Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies






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Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

The Social Fabric of a Technically Advanced Society

America’s best-kept sex secret: lots of us don’t want it

Free Will Does Not Exist - Should it be a Transhumanist Enhancement?

Will Transhumanism Lead to Greater Freedom?

The Yuck Factor — What Planned Parenthood Smears, Homophobia, & Middle School Have in Common

The King of Weird Futures


ieet books

Envisioning Politics 2.0
Author
David Wood and Alexander Karran eds.

The Future of Business
Ed. Rohit Talwar

A Dangerous Master: How to Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond Our Control
Wendell Wallach

Artificial Superintelligence: A Futuristic Approach
Roman Yampolskiy


comments

johnmesserly on 'Transhumanist Therapy II: A Century of Electronic Psychotherapy' (Jul 31, 2015)

Peter Wicks on 'Free Will Does Not Exist - Should it be a Transhumanist Enhancement?' (Jul 31, 2015)

johnmesserly on 'America’s best-kept sex secret: lots of us don’t want it' (Jul 30, 2015)

spud100 on 'Free Will Does Not Exist - Should it be a Transhumanist Enhancement?' (Jul 30, 2015)

Peter Wicks on 'Free Will Does Not Exist - Should it be a Transhumanist Enhancement?' (Jul 30, 2015)

jayjay on 'Transhumanism – The Final Religion?' (Jul 30, 2015)

Pandora on 'Four political futures: which will you choose?' (Jul 30, 2015)







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JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


If We Can Achieve Gay Marriage and Legal Pot, We Can Fix Climate Change Too
Jul 18, 2015
(24849) Hits
(1) Comments

Transhumanism: there are [at least] ten different philosophical categories; which one(s) are you?
Jul 8, 2015
(9667) Hits
(12) Comments

Transhumanism – The Final Religion?
Jul 16, 2015
(8448) Hits
(6) Comments

Robosapiens – merging with machines will improve humanity at an exponential rate
Jul 7, 2015
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RSS feedETHICAL TECHNOLOGY

Hank Pellissier

How will you (probably) decay and die?

by Hank Pellissier

Genetic testing may have the answers.

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The Divided Brain

In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society.

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Jamais Cascio

“To Prevail”

by Jamais Cascio

The following is my essay for Joel Garreau’s Prevail Project.

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George Dvorsky

Dysonian Approach to SETI: A Fruitful Middle Ground

by George Dvorsky

(by Robert Bradbury, IEET Fellow Milan Cirkovic, and IEET Board Chair George Dvorsky)  We critically assess the prevailing currents in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), embodied in the notion of radio-searches for intentional artificial signals as envisioned by pioneers such as Frank Drake, Philip Morrison, Michael
Papagiannis and others. In particular, we emphasize (1) the necessity of integrating SETI into a wider astrobiological and future studies context, (2) the relevance of and lessons to be learnt from the anti-SETI arguments, in particular Fermi’s paradox, and (3) a need for complementary approach which we dub the Dysonian SETI. It is meaningfully derived from the inventive and visionary ideas of Freeman J. Dyson and his imaginative precursors, like Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, Olaf Stapledon, Nikola Tesla or John B. S. Haldane, who suggested macro-engineering projects as the focal points in the context of extrapolations about the future of humanity and, by analogy, other intelligent species. We consider practical ramifications of the Dysonian SETI and indicate some of the promising directions for future work.

