Abstract: Aging, being a composite of innumerable types of molecular and cellular decay, will be defeated incrementally. I have for some time predicted that this succession of advances will feature a threshold, which I here christen the “Methuselarity,” following which there will actually be a progressive decline in the rate of improvement in our anti-aging technology that is required to prevent a rise in our risk of death from age-related causes as we become chronologically older. Various commentators have observed the similarity of this prediction to that made by Good, Vinge, Kurzweil and others concerning technology in general (and, in particular, computer technology), which they have termed the “singularity.” In this essay I compare and contrast these two concepts.
The healthcare debate is shockingly narrow. We have the do nothing crowd, the privatize it more crowd, the single-payer people, and the public option folks. On the more radical end of the mainstream debates are those calling for more general practitioners, preventive care/incentives, and co-ops. Of the bills pushing through congress now, I have a feeling the public option is the only one with any teeth, but there are a million other non-mutually-exclusive ideas which could be implemented.
Many people, including me, are now used to being always online. With my smartphone powered by Google’s Android operating system, I am used to sending and receiving email and IMs anytime, from anywhere. It is easy to see how this trend will evolve: most routine computing applications will migrate to smartphones, the coverage and bandwidth of wireless networks will go up, and their price will go down. In only a few years, we will be used to being permanently plugged in the global Internet, and of course the user interfaces will improve. For example, as described by the visionary science fiction author Charlie Stross in his novel Halting State, augmented reality technology based on smart glasses will soon permit overcoming the limitations due to the small size of phones. A first generation of suitable smart glasses is already available, but there is something much better on the horizon: instant telepathic communication.
A look at California’s “real death panels,” the private insurers, as new data reveals they have denied one of every five claims in California over the past seven years. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! speaks with Charles Idelson of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.
Dr. J. chats with California Institute of Technology economist Antonio Rangel about the paper from his neuroeconomics research group published in Science, “Using neural measures of economic value to solve the public goods free-rider problem.” They talk about the deconstruction of the idea of rational choices in politics and economics by neurological and behavioral research. (MP3)
Regulators around the world are currently grappling with how to manage the possible risks associated with first generation nanotechnologies. But increasingly sophisticated nanotechnology-based products are coming—will the old regulations still cover these emerging nanotechnologies, or is a re-think in how substances are regulated in order?
Some IEET readers have been unable to submit comments for the past several days due to a glitch with our ‘captcha’ software. That problem is now fixed. We apologize for the temporary outage in two-way communication.
Are we good enough? If not, how may we improve ourselves? Must we restrict ourselves to traditional methods like study and training? Or should we also use science to enhance some of our mental and physical capacities more directly?
DI/DO (Drop In, Drop Out) connotes a lifestyle consisting almost entirely of online activity, but in place of a focus on interaction with actual friends and family, the vast majority of time is spent engaging with artificial digital companions.
As our various electronic devices gain more and more sensory awareness, we open up the potential for entirely new forms of interaction. Not just new interfaces—tapping and shaking and whatnot—but a shift in presence. With few exceptions, we use these new technologies in rather familiar ways. We might speak instead of type, or tap instead of click, or wave a control wand instead of mash a control pad, but these are essentially the same kinds of direct input processes we’ve done for years, just dressed up in a new look.
Buddhist Geeks has up the second half of their two part interview with Ben Goertzel on his non-fiction story “Enlightenment 2.0”. This precipitates a conversation about whether consciousness is a result of the mechanisms of the brain, or whether it is fundamental. And connected to that, what are the ethical implications of creating an artificial intelligence, if we do indeed see it as having BuddhaNature? Finally, Ben shares what he has discovered while exploring the notion of “artificial wisdom”—including what difference there is between intelligence and wisdom. He also talks about the seeming incompatibility between intense scientific thinking and enlightenment, and how that might be rectified by creating a more wise and intelligent super-mind. Listen to Part One here.
Japan and Turkey form an alliance to attack the United States. Poland becomes America’s closest ally. Mexico makes a bid for global supremacy, and a third world war takes place in space. Sounds strange? It could all happen. . .
This is the sixth episode of Interior Traces, a new radio play with accompanying video works and new musical score exploring how different ways of looking at the brain change how we think about the mind, madness, and responsibility. The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust, LCACE, and UCL.
Episode 6, 2030
Mike was identified with callous and unemotional traits in childhood, and put on a life-long course of drugs and behavioural therapies to prevent him from expressing the antisocial behaviour associated with psychopathy. On reaching adulthood, he must report to a clinic every six months, to have a brain scan and be cleared to return to society. Unhappy with these restrictions, Mike becomes involved with a campaigning group who are planning to mount a legal challenge against obligatory treatment. (MP3)
Improved life expectancy across the developed and most of the developing world is one of the main triumphs of medicine. But although the expected lifetime of an individual is slowly increasing in most countries, the maximum lifespan isn’t.