Not too long ago I decided to add on a digital video recording unit to my home cable system. I don’t watch all that much television, but for the few programs that did interest me, or that I at least wanted to try out, having to be home at a certain time or programming my clumsy old VCR was wearying. DVR seemed the way to go.
Fewer than one in eight of those who responded to a recently concluded IEET poll are confident that emerging technologies will easily be able to manage climate change. Almost three-fourths of our readers say that urgent steps should be taken to replace fossil fuels and/or prepare mitigation strategies.
The nerd echo chamber is reverberating this week with the furious debate over Charlie Stross’ doubts about the possibility of an artificial “human-level intelligence” explosion – also known as the Singularity.
Our future depends on the outcome of a three-way race between: 1) the development and implementation of emerging technologies; 2) the evolution of improved methods of governance; and 3) systemic breakdowns in the world economy and the global ecosystem.
Professor Renata Salecl explores the paralyzing anxiety and dissatisfaction surrounding limitless choice. Does the freedom to be the architects of our own lives actually hinder rather than help us? Does our preoccupation with choosing and consuming actually obstruct social change?
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond is a world-renowned expert on ancient societies. His now famous book, Collapse, is a study of the choices societies have made throughout history in the face of change—climate change, as well as others—and the consequences of such choices.
Dr. J. chats with Timothy Taylor, lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Bradford, and author of The Prehistory of Sex, The Buried Soul: How Humans Invented Death, and The Artificial Ape: How Technology Changed the Course of Human Evolution. They discuss the role of baby slings, tools, meat and language in the evolution of human intelligence. Part 1 of 2.
Police are waging a futile war against camera-toting citizens. In several states, you can be arrested for filming police, even in a public place. With cameras growing ever smaller, conflicts are going to arise more and more often. There can only be one outcome. Police are just going to have to get used to it.
Dying is a touchy subject. Euthanasia makes people upset. Whichever side of the debate you are on, you are caught between the hard place of human suffering and the rock of informed autonomous free choice.
Dr. J. chats with Braden R. Allenby, Professor of Engineering and Ethics, and Founding Chair of the Consortium for Emerging Technologies, Military Operations, and National Security, at Arizona State University. Dr. Allenby is author of The Theory and Practice of Sustainable Engineering, and The Techno-Human Condition, co-authored with Dan Sarewitz. They discuss the different levels at which the risks and benefits of human enhancement technologies should be assessed.
From the RadioLab site: Can a machine have a life of its own? Last year, Jon Ronson got an assignment from GQ to interview robots. He soon found himself in Vermont, sitting across from what’s purported to be the world’s most sentient robot: Bina48. Bina48 is modeled after an entirely human woman named Bina Rothblatt, whose partner Martine Rothblatt commissioned a robot capable of capturing the real Bina’s essesence and bringing it to life. If Bina48 succeeds, Jon explains that it will mark the third time one of Martine’s ideas has changed the world. David Hanson, Bina48’s creator, argues that robots like Bina48 will be so lifelike within his lifetime that we’ll be unable to distinguish them from real humans. In the meantime, Jon experiences one profound moment with Bina48 that hints at what the future may have in store.
Also see New York Times reporter Amy Harmon’s interview with Bina48.
The current big thing is the tablet computer, but as with anything in tech, this won’t last forever. At some point there will undoubtedly be some new technology that will make the tablet, and consequently everything before it, obsolete. Tech analyst Chris Pirillo offers his insights on what’s coming next.
On January 5, 2008, the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) held an Open Program on Debating Animals as Legal Persons as part of the AALS annual conference. Defining personhood for purposes of allocating legal rights is a highly problematic endeavor. Nonhuman animals, although sentient beings, are treated as property under the law. They are legal things and thus excluded from legal personhood. This session explored the legal and normative basis for personhood and why nonhuman animals have been excluded from its ambit.
Designer psychologies, or customized cognitive processing modalities, describes the potential for future individuals to selectively alter the specific and unique ways in which they take in, analyze and perceive the world. Cognitive modalities are the psychological frameworks that allow for person-to-person variances in subjectivity, including such things as emotional responses, social engagement, aesthetics and prioritization. The day is coming when we’ll be able to decide for ourselves how it is exactly that we want to process our world.
Wendell Wallach, a lecturer and consultant at Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics—and recently appointed as an IEET Fellow—has emerged as one of the leading voices on technology and ethics.