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Jønathan Lyons Topics




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

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The Smallpox Dilemma

by Jønathan Lyons

Over the past few weeks, a question we have faced before as a species reared its head once again: Should we destroy the last known samples of smallpox on Earth? The answer might seem obvious, may not even seem to require a second thought: Of course we eradicate smallpox! What good is it? One question I would ask in response is: What kind of species do we want to be?



A Biocentric Multiverse

by Jønathan Lyons

I’ve been thinking of ways in which Biocentric Universe Theory and multiverse theory could both be true. What if our nature as conscious beings inhabiting a multiverse of endless possibilities, where we are quantum-superposition beings, actually all adds up to us creating the multiverse, while perceiving time and space only within the limitations of our immediately observable, three-spatial/one-time-dimensional universe?



My strategies for longevity

by Jønathan Lyons

As a futurist and H+ enthusiast, I think it wise to have longevity strategies in place. And while future such plans might include mind uploading or radical life extension via other means (and certainly, I hope for both), strategies available to us today are simple enough to embrace.



A Continuum of Personhood

by Jønathan Lyons

I have previously based my own ethical approach to interactions with other species on Jeremy Bentham’s derivation of rights from the ability to suffer. Bentham was a British philosopher and the founder of utilitarian philosophy (utilitarianism is “a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, usually defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering.”). As Bentham put it, “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”



Inception: Lucid Dreaming as Radical Life Extension

by Jønathan Lyons

I teach a course on science fiction and futurism. As a result, sci-fi ideas often influence my transhumanist essays for the IEET. This essay is no exception.



Personhood: Revisiting the Hierarchy of “Ender’s Game” to expand the circle

by Jønathan Lyons

For the consideration of which beings qualify as persons, I suggest that the bar be set higher than that of mere sentience: a conscious life; intelligence; and the capability of abstract thought — that is, the process of using one’s mind to consider something carefully. ... A Hierarchy of Exclusion is a tool whose very name tells us that it is designed to keep some out of a privileged status for moral consideration; but our purpose here is inclusion. So let’s upend Card’s hierarchy.



New Affiliate Scholars: Jønathan Lyons and Marc Roux

The IEET is pleased to announce the appointment of writer Jønathan Lyons and French technoprogressive activist Marc Roux as Affiliate Scholars.

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Abolition and the Simulation Argument

by Jønathan Lyons

It does not seem to me that a society that had advanced technologically to this point and which had embraced Pearce’s Abolition as part of its core philosophy could bring itself to simulate so much misery as exists in our world, today, as we know it.



Abolition is Imperative in Kurzweil’s Sixth Epoch Scenario

by Jønathan Lyons

Consider the Abolition Society, the Abolitionists Against Suffering group on facebook, and the philosophy of Dr. David Pearce, who is "a British utilitarian philosopher and transhumanist, who promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life.



How will religious institutions cope with technological immortality?

by Jønathan Lyons

“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships or fears.” – Alice Walker Walker’s words ring profoundly true for me, at the moment. In my sci-fi course (which is actually all about science fiction becoming real-world, bleeding-edge science; personhood; and the technological Singularity; but sci-fi is better shorthand) we’ve just covered a number of approaches to concepts such as mind uploading and immortality.



The Personhood of the Technologically/Differently Sentient

by Jønathan Lyons

Around the world, a handful of projects are in the process, specifically, of attempting to duplicate, simulate, or in some way technologically reproduce the human brain. And we, as a species, do not appear to be even remotely prepared for the implications that success from those projects could bring.



The Networked Species

by Jønathan Lyons

Humankind is frequently referred to as a tool-using/-making species. What is becoming clear is that we are also a species with a real talent and drive for greater integration with our tools and with one another. Humankind is an increasingly networked species. And while this is a teleological essay, I am not prepared to make an argument that what we are witnessing is necessarily either a good or bad thing.

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Was Helen O’Loy a person, or merely a thing?

by Jønathan Lyons

I teach a course in science fiction and bleeding-edge science fact; it started as a course in science fiction, but then I noticed how much sci-fi was becoming real, if sometimes weird, science. One story I started out teaching is the Lester del Rey classic Helen O’Loy. Published in 1938, del Rey’s narrator, Phil, and his housemate, Dave, tinker with what’s described as a standard housework android, modifying and upgrading zir abilities until ze becomes a she — a self-aware artificial life form — at least, as far as we can tell, she does.



Is it Time for an Enhanced Olympics?

by Jønathan Lyons

I’ve been wondering quite a bit lately about the future of sports competitions. Specifically, as humankind merges ever more intimately with technology, I wonder whether such competitions as the Olympics can go on in their current forms.

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How Do We Judge Nonhuman Beings’ Personhood?

by Jønathan Lyons

Person is a philosophical concept, while Human is a scientific, even taxonomical classification:

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To Mindfile-Me, or Not to Mindfile-Me?

by Jønathan Lyons

Being a transhumanist parent has some unique challenges, for example…what if I die before I’m able to join the uploaded? Should I contact “LifeNaut” immediately?

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My H+ Shopping List - Six Excellent Upgrade Items Available Now

by Jønathan Lyons

When I go shopping for transhumanist enhancements, these items will be on the top of my list.  As more futuristic innovations arrive, I’ll add additional enhancements.

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Personhood: the Thrones We Place Ourselves Upon

by Jønathan Lyons

In my last in this series on personhood, I mentioned that in attempting to consider how to value other beings, for my own purposes, I settled long ago on a simple, defining characteristic: For my interactions with other beings, I ask whether they can experience pain. If they can experience pain, I have decided to do my best not to inflict pain upon them.

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Transhumanist Papa: a talk with my six-month-old son

by Jønathan Lyons

“Papa?”
“What’s up?”
“When will you die?”

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Determining Personhood: Not Black & White, But Many Shades of Gray

by Jønathan Lyons

In my last column, I mentioned that the Turing Test is an important part of determining personhood. The Turing Test determines not necessarily the consciousness of a technological agent, but whether that agent does a good enough simulation of a human being’s consciousness when communicating with a human being to fool that human being into believing that ze is communicating with another human being.



The Puzzle of Personhood

by Jønathan Lyons

Ethically speaking, I’m waiting for B1-66ER or the hot humanlike cylons of Battlestar Galactica to show up and make a claim for personhood. Or possibly for someone’s RealDoll (NSFW), Roxxy True Companion (also NSFW), or Anydroid (NSFW — yes, again) to become imbued with enough AI to say “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache” (or to be able to say “No” and mean it.)



Who, or what, is a person? Speciesism and Substrate Chauvinism

by Jønathan Lyons

In my first installment, I began with the question - Who, or what, is a person? - using the Hierarchy of Exclusion from Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game novels as a starting point. My purpose in this second section is to expand our circle of inclusion.



The Hierarchy of Exclusion in “Ender’s Game” — a starting point for thinking about personhood

by Jønathan Lyons

Who, or what, is a person? It sounds like a simple question. For most of humankind, a person is a human being; in a Venn diagram, the circles that include the terms Person and Homo Sapiens Sapiens would be identical and would cover precisely the same area. The main problem with this approach is that it places all beings in one of two groups: Persons or property.

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