Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Galactic



MULTIMEDIA: Galactic Topics

Science Fiction is Really Important But Not Because It’s Right

Is the Universe a Giant Computer Simulation?

Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot Revisted

Actress Jessica Chastain Looks into the Future of Space Exploration, 2014 Year End Review

An update on Cosmology and thoughts on Education - Cosmologist with Attitude

Ambition: A Short Sci Fi Film Celebrates the Rosetta Mission (5min)

Simulated Interstellar Black Holes

Does Space Travel Make You Stupid?

Singularity 1 on 1: The Singularity is the Secular Apotheosis

Neil deGrasse Tyson Testifies Before Senate Science Committee and We Stopped Dreaming (2)

Neil deGrasse Tyson - We Stopped Dreaming (Episode 1)

Fermi Paradox & the Great Filter- Are We Likely Doomed?

The Future of Human Space Exploration (1hr)

NERSC Nobel Lecture Series

Mining the Moon




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Galactic 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.)

Full Story...



The Semi-Orthogonality Thesis - examining Nick Bostrom’s ideas on intelligent purpose

by Lincoln Cannon

In his Orthogonality Thesis, Nick Bostrom proposes that “intelligence and final goals are orthogonal: more or less any level of intelligence could in principle be combined with more or less any final goal.”

However, there’s a problem hinted at by the combination of “orthogonality” and “more or less”. Nick acknowledges that intelligent purpose actually does have some constraints. And arguably those constraints are actually quite strong,  which would mean the Orthogonality Thesis is rather weak

But the weakness may not be fatal. We can formulate a Semi-Orthogonality Thesis that actually accounts better for Nick’s own observations and reasoning without overstating their ramifications, which remain momentous.

Full Story...



High-Tech Jainism: our ethical responsibility is to end suffering on a cosmological scale

by David Pearce

“May all that have life be delivered from suffering”, said Gautama Buddha.

The vision of a happy biosphere isn’t new. Jains, for instance, aim never to hurt another sentient being by word or deed. But all projects of secular and religious utopianism have foundered on the rock of human nature. Evolution didn’t design us to be happy.

Full Story...



UnSingularity - Let’s Enjoy the Slow Hike to the Future

by Giulio Prisco

As a child of the 60s I spent most of my life regretting that we didn’t build those cities on the Moon and the planets. Now I realize that the Apollo adventure was too far from our supply lines to be sustainable. But we are still doing space, and someday (not soon) we will go back to the Moon, and then to Mars, to the planets, and to the stars.

Full Story...



IEET Readers Lean Toward Possibly Purposeful Universe

We asked “Does the universe have a purpose?” and of the 120 of you that answered only a quarter said unequivocally “yes.” A third were unequivocally in the “No” purpose camp. But a third held out for purpose being possible, either as a result of our being in a simulation or as something we begin to understand as we become superintelligent.

Full Story...



How Evolution Gave Us Mathematics

by Gregory Benford

THIS IS MY RESPONSE TO THE EDGE QUESTION OF A FEW YEARS BACK: WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? MY ANSWER:    The intrinsic beauty and elegance of  mathematics allows it to describe nature. Many believe this seeming axiom, that beauty leads to descriptive power. Our experience seems to show this, mostly from the successes of physics. There is some truth to it, but also some illusion.



Top Ten Emerging Technologies: an African Perspective. Fuel cells, robots and plastics

by Utibe Effiong

On March 4 the World Economic Forum released its list of the top 10 emerging technologies of 2015. The list was put together by the Meta-Council on Emerging Technologies in a bid to offer a vivid glimpse of the power of innovation to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard our planet. Included in the list are zero-emission cars fuelled by hydrogen and computer chips modelled on the human brain



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. 



How Humanity Will Conquer Space Without Rockets

by George Dvorsky

Getting out of Earth’s gravity well is hard. Conventional rockets are expensive, wasteful, and as we’re frequently reminded, very dangerous. Thankfully, there are alternative ways of getting ourselves and all our stuff off this rock. Here’s how we’ll get from Earth to space in the future.



