Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Resilience



MULTIMEDIA: Resilience Topics

Let’s kick oil while the price is down

The Rejection Of Climate Science And Motivated Reasoning (25min)

Solar Will be the Energy Source For Humanity in a Few Decades

The Fermi Paradox, Self-Replicating Probes, Interstellar Transport Bandwidth (22min)

Tidal Flooding and Sea Level Rise: The Growing Impacts of Global Warming

What we need is a Tom Lehrer-style Elements of Risk Song

Geoengineering: What could go wrong?

Five Things Worth Knowing About Ebola

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

Peter Singer - Extinction Risk & Effective Altruism

Primer on Nuclear Fusion and Photos from the People’s Climate March (Sep, 21, 2014)

DeepMind, MetaMed, Existential Risk, and the Intelligence Explosion

The future is going to be wonderful (If we don’t get whacked by the existential risks)

Existential Risk

Desalination - Tech Between A Rock And A Hard Place




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Resilience Topics




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. 



A New Typology of Risks

by Phil Torres

In a previous article, I critiqued the two primary definitions of “existential risk” found in the literature, and then hinted at a new definition to replace them. Part of my critique centered on how the relevant group affected by an existential catastrophe is demarcated, e.g., as “our entire species,” “Earth-originating intelligent life,” or “either our current population or some future population of descendants that we value.” (I prefer the latter because it solves the problems of “good” and “bad” extinction that the first two encounter.) I want to put aside the issue of demarcation in this article and focus exclusively on the nature of existential risks themselves (that is, independent of who exactly they impact).



Is novelty in nanomaterials overrated when it comes to risk?

by Andrew Maynard

Nanomaterial risks are often considered in terms of novel material behaviours. But, as Andrew D. Maynard explains, does this framing end up obscuring some risks, while overplaying others?



Transhumanism: No Gigadeath War

by Kris Notaro

The onset of transhumanism, political or not may rally many people against technological innovations such as the integration of the human species with computers and re-designing of our specie’s DNA for enhancement purposes. The people of the world need to cooperate and value education so that we never see any of the dystopian posthumanist scenarios play out the way many think they might.



Combatting Ebola: Moving beyond the hype

by Andrew Maynard

As of October 19, over 9,000 cases of Ebola had been reported, with close to 5,000 deaths, almost exclusively in West Africa.  And while there have been success stories such as the elimination of Ebola infections from Nigeria and Senegal, the numbers of cases in vulnerable economies continues to grow.



Planetary Boundaries And Global Catastrophic Risk

by Seth Baum

Back in 2012, I was invited to spend a few weeks visiting at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), a federally funded Japanese research institute based in the beautiful city of Kyoto. I was invited by my colleague Itsuki Handoh of RIHN. During my visit, Handoh and I came up with an idea for how to fuse two important lines of research on major global threats.



10 Horrifying Technologies That Should Never Be Allowed To Exist

by George Dvorsky

As we head deeper into the 21st century, we’re starting to catch a glimpse of the fantastic technological possibilities that await. But we’re also starting to get a grim sense of the potential horrors. Here are 10 frightening technologies that should never, ever, come into existence.



Gaza Is a Transhumanist Issue!

by Benjamin Abbott

Transhumanists as a rule may prefer to contemplate implants and genetic engineering, but few if any violations of morphological freedom exceed being torn to pieces by shrapnel or dashed against concrete by an overpressure wave. In this piece I argue that the settler-colonial violence in occupied Palestine relates to core aspects of modernity and demands futurist attention both emotionally and intellectually.



When Global Catastrophes Collide: The Climate Engineering Double Catastrophe

by Seth Baum

It could be difficult for human civilization to survive a global catastrophe like rapid climate change, nuclear war, or a pandemic disease outbreak. But imagine if two catastrophes strike at the same time. The damages could be even worse. Unfortunately, most research only looks at one catastrophe at a time, so we have little understanding of how they interact.



