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Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




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Interview on Robot Overlordz: Tech Unemployment and Enhancement

Responsible development of new technologies critical in complex, connected world

Techno Progressive Party Updates

More Swing Sets for Africa

The Master Switch - The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Extract from Brenda Cooper’s EDGE OF DARK


ieet books

Post- and Transhumanism: An Introduction
Author
Robert Ranisch and Stefan Lorenz Sorgner eds.

How “God” Works: A Logical Inquiry on Faith
Marshall Brain

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Martine Rothblatt

A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Mind-Uploading
Keith Wiley


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instamatic on 'The Existential Importance of Getting Outside Ourselves' (Mar 5, 2015)

SpaceboyScreams on 'Why Running Simulations May Mean the End is Near' (Mar 5, 2015)

Peter Wicks on 'The Existential Importance of Getting Outside Ourselves' (Mar 4, 2015)

CygnusX1 on 'Privacy will not go away -- but it will evolve' (Mar 4, 2015)

dobermanmac on 'The Moral Philosophy of Transhumanism' (Mar 4, 2015)

CygnusX1 on 'My Shockingly Ordinary Rape Story— and What I Want to Tell my Daughters' (Mar 4, 2015)

instamatic on '9 “Facts” You Know For Sure About Jesus That Are Probably Wrong' (Mar 4, 2015)







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JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


The Democratic Trilemma: Is Democracy Possible?
Feb 5, 2015
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Big Data as statistical masturbation
Feb 8, 2015
(11441) Hits
(5) Comments

Blockchains as a Granular Universal Transaction System
Feb 17, 2015
(9105) Hits
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Alan Watts: Who Am I?
Feb 23, 2015
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RSS feedETHICAL TECHNOLOGY


Future Day 2015 with Ben Goertzel

Adam Ford

The want for a better future is a yearning as old as recorded history.  In Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest stories ever told, Gilgamesh strived for the fabled elixir of eternal life.  Yet his life faded as all others so far have like a fleeting shadow extinguished .  Though we have not yet found said elixir, we have made extremely promising progress.  Peering through time we can catch a glimpse of possible futures spread out before us, some of them include radical life extension and regenerative medicine… caught within the ageless rhythms of daily life we often get sidetracked - we are distracted by short term desires.  And as the days slip by opportunity costs mount - might we lose our opportunity for a fantastic future?

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David Brin

Privacy will not go away—but it will evolve

by David Brin

The issue will not go away. But at last the reflexes seem to be fading. The silly reflex - for example - to demand that we solve information age problems by shutting down info flows.  By standing in front of the data tsunami like King Canute screaming "Stop!"  Instead of learning to surf.

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J. Hughes

Enhancing Virtues: Fairness (pt 1)

by J. Hughes

Our moral codes are rooted in preconscious feelings of disgust at people who hurt others, cheat, are disloyal, disobey authority, and violate social taboos. Some of these moral feelings support modern Enlightenment ideas of morality while others are in contradiction with modern values of individual rights and critical thought. By illuminating the ways that our value systems are shaped by prerational impulses we can make more conscious choices about how to build a fair society and practice the civic virtues of fairness and engaged citizenship.  But we also can begin to experiment with ways to enhance our moral reasoning with drugs and devices to become even better citizens than previously possible.

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Open Education, Open Educational Resources and MOOCs

CITE

Professor Tian Belawati has made lifetime professional contributions to open and distance learning (ODL). She has had extensive experiences in research, teaching, and administration of a large scale open university system, which serves over 600,000 students residing in Indonesia and overseas. Her work experience includes various positions within an ODL institution that serves diverse groups of students with differing needs and circumstances.

She started her career in academic life as researcher with the Canadian Communication Consortium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Upon her return to Universitas Terbuka (UT) in Indonesia in 1996, she was appointed as Head of the Center for Indonesian Studies. As Head of the Center, she was able to significantly increase funding allocation for research, establish accredited academic journal of ODL in Indonesia, and promote research culture within UT.

