[Warning: Contains spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica episode A Disquiet Follows My Soul] Even as Zarek and Gaeta sow the seeds of insurrection against Adama and his Cylon alliance, it is amazing how integrated the Cylons and humans have become. While it is true that a large portion of the fleet seems opposed to their alliance, it is nonetheless remarkable that Adama lets the Cylon Tigh remain as his second in command, even though Tigh is a member of a species of machines responsible for the destruction of the human race.
Dr. J. chats with Richard Cook, former federal and White House official with the civil service, FDA and NASA, and advocate of radical reform of monetary policy including the provision of a basic guaranteed income to all citizens. We talk about the role of banks in the economy, and the prospects for bottom-up economic growth. (MP3)
Dr. J. chats with Rice University professor of Religion Jeffrey Kripal about his article on Aldous Huxley in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Kripal argues that Huxley’s Island should be read as his utopian rebuttal to his own dystopian vision in Brave New World.
Until today I was unfamiliar with a group called “The Order of Cosmic Engineers”. I’d heard mention of the name in passing, but could have told you nothing about what it was or who its members might be.
Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk gave Voices of Disbelief to the publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, in early December 2008 with publication currently planned for September. The contributors will be familiar to many friends of the IEET.
At Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA on Jan 17th, 2009 Steven Johnson links the rise of coffee house culture to the Age of Enlightenment because, before coffee replaced beer as the daytime drink of choice, “the entire culture basically was drunk all day long.” As a result, he says “the coffee house was a great hub of Enlightenment-era culture.”
Take this with at least a grain of salt, probably more, and recognize that you're reading an English translation from Spanish of news items taken from Russian media and translated from Russian into Spanish.
Although there is no universally agreed definition of the word “transhumanism”, it seems to me that the core idea is rather simple: within certain limits, it is desirable to use emerging technologies to enhance human physical and cognitive capacities, and to make other beneficial alterations to human traits.
It’s often said that we live in a Knowledge Economy. So we invest in IT and use it to automate administrative activities. That’s like using engines in farms but still move around on horses. The underlying problem is that no matter how intelligent and capable the members of a group might be, for most organizational cultures administrative activities are the only sort of relevant intellectual activities.
A new book will hit store shelves later this week that will be of interest to those concerned about the ongoing roboticization and de-humanizing of military technology. The book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, is authored by P. W. Singer, the director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution.
(Russell is guestblogging for George) I’m sure my readers are familiar with Fermi’s paradox. Some of you may even feel it’s debated to death lately, but in this great memorial year (Darwin’s 200th birthday, among other things) we’ll be hearing a lot more about the origins of life and the trajectory of evolution. Fermi’s paradox connects with all that.
I did some sustainability consulting recently for a major computer company. We focused for the day on building a better understanding of their energy and material footprint and strategies; during the latter part of the afternoon, we zeroed in on testing the sustainability of their current business strategies. It turned out that, like many big computer industry players, this company is making its play in the “cloud computing” field.
Global warming is moving much more quickly than scientists thought it would. Even if the biggest current and prospective emitters - the United States, China and India - were to slam on the brakes today, the earth would continue to heat up for decades. At best, we may be able to slow things down and deal with the consequences, without social and political breakdown. Gwynne Dyer examines several radical short- and medium-term measures now being considered - all of them controversial. (MP3)
[Spoiler Alert: contains spoilers for the first episode of the final half-season of BSG Sometimes a Great Notion ] As the final half season of Battlestar Galactica opened with one of the darkest episodes ever, it gave me a lot to think about regarding death, immortality, and hope even in the worst of situations. Even if you happen to assign a low probability to the possibility of a high-quality future for ourselves here in 2009, it is worth dedicating a lot in pursuit of that future when its realization is of great value and permanence.
The Order of Cosmic Engineers are a group of transhumanists who are focused on “turning this universe into a ‘magical’ realm.” They focus on building their activity in online virtual reality worlds. They include IEET Board member Giulio Prisco and IEET advisor Martine Rothblatt. They have recently issued the “YES! to Transhumanism” statement which is a call to arms for defense of radical transhumanism against pressures to downplay the more challenging and futuristic aspects of the transhumanist perspective.
Congratulations to the newly elected Board of Humanity+ which now includes IEET Board members Nick Bostrom, Mike LaTorra and George Dvorsky, IEET Fellows Ben Goertzel and Mike Treder, and the IEET Executive Director J. Hughes.
No, I’m not talking about Heat Death or another Ice Age. I’m talking about what could happen if mind uploading becomes universally or near-universally adopted and every mind is accelerated by a factor of several million or billion. Such an outcome seems inevitable if mind uploading is actually possible.
Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale.  In its advanced form, which should be achieved within the next decade or two, the technology will allow a revolution in manufacturing—building powerful products with atomic precision from the bottom up—and could fundamentally alter our ability to confront challenging issues such as climate change.
Until 2006, John Hayes, a psychologist and self-described Zen-Catholic, had never taken a hallucinogenic drug. In the 1960s, Hayes was a Franciscan friar watching with curiosity while the counter-culture used psychedelics with impunity. Through his own meditation and religious practice, Hayes believes he has had sensations that he would label mystical. But these mystical states—which he described to me as “moments of unitive experience” —were significant enough that when he heard about a surprising research project at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine he was more than intrigued. Doctors at JHU were investigating the effects of psilocybin—the active ingredient in the more common variety of hallucinogenic mushroom—and looking for volunteers.
On Buddhist Geeks Shinzen Young discusses a new way to deliver classical enlightenment to the masses using an artificial intelligence system with virtually led home meditation retreats. This Home Practice Program is what is currently being offered at BasicMindfulness.org. Finally Shinzen discusses the “crowning glory” of his mission to unify Western and Eastern technologies, and that is to help nurture the emergence of a “neuro-scientific paradigm for classical enlightenment.” This paradigm could help lead to the emergence of technologies which have the potential to bring classical enlightenment to the masses and hence make large-scale social and individual change. This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Listen to part 1, Shinzen Young: The Hybrid Teacher & part 2, Building a Dharma Successor.
Some of you are members of our sister organization Humanity+ (formerly World Transhumanist Association), so I wanted to just drop a quick note about this week’s elections for the Humanity+ Board of Directors. (If you aren’t a voting member you have until Thursday to join and vote). All the candidate statements are here. There are four IEET folks in the running that I thought you should be aware of including IEET Board members Michael LaTorra and George Dvorsky, and IEET Fellows Mike Treder and Ben Goertzel.