IEET contributor, Adam Ford, interviews Peter Singer about “The Point Of View Of The Universe.” and topics of “The Life You Can Save” which includes the duty for wealthy people to help others.
The Point Of View Of The Universe:
What does the idea of taking ‘the point of view of the universe’ tell us about ethics? The great nineteenth-century utilitarian Henry Sidgwick used this metaphor to present what he took to be a self-evident moral truth: the good of one individual is of no more importance than the good of any other. Ethical judgments, he held, are objective truths that we can know by reason. The ethical axioms he took to be self-evident provide a foundation for utilitarianism. He supplements this foundation with an argument that nothing except states of consciousness have ultimate value, which led him to hold that pleasure is the only thing that is intrinsically good.
Are these claims defensible? Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer test them against a variety of views held by contemporary writers in ethics, and conclude that they are. This book is therefore a defence of objectivism in ethics, and of hedonistic utilitarianism. The authors also explore, and in most cases support, Sidgwick’s views on many other key questions in ethics: how to justify an ethical theory, the significance of an evolutionary explanation of our moral judgments, the choice between preference-utilitarianism and hedonistic utilitarianism, the conflict between self-interest and universal benevolence, whether something that it would be wrong to do openly can be right if kept secret, how demanding utilitarianism is, whether we should discount the future, or favor those who are worse off, the moral status of animals, and what is an optimum population. - Amazon
The Life You Can Save:
For the first time in history, eradicating world poverty is within our reach. Yet around the world, a billion people struggle to live each day on less than many of us pay for bottled water. In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer uses ethical arguments, illuminating examples, and case studies of charitable giving to show that our current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but morally indefensible. The Life You Can Save teaches us to be a part of the solution, helping others as we help ourselves. - Amazon
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will receive the Progressive Champion Award at the Campaign for America’s Future 2014 Awards Gala on Tuesday, October 14. Progressives who are elected to executive office have a unique opportunity to highlight neglected issues and stimulate much-needed debate, by taking actions that challenge the “conventional wisdom.” They can change the political landscape by employing a principle that might be called “leadership by example.&ldquo
Technology, and particularly computing, is essential to family history. Without it, we could still tell family stories to our children, but we certainly couldn’t substantiate those stories from billions of historical records into millions of family trees, as web applications like FamilySearch andAncestry.com do today.
This week’s podcast asks about the benefits and problems associated with both hard “mathematical” prediction and soft “storytelling” prediction. We discuss the limits of mathematical prediction in terms of theory, randomness, chaos, and non-computability. We discuss the limits and benefits of storytelling and scenario planning as predictive tools as well, and we also discuss the self-reference problem, which can apply to both types of prediction. Finally we discuss the fictional discipline of psychohistory as imagined by Asimov, and wonder whether truly working prediction machines could exist without lacking transparency.
Nanobiotechnology, bionanotechnology, and nanobiology are terms that refer to the intersection of nanotechnology and biology. Given that the subject is one that has only emerged very recently, bionanotechnology and nanobiotechnology serve as blanket terms for various related technologies.
This discipline helps to indicate the merger of biological research with various fields of nanotechnology. Concepts that are enhanced through nanobiology include: nanodevices, nanoparticles, and nanoscale phenomena that occurs within the discipline of nanotechnology. This technical approach to biology allows scientists to imagine and create systems that can be used for biological research. Biologically inspired nanotechnology uses biological systems as the inspirations for technologies not yet created. However, as with nanotechnology and biotechnology, bionanotechnology does have many potential ethical issues associated with it.
The most important objectives that are frequently found in nanobiology involve applying nanotools to relevant medical/biological problems and refining these applications. Developing new tools, such as peptoid nanosheets, for medical and biological purposes is another primary objective in nanotechnology. New nanotools are often made by refining the applications of the nanotools that are already being used. The imaging of native biomolecules, biological membranes, and tissues is also a major topic for the nanobiology researchers. Other topics concerning nanobiology include the use of cantilever array sensors and the application of nanophotonics for manipulating molecular processes in living cells.
Recently, the use of microorganisms to synthesize functional nanoparticles has been of great interest. Microorganisms can change the oxidation state of metals. These microbial processes have opened up new opportunities for us to explore novel applications, for example, the biosynthesis of metal nanomaterials. In contrast to chemical and physical methods, microbial processes for synthesizing nanomaterials can be achieved in aqueous phase under gentle and environmentally benign conditions. This approach has become an attractive focus in current green bionanotechnology research towards sustainable development. - Wikipedia
I am a transhumanist, and I believe that politics is important. Let me unpack that a little: I believe that we can and should voluntarily improve the human condition using technology. That makes me a transhumanist, but aside from that single axiom I have in common with all transhumanists, we’re an increasingly diverse bunch.
