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




whats new at ieet

Siegel @ Science and Non-Duality

12 Technologies We Need To Stop Stalling On And Develop Now

iSchools: Contemporary Information Technology Theory Studies

SETI Institute: Risky tales: Talking with Seth Shostak at Big Picture Science

Review The Future: What is the Future of Education?

Neuroscience Symposium: Genetics in psychiatry


ieet books

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

A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Mind-Uploading
Keith Wiley

A History of Life-Extensionism in the Twentieth Century
Ilia Stambler

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies
Nick Bostrom


comments

rms on 'Smut in Jesusland: Why Bible Belt States are the Biggest Consumers of Online Porn' (Oct 21, 2014)

instamatic on 'Smut in Jesusland: Why Bible Belt States are the Biggest Consumers of Online Porn' (Oct 21, 2014)

rms on 'Science Fiction and our Dreams of the Future' (Oct 20, 2014)

rms on 'Sousveillance and Surveillance: What kind of future do we want?' (Oct 20, 2014)

dobermanmac on 'Transhumanism and the Will to Power' (Oct 20, 2014)

instamatic on 'Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?' (Oct 18, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?' (Oct 18, 2014)







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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


Google’s Cold Betrayal of the Internet
Oct 10, 2014
(7446) Hits
(2) Comments

Dawkins and the “We are going to die” -Argument
Sep 25, 2014
(5600) Hits
(21) Comments

Should we abolish work?
Oct 3, 2014
(5096) Hits
(1) Comments

Will we uplift other species to sapience?
Sep 25, 2014
(4551) Hits
(0) Comments



RSS feedETHICAL TECHNOLOGY

Andrew Maynard

Nano silver and ebola: Show us the data, or remove claims (FDA)

by Andrew Maynard

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).

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Melanie Swan

Bitcoin Newbie Series: How to Get and Spend Bitcoin

by Melanie Swan

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.

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Patrick Lin

Introduction to Astronaut Bioethics

by Patrick Lin

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.

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Global Catastrophic & Existential Risk - Sleepwalking into the Abyss

Adam Ford

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.

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Rick Searle

How to predict the future with five simple rules

by Rick Searle

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.

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Finding Fingerprints of Selection in Poplar Genomes

Berkeley Lab

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.

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Amon Twyman

Liberal Democracy, The Third Way, & Social Futurism (pt. 3 of 3)

by Amon Twyman

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.

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Color My Poop Beautiful – now on video

riskscience.umich.edu

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:

A PDF of the slides is available here.

Further information on material in the talk:

e.chromi: http://www.echromi.com/

Colloidal silver and health: http://www.riskscience.umich.edu/nano-silver-used-treat-ebola-victims-nigeria/

UC Berkeley Particle Monitor: http://ehs.sph.berkeley.edu/hem/?page_id=12

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Ebola: The 2014 Outbreak Explained

The Daily Conversation

What you need to know about the 2014 outbreak of Ebola, the deadliest case of the virus in human history. It has already killed 3,000 people and is threatening to overwhelm West Africa.

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Although the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is very low, CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent this from happening. On 9/30/2014, CDC confirmed, the first travel-associated case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States.

Latest CDC Outbreak Information
Updated October 3, 2014

What's New

Updated October 3, 2014: Interim Guidance for Environmental Infection Control in Hospitals for Ebola Virus

October 2, 2014: HAN 371: Evaluating Patients for Possible Ebola Virus Disease: Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel and Health Officials

October 2, 2014: Ebola video: What Airline Crew and Staff Need to Know

- CDC

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Phil Torres

Transhumanism and Philosophy

by Phil Torres

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.

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John Danaher

Should we abolish work?

by John Danaher

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.

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IEET Fellow Stefan Lorenz Sorgner Edits First Ever Comprehensive Intro to Post and Transhumanism

peterlang.com

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.

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Link



Maria Konovalenko

How to Win the Palo Alto Longevity Prize

by Maria Konovalenko

$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.”

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Singularity 1 on 1: Sci Fi Roundtable: Greg Bear, Ramez Naam and William Hertling on the Singularity

Singularity 1 on 1

Nikola Danaylov of Singularity 1 on 1 interviews Greg Bear, Ramez Naam and William Hertling about existenial risks, the technological singularity, and science fiction.


