Assuming we reach the middle of this century without destroying civilization in nano wars, bio wars, nuclear wars, or something else, and assuming that global climate chaos has not reduced us to a nasty, brutish remnant of what we are today, then how and where will we choose to live? In floating ocean cities, in space, undersea, or on land in towering mega-structures?
Find it hard to motivate yourself to exercise or read Joyce’s Ulysses? What if you could toggle your brain chip to get more pleasure from virtuous, good-for-you activities than you do from watching television and goofing off on Facebook? IEET contributor Chris Harris points out that we need to start asking that question already.
In the latter part of this episode of the NPR program To The Best of Our Knowledge the IEET’s J. Hughes talks with Steve Paulson about the Cyborg Buddha vision and transhumanism. The first parts of the show feature Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop Per Child; musicians DJ Spooky and Gregg Gillis; open source theorist Lawrence Lessig; video game designer Jason Rohrer; psychologist of human-computer interaction Sherry Turkle. (MP3)
On the final episode of NPR’s Day to Day Joel Kotkin, who studies metropolitan development and urban planning, talks with Madeleine Brand about how people might be arranging their lives in the coming five years. And author Jamais Cascio talks with Alex Cohen about where technology might take us. (MP3) (Stream)
[Warning: contains spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica series finale] After five years, Battlestar Galactica finally brought itself to a close with a finale that did not disappoint. In the IEET’s poll, you were divided between whether the series was biocon or transhumanist, or whether we should wait for the end to determine its biopolitics. The final episode had both bioconservative and more technoprogressive elements, but after two hours it was quite refreshing to see some of our modern biopolitical issues quite explicitly addressed in the final five minutes.
To achieve our goals for the future, technoprogressives should accept that capitalism, properly managed and regulated, can be a powerful force for good, and we also must regain a deep sense of optimism and historical vision.
Science fiction writer, scientist and renowned futurist David Brin will be guest blogging at George Dvorsky’s Sentient Developments next week. Brin is a best-selling author whose future-oriented novels include Earth and Hugo Award winners Startide Rising and The Uplift War (a part of the Uplift Series—and yes, he coined the term “uplift”).
We’ve been very interested in the biopolitical content of Battlestar Galactica (BSG) which concludes its final season tomorrow night, Friday March 20. Ben Scarlato has written an excellent series of biopolitical reflections on every BSG episode of this last season, and then we did a talk together on the bioethics of the show for the Hartford Ethics Group. In our recently concluded IEET poll you all were very divided about whether the show reflected more bioconservative or transhumanist themes, or whether we would just have to wait for the conclusion to make an assessment.
I’ve been writing about geoengineering since 2005, and have even published a short book on the subject (Hacking the Earth), looking primarily at the ethics and politics of the issue. The political aspects are, in my view, the most important, yet they’ve received little attention.
Below is a transcription of the talk I gave last year at the IEET’s symposium on Building a Resilient Civilization. The title of my presentation was: “Democracy in danger: Catastrophic threats and the rise of political extremism.”
Academics at Britain’s first conference on the psychology of climate change argued that the greatest obstacles to action are not technical, economic or political—they are the denial strategies that we adopt to protect ourselves from unwelcome information.
Abstract: This paper examines how ‘surveillance medicine’ (Armstrong 1995) has expanded the realm of the medical gaze via its infiltration of cyberspace, where specific features of healthism are now present. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of biopower, we examine how digital health resources offer new ways through which to discipline individuals and regulate populations. The emergence of health regulation within and through cyberspace takes place in a context wherein the relationship between the body and technology is rendered more complex. Departing from early literature on cyberspace, which claimed that the body was absent in virtual worlds, we articulate a medicalized cyberspace within which the virtual and corporeal are enmeshed.
(With Jeanann Boyce) Legal institutions must try to avoid getting blinded by the hype and inappropriately sweeping in—and perhaps over-regulating—of both the novel and the mundane applications of this still relatively young technology. As nanotechnology progresses, and both humans and nonhumans receive therapeutic benefits and enhancements, it will be up to the policy makers, courts, and legal profession to delineate societal guidelines for regulation and privacy, as well as to determine individual culpability and responsibility.
“One cannot be coherently religious and scientific at the same time. That alleged synthesis requires that with one part of your brain you accept only those things that are tested and supported by agreed-upon evidence, logic, and reason, while with the other part of your brain you accept things that are unsupportable or even falsified. In other words, the price of philosophical harmony is cognitive dissonance.”
Hollywood horror flicks have captivated us with alien blobs, but the slime slithering on our own planet is as beguiling. From microscopic machines to life on ocean floors, new research reveals how essential slime is to life on Earth, and possibly other worlds. Plus, will nano-built slime—aka Gray Goo—threaten us in the future?
Athlete, actor and activist Aimee Mullins talks about her prosthetic legs—she’s got a dozen amazing pairs—and the super-powers they grant her: speed, beauty, an extra 6 inches of height ... Quite simply, she redefines what the body can be. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes.
Because I’m not reflexively opposed to geoengineering research, and because I increasingly suspect that some level of albedo-management geoengineering will be necessary simply due to climate disruption happening faster than previously expected, some people tend to assume that I’m a geoengineering advocate. I’m not—but as I’ve noted before, I do believe that it would be less disastrous than climate-driven depopulation. Nonetheless, geoengineering is all-but-certain to have undesirable consequences, both politically (see next post) and environmentally.
[Warning: contains spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica episode Daybreak, Part 1] When forced to choose between who should live and who should die, how should one take into account the ages and potentials of the people involved?
Though some areas of Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), such as stem cells and amyloid immunotherapy, are sufficiently mainstream not to need Methuselah Foundation funding, most are still relative backwaters that rely on the MF to progress. IEET fellow gives an overview of the research projects that the MF is now funding, their significance to SENS, and their potential to lead to accelerated progress towards the defeat of aging in 2009 and beyond.