“The longer our lives, the more we’ll have a chance to see that there’s no self living them.” - James Hughes. What is Transhumanism and how is it related to Buddhist practice? Will technology enable us to radically extend our lifespans, help us control our thoughts and emotions, and bring about the potential to upload our consciousness into virtual reality spaces? And if so, what are the deeper implications for our contemplative traditions. Will these advances actually support the deepening of wisdom? According to professor James Hughes, a Buddhist practitioner and leading voice in the Transhumanist movement, these advances will enable us to deconstruct the notion and experience we have of an “authentic self” and will support the development of happiness, and the cessation of suffering. (MP3)
In my continuing program of reading, and commenting on, the six articles about transhumanism in June’s edition of The Global Spiral, I now come to “Of Which Human Are We Post?” by Don Idhe, who approaches the issues from a perspective in philosophy of technology.
I am examining the articles on transhumanism in the current issue of The Global Spiral , an online magazine published by the Metanexus Institute. The articles in the issue were presented at a research conference on transhumanism in April 2008, at Arizona State University (ASU), funded by the Templeton Foundation. The Templeton Foundation also supports Metanexus Institute.
Jamais says: Here’s the talk I gave at Moodle Moot San Francisco last week. It runs about 70 minutes—yeah, I spoke for over an hour—and the slides aren’t visible. Fortunately, I really only use slides for illustrations, and you shouldn’t have a problem understanding what I’m talking about.
While the talk ostensibly focuses on the future of education and educational technologies, it wanders across a much broader landscape. It’s more of a “what’s shaping the next decade?” kind of talk, with an education spin.
What would you do if you lived to be 150 years old? What about 300? The Methuselah Foundation is dedicated to curing age-related disease and extending the healthy human lifespan. And we’re closer than you think. Tell us what you would do with an extra 50 or 100 years of healthy life. You can submit your entries as a comment, photo, or video below. 10 winners will receive VIP admission and dinner seating to the upcoming Aging 2008 at Royce Hall, UCLA on June 27: http://www.mfoundation.org/Aging2008/ 1 grand prize winner will receive a rejuvenating spa package valued at more than $500.
Most observers of social movements, even their participants, underestimate their diversity and complexity. Every social movement is a constantly roiling mass of uneasy fractions, tendencies and subtendencies, tenuously and temporarily allying, with shifting meanings for core terms and goals, from “the Enlightenment”, to “anarchism” to “conservatism” to “environmentalism”. This is the problem that Columbia historian Matthew Connelly seeks to correct in Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population.
As of this morning, the case against acclaimed artistic photographer Bill Henson appears to have collapsed completely. A few days ago, the censored versions of the most controversial images, as published by news outlets, were given a G rating. The uncensored version of the most controversial image has now been rated a lowly PG. Australia’s censorship authority, the Classification Board, has stated that the “image of breast nudity … creates a viewing impact that is mild and justified by context … and is not sexualised to any degree”.
Oscar Pistorius was right all along, at least for now. He was right to appeal the ruling from the International Association of Athletics Federations that forbade him from competing alongside Olympians in Beijing for one simple reason: he is an Olympian.
Nothing against Barack Obama, but we’d be mistaken to consider his politics a complete break from the past, a renaissance in participatory government, or the realization of an Internet-enabled “open source” democracy. He’s pretty damn good, don’t get me wrong, and he may just represent the closest thing yet to a GenX, post-boomer, anti-sentimental and a-mythic candidate for president. But there are a few ways in which his candidacy also reinforces some of the branded, celebrity-based, and charismatic techniques of traditional politics. To make the most of his candidacy and, hopefully, his presidency, we’ll have to distinguish one from the other.
In The Coming Convergence Stanley Schmidt lays out the accelerating technological trends in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science, and how their convergence into new metasciences will bring about dramatic risks and benefits.
Imagine if aging were a disease like measles, one that could be cured. Some scientists think it’s possible and that we’ll eventually halt - or at least slow - the march of time and extend lifespans into the triple digits and beyond. 100 could become the new 40, and 1000 the new 500! But that’s a lot of years of filling out tax forms and showing up for dental hygiene appointments. Do we really want to live that long? If so, we should tap into the secret of longevity from Ming, a 400-year-old clam.
Also, the surprising story of how aviator Charles Lindbergh helped develop a medical device that prolonged lives - all in support of the Nazi cause.
* Aubrey de Grey - Biogerontologist and author of Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime
* Michael Rose - Ecologist and Evolutionary Biologist at the University of California - Irvine
* David M. Friedman - author of The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever
* Al Wanamaker - Researcher at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences
I’ve long been a fan of the use of games and sims as a way of working through future-facing issues. The big advantage of games as a foresight device is the capacity to fail in interesting ways: you can try out different, even bizarre, strategies for success, and do so without worry of harming yourself or others. It’s a form of rehearsal, a way to understand the ways in which the present may be manipulated to create a desirable tomorrow.
How much power do we truly have in making our ideas matter? My estimate that only about one in a million among us—about six thousand people in the whole world—has enough power to effect change on a global basis.
On May 3, 2008, shortly after finishing second at the Kentucky Derby, filly Eight Belles went crashing to the ground, the result of sustained compound fractures to both her front legs. The horse’s injuries were so devastating that she had to be euthanized right there on the track, much to the horror of the 157,770 spectators. Last week, a number of baseball pundits noticed that home run production was significantly down across the Majors. And not by just a little bit. It’s being predicted that this season could see a drop of 1,000 home runs compared to the 2006 season. Last year saw a drop of nearly 600 home runs compared to 2006. Home runs, it would appear, are on the decline. What do these two seemingly unrelated stories have in common? Performance-enhancing drugs.
When Hollywood movies depict mutated human beings — sometimes beautifully, grotesquely, or bizarrely transformed in appearance from the Homo sapiens norm — they draw upon traditions that are thousands of years old. Throughout recorded history, human myths, legends, and folktales have described recognisably anthropomorphic beings that nonetheless deviate from species-typical human morphology and/or possess greater than human powers.
A lot of discussion has been going around regarding Pistorius. Should he or shouldn’t he be allowed to compete for a spot in the Beijing Olympics? If he makes it, should he or shouldn’t he be allowed to compete. There’s concern over what this will do to sports in general; what kind of message is it sending out to others; and how it could throw off future comparisons within the sport, making some sports records incomparable.