The coincidental overlap of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks offers us an opportunity to think broadly about how we handle disasters and other crises.
Mike Treder writes: Kim Hill is one of the best known and most respected interviewers in New Zealand. I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on her nationally-aired radio program yesterday morning. She asked excellent questions, and it was obvious that she had done her homework. You can listen to the 23-minute interview here and then let us know what you think.
Abstract In an earlier issue of this journal, Veraart et al. provided a review of the state of the art of xenotransplantation: the use of living animal-derived cells, tissues and organs for transplantation in humans. In this paper, we wish to update the progress and barriers of its use as a clinical therapy. A brief overview of the history of xenotransplantation reveals the greatest barrier to clinical success: hyperacute rejection, a complement-mediated response to the source animal tissue that results in the destruction of xenografts within minutes. In the past decade, great progress has been made in countering this form of rejection, but further success is thwarted by the gradual awareness of subsequent processes of rejection and physiological incompatibilities. Nonetheless, reluctance to move forward to the clinic is predominantly related to the fear that xenotransplantation will unleash a new infectious disease in the prospective recipient and his or her surroundings. Animal breeders and caretakers play an important role in ensuring that the use of the source animals for this emerging therapy does not generate a xenozoonotic pandemic.
Melvin McLeod edited Mindful Politics: A Buddhist Guide to Making the World a Better Place, a collection of dozens of essays by Buddhists on politics. Melvin McLeod is the editor-in-chief of The Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: A Practitioner’s Quarterly. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Scientists and philosophers gathered in Helsinki last week for
TransVision, a conference about ‘enhancing’ humans. Kerri Smith talks to
Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the
University of Oxford, UK, about what’s on the table.
There are many meanings of the word cosmopolitan. In a philosophical sense, it can refer to the concept of a world citizen (from the Greek, kosmos + politês). The school of thought that supports this idea is sometimes called cosmopolitanism.
A 2005 survey, reported in Science, of people in 32 countries asked about whether the statement “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals” was true, false or “not sure.” The US was the second lowest nation in belief in evolution, right above Turkey.
Aubrey de Grey talks with the Speculist about SENS, The Methuselah Mouse Prize, and the SENS Challenge. They also get into why people try to make aging out to be a good thing and potential career options for the very long-lived. Plus they look at the recent news that people seem to be living longer and healthier lives and how some have responded to these developments.
The seminar was well attended with guests from the media, academia, and government. Dr. Hughes explained the emerging biopolitical divisions in US and European politics, and the odd alliances that this new terrain generates around questions like human enhancement. The fact that both a libertarian and a leftist thinktank would both like Dr. Hughes’ book Citizen Cyborg enough to co-sponsor their first event together is evidence of the important contribution that the IEET’s technoprogressive perspective is making in the debates over emerging technologies.
Here at the IEET we are very excited about a new initiative being launched by the gerontologist Jay Olshansky, in alliance with many people around the world, to get governments to commit to anti-aging research. (You may remember our helping to promote a similar initiative last year: http://cureaging.org/ )
The simple logic of the argument is captured by Olshansky et al.‘s phrase “longevity dividend,” the amount of money that future pension and health systems will be able to save if we can all stay younger and healthier longer. Not to mention the added vigor of economies if more seniors are able to stay engaged with their careers, and if their loved ones can spend less of their work, family and personal lives in exhausting care-giving. Or just that extra healthy years would simply be a blessing for us all.
See this article from the Scientist for a fuller elaboration of the Longevity Dividend concept:
And this is the appeal:
Dr. Olshansky and his colleagues are looking for endorsements from people with institutional affiliations, to be presented at an event on Capitol Hill on September 12, 2006. If you are willing to endorse the attached appeal please send Jay
your name, your degree(s), and your affiliation.
James Hughes Ph.D.
Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Editor, Journal of Evolution and Technology
Williams 229B, Trinity College 300 Summit St., Hartford CT 06106
Tomorrow, on August 14, Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh will be giving a presentation about the welfare of apes in captivity at a conference oraganized by the Animal Behavior Society. Savage-Rumbaugh, who is a lead scientist at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa (a world-class research center dedicated to studying the behavior and intelligence of great apes), is the first and only scientist doing language research with bonobos.
The state declares that if you’re a citizen and you’ve reached the age of consent, you can vote. That’s a pretty liberal and sweeping allowance. There’s a general assumption of personhood; other factors, like level of education, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., are irrelevant. So, when it comes to uplifted animals, citizenship and the right to vote can’t be tied into their “species,” or other superfluous characteristics that we ourselves don’t invoke as reasons for not allowing a person to vote.
