High tech weaponry, aka “Drones” are now active on battlefront lines around the word. Author P.W. Singer of “Wired for War” discusses the urgency of redefining to the archaic rules of war agreed upon at the 1949 Geneva Convention. Should the global community examine Star Trek’s “Prime Directive” for guidance?
This is the first piece of fiction that we are publishing, submitted in response to our call for short science fiction reflecting “on the social, moral, political, economic or philosophical consequences of future technologies, in particular pieces that touch on the IEET’s core issues - the ethics and policy dimensions of life extension, human enhancement, moral enhancement, non-human personhood, structural unemployment and catastrophic risks.” We will be publishing at least four of the twenty submissions we have received so far, one a week, and will continue reviewing submissions for consideration. - J. Hughes
I’m going to examine the intertwined histories of the rights of artificial life and civil rights as seen through the eyes of Mary Shelley. Of course, Mary Shelley is not here to lend us her eyes, but I hope she won’t be too angry about my interpretation of her story.
“Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can’t talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.” – Philip K. Dick
Reporter Ike Sriskandarajah tells Jad and Robert a story about two international trade lawyers, Sherry Singer and Indie Singh, who noticed something interesting while looking at a book of tariff classifications. “Dolls,” which represent human beings, are taxed at almost twice the rate of “toys,” which represent something not human - such as robots, monsters, or demons. As soon as they read that, Sherry and Indie saw dollar signs. it just so happened that one of their clients, Marvel Comics, was importing its action figures as dolls. And one set of action figures really piqued Sherry and Indie’s interest: The XMEN, normal humans who, at around puberty, start to change in ways that give them strange powers.
So Sherry and Indie went down to the customs office with a bag of XMEN action figures to convince the US government that these mutants are NOT human. That argument eventually became a court case that went on for years. Joe Liebman, former international trade attorney for the US Department of Justice, helps us understand the government’s side. And Ike, with help from director and producer Bryan Singer, reflects on the story of the XMEN, and tells us why this case is so poignant for anyone who’s fought to be different without being cast as an outsider.
The obesity epidemic is worldwide. Data from the World Health Organization shows that 1 billion adults around the world are overweight, nearly a third of them obese. This creates chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease and declines in longevity around the world, in poor countries and rich ones, including the United States.
Living in the USA is killing people, quite early. Prodigious wealth and scientific achievement isn’t keeping Americans around very long. Quite the opposite. Longevity rankings tabulated by the United Nations show the North American behemoth wheezing behind in 36th place, with a croak-time of 78.3 years, dying nearly four years earlier than the durable Japanese (82.6). Cubans live as long as Americans; Chileans and Costa Ricans live longer; so do workaholic South Koreans (2,357 person-hours) and hard-drinking Finland, where alcoholism is the #1 cause of death.
Aging biomarkers are parameters that always, and in all people, change during aging. It is possible to evaluate and improve therapies that are aimed at slowing down aging, using the biomarkers of aging.
On January 3, a Saudi hacker group claimed that it had stolen half a million Israeli credit cards. The Bank of Israel claims their exposure is information on only 15,000 credit cards, all of which were immediately blocked. The hacker group’s stated purpose was to see Israeli cards fall into disrepute, “like the Nigerian cards.” The cracker, “0xOmar” is identified as the individual performing the hack, and says he plans to publish information on an additional 200 cards per day.
(CNN)—This week, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted his intent to learn computer code by the end of the year. He joined about 300,000 other people who have signed up at CodeYear to receive free interactive programming lessons each week from the Codecademy, a web-based tutorial. I am greatly relieved.
Do you despise Congress? You’re not alone. The current Congress’s 11% approval rating is the lowest since polling began. Yet, because of gerrymandering and the resulting hyper-partisanship, people tend to support their own particular Representative, and to heap the blame on the other party.
I first encountered the meticulous, gorgeous nanotechnology and molecular computer art of Murray Robertson in 2009, while perusing jpegs at the Foresight Institute’s online Nanomedicine Gallery. My favorite image was vibrant and visionary; it depicted a glorious techno-future where minuscule robots navigate our bloodstreams, to silently combat viruses, toxins, free radicals, fungi and other malevolencies.
In this week’s episode I talk about the assassination of an Iranian nuclear physicist and how scientists are increasingly coming to be seen as military targets. In addition, I discuss the Stuxnet worm, and the devastating potential for solar storms, EMP, and botulinum attacks.
Tracks used in this episode:
Sepalcure: “Pencil Pimp”
Todd Terje: “Snnoze 4 Love”
Harald Grosskopf: “Synthesist” (Blondes remix)
The Reflecting Skin: “Traffikers”
Dorothy Roberts is author of the book Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century (New Press, 2011). She is also the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Northwestern University School of Law and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research, with appointments in the departments of Sociology and African American Studies. Here she discusses the rise in identifying race as biological among some scientists.
I’ve spent some time thinking about what the #Occupy movement is really representing. I’ve attended the camps as I’ve traveled, and I’ve interviewed people in the camps, as well as their formidable opponents - the 1% - in the ownership positions of society.