#17: Mid-century Earth: a brief glance at our future in 36 years

by Dick Pelletier

Positive future watchers believe we will see more progress in the next three decades than was experienced over the last 200 years. In The Singularity is Near, author Ray Kurzweil reveals how science will change the ways we live, work, and play. The following timeline looks at some amazing possibilities as we venture ahead in what promises to become an incredible future…



Superintelligences Are Already Out There!

by John G. Messerly

“I think it very likely—in fact, inevitable—that biological intelligence is only a transitory phenomenon… If we ever encounter extraterrestrial intelligence, I believe it is very likely to be postbiological in nature …” Paul Davies



Orion, a small step toward our future in space

by Giulio Prisco

A few days ago I was glued to the screen to watch the launch of Orion, just like I used to do when I was a kid in the 60s and watched everything Apollo on TV. In a very good article on Gizmodo, Jesus Diaz argues that Orion’s launch is the best news for humanity in a long time. “We should rejoice,” he says. “[W]e are going back to the stars.”



Think Time is Speeding Up? Here’s How to Slow It!

by Rick Searle

One of the weirder things about human being’s perception of time is that our subjective clocks are so off. A day spent in our dreary cubicles can seem to crawl like an Amazonian sloth, while our weekends pass by as fast as a chameleon’s tongue . Most dreadful of all, once we pass into middle age, time seems to transform itself from a lumbering steam train heaving us through clearly delineated seasons and years to a Japanese bullet unstoppably hurdling us towards death with decades passing us by in a blurr.



Futurism: Go Big

by Jønathan Lyons

Elon Musk wants 1,000,000 human colonists on Mars as a precaution against the extinction of our species. Ray Kurzweil has plotted a timeline for the coming technological Singularity. Michio Kaku has a strategy to avoid AIs overthrowing us: We augment and become them.



12 Technologies We Need To Stop Stalling On And Develop Now

by George Dvorsky

The pace of technological change is governed by many factors — including public demand. Which is why we need to be demanding more. Here are 12 transformative technologies whose development should be expedited right now. To make this list meaningful, I only included those items that are within reasonable technological reach. Sure, it would be nice to have molecular assemblers, warp drives, and the recipe for safe artificial intelligence, but it’ll be decades before we can reasonably embark upon such projects.



Sci Fi Flicks! Some looks back and forward

by David Brin

Are we on the verge of the new Golden Age of science fiction cinema, in which it becomes about matters more interesting than explosions?  Let’s start as Ray Kurzweil and company give us a sneak peak at the forthcoming movie Autómata: “Starring Antonio Banderas, here we have a believable future (2044, thirty years from now) in which desertification is threatening society, and a single company is leading the way in intelligent robotics.” says one George Mason university blogger.  Indeed, it appears to be part of the new crop of films that treat AI with some attempts at subtlety.



Introduction to Astronaut Bioethics

by Patrick Lin

Reproducing in space, lifeboat problems, and other ethical quandaries that could arise if we travel to Mars. Disaster can happen at any moment in space exploration. “A good rule for rocket experimenters to follow is this: always assume that it will explode,” the editors of the journal Astronautics wrote in 1937, and nothing has changed: This August, SpaceX’s rocket blew up on a test flight.



Last Things: Cold Comfort in the Far Future

by Gregory Benford

Robert Frost’s famous imagery—fire or ice, take your pick—pretty much sums it up. But lately, largely unnoticed, a revolution has unwound in the thinking about such matters, in the hands of that most rarefied of tribes, the theoretical physicists. Maybe, just maybe, ice isn’t going to be the whole story. Of course, linking the human prospect to cosmology itself is not at all new. The endings of stories are important, because we believe that how things turn out implies what they ultimately mean. This comes from being pointed toward the future, as any ambitious species must be.



Karlsen on God and the Benefits of Existence

by John Danaher

The paper tries to fuse traditional concerns about the problem of evil with recent work in population ethics. The result is an interesting, and somewhat novel, atheological argument. As is the case with every journal club, I will try to kick start the discussion by providing an overview of the paper’s main arguments, along with some questions you might like to ponder about its effectiveness.



