Earlier this year, the Christian Transhumanist Association made its public debut with an open invitation to membership, and a small fundraising campaign that brought in approximately $1200. Now, as our first substantial financial act, the membership advisory council, the donors, and the board have decided to contribute that money towards a project that combines technology, compassion, and respect for human life.
We asked “Should we promote higher minimum wages even if they accelerate technological unemployment?” Of the 134 of you who responded to our poll, one in six were OK with promoting higher minimum wages because you are skeptical of technological unemployment, and one in four questioned promoting higher minimum wages because you are skeptical of the feasibility of achieving a basic income guarantee. A little more than half of you thought working for higher minimum wages was OK either because a basic income guarantee is inevitable, or because we can simultaneously promote higher minimum wages and a BIG.
Prominently known as the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre, sci-fi novelist William Ford Gibson once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
We are living in a point of time in which we can conceivably recognize the emergence of a future once envisioned throughout science-fiction literature. Unfortunately, as stated by Gibson, the future doesn’t appear to be evenly distributed. Whether or not this is merely the hallmark of a future emerging from its infancy, only to then mature over time, shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing the current problems laid before us.
A recent New York Times article chronicled 23-year-old Kim Suozzi’s decision to cryonically preserve her brain. Kim, who died recently of cancer, raised the money for her cryonic preservation by soliciting donations with this post at the subreddit “atheism” at the online site reddit—yes atheists can be generous people. Here is the video that accompanied the post:
IEET Fellow David Brin has been named the first annual National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. David will be in residence at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College from Monday, October 5, to Sunday, October 25. As part of David’s fellowship, he will mentor selected Bard students on their fiction and nonfiction writing. Brin will also offer a number of lectures and discussions during his residency at Bard.
The ever controversial Steve Fuller has recently published a number of jolting essays at the IEET,(there has been a good discussion on David Roden’s blog on the topic), yet whatever one thinks about the prospect of zombie vs transhumanist apocalypse he has managed to raise serious questions for anyone who identifies themselves with the causes of transhumanism and techno-progressivism; namely, what is the proper role, if any, of the revolutionary, modernizing state in such movements and to what degree should the movement be open to violence as a means to achieve its ends? Both questions, I will argue, can best be answered by looking at the system constructed in the Soviet Union between 1929 and 1953 under the reign of Joseph Stalin.
Earth is a colorful and diversely populated planet. Evolution just happened to be a genius beyond reckoning, but one that many of us take for granted much of the time - perhaps not on a conscious level, but in more of a conditioned and familiar sense. Continents of Homo sapiens developed into different races, created various cultures based on environment (and most likely genes), and the rest is history. Using this as a lens through which to frame humans’ development of robots, is there any reason to doubt that we will one day have any less of a diverse population of robots?
Through the fundamental invention of the Blockchain, https://blockchain.info/ we now have a tool that, through the use of planet-wide communications networks and smartphones that are available to anybody, can put a Western city-dweller and an Indonesian fisherman on equal footing, to participate in global commerce, maximizing their mutual advantage, and heightening incentives to achieve local and global food security.
The New York Times editorial page is the latest in a lengthening series of commentaries worrying about the impact of two proposed corporate mergers in the health insurance market. Anthem has agreed to acquire Cigna and Aetna is taking over Humana. That means the number of big health insurers will drop from five to three.
Blockchain technology, as revolutionary as it is, is perhaps most revolutionary in exposing the corner of a whole new philosophy of economics that can be formulated as a Network Economics of Abundance.
Not just a new economic theory, but a new philosophy of economics is required because the entirety of existing economic theory has been constructed around the assumption of scarcity, and reconfiguring our economic thought around abundance instead as a central parameter requires rethinking economics so profoundly as to be a new philosophical position that is outside the field of economics.
For a while now robots have been back in the news with a vengeance, and almost on cue seem to have revived many of the nightmares that we might have thought had been locked up in the attic of the mind with all sorts of other stuff from the 1980’s, which it was hoped we would never need.
For those who still don’t know what it is, transhumanism is basically the application of science and technology to amplify the human condition, potentially well beyond our biological default settings. As someone who has increasingly identified with transhumanism since publishing Humanity 2.0in 2011, I welcome the ideology’s move into the mainstream of politics and culture, at least in the English-speaking world. But the form it has taken is rather curious.