Mapping Militarism

by David Swanson

World Beyond War has created a set of online interactive maps to help us all see where and how war and preparations for war exist in the world today.  You can find the maps we’ve created thus far at http://bit.ly/mappingmilitarism and send us your ideas for more maps here.  We’ll be updating some of these maps with new data every year and displaying animation of the progress away from war or the regress toward more war as the case may be.



On Fire and Climate Change

by Brenda Cooper

Somewhere around a dozen years ago, I was sitting in a bar in Eastern Washington. It could have been Lake Chelan or Yakima. I really don’t remember. But I do remember meeting two cowboys. Real cowboys (we still have them in the west). They weren’t talking about herds of cows over their beers.  They were talking about fires.



Jobs lost to automation: Doom and gloom? Maybe not, expert says

by Dick Pelletier

Although a study from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology suggests that nearly half of U.S. jobs could be at risk of computerization over the next two decades, this does not necessarily need to be bad news, says futurist Thomas Frey in a recent Futurist Magazine essay.



Is It Time to Give Up on the Singularity?

by George Dvorsky

Some futurists and science fiction writers predict that we’re on the cusp of a world-changing “Technological Singularity.” Skeptics say there will be no such thing. Today, I’ll be debating author Ramez Naam about which side is right.



10 Futurist Phrases And Terms That Are Complete Bullshit

by George Dvorsky

Last month io9 told you about 20 terms every self-respecting futurist should know, but now it's time to turn our attention to the opposite.  Here are 10 pseudofuturist catchphrases and concepts that need to be eliminated from your vocabulary.



The Kingdom of Machines

by Rick Searle

For anyone thinking about the future relationship between nature-man-machines I’d like to make the case for the inclusion of an insightful piece of fiction to the canon. All of us have heard of H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke. And many, though perhaps fewer, of us have likely heard of fiction authors from the other side of the nature/technology fence, writers like Mary Shelley, or Ursula Le Guin, or nowadays, Paolo Bacigalupi, but certainly almost none of us have heard of Samuel Butler, or better, read his most famous novel Erewhon (pronounced with 3 short syllables E-re-Whon.)



The second dead of the small town, final? First dead of the small city

by Sebastian Pereira

Anyone who thinks ‘dystopian future’ first conjures the image of a sprawling mega metropolis where some version of a decadent elite, which lives in luxury, is surrounded by legions of the destitute, existing in harsh condition near or at the breaking point. Probable as such a future may be, what no one considers (almost no one) is how things got to that point?



Implementing a Basic Income via a Digital Currency

by Jon Perry

The idea of basic income is rather old, but it has gained renewed interest in recent times. A basic income is appealing as both a solution to poverty and possible future technological unemployment.



Democracy: There’s an App for That

by Doug Rushkoff

The best thing about Occupy Wall St. wasn’t what it argued politically or accomplished legislatively, but what it modeled for us: a new way of engaging with issues, resolving conflict, and reaching consensus. It was a style of engagement that seemed like it could only happen in person, between young people willing to sit in a cold park all night until they could come to an agreement over an issue.



Erasmus reads Kahneman, or why perfect rationality is less than it’s cracked up to be

by Rick Searle

The last decade or so has seen a renaissance is the idea that human beings are something far short of rational creatures. Here are just a few prominent examples: there was Nassim Taleb with his The Black Swan, published before the onset of the financial crisis, which presented Wall Street traders caught in the grip of their optimistic narrative fallacies, that led them to “dance” their way right over a cliff. There was the work of Philip Tetlock which proved that the advice of most so-called experts was about as accurate as chimps throwing darts. There were explorations into how hard-wired our ideological biases are with work such as that of Jonathan Haidt in his The Righteous Mind.



Senior U.S. spies warn of future top 10 security threats

by George Dvorsky

A senior American spy chief has released his assessment of the most troubling threats facing the US — a list that includes terrorism, hackers, WMD proliferation, pandemics, extreme weather events — and the militarization of space.