Podcast: Play in new window | Download

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…

As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full. To show your support you can write a review on iTunes or make a donation.

See all 1-on-1 interviews from the series hosted by Greg Bear:

Tagged as: Greg Bear, Ramez Naam, singularity, Technological Singularity, William Hertling

 

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Kamil Muzyka

The Legal Perspective for Advanced Methods of Suspended Animation

by Kamil Muzyka

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.

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Ciaran Healy

Transhumanism and Revolution

by Ciaran Healy

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.

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10 Future Energy Sources

The Daily Conversation

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.

10. Space-based solar power
http://energy.gov/articles/space-base…
9. Human Power
http://www.scientificamerican.com/art…
8. Tidal Power
http://www.renewablegreenenergypower….
7. Hydrogen (fuel cells)
http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/c…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen…
6. Geothermal heat from underground lava beds
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geotherm…
https://theconversation.com/drilling-...
5. Nuclear Waste
http://nautil.us/issue/7/waste/our-nu…
http://gehitachiprism.com/
4. Solar windows
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_o…
http://renewableresourcesinc.com/10-i…
3. Bio-fuels (algae)
http://cleantechnica.com/2014/08/20/a…
http://biofuel.org.uk/biofuel-facts.html
2. Flying wind farms
http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/high-f…
http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm…
1. Nuclear fusion
http://www.americansecurityproject.or…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER#Tim…
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulle…

 

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Extreme Weather

David Barr Kirtley

“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

​​

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CDC Confirms Patient In Dallas Has Ebola Virus

dfw.cbslocal.com

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that a person in Dallas definitely has the Ebola virus. Tuesday’s official determination makes the patient, now isolated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, the first diagnosed Ebola case in the United States.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services, Presbyterian Hospital and Dallas County Health and Human Services all participated in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. CDC Director Thomas Frieden related the information that the individual who tested positive had traveled to Liberia. The person left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20 with no virus symptoms. Frieden said that it was four or five days later that the patient, who is believed to be male, began developing symptoms and was ultimately admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sunday, September 28.

Ebola Patient’s Arrival In North Texas

“We received in our laboratory today specimens from the individual, tested them, and they tested positive for Ebola,” Frieden stated. “The State of Texas also operates a laboratory that found the same results.” After the confirmation statement, Frieden went on to stress that the testing for Ebola is very accurate, saying that it is a PCR test of blood.

As far as the medical condition of the infected patient, Frieden said that he “is critically ill at this point.” Presbyterian Hospital would not confirm the condition of the individual, citing the patient’s right to privacy. CBS 11 News learned late Tuesday evening that the man is communicating with health workers and telling them when he is hungry.

The patient is in a special isolation section of the Intensive Care Unit and is being watched through glass walls. Officials said that an important part of his treatment is making sure that he is well hydrated. Dallas Fire Rescue has confirmed the patient was transported from The Ivy Apartments, located at 7225 Fair Oaks, in North East Dallas on Sunday.

An Exclusive Look Inside Isolation Rooms

After confirmation of the virus, the City of Dallas was put on Level 2: High Readiness. The city is now working closely with DCHHS and the CDC.

Doctors said that the patient will remain in North Texas and be treated at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Frieden expained why that decision was made, saying that almost every hospital in the U.S. with isolation facilities can do isolation for Ebola. “We don’t see a need, from either a medical or a infection control standpoint, to try and move the patient,” he said.

It was also learned Tuesday that the patient had felt ill and went to the emergency room late Thursday or early Friday, but showed no signs of flu or any other serious or life threatening illnesses. He was given an antibiotic and released. He had become so ill by Sunday that an amulance was called to transport him back to the hospital. With his symptoms much worse, health workers started checking his travel history and questioning whether or not he could have Ebola.

Now that the virus is confirmed, Frieden said that the next steps are three-fold. “First, to care for the patient,” Frieden said, “to provide the most effective care possible, as safely as possible, to keep — to an absolute minimum — the likelihood or possibility that anyone would become infected. And second, to maximize the chances that the patient might recover.”

