In his blog Erasmatazz, Chris Crawford recently published the thoughtful piece: “The Crisis of Legitimacy.” His main thesis is that the legitimacy of Trump’s forthcoming presidency is very much in question. First of all, Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than Trump so it is “reasonable to conclude that Mr. Trump won on a legal technicality …” In addition the legitimacy of the election itself is questionable, inasmuch as it was affected by Trump’s mendacity, fake news stories, FBI intervention, Russian influence, voter suppression targeting minority voters, flawed vote counting, and more. As Crawford puts it, the election hardly looks“free and fair”.
This is the time of year when people try to make sense of the preceding twelve months. It’s a fool’s errand, in one sense. A year is an arbitrary division of time. We decide what it means in retrospect, and we never get it exactly right. But the meaning we give it will guide our actions in the future, in thousands of conscious and unconscious ways.
It is a noticeable feature of intellectual life that many people research the same topics, but do so using different conceptual and disciplinary baggage, and consequently fail to appreciate how the conclusions they reach echo or complement the conclusions reached by others.
“I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe me.”
Try not to think too much about the story that led to this comment from the President-Elect of the United States. It’s not easy, I know. We’re only human, after all, and that story is so ... so out there. It’s hard to turn away.
IEET affiliate scholar Steve Fuller has just published ‘Transhumanism and the Dialectics of Progressivism’ on The Sociological Review website, which considers transhumanism as a struggle between ‘Liberalism 2.0’ and ‘Socialism 2.0’ for the soul of progressive politics.
The age of solar energy is upon us. Last year alone, we witnessed solar energy prices drop lower than that of coal. As we move along into 2017, how might this ever-expanding industry continue moving along its own current of change.
The year 2016 has been rife with unexpected deaths by some of our most beloved celebrities. Whether it’s Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, comedian Ricky Harris, or pop star George Michael, there has been no shortage of death this year that has left our hearts aching. Many (including myself) have turned this into a meme of sorts, blaming these deaths on the year 2016 itself.
“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie …
Cognitive Easing is the aim of much of our endeavor, whether explicit or implicit. We have never wavered from trying to create a life of ease, enjoyment, and fulfillment. The definition of Cognitive Easing is spending less mental effort to achieve a result.
The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. Power is not a means; it is an end … The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power”~ George Orwell
In the age of robotics, the question of life continues to be a puzzling matter of debate. As creatures of biological code, are we more alive than those made up of digital code? Questions like this are debated more so today than at any other time in history.
“Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?” ~ James Russell Lowell
For the past few weeks, I have been reviewing articles about the trend toward authoritarianism in the USA. Unfortunately, articles appear faster than I can read and review them, so I’ll have to stop and move on soon. With this in mind, I list a few of the pieces I won’t get to, followed by excerpts from some other good ones.
It’s that time of the month where we all come together and exchange gifts. Keeping this in mind, DARPA showed some holiday spirit when it provided Walter Reed National Military Medical Center the greatest gift the 21st century can offer: LUKE – the most revolutionary bionic arm available to date!
“Orwell, Huxley and America’s Plunge into Authoritarianism,” Counterpunch, June 19, 2015, by Henry Giroux, the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University.
I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the era of information wars knowledge of the past is perhaps the only way we can remain anchored to reality. Such collective memory shouldn’t only consist of an accurate record of the facts, but would also include a sense of the history of knowledge and inforwar itself.
A conception of evil that carries over from the Abrahamic religions into secular modernity is that of the ‘disorganization of the soul’. The idea here is that evil isn’t something separate from good but something that arises from the malformation or malfunctioning of good parts. Thus, Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost is God’s best angel gone rogue, the template for the villains faced by comic book superheroes. Many if not most mental illnesses, from neurosis to autism, are defined as some sort of ‘disorder’. In a similar but grander vein, cybernetics founder Norbert Wiener regarded entropy – the ultimate expression of disorganization in physics – as the material equivalent of evil, the source of all suffering, decay and death.
The Swedish philosophy journal Confero has just published a special issue on ‘Transhumanist Politics, Education and Design’, which includes an article by IEET Affiliate Scholar, Steve Fuller, on morphological freedom.
In our previous post we examined how prospect theory helps explain why so many American voters were willing to risk voting for such a manifestly unqualified candidate for President as Donald Trump. Of course what citizens who are willing to take these risks fail to understand, as the artificial intelligence and decision theory expert Eliezer Yudkowsky writes on his Facebook page, is “how there’s a level of politics that’s theater and a level of politics that’s deadly serious.” For example, it’s deadly serious when a President talks about scrapping the NATO alliance or using nuclear weapons. In such cases you would hope that competent and conscientious people exercise power in the international relations realm.
It’s finally the last month of the year and you know what that means – the holiday flood known as Christmas. Celebrated by many, it’s a time of the year where presents are exchanged and songs are sung. Only this year one of those songs won’t be sung (let alone written) by a human being. Nope, this time an artificial intelligence is giving it a go!
It will be a long time into the future before we will know just what this election ultimately meant. What is perhaps more clear, even if we avoid donning the rose colored glasses of hindsight, is that the seeds that sprouted in 2016 were a long time- a- growing. They might even have been anticipated as far back as the culture wars that exploded onto the scene in the late 1960’s. More on that in a moment.
Like most of my readers, I am devastated by the 2016 American Presidential election results (and by the Congressional election results as well.) I have waited a few weeks to write about it so as not to be reacting too emotionally to the results. Since that time my usual focus on philosophy has faded into the background as the country in which I was born and lived all of my life finds itself in perhaps its greatest existential crisis.
Biogerontology Research Foundation trustees will attend The Economist conference Ageing Societies 2016 on 29-30th November in London.
Biogerontology Research Foundation UK executives and trustees Dmitry Kaminskiy and Alex Zhavoronkov will attend panel discussions at the Aging Societies conference 2016, organized by The Economist, in London, United Kingdom on November 29-30th 2016.