Using the CRISPR gene-editing tool, scientists from Harvard University have developed a technique that permanently records data into living cells. Incredibly, the information imprinted onto these microorganisms can be passed down to the next generation.
Seneca was a wealthy Roman stoic and advisor to the emperor Nero. In the third of his Letters from a Stoic, entitled ‘On True and False Friendship’, he makes the following observation:
As to yourself, although you should live in such a way that you trust your own self with nothing which you could not entrust even to your own enemy, yet, since certain matters occur which convention keeps secret, you should share with a friend at least all your worries and reflections.
This is the third episode of the Algocracy and Transhumanism Podcast. In this episode, IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher interviews Evan Selinger. Evan is a Professor of Philosophy at the Rochester Institute for Technology. He is widely-published scholar in the ethics and law of technology. He is currently working on a book with Brett Frischmann entitled Being Human in the 21st Century which is due out with Cambridge University Press in 2017. In this interview they both talk about two main topics: (i) the ethics of technological outsourcing and (ii) the value of privacy and the nature of obscurity
Transhumanists, as good humanists, think the human can be perfected, both physically and morally. Any difference in humans basically is a consequence of philosophy, education, culture or law, that is to say political consensus. Transhumanists now include technology as a means of continuing human enhancement (and not as certain unenlightened commentators jokingly wrote as a substitute thereof). Notwithstanding centuries of legislation, culture, education and philosophy, progress, which the philosophers of the « Enlightenment » called Virtue, seems to be blocked by the remains of the biological condition of humans.
We all know about the four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong forces between atoms. But could there be a fifth force still waiting to be discovered? A new experiment performed in Hungary suggests this may very well be the case.
Non-traditional students are often looked down upon by a system that is solely based on standardized testing. This talk explores the view that non-traditional students should make the decision that is right for them, not the “right” way to succeed.
Canadian scientists have uncovered a single genetic mutation that significantly heightens a person’s chance of developing a progressive and severe form of multiple sclerosis. While no single factor is responsible for causing the neurological disease, the discovery points to possible treatment options.
When we think about futures, we possess both hope and fear, yet we often forget that we also have the power to influence. The futurist and designer Angela Oguntala aims to prove that we can choose futures and can work towards them.
La rentrée des classes en France a été particulièrement médiatisée cette année, notamment à cause de la hausse des effectifs scolaires. Mais avant même que les suppressions de postes et leurs conséquences n’eurent atteint les médias nationaux, une toute autre polémique, concernant le contenu des nouveaux programmes de SVT, avait déjà occupé le paysage médiatique et crée un débat sociétal assez peu commun.
Last month, a group of scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs gathered in secret to discuss the possibility of creating a synthetic human genome from scratch. Details of the plan have finally been made public, and it’s as ambitious as it sounds. But critics say they founders of the new project are avoiding the tough ethical questions.
CRISPR gene drives allow scientists to change sequences of DNA and guarantee that the resulting edited genetic trait is inherited by future generations, opening up the possibility of altering entire species forever. More than anything, this technology has led to questions: How will this new power affect humanity? What are we going to use it to change? Are we gods now? Join journalist Jennifer Kahn as she ponders these questions and shares a potentially powerful application of gene drives: the development of disease-resistant mosquitoes that could knock out malaria and Zika.
Bryan Magee (1930 – ) has had a multifaceted career as a professor of philosophy, music and theater critic, BBC broadcaster, public intellectual and member of Parliament. He has starred in two acclaimed television series about philosophy: Men of Ideas (1978) and The Great Philosophers (1987). He is best known as a popularizer of philosophy. His easy-to-read books, which have been translated into more than twenty languages, include:
Virtual reality is no longer part of some distant future, and it’s not just for gaming and entertainment anymore. Michael Bodekaer wants to use it to make quality education more accessible. In this refreshing talk, he demos an idea that could revolutionize the way we teach science in schools.
