By now many Americans have read the basics: 9000 St. Louis women are offered their choice of contraceptives for free. Two years later, the teen birthrate rate is at 6 per 1000 instead of the country average of 34. The abortion rate is 4.4 to 7.5 per 1000, less than half the rate of other St. Louis women.
On October 26th, Professor Sherry Turkle of MIT, author of the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other, delivered a convocation speech at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Titled “Technology as Evocative Objects”, her presentation examined how technology, which has now been firmly embedded into our everyday lives, is significantly impacting our social relations and human interactions. Her discussion on the appeal of technology as a tool, and the way it allows people to edit the content that people communicate to one another, highlighted how electronic devices are redefining social norms, perceptions of gratification, and the changing state of human connection.
“A discussion of the rights of sentient entities. Drawing inspiration from quantum complementarity, defends a complementary notion of ontological dualism, countering zombie hypotheses. Sans zombie concerns, ethical discussions should therefore focus on assessing consciousness purely in terms of the physical-functional properties of any putatively conscious entity.” - Adam Ford
From WSJDigitalNetwork “The Singularity Summit brought thought leaders and renowned scientist in the fields of robotics, brain studies and artificial intelligence to San Francisco last weekend. Executive Director of the Singularity Institute Luke Muehlhauser talked with WSJ’s Monika Vosough at the event about efforts to create superhuman computers.”
We are a burgeoning collective, unlike anything before us. The rapid communalization of cities, brought about by the Internet (specifically social web culture and practice), supports the notion that “community” and “collective” are best treated synonymously, wherein the whole values each individual beyond the basic tenets of production.
My grandfather died on Halloween. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, none of the New York family members could attend the funeral in Massachusetts. Fortunately, another option became available: The ceremony was streamed online, and so my wife, daughter and I gathered around a laptop in our living room to watch the live webcast.
In The American Way of War, historian Russell Weigley describes a grinding strategy of destruction employed by the U.S. military over the last 150 years. To end the Civil War, Grant felt he had to destroy lee’s soldiers; in World War I, Pershing relentlessly bombarded and wore down Germany’s proud fighting machine; and the Army Air Corps pulverized major German and Japanese cities to win World War II.
“Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it.” - TED
“What if we could fix a patient’s own cells and cure their disease once and for all instead of treating a chronic illness over their lifetime? The solution exists, but it’s expensive. Nick Leschly, chief bluebird, explains how biotechnology can deliver corrective genes into a patient’s diseased cells and disrupt the medical and insurance industries along the way”
“Finland’s educational system. Fascinating thing about three decades ago Finland has an educational system that is doing terribly and they look around and they go okay what are we going to do about this, we gotta revamp the whole thing.” Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss the revolutionary educational system Finland has instituted and the results of that system on the education of their children.” - TYT
A wise man once said, “In order for us to understand the rat, we must become the rat.” Now, it’s quite possible that no one has ever actually said this, but that doesn’t matter. But what does matter is that it’s the driving sentiment behind a project that’s seeking to bridge the gap that’s separating us humans from rodents. By using telepresence, immersive virtual reality, and robotic technologies, researchers are hoping to see things from a rat’s point of view.
“In an emotionally charged talk, MacArthur-winning activist Majora Carter details her fight for environmental justice in the South Bronx—and shows how minority neighborhoods suffer most from flawed urban policy.
Majora Carter redefined the field of environmental equality, starting in the South Bronx at the turn of the century. Now she is leading the local economic development movement across the USA.” - TED
“In an exciting twist, two companies have been announced as winners of EuropaBio’s Most Innovative Biotech SME Award 2012. Commission Vice President Tajani who presented the award, during the event hosted by Dr. Kay Swinburne MEP at the European Parliament on 19th September, named both Austrian healthcare biotech SME ProtAffin AG and Global Bioenergies a French industrial biotech SME- as joint winners of the award.” - EUXTV
Does your vote really count? Is your bio-region dominated by a far-away demographic? Is your community powerless? Is progress in your city halted by small-brained conservative dinosaurs hundreds of miles away?
