“Approaches to reducing [global] suffering have traditionally been political or communitarian in nature. However, something has been changing in recent decades; technological development has been accelerating making new approaches to old problems possible.” This is particularly true when it comes to education and training in areas like Africa.
On Wednesday we spoke with Celinda Lake, a leading strategist for Democrats and progressive organizations, about the election’s results. Her key observations:
● It was a “wave” election. That can be seen in the Democrats’ devastating gubernatorial, as well as senatorial, losses.
● The wave began forming years ago, with perceptions about the effectiveness of Washington’s leadership.
● Turnout shaped the results.
● Given current economic conditions, and lacking a coherent plan for changing them, Democratic candidates were waging an all-but-impossible struggle in many states.
“There was not a rejection of the Democratic agenda,” she points out, noting that when voters had an opportunity to vote directly on policy issues like the minimum wage – “when voters could take matters into their own hands” – they supported progressive positions.
The link above goes to a portion of the discussion which occurs about midway through the interview, but it is all worth hearing.
Confused about “Obamacare?” We can help! Health insurance used to be too expensive for many people. But now, under the health care law—also know as “Obamacare”- plans will be more affordable. Find out what to consider in a plan as a woman, and how to get enrolled. Check out the video and visit our website PlannedParenthoodHealthInsuranceFacts.org to learn more.
Prior to the twentieth century, humans had primarily one route to transcendence of the physical universe, namely supernatural religion. Over the millennia, this central institution of traditional cultures had evolved, but not yet fully unraveled. Early in human history, the distinction between religion and magic was blurred, and priests pretended to cure people of physical diseases, a job gradually given over to physicians. Even in ancient days, legislatures were the primary source of laws in many societies, but religion sanctified the state, and some societies were theocracies.
C.M. Chan, legal counsel at Sir Elly Kadoorie & Sons Limited in Hong Kong and MPA/MC ‘15; William C. Kirby, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies, and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration, HBS; and Heather Pickerell, Harvard College ‘15, all joined moderator Anthony Saich, Director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, in a discussion on the 2014 protests in Hong Kong. The panelists considered the relationship between the Chinese government and Hong Kong, the options that Hong Kong has to make elections more representative, and the potential of the student-led protests to succeed.
The new movie “Interstellar” explores a longstanding fascination, but UA astrophysicists are using cutting-edge technology to go one better. They’re working on how to take pictures of the black hole at the center of the galaxy.
In 1985, The University of Arizona established an interdisciplinary Theoretical Astrophysics Program to foster scientific and academic links amongst the Physics, Astronomy, and Planetary Sciences departments, as well as the Applied Mathematics program and the NOAO. This program administers a colloquium series, a matching grants program, and prizes for student research.
There are serious thinkers—Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Michio Kaku, Marshall Brain, Aubrey de Grey and others—who foresee that technology may enable humans to defeat death. There are also dissenters who argue that this is exceedingly unlikely. And there are those like Bill Joy who think that such technologies are technologically feasible but morally reprehensible.
We are entering the age of robotics. Robots will soon be assisting us in our homes; stacking our warehouses; driving our cars; delivering our Amazon purchases; providing emergency medical care; and generally taking our jobs. There’s lots to ponder as they do so. One obvious question — obvious at least to lawyers — is whether the age of robotics poses any unique challenges to our legal system?
Michael Fossel‘s dream is to reverse human aging and since 1996 he has been a strong and vocal advocate of experimenting with telomerase therapy as a potential way of intervention in a wide variety of medical conditions related to aging. In addition, Fossel is one of those unique people who are a real pleasure to not only see speaking from the stage but also to meet in person. And having done both of these, I can honestly say that Michael is as much an impassioned expert speaker as he is a compassionate human being. Not only that but he is also a generous host, who loves entertaining guests visiting his fabulous house near Rapid Falls, Michigan and I have to admit I had tons of fun socializing with him both in front and behind camera. So, all in all, it was a lot of fun meeting and interviewing Dr. Fossel for my Singularity 1 on 1 podcast.
