As the historian Robert Nisbet writes, “No single idea has been more important than, perhaps as important as, the idea of progress in Western civilization for nearly three thousand years.” But let’s understand what we mean by progress.
Foresight from three different perspectives: aspirational foresight as a way of setting challenges and goals for ourselves; evaluative foresight as a way of testing our strategies; and anticipatory foresight as a kind of civilizational immune system, sensitizing ourselves to the disruptive changes ahead.
“There won’t be generations anymore,” says Aubrey de Grey of tomorrow’s world where anti-aging treatments will give us at least 30 extra years of life. You’ll be able to keep up with your granddaughter on the ski slopes, he told his host at the Lift 2010 conference in Geneva Thursday 6 May. And for de Grey, the future is close: we can expect to see such treatments within our lifetimes, he believes….Link
Regarding the current mess on Wall Street, billionaire Mark Cuban and I have joined the chorus for a securities trade tax, that would both bring in needed revenue and apply incentives for investors to care, just a little, about the stocks they buy, rather than viewing them as chits in a fast-paced game that only giants can play.
The poor cloning debate has turned into a thoroughly-beaten dead horse and yet, here I find myself, brandishing a fresh cudgel and eying the rhetorical equestrian corpse for some worthy target. Let me begin by doing something people rarely do when debating issues like this: state what I am actually defending.
Over the last 20 years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has been issuing patents to universities and private companies on raw human genes. One company or university is given a legal monopoly over a molecule that is inside every human being and many other animals. This soon-to-be-finished documentary explores the legal, ethical, and clinical ramifications of human gene patenting.
Progressive economist Samuel Bowles is heading the behavioral science program at the complexity theory thinktank Santa Fe Institute. He thinks we could become more prosperous if we ended inequality, and that a basic income would help. Our brains would like it too, says recent research. And a little bit on “human-racism.” MP3
As part of the spring 2010 Take Your Brain to Lunch Lecture Series, Martha Farah, Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences in the Department of Psychology and Director of Penn’s new Center for Neuroscience and Society, led conversations with Penn faculty members about the brain. In this video, Susan Schneider, Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and Assistant Professor of Philosophy, discusses Future Brains: How Might Our Great-Great-Grandchildren Think (and Will They Still Be Human?).
David Brin and George Dvorsky respond to Stephen Hawking’s warning, in his Discovery channel special Into The Universe, that we should avoid making aliens aware of our presence since they may destroy us. Also, what do Americans really think about “socialism” and “capitalism?” (MP3)
Amateurs have always played a significant role in scientific discovery, particularly in astronomy and the natural sciences. In the last century, we’ve seen an increasing trend toward professionalization of all aspects of society; IEET Fellow David Brin, however, forecasts a counter-trend toward an Age of Amateurs.
The sheer number and complexity of our challenges, says Brin, will demand a wider proliferation of skills than just one-per-person. We may be returning to a greater emphasis on amateurs, even in areas like national defense and self-reliance. The scope of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, will be enhanced by thousands of amateur dishes scanning the skies, sharing their results through the Internet.
Could everyone but Africans be the result of miscegenation with Neanderthals? Will we be able to develop global rules for geoengineering in time? And good news for brains but bad news for global, gender and racial health equity.
Last week, Kyle Vandercamp, an atmospheric scientist, blew the whistle on a rogue geoengineering project funded by billionaire Harrison Wyld. Vandercamp was a senior scientist at the Bluebird Lab, and managed to get hold of some pretty damning documents laying out the extent of what the Bluebird project intends to do.
In the big debate over whether and how we should make ourselves known to possible ETIs, the decision itself may not have much consequence at all. But in deciding who should choose, we may be setting a crucial precedent.
Nobody knows a damned thing about aliens—but that doesn’t keep almost everyone from behaving like children, weighing in with their “of course” explanations for how advanced sapient races would “naturally” behave, or why ETs haven’t been seen, or what they would do if we encountered them.
We describe an integrative cognitive architecture for human-like, human-level, embodied general intelligence, founded on integrating the OpenCogPrime framework for cognition, language and high-level learning with a hierarchical temporal memory for lower-level perception and action. The core conceptual principle of the architecture is “cognitive synergy”, wherein dierent components are specically integrated in such a way as to compensate for each others scalability weaknesses. The current, preliminary implementation of the architecture to control a Nao robot is described, and contrasted with prior work using OpenCogPrime to control virtual agents in virtual worlds; and future plans for achieving greater intelligence via instructing the Nao in a “robot preschool” context are reviewed.
More than 60% of those who voted in a recently concluded IEET reader poll say that human cloning should be allowed. However, two-thirds of those in the affirmative (42% overall) say it should take place only after being proven safe.
In response to Stephen Hawking’s new Discovery Channel program, IEET Fellow David Brin was a guest recently on Larry King Live, where he debated the “alien threat” with Michio Kaku, Seth Shostak, and actor Dan Aykroyd. This is Part One. See Part Two here, and Part Three here.