In between teaching gigs I’ve been working on two book projects this summer, one a revision of my dissertation Pancryptics: Technological Transformations of the Subject of Privacy and the other a manuscript currently called Progress Is the Great Work: Democratic Technodevelopmental Social Struggle Beyond Technophilia and Technophobia, A Technoprogressive Primer. The acorn from which the latter mighty mighty oak hopeth soon to spring is a text I blogged ages ago on Amor Mundi and have revised and expanded many times since, all the while vacuuming in bits and pieces that mattered to me from many other blog-posts and assorted writings I’ve generated along the way. I’m posting the latest (and lastish) revision here, in the hopes that it might generate useful comments and criticisms. Any folks out there who might want to volunteer for the exquisite torture of reading the much longer manuscript in progress, e-mail me and tell me so.
Phil Collins is a Christian conspiracist who thinks the Bush administration is part of the ancient, global oligarchical conspiracy to establish socialist world government. He writes at conspiracyarchive.com and is author of The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship.
Futurism is as much a way of thinking as it is a business process. It’s a recognition that the present has consequences, and that decisions we make now can have unexpected results down the road. Futurism forces us to look at the big picture, the interplay of myriad actions that may not appear related in the moment, but could cross paths in the weeks and years to come. Futurism is most assuredly not prediction; instead, it’s an attempt to inject a bit of wisdom into our choices, be they personal, political, economic or environmental.
What I find so annoying, or amusing, depending on my mood, about the bioconservative opposition to emerging technologies, such as genetic enhancement, is the moralistic, self-righteous tone. Much of the opposition to emerging technologies depends on an intellectually unacceptable valorisation of the natural, as if smallpox, starvation, and violent death from the fangs and claws of large predators are good things because they are our aspects of our natural condition. We are repeatedly told that there is some mysterious moral worth attaching to the human genome in its currently-evolved state, or to the biological processes of reproduction as we have known them. The prose that emerges from Leon Kass reads as if it should be intoned through the nose (to borrow a phrase from Ezra Pound that was less apt in its original context). To date, any attempt at sensible debate has been almost useless because it just leads to more expressions of smug self-righteousness.
Morphological freedom designates a right of human beings either to maintain or to modify their own bodies, on their own terms, through informed, nonduressed, consensual recourse to, or refusal of, available remedial or modification medicine.
The politics of morphological freedom is a commitment to the value, standing, and social legibility of the widest possible (and an ever-expanding) variety of desired morphologies and lifeways. More specifically, morphological freedom is an expression of liberal pluralism, secular progressive cosmopolitanism, or (post)humanist multiculturalisms applied to an era disruptive planetary technoscientific change, and especially to the ongoing and palpably upcoming transformation of the understanding of medical practice from one of conventional remedy to one of consensual self-creation, via genetic, prosthetic, and cognitive modification.
There are various conclusions we might draw from the recent high-profile doping cases involving Floyd Landis and Justin Gatlin but the obvious one is not that the battle on doping is being won. The logic of public relations requires that anti-doping authorities use high-profile positive tests as evidence of their successes; it is for this reason that we cannot be seduced by their rhetoric.
Abstract: Recent advances in the technology of creating chimeras have evoked controversy in policy debates. At centre of controversy is the fear that a substantial contribution of human cells or genes in crucial areas of the animal’s body may at some point render the animal more humanlike than any other animals we know today. Authors who have commented on or contributed to policy debates specify that chimeras which would be too humanlike would have an altered moral status and threaten our notion of ‘human dignity’. This setting offers a productive opportunity to test the notion of human dignity and to emphasize some of its weaknesses as an ethical tool. Limiting chimerism experiments on the basis of whether or not it undermines or challenges human dignity implies a clear demarcation of those characteristics which are typically, and importantly, human. Evidence of our evolutionary ties and behavioral similarities with other animals seem to annul all attempts to define the uniquely human properties to which human dignity may be attributed. Hence, it has been suggested that the particular moral status associated with humans cannot be explained for beyond an intuitive basis. In what follows, we will argue that the difficulties inherent in the notion of human dignity lie not in the impossibility to acquire a list of properties which are unique to humans, but rather in the difficulty to demonstrate the moral relevance of these properties, and particularly the relevance of their being human. We offer an alternative interpretation of the concept of dignity which is not necessarily related to being human.
Tom Horn is a conservative Christian conspiracist who believes that biotech may be paving the way for the re-creation of angel-human hybrids or “nephilim,” and that Bush is controlled by demons. Horn runs raidersnewupdate.com and his novel The Ahriman Gate is a cross between Left Behind, Stargate, the X-Files and Lovecraft.