During her term, UT introduced research-based policy making that has paved the way for achievement and future direction of UT as a reputable quality ODL provider. Her leadership experience at the Centre has further taken her to greater responsibilities as Vice Rector for Academic Affairs at UT. As Vice Rector she introduced innovations and good practices in the use of new technology for the delivery of ODL. Her two-terms as Vice Rector, from 2001 up to 2009, has taken UT into a new ODL platform in a developing country context through utilization of new and appropriate technology. Among others, she has introduced innovations through UT Online, such as online tutorials, open educational resources (OERs), online examination, digital library, integrated information system for learning materials development, and other ICT-based initiatives in teaching, learning and academic administration.

Professor Belawati is currently Rector of UT. In her first two years as Rector, she has taken decisive actions to mobilize effort in partnerships with stakeholders to improve the quality of ODL, develop greater public confidence in ODL, and establish collaborative effort with international as well as regional ODL institutions and associations. She is extensively involved in various joint initiatives with other ODL players and organizations in her capacity as both ODL researcher and top administrator. Her professional achievements have led her appointments as Secretary General (2007-2009) and then President (2009-2010) of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), as well as a member of the Election Committee (2007-2009) and Executive Committee (2009-now) of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).

Professor Belawati holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Adult Education (University of British Columbia, Canada, and a Master of Education in Management of Distance Education (Simon Fraser University, Canada). Her academic reputation in ODL has been recognized through various awards, namely GTP-Bappenas Awards for independent research; World Bank Awards, the Young Academic Program of Indonesian, the Directorate General for Higher Education (YAP-DGHE) for independent research;YAP-DGHE Awards for international publication; IDRC-PanAsia Organization Award for both independent and collaborative research; and Fullbright
Award for senior independent research.

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Rick Searle

Sex and Love in the Age of Algorithms

by Rick Searle

How’s this for a 21st century Valentine’s Day tale: a group of religious fundamentalists want to redefine human sexual and gender relationships based on a more than 2,000 year old religious text. Yet instead of doing this by aiming to seize hold of the cultural and political institutions of society, a task they find impossible, they create an algorithm which once people enter their experience is based on religiously derived assumptions users cannot see. People who enter this world have no control over their actions within it, and surrender their autonomy for the promise of finding their “soul mate”.

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John G. Messerly

Is Ethics Relative? (Part 4–Conclusion)

by John G. Messerly

The English philosopher A.J. Ayer (1910 – 1989) and the American philosopher Charles Stevenson (1908 – 1979) developed a different version of subjectivism. Emotivism is a theory that claims that moral language or judgments: 1) are neither true or false; 2) express our emotions; and 3) try to influence others to agree with us. To better understand emotivism, consider the following statements…

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piero scaruffi

The Concept of Mind, A Book Review

by piero scaruffi

Ryle thinks that Descartes invented a myth when he provided definitions for the mental and the physical, as if they were two different things; when he assumed that every human is both a body (that is in space and is subject to the laws of Physics) and a mind (that is not in space and is not subject to the laws of Physics); that a person lives two parallel lives, one as a body and one as a mind (one being a public history and the other being a private history because nobody can witness your inner thoughts).

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Giulio Prisco

Virtual reality a new frontier for religions

by Giulio Prisco

In “Virtual reality a new frontier for religions,” published yesterday on Hypergrid Business, I argue that massively popular virtual churches, place of worship and spiritual communities in Virtual Reality (VR) will be developed with next-generation VR systems.

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Understanding the Science of Curiosity

UniversityRochester

Monkeys are notoriously curious, and new research has quantified just how eager they are to gain new information, even if there are not immediate benefits. The findings offer insights into how a certain part of the brain shared by monkeys and humans plays a role in decision making, and perhaps even in some disorders and addictions in humans.


The study, by researchers at the University of Rochester and Columbia University, shows that rhesus macaques have such robust curiosity that they are willing to give up a surprisingly large portion of a potential prize in order to quickly find out if they selected the winning option at a game of chance.