Adam Ford interviews Peter Singer about “Extinction Risk & Effective Altruism.”
Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement which applies evidence and reason to working out the most effective ways to improve the world. Effective altruists consider all causes and actions, and then act in the way that brings about the greatest positive impact. It is this broad evidence-based approach that distinguishes effective altruism from traditional altruism or charity. Effective altruism sometimes involves taking actions that are less intuitive or emotionally salient. The philosopher Peter Singer is a notable supporter of effective altruism. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_altruism
About the book:
Rapid advances in nanotechnology have enabled the fabrication of nanoparticles from various materials with different shapes, sizes, and properties, and efforts are ongoing to exploit these materials for practical clinical applications. Nanotechnology is particularly relevant in the field of oncology, as the leaky and chaotic vasculature of tumors—a hallmark of unrestrained growth—results in the passive accumulation of nanoparticles within tumors.
Cancer Nanotechnology: Principles and Applications in Radiation Oncology is a compilation of research in the arena of nanoparticles and radiation oncology, which lies at the intersection of disciplines as diverse as clinical radiation oncology, radiation physics and biology, nanotechnology, materials science, and biomedical engineering. The book provides a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary survey of basic principles, research techniques, and outcomes with the goals of eventual clinical translation.
A general introduction to fabrication, preferential tumor targeting, and imaging of nanoparticles
The specific applications of nanomaterials in the realms of radiation therapy, hyperthermia, thermal therapy, and normal tissue protection from radiation exposure
Outlooks for future research and clinical translation including regulatory issues for ultimate use of nanomaterials in humans
Reflecting profound advances in the application of nanotechnology to radiation oncology, this comprehensive volume demonstrates how the unique physicochemical properties of nanoparticles lead to novel strategies for cancer treatment and detection. Along with various computational and experimental techniques, each chapter highlights the most promising approaches to the use of nanoparticles for radiation response modulation.
Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon is the classic symbol of authoritarianism. Bentham, a revolutionary philosopher and social theorist, adapted the idea from his brother Samuel. The panopticon was a design for a prison. It would be a single watchtower, surrounded by a circumference of cells. From the watchtower a guard could surveil every prisoner, whilst at the same time being concealed from their view. The guard could be on duty or not.
Are we on the verge of the new Golden Age of science fiction cinema, in which it becomes about matters more interesting than explosions? Let’s start as Ray Kurzweil and company give us a sneak peak at the forthcoming movie Autómata: “Starring Antonio Banderas, here we have a believable future (2044, thirty years from now) in which desertification is threatening society, and a single company is leading the way in intelligent robotics.” says one George Mason university blogger. Indeed, it appears to be part of the new crop of films that treat AI with some attempts at subtlety.
Three years ago, my sister, who had long struggled with mental illness, hit her limit and jumped off a freeway bridge. She lived. She was rushed to the county trauma center, and by the time I arrived from Seattle she was hooked up to an array of life support technologies and monitors.
On September 23, the Food and Drug Administration sent Rima Laibow and Ralph Fucetola at the Natural Solutions Foundation a warning letter claiming that their allegedly nano (colloidal) silver based “Dr. Rima Recommends™ The Silver Solution” product violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDC Act).
We aren’t used to authority being a peer-to-peer responsibility as opposed to something imposed by a centralized institution. Authority floating freely has already happened in information - when information became decentralized with blogging and the restructuring of the media industry, and in entertainment, where individuals became their own taste-makers.
Reproducing in space, lifeboat problems, and other ethical quandaries that could arise if we travel to Mars. Disaster can happen at any moment in space exploration. “A good rule for rocket experimenters to follow is this: always assume that it will explode,” the editors of the journal Astronautics wrote in 1937, and nothing has changed: This August, SpaceX’s rocket blew up on a test flight.
Is researching existential risks important? IEET contributor Adam Ford interviews IEET Fellow David Pearce about topics such as nanotechnology, violent video games, human extinction, the art of the possible, sub-standard “Brave New World” like utopias, and the transhumanist declaration.