Frieden said that another important step would be to identify all of the people who may have had contact with the patient while he could have been infectious. Frieden did state with emphasis that Ebola DOES NOT spread from someone who is not infectious. “It does not spread from someone who doesn’t have fever and other symptoms,” he said. “So, it’s only someone who is sick with Ebola who can spread the disease.”

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/10/01/cdc-confirms-patient-in-dallas-has-ebola-virus/

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Personal Drones: Are They a Public Hazard?

Scientific American

Attaching a GoPro to a personal drone gives you an aerial perspective unlike any other. But, if the drone crashes into a building in a densely populated area, how safe would you feel walking around with those drones overhead? What if a drone suddenly drops midair or crashes into a building? DIY drone enthusiasts speak out about safety.

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Gregory Benford

Last Things: Cold Comfort in the Far Future

by Gregory Benford

Robert Frost’s famous imagery—fire or ice, take your pick—pretty much sums it up. But lately, largely unnoticed, a revolution has unwound in the thinking about such matters, in the hands of that most rarefied of tribes, the theoretical physicists. Maybe, just maybe, ice isn’t going to be the whole story. Of course, linking the human prospect to cosmology itself is not at all new. The endings of stories are important, because we believe that how things turn out implies what they ultimately mean. This comes from being pointed toward the future, as any ambitious species must be.

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What is the Future of the Sharing Economy?

Review the Future

This week’s episode is about the sharing economy. We discuss the term and try to decide if the companies that use it are really doing anything new or just using a buzzword to screw workers and evade regulations. We discuss Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Fold.it, Couchsurfing, Seti@Home, Streetbank, Zipcar, eBay, and craigslist. Are these sites really just sophisticated barter systems? If so, what about math trades and offer networks? Is the sharing economy, like outsourcing, just a stop on the way to the much more profound automation economy?

Relevant Links

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Ramez Naam

Don’t Diss Dystopias: Sci-fi’s warning tales are as important as its optimistic stories.

by Ramez Naam

This piece is part of Future Tense, a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University. On Thursday, Oct. 2, Future Tense will host an event in Washington, D.C., on science fiction and public policy, inspired by the new anthology Hieroglyph: Stories & Visions for a Better Future. For more information on the event, visit the New America website; for more on Hieroglyph project, visit the website of ASU’s Project Hieroglyph.

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And The Least Peaceful Places On Earth Are… | Global Peace Index 2014

VisionofHumanityorg

Despite living in the most peaceful time in human history, the world has become less peaceful over the last seven years, according to the 2014 Global Peace Index.

We are in an epoch different to any other epoch in human history. The problems we are facing are global in nature. They include climate change, ever decreasing biodiversity, full use of the fresh water on the planet and underpinning all these – overpopulation. Without peace we will be unable to achieve the levels of cooperation, inclusiveness and social equity required to begin solving these challenges, let alone empower the international institutions needed to regulate them.

It is impossible to accurately portray the devastating effects that global challenges will have on us all unless unified global action is taken. Our shared challenges call for global solutions, and these solutions will require cooperation on a global scale unparalleled in human history.

Vision of Humanity is a strong proponent of the need to further study, advocate and act on peace. It groups together a number of interrelated initiatives focused on global peace which enjoy the support of a wide range of philanthropists, business people, politicians, religious leaders and intellectuals. It brings a strategic approach to raising the world’s attention and awareness around the importance of peace to humanity’s survival in the 21st century.

This website will focus on the major issues facing us in the 21st century and it is going to try and bring a balanced approach with factual information that is positive and solution based. We hope that t

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Alex Nichols

Supertasking and Mindfulness

by Alex Nichols

In an age of unlimited access to information, coupled with an endless bombardment of stimulation from technology, I find it important to reassess our notions of bringing balance to what it means to be focused and present.

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Zoltan Istvan

Will Brain Wave Technology Eliminate the Need for a Second Language?

by Zoltan Istvan

Earlier this year, the first mind-to-mind communication took place. Hooked up to brain wave headsets, a researcher in India projected a thought to a colleague in France, and they understood each other. Telepathy went from the pages of science fiction to reality.