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J. Hughes

Compassionate AI and Selfless Robots: A Buddhist Approach

by J. Hughes

Buddhist psychology and metaphysics focus on the emergence of selves, their drives, and their potential for developing wisdom and compassion. Buddhism has already entered into a wide ranging dialogue with cognitive science, and can also inform and be informed by efforts to create self-aware machine minds. Buddhism suggests that there are a number of prerequisites for the development of humanlike intelligence in machines. These include embodiment, sensory interaction with the environment, preferences and aversions. The Buddhist view of the advantages of different kinds of minds and embodiments suggests an ethical obligation not to create machine minds which are trapped in particular emotional states or cognitive loops. Rather machine minds should be created with the capacity to dynamically evolve in compassion and wisdom. Compassion must start with empathetic feelings and a theory of mind, but for Buddhism also requires cultivation of equanimity and ethical wisdom. Buddhism suggests the developmental cultivation of ethics from rule-based to virtue-oriented to utilitarian. Finally thoughts are offered on what enlightenment might mean for a machine mind.

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The Ethics of Designer Brains

Big Think

Paul Root Wolpe, senior bioethicist at NASA and a pioneer in the field of neuroethics, recently spoke to BigThink about his concerns about a neuroenhanced future:

Peering into his children’s and grandchildren’s future, he sees an America that rewards competitiveness and productivity over relationship-building, and suspects that future generations will face intense pressure to enhance their minds and bodies in unhealthy ways.

There’s nothing new, Wolpe says, about humans chemically altering their brains:

Paul Root Wolpe: It’s not whether.  We always have done it; we always will do it. Human Beings have been manipulating their brains in that manner since they first fermented grapes or discovered hallucinogenic mushrooms, or whatever was the very first time people realized that they could ingest something and change their brain’s functioning. 

  But now that we can do it better, more powerfully, more accurately and with fewer side effects, the temptation to do it dramatically and often will increase.  So the question now becomes, what are the proper limits? What is the proper nature of that change?
   
  Up until now, it’s been a bit of a moot question because the drugs that we had had side effects that made them undesirable.  So if you take amphetamines to try to increase your attention, you’re going to have jitters, sleep disturbances and other things like that.  Now you have something like Modafinil, a much more benign drug that can, in many people, enhance attention without any of those systemic side effects.  And now we really have to begin to ask ourselves some interesting questions. 

  They did some studies, for example, with pilots.  Gave some of them, not Modafinil, but a similar type drug and some they didn’t and then they threw emergencies at them in flight simulators.  And what they discovered is that the pilots that were on attention enhancing drugs responded faster and more accurately to those emergencies. 

  So now we’re not just talking about, should I take it when I want to pay attention, maybe we should make people take it who have – surgeons and pilots and other people – who have other people’s lives in their hands.  Maybe my surgeon on Modafinil will be much more able to focus on what he’s doing than my surgeon off of Modafinil.

What’s the Significance?
When faced with these complex ethical questions, it is tempting to take sides either for or against biotechnology. Utopian proponents will argue that biotech will end human suffering. Detractors will label it “unnatural” (many of them in blog posts on the equally unnatural internet).

But the reality, as always, is somewhere in the middle.

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David Brin

Pining for Feudalism as an Antidote for Modernity

by David Brin

There is an unbelievable essay written - in apparent sincerity - by my colleague John C. Wright (a pretty good author, by the way), in which he asserts that the long darkness called feudalism was admirable, and that - by dismal contrast - we now live in an age that is benighted by crudely materialistic modernity and a shabby shallowness of the soul.

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George Dvorsky

Is the Adderall shortage on account of rampant off-label use?

by George Dvorsky

So, apparently there’s an Adderall drought going on the United States. Adderall is a prescription med that is used by people suffering from attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy.  It’s also being increasingly used as an off-label cognitive enhancer and for recreational purposes (which I’ll get to in just a little bit).

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Hank Pellissier

Interview with Shane Hope, Transhumanist Artist

by Hank Pellissier

“As an artist, I can appreciate precedent representation and objecthood crises at the cite and sight of artistic collage and assemblage. As a transhumanist, however, I’m cognizant that artistic collage and assemblage will look like mere speed bumps when compared to the transubstrationality to be encountered near a singularity spike.”

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Occupy Wall Street supported by a majority of IEET readers

According to results of a recently concluded poll, more than half of IEET readers enthusiastically support the ‘Occupy’ movement.