When it comes to predicting the future it seems only our failure to consistently get tomorrow right has been steadily predictable, though that may be about to change, at least a little bit. If you don’t think our society and especially those “experts” whose job it is to help us steer us through the future aren’t doing a horrible job just think back to the fall of the Soviet Union which blindsided the American intelligence community, or 9-11, which did the same, or the financial crisis of 2008, or even much more recently the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIL, or the war in Ukraine.
Jerry Tuskan of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the DOE JGI talks about poplar trees as models for selective adaptation to an environment. This video complements a study published ahead online August 24, 2014 in Nature Genetics. Learn more at http://jgi.doe.gov/signatures-selecti....
Natural selection is the gradual process by which biological traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of the effect of inherited traits on the differential reproductive success of organisms interacting with their environment. It is a key mechanism of evolution.
The first two articles in this series criticised the dominant political paradigm of the Western world (Liberal Democracy) and briefly outlined the beginnings of an alternative called Social Futurism (SF). The aim of this final article is to begin exploring relationships between the core SF idea and a few relevant concepts.
Back in August, IEET contributor Andrew Maynard, gave a talk on colored poop and other “tales of technological derring do” at the Ann Arbor We Make Health Fest. Videos and photos from the day are now available over on the Health By Design website.
The talk draws on three stories from synthetic biology (colored poop), nanotechnology (colloidal silver) and air pollution monitoring (smoke from solid fuel) to illustrate the value of creative multi-stakeholder collaborations in improving health and well-being:
We have a pretty good sense of how digestion works. And our grasp of thermodynamics is excellent. We know that there are three bones – the smallest in our bodies – in the middle ear, and that stars produce light because of thermonuclear fusion. While I’m skeptical of “progressionist” claims that the human condition has inexorably improved since the Neolithic revolution (the proliferation of technology-related existential risks being one reason for skepticism), it seems that science has made genuine progress.
I seem to work a lot. At least, I think I work a lot. Like many in the modern world, I find it pretty hard to tell the difference between work and the rest of my life. Apart from when I’m sleeping, I’m usually reading, writing or thinking (or doing some combination of the three). And since that is essentially what I get paid to do, it is difficult to distinguish between work and leisure. Of course, reading, writing and thinking are features of many jobs. The difference is that, as an academic, I have the luxury of deciding what I should be reading, writing and thinking about.
The first ever comprehensive introduction edited by Robert Ranisch and IEET Fellow Stefan Lorenz Sorgner which compares and contrasts posthumanism and transhumanism is forthcoming within the next two weeks.
$1,000,000 is the recently announced prize by Joon Yun, a Palo Alto-based entrepreneur, who is willing to donate this amount of money as an incentive to end aging. Half of the million will be given to the team of researchers who are able to extend lifespan by 50% in a model animal, and the other half – to those who manage to “demonstrate that it can restore homeostatic capacity (using heart rate variability as the surrogate measure) of an aging reference mammal to that of a young adult.”
This is the concluding sci fi round-table discussion of my Seattle 1-on-1 interviews with Ramez Naam, William Hertling and Greg Bear. The video was recorded last November and was produced by Richard Sundvall, shot by Ian Sun and generously hosted by Greg and Astrid Bear. (Special note of thanks to Agah Bahari who did the interview audio re-mix and basically saved the footage.)
During our 30 minute discussion with Greg Bear, Ramez Naam and William Hertling we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: what is science fiction; the technological singularity and whether it could or would happen; the potential of conflict between humans and AI; the definition of the singularity; emerging AI and evolution; the differences between thinking and computation; whether the singularity is a religion or not…
Suspended Animation is a mean to preserve life by slowing or halting its processes, while not causing death. This is similar to natural occurring anabiosis, though carried out artificially in order to preserve human and non-beings. Currently there are two main means of suspended animation, Cryopresevation, dubbed Cryonics, and the less developed Ahydrobiosis. The former uses low temperatures or chemical fluid replacements, while the former uses desiccation in order to preserve an organism.
The only revolution is the communications revolution. Every other change of significance sits on top of it, and is one or other expression of it. Ideas preserved in stone, even literally in stone, means that insights can compound. Understanding can build upon itself, can grow deeper and deeper.
These are ten most promising alternative energy sources of tomorrow.
It’s a really exciting time to be alive. We have a front row seat to the only known transformation of a world powered by dirty fossil fuels, to a planet that gets its energy from renewable, clean sources. It’s happening just once, right now.
“Guest geeks Paolo Bacigalupi, Ramez Naam, and Tobias Buckell join Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley to discuss extreme weather in science fiction books and movies.” - David Barr Kirtley