During our 1 hour discussion with Michael we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: his dream to reverse aging and the desirability and feasibility thereof; the Hayflick limit of cell division and Aubrey de Grey’s concerns that telomerase therapy may cause cancer; the distinction between reversing aging and living forever; his “non-sexy” tips on healthy living; his take on cryonics and transhumanism…
My favorite quotes that I will take away from this interview with Michael Fossel are:
“Ageing is dynamic, not static”
“Never mind the low-hanging fruit. [...] Go for the important one!”
“The reason to do this [reverse aging] is not to double somebody’s lifespan. The reason to do this is because people out there are hurting. They are frightened. They are terrified by the things that happen to them when they get disease. The reason to do this is because we are human and we should be working at this. It’s not playing God, it is working at being human. It’s compassion. It’s not a matter of living longer, it is a matter of making people healthy again.”
Author of a major upcoming book on Telomerase Therapy and working to bring telomerase therapy to human trials, Michael Fossel, M.D., Ph.D. (born 1950, Greenwich, Connecticut) was a professor of clinical medicine at Michigan State University for almost 30 years and still teaches a course on the Biology of Aging as a university professor.
Founder and former editor-in-chief of Rejuvenation Research, he is best known for his views on telomerase therapy as a possible treatment for cellular senescence and human age-related disease. Dr. Fossel has appeared on many major news programs to discuss aging and regularly on National Public Radio (NPR). He is also a respected lecturer, author, and physician.
Prior to earning his M.D. at Stanford Medical School, Fossel earned a joint B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. in psychology at Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in neurobiology at Stanford University. He is also a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy. After graduating from medical school in 1981, he was awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship and taught at Stanford University Medical School.
Dr. Fossel has lectured at the National Institute for Health, the Smithsonian Institution, and at various other universities and institutes around the world. Fossel is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Gerontological Society of America, the American Society on Aging, and the American Geriatrics Society, and served on the board of directors for the American Aging Association, as well as their executive director.
Fossel has written numerous articles on aging and ethics for the Journal of the American Medical Association and In Vivo, and he published a book titled Reversing Human Aging in 1996. The book garnered favorable reviews from mainstream newspapers as well as Scientific American and has since been published in six languages. His magisterial academic textbook Cells, Aging, and Human Disease was published in 2004 by Oxford University Press. His latest book, Electronic Health Records: Strategies for Long-Term Success was published in 2013 by Health Administration Press. His new book, tentatively titled Telomerase Therapy, is now in press and due for publication in 2015.
Since his days teaching at Stanford University, Fossel has studied aging from a medical and scientific perspective with a particular emphasis on premature aging syndromes such as progeria, and since at least 1996 he has been a strong and vocal advocate of experimenting with telomerase therapy as a way of treating diseases, disorders, and syndromes such as progeria, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, cancer, AIDS, and organ senescence (i.e., aging). However, he is careful to qualify his advocacy of telomerase therapy as being a potential treatment for these conditions rather than a “cure for old age” and a panacea for age-related medical conditions, albeit a potential treatment that could radically extend the maximum human life span and reverse the aging process in most people. Specifically, Fossel sees the potential of telomerase therapy as being a highly effective point of intervention in a wide variety of medical conditions.
What kind of emotional reactions do you have to robots? Until not very long ago, this question was the stuff of science fiction. But the recent proliferation of robots in the home, workplace and healthcare world, bring the question squarely into everyday life. As a psychologist interested in exploring human-robot interaction, I’ve coined the term RoboPsych as an umbrella for our cognitive, emotional and behavioral reactions to the wide range of robots in our daily lives.
On November 1, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard took medication to end her life. This wasn’t an act of cowardice, nor due to some psychological condition. She ended her life because she wanted to die on her own terms, rather than suffer the eventually-fatal torment of terminal brain cancer. Her ability to legally commit suicide – or what she referred to it as “death with dignity” – was due to the state of Oregon’s “Death With Dignity Act.”