“It’s like buying a lottery ticket that you can scratch off and find out if you win immediately, or you can buy one that has a drawing after the evening news,” explained Benjamin Hayden, co-senior author of the study and professor in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. “Regardless, you won’t get the money any more quickly, or in the case of the monkeys, they won’t get the squirt of water any sooner. They will just find out if they selected the winning option.”

In the study published in Neuron, monkeys were presented with a video gambling task in which they consistently chose to learn in advance if they picked the winning option. The monkeys did not receive their prize any sooner, which was a measure of juice or water; they were simply informed immediately if they selected a winner.

“When it’s simply a choice between getting the information earlier or not, the monkeys show a pretty strong preference for getting it earlier. But what we really wanted to do is quantify this preference,” said first author and lead researcher Tommy Blanchard, a Ph.D. candidate in Hayden’s lab.

In the video gambling experiments, graduated colored columns illustrated the amount of water that could be won. The monkeys were more curious about the gambles when the stakes—or columns—were higher.

The researchers found the monkeys not only consistently selected the gamble that informed them if they picked a winner right away, but they were also willing to select that option when the winnings were up to 25 percent less than the gamble that required them to wait for the results. “One way to think about this is that this is the amount of water the monkeys were willing to pay for the information about if they made the correct choice,” explained Blanchard.

“That 25 percent was really surprising to us—that’s pretty big,” Hayden said. “These monkeys really, really want that information, and they do these gambling tasks repeatedly and never get bored of them—it’s intrinsically motivated.”

According to the researchers, their study helps to build a broader understanding for how curiosity—information seeking—is processed and rewarded in the brain.

Like monkeys, when curious we evaluate what we’d be willing to pay—or give up—to satisfy our curiosity, Hayden said. And in the case of gambling, there is also the potential of a prize to factor in. So when we make a choice, it depends on the sum of those two things: the gamble (the money you might win), and the value of finding out. And those two things need to be combined in order to make decisions about that gamble.

Earlier work suggests that these components are combined in the brain’s dopamine system. This study looks at that one step earlier in the process, in a region of the brain called the Orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC.

“I think of the OFC as the workshop of economic value, where, in this case, you have the value of the gamble and the value of the information—the raw materials—but they haven’t yet been combined,” said Hayden. “This study seems to have revealed that the mixing of the raw materials happens somewhere between the OFC and the dopamine system. We now have two points in the circuit.”

“One of the reasons this research is important,” Hayden said, “is because this basic desire for information turns out to be something that’s really corrupted in people with anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction, for example.”

“We think that by understanding these basic circuits in monkeys we may gain insights that 10 to15 years down the road may lead to new treatments for these psychiatric diseases,” Hayden concluded.

Ethan S. Bromberg-Martin of Columbia University was co-senior author of the study.

The National Institutes of Health supported the research.

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A Stem Cell Cure for Bubble Baby Disease (SCID)

University of California Television (UCTV)

On November 18th, 2014, a UCLA research team led by Donald Kohn, M.D., announced a breakthrough gene therapy and stem cell cure for “bubble baby” disease, or severe combined immunodefiency (SCID). Babies born with SCID lack an immune system and have no ability to fight off infections so even a minor cold could be deadly. The team’s treatment approach cured all 18 children who participated in the trial.

CIRM, California’s Stem Cell Agency, has awarded over $13 million to Kohn’s team to support a clinical trial that will apply this treatment strategy to cure sickle cell disease. The trial is set to begin in early 2015. Series: “California Institute for Regenerative Medicine”

Dr. Donald Kohn is a Professor in the Departments of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics (M.I.M.G.) and Pediatrics and is the Director of the Human Gene Medicine Program. He served as an attending physician in the pediatric bone marrow transplant program at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles for more than 20 years. His research focuses on the development of new methods to treated genetic diseases of blood cells and cancer and leukemia by gene modification of hematopoietic stem cells. Kohn’s group was the first (and still the only one) to perform a clinical trial with gene transfer to umbilical cord blood CD34+ cells for a genetic disorder (ADA-SCID in 1993) and the first in the U.S. to initiate a clinical trial of gene therapy for pediatric AIDS using bone marrow stem cells.

