Travis James Leland, a science and science fiction writer with ties to IEET, Humanity + and Transhumanity.net, is conducting a short survey. This is an informal survey to determine if there is a higher rate of autistic behaviors among the transhumanist/H+/Singularitarian/futurist community.
Will living in offworld space colonies ever be embraced by mainstream humanity? Of course, no one can accurately predict how the future will unfold, but by examining today’s knowledge, we can create plausible scenarios of how space development might take place during the 21st Century.
Crowd-based models are becoming so pervasive that almost no major segment of modern life is left untouched by them. The concept of digital crowd models refers to the coordination of large numbers of individuals (the crowd) through an open call on the Internet in the conduct of some sort of activity.
“DNA is a programming language for living cells. The cell’s basic operating system, or genome, directs functions like growth and reproduction, energy utilization, and the production of useful compounds like ethanol or penicillin. With genetic engineering, new functions can be added to cells or broken metabolic pathways repaired. Until recently, genetic engineering has required the DNA molecule itself to be physically manipulated, a tedious and expensive process. Now, automatic DNA synthesis permits virtually any DNA code to be made from scratch, opening up genetic engineering to anyone with a computer and a credit card. The capabilities of this new synthetic biology are growing explosively.” - GoogleTalks
West Africa burns rubber trees to make space for new trees. An interesting perspective on the private sector in West Africa tapping into the biomass material to create clean energy.
“Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly, or converted into other energy products such as biofuel.
In the first sense, biomass is plant matter used to generate electricity with steam turbines & gasifiers or produce heat, usually by direct combustion. Examples include forest residues (such as dead trees, branches and tree stumps), yard clippings, wood chips and even municipal solid waste. In the second sense, biomass includes plant or animal matter that can be converted into fibers or other industrial chemicals, including biofuels. Industrial biomass can be grown from numerous types of plants, including miscanthus, switchgrass, hemp, corn, poplar, willow, sorghum, sugarcane, bamboo, and a variety of tree species, ranging from eucalyptus to oil palm (palm oil).
” - wikipedia
Countries in Africa face many challenges in their quest to improve the welfare of their populations, one of which is the lack of access to affordable and reliable modern energy. Africa has the lowest electrification rate of all regions. It is estimated that only 42 percent of the population has access to electricity, compared with 75 percent in the developing world.
In Going Dark vs. a Golden Age for Surveillance, Professors Peter Swire and Kenesa Ahmad, discuss the assertion made by some law enforcement agencies that their ability to see, surveil and protect us is “going dark” because of some new methods of encrypted communication that are widely available to non-government entities, including criminals and terrorists.
“Those who have been following this project for a while know that it started 6 years ago. If something surprised and pleased me in equal measure, it was the controversy brought by our latest video in which Qbo recognizes itself in the mirror. It was not due to the publicity generated around the project, but because, somehow, we’ve updated this debate that was lost long time ago: can a machine become intelligent or self-conscious? We went from being interested in creating artificial brains to just develop mechatronic systems sophisticated but less intelligent or already programmed.”
Is abortion a greater evil than child abuse? Of course it isn’t! Indeed, I don’t generally regard abortion as an evil at all. We could doubtless get into hypothetical cases of late-term abortions carried out on a mere whim, but are there many, or any, such cases in the real world? In the real world I think you must either suffer from a distorted moral sense or be in the grip of a theory if you regard abortion as the real evil (as opposed, say, to denying an abortion to a desperate woman or teenage girl).
The anti-Social Security propagandists should’ve thought this one through a little more carefully: On the same day that Goldman Sach’s CEO issued his “balanced” demand for Social Security and Medicare cuts, the Wall Street-funded group called “Third Way” published the results of a poll which precisely reflected the wishes of Goldman Sach’s CEO.
Over at the Edge there’s a fascinating article by Thomas W. Malone about the work he and others are doing to understand the rise of collective human intelligence — an emergent phenomenon that’s being primarily driven by our information technologies. We may be on an evolutionary trajectory, he argues, that could someday give rise to the global brain. And amazingly, he’s developing an entirely new scientific discipline to back his case.
“Former Vice President Al Gore is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management, a partnership that is focused on a new approach to sustainable investing. He is also co-founder and chairman of Current TV, an Emmy Award-winning, independent cable and satellite television news and information network based on viewer-created content and citizen journalism. In addition, Gore is a senior partner with the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a member of the board of directors of Apple and senior adviser to Google.
Gore spends the majority of his time as chairman of The Climate Reality Project, a non-profit focused on solutions to the climate crisis.” - algore.com
One day, we may be able to make ourselves superintelligent with futuristic biotechnology. We’re not there yet, but for the impatient among us there are still some things we can do to give us that little extra bit of brain power. By supplementing with so-called ‘nootropics,’ you may not become the next Stephen Hawking, but you may experience some noticeable improvements to your learning abilities, memory, mental clarity, and mood. Here are ten supplements you can take today to boost your intelligence.
