Some spend a few decades meditating. Others spend an indeterminate amount of time inquiring after their true selves. Still others ingest ayahuasca or other intense psychoactive drugs. All are seeking the same thing: in a word, enlightenment. Now, a robotics engineer out of California is hoping to help seekers find it another way: with technology.
I keep seeing and hearing cynics sigh about how far we have “fallen.” The disease is rampant, on both right and left. The striking thing to me is the inanity of cliches, like: “Isn’t it a shame that our wisdom has not kept pace with technology?” This nonsense is spouted amid the greatest transformation of diversity, inclusion, acceptance, re-evaluation and tolerance in the history of our species! At no other time were so many hoary/awful assumptions - about race-gender and so on - pilloried by light and scrutiny!
Law generally falls into two incongruent categories: the natural law and the positive law. While the natural law encompasses universally accepted moral principles and social sense of justice, reflecting the zeitgeist or the spirit of time, the positive law ignores these premises, focusing instead on human-mad laws, such as statutory and common law.
The paper introduces a novel critique of the Kalam Cosmological argument. Or rather, a novel critique of a specific sub-component of the argument in favour of the Kalam. As you may be aware, the Kalam argument makes three key claims: (i) that the universe must have begun to exist; (ii) that anything that begins to exist must have a cause of its existence; and (iii) that in the case of the universe, the cause must be God.
This is a very cool crowdfunding campaign – you can help create a new cancer drug and at the same make it much cheaper. How? The researchers will not patent the drugs. Like polio vaccine, which was never patented, therefore it was widely available. Check out the website and the video. I loved it and made a donation of $50, because I find projects like this can change the existing paradigm in healthcare when the existing drugs are just deadly expensive. I encourage you to support the project and share it with your friends.
By the way, in aging there are also drugs that can never be patented like aspirin, metformin and rapamycin, but may well extend our lifespan. No pharmaceutical company will be interested in looking at substances that can’t be patented, but this could make our lives longer and healthier.
A small biotech company in San Francisco is using genetic engineering to develop plants that emit their own light.
Luminosity has a long and storied history in biology, in fact it's even been the subject of a Nobel Prize. Bioluminescence is used as a core tool of molecular biology as it allows scientists to understand the inner workings of the cell.
The first bioluminescent plant was made in 1986, with the addition of firefly luciferine. The plant was very dim, requiring 8 hours of exposure on photographic film. It also required the addition of luciferin to glow as researchers added just a single gene for the luciferase.
More recently researchers at SUNY added the full glowing construct to a gene resulting in the first auto-luminescent plant. This plant had the bacterial lux operon inserted into the chloroplasts (which are like mini-bacteria) and dimly glowed without the addition of any external reagents.
Bostrom writes that the reason A.I. scientists have failed so badly in predicting the future of their own field is that the technical difficulties have been greater than they expected. I don't think so. I think those scientists had a good understanding of what they were trying to build. The reason why "the expected arrival date [of Artificial Intelligence] has been receding at a rate of one year per year" (Nick Bostrom's estimate) is that we keep changing the definition. There never was a proper definition of what we mean by "Artificial Intelligence" and still there isn't.
As autumn descends on the America's capital, people are saying there’s a darkness on the edge of town. It’s born of the fear, pessimism and uncertainty that have become the Republican political brand. And if the polls are right, there’s every chance that its shadow will fall upon Capitol Hill and envelop both houses of Congress.
During my recent visit to the Cryonics Institute I had the chance to do a video tour of CI and learn more about their vitrification procedures and membership policies. I also had the unique opportunity to interview David Ettinger, whose father Robert Ettinger is the “father of cryonics” because he pretty much started the field with his seminal book The Prospect of Immortality. I was also happy to interview David for my Singularity 1 on 1 podcast because we had not only an informative but also very frank and deeply personal interview as to his own story and motivation.
