As part of the promotion of the forthcoming film “Jim” the producers have set up a site for a genetic enhancement firm Lorigen Engineering.
On the Lorigen site they have a parody of the IEET’s concern about universal access to enhancement technologies:
We believe that everyone has the right to secure their genetic legacy and build a better future for themselves and their children. We also know that the kind of assurance we offer isn’t cheap, and that for some of the less fortunate among us it may even seem unattainable.
That’s why we’ve come up with some innovative assistance programs to help people in these difficult financial times achieve their dreams. Our new Genet-AssistÂ® financial aid packages can help you design the child of your dreams within the budget you can afford. Our â€œFuture Earnings Metricsâ€ can help to determine the potential economic output of your enhanced child so you can make the tough decisions with confidence. In fact, we’re so confident in the predictive power of this new system that we’ll even help finance your package by taking equity out of your child’s projected value in the form of a loan and applying it toward the design and birth processes. And if that’s still not enough, we’re working with members of Congress right now on a new federal assistance program that will help you to defer the interest and offset some of the costs through tax credits and rebates. All so you can rest assured that your child’s future is secure and bright.
Not exactly what we have in mind when we talk about “access.”
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Katalin Balog, an Associate Professor at Rutgers/Newark. Prior to her current position she taught at Yale for 10 years. Prof. Balog is primarily a philosopher of mind and psychology though her interests intersect with metaphysics and philosophy of language. Her interest spans both Western psychology (cognitive and evolutionary psychology but also psycho-analysis) and Eastern (especially Buddhist) psychology. She is currently working on problems related to the nature of consciousness, personal identity and free will.
Imagine this sci-fi scenario: A small tribe with unique literature, customs and myths believes they’ve been “chosen” for a glorious destiny. But they’re driven out of their native land, forced to wander the globe for aeons, persecuted and annihilated, until they’re impelled by a utopian novel to return to their homeland. They name their new city after the inspirational book and their country becomes a technological powerhouse… but still, they’re surrounded by enemies. They wage eternal war, they hover between hope and apocalypse”¦ their contributions to humanity are astounding but they continue to fear total extinction. Familiar? Of course. I’ve described Israel and the Jews.
Last year, JET published Kristi Scott’s fascinating article Cheating Darwin: The Genetic and Ethical Implications of Vanity and Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, which analyzed the implications of cosmetic plastic surgery (CPS) for relationships and genetics. It suggested that since “what one sees is not necessarily what one will get in regards to DNA” that “there is a responsibility on the part of the individual to disclose any previous CPS.” However, there are many other instances where we misrepresent our genetics or interfere with evolution. These range from other cosmetic enhancements, to medicines that allow the unhealthy to survive and the infertile to reproduce. But if we want a better future, we need to become comfortable with bending the principles of evolution to our will, and understand the risks and rewards of doing so.
The ongoing debate between PZ Myers and Ray Kurzweil about reverse engineering the human brain is fairly representative of the same debate that’s been going in futurist circles for quite some time now. And as the Myers/Kurzweil conversation attests, there is little consensus on the best way for us to achieve human-equivalent AI.
(by Milan M CirkoviÄ‡, Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom) We describe a significant practical consequence of taking anthropic biases into account in deriving predictions for rare stochastic catastrophic events. The risks associated with catastrophes such as asteroidal/cometary impacts, supervolcanic episodes, and explosions of supernovae/gamma-ray bursts are based on their observed frequencies. As a result, the frequencies of catastrophes that destroy or are otherwise incompatible with the existence of observers are systematically underestimated. We describe the consequences of this anthropic bias for estimation of catastrophic risks, and suggest some directions for future work. DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01460.x
Dr. J. chats with Aton Edwards, executive director of the International Preparedness Network (readyforanything.org) and author of Preparedness NOW! They discuss simple steps to prepare for disasters, the types of threats to think about, and technologies that might help mitigate risks. Part 2 of 2.
Dr. J. chats with Aton Edwards, executive director of the International Preparedness Network (readyforanything.org) and author of Preparedness NOW! They discuss simple steps to prepare for disasters, the types of threats to think about, and technologies that might help mitigate risks. Part 1 of 2.
At the New York Times site, Ross Douthat makes a pathetic attempt to oppose same-sex marriage as a legal option. It’s not “pathetic” as in unintelligent or ill-informed: on the contrary, Douthat is obviously a smart enough guy, and he makes some sensible concessions. It’s pathetic in the sense of a last-ditch effort doomed to failure. It shows how even the most rational repackaging of the arguments against same-sex marriage relies on assumptions that are now simply untenable.
This may come as a surprise to many, but apparently near the end of last year golfer Tiger Woods found himself in the middle of a sex scandal that was covered extensively throughout almost every news outlet. During all this, a sub-scandal erupted when Fox News correspondent Brit Hume said that Woods should convert from his previous religion of Buddhism to Christianity, as Christianity offers more forgiveness than Buddhism. Woods did not convert and, in fact, during his public apology for all that had happened, discussed his adherence to Buddhism and an intention to reapply himself to its teachings in an effort to change how he was living his life.
Many humans feel that no one loves, cares, or understands them. They deserve a better future. I believe that transhumanists need to annihilate the sad, estranged, socially-disconnected emotion of loneliness by creating an abundance of cures.
Should a person become a transhumanist before he is a humanist or is she to become a humanist first before becoming a transhumanist? A well-crafted question but one that deserves serious thought as to its purpose.
True Blood seems to continuously illustrate all the things that could go wrong with human enhancement. Whether it’s non-humans being taken advantage of by humans, or non-humans being unable to control their powers, it all looks pretty bleak.
Can current approaches to doing science sustain us over the next one hundred years? An increasing reliance on technological fixes to global challenges demands a radical rethink of how we use science in the service of society.
IEET Senior Fellow Jamais Cascio spoke recently at the “Futuro Ã¨ Sostenabilita” (Futures and Sustainability) conference in Rome. He gave a short interview there to discuss the difference between predicting the future and thinking usefully about it.
You can also watch a video recording of his full talk, beginning with Part 1 here.