Hank Pellissier asked me to write about my views on “Radical Egalitarianism”, due to some recent experiences he has had with politics. While it’s a convenient term, it’s one often used with derision and scorn, with those who see the world this way being dismissed as hopelessly “utopian.”
However, it’s a world view more and more people are starting to share.
Stephen Petranek, author of How We’ll Live on Mars, details several of the methods a future team of colonists could employ in order to amass a drinking water supply on Mars. There’s plenty of water on the planet; the trick is extracting it from the soil and atmosphere. It’s a relief that producing water won’t be a major nuisance for the eventual Mars astronauts—that whole “unlivable barren wasteland” is a whole other story.
Brave New World used to be one of the most terrifying stories about a false utopia. It gave us the concept of “test tube babies,” and its name became synonymous with technological progress run wild. But many of the things Aldous Huxley predicted are coming true, and it turns out they’re not so scary.
A recent New York Times article chronicled 23-year-old Kim Suozzi’s decision to cryonically preserve her brain. Kim, who died recently of cancer, raised the money for her cryonic preservation by soliciting donations with this post at the subreddit “atheism” at the online site reddit—yes atheists can be generous people. Here is the video that accompanied the post:
Tony Wyss-Coray studies the impact of aging on the human body and brain. In this eye-opening talk, he shares new research from his Stanford lab and other teams which shows that a solution for some of the less great aspects of old age might actually lie within us all.
“When I retire from work, I will finally live the life I’ve always wanted.”
Employment. Earning a living. Our life’s work. Career. Vocation.
Retirement. Freedom. Doing what I really want. Finally free.
What’s the deal with our relationship to work? When I was young, I was told to get a good job, earn a living, then retire and live a life free of work. I would listen to the adults around me and wonder what it meant. As if the only work we do is for another in order to receive money. Where does this idea come from? For if it’s true, then the human being doesn’t do a lick of work before getting that good job, and then after sixty, doesn’t work again.
Machines have long been displacing human labour, from the wheelbarrow and plough to the smartphone and self-driving car. In the past, this has had dramatic effects on how society is organised and how people spend their days, but it has never really led to long-term structural unemployment. Humans have always found other economically productive ways to spend their time.
”Nobody likes abortion,” says Bill Nye. “But you can’t tell somebody what to do.” It’s important that, when dealing with topics pertaining to reproductive health, the state not interfere with women’s bodies. There are other things we could be worrying about in the world, yet year after year abortion steals away the headlines, wasting time and effort that could be going toward more pertinent causes.
Catholic Pro-life organization wants you to just put up with suffering—and actually says so!
The American Life League [ALL] mobilizes devout Catholics against medical options that, to their way of thinking, violate God’s will. If you should drive past a Planned Parenthood and see elderly women fingering rosary beads next to pictures of the Virgin Mary, or young men holding Bibles and praying, American Life League probably had a hand in their presence there. Ironically, ALL also spreads misinformation about birth control, for example via a Pill Kills campaign—which means they feed the line-up of Catholic women waiting for abortion services.
In a disturbing — but fascinating — walk through history, Frances Larson examines humanity’s strange relationship with public executions … and specifically beheadings. As she shows us, they have always drawn a crowd, first in the public square and now on YouTube. What makes them horrific and compelling in equal measure?
”…mathematics…ought only to give definiteness to natural philosophy, not to generate or give it birth.”  Francis Bacon
“So far as the laws of Mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain. And so far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”- -Albert Einstein, Geometry and Experience
While the postmodernist social scientist often uses the language of words to obfuscate, the postmodern ‘hard sciences’ scientist sometimes appears to use the language of mathematics to obfuscate. Mathematics is a language not a science. It is the language of science and of the known physical world. The inorganic reality of our known world can be described mathematically with eerie precision. This we know is an absolute fact. I stress ‘known world’ because we cannot know empirically that mathematics pertains for all of nature. To know this empirically, one would have to be outside of nature, to be a supernatural being, to be a supernatural God.
Aging is truly the travesty of our age. It constitutes the largest source of in-principle-preventable death in existence today – a toll of 100,000 real, feeling, hoping and daring human beings lost irreversibly for all time, per day. That’s a million human lives lost every one and a half weeks. A loss equal to the entire population of Canada every year, and to the entire U.S. population every decade. It accounts for three quarters of all deaths globally and for nine-tenths of all deaths in most developed countries.
I have been pursuing gene therapies for aging, so my decision to discuss this goes against my current direction. We really don’t know what the limits are of what we might be able to do by playing the autonomic nervous system, but here are some thoughts to chew on.
