Dr. J. chats with Erik Helzer (Dept of Psychology, Cornell University) co-author of the paper “Dirty Liberals!: Reminders of physical cleanliness influence moral and political attitudes” in Psychological Science. They discuss the growing literature on the ways that political attitudes are driven by disgust sensitivity, and by disgust priming such as bad smells and sticky hands. Listen also to the 2004 Changesurfer interview with Martha Nussbaum about her book Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law.
The second part of Dr. J.‘s chat with Thomas White about the defense of the rights of non-human persons in general, and dolphins in particular. Professor White teaches ethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, is author of In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier (indefenseofdolphins.com) and co-author of the Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins (cetaceanconservation.com.au/cetaceanrights). Part 2 of 2. Also includes a reading of Cory Doctorow’s short story “Other People’s Money.”
At the Institute for the Future‘s 2011 Ten Year Forecast event in late March, I presented a long talk on ways in which evolutionary and ecological metaphors could inform our understanding of systemic change. The head of the Ten Year Forecast team, IFTF Distinguished Fellow Kathi Vian, thought that the ideas it contained should get a wider viewing, and asked me to put the talk on my blog. Here it is. It’s lightly edited, and only contains a fraction of the slides I used; let me know what you think.
Richard Eskow appeared on Russia Today television’s “The Alyona Show” to talk about today’s job numbers, slow-rising wages vs. fast-rising CEO pay, and the fact that 25 hedge fund managers made $22 billion each.
In 2011, the world will emit more than 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Every day of the year, almost a hundred million tons will be released into the atmosphere. Every second more than a thousand tons - two million pounds - of carbon dioxide is emitted from power plants, cars, trucks, ships, planes, factories, and farms around the world.
Over at New Scientist, they’ve chosen five emerging technologies that may have a big impact on the future of humanity during the next 30 years and have asked their readers to choose which will be the most significant of all. I’d like to find out how our readers’ opinions would compare with theirs.
As a grad student, Cynthia Breazeal wondered why we were using robots on Mars, but not in our living rooms. The key, she realized: training robots to interact with people. Now she dreams up and builds robots that teach, learn—and play.
Part of the struggle in persuading people that some animals deserve to be recognized as persons is convincing them that the emotional responses, inner psychological life, and social bonds of these animals are similar to our own. Are there non-human animals who, for example, demonstrate human-like grief?
The 50th Anniversary of the Pill was last year. Lots and lots of people mentioned how good, bad, unimportant, or essential the Pill has been. Our society changed the way it thought about sex, about reproduction, even about love and relationships.
Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and cofounder of string field theory, describes the revolutionary developments taking place in the fields of medicine, computers, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, energy, and astronautics. Appearing as a guest on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show, Kaku also tells who the winners and losers of the future will be, who will have jobs, and which nations will prosper.
“Envisioning technology” is a work in progress, researched and designed by technologist Michell Zappa. IEET Fellow Ramez Naam offers his opinions on the effort: where it seems accurate, where it might not be, and what it all means.
“Ode to the Brain” is the ninth episode in the Symphony of Science music video series. Through the powerful words of scientists Carl Sagan, Robert Winston, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Jill Bolte Taylor, Bill Nye, and Oliver Sacks, it covers different aspects the brain including its evolution, neuron networks, folding, and more. The material sampled for this video comes from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED Talk, Vilayanur Ramachandran’s TED Talk, Bill Nye’s Brain episode, BBC’s “The Human Body”, Oliver Sachs’ TED Talk, Discovery Channel’s “Human Body: Pushing the Limits”, and more.
Right now Wisconsin is serving as the prototype for United States 2.0, a newly reconstituted nation where corporations have all the rights of personhood without any of the responsibilities—and people have all the duties of personhood without any of the rights. Welcome to your future. They’re preparing it for you right now in America’s heartland.
A character in Ken MacLeod’s 1998 novel The Cassini Division refers to the Singularity as “the Rapture for nerds” (though it should be duly noted that in that novel the Singularity occurs anyway!). This represents a moderately recurrent meme in certain circles - to denigrate transhumanism by comparing it to extreme religious notions. But not all transhumanists consider such comparisons wholly off-base. While transhumanism differs from traditional religions in being based around reason more centrally than faith, it does have some commonality in terms of presenting a broad vision of the universe, with implications on the intellectual level but also for everyday life. And it does present at least some promise of achieving via science some of the more radical promises that religion has traditionally offered - immortality, dramatic states of bliss, maybe even resurrection.
(Co-authored with IEET Fellow Ben Goertzel) There is currently no good reason to believe that once a human-level AGI capable of understanding its own design is achieved, an intelligence explosion will fail to ensue. A thousand years of new science and technology could arrive in one year. An intelligence explosion of such magnitude would bring us into a domain that our current science, technology and conceptual framework are not equipped to deal with; so prediction beyond this stage is best done once the intelligence explosion has already progressed significantly.
A common objection I get to the suggestion that nonhuman persons should be granted human-level rights is the concern that these animals could never properly express their citizenship or take part in the social contract. I’ve actually had people ask me if it’s my intention to give bonobos a credit card and the right to vote.
Dr. J. chats with Charles Kenny about his book Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding—And How We Can Improve the World Even More. They talk about how the spread of ideas and institutions, such as democracy and political rights, and of cheap technologies, such as vaccines and bed nets, are improving the quality of life of the world’s poor. Charles Kenny is a senior economist on leave from the World Bank, and a joint fellow at the New America Foundation and the Center for Global Development. He writes a weekly column for Foreign Policy called “The Optimist.”