During our 1 hour discussion with David Ettinger we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: what is CI, how and why he got involved in it; how his father – Robert Ettinger, came up with the idea of cryonics; my wife’s journey to embracing the idea and my evil plan to sign up the rest of our family; the definition of cryonics and the process of vitrification; why people are often cryo-convinced but unfortunately not cryo-committed; prices and procedures for joining the Cryonics Institute as well as options for people outside of the US; the slow pace of progress in cryo-biology and related research; betting on life vs betting on death; volunteering and the CI business model; David’s take on transhumanism and the technological singularity…
My favorite quotes that I will take away from this interview with David Ettinger are:
“Being frozen is a horible thing, it’s just that the alternative is even worse.”
“If you’re counting on something other than cryonics extending your life, you are not covering your bets.”
David Ettinger is an attorney, a founding member of the Cryonics Institute and the son of Robert Ettinger, the founder of the cryonics movement. David has served as CI’s attorney since 1977, and has been an advocate and spokesperson on cryonics issues since he was 15 years old (when he did his first television interview on the subject).
In his “day job”, David is an antitrust lawyer who has litigated a wide range of major cases in more than 30 states. Among his achievements, David may be the only lawyer in the United States who has won antitrust merger cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants.
Every year more than 750,000 American teens become pregnant, and over 80 percent of these pregnancies are unplanned. That may be about to change. If teens take to the latest wave of birth control technologies the way they’ve taken to cell phones, unplanned pregnancy could go the way of landlines and stretchy handset cords.
There are tree lectures about the mitochondria in my course. Dr. Pinchas Cohen, the Dean of Davis School of Gerontology, talked about the role of mitochondria in disease and pathology. Mitochondria have essentially three major functions. They are responsible for cellular respiration, integration of apoptotic signals, which means they control cell death, and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Mitochondrial function declines with age as a result of accumulated mutations in the mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial disfunction is common in diseases, such as diabetes, neurodegenerative pathologies and cancer.
In this episode, we discuss the meaning and origins of the term ‘transhumanism.’ We summarize the primary transhumanist goals of increased longevity, greater intelligence, and enhanced wellbeing. We also explore some of the other implications of transhumanist philosophy, such as a commitment to rationalism, morphological freedom, respect for sentience, and avoidance of existential risk.
It is a risky business trying to predict the future, and although it makes some sense to try to get a handle on what the world might be like in one’s lifetime, one might wonder what’s even the point of all this prophecy that stretches out beyond the decades one is expected to live? The answer I think is that no one who engages in futurism is really trying to predict the future so much as shape it, or at the very least, inspire Noah like preparations for disaster.
A critical note on transhumanist organizational structure. I am always a bit amused upon hearing other people’s concerns about transhumanism and even transhumanists themselves (depicted as influential, intimidating and even dangerous). Although many transhumanist ideas may sound disruptive and revolutionary to the average citizen, transhumanists themselves are far less the doers, but rather passive observers and theorists.
The “Singularity” seems to have become a new lucrative field for the struggling publishing industry (and, i am sure, soon, for the equally struggling Hollywood movie studios). To write a bestseller, you have to begin by warning that machines more intelligent than humans are coming soon. That is enough to get everybody’s attention.
Just imagine being able to surf through the brain and its 86 billion neurons - well now you can. Scientists have developed the first high-definition 3D model of a complete human brain - it is called Big Brain. Researchers from Canada and Germany have constructed the 3D digital model based upon the preserved brain of a 65-year-old woman that had been preserved in wax. It was sliced into ultra-thin sections. The scientists then used modern brain imaging technologies to analyse each individual piece after which the sections were put back together into the highest possible resolution 3D digital model.
Katrin Amunts, the project leader at the Forschungszentrum in Jülich, said: “The Big Brain is a three-dimensional atlas of the human brain with microscopic resolution. We had to make more than 7,500 histological sections of a human brain, which then were reconstructed three-dimensionally. Which means that finally we have a mass which we can study. Actually it works just the way we do with Google Earth, where we can also zoom in to specific cities, look at certain roads. The brain atlas is quite similar.”
The research was recently published in the journal Science and can be accessed freely online.
At 50 times the resolution of any available anatomical atlas of the organ, the project will give scientists the most sophisticated look at the structures that underlie aspects of the brain, ranging from cognition and language to ageing and disease.
