When I was twelve my Dad gave me a subscription to The Futurist. Mainstream futurology kind of paled for me next to the science fiction I was reading, but at least I knew early on that there were people trying to anticipate and prepare for a radically different future. Imagine my surprise thirty five years later, after a decade of bio-futurist work, to discover that in 1974, one year after I started reading The Futurist, a program for junior futurists was started which today includes more than 250,000 kids in grades 4-12 worldwide.
“SpaceCollective.org: Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Conceived by Rene Daalder in collaboration with Internet designer Folkert Gorter, assisted by editor Aaron Ohlmann, is an attempt at universal broadcasting. SpaceCollective will broadcast to the universe, beaming to outer space a month by month digital time capsule of human civilization.” (Download Volume magazine’s interview with Daalder on SpaceCollective)
Ninaki Priddy writes “I just graduated architecture school, and did this great workshop with the SF director, Rene Daalder. He’s a part of this movement among designers that are designing for space. This is my scenario of women having to give birth in a zero gravity environment. All the video footage is found, and the last bit of the woman in her life pod is what i designed in the 3d program MAYA.”
This Fall I (J. Hughes) taught a course - “Living Healthier and Longer: Opportunities and Challenges” - here at Trinity College on the effects of healthy aging on public policy, and the arguments for a Longevity Dividend/anti-aging research program. This Spring Dale C., Aubrey de G., Anne C., Kristi S. and I will be co-teaching this as a ten-week distance learning course through the IEET for a nominal fee (something like $100).
Many transhumanist ideas are products of fertile and creative imaginations. Some people would add “unhampered by the normal constraints of scientific and philosophical discipline”. Is that so? My answer: NO, or at least not necessarily.
I am fascinated by a few broad concurrent “trends” (to use that awfully abused and debased word of the corporate-militarist Futurological Congress) that seem to me likely to articulate (but never to determine) especially forcefully (but always unpredictably) the politics of technoscientific change, and emerging longevity and modification medicine (so-called) is one of these.
In this memorable TED talk, Dan Gilbert demonstrates just how poor we humans are at predicting (or understanding) what will make us happy. Gilbert is a psychology professor at Harvard, and author of “Stumbling on Happiness”. (Recorded February 2004 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 22:02)
For the past decade, the public sphere has buzzed with arguments about real or imagined genetic technologies, such as embryonic sex selection, reproductive cloning, and human genetic enhancement - much of the noise prompted by the announcement, back in 1997, of Dolly the cloned sheep. How far have we come in that time?
Mindfulness based meditation is being touted as beneficial for any number of afflictions - from anxiety to asthma; social phobia to psoriasis. But what is it, and how can science scrutinize subjective states of mind? Three scientists at high powered institutions discuss how they’ve turned a personal passion into a professional investigation.
In this episode Buddhist Geeks spoke with neuroscientist and Buddhist meditator Daniel Rizzuto. Rizzuto is the project manager for the Caltech Neural Prosthetics Group. Vince and Rizzuto discussed a number of topics including the link between contemplative and scientific methodologies, some of the potential technologies that could emerge for the neuroscientific research, including Daniel’s favorite, an empathic training device. Daniel also shared some of the meditation research he was aware of, including Dr. Sara Lazar’s research out of harvard where she found that meditation actually affected the structural basis of the brain (check out the study here) as well as some of the recent meditation research that was conducted using EEG devices.
We then discussed the possibility of constructing a neural map that describes a practitioners evolution, and the potential that such a map could be used to help create a device—a so called “enlightenment machine”—that could actually accelerate that process. The question soon emerged, how might this machine impact one’s ethical understanding? Can someone actually go through the process without a revolution in their ethical understanding? The Buddhist tradition often describes the inseparability of insight and ethical understanding or the unity of Emptiness and Compassion. Daniel proposed that a sub-field of neuroscience, neuroethics is an attempt at understanding the neural correlates of one’s ethical choices, such that this information could be built into a device even if it weren’t a by-product of the process of spiritual maturation.
This dialogue is a distillation of a longer conversation that originally aired on The Techsattva. To find out more, visit www.techsattva.com , and to find out more about Daniel visit his personal blog, Evolutionary Mind.
This 45 minute interview was conducted in preparation for a talk Dr. Hughes will give at Macalester College at 8pm on November 15, 2007, entitled “Manimals, Cyborgs, and Gattaca: The Biopolitics of Human Enhancement Technologies.”
MargaretSomerville, the high priestess of the ethical endarkenment, is at it again. This new article in the Ottawa Citizen provides her latest irrational protestations about the imagined evils of biomedical research and innovation.
How soon until we see one of these? The “artifact from the future” shown above is my visualization of a bluetooth headset with an embedded cameraphone-style camera, able to send the video to one’s handheld for recording and display. Given that fairly decent cameras can be put into the very small, low-power space of a phone, it stands to reason that—very soon, if not today—clever designers could successfully build one into a headset.