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Marcelo Rinesi

Against a cyborg, 99-to-1 are awful odds

by Marcelo Rinesi

This is how simple you are: computers can predict what you are looking for, and what to offer you, with spare cycles to run a search engine on top that.

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What are the Occupiers Mad About?

FactSpy

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What is Character? pt2

Changesurfer Radio

Dr. J. chats with Christian Miller, Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Character Project at Wake Forest University. They discuss the idea of virtue and moral character and its relationship to moral philosophy, personality theory, religion and neuroscience. Part 2 of 2. Also Dr. J. finishes his chat with Ted Chiang about his Hugo award winning novella “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” and the state of science fiction. (Part 2 of 2)

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What is Character? pt1

Changesurfer Radio

Dr. J. chats with Christian Miller, Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Character Project at Wake Forest University. They discuss the idea of virtue and moral character and its relationship to moral philosophy, personality theory, religion and neuroscience. Part 1 of 2.

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Jamais Cascio

Pantheon

by Jamais Cascio

“We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” - Stewart Brand, in the Whole Earth Catalog (1968)

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Morality without Religion

Human morality is older than our current religions, and may go back to tendencies observable in other mammals. In a bottom-up view of morality, this talk is one man’s road to discovering an array of positive tendencies in animals at a time when competition and aggression were the only themes.

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OCCU(PI) Bot

Randy Sarafan

Randy Sarafan shows us how to build robots to serve the revolution:

Learning from the lessons of the 1%, I set forth to outsource our occupy-related labor to a robotic workforce. Robots obviously have many advantages over their human counterparts. For instance, robots never get tired, they don’t get cold, they don’t sleep, nor eat, don’t require tents, and when armed insurrection becomes necessary, robots are much more morally ambivalent. Additionally, we had a discussion with an unnamed member of the San Francisco police force and they confided in us that the police currently do not have any plan for dealing with robotic occupiers.

For all of those reasons and more, I present to you Occu(pi) Bot; the first in a promising line of tireless, unstoppable, robotic class warriors.

Learn how to make your own!


 

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Richard Eskow

From Alexandria to Zuccotti Park: They’ve Been Destroying Books For 2000 Years

by Richard Eskow

The Book Killers have always been with us. Before recorded history they were with us, murdering the scholars and storytellers and mystics of every tribe they ever conquered.

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Hank Pellissier

Atheists are the most generous—even without heavenly reward!

by Hank Pellissier

Who gives the most to charitable causes? Those who believe in gods or those who don’t?

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Artificial Intelligence as an Existential RIsk

Future of Humanity Institute

Underground Q&A session with Nick Bostrom (http://www.nickbostrom.com) on existential risks and artificial intelligence with the Oxford Transhumanists (recorded 10 October 2011).

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David Brin

Roll over, Frank Miller: or why the Occupy Wall Street Kids are Better than the #$%! Spartans

by David Brin

A few days ago, the famous comic book writer and illustrator Frank Miller issued a howl of hatred  toward the young people in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Well, all right, that’s a bowdlerization. After reading even one randomly-chosen paragraph, I’m sure you’ll agree that  “howl” understates the red-hot fury and scatalogical spew of Miller’s lavishly expressed hate: “Occupy”  is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob,  fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

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Was Agriculture Humanity’s Worst Mistake?

Sentient Developments

Topics discussed in this week’s episode of Geoprge Dvorsky’s Sentient Development podcast include the benefits of creatine, Jared Diamond’s 1987 article on how agriculture was the “worst mistake in the history of the human race”, the current state of lab grown meats, computational pathology, a review of the documentary “How to Live Forever”, and a word (or two) on the pernicious de-radicalization of the radical future.