Viviana Gradinaru talks about visualizing the activity and anatomy of brain circuits: optogenetic sensors and tissue clearing approaches at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Showcase 2014
Dr. Viviana Gradinaru completed her B.S. at Caltech and her Ph.D. research at Stanford University. There she played an instrumental role in the early development and applications of optogenetics. During her doctoral studies Dr. Gradinaru also helped train scientists from all over the world in the Optogenetics Innovation Laboratory (OIL) and in summer courses at Cold Spring Harbor. During her postdoctoral work, also at Stanford with Dr. Karl Deisseroth, Dr. Gradinaru pioneered work towards a novel method for intact tissue mapping and phenotyping (known as CLARITY). Dr. Gradinaru is now Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech as well as the faculty director of the Beckman Institute Optogenetics Neuroscience Initiative and CLARITY (BIONIC) Center.
She has recently been awarded the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and been honored as a World Economic Forum Young Scientist and as one of Cell’s 40 under 40. Viviana Gradinaru is also a Pew Scholar, Human Frontier Science Program Young Investigator, and Kimmel Scholar for Cancer Research. Dr. Gradinaru’s research interests focus on developing tools and methods for neuroscience (optogenetic actuators and sensors; tissue clearing and imaging) as well as on investigating the mechanisms underlying deep brain stimulation (DBS) and on the long-term effects of DBS on neuronal health, function, and ultimately behavior.
Sean McElwee, a writer and a research assistant at Demos, wrote an excellent piece laying out the importance of voter turnout in four charts.
Basically, what they show is that there was a time when the demographics of the voting population roughly matched that of non-voters. The net result was a voting process that essentially matched the preferences and interests of the electorate.
That has changed. These days the voting population is skewed toward the wealthier and more privileged, meaning that the interests of the struggling majority aren’t as well-represented. This is another factor leading to the skewing of our political system toward the oligarchical class, and it’s important to reverse that trend.
We discussed this issue in the clip above. Take a listen if you’re interested — and read Sean’s article.
Dr. Colin Hales talks about self-governance and his book The Revolutions of Scientific Structure
About the book:
This book discusses two main cultural problems behind the failure of machine consciousness and artificial general intelligence (AGI) projects over many decades.The first problem recognizes that building a conscious AGI means building an artificial scientist. The book identifies the responsible pitfalls in mainstream scientific behavior and eliminates them by proposing a new operational framework for scientists called “Dual Aspect Science”.The second problem arises because scholars involved in machine consciousness and AGI essentially aim to replicate brains with computers.
They are demonstrably not doing this, and this failure has been prevalent since the rise of computers. Instead, the book discusses the possibility of doing real empirical neuroscience by means of artificial materials that literally do what the brain does.Inspired by Thomas Kuhn, one of the most influential philosophers of science of the twentieth century, this compendium proposes a fresh perspective on machine consciousness, on AGI and, more generally, on how the machinery of science might need to change to accommodate it. - Amazon
If intelligence, empathy, love, spirituality, or memories could be altered by taking a pill, implant, or even microbe, would you say yes?. Mind-enhancing drugs will be capable of manipulating our brains. They will also challenge our society’s morals, offset playing fields of business and global power, and what we consider “normal”. Futurist and IEET Fellow Jamais Cascio suggests a Magna Carta for the upcoming age of biohacking.
Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of their Top 100 Global Thinkers, Jamais Cascio explores the intersection of environmental dilemmas, emerging technologies, and cultural evolution, specializing in plausible scenarios of the future. Cascio is presently a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, and also serves as Senior Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. In 2009, Cascio published Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengineering. Cascio’s written work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Policy, and the New York Times, among many others. He has been featured in a variety of television programs on future issues, including National Geographic’s 2008 documentary on global warming, “Six Degrees,” and the 2010 CBC documentary “Surviving the Future.”
“If you think about that, somehow saying that, well, anything goes, we shouldn’t offend religious beliefs by requiring kids to know – to understand reality; that’s child abuse,” Krauss said in a video published by Big Think. “And if you think about it, teaching kids – or allowing the notion that the earth is 6,000 years old to be promulgated in schools is like teaching kids that the distance across the United States is 17 feet. That’s how big an error it is.”
