Over on Hacker News, GraffitiTim points out something interesting: “The first civilization started in Mesopotamia around 5000 BCE (more or less), which is 7,000 years ago. If you live until age 80, that’s more than 1% of the history of civilization.” So you can expect to live for more than 1% of the life span of human civilization to this date.
If mating is partly about choosing half the genome of your children, do your potential partners in parenting have an obligation to disclose that they have had so much “work” done on their face and body that they now look nothing like their original phenotype? Will cosmetics and plastic surgery blunt the selection of more beautiful women via sexual selection?
We invest money, time, and effort in procuring the best possible hardware and software for our projects. In the same manner, we want the people in our teams to have the necessary knowledge and skills. We can be quite vocal in our beliefs that people are the most important asset, and ongoing education a necessity of the modern economy. Except that when it comes to learning, we are really, really bad.
Dan Novak teaches about The Sixties, philosophy and futurism at the University of Rhode Island. A veteran of the spiritual counterculture and the political Left, Dan talks with Dr. J. about globalization, spirituality, the Marxist writer Ernst Bloch, and the concept of a “planetary praxis,” uniting personal spiritual growth with global social change. (MP3)
Although biotechnology patents existed prior to the 1980s as the biotechnology era officially began, they soon became a divisive public policy issue. Perhaps a culture war issue is more appropriate as the free market approach of using DNA patents in biomedical research is under fire from strange bedfellows, a bioconservative-technoprogressive axis. The bioconservative criticisms are on moral grounds and the technoprogressive criticisms for economic reasons based on values.
Stewart Brand, who helped usher in the environmental movement in the 1960s and ‘70s, has been rethinking his positions on cities, nuclear power, genetic modification and geoengineering. This talk at the US State Department, a foretaste of his major new book, is sure to provoke widespread debate.
Marking the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, we present some thoughts on a technoprogressive approach to space policy. One of the IEET’s projects is to begin a discussion among technoprogressives about the parameters of technoprogressive policy ideas, using our “Technoprogressive Policy Wiki”. The policy wiki is outlined, but empty, and we have provided our interns with some parameters for how to begin filling it in. The goal is not to express “the IEET’s position” on any specific topic, but to explore our own internal agreements and diversity about policy topics, while pointing to relevant websites, documents, and policies. Ben’s piece here on space policy was developed after conversation with the executive director, and then review and extension by the IEET Fellows and staff. Like the rest of the wiki we expect it to continually evolve. We present it here for further critique and extension before we add it to the policy wiki. - J. Hughes
During almost 20 years inside the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter saw for-profit insurers hijack the U.S. health care system and put profits before patients. Here, he speaks with Bill Moyers about how those companies are standing in the way of responsible health care reform.
Transhumanism’s relationship with postmodern philosophy and critical theory is a strange one. For example, Nick Bostrom’s influential “A History of Transhumanist Thought” spans centuries, covering the gamut from Utnapishtim to the President’s Council on Bioethics, but makes little mention of those who radically challenge the core Enlightenment narrative upon which he builds his history. Figures like Nietzsche, Marx, and Donna Haraway do all receive a nod in Bostrom’s essay, including Haraway’s cyberfeminist motto, “I’d rather be a cyborg than a goddess,” but their ideas go unanalyzed. Of course, the context for these thinkers is often ignored and their works simply mined for epigraphs and potent, argument-punctuating lines such as Haraway’s.
We are used to scale being the telltale characteristic of state involvement in warfare. Individuals can go on shooting sprees, and terrorist cells can put bombs, but only states can engage in large-scale warfare. But, as most metaphors of the ‘cyber-’ kind, this intuition breaks down with so-called cyberwarfare.
If you had been born with your exact genetic makeup, but in another time and place, would you still have achieved whatever success you’ve had? Is the happiness you’ve gained mostly a matter of effort and determination, or do you owe a lot of your accomplishments to a fortunate but accidental combination of timing and location?
Dr. Massimo Pigliucci critiqued my arguments against aging on his blog, Rationally Speaking. Pigliucci is a trained philosopher, so I’m going to go into hyper-academic mode for a while on this post. If you’re into long-winded, nuanced logical deconstructions of arguments and overly dry chest-beating, please read on. If not, check out these awesome warning signs of the future from Anders Sandberg. Make your choice now.
There’s a dark magic in every negotiation table. No matter what the stakes — political, economical, personal — there’s a sinister spell worthy of a Voldemort clouding minds and making what should be impossible a daily occurrence.
Jamais Cascio talks to John C. Havens about Augmented Reality, the intersections of emerging technologies, environmental dilemmas, cultural transformation, The Semantic Web, and the ethical implications of technology and media moving forward. (45 min)
Why trying to suppress bad thoughts make them worse. Lying takes brain work, but truth doesn’t. What the Supreme Court confirmation hearings should be asking (enhancement, uplift, cognitive liberty, etc.) What do Americans think about science and climate change today? (MP3)
Athena Andreadis, Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, author of To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek, and IEET Fellow, talks about human-hybrids, werewolves, settling on other planets, and human evolution both past and future in this interview posted at Crossed Genres.
About a week ago, the Internet went wild with the announcement that a “fountain of youth” drug had been found that extends life by about 10%. I picked a site at random and read the report, knowing full well what I would find buried somewhere in the story. Sure enough, there it was, tucked at the end of a paragraph halfway down: the study was done on mice.