Tracks used in this episode:

  Oneohtrix Point Never: “Replica”
  The Advisory Circle: “Now Ends the Beginning”
  Russian Circles: “309”
  Hooray For Earth: “Pulling Back”

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Octopi, Autism, Designer Psychologies and Religion

Sentient Developments

In this Sentient Developments Podcast George Dvorsky talks about octopus intelligence, the rise of wrongful birth suits in Israel and elsewhere, and the latest news and findings into autism.  George reprises the talk he gave on designer psychologies at the H+ conference at Parson’s University in NYC earlier this year. Lastly, George discusses how religion works as a reproduction control system.

Music used in this episode:

  “At Last” by Plaid
  “Hours” by Tycho
  “Ballad of Gloria Featherbottom” by Mux Mool

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J. Hughes

Contradictions of the Enlightenment: Liberal Individualism versus the Erosion of Personal Identity

by J. Hughes

Enlightenment values presume an independent self, the rational citizen and consumer who pursues her self-interests. Since Hume, however, Enlightenment empiricists have questioned the existence of a discrete, persistent self. Today, continuing that investigation, neuroscience is daily eroding the essentialist model of personal identity. Transhumanism has yet to come to grips with the radical consequences of the erosion of the liberal individualist subject for projects of enhancement and longevity. Most transhumanist thought still reflects an essentialist idea of personal identity, even as we advance projects of radical cognitive enhancement that will change every element of consciousness. How do ethics and politics change if personal identity is an arbitrary, malleable fiction?

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The Case for Moral Enhancement

All in the Mind

At the 2011 Adelaide Festival of Ideas Julian Savulescu argues we should be using science and technology for moral enhancement, and that the future of humanity depends on it.  Julian is the Director of the Oxford Centers for Neuroethics, Practical Ethics, and Science and Ethics.

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Evolving Our Way Past Extinction

Nantucket Project

From Big Think and the Nantucket Project

What are the ways our civilization might collapse, and how might the human race become extinct?

According to sociobiologist Rebecca Costa, the answers are all staring us straight in the face. Just look at current events. Costa writes in her book The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction that human existence is threatened by “a global recession, powerful pandemic viruses, terrorism, rising crime, climate change, rapid depletion of the earth’s resources, nuclear proliferation, and failing education.”

Fortunately, Costa argues we are remarkably equipped to counter these threats today, due to our current understanding of the “biological reasons for the ascension and decline of civilizations.” The problem, as Costa describes it, is that humans are governed by two clocks: the very slow-ticking clock of human evolution and the fast-accelerating clock of technological progress. The result of these two clocks not synching up is the human brain (and the public policy our brains generate) is unable to keep up with the complex environment around us. According to Costa, we’re then left with “paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.” Put all those in the blender, and look out!

So how do we stave off our collapse? The solution involves what Costa calls the most (surprisingly) controversial word in the English language: evolution. Costa asks why, if Charles Darwin’s theory is “the most important scientific principle governing life on earth,” we don’t utilize it as a relevant tool to solve our problems today? In other words, why is evolution “the greatest discovery you’ve never heard of?”

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R. Dennis Hansen

The Intersection of Mormonism and Transhumanism

by R. Dennis Hansen

The Mormon vision of the future culminates in a plurality of gods, eternally progressing and creating worlds without end. Some of their ideas are well worth considering by transhumanists.

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The Future of Democratic Equality pt2

Changesurfer Radio

Dr. J. chats with Joseph Schwartz, Professor of Political Science at Temple University and author of The Future of Democratic Equality: Reconstructing Social Solidarity in a Fragmented United States. Prof. Schwartz is a long-time leader in the Democratic Socialists of America, the largest American socialist organization. Part 2 of 2.

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The Future of Democratic Equality pt1

Changesurfer Radio

Dr. J. chats with Joseph Schwartz, Professor of Political Science at Temple University and author of The Future of Democratic Equality: Reconstructing Social Solidarity in a Fragmented United States. Prof. Schwartz is a long-time leader in the Democratic Socialists of America, the largest American socialist organization. Part 1 of 2.

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