Over the last few years, I’ve received various reactions from the public about my articles on transhumanism. Those reactions have ranged all across the board—from spewing hatred to mocking skepticism to genuine interest. The thing with transhumanism—the core of its message—is whatever it espouses, it’s new thinking. Whether it’s brain implants, bionic limbs, designer babies, robotic hearts, exoskeleton suits, artificial intelligence, or gene therapies that aim to eliminate biological death, it’s decidedly uncharted territory for the human species.
IEET Trustee Martine Rothblatt now heads up a drug company that makes life-saving medicines for rare diseases (including one drug that saved her own daughter’s life). Meanwhile she is working to preserve the consciousness of the woman she loves in a digital file ... and a companion robot. In an onstage conversation with TED’s Chris Anderson, Rothblatt shares her powerful story of love, identity, creativity, and limitless possibility.
For the very first time, scientists have demonstrated that a brain implant can improve thinking ability in primates. By implanting an electrode array into the cerebral cortex of monkeys, researchers were able to restore — and even improve — their decision-making abilities. The implications for possible therapies are far-reaching, including potential treatments for cognitive disorders and brain injuries.
But there’s also the possibility that this could lead to implants that could boost your intelligence.
The most significant event in a person’s life is death. It changes everything. More precisely, it takes everything that a person had. If he was in love, he no longer is. If he was aspiring to pleasures, there will be none any longer. The world will be gone for the person.
Every single neuron will disappear that was responsible for the wishes, desires, and feelings. We don’t realize this, but everything single thing we accomplish, we do so looking in the face of inevitable death. Death takes away the sense of a person’s life.
Michael Tooley’s article “Moral Status of Cloning Humans” defends human cloning. I am in complete agreement with it. Cloning, despite the viceral reaction it raises, is a tool in the arsenal of the transhumanist once it is understood.
Here is a brief outline of the article with a bit of commentary identified by parenthesis.
What makes a Seattle mother spend her days trying to chip away at Bible belief rather than digging holes in the garden?
When my husband sent me the Pew Report news that the percent of Americans who call themselves Christian has dropped from 78.4 to 70.6 over the last 7 years, I responded jokingly with six words: You’re welcome. Molly Moon’s after dinner?
Not that I actually claim credit for the decline. As they say, it takes a village.
On the eve of a technological breakthrough, an insignificant janitor and a prominent engineer are faced with a decision that will alter the course of humanity: the release of the first aware computer system into the world.
Sometimes, if you want to see something in the present clearly it’s best to go back to its origins. This is especially true when dealing with some monumental historical change, a phase transition from one stage to the next. The reason I think this is helpful is that those lucky enough to live at the beginning of such events have no historical or cultural baggage to obscure their forward view. When you live in the middle, or at the end of an era, you find yourself surrounded, sometimes suffocated, by all the good and bad that has come as a result. As a consequence, understanding the true contours of your surroundings or ultimate destination is almost impossible, your nose is stuck to the glass.
Question is, are we ourselves in the beginning of such an era, in the middle, or at an end? How would we even know?
Jesse has a freewheeling discussion with John Danaher about “moral enhancement” technologies – old and new. They talk about emerging technologies, ethics and the notion that the mind extends much beyond our body and brain. (All without sounding remotely woo-woo!)
If yoga helps a Christian man to walk for the first time in thirty-three years, does his newfound strength come from God or the Devil? That is the question tearing apart an Evangelical church in Las Vegas.
Longevity and Brain Enhancement are the two primary ambitions of transhumanists, according to a survey conducted two years ago. This indicates that the “average transhumanist” is strongly motivated to keep his-or-her physical body and mental cognition in tip-top condition. These desires would be, it seems, even more emphasized in tranhumanists who were 55+ years old.
I am 62 – an age considered “old” by many – but I recently “resurrected my strength” using a combination of old-fashioned hard work + new-fangled technology. In only 4 months I became stronger than I’ve ever been in my life.
The final frontier of digital technology is integrating into your own brain. DARPA wants to go there. Scientists want to go there. Entrepreneurs want to go there. And increasingly, it looks like it’s possible.
You’ve probably read bits and pieces about brain implants and prostheses. Let me give you the big picture.
Education is important to every individual on this planet. In pre-colonial Uganda, education was mainly informal. Missionaries and colonialists introduced the formal education system, but the missionaries wanted Africans to believe in the message of Jesus.
Today, Jesus and Muhammed have almost equal shares in Africa.
As religion dies in the western countries, it is busy in Africa, along with poverty and human rights abuses.
As a child of the 60s I spent most of my life regretting that we didn’t build those cities on the Moon and the planets. Now I realize that the Apollo adventure was too far from our supply lines to be sustainable. But we are still doing space, and someday (not soon) we will go back to the Moon, and then to Mars, to the planets, and to the stars.
Socrates talks to Seth Godin, the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow.
Anders Sandberg, Brian Nolan, Max Roser and Robert Walker review the evidence in a wide-ranging talk on May 11 at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford.
During a speech in 1957, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan declared “most of our people have never had it so good”. Now, more than half a century later, are we fundamentally any better off? Through discussion of technological advances, social changes, political reforms, and economic shocks and recessions, this panel will seek to question whether the world we currently live in is indeed a better place than it was in the 1950s.
Chaired by Professor Brian Nolan, Professor of Social Policy, the panel consisted of:
Dr Max Roser, James Martin Fellow at The Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School
Dr Anders Sandberg, James Martin Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute
Professor Robert Walker, Professor of Social Policy
Groucho Marx, one of my favorite comedians of all time, famously wrote a telegram to a Hollywood club he had joined, that said: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” I have recently considered sending such a letter to the skeptic and atheist movements (henceforth, SAM), but I couldn’t find the address.
Any reader of this blog knows that I am a transhumanist; I believe in using technology to overcome all human limitations. What follows is a summary of an article by Paul Lauritzen, a Professor Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic, Jesuit John Carroll University near Cleveland Ohio. I believe his argument worthless, and contrary to everything I believe in, but I will summarize it as best I can. As I proceed I will provide a few parenthetical comments, as well as a few critical remarks at the end.
This week’s Motherboard talks to IEET co-founder Nick Bostrom, who originally came up with the simulation hypothesis. According to Bostrom, it makes at least as much sense for us to be living in a simulation as it does for us to not be. Then, they switch gears ever so slightly to talk with Craig Hogan, a Department of Energy researcher who is actively trying to prove that we’re living not in a simulation, but in a hologram, which is a completely different thing. Finally, the Motherboard staff talks about glitches in the Matrix or moments that seem totally unreal.
A company in South China’s Guangdong province is building the city’s first zero-labor factory. It’s an effort to address worker shortages and rising labor costs, but the rise of semi-autonomous “smart factories” could be a sign of things to come, in China and elsewhere.
Review the Future talks with Martin Ford about his new book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. They discuss which job sectors are most vulnerable to automation in the near future and to what degree technology might be the driving force behind troubling economic trends. Martin describes his version of a basic income, which features built-in tiers and incentives. He also responds to some of the skepticism leveled at his writing by reviewers such as Robin Hanson. All in all, we found it to be a fascinating discussion.
We asked “Does the universe have a purpose?” and of the 120 of you that answered only a quarter said unequivocally “yes.” A third were unequivocally in the “No” purpose camp. But a third held out for purpose being possible, either as a result of our being in a simulation or as something we begin to understand as we become superintelligent.
On May 15, 2015, we celebrate the 170th anniversary of the founder of gerontology, a foundational figure of modern immunology, aging and longevity science, and of modern medicine generally – Elie Metchnikoff (May 15, 1845 – July 15, 1916).