A U.S. bi-partisan commission is warning that the world will “more likely than not” face a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons by 2013 if governments fail to undertake major security and prevention measures.
I was pinged recently by the UK outfit Forum for the Future, a foresight team specializing in sustainable futures. They wanted to know what I thought would be the key issues the world would be confronting in 2030. “Climate” is the first thing that popped to mind, unsurprisingly, and we talked for a bit about what that might look like. (I also argued for molecular nanotechnology as a likely disruptive element to the world of 2030, and I’ll examine what that might mean down the road.)
The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict
When bio-cons ask how we could possibly want to spend several billion dollars on anti-aging research when X human need is still unmet I nearly pass out from the absurdity. One of the many answers is that we could fund anti-aging AND all unmet human needs if we built a truly multilateral security system, and stopped wasting trillions on criminal imperial overreach.
Doug did a Skype interview last week with some smart people from the UK who run a site called Right Where You are Sitting Now. Here’s their intro, and the link:
This week we talk to one of my all time favourite writers and thinkers Douglas Rushkoff. In this episode we discuss Obama’s potential to tap into bottom-up politics, what happens if we stop believing in the economy, Conspiracy Culture, hacking reality, what the next renaissance might look like, writing comics, why advertising doesn’t work and Magick. I really hope you enjoy this special 20th episode of the show. I’m a HUGE fan of Mr Rushkoff making this a very special episode for me!
A great aspect of futurism these days is just how multi-disciplinary it is. The recent Convergence08 UnConference was a case in point. This event brought together a diverse array of thinkers with interests spanning the fields of synthetic biology, cognitive science, AI, nanotechnology, political science, economics, cosmology and more. For futurists and transhumanists alike, there’s virtually no topic that’s off limit—you just need to geek-up the conversation accordingly.
Obama and the Democrats have come sweeping in. Now what? All those fundamental liberal democratic rights which we have been fighting to maintain throughout these past dark years of GOP dominance are now suddenly of much lesser urgency for activists.
Abstract: Transhumanism – the proposition that human beings should use technology to transcend the limitations of the body and brain – is a product of the Enlightenment humanist tradition. As a consequence most avowed transhumanists are secular, and many religious are skeptical or hostile towards the transhumanist project. However there are also many religious transhumanists who find the project of human enhancement at least consistent with, and sometimes a fulfillment of, their metaphysics, soteriologies and eschatologies. Transhumanism appears to be especially compatible with religious traditions that emphasize human agency and evolution to a transcendent state, such as Buddhism, or that have incorporated Enlightenment values, such as liberal Christianity. But elements of the transhumanist worldview and enhancement technologies are compatible with one element or another of most world faiths, even the most fundamentalist. We can thus expect that human enhancement technologies will be adopted creatively into the theologies of groups within all the world’s faiths, producing many flavors of “trans-spirituality.”
Magnetic brain stimulation improves dexterity. Rebecca Roache on why the cheating objection to smart drugs doesn’t work. Will employers pressure staff to take brain boosters? Genetics of having an iron will. Carbon nanotube neuron interface. Happy People Read, Socialize, but don’t watch TV. Spirituality protects against depression better than church attendance. Happiness and the plural self. The Rise in Cosmetic Vaginal Surgery. Puberty suppression for TG pre-teens. Male-to-female transsexualism gene found. MTF transsexuals earn more, but FTMs earn less after transsexual transition.
Tom Daschle and the encouraging signs of imminent health care reform. Michael Lind on Obama and the dawn of the Fourth Republic. Why zombies are red and vampires are blue. A technoprogressive critique of Eric Cohen and the bioconservatives. Anti-aging pills. Colin Farrelly advocates for the Longevity Dividend. Why libertarians don’t really understand the implications of the Singularity. MP3
Some say that once exponential general-purpose molecular manufacturing (MM) is achieved, our worries about global warming and climate change will be over. A relatively simple solution like tiny balloons fitted with adjustable mirrors could give us all the control we need to moderate warming and create preferred climate conditions.
