“Ode to the Brain” is the ninth episode in the Symphony of Science music video series. Through the powerful words of scientists Carl Sagan, Robert Winston, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Jill Bolte Taylor, Bill Nye, and Oliver Sacks, it covers different aspects the brain including its evolution, neuron networks, folding, and more. The material sampled for this video comes from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED Talk, Vilayanur Ramachandran’s TED Talk, Bill Nye’s Brain episode, BBC’s “The Human Body”, Oliver Sachs’ TED Talk, Discovery Channel’s “Human Body: Pushing the Limits”, and more.
Right now Wisconsin is serving as the prototype for United States 2.0, a newly reconstituted nation where corporations have all the rights of personhood without any of the responsibilities—and people have all the duties of personhood without any of the rights. Welcome to your future. They’re preparing it for you right now in America’s heartland.
A character in Ken MacLeod’s 1998 novel The Cassini Division refers to the Singularity as “the Rapture for nerds” (though it should be duly noted that in that novel the Singularity occurs anyway!). This represents a moderately recurrent meme in certain circles - to denigrate transhumanism by comparing it to extreme religious notions. But not all transhumanists consider such comparisons wholly off-base. While transhumanism differs from traditional religions in being based around reason more centrally than faith, it does have some commonality in terms of presenting a broad vision of the universe, with implications on the intellectual level but also for everyday life. And it does present at least some promise of achieving via science some of the more radical promises that religion has traditionally offered - immortality, dramatic states of bliss, maybe even resurrection.
(Co-authored with IEET Fellow Ben Goertzel) There is currently no good reason to believe that once a human-level AGI capable of understanding its own design is achieved, an intelligence explosion will fail to ensue. A thousand years of new science and technology could arrive in one year. An intelligence explosion of such magnitude would bring us into a domain that our current science, technology and conceptual framework are not equipped to deal with; so prediction beyond this stage is best done once the intelligence explosion has already progressed significantly.
A common objection I get to the suggestion that nonhuman persons should be granted human-level rights is the concern that these animals could never properly express their citizenship or take part in the social contract. I’ve actually had people ask me if it’s my intention to give bonobos a credit card and the right to vote.
Dr. J. chats with Charles Kenny about his book Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding—And How We Can Improve the World Even More. They talk about how the spread of ideas and institutions, such as democracy and political rights, and of cheap technologies, such as vaccines and bed nets, are improving the quality of life of the world’s poor. Charles Kenny is a senior economist on leave from the World Bank, and a joint fellow at the New America Foundation and the Center for Global Development. He writes a weekly column for Foreign Policy called “The Optimist.”
1987 was the first year in which one billion people boarded airline flights. In that year the world’s population hit 5 billion, meaning approximately 20% of all people experienced a fantastic luxury not available to history’s wealthiest monarchs. By 2005 two billion people were boarding airliners each year, and the world’s population had grown to 6.5 billion. In the short span of years between 1987 and 2005, airline flight grew from being a right of 20% to a right of 31% of humanity, from barely a fifth to almost a third. Even assuming more frequent flights by the wealthier, this is startling evidence of the democratization of technology.
Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro star in Limitless, a paranoia-fueled action thriller about an unpublished writer whose life is transformed by a top-secret smart drug that allows him to use 100% of his brain and become a perfect version of himself. His enhanced abilities soon attract shadowy forces that threaten his new life in this darkly comic and provocative film.
Francis Heylighen started his career as yet another physicist with a craving to understand the foundations of the universe - the physical and philosophical laws that make everything tick. But his quest for understanding has led him far beyond the traditional limits of the discipline of physics. Currently he leads the Evolution, Complexity and COgnition group (ECCO) at the Free University of Brussels, a position involving fundamental cybernetics research cutting across almost every discipline. Among the many deep ideas he has pursued in the last few decades, one of the most tantalizing is that of the Global Brain - the notion that the social, computational and communicative matrix increasingly enveloping us as technology develops, may possess a kind of coherent intelligence in itself.
In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, rescue workers found 128 elderly people abandoned by medical staff at a hospital six miles from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The tsunami also killed nearly half the 113 residents at a retirement home in Kesennuma. Eleven of those who lived died of exposure, and the other 53 are in a shelter with only kerosene heaters to keep them warm in near-freezing condition.
Recently, three emerging technologies made headlines in Washington state and were reported by Tacoma’s paper, The News Tribune. The issues and controversies they stir are examples of the challenges that transformative technologies will face in going mainstream.
The IEET’s J. Hughes appeared on Stephen Euin Cobb’s podcast The Future and You. Topics include his doubts about the probability of the Singularity, technoprogressive transhumanism versus libertarian transhumanism, his new book Cyborg Buddah, the recent protests in the Middle East for more freedom and reform, the politics of science fiction, the personhood of clones, and much more. Part 1Part 2