In this episode we build on our previous podcast on privacy by examining, from a philosophical point of view, what the instrumental and intrinsic benefits to privacy are. Is there some fundamental, moral reason to protect privacy, or is it simply a way to prevent various misuses of data? If misuse is the real issue, would a co-veillance society be trustworthy enough to simply give up privacy? Or is it intrinsically wrong, like torture? We also discuss how privacy and security are often at odds with each other, and how privacy can be understood as an issue of information flow.
Maria Konovalenko and team put together a list of popular science video lectures on gene therapy – one of the most promising molecular medicine directions. What makes this approach different is that nucleic acid molecules, DNA and RNA, are used as therapeutic agents.
We knew the risks. But last year, after my wife and I had our genomes sequenced, what we learned was still alarming. Amongst my wife’s results was a genetic variant associated with a significantly increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. And the matter-of-fact statistic on risk came with little information on how to reduce it.
Researchers designed the first self-folding robot based on the ancient art of origami. This is how the robot does its trick, narrated by Natasha Pinol. [Credit: Samuel Felton, Science/AAAS]
Inspired by the traditional Japanese art form of origami, researchers have coaxed flat sheets of specialized paper and plastic to self-fold into complex machines that crawl and turn.
“We demonstrated this process by building a robot that folds itself and walks away without human assistance,” said Sam Felton, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Felton is the lead author of a new report on the robots in the 8 August issue of the journal Science.
“Folding allows you to avoid the ‘nuts and bolts’ assembly approaches typically used for robots or other complex electromechanical devices and it allows you to integrate components like electronics, sensors, and actuators while flat,” said Rob Wood, the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences Core Faculty Member at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the study’s senior author.
Potential uses for these self-folding machines include search-and-rescue scenarios where they could be activated to navigate small tunnels or spaces. The fact that they could be shipped flat in large quantities, and then assembled on-site, makes them especially valuable. Other examples of their use include deployment into space for various forms of exploration or for self-folding shelters that rapidly assemble in disaster zones.
People have for some time speculated about the possibility that we’re living inside a computer simulation. But the 2003 publication of Nick Bostrom’s “Are You Living In a Computer Simulation?” brought a new level of sophistication to the topic. Bostrom’s argument is that one (or more) of the following disjuncts is true: (i) our species will go extinct before reaching an advanced posthuman stage; (ii) our species will reach a posthuman stage but decide not, for whatever reasons, to run a large number of simulations; or (iii) we are almost certainly in a simulation.
Our mission is to invest in research aimed at finding the fastest possible route to a cure. We believe that a nimble, focused and aggressive entrepreneurial model will increase the number of therapies discovered and then enable those therapies to be more rapidly driven into the clinic. We provide researchers with the pivotal support they need to make critical breakthroughs. We fund novel translational research aimed at finding the fastest possible route to a cure.
Our partners range from medical research centers to early-stage biotechnology companies to large multi-national pharmaceutical companies. These partners all share a vision of driving translational research and moving treatments as fast as possible from basic discovery to the clinic. Since brain cancer affects a relatively small portion of the population, we recognize the importance of investing in the early stages of the most novel sectors of the discovery and development pipeline in order to “buy down the risk” for our partners and speed progress of innovative new treatments to the clinic.
Is consciousness real? Could it be just an illusion manufactured in the theatre of our minds? And what use is it – why did it evolve in the first place? Professor Nicholas Humphrey explores the mystery
Consciousness is at the core of our very existence. An intangible constant that underpins our experience of the world. But for centuries it has been the frustrating source of a seemingly impenetrable explanatory gap – it is largely a scientific mystery.
As we interact with the world, stimuli trigger physical processes in our body. Nerve cells transmit messages around the body and through the brain. But how do these physical interactions give rise to the conscious sensations we experience? Can we get conscious sensation from nerve cells alone?
In this video theoretical psychologist Professor Nicholas Humphrey asks whether consciousness could all be an illusion. Could it be a mirage constructed in the theatre of our minds? Perhaps the questions we should ask are not centred on sensations themselves, but merely on the appearance of those sensations.