I corresponded with an old friend yesterday who was communicating the tedium of his work as a software engineer. He is thankful that he earns a six-figure salary, and he understands that most people in the world would happily trade places with him, but that doesn’t change the fact that a future filled with a lifetime of coding doesn’t excite his probing and restless mind. Minds like his need stimulation, and they could contribute so much to the rest of us if they were freed to follow their interests . Moreover, while technology companies pay some of the best wages in the United States, they expect more than 40 hours of work in return, which leaves my friend with less time with his children than he would like.
Everybody’s concerned about killer robots. We should ban them. We shouldn’t do any research into them. It may be unethical to do so. There’s a wonderful paper in fact by a professor at the post naval graduate school in Monterrey I believe, B.J. Strawser. I believe the title is the moral requirement to deploy autonomous drones. And his basic point in that is really pretty straightforward. We have obligations to our military forces to protect them and things that we can do which may protect them. A failure to do that is itself an ethical decision which may cause – may be the wrong thing to do if you have technologies.
NOTE: This is a guest post by Iason Gabriel from St. John’s College Oxford. I recently did a series on Iason’s excellent article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’. In this post, Iason develops his counterfactual critique of effective altruism. Be sure to check out more of Iason’s work on his academia page.)
Katherine Hayles and IEET Fellow Stefan Lorenz Sorgner will be keynote speakers at the conference “Grand Narratives, Posthumanism, and Aesthetics”, which will take place at Aarhus University from the 22nd until the 24th of March 2017. Read the conference program here.
IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher and Adam Ford just had a long conversation about algocracy. The discussion centred around Danaher’s paper ‘The Threat of Algocracy’ but the conversation took many interesting diversions into topics relating to algorithmic governance, moral agency and moral patiency, sousveillance, the extended mind, the hackability of algocratic governance systems and more. Unfortunately, their skype connection cut out about half way through the conversation so this is divided into a part one and a part two.
This is going to be my final post on the topic of effective altruism (for the time being anyway). I’m working my way through the arguments in Iason Gabriel’s article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’. Once I finish, Iason has kindly agreed to post a follow-up piece which develops some of his views.
On May 19, 2016, the World Health Organization released its report “World Health Statistics: Monitoring Health for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” describing the recent state of global health. The news is rather encouraging. The global life expectancy increased by 5 years, from about 66.5 to 71.4 presently, recording the fastest increase since the 1960s. The rightly so-called “developing” countries generally showed a much faster improvement compared to the complacently “developed” ones. Thus, Africa generally had the lowest life expectancy.
IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher published a new paper coming out in the journal Bioethics. It’s about the philosophy of education and student use of cognitive enhancement drugs. It suggests that universities might be justified in regulating their students’ use of enhancement drugs, but only in a very mild, non-compulsory way. It suggests that a system of voluntary commitment contracts might be an interesting proposal. The details are below.
After a long hiatus, I am finally going to complete my series of posts about Iason Gabriel’s article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’ (changed from the original title ‘What’s wrong with effective altruism?). I’m pleased to say that once I finish the series I am also going to post a response by Iason himself which follows up on some of the arguments in his paper. Let me start today, however, by recapping some of the material from previous entries and setting the stage for this one.
What does sex have to do with human reproduction? Within the next 20 to 30 years or so, perhaps not much. At least that’s how Henry T. Greely sees it. He’s the Director of the Center for Law and Biosciences at Stanford University. He’s also the author of a new book called The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction. In this edition of Up Next, Greely talks about the coming revolution in reproduction, which, he says, will not only increasingly divorce sex from making babies, but also give parents more and more control over what genes their children will have. Recorded on 05/11/2016.
Secrets, disease and beauty are all written in the human genome, the complete set of genetic instructions needed to build a human being. Now, as scientist and entrepreneur Riccardo Sabatini shows us, we have the power to read this complex code, predicting things like height, eye color, age and even facial structure — all from a vial of blood. And soon, Sabatini says, our new understanding of the genome will allow us to personalize treatments for diseases like cancer. We have the power to change life as we know it. How will we use it?
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