Stephen Hawking summed up the thinking of many of the researchers and funders behind artificial intelligence this week when he launched the new Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at Cambridge by claiming that AI is “either the best or worst thing to happen to humanity.”
Scared of superintelligent AI? You should be, says neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris — and not just in some theoretical way. We’re going to build superhuman machines, says Harris, but we haven’t yet grappled with the problems associated with creating something that may treat us the way we treat ants.
Access instead of Ownership
One of the most radical and potentially disruptive ideas for the near-term blockchain financial services market is Securities as a Service. Consider the music industry, where in the past, it was quite normal to purchase and own records and CDs, but now music is often accessed through digital media services like Spotify. There is access to music, but not much thought of ownership. “Listening to music” is the consumable asset, which is priced per network models for its access and consumption.
For the past two years, Zoltan Istvan has been campaigning for the US presidency on the Transhumanist Party, a largely one-man show which nevertheless remains faithful to the basic tenets of transhumanism. Now suppose he won. Top of his policy agenda had been to ensure the immortality of all Americans. But even Zoltan realized that this would entail quite big changes in how the state and society function. So, shortly after being elected president, he decides to hold a national referendum on the matter.
What do you get when you combine the strongest materials from the plant world with the most elastic ones from the insect kingdom? Super-performing materials that might transform ... everything. Nanobiotechnologist Oded Shoseyov walks us through examples of amazing materials found throughout nature, in everything from cat fleas to sequoia trees, and shows the creative ways his team is harnessing them in everything from sports shoes to medical implants.
From improving vaccines to modifying crops to solving crimes, DNA technology has transformed our world. Now, for the first time in history, anyone can experiment with DNA at home, in their kitchen, using a device smaller than a shoebox. We are living in a personal DNA revolution, says biotech entrepreneur Sebastian Kraves, where the secrets buried in DNA are yours to find.
As William Gibson has famously pointed out, the job of the science fiction writer is not to predict the future but to construct one plausible version of it from the pieces already laying around. I assume that Malka Older was trying to do this deliberately low key Gibsonian thing with her novel Infomacracy, but given the bizarre nature of this current election cycle she instead, and remarkably, ended up anticipating not merely many of its real or feared events, but even ended her novel on the same note of exhaustion and exasperation and even dread resulting from the perceived failures of representative democracy now expressed by many among the elites, and from another the other angle, the young.
Many of IEET’s scholars have been published in new book, The Posthuman Body in Superhero Comics, this book “examines the concepts of Post/Humanism and Transhumanism as depicted in superhero comics. Recent decades have seen mainstream audiences embrace the comic book Superhuman.” (Palgrave)
The oldest human to have ever lived died at the age of 122—and that was nearly 20 years ago. A recent analysis of global demographic data suggests this may very well be the maximum age attainable by humans, and that it’s extremely unlikely anyone will ever live much beyond this advanced age. That is, unless we science the shit out of this problem.
In the U.S. alone in 2014, over 14 thousand people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids, according to the CDC. A national survey that year reported that almost 2 million Americans were abusing or physically dependent on prescription opioids. A thousand Americans go to the emergency room every day for misusing these drugs.
Before Bill Gates was a billionaire, before the power, the cultural cachet, and the Robert Downey Jr. portrayals, computers were for losers who would never get laid. Their potential was of course independent of these considerations, but Steve Jobs could become one of the richest people on Earth because he was fascinated with, and dedicated time to, something that cool kids — specially from the wealthy families who could most easily afford access to them — wouldn’t have been caught dead playing with, or at least loving.
Le neuro-oncologue François Berger s’apprête, avec des confrères, à lancer un appel à un moratoire contre le transhumanisme. Ce serait, à notre connaissance, une première mondiale. Voici notre réaction.
A few months back we talked about the revolutionary gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 – a technology based on the bacterial immune system that will allow us to make edits to an organism’s genetic code with more ease and accuracy than ever before.
