There is an unbelievable essay written - in apparent sincerity - by my colleague John C. Wright (a pretty good author, by the way), in which he asserts that the long darkness called feudalism was admirable, and that - by dismal contrast - we now live in an age that is benighted by crudely materialistic modernity and a shabby shallowness of the soul.
So, apparently there’s an Adderall drought going on the United States. Adderall is a prescription med that is used by people suffering from attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy. It’s also being increasingly used as an off-label cognitive enhancer and for recreational purposes (which I’ll get to in just a little bit).
“As an artist, I can appreciate precedent representation and objecthood crises at the cite and sight of artistic collage and assemblage. As a transhumanist, however, I’m cognizant that artistic collage and assemblage will look like mere speed bumps when compared to the transubstrationality to be encountered near a singularity spike.”
Dr. J. chats with Christian Miller, Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Character Project at Wake Forest University. They discuss the idea of virtue and moral character and its relationship to moral philosophy, personality theory, religion and neuroscience. Part 2 of 2. Also Dr. J. finishes his chat with Ted Chiang about his Hugo award winning novella “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” and the state of science fiction. (Part 2 of 2)
Dr. J. chats with Christian Miller, Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Character Project at Wake Forest University. They discuss the idea of virtue and moral character and its relationship to moral philosophy, personality theory, religion and neuroscience. Part 1 of 2.
Human morality is older than our current religions, and may go back to tendencies observable in other mammals. In a bottom-up view of morality, this talk is one man’s road to discovering an array of positive tendencies in animals at a time when competition and aggression were the only themes.
Randy Sarafan shows us how to build robots to serve the revolution:
Learning from the lessons of the 1%, I set forth to outsource our occupy-related labor to a robotic workforce. Robots obviously have many advantages over their human counterparts. For instance, robots never get tired, they don’t get cold, they don’t sleep, nor eat, don’t require tents, and when armed insurrection becomes necessary, robots are much more morally ambivalent. Additionally, we had a discussion with an unnamed member of the San Francisco police force and they confided in us that the police currently do not have any plan for dealing with robotic occupiers.
For all of those reasons and more, I present to you Occu(pi) Bot; the first in a promising line of tireless, unstoppable, robotic class warriors.
Learn how to make your own!
A few days ago, the famous comic book writer and illustrator Frank Miller issued a howl of hatred toward the young people in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Well, all right, that’s a bowdlerization. After reading even one randomly-chosen paragraph, I’m sure you’ll agree that “howl” understates the red-hot fury and scatalogical spew of Miller’s lavishly expressed hate: “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.”
Topics discussed in this week’s episode of Geoprge Dvorsky’s Sentient Development podcast include the benefits of creatine, Jared Diamond’s 1987 article on how agriculture was the “worst mistake in the history of the human race”, the current state of lab grown meats, computational pathology, a review of the documentary “How to Live Forever”, and a word (or two) on the pernicious de-radicalization of the radical future.
Tracks used in this episode:
Oneohtrix Point Never: “Replica”
The Advisory Circle: “Now Ends the Beginning”
Russian Circles: “309”
Hooray For Earth: “Pulling Back”
In this Sentient Developments Podcast George Dvorsky talks about octopus intelligence, the rise of wrongful birth suits in Israel and elsewhere, and the latest news and findings into autism. George reprises the talk he gave on designer psychologies at the H+ conference at Parson’s University in NYC earlier this year. Lastly, George discusses how religion works as a reproduction control system.
Music used in this episode:
“At Last” by Plaid
“Hours” by Tycho
“Ballad of Gloria Featherbottom” by Mux Mool
Enlightenment values presume an independent self, the rational citizen and consumer who pursues her self-interests. Since Hume, however, Enlightenment empiricists have questioned the existence of a discrete, persistent self. Today, continuing that investigation, neuroscience is daily eroding the essentialist model of personal identity. Transhumanism has yet to come to grips with the radical consequences of the erosion of the liberal individualist subject for projects of enhancement and longevity. Most transhumanist thought still reflects an essentialist idea of personal identity, even as we advance projects of radical cognitive enhancement that will change every element of consciousness. How do ethics and politics change if personal identity is an arbitrary, malleable fiction?
At the 2011 Adelaide Festival of Ideas Julian Savulescu argues we should be using science and technology for moral enhancement, and that the future of humanity depends on it. Julian is the Director of the Oxford Centers for Neuroethics, Practical Ethics, and Science and Ethics.
What are the ways our civilization might collapse, and how might the human race become extinct?
According to sociobiologist Rebecca Costa, the answers are all staring us straight in the face. Just look at current events. Costa writes in her book The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction that human existence is threatened by “a global recession, powerful pandemic viruses, terrorism, rising crime, climate change, rapid depletion of the earth’s resources, nuclear proliferation, and failing education.”
Fortunately, Costa argues we are remarkably equipped to counter these threats today, due to our current understanding of the “biological reasons for the ascension and decline of civilizations.” The problem, as Costa describes it, is that humans are governed by two clocks: the very slow-ticking clock of human evolution and the fast-accelerating clock of technological progress. The result of these two clocks not synching up is the human brain (and the public policy our brains generate) is unable to keep up with the complex environment around us. According to Costa, we’re then left with “paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.” Put all those in the blender, and look out!
So how do we stave off our collapse? The solution involves what Costa calls the most (surprisingly) controversial word in the English language: evolution. Costa asks why, if Charles Darwin’s theory is “the most important scientific principle governing life on earth,” we don’t utilize it as a relevant tool to solve our problems today? In other words, why is evolution “the greatest discovery you’ve never heard of?”
Dr. J. chats with Joseph Schwartz, Professor of Political Science at Temple University and author of The Future of Democratic Equality: Reconstructing Social Solidarity in a Fragmented United States. Prof. Schwartz is a long-time leader in the Democratic Socialists of America, the largest American socialist organization. Part 2 of 2.
Dr. J. chats with Joseph Schwartz, Professor of Political Science at Temple University and author of The Future of Democratic Equality: Reconstructing Social Solidarity in a Fragmented United States. Prof. Schwartz is a long-time leader in the Democratic Socialists of America, the largest American socialist organization. Part 1 of 2.
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In this episode of the Sentient Developments podcast George Dvorsky discusses primal transhumanism and the seemingly contradictory trend towards ancestral health that’s happening in the futurist community. To that end George addresses the paleo diet, functional fitness, and the importance of sleep. In the second half of the episode he discusses the recent lawsuit launched by PETA in which they accuse SeaWorld of enslaving orca whales. In this suit, PETA claims that the US Constitution backs up their claim as the 13th mention makes no mention of the kinds of persons it’s set up to protect.
Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he’s drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.
The NPR arts and culture show Studio 360 profiled Natasha and Greg Stock this week:
Everything we’re able to do today to enhance humans — from genetic engineering to artificial limbs — simply improves on the base model we were born with. But for some people, that doesn’t go far enough. They think we shouldn’t be stuck with the factory-installed settings in our DNA. And they’re not satisfied with a lifespan that tops out at 100 years.
Natasha Vita-More is an artist who imagines a future in which humans are freed from the constructs dictated by nature — a transhumanist. “It seems rather ridiculous that we back up our computers but as far as our minds are concerned, we just leave it up to whatever happens,” she says.
Among her early transhumanist-themed artworks is Primo Posthuman, a prototype human incorporating imagined — but potentially feasible — technological enhancement. The high concept computer-generated image looks a little like the instruction manual to The Bionic Woman, with replaceable genes, enhanced intelligence, and a lifespan listed as “ageless.” A label that points to the kneecap says, “Solar protected skin with tone-texture changeability.”