(The following is, roughly, the text of a talk I delivered to the IP/IT/Media law discussion group at Edinburgh University on the 25th of November 2016. The text is much longer than what I actually presented and I modified some of the concluding section in light of the comments and feedback I received on the day. I would like to thank all those who were present for their challenging and constructive feedback. All of this builds on a previous post I did on the ‘logical space of algocracy’)
I voted today and in spite of all the cynicism of my fellow citizens, I enjoyed it. I love going to my local polling place. I live in the mountains and have the luxury of knowing the people who work there, bumping into neighbors and never, ever having to wait in line. We may be the middle of nowhere, but our polling place rocks. Every vote of mine felt good, even the presidency. Those of you who follow my blog know I’m pro third party, so yes, I voted my conscience today, but more over I also got to vote for a US Senator, US Congressperson, State Assembly and TONS of ballot measures (I live in Cali—we had over 17 propositions!)
L’idée d’humain « augmenté » suscite des peurs chez certains, qui affirment que cela remet en cause notre identité humaine.
Cependant, à partir de quel moment pouvons-nous dire que nous sommes « augmentés » ? Ne le sommes-nous pas déjà ? Et nul besoin de songer aux derniers accessoires technologiques : cela remonte très loin dans notre histoire !
Delhi, the capital city of India and home to 25 million residents, is in the midst of an “extreme pollution event.” In other words the city has been overrun with smog—tons of it. Recent photographs show the extent of the problem, which is being blamed on everything from vehicle emissions and crop burning through to smoking and fireworks.
Like many others, I am still absorbing the shock of Trump’s victory in the presidential election. For the last month I had been on a holding pattern on the blog in the remote chance the pundits and pollsters had gotten this election terribly wrong. They have. Rather than having elected Hillary Clinton who would have preserved the status quo with all its flaws, but also its protections, a large portion of the electorate has chosen to blow up the system and take a dangerous, potentially dystopian turn.
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, various class-struggle leftists have been emphasizing neoliberalism as the culprit and highlighting the plight of the white working class. Proponents of these analyses exhort us to organize with the white working class for economic justice as a key component of antiracism.
The discourse of transhumanism is notorious for its liberal appeal to ‘enhancement’: ‘physical enhancement’, ‘cognitive enhancement’, ‘moral enhancement’, etc. Much if not most of the discussion is speculative – but in any case, it is aspirational.
Neo Futurism is a movement of the 21st century and developed in the area of design, Urbanism and architecture. This movement could be seen as a deviation from the postmodern attitude. Neo Futurism represents an idealistic belief in the future better. We can read The Neo Futuristic City Manifesto written by Vito di Bari.
If you ever had the opportunity, would you have sex with a robot? Keep in mind, when I reference robots, I’m not thinking about completely mechanized machines, with sharp ridges and gears. Rather, these robots would be the culmination of years of research in the fields of soft robotics, synthetic skin and organ printing, and artificial intelligence (AI). In other words, unless you were to cut them open, you wouldn’t be able to differentiate them from actual human beings
My last post discussed public opposition to “Building a Better Human With Science.” People are generally skeptical of both futuristic technologies as well the scientists developing them. It also turns out that future technologies are disproportionately opposed by religious persons, and most accepted by the least religious. This confirms my experience teaching transhumanism in college classes over the decades—a religious worldview is a good predictor of opposition to new technologies.
A recent piece New York Times article, “Building a Better Human With Science? The Public Says, No Thanks,” reports on a new survey by the Pew Research Center which show public skepticism about improving the physical and intellectual life of the human species. As reported, “Americans aren’t very enthusiastic about using science to enhance the human species. Instead, many find it rather creepy.”
Last year, renewable energy accounted for more than half of all new forms of power generation produced worldwide. It’s an unprecedented milestone for our civilization—one that points to a bright future for solar and wind power.
I argued in my 2015 paper “Why it matters that you realize you’re in a Computer Simulation” that if our universe is indeed a computer simulation, then that particular discovery should be commonplace among the intelligent lifeforms throughout the universe. The simple calculus of it all being (a) if intelligence is in part equivalent to detecting the environment (b) the environment is a computer simulation (c) eventually nearly all intelligent lifeforms should discover that their environment is a computer simulation. I called this the Savvy Inevitability. In simple terms, if we’re really in a Matrix, we’re supposed to eventually figure that out.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC have developed a system that’s enabling a man with quadriplegia to experience the sensation of touch through a robotic arm that he controls with his brain.
Access instead of Ownership
One of the most radical and potentially disruptive ideas for the near-term blockchain financial services market is Securities as a Service. Consider the music industry, where in the past, it was quite normal to purchase and own records and CDs, but now music is often accessed through digital media services like Spotify. There is access to music, but not much thought of ownership. “Listening to music” is the consumable asset, which is priced per network models for its access and consumption.
For the past two years, Zoltan Istvan has been campaigning for the US presidency on the Transhumanist Party, a largely one-man show which nevertheless remains faithful to the basic tenets of transhumanism. Now suppose he won. Top of his policy agenda had been to ensure the immortality of all Americans. But even Zoltan realized that this would entail quite big changes in how the state and society function. So, shortly after being elected president, he decides to hold a national referendum on the matter.
Many of IEET’s scholars have been published in new book, The Posthuman Body in Superhero Comics, this book “examines the concepts of Post/Humanism and Transhumanism as depicted in superhero comics. Recent decades have seen mainstream audiences embrace the comic book Superhuman.” (Palgrave)
In 2010 when I organized the H+ Summit conference at Harvard University, together with my friend Alex Lightman, I would not have imagined that it would be a key event in the history of Inferno. Instead it seems that, according to the protagonists of the book, the villain of the story got his ideas at the conference. On Saturday, October 15 I organized a special screening of the film Inferno, with SingularityU Milan, followed by a debate on the limits of technology and how to apply it in a positive direction for the development of humanity.
The 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to a trio of scientists for their pioneering work in developing molecular machines. These gadgets measure just a thousandth of a human hair in width, and they’re poised to revolutionize everything from manufacturing and materials to medicine and the functioning of the human body.
Researchers from New Zealand have restored the very first recording ever made of computer generated music. The three simple melodies, laid down in 1951, were generated by a machine built by the esteemed British computer scientist Alan Turing.
Typhoons are generally associated with mass destruction, but a Japanese engineer has developed a wind turbine that can harness the tremendous power of these storms and turn it into useful energy. If he’s right, a single typhoon could power Japan for 50 years.