Davecat is the pseudonym of a Michigan-based man. He is married and has one mistress. Neither of them is human. They are both dolls — RealDolls to be precise. Davecat is an iDollator; he promotes love with synthetic beings. His wife is called Sidore. They met at goth club in the year 2000 (according to a story he tells himself). They later appeared together on the TLC show Guys and Dolls. That’s when Elena saw them (Elena is his mistress). She was in Russia at the time, but moved to the USA to live with Davecat and Sidore. They are happy together.
Events have taken such a dark turn in the United States with the election of Trump that many have felt the need to go back to the dystopian classics to get their bearings. These were novels written in the first half of the prior century when totalitarianism wasn’t just something relegated to gray photos in our history books while we lived our days in the bright neo-liberal sunlight of the post- Cold War era, but actually roamed alive and deadly in the real world.
Posthumanists and perhaps especially transhumanists tend to downplay the value conflicts that are likely to emerge in the wake of a rapidly changing technoscientific landscape. What follows are six questions and scenarios that are designed to focus thinking by drawing together several tendencies that are not normally related to each other but which nevertheless provide the basis for future value conflicts.
All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage—torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.
~ George Orwell
[Note: This is (roughly) the text of a talk I delivered at TEDxWHU on the 4th February 2017. A video of the talk should be available within a few weeks.]
There is a cave about 350km from here, in the Swabian Jura. It is called the Hohle Fels (this picture is the entrance to it). Archaeologists have been excavating it since the late 1800s and have discovered a number of important artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic era. In June 2005, they announced an interesting discovery.
(I keep intending to return to my existential concerns about the meaning of life, but the troublesome situation in my home country keeps bringing me back to politics.)
In today’s New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat penned, “How Populism Stumbles.” Douthat argues that movements like Trump’s fail because of bigotry, extremism and, especially, hubris. With this in mind Douthat dismisses my worries about authoritarianism:
Why the Future adds 0 and what “Conversations with the Future” is about
“If someone needs directions, don’t give them a globe. It’ll merely waste their time. But if someone needs to understand the way things are, don’t give them a map. They don’t need directions; they need to see the big picture.” Seth Godin
Believe it or not, President Donald Trump has repeatedly noted interest in space research and exploration. I don’t shy away from my various disagreements with the new President, but I’m also willing to admit that I particularly enjoy his pro-space venture policies. Which is why I find it a bit disconcerting to hear that Republican members of Congress are now ordering DARPA to end their work on Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites.
Emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton Harry Frankfurt‘s book, On Bullshit, was a surprise best seller a few years ago. Given the public musings of our recently installed President, I thought it time to revisit the main idea of the book.
Given all the chaos and pessimism lately and in light of the fact that with the inauguration of Trump we will be walking into very dangerous times, it’s perhaps a good moment for a little bit of hope, though the progressive rallies over the last few days certainly make me feel hopeful.
When people worry about the dark side of emerging technologies, most think of terrorists or lone psychopaths with a death wish for humanity. Some future Ted Kaczynski might acquire a masters degree in microbiology, purchase some laboratory equipment intended for biohackers, and synthesize a pathogen that spreads quickly, is incurable, and kills 90 percent of those it infects.
IEET affiliate scholar Steve Fuller has just published at the London School of Economics European Politics and Policy website on the ‘meaning of life’ in a transhumanised capitalist order. The article can be found here.
We write to draw the attention to the need for increased support for biological research of ageing and improving healthy longevity for the population in India. This subject is pressing and urgent for the global society, and for Indian society and economy in particular.
It has been a common conviction among atheist life-extensionists that religion generally, and particular branches of Christianity, are somehow intrinsically averse to far-reaching biomedical interventions or even to the idea of human life-extension, placing a greater emphasis on faith-healing and life in the world to come.
What does it tell us when leading Democrats are more upset about alleged Russian election-rigging than they are about proven Republican election-rigging? After all, American oligarchs like the Koch Brothers have no more right to undermine our democracy than Russian oligarchs do.
When it comes to Cabinet-level appointments, Donald Trump hasn’t lost his ability to astonish and dismay. At this point his staffing process has pretty much turned into an extended exercise in trolling, a test to see how much humiliation the American people will endure.
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.