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Ramez Naam

The Renewable Energy Revolution

by Ramez Naam

Transforming the world’s energy supply will take decades. It is a very tall order. But it’s starting. The price of renewables – and energy storage – continues to plunge, putting them on a path to being cheaper than any other form of energy within the coming decade. And they continue to grow exponentially – albeit it from a low baseline – spreading out into the market.

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Melanie Swan

Blockchain Health - Remunerative Health Data Commons & HealthCoin RFPs

by Melanie Swan

The bigger concept behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin is blockchain technology. The blockchain (a chain of transaction blocks) is a public transaction ledger, automatically downloaded and stored digitally in electronic wallet applications; a digital record of all transactions in a certain asset class like bitcoin. 

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We have the extraordinary evidence! TAM 2013

JamesRandiFoundation

IEET Fellow, Russell Blackford talks about the accessibility of knowledge and it’s impact on history and society. Blackford spoke at “The Amazing Meeting: Fighting the Fakers” along with many other great thinkers in 2013.

​​

From http://archive.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/2028-join-us-at-the-amazng-meeting-2013.html

TAM 2013 will be four full days of skeptical programing running from 8:00 a.m. until after midnight most nights. At the core of the programing will be talks by some of our leading lights, including:
FRIDAY KEYNOTE

Susan Jacoby is the author of The Age of American Unreason and many other books. She has been the recipient of many grants and awards, including those from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Ford Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2001-2002, she was named a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Book World, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Newsday, Harper’s, The Nation, Vogue, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, and the AARP Magazine, among other publications. She also writes a weekly column at the On Faith website published by The Washington Post.

MAIN PROGRAM SPEAKERS

Dan Ariely is the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He is the author of a number of books, including Predictably Irrational, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.

Susan Blackmore is a psychologist and writer researching consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. She is the is author of a number of books, including The Meme Machine and Zen and the Art of Consciousness.

Russell Blackford is an Australian attorney, philosopher, science fiction writer, and critic. He is the author of a number of books, including Freedom of Religion and the Secular State and 50 Voices of Disbelief.

Dr. R. Elisabeth Cornwell is Executive Director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (US). In addition to her work with the Foundation, she is an evolutionary psychologist whose research includes examining the underlying mechanisms of human mate selection.

Jerry Coyne, Ph.D is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago and a member of both the Committee on Genetics and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. His work is focused on understanding the origin of species: the evolutionary process that produces discrete groups in nature.

Barbara Drescher taught cognitive psychology and quantitative research methods, primarily at California State University, Northridge, for a decade. She developed award-winning material and text for teaching science and critical thinking. As a National Science Foundation Fellow and Phi Kappa Phi Scholar, Barbara studied visual attention, perception, learning, and reasoning.

Reginald Finley Sr is considered one of the pioneers of skeptic-oriented talk media; going back as far as 1999. His program, The Infidel Guy Show, ran for 12 years in which he focused on skepticism, critical thinking, religious and philosophical discussions/debates, and science education. He now runs The Fun Scientists LLC, which aims to encourage children to question unashamedly and without hesitation while at the same time, revealing that science is fun!

David Gorski is an academic surgeon at Wayne State University School of Medicine, where he specializes in breast cancer surgery and serves as the Medical Director of the Alexander J. Walt Comprehensive Breast Center at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. When not actively engaged in breast cancer research or taking care of patients, he is also the managing editor of the Science-Based Medicine blog.

D. J. Grothe is President of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Formerly a “mind-reader” and magician, he studies the processes of deception and self-deception. He lectures and debates frequently on topics surrounding science and central beliefs at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Susan Haack is professor of philosophy and law at the University of Miami. She is the author of Putting Philosophy to Work: Inquiry and Its Place in Culture, and Defending Science: Within Reason Between Scientism and Cynicism, among many other books.

Harriet Hall, aka “The SkepDoc,” is a retired family physician and former Air Force flight surgeon who writes prolifically about science, critical thinking, alternative medicine, and quackery. She is a CSI fellow, a contributing editor to both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines, an editor of the Science-Based Medicine blog, an adviser to the Quackwatch website, a founding fellow of the Institute for Science in Medicine, and is on the editorial review board of the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.