Plato and the Physicist: A Multicosmic Love Story

by Rick Searle

So I finally got around to reading Max Tegmark’s book Our Mathematical Universe, and while the book answered the question that had led me to read it, namely, how one might reconcile Plato’s idea of eternal mathematical forms with the concept of multiple universes, it also threw up a whole host of new questions. This beautifully written and thought provoking book made me wonder about the future of science and the scientific method, the limits to human knowledge, and the scientific, philosophical and moral meaning of various ideas of the multiverse.



Wild ride ahead: glimpse at humanity’s long range future

by Dick Pelletier

Imagine if you could take an exotic vacation billions of light years from Earth, peek in on the dinosaurs’ first-hand, or jump into a parallel universe where another you is living a more exciting life than yours; and you could swap places if you like.



Your Digital Afterlives

by Eric Steinhart

Most transhumanists are already familiar with digitalism, even if they haven’t heard the name. Digitalism uses ideas from computer science to develop new ways of thinking about old topics. Writers like Ed Fredkin, Hans Moravec, Frank Tipler, Nick Bostrom, and Ray Kurzweil are digitalists. Typically, digitalists are scientists, rationalists, naturalists, and atheists. Nevertheless, they have worked out novel and deeply meaningful ways of thinking about things like ghosts, souls, gods, resurrection, and reincarnation.



Mid-century Earth: a brief glance at our future in 36 years

by Dick Pelletier

Positive future watchers believe we will see more progress in the next three decades than was experienced over the last 200 years. In The Singularity is Near, author Ray Kurzweil reveals how science will change the ways we live, work, and play. The following timeline looks at some amazing possibilities as we venture ahead in what promises to become an incredible future…



Discovering ETs: Is the world ready for first contact?

by Dick Pelletier

The year is 2035 and the world is about to receive news from NASA researchers that an intelligent alien species has been detected on an Earth-like twin, 600 light years away:

"Good morning everyone. Last night we detected irrefutable, proof that the atmosphere surrounding the planet known as Kepler 22-B revealed signs of a technology-enabled society. Utilizing our best super-computers and artificial intelligence, we have created simulations of how technologically advanced these aliens might be, andwhat they could look like today, after factoring in the light-years distance from Earth.”



Our Space Future: gene-modified/non-bio humans head for the stars

by Dick Pelletier

The Smith family, Randolph, 50; his wife, Alicia, 45; son Mike, 11; daughter Sandy, 15; and Bradley, the life-like family robot, arrived on Mars via Virgin Galactic faster-than-light-speed hyper-drive, making the trip from New Mexico's Spaceport America to The Ratan Colony, Clarke Field in less than 3 hours.



21st Century: a brief trek through our technology-rich future

by Dick Pelletier

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there’s no question that humankind has made tremendous strides in developing new technologies. While machines can replicate many movements and actions of humans, the next challenge lies in teaching them to think for themselves and react to changing conditions.



SpaceX, a somewhat critical look

by Massimo Pigliucci

I’ve been a bit baffled recently by the enthusiasm that so many friends and colleagues have been displaying for SpaceX and the whole idea of commercial space “exploration.”



Earth 2314: Humanity scatters its populations to the stars

by Dick Pelletier

After rising from the primordial soup 3.5 billion years ago, Earth life began an evolutionary trip that has produced today’s amazing human. Futurists now ponder what’s next. Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, Thomas Frey, Ray Kurzweil, and other forward-thinkers believe technologies will advance exponentially in the centuries ahead, creating sweeping changes in how we view life, our planet, and the cosmos.



Innovations to help us conquer space

by David Brin

I just attended the NASA Innovative and Advance Concepts group (NIAC) symposium at Stanford —(I am on NIAC's Council of External Advisors)—watching and appraising and questioning terrific presentations about future-potential "game-changing" space technologies.  In four days the recipients of NIAC seed grants, showed us how NASA's small but strategic investments in exceptional… even risky… technologies might prove valuable—even vital—if given a chance.



Time Travel: move over Michael J. Fox, real time travel may soon become reality

by Dick Pelletier

At a UCLA workshop attended by yours truly and other future watchers, the late physicist Dr. Robert Forward told the group that further understanding of the cosmos would one day enable man to travel through time. “Given the money and mandate,” Forward said, “in the not-too-distant future, a time machine will be built.” This workshop convened in 1983; now, 31 years later, scientists are edging ever closer towards realizing this bold prediction.

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