The fifth Hart survey of what American adults think about emerging technologies like nanotechnology and synthetic biology has been released by my former colleagues at the Woodrow Wilson Center - the first since I left the group earlier this year.
Nina Paley and Mike Treder debate the merits of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.
Why Nina desires the extinction of humanity (04:10)
Why Mike wants people to stick around (04:51)
Humans as exotic invaders (05:01)
In search of feasible methods of population control (12:58)
Do our art, science, and culture make up for our rapaciousness? (13:39)
Nina’s critique of intellectual property (05:07)
I’ll be speaking at the Singularity Summit AU this Sunday afternoon, on the topic “Survival Beyond the Flesh” - which relates to the prospect of “uploading” rather than to anything of a more otherworldly or spiritual kind.
The ongoing debate between PZ Myers and Ray Kurzweil about reverse engineering the human brain is fairly representative of the same debate that’s been going in futurist circles for quite some time now. And as the Myers/Kurzweil conversation attests, there is little consensus on the best way for us to achieve human-equivalent AI.
We are in for a time of major decision-making as the Moore’s Law of Cameras (sometimes called “Brin’s Corollary to Moore’s Law”) takes hold and elites of all kinds are tempted to utilize surveillance in Orwellian/controlling ways, often with rationalized good intentions.
About 30 persons attended the ASIM 2010 Conference, satellite to the Singularity Summit 2010, San Francisco, August 16-17th. Besides the participants in San Francisco, about 25 remote participants attended online in Teleplace.
The videos of ASIM 2010 talks and discussions have been posted to blip.tv:
The world’s population will grow to 9 billion over the next 50 years â€” and only by raising the living standards of the poorest can we check population growth. This is the paradoxical answer that Hans Rosling unveils at TED@Cannes using colorful new data display technology (you’ll see).
Back in July, the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) posted a Request For Information in the Federal Register for input to the next NNI strategic plan - to be published later this year. The closing date for comments was a couple of weeks ago now. I got mine in in the nick of time.
The IEET’s Mike Treder recently asked a loaded question: “If you could live in a world that was just the way you wanted it to be, with specifications you’d chosen, customized and personalized to meet your every need and fulfill your fondest desires, would you spend all your time there? Or would you prefer to stay here, in the real world?”
Many scientists around the world believe that we need to focus on ways of making our urban and natural environments more resilient. So what is the idea of resilience science? And how can it help deal with future environmental challenges? An interview with Dr Brian Walker, chair of the Resilience Alliance, Guy Barnett, researcher for Sustainable Ecosystems, and ecologist Paul Ryan.
Also: Future Governance In a world where issues like climate change, population and migration are challenging the way we organise our societies. How should we address some of these issues? And what affect will they have on the future of governance? listen | download (4.4MB)
With the US facing a possible double dip recession, and a resurgent far right political movement poised to sweep into Congress in the Fall elections, I found myself reading two strangely complementary dystopian novels about economic collapse. The first, Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by Survivalblog writer James Rawles, is a manual for right-wing survivalist gun-nuts dressed up like a novel. The second, Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, is an example of contemporary literature at its finest. Although from nearly opposite ends of the social universe both novels see the spiraling economic and political crisis in the United States ending in the complete collapse of the Republic as we know it.
Quite a story developing in Chile: the 33 miners who are trapped 700 meters underground will have to wait about four months before they are rescued. That’s obviously not going to be easy on the men who have been trapped for over 18 days already. Keeping it together psychologically, physically and socially for that extent of time will undoubtedly prove challenging.
When we last spoke about sex, we discussed the neurotransmitters involved in pleasure and attraction, namely dopamine and oxytocin. Now let’s look a little deeper into the action of those neurotransmitters and how we can manipulate their action - to extend the neurological orgasm for as long as possible.
As part of the promotion of the forthcoming film “Jim” the producers have set up a site for a genetic enhancement firm Lorigen Engineering.
On the Lorigen site they have a parody of the IEET’s concern about universal access to enhancement technologies:
We believe that everyone has the right to secure their genetic legacy and build a better future for themselves and their children. We also know that the kind of assurance we offer isn’t cheap, and that for some of the less fortunate among us it may even seem unattainable.
That’s why we’ve come up with some innovative assistance programs to help people in these difficult financial times achieve their dreams. Our new Genet-AssistÂ® financial aid packages can help you design the child of your dreams within the budget you can afford. Our â€œFuture Earnings Metricsâ€ can help to determine the potential economic output of your enhanced child so you can make the tough decisions with confidence. In fact, we’re so confident in the predictive power of this new system that we’ll even help finance your package by taking equity out of your child’s projected value in the form of a loan and applying it toward the design and birth processes. And if that’s still not enough, we’re working with members of Congress right now on a new federal assistance program that will help you to defer the interest and offset some of the costs through tax credits and rebates. All so you can rest assured that your child’s future is secure and bright.
Not exactly what we have in mind when we talk about “access.”
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Katalin Balog, an Associate Professor at Rutgers/Newark. Prior to her current position she taught at Yale for 10 years. Prof. Balog is primarily a philosopher of mind and psychology though her interests intersect with metaphysics and philosophy of language. Her interest spans both Western psychology (cognitive and evolutionary psychology but also psycho-analysis) and Eastern (especially Buddhist) psychology. She is currently working on problems related to the nature of consciousness, personal identity and free will.
Imagine this sci-fi scenario: A small tribe with unique literature, customs and myths believes they’ve been “chosen” for a glorious destiny. But they’re driven out of their native land, forced to wander the globe for aeons, persecuted and annihilated, until they’re impelled by a utopian novel to return to their homeland. They name their new city after the inspirational book and their country becomes a technological powerhouse… but still, they’re surrounded by enemies. They wage eternal war, they hover between hope and apocalypse”¦ their contributions to humanity are astounding but they continue to fear total extinction. Familiar? Of course. I’ve described Israel and the Jews.