Isn’t it weird that no one is really talking about the incest on Game of Thrones? I mean, yes, among the fellow inhabitants of Westeros, sure, there are the insinuations and the snickers, the threats from the faithful, and the apparent manifestation of its awfulness in Joffrey. And sure, incest has been mentioned in articles about the show and it’s a core driver of several plot points and emotional arcs for our protagonists. It’s not completely glossed over.
But incest is supposed to be awful. Like as bad as rape. Even most anti-abortionists make two exceptions beyond sparing the mother’s life: rape and incest.
When it comes to telling big, epic, awesome, mythopoetic stories, our world is boring. It is boring because it is known. We can google any spot on the planet and get a complete breakdown of that place’s ecology, politics, history, industries, and turn-by-turn directions on how to get there. Not only that, most of us feel like we kind of know where the future is headed. A.I., rockets to space, self-driving cars, and replicators no longer seem a matter of chance, merely a matter of time. Wait around long enough and the future we’ve all imagined will get here. The now cliché “Where’s my jetpack” is said with the foot-tapping frustration of culture that believes technological progress is not merely inevitable but, in a way, owed.
Medicine is the next frontier of the future… Alice Park’s new book The Stem Cell Hope, convinced me it is time to retire, “Where is my jetpack!?” once and for all. After reading her new book, Park will have you screaming, “Where are my stem cells?” from every rooftop.
Brave is a much richer and more important film than most people realize. Context as they say, is everything. And to understand why Brave matters, we have to look at it within the context of animated films up to this point.
Transhumanism is a big, complicated, sprawling idea. The central concept – that humans can be made better with technology – touches on a lot of hopes and fears about the future of humanity. Though I’m always going on about how great human enhancement could be, I’ve got my fair share of fears myself. But my fears are probably way different than many of your fears. But how in the world can we represent those concerns? As it turns out, I’ve found a pretty good set of archetypes that represent our hopes and fears: Marvel Comic’s Avengers.
Mass Effect is epic. It’s the product of the best parts of Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and more with a protagonist who could be the love-child of Picard, Skywalker, and Starbuck. It’s one of the most important pieces of science fiction narrative of our generation. Mass Effect goes so far beyond other fictional universes in ways that you may not have yet realized. It is cosmic in scope and scale.
Zombies are a strange source of ethical inspiration, but as I mentioned to io9′s Lauren Davis, if academic ethicists get to spend all day talking about trolleys, I see no reason we can’t banter about the ethics of the undead.
Lauren Davis reopens the debate started by Zach Zorich at Archeology and continued by yours truly over whether or not we should clone a Neanderthal. She does a nice job compiling a list of yays and nays, including this gem I hadn’t much considered:
Over at Cyborgology (a blog I am amazed I didn’t discover sooner, given its sister site is Sociological Images) Jenny Davis attempts to figure out if the assistive devices built by Ekso Bionics are “ableist” or if they represent genuine progress. She makes a pretty good case:
IEET’s Kyle Munkittrick debated human enhancement with Brad Allenby, author of The Techno-Human Condition, and Nick Agar, author of Humanity’s End: Why We Should Reject Radical Life Enhancement, over at Slate. Check out the fascinating results.
Recently I had a chat with Mary DeMarle, the lead writer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, about how the ethics of enhancement and augmentation were considered when crafting the game’s story and characters.
Steve Rogers, the man who would become Captain America, was not subjected to an accidental burst of gamma radiation or the bite of a radioactive spider. Instead, he willingly enlisted and subjected himself to an experimental process for the creation of super-soldiers. His superpowers were deliberate and intended. However, the circumstances of Captain America’s enlistment into the army are, at best, questionable.
The nerd echo chamber is reverberating this week with the furious debate over Charlie Stross’ doubts about the possibility of an artificial “human-level intelligence” explosion – also known as the Singularity.
Dying is a touchy subject. Euthanasia makes people upset. Whichever side of the debate you are on, you are caught between the hard place of human suffering and the rock of informed autonomous free choice.
Imagine you know everything on Wikipedia, in the Oxford English Dictionary, and the contents of every book in digital form. When someone asks you what you did 20 years ago, on demand you recall with perfect accuracy every sensation and thought from that moment.