Until now the highest resolution MRI scans have only been able to resolve features down to about one millimetre.
“We can very precisely measure, for example, the surface and the cortical thickness. These are parameters that are important for neurodegenerative diseases. Or we can get information about the distribution of cells in certain regions. There are also very, very small lesions in the brain, where it is very important not only to know what it looks like inside the core of the lesion, but also on the so-called penumbra - areas of the brain that were damaged but not yet dead. In all those cases such detailed information is important, this could also apply to stroke patients,” Katrin Amunts continued.
The Big Brain model, created by the Montreal Neurological Institute and the Centre for Research in Jülich provides considerable neuroanatomical insight into the human brain, thereby allowing the extraction of microscopic data for modeling and simulation.
For neuroscientists, Big Brain will act as a framework upon which further layers of information about the function of the living brain can be added as new discoveries are made.
Katrin Amunts concluded: “We hope that this human brain model will become a reference, which means that other data obtained about the function of the brain - for example, the distribution of receptors or gene expression - could be integrated into this brain model. Secondly, we hope to be able to produce analyses based on this brain; for example, how big is the cell density in different brain regions. These parameters are also used to ultimately allow modeling and simulation of the brain, and that’s something, for example, what we’re also planning within the Human Brain Project.”
Big Brain was announced alongside a number of similar research areas around the world.
The European Human Brain Project is a one billion euro fund aimed at simulating the brain using high-performance supercomputers to better understand how it functions, Big Brain is part of that.
Indonesia is now at the forefront of new advances in neuroscience and technology. In a remote laboratory two hours from the Indonesian capital, scientists are working on technology to research on the brain.
A 47-year-old scientist - Warsito Purwo Taruno - has established the Centre for Tomography Research Laboratory in Alam Sutera. It was set up in 2010.
The centre carries out research on the practical application of ECVT, an advanced scanning technology using an electrical signal.
A brain–computer interface (BCI), sometimes called a mind-machine interface (MMI), or sometimes called a direct neural interface (DNI), synthetic telepathy interface (STI) or a brain–machine interface (BMI), is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. BCIs are often directed at assisting, augmenting, or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions.
Research on BCIs began in the 1970s at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) under a grant from the National Science Foundation, followed by a contract from DARPA. The papers published after this research also mark the first appearance of the expression brain–computer interface in scientific literature.
The field of BCI research and development has since focused primarily on neuroprosthetics applications that aim at restoring damaged hearing, sight and movement. Thanks to the remarkable cortical plasticity of the brain, signals from implanted prostheses can, after adaptation, be handled by the brain like natural sensor or effector channels. Following years of animal experimentation, the first neuroprosthetic devices implanted in humans appeared in the mid-1990s. - wikipedia
An essay in Wired: Is Dystopian Sci Fi Making us Fear Technology? ponders the pandemic plague of cheap dystopias and apocalypses and feudal fantasties that have metastacized and infected science fiction. Michael Solana muses that a certain amount of dire warnings can be a tonic, but it becomes poisonous in the kind of excess that we are now seeing, in which the fundamental rule seems to be “never show any possibility of a better world.”
Whole brain emulation (WBE) or mind uploading (sometimes called “mind copying” or “mind transfer”) is the hypothetical process of copying mental content (including long-term memory and “self”) from a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computational device, such as a digital, analog, quantum-based or software based artificial neural network. The computational device could then run a simulation model of the brain information processing, such that it responds in essentially the same way as the original brain (i.e., indistinguishable from the brain for all relevant purposes) and experiences having a conscious mind.
Mind uploading may potentially be accomplished by either of two methods: Copy-and-Transfer or Gradual Replacement of neurons. In the case of the former method, mind uploading would be achieved by scanning and mapping the salient features of a biological brain, and then by copying, transferring, and storing that information state into a computer system or another computational device. The simulated mind could be within a virtual reality or simulated world, supported by an anatomic 3D body simulation model. Alternatively, the simulated mind could reside in a computer that’s inside (or connected to) a humanoid robot or a biological body.