Kohn’s laboratory is currently focused on two main areas: 1) the development and clinical evaluation of improved methods for gene therapy of genetic diseases of blood cells targeting hematopoietic stem cells, especially ADA-deficient SCID and sickle cell disease, and 2) immunotherapy for cancer and leukemia by genetic modification of hematopoietic stem cells to produce targeted effector cells. Pre-clinical studies are focused on the use of lentiviral vectors for gene addition to stem cells and zinc-finger nucleases for gene correction by homologous recombination. His lab is currently performing a clinical trial of retroviral vector-mediated ADA gene transfer for children with ADA-deficient SCID and is working toward trials using lentiviral vectors for ADA-deficient SCID and sickle cell disease. In addition, Kohn’s group is participating as one of three U.S. sites for an NIAID-funded clinical trial of gene therapy for X-SCID.

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UCSF Liver Transplant: Prophylaxis of Variceal Bleeding Beta-blocker vs. Band Ligation

University of California Television (UCTV)

In Part Six of the 2014 Nathan Bass UCSF Liver Transplant Conference, Danielle Brandman, MD and Bilal Hameed, MD discuss Portal Hypertension: Prophylaxis of Variceal Bleeding. The merits of Beta-Blocker vs. Band Ligation to hemorrhaging are debated and bleeding rates and concerns are noted. Series: “UCSF Transplant Update”

Dr. Danielle Brandman is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and hepatologist, specializing in treating patients needing liver transplants. Her research interests include nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and post-transplant metabolic syndrome.  She engages in outcomes-based research with a special interest in NAFLD and liver transplantation: the post-transplant outcomes of patients with NAFLD, selection of patients with NAFLD for transplant, recurrence of NAFLD following transplant, and new-onset NAFLD after liver transplantation for other causes of liver disease

Dr. Brandman received her medical degree at UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School in 2005. She continued her medical training at University of California, San Francisco, where she completed her residency, gastroenterology fellowship, transplant hepatology fellowship, and master’s degree in clinical research. Dr. Brandman is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine and gastroenterology.  She is a member of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD).

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How to Define Consciousness?

World Science Festival

Known for centuries as “the difficult problem,” the question of how to define consciousness has troubled philosophers for generations. Here, leading intellectuals from varying disciplines discuss how best to define this very human of concepts. It becomes evident that, while consciousness is almost certainly a product of the human mind, no one has a complete grasp on the problems this complex term represents.

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John G. Messerly

Is Ethics Relative? (Part 3)

by John G. Messerly

If morality is not relative to culture, might it be relative to a person’s beliefs, attitudes, emotions, opinions, desires, wants, etc.? Personal relativism is a theory that holds that moral judgments are relative to, conditioned by, or dependent upon, individuals. This theory has ancient roots, but it’s also popular today.2 These remarks capture the basic idea:

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Valerie Tarico

Christianity’s Painfully Mixed Track Record on Slavery

by Valerie Tarico

Taken as a package, the Bible sends mixed messages about slavery, which is why Christian leaders used the Good Book on both sides—including in the lead up to the American civil war. Should a person be able to own another person? Today Christians uniformly say no, and many would like to believe that has always been the case.  But history tells a different story, one in which Christians have struggled to give a clear answer when confronted with questions about human trafficking and human rights.

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Marcelo Rinesi

The Long Game (Short Story)

by Marcelo Rinesi

We might call the opening the Kasparov Gambit, with the (human) World Champion playing against the (AI) World Champion, the only match capable of drawing big audiences, large sponsorships, and, in the case of this quaintly dominant player in a decade that had resigned itself to a flawlessly trained phalanx of geniuses, the rare thrill of being the underdog.

