Like the popular TV series, sometimes the law is prescriptive, restricting human behavior, but it is also fluid and evolves, reflecting social norms. Solving recurrent problems, setting standards for desirable behavior, proclaiming symbolic expressions of communal values (such as autonomy and privacy), resolving disputes about facts, and such, are just some of the important functions which the law serves in our society. However, law is not the only domain that regulates behavior in our culture; morality, religion, social conventions, etiquette, moral and ethical values also guide human conduct in many ways which are similar in altering and shaping human performance. Technological advances in human enhancement will not only change social norms and conventions, but will challenge our current laws and our current legal systems.
Linda MacDonald Glenn is a bioethicist, healthcare educator, lecturer, consultant and attorney. Formerly a fellow with the Institute of Ethics of the American Medical Association, and current Women’s Bioethics Project Scholar, Linda Macdonald Glenn’s research encompasses the legal, ethical, and social impact of emerging technologies and evolving notions of personhood. Linda currently holds faculty appointments at the University Of Vermont College Of Nursing and Health Sciences, Department of Medical Laboratory and Radiation Sciences, and the University of Sciences in Philadelphia, Department of Biomedical Writing. An active lecturer, Linda has spoken at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Loyola University at Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School and various law schools. She has also addressed numerous public and professional groups internationally.
This presentation will study radical enhancement as a marketing challenge. We will start with the centuries-old tropes that make it a hard sell today, study positive models, then briefly outline what a marketing campaign for Transhumanism would look like. Western culture has been on an invisible, centuries-long campaign against the concept of human enhancement. The vision of a technologically-enhanced human being has been locked in mortal combat with Rousseaus Noble Savage and the concept of Man-As-God-Intended. The result is a conflict between our programmed fear of Frankensteins and our instinctive human fascination with knowledge, change, and increased power. This has produced a cultural stalemate: a zero-sum trope of enhancement and transhumanism where each advancement in capability must be met with an equal amount of tragedy and loss. From Adams expulsion from Eden to Robocops banishment from his own family, from the fall of Icarus to the Silver Surfers exile, cultural tropes have led us to believe that great gain must be accompanied by great loss. In the game of radical evolution, the winners must also be losers. While this presenter is agnostic about many Singularitarian and Transhumanist concepts, its clear were going to change a lot. How do advocates for significant change break down public resistance? And how can one overcome the more subtle age-old programming behind the zero-sum vision of what might be called Tragic Transhumanists, tormented heroes like Spiderman and Spawn? The surprising answer may come from the one aspect of modern culture where great power does not typically mean great loss: advertising. From Mr. Clean to the eSurance Saleslady, from the White Tornado to the guys in those Viagra ads, ad agencies have been modeling unambiguously powerful meta-humans as happy, well-adjusted success stories. With tongue only slightly in cheek, we discuss how guys with ED may represent one of several ways to market radical enhancement as a uniquely healthy and uniquely human endeavor.
Richard Eskow is a consultant with a background in IT, social science, health care, public policy, and long range planning. He pioneered the use of informatics to study and influence provider/patient behavior, helped lead national health transformation in several former Communist countries, and has had executive positions in several companies. His consulting projects typically involve systems development & marketing strategies (especially in health care), finance & insurance, public policy, or related issues. Richard’s also a writer who covers health, politics, religion, and pop culture. He has been published in a number of print and online venues, and was anthologized in Best Buddhist Writing of 2008.
In creating, publishing, and promoting Eclipse Phase we wanted to make a product that made an deliberate effort to engage with explicitly transhumanist and political themes but would deal with these issues in a way that complete novices to them would be able to grok. I’ll discuss some of the issues that we encountered in making a game with an agenda, how we tried to make complicated transhuman and ethical issues interesting to play with, and some of the complications that have arisen since the game was published.
Brian Cross is co-founder of Posthuman Studios, co-creator of Eclipse Phase a transhuman roleplaying game, and a sociologist researching the effects of new technologies on the law and politics.
Jamais Cascio (openthefuture.com) is a Senior Fellow of the IEET. He writes about the intersection of emerging technologies and cultural transformation, and specializes in the design and creation of plausible scenarios of the future. His work focuses on the relationships between disparate forces and systems, and the importance of long-term, systemic thinking, particularly regarding the environment and technological development. In 2003, he co-founded WorldChanging.com, the award-winning website dedicated to finding and calling attention to models, tools and ideas for building a “bright green” future. His articles at WorldChanging covered topics including energy and the environment, global development, open source technologies, and catalysts for social change. Foreign Policy magazine named Jamais one of the top 100 “global thinkers” of 2009.
