Recently the fight between the two transhumanist groups in Italy has spilled over onto English language blogs. One side is accused of harboring fascists, the other of being conservatives and closet Papists. I’ve asked one of the individuals at the center of the controversy, Stefano Vaj, to present a statement of his political stance here which will hopefully help clarify this very confusing and troubling situation.
I am often asked what is the single most important issue that needs to be resolved in order to insure that health care reform moves forward in America. The answer is actually quite simple. If the key reason to reform the health care system is to extend health insurance coverage to the tens of millions of Americans who have none, then all those promoting reform but especially President Obama must drive home the ethical position that health care is a right.
Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon welcome futurist George Dvorsky back to FastForward Radio to discuss the future of human enhancement and explore the mystery of whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. (MP3)
As a political theorist who works on issues that intersect the biological sciences and medicine, I frequently get puzzled looks when I tell students and colleagues I am working on aging and longevity science. Their puzzlement is understandable, as these topics do not currently receive much attention in the discipline.
Science and spirituality in Western civilization began to go their separate ways centuries ago, when astronomy, biology and other observational and experimental disciplines showed in no uncertain terms that the religious world-view inherited from the Bronze Age religions of the Middle East did not correspond to the world that could be measured. The Earth most definitely revolves around the Sun, and not the other way round.
Imagine a future where computers exceed our own intelligence; where problem solving is no longer limited by human thinking—what then? It’s a moment in technological time some call ‘The Singularity’. But how much is technological reality, and how much fantasy? Science writer Mike McRae catches up with AI researchers and sci-fi writers to ponder the possibilities and probabilities for the radio program All in the Mind. (MP3)
Professor Nick Bostrom
Director of the Future of Humanity Institute
Associate Professor Marcus Hutter
Research School of Information Sciences and Engineering
Australian National University
Professor Noel Sharkey
Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
University of Sheffield
Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation
Australian Government Department of Defence
Richard K. Morgan
Science fiction author
We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Arthur Caplan, one of the world’s foremost bioethicists, has agreed to serve on the IEET’s Board of Trustees. The other current member of the Board is Martine Rothblatt. We are in the process of gathering a few more members for this body to help the IEET establish a serious philanthropic base, and promote our technoprogressive policy options in the marketplace of ideas.
Would a person whose immune system starts declining after puberty, and finally gives up before 123, be normal? This statement largely sums up my transhumanist view that “normal” is misunderstood. The physiological (cognitive and the somatic) state of human existence “normality” ought to be a state of enhancement.
How critical are you of transhumanist assumptions? Are you convinced that uploading human personalities to computers is possible? Do you believe that some people currently preserved cryonically will be successfully revived? Is a technological singularity inevitable?
We have had more ability to increase our physical functionality in the last 25 years than in the last 2500 years combined. What’s coming next, and how do we handle the complicated ethical questions that arise? Two rabbis engage in an interesting conversation with IEET Managing Director Mike Treder.
2006, Trailer. (NYU).
Director/Writer/Editor: Jonathan Sanden
Producers: Jonathan Sanden and Alexis Ward
Director of Photography: Chris J. Lytwyn
Cast: Gregory Waller, Austen Cooke, Clare Stevenson, Gene Morra, Ralph DeMatthews.
From Ponce de Leon to Dorian Gray and beyond, the quest to halt aging has been one of the key sources of legend and imaginative literature. “I first became interested in the subject,” says filmmaker Jonathan Sanden, “because it’s such a fundamental human yearning that has been explored throughout all art, literature, and religion: the fear of death and the desire to live forever.” In Sanden’s film Extropy, a geneticist whose own father is succumbing to Alzheimer’s believes he had discovered a way to stop the aging process. He turns to an eccentric businessman to fund his endeavor, but with time running out for his father, begins testing his discovery on himself.
Says Sanden of his film, “I wanted to explore the idea of viewing aging as a disease (which some people do as part of a movement known as transhumanism). Biological aging is partly the result of wear and tear, but it is still controlled by a precise genetic mechanism (or mechanisms) which means that there might be a way to influence it or even control it.”
In particular, says Sanden, telomeres, the “sections of DNA on the ends of each chromosome” may “be one of the core causes of the aging process, and research is being conducted today to explore the regenerative implications of this.” In the course of his research for the film, Sanden met with a Yale geneticist “who is attempting to use telomerase-based gene therapy to regenerate damaged tissue.”
Sanden was as influenced by current debates on the limits of science as much as he was by contemporary genetic research. “What will be the limit of our ability to control our own biology with technology - if there is any?” he asks, “How are we going to morally and ethically evaluate this limit, and then how do we enforce those decisions?” And certainly the intersection of advances and ethics is represented by another subject of the film, the 1990s biotech boom with the merger of science and industry.
Before becoming a filmmaker, the Connecticut-born Sanden was pursuing the field of genetics. A number of short films made as undergraduate at New York University led him to graduate work in film at the school. Extropy, his senior thesis, “brought me back to the world of genetics. At a time when a lot of popular culture seems so trite,” says the filmmaker, “and amazing discoveries in technology, medicine, and genetics that are changing the world seem to be overlooked or ignored by the popular culture and media, I was moved to make a film that embraced realistic scientific material.”
We are 37th! We are 37th! No, this is not the cheer to be heard this week at a Notre Dame football pep rally. Rather, it is, according to the last rankings done by the World Health Organization, the chant appropriate for the U.S. health care system. What does the rest of the world know that we don’t?
There are many different ways to arrive at a list of the top priorities a society should set for itself. One could set priorities based on the intuitions or “gut instincts” people happen to have at any given time. Or, alternatively, one could base priorities on the empirical data we have concerning what harms individuals and societies and what the magnitude of the benefits of mitigating such harms would be. I prefer the latter approach.
Dr. J. chats with Zack Lynch, author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World, and founder of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization. They discuss the coming “neurosociety,” in which every part of life - work, commerce, law, relationships, recreation, religion, war - will be reshaped by neurotechnologies. Part 2 of 2. (First half here.)
Dr. J. chats with Zack Lynch, author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World, and founder of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization. They discuss the coming “neurosociety,” in which every part of life - work, commerce, law, relationships, recreation, religion, war - will be reshaped by neurotechnologies. Part 1 of 2. (Second half here.)