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1950s “Housewife” Tries LSD

HenryBloggit

In this video, Sidney Cohen (author of The Beyond Within: The L.S.D. Story, administers LSD under clinical conditions to an unnamed "normal person" (her description), some time in the 1950s. Her description of her experience is really wonderful—you can tell she's going through something profound and amazing. As Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote in 2011,

 

The experience she describes includes familiar themes such as gorgeous colors, geometric patterns, microscopic particles suddenly visible, and a sense of transcendence, oneness, and ineffability:

"I can see everything in color. You have to see the air. You can't believe it….I've never seen such infinite beauty in my life….Everything is so beautiful and lovely and alive….This is reality…I wish I could talk in Technicolor….I can't tell you about it. If you can't see it, then you'll just never know it. I feel sorry for you."

Today all this may sound hackneyed, but what's striking about this woman's account is that her expectations were not shaped by the huge surge of publicity that LSD attracted in the next two decades. Although she had not heard what an LSD trip was supposed to be like, her experience included several of the features that later came to be seen as typical—a reminder that, as important as "set and setting" are, "drug" matters too.

Despite the similarity between this woman's description of her experience and testimonials from acid aficionados of the '60s and '70s, her presentation is so calm and nonthreatening that it is hard to imagine how anyone could perceive this drug as an intolerable danger to society.

http://boingboing.net/2013/04/08/rare-footage-of-a-normal-per.html

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Maria Konovalenko

Transhumanism Strategy

by Maria Konovalenko

We’ve put together the survey on transhumanism strategy to reveal the inner discussion inside the transhumanist movement. Our goal is to inspire the people to act. We believe the greatest sin in our field is wishful thinking. It’s when a person is saying that it would be good to do something, like for instance, to shoot a viral video, but at the same time this person is not doing anything. His or hers advice has to be implemented in real life somehow on its own.

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John G. Messerly

Is Ethics Relative? (Part 2)

by John G. Messerly

Cultural moral relativism is the theory that moral judgments or truths are relative to cultures. Consequently, what is right in one society may be wrong in another and vice versa. (For culture, you may substitute: nation; society; group, sub-culture, etc.) This is another theory with ancient roots. Herodotus, the father of history, describes the Greeks encounter with the Callatians who ate their dead relative. Naturally, the Greeks found this practice revolting. But the Callatians were equally repelled by the Greek practice of cremation causing Herodotus to conclude that ethics is culturally relative. 

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Richard Eskow

New Front In #RepublicanClassWar: Social Security for the Disabled

by Richard Eskow

Nine out of ten Americans have fallen behind financially as the well-to-do – especially the ultra-wealthy – capture an ever-increasing chunk of our national income. This inequality threatens the entire economy’s future growth and stability. But whenever someone offers a solution to this growing problem, someone else on the right is likely to accuse them of “class war.”

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John G. Messerly

Is Ethics Relative? (Part 1)

by John G. Messerly

Ethics is that part of philosophy which deals with the good and bad, or right and wrong in human conduct. It asks questions like: What is morality? Is morality objective or subjective? What is the relationship between self-interest and morality? Why should I be moral?

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Utibe Effiong

Fighting malaria is going to take more than just nets

by Utibe Effiong

In January, the New York Times highlighted how insecticide treated nets meant to protect people from mosquitoes and malaria are now being used to haul fish in Africa. Among those using these nets to catch fish, hunger today is a bigger risk than malaria tomorrow.

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Marcelo Rinesi

The most important political document of the century is a computer simulation summary

by Marcelo Rinesi

To hell with black swans and military strategy. Our direst problems aren’t caused by the unpredictable interplay of chaotic elements, nor by the evil plans of people who wish us ill. Global warming, worldwide soil loss, recurrent financial crisis, and global health risks aren’t strings of bad luck or the result of terrorist attacks, they are the depressingly persistent outcomes of systems in which each actor’s best choice adds up to a global mess.

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Should We Have Control Over Our Consciousness?

