half-digested emotive appeals), them I have no time for as philosophers. They should perhaps stick to their last and not make fools of themselves.
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See: http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoug… - The issue is (raised, as always, by the existence of woo science, antiscience, and pseudoscience) how do we know when something is, or isn’t, science? This is often called the “demarcation problem” (DP hereafter). I’m going to offer a couple of ways to do this, based on the notion that science, like every other historical entity, evolves.
Janet discusses Popper’s “solution” – something is science if it is potentially falsifiable. Leaving aside the problems with the notion of falsifiability, and indeed the problems with the whole Popperian view of science (which I happen to think is fundamentally incomplete and deeply flawed, in that it excludes around three quarters of what scientists actually do), let’s consider if there might not be other ways to determine if something is science or not.
There are three classes, broadly speaking, of claims that vie for science status. One are those that are simply not at issue; they just are science by almost universal consent. These include the tenets of relativity theory, atomism, germ theory, immunology, genetics, the expanding universe, and yes, evolution. Anyone who denies that these are scientific theories or precepts is simply outside the pale of viable hypotheses.
The second class is that of obviously unscientific claims. Now these are not defined purely in terms of being the denial of established scientific views, as they are also inclusive of ethical claims, aesthetic claims, and other normative or fact-insensitive propositions, as well as those things that are just wrong. So, being nonscientific is not in itself a Bad Thing. Being nonscience that claims to be science is, and being nonscience that claims to be science but has been shown to be false is the Worst Thing.
But there is a third “class”, if we can call it that: the Grey Area. Things that might be science or might not, we just don’t know. And this, you may be surprised to know, is by far the largest class, because there are indefinitely many things we do not know if they are right or wrong, empirically decideable or not. How much of that very large class shall we allow to be included in the “might-be science” category? When is it woo and when is it reasonable?
They say that one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and one Politico story certainly doesn’t make a campaign season. But if a recent article there is correct – if the Democratic Party’s strategy this year really is “Running as a Dem (while) sounding like a Republican” – then the party may be headed for a disaster of epic but eminently predictable proportions.
Debate about the merits of enhancement tends to pretty binary. There are some — generally called bioconservatives — who are opposed to it; and others — transhumanists, libertarians and the like — who embrace it wholeheartedly. Is there any hope for an intermediate approach? One that doesn’t fall into the extremes of reactionary reject or uncritical endorsement?