“Tofurky Thanksgiving - Vegan, Vegetarian, Meatless. What do vegans eat for Thanksgiving? What do vegetarians eat for Thanksgiving? How do you have Thanksgiving Dinner without Turkey? How to bake Tofurky? What does Tofurky taste like? We will try to answer your Meatless, Vegan, Vegetarian Thanksgiving questions together! Tofurky has become a Thanksgiving staple for my vegans and vegetarians, but I have never tasted it before.” Livestock is Responsible for 51% of Green House Gas Emissions
Hannah Brencher is a letter-enthusiast. She runs The World Needs More Love Letters, a letter exchange dedicated to connecting strangers across the globe through the art of letter writing. I discovered Brencher by browsing through online TED talks for November 2012, and noted her popular talk in the “less than 6 minutes” category. In her presentation she traced her own love of pen and paper as a means of personal expression and salvation, where letter writing guaranteed constant communication with her mother and helped Brencher fight chronic depression.
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas extends into its second week, it has become quite clear that the renewed hostilities are markedly different that that ones that came before. Unlike previous engagements, this war has been characterized by the innovative use of new technologies — including rockets that target rockets, unmanned drones, and even social media. Given these early precedents, it’s fair to say that the means of war have changed yet again — but in a way that’s certainly not for the better.
“According to Hameroff, our souls are built of something much more fundamental than neurons,” says Morgan Freeman introducing Hameroff’s quantum consciousness theory in a recent episode of Through the Wormhole. “They are constructed from the very fabric of the universe.” Dr. Hameroff claims, “I believe that consciousness, or its immediate precursor proto-consciousness, has been in the universe all along, perhaps from the Big Bang.”
I teach a course in science fiction and bleeding-edge science fact; it started as a course in science fiction, but then I noticed how much sci-fi was becoming real, if sometimes weird, science. One story I started out teaching is the Lester del Rey classic Helen O’Loy. Published in 1938, del Rey’s narrator, Phil, and his housemate, Dave, tinker with what’s described as a standard housework android, modifying and upgrading zir abilities until ze becomes a she — a self-aware artificial life form — at least, as far as we can tell, she does.
“Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams is joining with Human Rights Watch to oppose the creation of killer robots — fully autonomous weapons that could select and engage targets without human intervention. In a new report, HRW warns such weapons would undermine the safety of civilians in armed conflict; violate international humanitarian law; and blur the lines of accountability for war crimes. Fully autonomous weapons do not exist yet, but high-tech militaries are moving in that direction with the United States taking the lead. Williams, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, joins us along with Steve Goose, director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division. [Includes rush transcript]” - Democracy Now!
Jesse Fox analyses the representation of women in virtual reality. She does not see women being represented as avatars on the Internet or in video games in a positive progressive manner.
She wrote an excellent essay: “Avatars: Portraying, Exploring, and Changing Online and Offline Identities” that can be found in the book “Handbook of Research on Technoself: Identity in a Technological Society” or bought online Here
“Avatars are defined as virtual representations that are controlled by a human user. Commonly, we observe avatars in video and online games, social networking sites, and virtual worlds. This chapter explores the use of avatars in the expression, exploration, and evolution of users’ identities, both online and offline. Theoretical explanations for the creation, manipulation, use, and effects of avatars are offered, including identification, transformed social interaction, and the Proteus effect. The adoption of avatars for identity expression, exploration, and change is discussed, including Turkle’s notion of fragmented selves and Nakamura’s concept of identity tourism. Research that has investigated the effects of avatars on self-perceptions and identity in various domains (such as health, marketing, finance, and environmental behaviors) is addressed. Implications and future directions for research in this area are discussed.”
Of course, no one can predict with 100% accuracy how the future will unfold, but by combining present day knowledge with anticipated advances, we can make plausible guesses about what to expect in 2042.
A recent report from the Los Angeles Times underscored what amounts to an epidemic of deaths in the US caused at least in part by overdoses of legally prescribed drugs. The root problem, though, is one of cultural technology rather than chemistry or regulation.
“Electronics aren’t just for experts and engineers. Kids and amateurs should be able to play, too, which is why Leah Buechley designs little paper-based electronics for “sketching” and interactive electronic fashion for tinkering. Buechley designs and creates electronic textiles, or e-textiles, like this jacket that can signal which way you’re turning on your bike. She’s an assistant professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where she also directs the High-Low Tech research group.” - TED
“Environmental scientist David Keith talks about a cheap, effective, shocking solution to climate change: What if we injected a huge cloud of particles into the atmosphere, to deflect sunlight and heat? As an emergency measure to slow a melting ice cap, it could work. Keith discusses why geo-engineering like this is a good idea, why it’s a terrible one — and who, despite the cost, might be tempted to use it. (Recorded September 2007 in New York City. Duration: 16:04.)”
In the autumn of 1978 the Washington Association of Churches and the Washington State Catholic Conference jointly published a six page pamphlet they called, “Abortion: An Ecumenical Study Document.” Their work offers a fascinating snapshot of Christian thinking at the time and raises some equally fascinating questions about what, exactly, has happened in the last thirty-five years.
I have just got back from Oman, one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East with their healthcare system ranking 8 in the world. The reason that brought me to such an unusual destination was the Buck Advisory Council Meeting. I learned a lot there, but I would like to draw your attention to the topic of one of the three major neurodegenerative diseases – Huntington’s disease.
Singularity Rising is very much the book it wants to be. Whether it’s a book that you will find interesting or useful will very much depend on your current state of mind regarding the likelihood and details of an intelligence Singularity.
In this video, Transhumanist & Zero State member Anu presents plans for the Zero State Fund - a mutual fund intended to raise money for Transhumanist & futuretech-relevant projects. The fund will be launched on November 17th, at an event where people will have the opportunity to offer investment pledges. Please do check out the video and then visit us at zerostate.net to ask any questions you may have.