Back in July, the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) posted a Request For Information in the Federal Register for input to the next NNI strategic plan - to be published later this year. The closing date for comments was a couple of weeks ago now. I got mine in in the nick of time.
The IEET’s Mike Treder recently asked a loaded question: “If you could live in a world that was just the way you wanted it to be, with specifications you’d chosen, customized and personalized to meet your every need and fulfill your fondest desires, would you spend all your time there? Or would you prefer to stay here, in the real world?”
Many scientists around the world believe that we need to focus on ways of making our urban and natural environments more resilient. So what is the idea of resilience science? And how can it help deal with future environmental challenges? An interview with Dr Brian Walker, chair of the Resilience Alliance, Guy Barnett, researcher for Sustainable Ecosystems, and ecologist Paul Ryan.
Also: Future Governance In a world where issues like climate change, population and migration are challenging the way we organise our societies. How should we address some of these issues? And what affect will they have on the future of governance? listen | download (4.4MB)
With the US facing a possible double dip recession, and a resurgent far right political movement poised to sweep into Congress in the Fall elections, I found myself reading two strangely complementary dystopian novels about economic collapse. The first, Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by Survivalblog writer James Rawles, is a manual for right-wing survivalist gun-nuts dressed up like a novel. The second, Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, is an example of contemporary literature at its finest. Although from nearly opposite ends of the social universe both novels see the spiraling economic and political crisis in the United States ending in the complete collapse of the Republic as we know it.
Quite a story developing in Chile: the 33 miners who are trapped 700 meters underground will have to wait about four months before they are rescued. That’s obviously not going to be easy on the men who have been trapped for over 18 days already. Keeping it together psychologically, physically and socially for that extent of time will undoubtedly prove challenging.
When we last spoke about sex, we discussed the neurotransmitters involved in pleasure and attraction, namely dopamine and oxytocin. Now let’s look a little deeper into the action of those neurotransmitters and how we can manipulate their action - to extend the neurological orgasm for as long as possible.
As part of the promotion of the forthcoming film “Jim” the producers have set up a site for a genetic enhancement firm Lorigen Engineering.
On the Lorigen site they have a parody of the IEET’s concern about universal access to enhancement technologies:
We believe that everyone has the right to secure their genetic legacy and build a better future for themselves and their children. We also know that the kind of assurance we offer isn’t cheap, and that for some of the less fortunate among us it may even seem unattainable.
That’s why we’ve come up with some innovative assistance programs to help people in these difficult financial times achieve their dreams. Our new Genet-AssistÂ® financial aid packages can help you design the child of your dreams within the budget you can afford. Our â€œFuture Earnings Metricsâ€ can help to determine the potential economic output of your enhanced child so you can make the tough decisions with confidence. In fact, we’re so confident in the predictive power of this new system that we’ll even help finance your package by taking equity out of your child’s projected value in the form of a loan and applying it toward the design and birth processes. And if that’s still not enough, we’re working with members of Congress right now on a new federal assistance program that will help you to defer the interest and offset some of the costs through tax credits and rebates. All so you can rest assured that your child’s future is secure and bright.
Not exactly what we have in mind when we talk about “access.”
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Katalin Balog, an Associate Professor at Rutgers/Newark. Prior to her current position she taught at Yale for 10 years. Prof. Balog is primarily a philosopher of mind and psychology though her interests intersect with metaphysics and philosophy of language. Her interest spans both Western psychology (cognitive and evolutionary psychology but also psycho-analysis) and Eastern (especially Buddhist) psychology. She is currently working on problems related to the nature of consciousness, personal identity and free will.
Imagine this sci-fi scenario: A small tribe with unique literature, customs and myths believes they’ve been “chosen” for a glorious destiny. But they’re driven out of their native land, forced to wander the globe for aeons, persecuted and annihilated, until they’re impelled by a utopian novel to return to their homeland. They name their new city after the inspirational book and their country becomes a technological powerhouse… but still, they’re surrounded by enemies. They wage eternal war, they hover between hope and apocalypse”¦ their contributions to humanity are astounding but they continue to fear total extinction. Familiar? Of course. I’ve described Israel and the Jews.
Last year, JET published Kristi Scott’s fascinating article Cheating Darwin: The Genetic and Ethical Implications of Vanity and Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, which analyzed the implications of cosmetic plastic surgery (CPS) for relationships and genetics. It suggested that since “what one sees is not necessarily what one will get in regards to DNA” that “there is a responsibility on the part of the individual to disclose any previous CPS.” However, there are many other instances where we misrepresent our genetics or interfere with evolution. These range from other cosmetic enhancements, to medicines that allow the unhealthy to survive and the infertile to reproduce. But if we want a better future, we need to become comfortable with bending the principles of evolution to our will, and understand the risks and rewards of doing so.
The ongoing debate between PZ Myers and Ray Kurzweil about reverse engineering the human brain is fairly representative of the same debate that’s been going in futurist circles for quite some time now. And as the Myers/Kurzweil conversation attests, there is little consensus on the best way for us to achieve human-equivalent AI.
(by Milan M CirkoviÄ‡, Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom) We describe a significant practical consequence of taking anthropic biases into account in deriving predictions for rare stochastic catastrophic events. The risks associated with catastrophes such as asteroidal/cometary impacts, supervolcanic episodes, and explosions of supernovae/gamma-ray bursts are based on their observed frequencies. As a result, the frequencies of catastrophes that destroy or are otherwise incompatible with the existence of observers are systematically underestimated. We describe the consequences of this anthropic bias for estimation of catastrophic risks, and suggest some directions for future work. DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01460.x
Dr. J. chats with Aton Edwards, executive director of the International Preparedness Network (readyforanything.org) and author of Preparedness NOW! They discuss simple steps to prepare for disasters, the types of threats to think about, and technologies that might help mitigate risks. Part 2 of 2.
Dr. J. chats with Aton Edwards, executive director of the International Preparedness Network (readyforanything.org) and author of Preparedness NOW! They discuss simple steps to prepare for disasters, the types of threats to think about, and technologies that might help mitigate risks. Part 1 of 2.