On Sunday, December 11, we explored the convergence of religion with highly imaginative future science and technologies in the Turing Church online workshop 2 in teleXLR8, a 3D interactive video conferencing space.
Five alternative futures for Muslims are explored in this essay. In the first, the Islamic world attempts to return to its historical memory of grandeur. As this return is not a contextual return but a reiteration of the conditions of the 7th century, a medieval feudal Islam gains supremacy. For most Muslims, this is decline. In the second possible future, divisions within the Islamic world heighten. War with the West, among Islamic nations, and among sects in Islam is primary. This is a slow, but potentially dramatic decline. In the third, Islam follows a linear trajectory, becoming part of the modern secular world. In the fourth, Islam and the West undergo pendulum shifts, as one declines and the other rises. The final future is a “virtuous spiral” that imagines not only an alternative modernity for the Islamic world, but an alternative global future.
At first glance religion and transhumanism are at opposite poles of human endeavour. Religion with its superstitions and reliance on supernatural intervention is the very kind of thing that transhumanism is trying to free the human species from. Yet there are a lot of things that transhumanism can learn from religion. There are even things that could make transhumanism and religion partners in improving the human species.
Christopher Barnatt discusses nuclear physics, space exploration and global politics involved in mining the Moon for helium-3. Helium-3 is a very rare gas with the potential to fuel clean nuclear fusion power plants. The nearest supply of helium-3 is on the Moon.
High tech weaponry, aka “Drones” are now active on battlefront lines around the word. Author P.W. Singer of “Wired for War” discusses the urgency of redefining to the archaic rules of war agreed upon at the 1949 Geneva Convention. Should the global community examine Star Trek’s “Prime Directive” for guidance?
This is the first piece of fiction that we are publishing, submitted in response to our call for short science fiction reflecting “on the social, moral, political, economic or philosophical consequences of future technologies, in particular pieces that touch on the IEET’s core issues - the ethics and policy dimensions of life extension, human enhancement, moral enhancement, non-human personhood, structural unemployment and catastrophic risks.” We will be publishing at least four of the twenty submissions we have received so far, one a week, and will continue reviewing submissions for consideration. - J. Hughes
I’m going to examine the intertwined histories of the rights of artificial life and civil rights as seen through the eyes of Mary Shelley. Of course, Mary Shelley is not here to lend us her eyes, but I hope she won’t be too angry about my interpretation of her story.
“Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can’t talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.” – Philip K. Dick
Reporter Ike Sriskandarajah tells Jad and Robert a story about two international trade lawyers, Sherry Singer and Indie Singh, who noticed something interesting while looking at a book of tariff classifications. “Dolls,” which represent human beings, are taxed at almost twice the rate of “toys,” which represent something not human - such as robots, monsters, or demons. As soon as they read that, Sherry and Indie saw dollar signs. it just so happened that one of their clients, Marvel Comics, was importing its action figures as dolls. And one set of action figures really piqued Sherry and Indie’s interest: The XMEN, normal humans who, at around puberty, start to change in ways that give them strange powers.
So Sherry and Indie went down to the customs office with a bag of XMEN action figures to convince the US government that these mutants are NOT human. That argument eventually became a court case that went on for years. Joe Liebman, former international trade attorney for the US Department of Justice, helps us understand the government’s side. And Ike, with help from director and producer Bryan Singer, reflects on the story of the XMEN, and tells us why this case is so poignant for anyone who’s fought to be different without being cast as an outsider.
The obesity epidemic is worldwide. Data from the World Health Organization shows that 1 billion adults around the world are overweight, nearly a third of them obese. This creates chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease and declines in longevity around the world, in poor countries and rich ones, including the United States.
Living in the USA is killing people, quite early. Prodigious wealth and scientific achievement isn’t keeping Americans around very long. Quite the opposite. Longevity rankings tabulated by the United Nations show the North American behemoth wheezing behind in 36th place, with a croak-time of 78.3 years, dying nearly four years earlier than the durable Japanese (82.6). Cubans live as long as Americans; Chileans and Costa Ricans live longer; so do workaholic South Koreans (2,357 person-hours) and hard-drinking Finland, where alcoholism is the #1 cause of death.
Aging biomarkers are parameters that always, and in all people, change during aging. It is possible to evaluate and improve therapies that are aimed at slowing down aging, using the biomarkers of aging.
On January 3, a Saudi hacker group claimed that it had stolen half a million Israeli credit cards. The Bank of Israel claims their exposure is information on only 15,000 credit cards, all of which were immediately blocked. The hacker group’s stated purpose was to see Israeli cards fall into disrepute, “like the Nigerian cards.” The cracker, “0xOmar” is identified as the individual performing the hack, and says he plans to publish information on an additional 200 cards per day.
(CNN)—This week, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted his intent to learn computer code by the end of the year. He joined about 300,000 other people who have signed up at CodeYear to receive free interactive programming lessons each week from the Codecademy, a web-based tutorial. I am greatly relieved.