IEET Fellow Riccardo Campa, helped by IEET Board member Giulio Prisco and others, has crafted this very interesting statement of a transhumanist vision and strategic point of view, which has been endorsed and adopted by the Italian Transhumanist Association (AIT). The English translation was done by Stefano Vaj of the AIT, with advice from the IEET’s J. Hughes (who is not a member of the AIT). As with all translation the meanings have probably shifted somewhat, so please note that the original is online here.
In 2005, for my first appearance at the annual conference of the World Future Society, I was given a small room with only 25 chairs, and I was scheduled for a 9:30 PM presentation. My topic was “Do Sweat the Small Stuff: Why Everyone Should Care about Nanotechnology.”
In the realm of moral and legal debates, the right to life holds a highly esteemed position. However, the overwhelming support for an individual’s right to live appears to be one sided. The antithesis: the right to die is often neglected. In both the medical and scholarly communities alike the idea of a right to death is often scorned or brushed aside. There seems to be an underlying assumption in favor of life and an implicit belief that those that wish to end their lives are misinformed or mentally incompetent. This paper will defend the position that there are legitimate reasons and justifications for a person to request the right to die and that under certain circumstances it is morally obligatory that these rights be upheld.
It is argued that the “generic” evolutionary pathway of advanced technological civilizations is more likely to be optimization-driven than expansion-driven, in contrast to the prevailing opinions and attitudes in both future studies on one side and astrobiology/SETI studies on the other. Two toy-models of postbiological evolution of advanced technological civilizations are considered and several arguments supporting the optimization-driven, spatially compact model are briefly discussed. In addition, it is pointed out that there is a subtle contradiction in most of the tech-optimist and transhumanist accounts of future human/alien civilizations’ motivations in its postbiological stages. This may have important ramifications for both practical SETI projects and the future (of humanity) studies. Download the PDF
Just as technology has the capacity to create, it can also destroy. It is crucial lived concepts like scarcity is identified so a life of abundance can fill destructive voids left behind. With enough collaborative expertise drawn to conclude that “giving gives more giving” and that “taking takes more taking,” the capacity to harmonize between these spheres can ensure that all of us have greater potential to live more preferred lives while limiting the causes of harm to oneself and others.
“At any moment the Yellowstone caldera could blow up, wipe out 99% of the life on the surface of the planet, and probably all humans, and in our last minutes the degree of equanimity with which we face that prospect is the test of our dharmic fortitude and wisdom.” - James Hughes
In our final episode with professor James Hughes we tackle the less rosy side of Transhumanism, which has to do with massive existential threats and risks. Though there are many natural risks that could threaten humanity as a whole, including large asteriod collisions, gamma bursts, and super volcanoes, the Transhumanist recognize a whole host of other ways that we could threaten ourselves with advanced technologies.
In addition to discussing these threats and all of the possible side traps on the way toward a more techno-utopian future, James ties these together with our understanding of the dharma. He argues that even in a techno-utopian future (assuming we make it), we will still have to deal with annica—the ever changing flow of reality.
Dr. J. chats with Vince Horn of Buddhist Geeks. With radical advances in science in technology would it be possible for us to turn our world into a so-called, “Buddha Realm” or would it be more likely that we create some sort of God Realm, where awakening is discouraged because the conditions are so radically pleasant? And how specifically could these advances help us develop spiritually, on the path toward Buddhahood? (MP3) Part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here.
In this keynote “invocation,” which opened the second day of Personal Democracy Forum on June 24, 2008, Doug argues that there is no such thing as “personal democracy” and genuine democratic discourse can only be participatory and collective. The power to write and publish, he notes, may finally be in the hands of everyone (after centuries of domination by religious and political elites), but real democracy isn’t just blogging and commenting, it’s treating the entire world as “open source” and remarkable by direct participation.
The fourth of the six articles in the special anti-transhumanism issue of The Global Spiral (June 2008) is “Wrestling with Transhumanism” by well-known critic Katherine Hayles, Distinguished Professor of English and media studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Singularity concept remains inescapable these days, although rarely well-understood. Both are unfortunate developments, for essentially the same reason: the popularity of the term “Singularity” has undermined its narrative value. Its use in a discussion is almost guaranteed to become the focus of a debate, one that rarely changes minds. This is especially unfortunate because the underlying idea is, in my view, a useful tool for thinking about how we’ll face the challenges of the 21st century.
Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher writes widely on the biological basis of love, sex and relationships. She is a consultant for the computer dating firm Chemistry.com. We talk about the potential therapeutic uses of the neurochemistry of love.
On October 2, 2007, Robert Sawyer gave a talk at the University of Waterloo entitled “A Galaxy Far, Far Away” My Ass!, about science fiction’s relevance for the here and now. TVOntario’s lecture series Big Ideas produced an MP3 of the talk.
“The longer our lives, the more we’ll have a chance to see that there’s no self living them.” - James Hughes. What is Transhumanism and how is it related to Buddhist practice? Will technology enable us to radically extend our lifespans, help us control our thoughts and emotions, and bring about the potential to upload our consciousness into virtual reality spaces? And if so, what are the deeper implications for our contemplative traditions. Will these advances actually support the deepening of wisdom? According to professor James Hughes, a Buddhist practitioner and leading voice in the Transhumanist movement, these advances will enable us to deconstruct the notion and experience we have of an “authentic self” and will support the development of happiness, and the cessation of suffering. (MP3)
In my continuing program of reading, and commenting on, the six articles about transhumanism in June’s edition of The Global Spiral, I now come to “Of Which Human Are We Post?” by Don Idhe, who approaches the issues from a perspective in philosophy of technology.
I am examining the articles on transhumanism in the current issue of The Global Spiral , an online magazine published by the Metanexus Institute. The articles in the issue were presented at a research conference on transhumanism in April 2008, at Arizona State University (ASU), funded by the Templeton Foundation. The Templeton Foundation also supports Metanexus Institute.