Among some futurists and within the transhumanist movement mind uploading is treated as an important proposed life extension technology. Another aim of mind uploading is to provide a permanent backup to our “mind-file”, and a means for functional copies of human minds to survive a global disaster or interstellar space travels. Whole brain emulation is discussed by some futurists as a “logical endpoint” of the topical computational neuroscience and neuroinformatics fields, both about brain simulation for medical research purposes. It is discussed in artificial intelligence research publications as an approach to strong AI. Computer-based intelligence such as an upload could think much faster than a biological human even if it were no more intelligent. A large scale society of uploads might according to futurists give rise to a technological singularity, meaning a sudden time constant decrease in the exponential development of technology. Mind uploading is a central conceptual feature of numerous science fiction novels and films.
Substantial mainstream research in related areas is being conducted in animal brain mapping and simulation, development of faster super computers, virtual reality, brain-computer interfaces, connectomics and information extraction from dynamically functioning brains. According to supporters, many of the tools and ideas needed to achieve mind uploading already exist or are currently under active development; however, they will admit that others are, as yet, very speculative, but still in the realm of engineering possibility. Neuroscientist Randal Koene has formed a nonprofit organization called Carbon Copies to promote mind uploading research. Wikipedia
Diet and genomes interact due to the simple fact that nutrition is perhaps the most important environmental factor in human development. The food we eat is the fundamental factor defining our optimal state of health and mental capacity.
“As he was hurtling into orbit, Cosmonaut Gherman Titov had the distinct feeling that his body was cartwheeling through the air. It started as soon as Vostok 2 separated from its booster and he was thrust into weightlessness.”
AltaRock Energy is working on a project involving new technology, techniques, and advanced monitoring protocols for the purpose of testing the feasibility and viability of enhanced geothermal systems for renewable energy production.
The project area is 22 miles south of Bend, Oregon, within the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest. The entire project is located on National Forest System Lands and would utilize an existing well pad and existing 10,000-ft deep geothermal well on a Federal geothermal lease. This geothermal project will enable the AltaRock Energy to create, test, and demonstrate the Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) reservoir technology and its potential for electricity generation in areas with underground heat but little or no natural water. The EGS projects produce electricity using heat extracted with engineered fluid flow paths in hot rocks. These pathways are developed by stimulating them with cold water injected into a well at a relatively high pressure.
Development and testing of the EGS will involve several components, including the development of an underground reservoir, one “stimulation” well to help create the reservoir and transport water to it, two production wells to transport heated water out of the reservoir, and an array of up to 20 surface and “down-hole” seismic monitoring devices.
Eleven of the monitoring sites are on Federal geothermal leases administered by the BLM, and nine are on lands that are administered by the U.S. Forest Service, including one surface micro-seismic monitoring station and a motion sensor installed in the Newberry National Monument.
The United States leads the world in electricity generation with geothermal power. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2012, U.S geothermal power plants produced about 17 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 0.4% of total U.S. electricity generation. Six states had geothermal power plants: California had 36 plants producing about 80% of the Nation’s geothermal-produced electricity; Nevada had 21 plants producing about 16% of the Nation’s geothermal-produced electricity; Utah had two plants; and Hawaii, Idaho, and Oregon each had one plant. Geothermal energy is also used directly for space and water heating applications.
The Geothermal Steam Act of 1970, as amended (84 Stat, 1566; 30 U.S.C. 1001-1025), provides the Secretary of the Interior with the authority to lease public lands (245 million acres) and other federal lands, including National Forest lands (193 million acres), for geothermal exploration and development in an environmentally sound manner. This authority has been delegated to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Leases are required to explore for or develop geothermal resources on public lands. Leasing requirements are described in the 43 CFR 3200 Geothermal Leasing Regulations.
As of June 5, 2013 there were 78 federal geothermal leases encompassing 102,484 acres in Oregon, a 2% acreage decrease since May 2012, and four leases encompassing 8,436 acres in Washington representing no change over the same period. There have also been 15 parcels nominated for leasing, 6 in Oregon (11,452 acres) and 9 in Washington (35,480 acres). Three of these are on BLM land; the remaining 12 are on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land.
