Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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


MULTIMEDIA: SpaceThreats Topics

Toxicologists are Freakin’ Awesome!

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

Future News From The Year 2137

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

Existential Risk

Risk of massive asteroid strike underestimated

Futurists discuss The Transhumanist Wager

Can technology solve our big problems?

Cheating Death - Sun Exposure & Marijuana

The Love Police: Megaphone the Drone

What’s the Rational Choice? Risk, Values and the Politics of Geoengineering

We Live in a Cosmic Shooting Gallery

What do You Think About FEMEN?

The end of humanity

This Week in Science and Technology

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SpaceThreats Topics

We Should Mine the Asteroids Now, but Not The Moon

by David Brin

Planetary Resources, founded by Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson, aims to pave the way to humanity mining asteroids for vast wealth… as the B612 Foundation hopes to detect and track asteroids that threaten civilization’s survival… a real case of synergy of purpose. (I’ve been helping both.)

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We May be Systematically Underestimating the Probability of Annihilation

by Phil Torres

This article examines the risks posed by “unknown unknowns,” which I call monsters. It then introduces a taxonomy of the unknowable, and argues that one category of this taxonomy in particular should lead us to inflate our prior probability estimates of annihilation, whatever they happen to be. The lesson here is ultimately the same as the Doomsday Argument, except the reasoning is far more robust.

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A look back at our origins

by David Brin

We are the first human civilization to remove our envisioned “golden age” from an imagined-nostalgic past and instead plant that better-than-the-present era (tentatively) in a potential future.

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The Massive Danger of Societal Nihilism

by Khannea Suntzu

Just a short while, a researcher by the name of Safa Motesharri came out with an article that got some support from NASA. NASA at least put some money in that study, and it caught on in the media that the story was an officially NASA sanctioned, supported or otherwise prominent study. It isn't but that does not make the conclusions in the study any more relevant.

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.

Neo-Malthusians, Luddites, and the rise of the Anti-Science Left

by B. J. Murphy

As much as I respect Pres. Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology, John Holdren, on his work in fighting against climate change, I’ve come to find out that his political beliefs are almost interrelated with that of Maoist-Third-Worldism (an extremist Leftist ideology).

Engineering the Future: Geoengineering

by Christopher Reinert

Geoengineering has an image problem. Some proposed geoengineering projects, such as space mirrors or cloud seeding, seem like they come from the pages of a science fiction novel. Those who propose these projects are treated with belittling rhetoric. Other projects face a different type of imaging problem; the project’s proponents are accused of having vague or unspecified goals and timelines. Such projects are summarily dismissed as being idealistic, out of touch or nebulous.

Asteroid Mining? - the Wrong & Right Reasons to Invest in this Critical Enterprise

by Zeev Kirsh

Asteroid mining memes have been around for decades. Recently, they molted out of their shell of science fiction into talk of technical feasibility. The rub about asteroid mining is that it’s actually a great idea worth your support because asteroid mining is a lie. This article will delve into the cynical underside of a big ‘sell’ only to enlighten you about why futurists everywhere should embrace farcical solicitations when the underlying story supports a practical and necessary futuristic pursuit;Deflecting Earthbound Asteroids.

From Glass-shattering Asteroids to Transparency…

by David Brin

Yesterday morning I was diverted to serve a stint as astronomy pundit - on BBC - regarding or planet's double encounter with asteroids.  Wow.  As one asteroid about 50 meters across zipped by earth, closer even than our communication satellites, another (probably just ten meters in size) gave up more energy than an atomic bomb … gradually, thank heavens, but right over a city in the Russian Urals… briefly outshining the sun and shattering hundreds of windows.  My job on-air was to reassure that there would be no dangerous radiation… that in fact, bolides like this one seem to strike our planet once or twice a decade or so, but always till now over open ocean or deserts or countryside. (In the 1970s one such event, off Japan, almost triggered a rise in DEFCON alert level at the US NORAD!)

A Billion-Year Future Fraught with Danger?  Never Fear, Technologies to the Rescue

by Dick Pelletier

Why peer into this far-future? As scientists forecast significant catastrophes for our solar system, galaxy, and universe, it seems fitting that we should focus on solutions for these disruptive events…

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The Transcension Hypothesis: An Intriguing Answer to the Fermi Paradox?

by Owen Nicholas

Ever since Enrico Fermi questioned back in the 1950’s why, if a multitude of civilisations are likely to exist in the Milky Way, no sign of their existence in the form of probes or spacecraft has ever been detected, scientists and critical thinkers have struggled to resolve the problem by supplying a host of inventive arguments with mixed reception.

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Prometheus Gave Us Fire. Ridley Scott’s Film Gave Us Disappointment and all the Wrong Messages!

by Nikola Danaylov

Prometheus is the most over-hyped and under-delivering film I have seen in a long while. Even Worse: It sends out all the wrong messages!

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Are We Panspermia or Not? Does Knowing Matter?

by Gabriel Rothblatt

Did life on Earth arrive from outer space? Are we spawned by Von Neumann Probes sent from distant solar systems? Here’s pro and con arguments for both possibilities.