Robert Socolow, Co-Director, The Carbon Mitigation Initiative and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University
Discussant: Dr. Bennett Foddy, Harold T. Shapiro Postdoctoral Fellow in Bioethics, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
(Oct 14, 2008 at Princeton University) As we gain understanding of the workings of our planet, we are identifying planetary-scale interventions (like injecting reflecting particles into the stratosphere) that might compensate for the unprecedented changes human actions are already creating. Suppose side effects are judged to be tolerable and ground rules for governance are developed that all nations accept. We are still left with questions about objectives: What planetary state should we seek? Should we intervene, even if we can? A textured understanding of our long-term future as a species is needed. Might this be the territory of philosophy? This is part three of a 5-part “Ethics and Climate Change” series sponsored by the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) and the University Center for Human Values.
Professor Socolow’s current research focuses on global carbon management and fossil-carbon sequestration. He is the co-principal investigator (with ecologist, Stephen Pacala) of Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), a $20-million dollar, ten-year (2001-2010) project supported by BP and Ford. Under CMI, Princeton has launched new, coordinated research in environmental science, energy technology, geological engineering, and public policy. Additional interests include global allocation of climate mitigation responsibility, efficient use of energy, nuclear energy, and geoengineering.
Think of a futuristic war scenario where soldiers are firing smart weapons from the confines of their command centres.weapons that are capable of intercepting and destroying virtually all enemy attack weapons and yet, they are fired from unmanned vehicles thereby minimising all possibilities of human casualties.
This put me at the end of a long line of thinkers I’ve long admired: Buckminster Fuller, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Gregory Bateson, Robert Anton Wilson, Abraham Maslow, Ellen Langer, Albert Ellis…you get the idea. It’s hard to accept the fact that I’ve grown up, and that most of the generation of thinkers before me have already moved on. But someone has to carry the torch, and that may as well be all of us.
The lecture has a lot to do with the subject of my upcoming book, Life Incorporated: How a business plan took over the world and how to take it back, which I just finished rewriting last night to include the current financial crisis. It’s the same book, except instead of warning that our corporatist behaviors will soon lead us into a financial crisis, I get to show how it all happened and how to get out. It makes the job of explaining the book or convincing people to read it a lot easier. I’m much less a Cassandra, now, warning of imminent meltdown - and I don’t have to spend as much time doing what might appear to some as naysaying or scolding. We’re all aware that we’re in a fine mess, now, and already interested in understanding what happened and how to fix it.
I tried to make this lecture provocative to the General Semantics people, in particular. General Semantics has over the years limited itself, I argue, to self-help technologies from NLP and psychotherapy to EST and self-hypnosis. All this focus on the self really started back during the renaissance, and coincided with some really dark presuppositions about human nature such as self-interest. And - as I show in the book - these are really just artifacts of corporatism.
The object of the game, I think, is not to change the self (which doesn’t even really exist) but to change the world.
Arthur Caplan, PhD, director of the Center for Bioethics, was named to Discover Magazine’s “Smartest People on the Planet” list, which includes picks “from genius kids and rising stars to unsung heroes and self-styled outsiders.” IEET’s Executive Director was honored to have the opportunity to heartily endorse the choice of Dr. Caplan.
Mike Latorra and J. Hughes presented a workshop on the themes of future mass unemployment and our need to use neurotechnologies to pursue flourishing personalities instead of psychological and cultural stasis. George took notes.
In today's catastrophic risks and resilience seminar, perhaps the most disturbing presentation was by J. Storrs (Josh) Hall, who gave a talk on “The Weather Machine: Nano-enabled Climate Control for the Earth.”
The IEET, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology and the Lifeboat Foundation hosted a very successful meeting on Global Catastrophic Risks (GCR) on Friday, November 14 here in Mountain View, before the still ongoing future-palooza Convergence 08.
In this episode we bring back the Geeks of the Round Table segment. Joining us is one of our regulars Duff McDuffee, and a new geek to the lineup, Mike LaTorra. Mike is the resident teacher of the Soto Zen Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
During this conversation we discuss an article written by Shambhala Acharaya Judy Lief entitled, Glimpses of Awakening. We discuss the ideals surrounding awakening, and use the classic three trainings model (of ethics, concentration, & wisdom) to explore what enlightenment is about.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2 (airing next week).
Do the current economic slowdown, the dwindling of fossil fuels, and the looming disasters of climate change mean we should aspire to a new steady state economic model, instead of the growth-based economics of the past? Or do emerging technologies like nanotechnology offer a third alternative, a growing and sustainable economy?