Bitcoin Fever: 2013 – The Year of a $110 Million Online Heist & More

by Kathryn Cave

Aside from “twerking” the only word that has made both the Oxford and Collins “word of the year” list is “Bitcoin”… and this is little wonder to anyone who has been following the story. In 2013 Bitcoin has caused nothing but greed, debate and bafflement in the online world. It has leapt in value, been accepted in an ever increasing array of stores… and at the start of December was at the heart of the biggest online robbery of all time. Have you been caught up in Bitcoin fever yet?



#17 A Letter to Sergey Brin

by Maria Konovalenko

I’ve heard you are interested in the topics of aging and longevity. This is very cool, because fighting for radical life extension is the wisest and most humanitarian strategy. I would like to tell you what needs to be done, but, unfortunately, I haven’t got your email address, or any other way to be heard.



Taming the Gigaton Gorilla: Using Syria Diplomacy to Help Avoid U.S.-Russia Nuclear War

by Seth Baum

The Syrian civil war has already caused over 100,000 deaths. As tragic as this is, it is miniscule compared to the massive and potentially permanent global destruction that could come from the gigaton gorilla lurking in the background: nuclear war between the United States and Russia. While the U.S. and Russia find themselves on opposite sides in Syria, their diplomacy over Syria's chemical weapons could help build the trust and confidence needed to reduce the risk of nuclear war.



The Philosophy Behind Elysium

by Rick Searle

I finally had the chance to see Elysium this week. As films go, the picture is certainly visually gripping and the fight scenes awesome, if you are into that sort of thing. But, in terms of a film about ideas the picture left me scratching my head, and I could only get a clue as to the film’s meaning as intended by Neill Blomkamp, Elysium’s screenwriter and director, by looking elsewhere.



Microclimate creation and management

by Brenda Cooper

Our front yard is different than our back yard.  The front is sunny and bright and grows flowers and moss-free grass.  The back is partly shaded and often five degrees cooler. The two spaces have different micro-climates.  This isn’t new science. Thomas Jefferson understood it.  When he gardened at Monticello, he planted grapes on a sunny hillside that saw significant warmth for two months longer than many of his other lands.



A Letter to Sergey Brin

by Maria Konovalenko

I’ve heard you are interested in the topics of aging and longevity. This is very cool, because fighting for radical life extension is the wisest and most humanitarian strategy. I would like to tell you what needs to be done, but, unfortunately, I haven’t got your email address, or any other way to be heard.



Reasons for Optimism and Concern: Can Technology Save the World?

by David Brin

I cannot recommend too highly an excellent article that appeared in The Guardian— Technology as Our Last Best Hope —about the concept of ecological modernism, which sees technology as key to solving big environmental problems.



Taxing Multinational Corporations Against Global Catastrophic Risks

by Rick Searle

Human beings have a very limited attention span, a fact amplified a thousand fold by modern media. It seems the “news” can consist of a only handful of widely followed stories at a time, and only one truly complex narrative. This is a shame because the recent breaking of one substantial news story was followed by the breaking of another one which knocked it out of the field of our electronic tunnel vision. Without some narrative connecting the two only one can really hold our attention at a time. Neither of these stories have to do with Kate Middleton and the birth of Prince George.



Call for Papers for Special Issue of JET on “The Ethics of Geoengineering”

Submissions are invited for a special issue of the Journal of Evolution and Technology on the topic of the Ethics of Geoengineering. Deforestation, animal husbandry, the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities have resulted in the rise of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The rapid rise in temperature is having dramatic impacts from massive storms to droughts near the equator, and it is vital to nearly all species on Earth that we actively reduce greenhouse gases. Geoengineering – a variety of massive projects to deflect sunlight or sequester carbon - is one possible way to slow and mitigate this environmental crisis, although the various methods being proposed all have attendant risks and ethical concerns.

Full Story...



Fear of a Geo-engineered Planet

by Wesley Strong

The climate crisis demands our immediate attention. Climate change could devastate thousands of at-risk communities beyond repair and leave the face of the earth scarred. We cannot be alarmist enough about continued climate change and the threat it poses to life on this planet. This is the first time in the history of this planet that a species altered global climate to such a degree. The future of life on this planet is entering a period of extreme risk and few are offering rational solutions.

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