We are all descended from the harems of kings, who somehow talked other men into fighting to preserve aristocracy. How did those kings and priests and bards manage such a spectacular trick, over and over again… and is there any chance of escaping that cycle? Does it start with telling Joseph Campbell to shove off, and reclaiming the art of storytelling for the people? For progress and freedom?
David Brin is a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages.
The New York City screening will be followed by a live panel discussion which will be simulcast to venues screening the film nationwide and will stream live online.
Dr. Robert Butler, Gerontologist, Psychiatrist & Pulitzer-Prize Winner; President and CEO of the International Longevity Center
Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Biomedical Gerontologist; Chief Science Officer, SENS Foundation
Dr. Leonard P. Guarente, Novartis Professor of Biology, MIT; Director, Paul F. Glenn Lab for Science of Aging
Dr. Gordon Lithgow, Biomolecular Geneticist; Head of the Lithgow Lab, Buck Institute on Aging
Moderated by Robert Kane Pappas, director of TO AGE OR NOT TO AGE
The scientists featured in TO AGE OR NOT TO AGE have found the means to postpone and possibly mitigate diseases tied to aging, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and diabetes. Genes that control aging, among them SIRT2/SIRT1 genes, when altered, may, as a side effect, increase our lifespans.
New York City, NY USA
With the search and rescue efforts officially called off in Haiti, the time has come for reconstruction. But with nearly 200,000 dead and one in nine Haitians currently homeless, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and lose sight of the primary lesson learned from the catastrophe. That poverty kills. And it kills big time.
Digital Nation – Doug Rushkoff’s new PBS documentary – airs Tuesday February 2 on PBS
Doug will be hosting a series of roundtable discussions following each broadcast. One per month, with invited guests and running commentary from the viewing audience. The above clip – Patrick Stewart on Twitter, the iPhone, and his passion for gaming – is not in the show. But it is an example of the kind of conversations and guests Doug will be having in the Roundtables – both by text and video.
So please, go to pbsdigitalnation.org after the show and share your thoughts with the people who were in it, see the discussion in progress, and push the participants to go deeper. Most important, suggest topics and guests – including yourself – you’d like to see on there.
For past 100 years—from the tail end of the industrial revolution, through the chemicals revolution and into the digital revolution—we have been passive observers of our effects on the planet. Over the next 100 years, we will need to take an active role in managing these effects if we are to avoid potentially catastrophic impacts on large numbers of the world’s population.
Humanity is devoting some of its best minds, from a wide diversity of fields, to helping software achieve consciousness. The quest is not especially difficult as it is a capability that can be intelligently designed; there is no need to wait for it to naturally evolve.
Are there no ethical principles we can share to help guide our colonization of outer space? If not, then how do we deal with some of the fundamental questions that govern such work? For instance, what obligations do we owe to the various life forms we send there, or those we might discover? Can we develop a more considerate approach to colonizing outer space than we were able to achieve for various sectors of Earth?
Associating the Enlightenment with abstract reasoning runs smack up against what should be considered the Enlightenment’s greatest insight—that humans are inherently delusional beings, able to talk ourselves into anything at all.
In her book A History of God, Karen Armstrong notes that atheistic ideologies can lead to atrocities as readily as theologies. But then she smears Nietzsche by repeating the falsehood that he was somehow an inspiration for Nazism, and that his atheism somehow contributed to Nazi atrocities. The accusation is an insult not just to Nietzsche but to the victims of the Holocaust.
Transhumanists, like Enlightenment partisans in general, believe that human nature can be improved but are conflicted about whether liberal democracy is the best path to betterment. The liberal tradition within the Enlightenment has argued that individuals are best at finding their own interests and should be left to improve themselves in self-determined ways. But many people are mistaken about their own best interests, and more rational elites may have a better understanding of the general good. Enlightenment partisans have often made a case for modernizing monarchs and scientific dictatorships. Transhumanists need to confront this tendency to disparage liberal democracy in favor of the rule by dei ex machina and technocratic elites.
Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling was positive in one respect: it made law out of what was already happening. While corporations earned “personhood” back in the 1860’s when a court clerk (likely bribed) added this language into the margins of another court decision, they never quite had the rights of citizenship before. They already write our laws (through lobbies) elect our leaders (with money) and create public opinion (with money and PR). If you’re interested in how and why that happened, please read my book Life Inc. But they have always tended to do so by working around government’s efforts to limit their influence.
Over a single generation, the Web and digital media have remade nearly every aspect of modern culture, transforming the way we work, learn and connect in ways that we’re only beginning to understand. FRONTLINE producer Rachel Dretzin (Growing Up Online) teams up with one of the leading thinkers of the digital age, IEET Fellow Douglas Rushkoff (The Persuaders, Merchants of Cool), to continue to explore life on the virtual frontier.