Review the Future

Is life a sacred gift or a burden? In this episode, we welcome Sarah Perry, author of Every Cradle is a Grave, to discuss the right to control one’s consciousness. Paramount among consciousness rights is the right to die; we discuss the state of suicidal legality and the cultural and technological impediments to suicide. We also discuss the connection between radical life extension and suicide. Then we move into the control of states of consciousness, from drug use to mood enhancement, and discuss whether the right to commit suicide exists in a world where suffering has been abolished. Finally we discuss the ethics of simulated consciousness, and wonder where the authority might lie to, for example, delete an emulated mind.

Relevant Links

Podcast: Play in new window | Click Here if your browser does not play the above audio

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John G. Messerly

Overpopulation and Technological Immortality

by John G. Messerly

Many worry that radical life extension or the elimination of death will lead to overpopulation and ecological destruction. In other words, while it may be best for individuals to live forever, it might be collectively disastrous. Readers may recognize this situation as an instance of the “tragedy of the commons.” Acting in their apparent self-interest, individuals destroy a common good. It may be convenient for individuals to pollute the air, earth, and water, but eventually this is catastrophic for all. However, I don’t believe that overpopulation and its attendant problems should give researchers in this area pause. Here are some reasons why.

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Richard Eskow

More Evidence ‘Centrist’ Solutions Can’t Save Us

by Richard Eskow

We have become a profoundly unequal society. That reality is explored in new detail in a recent study from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET). Even more importantly, the INET study shows that it will take a dramatic shift in policy to restore the equilibrium. Unless we can build momentum for a new political agenda, we’ll be divided into a small minority with fabulous wealth and a permanent underclass with few hopes or prospects.

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John G. Messerly

Our Final Hour

by John G. Messerly

From Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning by Martin Rees, Royal Society Professor at Cambridge and England’s Royal Astronomer. “Twenty-first century science may alter human beings themselves - not just how they live.” (9) Rees accepts the common wisdom that the next hundred years will see changes that dwarf those of the past thousand years, but he is skeptical about specific predictions. 

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B. J. Murphy

A Secular Satanist’s Approach Towards Technoprogressive Transhumanism

by B. J. Murphy

The world is shifting in more ways than one. With the advent of our Transhumanist journey into the future, everything we knew of the old world is dramatically changing before our very eyes. For this article in particular, however, I’d like to direct my attention towards religion.

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Rick Searle

Big Data as statistical masturbation

by Rick Searle

It’s just possible that there is a looming crisis in yet another technological sector whose proponents have leaped too far ahead, and too soon, promising all kinds of things they are unable to deliver. It strange how we keep ramming our head into this same damned wall, but this next crisis is perhaps more important than deflated hype at other times, say our over optimism about the timeline for human space flight in the 1970’s, or the “AI winter” in the 1980’s, or the miracles that seemed just at our fingertips when we cracked the Human Genome while pulling riches out of the air during the dotcom boom- both of which brought us to a state of mania in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

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Robots, Unemployment, and Basic Income

David Wood

The accelerating improvement in the dexterity, agility, versatility, and intelligence of robots raises a number of hard questions about the future of human society. Employees in increasing numbers of professions find themselves under threat of being displaced by robots, algorithms, and other AIs. The pace at which existing professions are being disrupted and transformed by new technology looks set to outstrip the speed at which humans can re-skill and re-train.

This London Futurists Hangout On Air assembles an international panel of writers who have important things to say on the subject of the future of work: James Hughes, Martin Ford, Gary Marchant, and Marshall Brain. The panellists will be debating: 

• Are contemporary predictions of technological unemployment just repeating short-sighted worries from the 19th century “Luddites”?
• What scope is there for a “Basic Income Guarantee” to address the needs of everyone who will struggle to find work in the new age of smarter robots?
• What lessons can be learned from history, and from local experiments in different parts of the world?
• How soon should society be preparing for the kinds of major changes that new generations of robots will bring?

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Giulio Prisco

Religion in the Time of Superintelligence

by Giulio Prisco

The Gizmodo article “When Superintelligent AI Arrives, Will Religions Try to Convert It?” by my good friend Zoltan Istvan has gone viral and created a wave of articles about religion in the time of superintelligence.

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