Your relationship is on the rocks. Begrudgingly, you and your significant other visit a marriage counselor in the hopes that there’s still something left to salvage in your relationship. You both spill your guts and admit that the love is gone. The counselor listens attentively, nodding her head every now and then in complete understanding. At the end of the session she offers the two of you some practical words of advice and sees you on your way. Oh, but before you leave she fills out a prescription for the two of you. Your marriage, it would seem, has been placed on meds.
Today I want to talk about three broad categories: Synthetic or engineered medical research or treatments, biological (DNA) research and procedures, and various transplants that have been performed or are being researched.
Transhumanism is a big, complicated, sprawling idea. The central concept – that humans can be made better with technology – touches on a lot of hopes and fears about the future of humanity. Though I’m always going on about how great human enhancement could be, I’ve got my fair share of fears myself. But my fears are probably way different than many of your fears. But how in the world can we represent those concerns? As it turns out, I’ve found a pretty good set of archetypes that represent our hopes and fears: Marvel Comic’s Avengers.
Did you hear? There’s now cold, hard research confirming what the Dilbert set have long known: meetings make you stupid. What’s more, being ranked or assigned a status within a group can have a particularly pernicious effect on our grey matter. A new study—led by a team of researchers at California Institute of Technology with four other institutions—found that IQs can drop precipitously in group settings.
Recently, a Sri Lankan woman was arrested by Saudi authorities for witchcraft. A man accused this woman of casting a spell on a 13 year old girl during a family shopping trip. He complained to the police that the girl ‘started acting in an abnormal way’ after a close contact with the woman in a shopping mall in the port city of Jeddah. According to news reports, the accused woman is currently in police custody in Saudi Arabia. If pressure is not brought on Saudi authorities to spare the life of this ‘innocent’ woman, she may be executed by beheading any moment from now.
Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Angela studies non-IQ competencies that predict success both academically and professionally. Her research populations have included West Point cadets, National Spelling Bee finalists, novice teachers, salespeople, and students.
There is more and more, and often positive, coverage of mind uploading and cybernetic immortality in the press, and it appears that leaving biology behind and becoming cyber angels is an idea whose time has come.
Do you want to live forever? Many people - perhaps the majority - Do Not. People who want to die on the current schedule, like sheep led to slaughter at culling time, offer several reasons for their capitulation. One reason is their fear that Eternal Life Might Be Boring. These “Deathists” worry that existence without Abysmal Oblivion lurking ahead, terrifying us into alertness… would render us comatose with ennui.
TopTenz.net selected IEET as #1 non-profit in the category, “Straight Outta Science Fiction.” The website touts IEET as the best organization to fund if you want to “fight Terminators by making yourself into an immortal cyborg…” NPOs trailing IEET include the Mormon Transhumanist Association (#5), Humanity+ (#6), and the Singularity Institute (#8).
Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield, Matthew Flinders, argues for a shift from the bland and fatalistic ‘politics of pessimism’ that appears to dominate public life, towards a more buoyant and engaged ‘politics of optimism’.
All buildings today have something in common: They are made using Victorian technologies. This involves blueprints, industrial manufacturing and construction using teams of workers. All this effort results in an inert object, which means there is a one–way transfer of energy from our environment into our homes and cities. This is not sustainable.
The claim that robots are taking our jobs has become so commonplace of late that it’s a bit of a cliché. Nonetheless, it has a strong element of truth to it. Not only are machines taking “blue collar” factory jobs—a process that’s been underway for years, and no longer much of a surprise except when a company like Foxconn announces it’s going to bring in a million robots (which are less likely to commit suicide, apparently)—but now mechanized/digital systems are quickly working their way up the employment value chain.
Since the arrival of the internet innumerable lists have been made of the greatest science fiction films of all time, and reading them has provided a pretty good indication of how diverse and multi-faceted the genre is. As countdowns like these will always be essentially personal and subjective assessments on form, theme, cinematic style and general aesthetic appreciation, it’s an almost foregone conclusion that drawing up such lists entails waiting for the wave of criticism, scorn, refutations, approval and ambivalence which inevitably follow. Well I happily cry ‘bring it on!’
Why doesn’t everyone get excited about transhumanism? Why aren’t all people fascinated by augmented and virtual reality, radical life-extension, brain-uploading, and The Singularity? This essay is the first in a series of articles, entitled “The Casual Transhuman” - it will examine h+ topics from the layman’s perspective and give suggestions on how transhumanists can spread their ideas without looking like crackpots to the world-at-large.
There’s an ongoing debate among neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and even philosophers as to whether or not we could ever construct or reverse engineer the human brain. Some suggest it’s not possible, others argue about the best way to do it, and still others have already begun working on it.
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West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
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Email: hank @ ieet.org