As with any medical discovery, an in-depth look needs to be taken regarding the impact and effects on society. The Internet offers a new world of communication and opportunities for individuals to be in touch with one another. Andy Miah and Emma Rich do a commendable job with this in their recent publication The Medicalization of Cyberspace.
Social Ecology is a philosophy which states that environmental, social, and economic problems all have the same root: namely, the way people treat each other. By this same logic, if we can establish new structures and norms by which to operate, we can alleviate many of these problems.
Universal mind uploading, or universal uploading for short, is the concept, by no means original to me, that the technology of mind uploading will eventually become universally adopted by all who can afford it, similar to the adoption of modern agriculture, hygiene, or living in houses.
Our conceptions of intelligence certainly aren’t what they used to be—and they’re continuing to evolve. Prior to the advent of computers it was thought that number crunching and pure logic was the penultimate measure of intelligence. But after the invention of the calculator, which could suddenly do math thousands of times better than we ever could, we were forced to shift our definitions of intelligence to other seemingly more intractable cognitive functions.
[Warning: Contains spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica episode The Oath] It can be easy when experiencing an engaging story to be wrapped up in a world where problems seem much bigger, much more exciting, and more a matter of life and death than real life. The fast-paced action seems to involve much more important issues than our trivial day to day problems. But that impression is a mistake, because even though the major problems we face aren’t as immediate, we all face problems just as big and important, and it is our responsibility to take action that affects them.
(First Congregational Church of Berkeley, CA - Jan 21st, 2009) Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and director of the Greater Good Science Center, demonstrates that humans are not hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short” - we are in fact born to be good. He investigates an old mystery of human evolution: why have we evolved positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe, and compassion that promote ethical action are the fabric of cooperative societies? Born to Be Good is a profound study of how emotion is the key to living the good life and how the path to happiness goes through human emotions that connect people to one another.
The article The radiative forcing potential of different climate geoengineering options is now out and available for download and discussion. As expected, it offers one of the first useful comparisons of different geoengineering techniques.
[Warning: Contains spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica episode A Disquiet Follows My Soul] Even as Zarek and Gaeta sow the seeds of insurrection against Adama and his Cylon alliance, it is amazing how integrated the Cylons and humans have become. While it is true that a large portion of the fleet seems opposed to their alliance, it is nonetheless remarkable that Adama lets the Cylon Tigh remain as his second in command, even though Tigh is a member of a species of machines responsible for the destruction of the human race.
Dr. J. chats with Richard Cook, former federal and White House official with the civil service, FDA and NASA, and advocate of radical reform of monetary policy including the provision of a basic guaranteed income to all citizens. We talk about the role of banks in the economy, and the prospects for bottom-up economic growth. (MP3)
Dr. J. chats with Rice University professor of Religion Jeffrey Kripal about his article on Aldous Huxley in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Kripal argues that Huxley’s Island should be read as his utopian rebuttal to his own dystopian vision in Brave New World.
Until today I was unfamiliar with a group called “The Order of Cosmic Engineers”. I’d heard mention of the name in passing, but could have told you nothing about what it was or who its members might be.
Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk gave Voices of Disbelief to the publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, in early December 2008 with publication currently planned for September. The contributors will be familiar to many friends of the IEET.
At Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA on Jan 17th, 2009 Steven Johnson links the rise of coffee house culture to the Age of Enlightenment because, before coffee replaced beer as the daytime drink of choice, “the entire culture basically was drunk all day long.” As a result, he says “the coffee house was a great hub of Enlightenment-era culture.”
Take this with at least a grain of salt, probably more, and recognize that you're reading an English translation from Spanish of news items taken from Russian media and translated from Russian into Spanish.
Although there is no universally agreed definition of the word “transhumanism”, it seems to me that the core idea is rather simple: within certain limits, it is desirable to use emerging technologies to enhance human physical and cognitive capacities, and to make other beneficial alterations to human traits.
It’s often said that we live in a Knowledge Economy. So we invest in IT and use it to automate administrative activities. That’s like using engines in farms but still move around on horses. The underlying problem is that no matter how intelligent and capable the members of a group might be, for most organizational cultures administrative activities are the only sort of relevant intellectual activities.
A new book will hit store shelves later this week that will be of interest to those concerned about the ongoing roboticization and de-humanizing of military technology. The book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, is authored by P. W. Singer, the director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution.
(Russell is guestblogging for George) I’m sure my readers are familiar with Fermi’s paradox. Some of you may even feel it’s debated to death lately, but in this great memorial year (Darwin’s 200th birthday, among other things) we’ll be hearing a lot more about the origins of life and the trajectory of evolution. Fermi’s paradox connects with all that.
I did some sustainability consulting recently for a major computer company. We focused for the day on building a better understanding of their energy and material footprint and strategies; during the latter part of the afternoon, we zeroed in on testing the sustainability of their current business strategies. It turned out that, like many big computer industry players, this company is making its play in the “cloud computing” field.
Global warming is moving much more quickly than scientists thought it would. Even if the biggest current and prospective emitters - the United States, China and India - were to slam on the brakes today, the earth would continue to heat up for decades. At best, we may be able to slow things down and deal with the consequences, without social and political breakdown. Gwynne Dyer examines several radical short- and medium-term measures now being considered - all of them controversial. (MP3)