Sharon Hill is a geologist and policy specialist. She has a Masters degree in education, specializing in Science and the Public, and runs the popular critical thinking newsblog, Doubtful News. She writes on topics relating to the paranormal, pseudoscience, cryptozoology, anomalous natural phenomena, and skepticism.

Marty Klein has been a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist for 31 years. He has aimed his entire career toward a single set of goals, among them, telling the truth about sexuality and debunking widely held sex myths. He has written a number of books on human sexuality, and speaks frequently on the psychology, science and pseudoscience of human sexuality.

Max Maven was described as “the most creative mind in magic” by the great movie director Orson Welles. He has published more than 2,000 articles and has been a consultant to the California ScienCenter, numerous universities, and to the magicians David Copperfield, Doug Henning, and Penn & Teller. In addition, he is the author of The Book of Fortunetelling.

Sara E. Mayhew, is a writer and illustrator that the prestigious Applied Arts magazine called “young blood commanding our attention”. The world renowned TED conference accepted Sara into their TED Fellowship program, a class of young world-changers on the cutting edge of their fields, for her work to promote science education through manga.

Steve Novella is a JREF senior fellow and academic clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is also the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, the host and producer of the popular weekly science podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, and the author of the NeuroLogicaBlog. He is the author of two courses by The Teaching Company, including Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills.

Edwina Rogers is Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. She has spent two decades on Capitol Hill as a lobbyist and attorney, including roles as General Counsel for several high profile politicians. Rogers has extensive experience as a public policy expert and has worked for two Presidents and four Senators, and speaks about the role of nonbelievers and skeptics in our society.

Massimo Pigliucci is the chair of the Department of Philosophy at the City University of New York. He is also the editor in chief for the journal Philosophy & Theory in Biology. An outspoken skeptic and critic of creationism and advocate of science education, his most recent books are Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life and Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk.

Massimo Polidoro is an Italian psychologist, writer, journalist, television personality, and the co-founder and executive director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CICAP). He is the editor of Scienza & Paranormale, and has investigated and tested numerous alleged psychics, astrologers, clairvoyants, dowsers, mediums, prophets, psychic detectives, psychic healers, psychic photographers, telepaths and many others, and has been the host of a number of Italian television shows. He is the author of numerous books, including Final Séance, and Secrets of the Psychics.

Cara Santa Maria is not your typical science journalist. From cheerleader to jazz vocalist, model to tattoo enthusiast, she traveled many paths before pursuing her interest in all things related to the brain. Currently, Cara works as the Senior Science Correspondent for The Huffington Post, where she produces and hosts a science web series called “Talk Nerdy To Me.”

Joe Schwarcz is the Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society and teaches a variety of courses in McGill’s Chemistry Department and in the Faculty of Medicine with emphasis on health issues, including aspects of “Alternative Medicine”. Using stage magic to make scientific points is one of his specialties. Professor Schwarcz has received numerous awards for teaching chemistry and for interpreting science for the public, including Royal Society of Canada’s McNeil Award and the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Grady-Stack Award. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Science, Sense and Nonsense.

Michael Shermer is the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University and Chapman University. Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, The Mind of the Market, Why Darwin Matters, and Why People Believe Weird Things among others.

Karen Stollznow is a linguist, Bad Language columnist for Skeptic magazine, and author of the forthcoming books Language Myths, Mysteries and Magic, and Red, White and (True) Blue. She is a long-term investigator of paranormal and pseudoscientific beliefs and practices, a co-host of Monster Talk, and is a Research Fellow for the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Jamy Ian Swiss is a senior JREF Fellow. He has appeared internationally for presenters ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of books including The Art of Magic, and two collections of essays, the most recent is Devious Standards. His U.S. television appearances include CBS’ 48 Hours, PBS’ Nova, The Today Show, and repeat appearances on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Other presentations and appearances by: Banachek, Joshie Berger, Evan Bernstein, Bob Blaskiewicz, Bryan & Baxter, Chip Denman, Tim Farley, Shane Greenup, Miranda Celeste Hale, Kyle Hill, Penn Jillette, Daniel Loxton, Maria Myrback, Bob Novella, Jay Novella, Don Prothero, Stuart J. Robbins, Paul Provenza, Todd Robbins, Richard Saunders, Eve Siebert, Nakul Shenoy, Brian Thompson, and Brent Weedman. More presenters will be announced in the weeks ahead.

