In July 2008 the Future of Humanity Institute hosted a number of leading experts on different global catastrophic risks.
The conference provided delegates with an overview of the key risks, and the state of current thinking on each of them. It brought scholars together from many different disciplines to discuss the common problems and methodologies which affect the study of global catastrophic risks.
Topics treated included nuclear terrorism, cosmic threats such as supernova, comets and asteroids, the long term fate of the universe, pandemics, nanotechnology, ecological disasters which drastically reduce biodiversity, climate change, biotechnology and biosecurity, the cognitive biases associated with making judgements in the context of global catastrophic risk, social collapse, and the role of the insurance industry in mitigating and quantifying risk.
In this talk Chris Phoenix of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) and IEET Managing Director Mike Treder, then Executive Director of the CRN, speak to the emerging risks and benefits of molecular manufacturing.
Do you think modern medicine is on the brink of eliminating disease forever? Not quite yet, it seems, which is why health insurance will remain a necessity for at least the next few decades. But just because we need insurance doesn’t mean we should allow corporations to steal from the healthy to cheat the unhealthy.
There is an absolutely stellar article in the New York Times about Dr. Richard Wrangham’s essay “Catching Fire.” Go read it now. If you finish it and want to know even more, like I did, go read the Slate review as well.
Over on his Sentient Developments blog, IEET board member George Dvorsky has compiled and posted a list of what he calls “The Top 10 Existential Movies of All Time.” As a serious film buff, I was immediately prompted to respond by naming a few important—and great—existential movies that George left off his list. I’ll get to my own favorites in a moment, but first we should lay down some ground rules.
Our growing ability to decode and re-encode genomes has enabled rapid responses to emerging diseases, but also potentially empowers would-be bio-terrorists. It is urgent that we develop national and international policies to regulate this dual use technology to ensure its benefits and minimize its risks.
Browsing through my DVD collection recently I realized that I have a fairly decent selection of what can be called ‘existential movies’—philosophical films that study the nature of existence and what it means to be alive. It’s debatable as to what defines the ‘quintessential’ existential movie, but ultimately it must speak to the human condition and reframe it in such a way that the viewer gains an enhanced appreciation of their own existence and situation in life. These are the kinds of films that you find yourself reflecting back upon time and time again as you engage in your own day-to-day life, struggles and relationships.
IEET Fellow Douglas Rushkoff is author of, among his dozen books, Playing the Future, Open Source Democracy and Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out, the novels Ecstasy Club and Exit Strategy, and the graphic novels Club Zero-G and Testament. He has written and hosted two award-winning Frontline documentaries, and is working on a third, Digital Nation. He hosts a weekly radio show the Media Squat. We discuss his most recent book Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back (lifeincorporated.net). (Part 2 of 2)
IEET Fellow Douglas Rushkoff is author of, among his dozen books, Playing the Future, Open Source Democracy and Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out, the novels Ecstasy Club and Exit Strategy, and the graphic novels Club Zero-G and Testament. He has written and hosted two award-winning Frontline documentaries, and is working on a third, Digital Nation. He hosts a weekly radio show the Media Squat. We discuss his most recent book Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back (lifeincorporated.net). (Part 1 of 2)
In this video Jamais Cascio talks about Mobile Intelligence (”Your Brain’s Future, Mobilized”). This is about the Augmented Future: augmented awareness, augmented society, augmented environments… He sketches 3 possible futures: participatory, interconnected and leapfrog - all with different features and also why it is matters to be aware of this.
Born in Hawaii—a crossroads of culture between Far East and Far West—of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya and raised partially in Indonesia by a Muslim stepfather, an African-American man with an unlikely background and an even more unlikely name, Barack Hussein Obama, arose to become President of the United States. Does that globalized pedigree, along with a prodigious intellect, give him a unique moral authority?
Social critic Douglas Rushkoff is ready to think big in response to the economic crisis still rocking the U.S. and the world. Really big.
Rushkoff thinks we got off track as a society a ways back. About 400 years back.
He’s not against capitalism. But the form we fell into –corporate capitalism – is killing us, he says. Killing values and communities. Turning us into the “brand that is me.” Turning homes into investments and 401k balances into cold barometers of success or failure.
It doesn’t have to be this way, he says.
This hour, On Point: Douglas Rushkoff rethinks our corporatized lives.
A few “bugs” in society from hundreds of years ago have had profound consequences for society today, according to author Douglas Rushkoff. In this presentation from the Web 2.0 Expo he points out two false assumptions about the world, their medieval origins, and how the internet has provided a brief window where we can fix them.
One myth is that corporations promote free market capitalism, but they were originally monopolies granted by royalty to prolong and fund monarchy. The other myth is that currency is money, but national currency has prevented thriving trade among peers that existed in ancient times. The new opportunity the internet provides is to make a living by building and keeping businesses that create value for other people, rather than large corporations.
As shocking as the Simulation Argument is, it’s (arguably) a revelation that’s no less shocking than previous existential paradigm shifts. While undoubtedly disturbing to the people alive at the time, previous civilizations have come to grips with the knowledge that they do not live on a flat Earth nor at the center of the Universe.
“The real key to genetic engineering is control of intellectual property of the food crops that we depend on,” says author Michael Pollan of companies like Monsanto. He advocates an open source GE model.
Although this is an Onion news piece (ergo parody) the issue is real. In some states couples that want to get married have to have been different genders at birth, while in others they only have to be different genders when asking for the permit, which has meant that trans-women can only marry women in some states, but can only marry men in others.
Over the next two or three decades, our world will change dramatically and in many different ways: we should expect political, economic, social, technological, and environmental uplifts and quite possibly revolutions. Understanding where we’ve come from, where we might go—and what our choices could be—is a first step toward taking active control over our lives and the world in which we live.
Christopher Dye spoke at Gresham College in London March 26, 2009. It was thought that the dramatic extension of life spans during the 20th century eliminated natural selection, but new evidence shows that to be false. Will selection always be natural, or could postmodern also mean posthuman? Christopher Dye is Director of Health Information in the Office of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization and Gresham Professor of Physic in the City of London.
It’s been an interesting few weeks for the announcement of potentially dazzling new online applications, from Microsoft’s search engine Bing, and Google’s collaborative communication tool Wave, to the giant killer of them all, Wolfram Alpha, supposedly the biggest thing since, well, Google.
Dr. J. chats with Barbara Oakley about her book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend (evilgenes.com), a sweeping review of the emerging neuroscience of psychopathy and Machiavellianism, and their relationship to history, politics and evolution. (Part 2 of 2)
Dr. J. chats with Barbara Oakley about her book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend (evilgenes.com), a sweeping review of the emerging neuroscience of psychopathy and Machiavellianism, and their relationship to history, politics and evolution. (Part 1 of 2)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.