Austin Dacey and Dr. J. chat about his new book The Secular Conscience. Dr. Dacey is representative to the United Nations for the secularist Center for Inquiry, and on the editorial staff of Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry magazines.
So, you want to take over the Galaxy. A good career move. Ultimately, you’re hoping to communicate with extraterrestrials, colonize entire sets of star clusters, and eventually lord it over the entire Milky Way.
Abstract The future of humanity is often viewed as a topic for idle speculation. Yet our beliefs and assumptions on this subject matter shape decisions in both our personal lives and public policy – decisions that have very real and sometimes unfortunate consequences. It is therefore practically important to try to develop a realistic mode of futuristic thought about big picture questions for humanity. This paper sketches an overview of some recent attempts in this direction, and it offers a brief discussion of four families of scenarios for humanity’s future: extinction, recurrent collapse, plateau, and posthumanity.
Mindfulness meditation, one type of meditation technique, has been shown to enhance emotional awareness and psychological flexibility as well as induce well-being and emotional balance. Scientists have also begun to examine how meditation may influence brain functions. This talk will examine the effect of mindfulness meditation practice on the brain systems in which psychological functions such as attention, emotional reactivity, emotion regulation, and self-view are instantiated. We will also discuss how different forms of meditation practices are being studied using neuroscientific technologies and are being integrated into clinical practice to address symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Philippe is a research scientist and heads the Clinically Applied Affective Neuroscience group in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. He spent 6 years in India and Nepal studying various languages, Buddhist philosophy and debate at Namgyal Monastery and the Dialectic Monastic Institute, and serving as an interpreter for various Tibetan Buddhist lamas. He then returned to the U.S. to complete a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University. His NIH-funded clinical research focuses on (a) functional neuroimaging investigations of cognitive-affective mechanisms in adults with anxiety disorders, (b) comparing the effects of mindfulness meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy on brain-behavior correlates of emotional reactivity and regulation, and (c) training children in family and elementary school settings in mindfulness skills to reduce anxiety and enhance compassion, self-esteem and quality of family interactions.
“Anthropologist Helen Fisher studies love: its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its vital importance to human society. She outlines the three stages of love (lust, infatuation and long-term attachment), shedding light on eternal questions like why we love, and why we cheat. She also discusses the natural talents of women, and their new significance in the modern world. She ends with a warning about the widespread use of antidepressants—and a truly hilarious story of romantic pursuit.”
Jeriaska at the Future Current blog continues his service by transcribing the talks given at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies’ “Securing the Longevity Dividend” seminar in Chicago July 23, 2007. At that seminar the IEET’s George Dvorsky gave this talk on popular arguments for and against radical life extension.
If we are to begin building an international case for public multi-billion dollar investments in basic research towards the goal of anti-aging medicine we need to know how to answer dozens of public policy questions.
• Conceptualize pharmacological cognitive enhancers as part of a wider spectrum of ways of enhancing the cognitive performance of groups and individuals.
• Expand the disease-focused regulatory framework for drug approval into a health- or wellbeing-focused framework in order to facilitate the development and use of pharmaceutical cognitive enhancement of healthy adult individuals.
• Provide public funding for academic research into the safety and efficacy of cognitive enhancers, for the development of improved enhancers, and for epidemiological studies of the broader effects of long-term use.
• Increase public funding for research aimed at determining optimal nutrition for pregnant women and newborns to promote brain development.
• Disseminate information to the public about optimal pre- and perinatal nutrition.
IEET’s Giulio Prisco spoke to TFAY’s Stephen Euin Cobb about the prejudice and intolerance between immersionists and augmentationists. A virtual reality expert and consultant for companies wishing to use and benefit from many different VR platforms, Giulio describes what’s available now, and what will be available in the decades to come. From the current photorealistic graphics, to the total immersion through full sensory feedback directly wired into the human nervous system. He describes various VR platforms including Second Life and its competitors, as well as the possibility that all the platforms will become linked together into a unified whole, just as the internet was once many separate little nets that could not share content. [Running time: 79 minutes] (MP3)
Building powerfully advanced products quickly, easily, cheaply, and in huge numbers — that’s the disruptive impact of molecular manufacturing. When a new technology has the potential to radically transform national and global economies, geopolitical relations, and even human social structures, we’d better learn as much about it as we can. A critically important question to answer is who. Which nation, group, corporation, or consortium is most likely to achieve the “holy grail” of nanotechnology first?
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT), originally promulgated in 1968 and entering into force in 1970, has three key provisions: that nuclear weapon-free signatory states refrain from developing nuclear weapons; that signatory states with nuclear weapons work to disarm; and that signatory states remain free to develop nuclear energy technologies.