Where were you on July 20, 1969? Many of us can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon. (Of course, a good number of our readers probably were not even born then.)
Modern humans have walked the Earth for about 200,000 years. In that time, we have colonized, inhabited, and “tamed” diverse environments on many continents. Unfortunately, our heavy footprint has seriously impacted the planet and fundamentally altered the biosphere. We have destroyed rainforests, depleted fisheries, burned huge amounts of fossil fuels, sucked water aquifers dry, and given Earth a fever in the form of global warming. So, should we stay here and work to repair or mitigate the damage we’ve done? Or should we try to move most of the human population off-Earth and let the planet heal itself?
In a recently concluded poll, almost half (49%) of IEET readers identified themselves as Technoprogressive and Transhumanist, while 24% called themselves Transhumanist (H+) only, and 12% said Technoprogressive only.
Predictions of melting ice caps, receding glaciers, thawing permafrost, rising sea levels, longer and more frequent droughts, hyper-powerful storm systems, species depletion, refugee migration, disease outbreaks, economic disruption, and other catastrophic results are becoming more plausible with each passing year. Unless something changes very fast, the future does not look very bright.
I have watched Jon & Kate plus 8 since the beginning. For those of you who don’t know this is a show about a mother and father who had a set of twins and then a set of sextuplets, totaling eight children. For those of who are wondering why I am doing a two-part musing of this show and don’t like reality TV I say give it a chance, again. There is a lot to see in reality TV other than people making a debacle of their lives and I have watched my fair share of it.
Nanotechnology promises to change our world in ways that are difficult to predict, or even imagine: Star Trek style replicators that allow you to make almost anything you want… artificial robotic blood cells will turn an Average Joe into a world-class athlete, or allow you to hold your breath under water for an hour at a time… programmable “smart” matter than can take whatever form you desire. Advanced nanotechnology promises all of this plus a lot more.
A distinguished panel of guests, including IEET Managing Director Mike Treder, explain the benefits—and risks—of this powerful technology that could be here sooner than most expect.
Barack Obama is in Moscow this week, holding talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and—perhaps more importantly—with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is regarded by many as still holding the crucial keys of power inside that nation’s opaque political structure. In any case, the leaders are discussing, among other things, nuclear disarmament. Between them, Russia and the United States possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads. And so, any negotiations that can lower those numbers significantly can only be viewed as positive.
IEET Fellow Doug Rushkoff is posting brief videos and MP3s encapsulating key concepts from his Life Inc for de-corporatizing our lives, abandoning the speculative economy, and rebuilding both commerce and community from the bottom up.
(IEET intern Edward Miller is guest blogging at Sentient Developments this month.) There is a long list of crises that we need to face and I won’t waste time boring you by listing them. As our brightest minds admit they were wrong, I hope that I can say, without qualification, that big changes in our thinking are required. Unfortunately, we haven’t made that “Change” even though we now have some new faces in power, and a bunch of old faces out of business or in prison.
Imagine these hypothetical situations; you are injured and lying on the battlefield or are involved in a serious automobile accident and require a blood transfusion. What are the medical treatment options in these scenarios?
Space travel is very cheap. There’s no friction in the vacuum of space, so once you get something to move, it just keeps moving without spending any energy. The problem lies in getting things away from the gravity well of a planet.
Transhumanism’s niche (some would say “cult”) status causes those of us who support it to answer a lot of the same questions over and over. Those questions were asked in droves on Marginal Revolutionin response to my three-landmarks of transhumanism effort. I’m going to do my best to answer them here. Cowen himself actually asked one I hadn’t heard before, so I’m going to let that one ruminate the longest. Let’s start with the classic: aging.
[Contains spoilers] True Blood is a fascinating HBO series about vampires living with humans, now in its second season. It follows Sookie Stackhouse, a human that has fallen in love with the vampire Bill Compton. While the vampires’ fight for marriage rights and the intense religious opposition reflects the gay rights struggle, True Blood’s depiction of an ageless species with several enhanced powers also provides an exploration of how society might deal with transhumans, and perhaps more importantly how society views such possibilities.
Good news for Battlestar Galactica fans: the new Caprica series is excellent. I finally caught the two-hour pilot and was quite impressed with the new direction. If this first episode is any indication, this is going to be a provocative and fascinating series—one that will touch upon many topics near and dear to transhumanists, including artificial intelligence, whole brain emulation, consciousness transfer, virtual reality and even immortality.
Some of the most thoughtful work on the topic of climate change appears in Jamais Cascio’s new e-book, Hacking the Earth. Cascio is a Bay Area futurist who worked with Global Business Network during the 1990s and is currently a research affiliate at the Institute for the Future, a global futures strategist at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, and a fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.
io9’s head honcho Annalee Newitz talks about the relationship of science fiction and technological innovation at Webstock09. “Just two decades ago, the Web and public internet were the stuff of science fiction. Creators like William Gibson, who coined the term “cyberspace” in his novel Neuromancer, helped define the terms of social life online, as well as inspiring many of the inventions (like smartphones) that we take for granted. But what is today’s science fiction telling us about where our technology will go tomorrow? I’ll talk about the stories today’s scifi creators are telling about the Web and internet, and how their ideas create a fantastical map of what people are seeking in their online lives.”
Only a third of IEET readers who responded to our recently concluded poll agree that geoengineering is a good idea and should be started as soon as possible. Almost half (47%) of respondents are “on the fence” and believe that more study is needed before they can say for sure, while a small but significant percentage definitely oppose it.
Nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science—the so-called “NBIC” technologies—have the potential, especially as they converge, to radically transform both human beings and human societies.
Let’s consider a couple of questions raised by the powerful possibilities that loom in the near future.