IEET Fellow Wendell Wallach discusses tech unemployment and how tech is destroying more jobs than it’s creating. And we discuss how we need to manage tech and think about its societal and policy implications so it doesn’t control us.
IEET Fellow David Brin has been named the first annual National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. David will be in residence at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College from Monday, October 5, to Sunday, October 25. As part of David’s fellowship, he will mentor selected Bard students on their fiction and nonfiction writing. Brin will also offer a number of lectures and discussions during his residency at Bard.
The ever controversial Steve Fuller has recently published a number of jolting essays at the IEET,(there has been a good discussion on David Roden’s blog on the topic), yet whatever one thinks about the prospect of zombie vs transhumanist apocalypse he has managed to raise serious questions for anyone who identifies themselves with the causes of transhumanism and techno-progressivism; namely, what is the proper role, if any, of the revolutionary, modernizing state in such movements and to what degree should the movement be open to violence as a means to achieve its ends? Both questions, I will argue, can best be answered by looking at the system constructed in the Soviet Union between 1929 and 1953 under the reign of Joseph Stalin.
In today’s podcast, we discuss the future of virtual assistant software. A long list of major companies and startups are racing to develop voice activated software that can help organize your life. Today’s assistant apps are still incredibly primitive, but it appears they may get considerably better in the near future. We identify and analyze three major trends that are poised to make computers into more powerful assistants: natural language interfaces, big data, and increasing autonomy. Will you be able to trust your virtual assistant not to steer you toward products you don’t need? Will social interactions be increasingly influenced by the realtime suggestions of virtual advisors? Will “being good with computers” stop being a relevant descriptor once everyone has easy access to powerful natural language interfaces?
One interesting thing that I noticed about Google’s DeepDream algorithm (which you might also know as “that thing making all pictures look like psychedelic trips“) is that it seems to increase the image quality. For instance, my current Facebook profile picture was ran through DD and looks sharper than the original, which was relatively fuzzy and grainy.
I’ve found time to review another author’s work, “The Transhumanist Wager” by Zoltan Istvan. I had the pleasure of first meeting Zoltan at a Transhumanism conference near Berkeley, CA. In general, he’s a staunch advocate of the Transhuman movement - Zoltan is passionate about his work and he doesn’t mind stepping on a few toes to get his message out there.
Earth is a colorful and diversely populated planet. Evolution just happened to be a genius beyond reckoning, but one that many of us take for granted much of the time - perhaps not on a conscious level, but in more of a conditioned and familiar sense. Continents of Homo sapiens developed into different races, created various cultures based on environment (and most likely genes), and the rest is history. Using this as a lens through which to frame humans’ development of robots, is there any reason to doubt that we will one day have any less of a diverse population of robots?
I grew up with the mindset to make a difference because life is short. It is said that life is not a measure of your duration on earth, but a measure of your donation to humanity. I have stopped believing that.
There are two ways to live one’s life: by default or by design. By default, humans grow and become very energetic between ages 18 to 40, after that his/her strength begin to fade. At old age, s/he becomes weak and age related disease make him/her die. His average healthspan is 80 years (in developed countries) and nothing can be done to live beyond a century. That’s the status quo.
The Transhumanism movement and philosophy have been growing a quite a rapid pace, and because of that its sometimes hard to keep up with all the newest technologies, subsidiary philosophical positions and current events.
That being said, some of you may have missed one of the latest initiatives with regards to pushing transhumanist ideals in the political realm, the Transhuman Policy Center. The TPC’s goals are best summed up by its mission statement:
Big Think and the Mental Health Channel are proud to launch Big Thinkers on Mental Health, a new series dedicated to open discussion of anxiety, depression, and the many other psychological disorders that affect millions worldwide.
Gareth John is an IEET reader and supporter who lives in Mid Wales; he’s an ex-Buddhist priest with a MA in Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, and a PhD focusing on non-monastic traditions of Tibetan tantric Buddhism. He has Bipolar disorder. In this Q & A, he generously shares his experience. This is Part 2 of two parts.
Every time that you make a prediction, says author and video game designer Jane McGonigal, you get a little bomb of dopamine in the reward pathways of your brain. That dopamine helps you pay closer attention, to process information more effectively, and to be more engaged with what’s going. So if you want to boost your ability to learn or get those you’re teaching primed for learning, encourage prediction-making. It’s a simple little mind hack to get your brain running on all cylinders.
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