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Ten Rules for Creating Awful Scenarios

by Jamais Cascio

Warning: This is satire! For futurists! You actually want to do the opposite of all of these things - Seriously!

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Wormholes: Travel Instantly through Space, Time; Visit Parallel Worlds

by Dick Pelletier

“In a distant future, adventurers prepare for a cosmic journey at Spaceport America, but they will not be boarding any rocket-driven spacecraft. Instead, they simply walk through a StarGate-like archway and instantly step onto a planet hundreds of light years from Earth.”

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Spacesteading – May the Meek Inhabit the Cosmos

by Gabriel Rothblatt

I was born with a romance for space, and so I was recently thrilled to read Benjamin Abbot’s argument on settling the future. [1] I too have been bothered by the trends I am seeing in the space industry and the vernacular used in reference to it.

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The Rise and Fall of Human Domination - ethical links between non-humans, humans, and post-humans

by Guillermo Campos

Our hive culture has established a hierarchical pyramid where we, the greatest of the great apes, have crowned ourselves on top of a conceptual food chain that is confused / mixed with a superiority chain…

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Do Sci Fi Attitudes Reflect Our Times?

by David Brin

Nearly two thirds (65 percent) of Americans think that President Obama would be a better leader than Mitt Romney if an alien invasion were to happen.  Hm, well, yes… and?  So?  

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Modified Humans: the Most Cost-Efficient Way to Colonize Space

by Dick Pelletier

In 30 years, “enhanced” astronauts might not have lungs or stomachs, so they can survive without breathing or eating. Plus they’ll have nano-skin to resist radiation.

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Does a Galaxy filled with Habitable Planets mean Humanity is Doomed?

by George Dvorsky

Last week, reported on the astounding confirmation that all solar systems in the Galaxy probably have planets, and that Earthlike planets are more common than previously thought. While this seems like good news for SETI-enthusiasts, the revelation is actually quite disturbing.

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Winners of the “Why Are We Alone?” Contest

by David Brin

My latest novel, Existence, reveals dozens of scenario about first contact, including a couple of unique ones concerning the Fermi Paradox or The Great Silence, as the quandary of why we have never encountered extraterrestrial civilization has been called. I’ve written about all this extensively in scientific papers and in fiction.

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Celebrating Space! Solar Tornadoes, Exoplanets ‘n Micro Black Holes

by David Brin

12-4-12 Thursday was Yuri’s night, an international celebration of human achievement and ingenuity, in recognition of mankind’s achievements in space exploration—with hopes of inspiring a new generation to continue looking upward and reaching outward. Fifty-one years ago, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to launch into space: “Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty – not destroy it!”

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Will Iran get to the Moon?

by Owen Nicholas

On February 29, 2012, Iran’s Alborz Space Center, with much public fanfare, was opened to the international media for the first time. Situated 40 miles west of Tehran, the space facility is one of the keystones of the country’s ambitious space program, which has plans to land an astronaut on the moon by 2025.

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Owen Nicholas: IEET’s “Intern of the Month”

In mid-February, Owen Nicholas, a recent graduate of Nottingham University in the UK, volunteered to help IEET out as an intern. Since then, he has single-handedly written four essays, including the #11 Most Popular 2012 First Quarter article, “Meditation Boosts the Brain”. Additionally, his recent article, “Will Iran get to the Moon?” has been awarded with a reposting by the World Future Society.

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Space-Launch Mass Drivers and von Neumann machines: Science meets Science Fiction

by David Brin

The notion of gun-propelled launch goes back to Jules Verne. Such Mass Drivers have been envisioned in numerous Sci Fi tales, including Earthlight, by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Heart of the Comet by Benford & Brin. We’ve also seen them portrayed in Buck Rogers, Babylon 5 and Halo. Now, two researchers propose that a space-capable mass driver may be feasible.

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by Janine Donoho

Intelligent life is a fragile accident in an indifferent universe, and the first duty of intelligent life is to figure out how to transform itself and its environment in order to survive. Unfortunately intelligent creatures sometimes evolve suicidally conservative memetic straitjackets - condoms are a sin, the climate isn’t changing, doing this ghost dance will stop bullets, unregulated markets are always right.  In this short story Ms. Donoho imagines a far future descendant of ours forced to witness the unnecessary deaths of the descendants of today’s Luddites and bioconservatives.

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To the Moon, Newt!

by Lawrence Krauss

Gingrich’s wasteful, scientifically unsound plan to put colonists on lunar soil.

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Poll: Majority Supports Tax-Funded Space Exploration

About two-thirds of those who responded to an IEET reader poll approve of the government spending money on exploring space.

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Anders Sandberg on Progress in Mitigating Asteroid Impact Risks

by J. Hughes

Anders Sandberg, a friend of the IEET and postdoctoral fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, recently gave the keynote address at the May 9-12, 2011, Planetary Defense Conference in Bucharest sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics. He has kindly sent us a summary of encouraging progress documented at the meeting on mapping the trajectories of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and figuring out ways to deflect them if they will hit the Earth.

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Our Worst Frailty: An Electro Magnetic “Hit”

by David Brin

The EMP-vulnerability of our electric grid, our machines, transportation systems, tools, and homes is probably the most glaring “acute-impact” threat on our horizon.

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