Specific project and location information for OR/WA can be found at this website: www.blm.gov/or/energy.
Chief Operations Officer Andy Zawacki guides us through a tour of the Cryonics Institute (CI) facility as well as the whole process of cryo-preservation – from the moment that legal death is declared to the moment patients are placed in long term storage.
Google Inc.’s 2013 book The New Digital Age, authored by Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen, was showered with praise by many, but attacked in a review by Julian Assange for the New York Times, where it is described as a “love song” from Google to the US state. Also addressed in Assange’s subsequent book When Google Met WikiLeaks, Google’s book makes an unconvincing effort to depict the internet as a double-edged sword, both empowering (p. 6) and threatening our lives (p. 7).
Project: Aerosol airway gene transfer techniques for clinical use
Harsha Padmanabhan joined the Adelaide Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Research Group in late 2012. Harsha gained a BSc in Biotechnology, Manipal University, India and from there moved to Adelaide in 2008 where she completed her Masters degree in Human Biotechnology, Flinders University, South Australia. She worked as a research assistant for Bioconst Pty Ltd specializing in plant tissue culture at the Waite Campus, The University of Adelaide. Harsha’s PhD research is focussed on examining aerosol gene transfer technique for clinical use, specifically improving lentiviral transduction efficiency following aerosol delivery.
In a powerful article at the Atlantic, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel lined up facts and figures showing that much of the recent gain in human lifespan is about stretching out the process of decline and death rather than living well for longer. Most of us would love to live to 100 and beyond with our minds sharp and our senses clear, able to take pleasure in the world around us while contributing at least modestly to the happiness and wellbeing of others. But clear-eyed analysis shows that is not how most elderly Americans experience their final years.
IEET contributor, Adam Ford, interviews Peter Singer about “The Point Of View Of The Universe.” and topics of “The Life You Can Save” which includes the duty for wealthy people to help others.
The Point Of View Of The Universe:
What does the idea of taking ‘the point of view of the universe’ tell us about ethics? The great nineteenth-century utilitarian Henry Sidgwick used this metaphor to present what he took to be a self-evident moral truth: the good of one individual is of no more importance than the good of any other. Ethical judgments, he held, are objective truths that we can know by reason. The ethical axioms he took to be self-evident provide a foundation for utilitarianism. He supplements this foundation with an argument that nothing except states of consciousness have ultimate value, which led him to hold that pleasure is the only thing that is intrinsically good.
Are these claims defensible? Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer test them against a variety of views held by contemporary writers in ethics, and conclude that they are. This book is therefore a defence of objectivism in ethics, and of hedonistic utilitarianism. The authors also explore, and in most cases support, Sidgwick’s views on many other key questions in ethics: how to justify an ethical theory, the significance of an evolutionary explanation of our moral judgments, the choice between preference-utilitarianism and hedonistic utilitarianism, the conflict between self-interest and universal benevolence, whether something that it would be wrong to do openly can be right if kept secret, how demanding utilitarianism is, whether we should discount the future, or favor those who are worse off, the moral status of animals, and what is an optimum population. - Amazon
The Life You Can Save:
For the first time in history, eradicating world poverty is within our reach. Yet around the world, a billion people struggle to live each day on less than many of us pay for bottled water. In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer uses ethical arguments, illuminating examples, and case studies of charitable giving to show that our current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but morally indefensible. The Life You Can Save teaches us to be a part of the solution, helping others as we help ourselves. - Amazon
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will receive the Progressive Champion Award at the Campaign for America’s Future 2014 Awards Gala on Tuesday, October 14. Progressives who are elected to executive office have a unique opportunity to highlight neglected issues and stimulate much-needed debate, by taking actions that challenge the “conventional wisdom.” They can change the political landscape by employing a principle that might be called “leadership by example.&ldquo
Technology, and particularly computing, is essential to family history. Without it, we could still tell family stories to our children, but we certainly couldn’t substantiate those stories from billions of historical records into millions of family trees, as web applications like FamilySearch andAncestry.com do today.