As we prepare for the emergence of the next generation of apocalyptic weapons, it needs to be acknowledged that the world’s democracies are set to face their gravest challenge yet as viable and ongoing political options.
A new economic superpower undermines established economic leaders. The collapse of complex financial instruments turn a boom into a bust. Banks fail in waves. Unemployment reaches up to 25% in some areas. A global depression holds on for more than two decades. Class warfare breaks out. Transportation networks stall—along with industries dependent upon them—as the main “fuel” for transportation disappears. Pandemic disease exacts a terrible toll. Religious fundamentalism skyrockets. Totalitarianism rises around the world.
It may seem premature to be discussing approaches to the effective elimination of human aging as a cause of death at a time when essentially…Alles » It may seem premature to be discussing approaches to the effective elimination of human aging as a cause of death at a time when essentially no progress has yet been made in even postponing it. However, two aspects of human aging combine to undermine this assessment. The first is that aging is happening to us throughout our lives but only results in appreciable functional decline after four or more decades of life: this shows that we can postpone the functional decline caused by aging arbitrarily well without knowing how to prevent aging completely but instead by increasingly thorough molecular and cellular repair. The second is that the typical rate of refinement of dramatic technological breakthroughs is rather reliable (so long as public enthusiasm for them is abundant) and is fast enough to change such technologies (be they in medicine, transport, or computing) almost beyond recognition within a natural human lifespan. In this talk I will explain, first, why (presuming adequate funding for the initial preclinical work) therapies that can add 30 healthy years to the remaining lifespan of healthy 55-year-olds may arrive within the next few decades, and, second, why those who benefit from those therapies will very probably continue to benefit from progressively improved therapies indefinitely and thus avoid debilitation or death from age-related causes at any age.
Russell Blackford, editor of the IEET’s Journal of Evolution and Technology (JET), has just published the first three items for JET’s new 2008-2009 volume (Volume 20 of the journal). The first of these is Russell’s editorial, entitled “Celebrating our past, imagining our future” which sets out his vision for the journal ... and for some mild celebration of its first decade.
A recent poll conducted in 15 countries by the BBVA Foundation shows that citizens in the developed world are largely in support of assisted reproductive technologies. In particular, most people polled were very much in support of in vitro fertilization, a technique used to help couples with fertility problems (scoring over 7 points on an acceptance scale from 0 to 10). At the same time, however, there was strong disapproval for using the technique to choose a baby’s gender, with scores consistently showing below 3 points.
Interview with with Dr. Carl Marci who is the Director of Social Neuroscience for the Psychotherapy Research Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Marci is involved with some of the most advanced research that focuses on measuring and quantifying the human emotion of empathy.
J. Storrs Hall, author of Beyond AI, presents at a day-long seminar on threats to the future of humanity, natural and man-made, and the pro-active steps we can take to reduce these risks and build a more resilient civilization.
Mike Treder of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology and J. Hughes of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies introduce the November 14 conference on Global Catastrophic Risks taking place in Mountain View, California. The event followed a meeting on the same subject, an immensely diverse collection of events could constitute global catastrophes, in July at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. The topic for the conference was “Building a Resilient Civilization.”
I have to admit something: I’ve been a business consultant. Not just in the consulting futurist sense, but also in the “let me help you innovate your product cycle, grow your stakeholders, and immanentize your eschaton” sense.
DR ANDY MIAH, from the University of the West of Scotland, believes that in this critical time of financial turmoil and concern about climate change there needs to be collaboration between the arts and the sciences. He argues that we no longer need specialist knowledge but ‘transdisciplinary’ creative solutions. Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty is edited by Andy Miah and published by Liverpool University Press.
Also, the Burj Tower in Dubai will be finished next year and at more than 700 metres high it will become the tallest building in the world. In contrast, the construction of skyscrapers in London planned in the recent period of growth now looks under threat as recession looms. DEYAN SUDJIC, Director of the Design Museum, predicts the future for British architecture and examines how it is a seismograph for economic change. Deyan will be chairing the debate Design Cities: Where Next? at the Design Museum, London at 7.15pm on 15 December.
What makes a perfect house? A feeling of contentment, well-proportioned rooms and a sense of grandeur? Television producer and director TIM KIRBY asserts that these notions of what makes a good home can be traced back 500 years to the Italian architect Andrea Palladio. The Perfect House: The Life and Work of Andrea Palladio is on BBC Four on 17 December at 9.00pm.
