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.
How much can we learn from science fiction authors? From their novels and short stories, sometimes a lot and sometimes a little, depending mostly on how deeply they think and how well they write. But what about from their non-fiction works?
The folks at the Onion do to naive techno-boosterism what Jon Stewart has been doing to naive market fluffers this week, in this “news” segment on the benefits to the economy of an industrial army of giant crabs.
Apocalyptic thinking is frequently found in certain future scenarios, especially when those scenarios are created by people concerned with military conflict, climate change, artificial intelligence, disease outbreaks, or other scary possibilities.
William P. Cheshire, Jr., MD gave this very interesting talk to the usual bioconservative folks at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity: “Will the Next Great Awakening Begin with Caffeine? Cognitive Enhancing Drugs & the Church.” (MP3)
(Chris Phoenix, co-founder and Director of Research at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, has recently returned from a sabbatical. ) Well, that’s a nice welcome-back-to-work for you. Two days into my new/old job, and I hear that there’s a nano video going viral. It’s hosted, no surprise, by none other than Wired, which also published Bill Joy’s anti-nano article in 2000. Nanotechnologists, take note: Wired wants to destroy your funding.
Most of us believe—or fear—that if you live long enough, your mind starts to go. But only recently have neurologists begun to understand how memory loss works.
Much of this knowledge has emerged while studying Alzheimer’s Disease, leading some researchers to wonder whether they should also be working on treatments for what is basically ‘normal aging’ and not just a condition that’s more clearly a ‘disease’.
WNYC Radio’s Fred Mogul listened in on a recent debate among researchers about where such lines should be drawn.
(Hat tip to Boing Boing) Director Ransom Riggs used motion capture for the animation. Dramatizes the fanciful “gray goo” scenario, in which a hapless would-be evil genius unleashes a plague of nanorobots to devour the earth.
In my experience, the most common solution given to the Fermi Paradox is the Rare Earth hypothesis—the idea that life in the Galaxy is exceptionally rare and that planets like ours are freakishly uncommon. For many, this conveniently explains why we haven’t been visited by little green men. Or more accurately, extraterrestrial machine intelligences.
[Warning: contains spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica episode Islanded in A Stream of Stars] In some instances, one should cling to hope and keep fighting even when that hope seems lost. At other times, it is necessary to accept defeat and loss, or abandon a goal towards which substantial resources have been dedicated. Distinguishing between these two situations is the challenging, yet crucial element.
I’m reading the blog of Wesley Smith, a bioethicist with the Discovery Institute. He mentions transhumanism frequently: at least 212 posts. Unlike Charles Stross, he does seem to believe that the 21st century could bring radical changes with the manipulation of human beings and the creation of new human-like life-forms, including AGIs — he just doesn’t think we should go down that route.
My intent, from this point forward, is to stop talking about the “long-term.” No more long-term problems, long-term solutions, long-term changes. No more long-term perspectives. In its place, I’m going to start talking about “multigenerational” issues. Multigenerational problems, solutions, changes. Multigenerational perspectives.
If personhood ever becomes a basis for law, we will develop a set of rights structures for the stage between birth and personhood. Until then, we must understand personhood as a scale comprised of several traits. This scale is still being developed, but, as a concept, shows it’s usefulness over the reductionist “human species” as a category for rights. Just as our DNA doesn’t determine our identity and personality, neither should it determine our rights.