The possibility of creating true network economies of abundance and designing personalized economic systems raises a host of issues about what kinds of behavior might result from programmed economic parameters. In moving from indirect advertiser-supported models to direct peer-supported models, for example, one first issue might be the business model - which parts of the system should (can) be free and which paid? For any paid parts, certain externalities and artificial behaviors might be created.
I remember seeing the children falling through the air, their limbs akimbo, grasping for land or any anchor that would save them from the fall. I remember the feelings of terror, panic, pity and helplessness as I watched, unable to intervene. And then I awoke – alone, scared and slowly came to the realization that it was simply a dream, though still I feared closing my eyes again too soon lest I return. That dream took place more than 30 years ago. Much of the detail has faded – how did they come to fall? Were they pushed or did they jump like lemmings? – still I remember the images, can recall the emotions. It was just a dream; it wasn’t real. But I recall the experience of the dream. The personal semiotics that the dream contained were real, telling me something about my own psyche, my own sense of self and so making it an experience with meaning.
Blockchain thinkers or DAC Brains are the notion of having DAO/DAC entities running with smart contracts on blockchains for the purpose of conducting thinking operations. The genesis of blockchain thinkers could be organic or inorganic: human mindfile lifelogs and uploads, and any variety of brain emulations and AI ML/DL algorithms (artificial intelligence machine-learning deep-learning algorithms). One idea is to instantiate your mindfile on the blockchain as a lifelogging tracker and standalone ideation tool: your own mind as an AI DAC.
Dan Barker, echoing an idea expressed by many atheists, describes theology as “a subject without an object.” Since there’s little reason for thinking a God exists – much less the God of the Bible – the entire field is ultimately vacuous, despite the grandiloquent rigamarole of, as Jerry Coyne puts it, Sophisticated Theologians(TM). Theology studies nothing. Its heart and soul is a phenomenon that almost certainly doesn’t exist.
Among transhumanists, Nick Bostrom is well-known for promoting the idea of ‘existential risks’, potential harms which, were they come to pass, would annihilate the human condition altogether. Their probability may be relatively small, but the expected magnitude of their effects are so great, so Bostrom claims, that it is rational to devote some significant resources to safeguarding against them. (Indeed, there are now institutes for the study of existential risks on both sides of the Atlantic.) Moreover, because existential risks are intimately tied to the advancement of science and technology, their probability is likely to grow in the coming years.
We might hope that good arguments will eventually drive out bad arguments – in what Timothy Williamson calls “a reverse analogue of Gresham’s Law” – and we might want (almost?) complete freedom for ideas and arguments, rather than suppressing potentially valuable ones.
Swarthmore College Professor Barry Schwartz just published an op-ed in The New York Times, “Rethinking Work.” The essay begins by noting that a “survey last year found that almost 90 percent of workers were either “not engaged” with or “actively disengaged” from their jobs.” So 9 out of 10 “workers spend half their waking lives doing things they don’t really want to do in places they don’t particularly want to be.” But Why?
NREL recently released data showing that next-generation wind turbines could reach an incredible capacity factor of 60% over 2 million square kilometers of the US, or enough to provide roughly 10x as much electricity as the US uses. If true, this would be a game-changer in wind power, as I explain below.
Imagine that someone hated you (or your company) and wanted to make you look bad. So, he pretended to be a friend or colleague, went to your events, repeatedly asked you to meetings or lunch, gained your trust, and then spent two years recording private conversations. Could he find stuff that would make you sound like a heartless monster? If you’re like me, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, there’s no way it would take years.
By learning everything there is to know about you and your online habits, social network ETER9 promises a kind of digital immortality wherein an artificially intelligent agent continues to post on your behalf long after you’re dead. The future is creepier than we ever imagined.
“For the modern mad men and wolves of Wall Street, gone are the days of widespread day drinking and functional cocaine use. Instead, in this age of efficiency above all else, corporate climbers sometimes seek a simple brain boost, something to help them to get the job done without manic jitters or a nasty crash.
For that, they are turning to nootropics,” writes Jack Smith IV on the cover story for an April 2015 edition of the New York Observer.
For millennia, Humans have been crafting tools. We don’t hold a monopoly on the trade, but we’ve done it better than any other species. So good, our entire evolution has been crafted around our dependence on them. With our anatomical features and vulnerabilities, it was perhaps predestined that we would not only master tool making, but become dependent upon it. What came first, the human or the tool?
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