And why does consciousness, in any form, exist at all? How did it evolve? The answer might lie in our social interactions. Consciousness elevates our interpretation of the world and the people around us. It alters our psychological profile and breathes joy into our experiences, and makes us value life itself.
There is no writer now, perhaps ever, who is able to convey the wonder and magic of science with poetry comparable to Diane Ackerman. In some ways this makes a great deal of sense given that she is a poet by calling rather than a scientist. To mix metaphors: our knowledge of the natural world is merely Ackerman’s palette whose colors she uses to paint a picture of nature. It is a vision of the world as magical as that of the greatest worlds of fiction- think Dante’s Divine Comedy, or our most powerful realms of fable.
Barb Jacobson (Basic Income UK), Duncan McCann (NEF) and Ben Baumberg (Kent University)
Coordinator of the European Citizens’ Initiative in the UK. And author of Basic Income UK a group promoting an unconditional basic income as a progressive policy towards an emancipatory welfare state for the UK and beyond.
“Unconditional basic income, a regular payment to each individual without work or other requirements, is an old idea which has come back into prominence this past year. Not just about technological unemployment, it affirms everyone’s right to exist, to participate in society and to do work the market doesn’t pay for.”
Duncan works as a researcher at NEF working on issues of monetary reform, complementary currencies and financial system innovation.
“Money should be created as a public utility with all the benefits of that process accruing to the people rather than commercial banks who currently create about 97% of the money that we use in the economy. Returning money to a public utility would have a number of benefits including reducing asset price bubbles, improve economic stability, reduce overall debt, reduce pressures on constant economic growth and eliminate banks runs and bank subsidies.”
Ben Baumberg: “Social Security: towards a ‘real utopia’”
Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Kent.Ben also helped set up the collaborative research blog Inequalities, where he regularly write articles and short blog posts. he has a wide range of research interests, currently focusing on disability, the workplace, inequality, deservingness and the future of the benefits system, and the relationship between evidence and policy.
University of London, Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK
Jamie Wheal speaks at TEDx Black Rock City. "It's never been easier to get high, and it's just as hard as it's always been to stay that way." In this talk, Jamie Wheal, Executive Director the Flow Genome Project, details how rapid advancements in technology, psychology and pharmacology have led to an unprecedented uptick in our access to peak states, and how we might be able to use those moments of clarity and inspiration to learn, do and be much more than we thought possible.
Sam Harris: Can Psychedelics Help You Expand Your Mind?
Richard Davidson, Ph.D., presenting his talk, The Emergence of Contemplative Neuroscience, at a Meng Wu Lecture.
From Amazon on The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live—and How You Can Change Them:
What is your emotional fingerprint?
Why are some people so quick to recover from setbacks? Why are some so attuned to others that they seem psychic? Why are some people always up and others always down? In his thirty-year quest to answer these questions, pioneering neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson discovered that each of us has an Emotional Style, composed of Resilience, Outlook, Social Intuition, Self-Awareness, Sensitivity to Context, and Attention. Where we fall on these six continuums determines our own “emotional fingerprint.”
Sharing Dr. Davidson’s fascinating case histories and experiments, The Emotional Life of Your Brain offers a new model for treating conditions like autism and depression as it empowers us all to better understand ourselves—and live more meaningful lives.
In order to think effectively about a problem, we must first properly define it. “World peace” is an inevitably nebulous concept, meaning a lot of different things to different people. Most obviously it means finding ways to avoid war and other forms of destructive conflict, and the impulse underlying that idea is to reduce involuntary suffering as much as possible. Taking that perspective, we can also see that we should also seek to reduce structural violence, which is to say suffering caused by systematic conditions which may not have anything to do with war.
Roughly (I’ll refine later on) the “technological singularity” (or “singularity” for short, and in the right context) is the name given to point in time at which greater-than-human superintelligent machines are created. The concept (and name) was popularised by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge in the 1980s and 90s, though its roots can be traced further back in time to the work of John Von Neumann and I.J. Good.