Transhumanists, like Enlightenment partisans in general, believe that human nature can be improved but are conflicted about whether liberal democracy is the best path to betterment. The liberal tradition within the Enlightenment has argued that individuals are best at finding their own interests and should be left to improve themselves in self-determined ways. But many people are mistaken about their own best interests, and more rational elites may have a better understanding of the general good. Enlightenment partisans have often made a case for modernizing monarchs and scientific dictatorships. Transhumanists need to confront this tendency to disparage liberal democracy in favor of the rule by dei ex machina and technocratic elites.
Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling was positive in one respect: it made law out of what was already happening. While corporations earned “personhood” back in the 1860’s when a court clerk (likely bribed) added this language into the margins of another court decision, they never quite had the rights of citizenship before. They already write our laws (through lobbies) elect our leaders (with money) and create public opinion (with money and PR). If you’re interested in how and why that happened, please read my book Life Inc. But they have always tended to do so by working around government’s efforts to limit their influence.
Over a single generation, the Web and digital media have remade nearly every aspect of modern culture, transforming the way we work, learn and connect in ways that we’re only beginning to understand. FRONTLINE producer Rachel Dretzin (Growing Up Online) teams up with one of the leading thinkers of the digital age, IEET Fellow Douglas Rushkoff (The Persuaders, Merchants of Cool), to continue to explore life on the virtual frontier.
Dominique Pestre, historian of science, has worked on the relationship between physics and technology in the XXth century. Part of his work is also dedicated to understanding the heritage of the war on scientific methods such as game theory, system analysis, operative research.
You want to be a futurist, but you’re afraid of being wrong. Don’t worry. Everyone has that concern at first. But here, I’ve brought together ideas drawn from a number of books and articles that will help you succeed without having to be right. All you have to do is follow the simple principles laid out below.
Who is the IOC to determine what is physically normal in sport? Why should the attainment of fitness peaks (natural or otherwise) be prevented or constrained? And how could they ever come to describe the perfectly ‘normal’ human athlete?
The Evolution of God is a fascinating account of the development of god-concepts over time, from pre-agricultural societies to the spread of Christianity and the rise of Islam. However, there’s a problem.
Intelligence is about achieving complex goals in complex environments; and it follows that the nature of a specific intelligent system is bound to be highly dependent on the nature of the environment in which it finds itself. Here we explore some of the ways in which human intelligence appears to be dependent on particular broad aspects of the environment in which we evolved, and discuss some possible differences that might be seen in alien intelligences adapted to radically different environments such as worlds comprised entirely of water. As a case in point, possible characteristics of intelligences adapted to complex-fluid-dominated rather than solid-object-dominated environments are discussed in detail.
The dominant trajectory of Enlightenment thought over the last three hundred years has been towards atheism. Most transhumanists are atheists. But some transhumanists, like many of the original Enlightenment thinkers, are attempting to reconcile naturalism and their religious traditions. Some transhumanists even believe that the transcendent potentials of intelligence argue for a new form of scientific theology.
What are the most significant things that happened over the last decade? Did the 2000s live up to expectations? And, what are the predictions for the next decade? KPBS Radio speaks to David Brin and Vernor Vinge about the 2000s and beyond.
Science is implausible to untutored human common sense, but that in no way casts doubt on the correctness of well-established scientific findings. Feelings of transcendence are simply that—feelings—and, as such, have no capacity to reveal truths about a world external to the people who have them.
Dr. J. chats with Gowri Ramachandran, a professor of Law at the Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles California, and author of “Against the Right to Bodily Integrity: Of Cyborgs and Human Rights.” MP3
Reason is not self-legitimating. Like all Enlightenment advocates for reason, transhumanists find that the project of Reason erodes all premises including the superiority of reason over unreason. Consequently transhumanists, like Enlightenment advocates in general, need to defend our values with nonrational a prioris. Unfortunately some transhumanists continue to advocate a naïve conception of pure rationality as an end in itself.
After eight years of service—since the founding of the World Transhumanist Association’s Board of Directors in 2001—IEETers Nick Bostrom, James Hughes, George Dvorsky and Mike Treder are stepping down from the Board. IEETers Ben Goertzel and Mike LaTorra will remain on the Board, and Ben will be Chair of the Board in 2010. IEET intern Kristi Scott and IEET fellow Natasha Vita-More are running in the Humanity+ Board election next week.
I’m still reeling from the rather anticlimactic finish to the recent Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen. Like so many others, I was hoping for an internationally binding deal that would, at the very least, compel and motivate the nations of the world to address the climate crisis in a meaningful and precedent setting way.