I am writing this after having responded to a respected friend, a bioethicist with whom I am connected via Facebook. In his photo albums, he has a picture of a protected area for dogs in Thailand. This got me thinking.
Every generation had legends of a coming downfall. Whether you call it The End Times, Armageddon, Apocalypse, Doomsday, Ragnorak, The Population Bomb….we’ve long been fascinated by prophecies of devastation and doom.
Scientist and best-selling novelist David Brin explores the concepts and facts behind end-of-the-world tales, and how modern civilization can start limiting the risk.
In science fiction, when humanity is faced with existential crises, we turn to great minds attached to great hearts. While we aren’t under alien attack or facing sentient machines, our world has its own share of problems. Human cognitive enhancement might just be the solution from which all other solutions are born; or maybe it brings too many risks of its own.
Slate magazine and New America Foundation are holding a seminar on the biology and policy implications of radical life extension today, with help from the IEET’s Sean Hays and with IEET Fellow Aubrey de Grey as a speaker.
How old is too old? Some scientists think the body has a metabolic stop-sign at about age 122; others think that through new technologies, genetics, and robotics we can expand our longevity to a quarter millennium. And one man, IEET Fellow Aubrey de Grey, thinks immortality is possible â€” that the first human who will reach 1000 years of age has already been born.
But with great age our assumptions of life, family, work, taxes, government, health, sexâ€¦ our humannessâ€¦would change. Are you ready for the long life?
Click here to listen to an interview featuring Aubrey de Grey and Joel Garreau.
What if America lost its knack for making things? IEET Fellow David Brin’s new graphic novel Tinkerers is set in the year 2024, and combines art with history and tech to explore where the U.S. went wrong.
There have been monsters in fiction ever since there was any fiction at all. They are — always — scary, and sometimes attractive. But during the last years they have also began to be something else, something never seen before: they are our colleagues.
Jeffrey Toobin talks with Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and the author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, about how forms of communication, from the telephone to the Internet, are eventually controlled by monopolies; the battle between Apple and Google; and the future of information technology.
The quantified self movement is really starting to gain some steam, mostly on account of a slew of new technologies and services that are making personalized metrics easier and more meaningful. It’s truly a case where the dream is coming true; in short order we will be able to track the most minute details of our body’s functioning, have that data analyzed, and given a set of prescriptions to help us optimize our health based on a predetermined set of goals.
Dr. J. chats with Max More, founder of the Extropy Institute and one of the founders of contemporary transhumanism. They discuss the relationship of transhumanism and religion, virtue theory versus utilitarianism and the ethical and political underpinnings of the extropian worldview. Part 2 of 2. (Part 1 is here)
Dr. J. chats with neuroscientist William Church about his exploration of the relationship of religion and science, and his hope that the two can eventually be mutually enriching instead of antagonistic. Part 2 of 2. (Part 1 is here)
WBUR’s On Point talked with big thinker Douglas Rushkoff about his â€œten commandsâ€ for living right in the digital age.
The digital world around us - Facebook, Google, and all the rest - has grown so big, so fast, that people come to think of it as a given, like gravity or the speed of light. Of course, it’s not. The digital world is thoroughly engineered, by human hands, and for human ends, like making money.
Big media critic and theorist Douglas Rushkoff wants to be sure we don’t forget that. Otherwise, he warns, as lives migrate to the digital realm, we run the risk of being slaves, not masters, of its power.
And the thing that gets programmed may be us.
Here are Rushkoff’s â€œ10 commands,â€ as summarized by SXTXState.com:
1. Time. Thou shall not be always on. We are turning an asynchronous net as always on. He encouraged saying â€œMy time is mine.â€
2. Distance. Thou shalt not do from a distance what can be done in person. Using long distance in short distance situations. Don’t use distance learning in localized context.
3. Scale - the Internet is biased to scale up. Exalt the particular. Not everything scales, should scale or needs to scale.
4. Discrete - everything is a choice. You may always choose none of the above. Sites like Facebook promote forced choice, you have to choose from a set of options.
5. Complexity - the net reduces complexity. Thou shalt never be completely right.
6. Non-corporeal - out of body. Thou shalt not be anonymous. Rushkoff says â€œwork against tendency of the net to promote anonymity.â€ Anonymity encourages becoming part of polarized mobs with no sense of consequence, it side steps prejudices. It is liberating to promote yourself online.
7. Contact is king (not content). Remember the humans. â€œSocial marketing is an oxymoron.â€
8. Abstraction - as above, so not below. Print abstracts text from the scribe. Hypertext takes it a step further.
9. Openness. Thou shalt not steal. When there is no social contract, openness can continue until there is no one left to give things away. Nothing is free.
10. End users - technology is biased toward consumers. Programmed or be programmed.
This article discusses simulation as an optimal vehicle for brain plasticity, a primary and distinct area of neuroscience and essential to human enhancement. By speculating on second-order enhancement cybernetics, the article links the 3D, virtual world of the metaverse to an epoch of plasticity, and also frames the practice of enhancement as taking place in this epoch. An arguable key issue of simulation and enhancement is the tension between desire and feasibility: a desire for greater than human attributes and what is technologically feasible for designing and developing such post-biological attributes. For example, a person may desire to have 24-hour remote brain integration with the metaverse but this is not feasible because (1) the technology has not been developed to do this safely; (2) the costs of research and development of artificial general intelligence and nano-robots to build a metabrain integration with the metaverse is vastly expensive; (3) patents have to be secured and take time; (4) the FDA may intervene preventing a human from integrating the brain with the net or metaverse. Further, while a person may desire to be an upload he or she has to face similar circumstances: (1) the technology has been developed to integrate the brain and computer safely; (2) the costs of R and D are enormous; (3) the ethical and moral issues are predominant; (4) this new construct for personhood may have a social and ideological impact.
In this talk, sponsored by the New York Public Library and FORA.tv, science commentators Kevin Kelly, Steven Johnson, and Robert Krulwich discuss accelerating technologies and whether they will benefit or harm our society.
Many of the controversies in bioethics and medicine today stem from differing views on life: when it begins, when and how we should protect it, and what our views on life say about our culture and society as a whole.
Ronald Bailey over at Reason Magazine has noticed a trend. When a new technology comes out, particularly if it impacts birth or death, people have a very powerful initial reaction: “Yuck!” However, within a few years, that “yuck” quickly shifts to “yippie!”
Lots of fuss these days over Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), particularly as it pertains to women’s health. The disorder, which used to be called Inhibited Sexual Desire Disorder, is in the DSM-III-R and is characterized as a lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity for some period of time. It’s important to note that, for this to be regarded as a disorder, it must cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulties and not be better accounted for by another mental disorder (i.e. depression), a drug (legal or illegal), or some other medical condition.