Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor; a modern-day form of slavery. It is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest, after the drug-trade.
As one of the world’s oldest professions, prostitution has historically often been relegated to the dark corners of human society, scarcely mentioned and generally ignored as much as possible. When it does emerge into mainstream discourse it is inevitably followed by the predictable group polemics which accompany almost every social issue of our time, generating fierce and often entrenched debate across the political spectrum.
I frequently write and talk about things at the intersection of science and religion, spirituality and technology, and I am often asked if I am a believer. I used to give complicated, intellectual answers, but now I prefer giving a simple answer. My answer is YES, I am a believer.
Let’s be real. The majority of transhumanists, scientists, astronomers, computer specialists, etc. became interested in their fields of study through their interest in science-fiction. We know the story of how cellphones were designed with Star Trek‘s communicators in mind, as were tablet computers, ebooks, and other new technologies. That has all been well-documented and I’m relatively certain that it is not news to most of us. Star Trek has been very influential in my life, guiding my thought processes in many areas, like physics, astronomy, quantum mechanics - even politics and economics. Part 2 of the Casual Transhuman.
Recently there has been commenters’s discussion here at IEET about whether it should be moving from being essentially a website that provides reading material and a forum for public debate towards more of a genuine “think tank” model, clearly advocating a techno-progressive point of view and attempting to influence policy (both public and private) in a more direct, substantial and well-defined way.
In my first installment, I began with the question - Who, or what, is a person? - using the Hierarchy of Exclusion from Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game novels as a starting point. My purpose in this second section is to expand our circle of inclusion.
Readers of this blog know that I’ve started to develop a bit of a fascination with psychopathy. It all got started after attending the Moral Brain Moral Brain conference at NYU last April. The more I look into this subject, the more I understand why so many neuroscientists are making such a big fuss about it.
Imagine going to the grocery store in 25 years in your sleek new auto-drive car: You hop in, voice the destination and off you go. The quiet, electric-powered vehicle drops you off at the supermarket entrance, then auto-parks itself while you shop. As you exit the store, your car drives to the entrance, picks you up and returns home. You marvel at this incredible car that can also run errands without you on board.
The new gynoid robot named Geminoid F (“F” stands for female) is also designed to be remote controlled by an operator. It is a copy of an actual woman in her 20s with the ability to exhibit diverse facial expressions more naturally than Ishiguro’s previous human-like robots.
Immaculate doll-face, globulous breasts, teeny waist, slender limbs, vacant ice-blue eyes, long platinum hair - Valeria Lukyanova of Odessa, Ukraine, has re-designed her physical form to resemble Barbie, the plastic Mattel toy. Is the result “beautiful”? Critics screech that she’s “creepy” and “lifeless” with an “uncanny valley” absence of sexuality, but… let’s not kid ourselves here.
Mining Asteroids! Has the future finally arrived? Is this B.S. or not B.S.? Scientist and Sci-Fi author David Brin breaks down the idea into its fascinating ideas, taking a look at how Planetary Resources is planning to obtain metals and fuel by mining asteroids.
The Brain Preservation Foundation is an interesting enterprise co-developed by John Smart (Acceleration Studies Foundation) that’s offering a prize for researchers who manage to preserve animal brains in ways that would be suitable for humans and that keep intact the web of physical connections - or the connectome - that some believe to contain all of the information in both memory and thoughts. Brain preservation aims at locking in these connections against post-mortem decay.
In Western cultures, nature is a cosmological, primal ordering force and a terrestrial condition that exists in the absence of human beings. Both meanings are freely implied in everyday conversation. We distinguish ourselves from the natural world by manipulating our environment through technology. In What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly proposes that technology behaves as a form of meta-nature, which has greater potential for cultural change than the evolutionary powers of the organic world alone.
Will “the self” survive because it can provide people with a greater sense of happiness? Or is it - perhaps along with the constructs “Free Will” and “Determinism” - doomed to the dustbin of history? Should cyborgs, avatars, and a rewired human brain be developed with a stronger or weaker sense of self? An interview with Dr. Garret Merriam, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Southern Indiana.
34.8% of IEET poll responders selected “Cryonics and Resurrection” in a recent survey that inquired about life-after-death preferences. 27.7% selected, instead, the category, “Uploaded in a Non-Biological Medium,” and 24.1% chose “Either is Fine.”
I’m getting increasingly annoyed by all the anti-religious propaganda that litters my Facebook newsfeed. Look, as a fellow humanist and atheist, I get it. Organized religion is a problem on so many levels that I don’t even know where to begin. I’d be the first person to say that something needs to be done about it and I’m delighted to see atheism become normalized in our society and culture. But seriously, folks, what are you hoping to achieve by posting such facile and inflammatory material?
Seth MacFarlane receives Harvard Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism at the Memorial Church - October 15th, 2011. With his trademark blend of wit and wisdom, Seth discusses religion’s suppression of scientific progress and it’s cost to civilization.
Despite fashionable twaddle about American decline, America’s cultural influence has never been as dominant as it is now. Indeed, the 21st century promises to be the American Century to an even greater extent than the 20th. The American attitude to life – The American Idea – is now reflected in the universal aspirations of all humanity.
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