Dr. J. chats with Max More, founder of the Extropy Institute and one of the founders of contemporary transhumanism. They discuss the relationship of transhumanism and religion, virtue theory versus utilitarianism and the ethical and political underpinnings of the extropian worldview. Part 2 of 2. (Part 1 is here)
Dr. J. chats with neuroscientist William Church about his exploration of the relationship of religion and science, and his hope that the two can eventually be mutually enriching instead of antagonistic. Part 2 of 2. (Part 1 is here)
WBUR’s On Point talked with big thinker Douglas Rushkoff about his â€œten commandsâ€ for living right in the digital age.
The digital world around us - Facebook, Google, and all the rest - has grown so big, so fast, that people come to think of it as a given, like gravity or the speed of light. Of course, it’s not. The digital world is thoroughly engineered, by human hands, and for human ends, like making money.
Big media critic and theorist Douglas Rushkoff wants to be sure we don’t forget that. Otherwise, he warns, as lives migrate to the digital realm, we run the risk of being slaves, not masters, of its power.
And the thing that gets programmed may be us.
Here are Rushkoff’s â€œ10 commands,â€ as summarized by SXTXState.com:
1. Time. Thou shall not be always on. We are turning an asynchronous net as always on. He encouraged saying â€œMy time is mine.â€
2. Distance. Thou shalt not do from a distance what can be done in person. Using long distance in short distance situations. Don’t use distance learning in localized context.
3. Scale - the Internet is biased to scale up. Exalt the particular. Not everything scales, should scale or needs to scale.
4. Discrete - everything is a choice. You may always choose none of the above. Sites like Facebook promote forced choice, you have to choose from a set of options.
5. Complexity - the net reduces complexity. Thou shalt never be completely right.
6. Non-corporeal - out of body. Thou shalt not be anonymous. Rushkoff says â€œwork against tendency of the net to promote anonymity.â€ Anonymity encourages becoming part of polarized mobs with no sense of consequence, it side steps prejudices. It is liberating to promote yourself online.
7. Contact is king (not content). Remember the humans. â€œSocial marketing is an oxymoron.â€
8. Abstraction - as above, so not below. Print abstracts text from the scribe. Hypertext takes it a step further.
9. Openness. Thou shalt not steal. When there is no social contract, openness can continue until there is no one left to give things away. Nothing is free.
10. End users - technology is biased toward consumers. Programmed or be programmed.
This article discusses simulation as an optimal vehicle for brain plasticity, a primary and distinct area of neuroscience and essential to human enhancement. By speculating on second-order enhancement cybernetics, the article links the 3D, virtual world of the metaverse to an epoch of plasticity, and also frames the practice of enhancement as taking place in this epoch. An arguable key issue of simulation and enhancement is the tension between desire and feasibility: a desire for greater than human attributes and what is technologically feasible for designing and developing such post-biological attributes. For example, a person may desire to have 24-hour remote brain integration with the metaverse but this is not feasible because (1) the technology has not been developed to do this safely; (2) the costs of research and development of artificial general intelligence and nano-robots to build a metabrain integration with the metaverse is vastly expensive; (3) patents have to be secured and take time; (4) the FDA may intervene preventing a human from integrating the brain with the net or metaverse. Further, while a person may desire to be an upload he or she has to face similar circumstances: (1) the technology has been developed to integrate the brain and computer safely; (2) the costs of R and D are enormous; (3) the ethical and moral issues are predominant; (4) this new construct for personhood may have a social and ideological impact.
In this talk, sponsored by the New York Public Library and FORA.tv, science commentators Kevin Kelly, Steven Johnson, and Robert Krulwich discuss accelerating technologies and whether they will benefit or harm our society.
Many of the controversies in bioethics and medicine today stem from differing views on life: when it begins, when and how we should protect it, and what our views on life say about our culture and society as a whole.
Ronald Bailey over at Reason Magazine has noticed a trend. When a new technology comes out, particularly if it impacts birth or death, people have a very powerful initial reaction: “Yuck!” However, within a few years, that “yuck” quickly shifts to “yippie!”
Lots of fuss these days over Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), particularly as it pertains to women’s health. The disorder, which used to be called Inhibited Sexual Desire Disorder, is in the DSM-III-R and is characterized as a lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity for some period of time. It’s important to note that, for this to be regarded as a disorder, it must cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulties and not be better accounted for by another mental disorder (i.e. depression), a drug (legal or illegal), or some other medical condition.
When we sit back and think about how matter in its simplest stable macro form like protons, neutrons, and electrons, with properties that have the ability to retain information about how to carry on its complexity within different environmental factors, we reach a point where we can imagine these stable forms of matter becoming processes of life. We naturally use our mind to create conceptions of the nature of physical and chemical processes.
The immediate lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster are pretty obvious - we (or at least somebody) messed up! But what about the less obvious lessons, especially those concerning technology innovation and how it’s handled?
Dr. J. chats with neuroscientist William Church about his exploration of the relationship of religion and science, and his hope that the two can eventually be mutually enriching instead of antagonistic. Part 1 of 2.
This is one of the most important and thought-provoking articles I’ve read in the New York Times in quite some time: The Meat Eaters by Rutgers philosopher Jeff McMahan. In the article, McMahan asks the question, “Would the controlled extinction of carnivorous species be a good thing?” His conclusion is yes:
We don’t live in scientifically or technologically advanced times. We live in a scientifically and technologically patchy world, one in which different societies, industries, individuals, and even specific roles of individuals have all adopted widely separated levels of technology.
The whole discussion about what we’ll find immoral in the future got me thinking about that little group often described as our collective “future”: children. We often hear about children as our future when someone says, “Think of the children!” or “We shouldn’t leave this problem for our children to solve!”
It wields enormous influence, acts as a catalyst for social change and empowers its users to become both consumers and creators of information on a global scale. This March, the BBCs international news services - BBC World Service, BBC World News and BBC.com - are exploring the ways in which the internet is transforming the world in a special season of programming called Superpower - go to www.bbc.com/superpower to find out more.
New technologies depend on uncommon materials, and society depends on new technologies. Which means that economies that develop the former and control the latter have something of an upper hand in today’s interconnected and technology-dependent world.
This week, CBC TV (Canada) will show Surviving the Future, an hour-long documentary on the major challenges facing humanity over the next half-century and the amazing technologies and social shifts underway to meet those challenges.
Directed by the award-winning documentarian Marc de Guerre, Surviving the Future is an intense piece of work, featuring interviews with a wide variety of scientists, writers, and other thinkers, including the IEET’s Jamais Cascio.
Edited down, here are the thoughts that Jamais contributed, adding up to about 5 minutes out of the (commercials subtracted) 43 minutes of the documentary.