http://archive.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/2028-join-us-at-the-amazng-meeting-2013.html

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Suffering & Progress in Ethics (Past & Future)

Adam Ford

Suffering is bad - Peter Singer (who is a Hedonistic Utilitarian), and most Effective Altruists would agree with this. Though in addressing the need for suffering today Peter acknowledges that, as we are presently constituted, suffering is useful as a warning sign (e.g. against further injury). But what about the future?

​ Illustration: Bryan Christie Design

**What if we could eliminate suffering?

Perhaps in the future we will have advanced technological interventions to warn us of danger that will be functionally similar to suffering, but without the nasty raw feels.

Peter Singer, like David Pearce, suggests that if we could eliminate suffering of non-human animals that are capable of suffering, perhaps in some way that is difficult to imagine now - that this would be a good thing.

"I would see no reason to regret the absence of suffering" - Peter Singer

Peter can't see any regret to lament the disappearance of suffering, though perhaps people may say it would be useful to help understand literature of the past. Perhaps there are some indirect uses for suffering - but on balance Peter thinks that the elimination of suffering would be an amazingly good thing to do.

Singer thinks it is interesting to speculate what might be possible for the future of human beings, if we do survive over the longer term? To what extent are we going to be able to enhance ourselves? In particular to what extent are we going to be more ethical human beings - which brings to question 'Moral Enhancement'.

Have we made Progress in Ethics? Peter argues for the case that our species has expanded the circle of our ethical concern we have in his book 'The Expanding Circle', and more recently Steven Pinker took up this idea in 'Better Angels Of Our Nature' - and this has happened over the millennia, beyond initially the tribal group, then to a national level, beyond ethnic groups to all human beings, and now we are starting to expand moral concern to non-human sentient beings as well.

Steven Pinker thinks that increases in our ethical consideration is bound up with increases in our intelligence (as proposed by James Flynn - the Flynn Effect - though this research is controversial (it could be actual increases in intelligence or just the ability to do more abstract reasoning)) and increases in our ability to reason abstractly.

As mentioned earlier there are other ways in which we may increase our ability and tendancy to be more moral (see Moral Enhancement), and in the future we may discover genes that may influence us to think more about others, to dwell less on negative emotions like anger or rage. It is hard to say whether people will use these kinds of moral enhancers voluntarily, or whether we need state policies to encourage people to use moral enhances in order to produce better communities - and there are a lot of concerns here that people may legitimately have about how the moral enhancement project takes place. Peter sees this as a facinating prospect and that it would be great to be around to see how things develop over the next couple of centuries.
Note Steven Pinker said of Peter's book "Singer's theory of the expanding circle remains an enormously insightful concept, which reconciles the existence of human nature with political and moral progress. It was also way ahead of its time. . . . It's wonderful to see this insightful book made available to a new generation of readers and scholars."

On Moral Enhancement see Julian Savulescu's writings on the subject.

The Expanding Circle - http://press.princeton.edu/titles/943… - What is ethics? Where do moral standards come from? Are they based on emotions, reason, or some innate sense of right and wrong? For many scientists, the key lies entirely in biology—especially in Darwinian theories of evolution and self-preservation. But if evolution is a struggle for survival, why are we still capable of altruism?

In his classic study The Expanding Circle, Peter Singer argues that altruism began as a genetically based drive to protect one's kin and community members but has developed into a consciously chosen ethic with an expanding circle of moral concern. Drawing on philosophy and evolutionary psychology, he demonstrates that human ethics cannot be explained by biology alone. Rather, it is our capacity for reasoning that makes moral progress possible. In a new afterword, Singer takes stock of his argument in light of recent research on the evolution of morality.

The Flynn Effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_ef…

Peter Singer - Ethics, Evolution & Moral Progress - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91UQA…

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Science, Technology & the Future: http://scifuture.org

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