CRISPR is changing the landscape of genetic engineering and synthetic biology. In this episode, we take a look at one of the most powerful applications in this new landscape of genetic engineering: Gene drives. This is an idea that has the potential to save millions of lives and give us unprecedented control over natural populations of organisms. At the same time, it comes with serious risks that need to be studied and understood.
In 2010 when I organized the H+ Summit conference at Harvard University, together with my friend Alex Lightman, I would not have imagined that it would be a key event in the history of Inferno. Instead it seems that, according to the protagonists of the book, the villain of the story got his ideas at the conference. On Saturday, October 15 I organized a special screening of the film Inferno, with SingularityU Milan, followed by a debate on the limits of technology and how to apply it in a positive direction for the development of humanity.
Baring a truly revolutionary medical breakthrough, the fact is that all of us are one day going to die. But that doesn’t mean the spirit of forward thinking has to die with us! This week we look at some emerging alternatives for caring for human remains. From a company that wants to feed us to trees, to a method of shattering bodies Terminator-style, to turning us into vinyl records; we examine some of the more interesting and environmentally friendly methods of doing death differently.
The 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to a trio of scientists for their pioneering work in developing molecular machines. These gadgets measure just a thousandth of a human hair in width, and they’re poised to revolutionize everything from manufacturing and materials to medicine and the functioning of the human body.
Standing as we are with our nose so tightly pressed against the glass, it’s impossible to know what exactly the current, crazy presidential election will mean, not just for American, democracy, but for the future of democracy itself. Of course, much of this depends on the actual outcome of the election, when the American public will either chose to cling to a system full of malware, corrupted and buggy, yet still functional, or risk everything on a hard reboot. This would include the risk that we might never be able to reset the clock to the time before we had plunged over the abyss and restore an order that while outdated, ill-designed, and running up against the limits of both still managed to do the job.
Fellows Kevin LaGrandeur and John Danaher were interviewed by Future Left about the potential impact of automation and computerization on the future of the American workforce. Their comments are included in an initiative to get theAmerican presidential to address this issue in their platforms, and their comments are also included in an article here.
Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have found evidence of a “wandering” black hole on the outskirts of a distant galaxy. It’s too far away to cause us any trouble, but the discovery of this homeless ball of gravitational despair affirms a long standing theory about the existence of such objects.
I use pen and paper to do most of my serious thinking. Whether it is outlining blogposts or academic papers, taking notes or constructing arguments, I pretty much always take out my trusty A4 pad and pen when I run into a cognitive trough. To be sure, I often mull ideas over in my head for a long time beforehand, but when I want to move beyond my muddled and incoherent thoughts, I will grab for my pen and paper. I am sure that many of you do the same. There is something cognitively different about thinking outside your head: creating an external representation of your thoughts reveals their strengths and weaknesses in a way that internal dialogue never can.
At a distance of 4.2 light years, Proxima b is the closest potentially habitable Earth-like planet outside our solar system. New research suggests this distant orb could be completely covered in water. So when do we go?
“What makes something sentient? What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord? Is it a gift from God or hard science? Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size? There are many models, of course. But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!
Phil Torres is an Affiliate Scholar at the IEET. His book is The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse. Since the beginning of civilization, people have worried about its collapse. Pockets of people across the world have long warned that the end is near, and as it turns out, their warnings of apocalypse might be closer to the truth than we think. Torres joins Point of Inquiry host Josh Zepps to discuss just how close we are to experiencing catastrophes that have the potential to fuel our demise. With everything from climate change and biodiversity loss to uncontrollable technologies and the greater accessibility of advanced weaponry, Torres predicts that the human race is going to have some major hurdles to overcome if we want to survive the coming century.
Qu’est-ce qui différencie le vieillissement d’une maladie, au fond ? Il en a toutes les caractéristiques ! Cette question un brin provocatrice est une invitation à nous interroger sur l’arbitraire de nos catégories.
IEET Blog |
email list |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.
East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA
Email: director @ ieet.org phone:
West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
425 Moraga Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
Email: hank @ ieet.org