Topics discussed in this week’s episode: Moral enhancement and cognitive enhancement (featuring insights from Peter Singer and Allen Buchanen), progressivism and the potential for transhumanism (featuring clips from James Hughes and Robert Sawyer), and an update on PETA’s case against SeaWorld.
PETA may have lost its case against Sea World, but it marks an important step forward in the struggle to recognize highly sapient animals as persons. This is not going to happen overnight, and it’s through cases like these that the idea of nonhuman persons will be normalized in society.
I condemn in no uncertain terms the recent passage by the Nigerian Senate of the the anti-gay marriage bill. The passage of this bill once again demonstrates how disconnected Nigerian politicians and lawmakers are from the realities of the 21st century. It has confirmed that our lawmakers indeed prefer to fiddle while our social, political and economic house, called Nigeria, burns.
Suffocation induces a sense of extreme panic. It’s a comparatively rare experience in contemporary human life, although panic disorder, an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring severe panic attacks, is extremely unpleasant and quite common. Whatever its cause, the experience of suffocation is horrific. One’s lungs feel as though they will burst at any second. There is a loss of control of bodily functions. There is no psychological “coping mechanism”, just an all-consuming fear, as witnessed by the traumatic effects of the waterboarding torture practised by the CIA; the entangled piles of bodies of victims in the Nazi gas chambers frantically clawing over each other to gasp in the last traces of breathable air; and the death-agonies of millions of herbivores every day in the wild.
David Pearce is an independent researcher and vegan animal activist based in Brighton UK. In 1995, he wrote an online manifesto, The Hedonistic Imperative, advocating the use of biotechnology to abolish suffering throughout the living world.
Eating Wheaties for breakfast? Keeping Fluffy’s litter box clean? Gulping down cholesterol-lowering medication? If you think these activities are healthy, sorry… reports suggest all these habits contain the potential to poison your brain.
The combination of longer lives, lower fertility, relatively low economic mobility, and high correlation between economic and political power, has left the United States in the novel situation of being (at least partially) a sort of partially gerontocratic democracy in which the 1940’s and 1950’s excert a degree of political influence over 2012 which the 1910’s and 1920’s did not have over the 1980’s.
Philippe Goldin - research scientist and head of the Clinically Applied Affective Neuroscience group in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University - discusses Mindfulness meditation, which has been shown to enhance emotional awareness and psychological flexibility as well as induce well-being and emotional balance. Scientists have also begun to examine how meditation may influence brain functions.
Comedian Russell Brand talks about how he is “very grateful to be involved” with the launch of David Lynch Foundation’s Operation Warrior Wellness, which offers the Transcendental Meditation technique to veterans suffering with PTSD.
One of the catastrophic risks that technoprogressives take more seriously than most policy analysts is the emergence of self-willed artificial intelligence and robotics. We are skeptical of the focus on “hard take-off” scenarios, which tend to lead to fatalistic or magical thinking approaches to risk mitigation, and we emphasize instead the importance of incremental steps such as regulation of computing to avoid the creation of self-willed machine minds until we have a better handle on how to safely integrate them. In this short story Alex imagines one way that the tension between human control and the self-awareness of machine minds might play out.
Science and meditation are two things that one might initially regard as having no more in common with each other as Chinese calligraphy and Italian pasta. Science, however, has recently examined the eastern tradition to answer the longstanding question: how does meditation work? Is anything actually happening or is it “all in the head?”
For the past few months, the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has been working on identifying some of the most significant trends in technology innovation. Published in early February, 2012 by WEF, these represent ten areas that we as a council felt are likely to shake things up over the next few years in terms of their economic and social impact.
Professor Renate Loll (Utrecht University) talks about the question ‘What is time?’ from the perspective of theoretical physics. Often contra-intuitive but always fascinating, Loll reveals the secrets of a quantum theory of time.
On a long drive to my mom’s house earlier this weekend, my son Zar and I got into a long conversation about the nature of causality, which got me thinking about the old puzzle of where the feeling of the directionality of time comes from…
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaking at a Sept. 14, 2011 news conference, announcing the selected design of a new Space Launch System. The new heavy-lift rocket will take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before, create high-quality jobs here at home, and provide the cornerstone for America’s future human space exploration efforts. The booster will launch humans to places no one has gone before.
I was honored to be included in the 200th episode of The Future and You: “Over a hundred never before heard predictions about the future from dozens of past guests, a few possible future guests, several listeners and an assortment of people actively building the future we are all going to live in.”
A current trend in AI research involves attempts to replicate a human learning system at the neuronal level—beginning with a single functioning synapse, then an entire neuron, the ultimate goal being a complete replication of the human brain.
Rudy Rucker is a writer, a mathematician, and a computer scientist with thirty-two published books. In the 1980s he received Philip K. Dick awards for his cyberpunk novels Software and Wetware. He was a computer science professor at San Jose State for twenty years. His fantastic novel of the afterlife, Jim and the Flims and his autobiography, Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker Life, both appear in 2011. Rudy also edits a speculative fiction webzine called Flurb.
Rudy Rucker - science fiction writer and professor of Computer Science - explains his vision of the future. As in his novel “Software” where computers ‘preserve’ the human brain, a so-called ‘life box’ database remains which keeps our memories alive.
Both the funniest and the most scientific of cyberpunk SF’s fab four, Rudy Rucker’s autobiography Nested Scrolls is a laid back groove, in the best sense. It’s funny, real, a bit off center… yet friendly and so thoroughly engaging that I was sorry that it ended. Maybe Rudy could live another life so that he could take us along, once again.
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