The search for Earth-like planets is reaching a fever-pitch. Does the evidence so far help shed light on the ancient question: Is the galaxy filled with life, or is Earth just a beautiful, lonely aberration? If things dont work out on this planet Or if our itch to explore becomes unbearable at some point in the future Astronomers have recently found out what kind of galactic real estate might be available to us. Well have to develop advanced transport to land there, 20 light years away. The question right now: is it worth the trip?
A recent census shows India is becoming an increasingly male-dominated society. With the birth of a son considered more financially lucrative, unborn baby girls are falling victim to gender-selected abortions. And as RT’s Priya Sridhar reports, this ‘gendercide’ could have a devastating effect on the country’s future.
Last year I predicted that the Chinese bubble will burst soon, and that it’s unlikely that China will become the biggest economy in the world any time soon, contrary to what most analysts predict (See The great illusion?). Now it looks like India might also disappoint, although for completely different reasons.
Forbes blogger Alex Knapp, who often covers advanced technology and futurist topics, recently wrote a post titled Ray Kurzweil’s Predictions for 2009 Were Mostly Inaccurate... Some of Knapp’s posts are annoyingly opinionated and closed-minded, but this one was well-put together, and I made a lengthy comment there, which I repeat here.
Martine Rothblatt. J.D., Ph.D., author, producer, entrepreneur and Founder/President of Terasem Movement, Inc., contemplates manners in which the legal system will accommodate multiple versions of our future selves, be it a single or multiple versions or across multiple substrates of the originating, conscious person.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule does not currently regulate cryonics facilities. Because cryonics facilities do not engage in “standard transactions,” they are not included within the definition of Covered Entity. However, the HIPAA Privacy Rule only regulates a few activities that cryonics facilities are likely to engage in, and so would not likely impose much of a burden upon cryonics facilities if they were required to comply with it. Additionally, because of the special nature of cryonics and the potentially same motivations that allow patient PHI to be disclosed fifty years after legal death do not apply to patients who are cryopreserved, the proposed disclosure rule ought to be altered to continue protecting a cryonics patient PHI throughout the patient’s period of suspended animation. The harm that could possibly come from over protecting a cryonics patient PHI is far outweighed by the benefit to patients who are eventually revived from suspended animation and have not had their PHI publically disclosed.
In a state-of-the-art submersible, National Geographic explorer-in-residence and filmmaker James Cameron reached the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, breaking a world record for the deepest solo dive.
Let’s build a Dyson sphere! By enveloping the sun with a massive array of solar panels, humanity would graduate to a Type 2 Kardashev civilization capable of utilizing nearly 100% of the sun’s energy output.
A tech company called Envia Systems has announced that it is able to produce rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion, i.e., the standard kind of rechargeable batteries that go in everything from phones to electric cars) with a world-record energy density of 400 Watt-hours per kilogram! (Gigaom has lots of info, and useful background material.) Cool, right?
Sometimes, the creation is better than its creator. Robots today perform surgeries, shoot people, fly planes, drive cars, replace astronauts, baby-sit kids, build cars, fold laundry, have sex, and can even eat (but not human bodies, the manufacturer insists). They might not always do these tasks well, but they are improving rapidly. In exchange for such irresistible benefits, the Robotic Revolution also demands that we adapt to new risks and responsibilities.
“We are now armed by physics to face the nonentity which is theology.” Professor Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author of the God Delusion, The Magic of Reality, the Selfish Gene and many other great books, addresses the 38th national convention of American Atheists. He encourages nonbelievers to ask the difficult questions of those claiming to be believers.
If global warming melts the Earth’s ice caps, New York City could be awash in water. WSJ’s Robert Lee Hotz reports how a possible rise in sea levels is putting New York at risk and what engineers are proposing to protect the populous city.
The notion of gun-propelled launch goes back to Jules Verne. Such Mass Drivers have been envisioned in numerous Sci Fi tales, including Earthlight, by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Heart of the Comet by Benford & Brin. We’ve also seen them portrayed in Buck Rogers, Babylon 5 and Halo. Now, two researchers propose that a space-capable mass driver may be feasible.
Our society has evolved in many aspects, except one ... our social system. We need to introduce matching solutions to our problems, but what’s happening at the moment is ignoring instead of solving. Our politicians have prostituted themselves in order to keep their positions. If we rely on them, we will still be waiting in 100 years time.
Along with researcher Agata Sagan, Princeton’s Peter Singer—perhaps the world’s most well-known bioethicist—recently wrote a NY Times article that asked readers to consider whether they’re ready to endorse a hypothetical “morality pill” —a drug that alters brain chemistry and prompts altruistic behavior. Singer and Sagan introduce this pharmacological idea to bring a new question to life: Will outdated conceptions of free will get in the way of sound moral reasoning? However interesting this question might at first sound, it is formulated in rhetorical terms that misrepresent medical science fiction as if it were a meditation on a provocative empirical scientific trajectory. Although Singer and Sagan might characterize their article as a classic thought experiment, their framing is so problematic that we introduce a new and deliberately provocative label called a thoughtless experiment.
“Empathy” is a word that props up quite frequently in IEET articles and comment threads, but it is also one of those words that people use quite a lot without necessarily having a very clear idea of what it means. I therefore thought it might be helpful to share some reflections about what empathy actually is, and why it might be important for the future of humanity.
Would a person whose immune system starts declining after puberty, and finally gives up before 123, be normal? This statement largely sums up my transhumanist view that “normal” is misunderstood. The physiological (cognitive and the somatic) state of human existence “normality” ought to be a state of enhancement.
In Orwell’s 1984, everyone is under complete surveillance by the authorities, mainly by television cameras. The people are constantly reminded of this by the phrase “Big Brother is watching you”, which is the core “truth” of the propaganda system in this state. Since the publication of 1984, the term “Big Brother” has entered the lexicon as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties, often specifically related to mass surveillance.
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