The grandeur of space has enthralled poets for centuries, but as we journey further into its depths, does it lose its mysticism? Astrophysicist DAME JOCELYN BELL BURNELL has co-edited an anthology which rekindled poets’ curiosity in space by twinning them with astrophysicists to inspire them with the latest advancements in astronomy. Dark Matter: Poems of Space, edited by Maurice Riordan and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, is published by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Biologist Drew Endy debates researcher and historian Jim Thomas on the future of bioengineering at the Long Now Foundation. While Endy discusses the potential benefits of being able to “program” DNA, Thomas advocates caution, citing the dangers of untested technology. (MP3)
The Long Now Foundtion
San Francisco, CA
Nov 17th, 2008
In 2001, the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was established by Congress to: (1) Advance a world-class nanotechnology research and development program. (2) Foster the transfer of new technologies into products for commercial and public benefit. (3) Develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce, and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology. (4) Support responsible development of nanotechnology.
It seems there hasn’t been a lot of good news lately: Parliament is falling apart, the economy is belly up and environmental problems continue to mount. Just how much worse could it get? Well, actually, it could get a whole lot worse: the world could come to an end. So take your mind off of all that trivial bad news, as we show you exactly what real disasters are all about. From giant asteroids to alien invasions, from galactic collapse to mega-volcanos, we’ll tell you 10 Ways the World Could End.
I used the term ‘legacy code’ in one of my novels, and Farah Mendlesohn, a science-fiction critic who read it thought it was a term I had made up, and she promptly adapted it for critical use as ‘legacy text’. Legacy text is all the other science fiction stories that influence the story you’re trying to write, and that generally clutter up your head even if you never read, let along write, the stuff. Most of us have default images of the future that come from Star Trek or 2001 or 1984 or Dr Who or disaster movies or computer games. These in turn interact with the tendency to project trends straightforwardly into the future.
The IEET, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology and the Lifeboat Foundation hosted a meeting on Global Catastrophic Risks on Friday, November 14 in Mountain View, California. Jeriaska generously videotaped and transcribed the talk given by IEET executive director J. Hughes in favor of strengthening transnational governance to mitigate risks.Video and audio of the talk are also available, as are the slides.
Of the 128 of you who voted on the question “Is the current meltdown the end of free market ideology and a new start for global social democracy?,” only 29% agreed “Yes, this is a phase transition in the global political economy.”
The IEET, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology and the Lifeboat Foundation hosted a meeting on Global Catastrophic Risks on Friday, November 14 in Mountain View, California, one day prior to the Convergence 08 Unconference. The seminar’s theme was “Building a Resilient Civilization,” for which IEET executive director J. Hughes argued in favor of strengthening transnational governance to mitigate risks. Jeriaska recorded the conference, and is helping us in making the talks available. (MP3)
Shortages are not in short supply these days, here in the USA: we have a shortage of credit, a shortage of jobs, a shortage of budget revenue, and a shortage of good will from around the world. But one thing not in shortage is advice for the incoming President.
Abstract: Transhumanism – the proposition that human beings should use technology to transcend the limitations of the body and brain – is a product of the Enlightenment humanist tradition. As a consequence most avowed transhumanists are secular, and many religious are skeptical or hostile towards the transhumanist project. However there are also many religious transhumanists who find the project of human enhancement at least consistent with, and sometimes a fulfillment of, their metaphysics, soteriologies and eschatologies. Transhumanism appears to be especially compatible with religious traditions that emphasize human agency and evolution to a transcendent state, such as Buddhism, or that have incorporated Enlightenment values, such as liberal Christianity. But elements of the transhumanist worldview and enhancement technologies are compatible with one element or another of most world faiths, even the most fundamentalist. We can thus expect that human enhancement technologies will be adopted creatively into the theologies of groups within all the world’s faiths, producing many flavors of “trans-spirituality.”
A U.S. bi-partisan commission is warning that the world will “more likely than not” face a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons by 2013 if governments fail to undertake major security and prevention measures.
I was pinged recently by the UK outfit Forum for the Future, a foresight team specializing in sustainable futures. They wanted to know what I thought would be the key issues the world would be confronting in 2030. “Climate” is the first thing that popped to mind, unsurprisingly, and we talked for a bit about what that might look like. (I also argued for molecular nanotechnology as a likely disruptive element to the world of 2030, and I’ll examine what that might mean down the road.)