What did IEET readers peruse most fervently in October? 3D Printing articles by L. S. McGill took the top two slots, followed by anything and everything, from apocalyptic forecasts to Buddhist cognitive enhancement. Here’s the cream of the crop below:
IEET Readers are split on the question “When Aspergers is curable, will parents be morally obliged to cure it in their children”? One reason readers may be split is because there is such a huge variety of personalities someone with Asperger syndrome can take on. It can affect how one acts towards others, however theres many cases where Asperger syndrome increases compassion. Who is to say what the social norm should be? There is such a broad “norm” for symptoms of Asperger syndrome that it takes great expertise to identify it in some people.
Therefore the “social norm” of everyday culture is not much different then some patients with Asperger syndrome. However, in the end modern culture can only learn from people who have been diagnosed who are proud that they have it and the benefits of having it. We might even want to add some aspects of the syndrome to ourselves for example the ability of some to focus just on one subject for a long period of time.
In a future world where every brain is enhanced however, someone born with a “normal” brain will be looked at like they have a “disability.” We may be more likely to learn from Asperger syndrome than to treat it.
Autistic people have advocated a shift in perception of autism spectrum disorders as complex syndromes rather than diseases that must be cured. Proponents of this view reject the notion that there is an “ideal” brain configuration. and that any deviation from the norm is pathological; they promote tolerance for what they call neurodiversity. There is a contrast between the attitude of adults with self-identified AS, who typically do not want to be cured and are proud of their identity, and parents of children with AS, who typically seek assistance and a cure for their children.
This may also explain the split between the IEET readers.
392 readers responded to this poll
From scientificamerican.com: “Coal-burning remains the single largest source of all the greenhouse gases dumped into Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, climate change continues to gather speed, and molecules of CO2 released into the atmosphere today will continue to trap heat for centuries. In order to mitigate global warming, the world needs to transition to energy technologies that emit dramatically reduced quantities of greenhouse gases as quickly as possible. Even with such an energy transition, it will take decades for the pace of climate change to slow noticeably, as this video explains.”
TED: James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future. - TED
Hurricane Sandy fizzled out over Quebec Wednesday morning, leaving a trail of devastation along the US East Coast and into southern Ontario. As I write this, Sandy’s death toll stands at 132 people – 71 in the Caribbean and 61 in the United States. Since making landfall in the US, it flooded the New York City subway system, left 8 million people without electricity (6.5 million of whom still lack it), destroyed the Atlantic City boardwalk, and shut down the New York Stock Exchange for 2 days. Estimates of its economic damage are up to $50 billion, making it the 2nd most expensive storm in US history, after Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans.
With marriage equality battles in front of the voters in four states, the faithful are out in flocks to defend traditional matrimony. I don’t know exactly what traditional means in this context. It certainly doesn’t mean biblical, or it would include captive virgins and sex slaves and fathering children for your deceased brothers. It certainly doesn’t mean Mitt Romney’s version of traditional, since his great grandfather had five wives and his great-great grandfather had twelve.
In just ten years, many of today’s older citizens might look in the mirror and ask, “Who is that gorgeous person?” Their reflection would reveal a revitalized body overflowing with enthusiasm, sporting a dazzling smile, wrinkle-free skin, perfect vision, natural hair color, real teeth, and an amazing mind and memory.
Ben Hyink was a passionate transhumanist and secular activist, and an intern and intern coordinator with the IEET. He helped organize and lead the Humanity+ Student Network (H+SN) and the Chicago chapter of Humanity+, co-wrote the “Humanity+ Student Leadership Guide,”, and was the recipient of the 2007 JBS Haldane award for outstanding Transhumanist Student of the year. Having struggled with depression he ended his life last week.
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