Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Neuroscience



MULTIMEDIA: Neuroscience Topics

How Human Consciousness Evolved

Dr. James Hughes On Moral Enhancement Through Neurotech & Uploading The Mind To Computers

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Is Incomplete — There’s a Final, Forgotten Stage

The Science of Brain Health and Cognitive Decline

Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD?

4 Steps for Optimizing Situational Awareness and Visual Intelligence

Laura Cabrera on Human Enhancement, Communication and Values

Do Nootropics Give Esports Gamers an Edge?

Have a Moral Dilemma? Start with Your Gut Reaction, but Don’t Stop There

Technology hasn’t changed love. Here’s why

The Future of Pain!

Quantifying Intelligence Has Gifted Students Falling Between The Cracks

Online Dating Has Created a Six-Fold Increase in Sexual Assaults

How Parasites Commandeer and Change Our Neurocircuits

Neo - Official Teaser Trailer




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Neuroscience Topics




Quantum Biology – Wandering where the edge is

by Brian Hanley

I have had thoughts about quantum mechanics and biology for many years - ever since my thermodynamics class in chemistry as an undergrad. I discussed and developed them over the years. When I thought it was ready, decades ago, I wrote to Linus Pauling about my speculation that the most important differentiator for life is that from the molecular scale to the organization of organs, chaos (in the mathematical chaos theory sense) is the organizing principle. This means that living organisms are all potentially sensitive to quantum events. He was kind enough to write back, and I think it intrigued him, but there was no experiment that I could conceive of to do in support.



Cognitive Easing: Human Identity Crisis in a World of Technology

by Melanie Swan

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.



Mise au point : Non, ce n’est pas « la fin de l’immortalité

by Alexandre Maurer

Suite à une récente étude, la presse s’emballe : nous pourrions ne jamais dépasser 125 ans ! Mais qu’en est-il réellement ?



Brain Implant Allows Paralyzed Monkey to Walk Again

by George Dvorsky

For the first time ever, a neural device has been used to restore locomotion in paralyzed primates. It may be years before clinical trials can begin for humans, but this latest breakthrough marks an important step in that direction.



Summary of: “How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds”

by John G. Messerly

I recently read an article in The Atlantic by Tristan Harris, a former Product Manager at Google who studies the ethics of how the design of technology influences people’s psychology and behavior. The piece was titled: “The Binge Breaker” and it covers similar ground to his previous piece “How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist”.



We Were Wrong About Limiting Children’s Screen Time

by George Dvorsky

How much time should kids be allowed to stare into their screens like zombies? New guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics upturns conventional thinking on the matter, showing that a sweeping one-size-fits-all approach is not the right way for parents to go about limiting their children’s screen time.



How do we Enhance Cognition through External Representations? Five Ways

by John Danaher

I use pen and paper to do most of my serious thinking. Whether it is outlining blogposts or academic papers, taking notes or constructing arguments, I pretty much always take out my trusty A4 pad and pen when I run into a cognitive trough. To be sure, I often mull ideas over in my head for a long time beforehand, but when I want to move beyond my muddled and incoherent thoughts, I will grab for my pen and paper. I am sure that many of you do the same. There is something cognitively different about thinking outside your head: creating an external representation of your thoughts reveals their strengths and weaknesses in a way that internal dialogue never can.



UK Futurologist’s ‘Novel’ Approach to Public Engagement!

“What makes something sentient?  What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord?  Is it a gift from God or hard science?  Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size?  There are many models, of course.  But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!

Oh, wait …!”

Full Story...



Competitive Cognitive Artifacts and the Demise of Humanity: A Philosophical Analysis

by John Danaher

David Krakauer seems like an interesting guy. He is the president of the Santa Fe institute in New Mexico, a complexity scientist and evolutionary theorist, with a noticeable interest in artificial intelligence and technology. I first encountered his work — as many recently did — via Sam Harris’s podcast. In the podcast he articulated some concerns he has about the development of artificial intelligence, concerns which he also set out in a recent (and short) article for the online magazine Nautilus.



IEET Affiliate Scholar Roland Benedikter et al. Publish New Article on Head-Transplanting

This article discusses the philosophical implications and potential social consequences of two experimental – and at the present moment still widely speculative – topics at the intersection between scientific and medical advances, the human body, the human mind, and the globalized health care sector.

Full Story...
Link to Addleton Academic Publisher



Phenomenological Coupling, Augmented Reality and the Extended Mind

by John Danaher

Contrast these two scenarios. First, I’m in the supermarket. I want to remember what I need to buy but I’m not the kind of guy who write things down in lists. I just keep the information stored in my head and then jog my memory when I arrive at the store. If I’m lucky, the list of items immediately presents itself to my conscious mind. I remember what I need to buy. Second, I’m in the supermarket. I want to remember what I need to buy. But I’m hopelessly forgetful so I have to write things down in a list. I take the list from my pocket and look at the items. Now, I remember what I needed to buy.



Crazy Detailed Brain Map Finds Nearly a Hundred New Regions

by George Dvorsky

Neuroscientists working on the Human Connectome Project have compiled the most accurate map yet of the human cerebral cortex. The researchers identified 180 distinct areas of the brain’s outer layer—effectively doubling the previous number of known regions.



IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher Publishes New Paper in Journal: Bioethics

IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher published a new paper coming out in the journal Bioethics. It’s about the philosophy of education and student use of cognitive enhancement drugs. It suggests that universities might be justified in regulating their students’ use of enhancement drugs, but only in a very mild, non-compulsory way. It suggests that a system of voluntary commitment contracts might be an interesting proposal. The details are below.

Full Story...
Link to Bioethics



William James: Once Born and Twice Born People

by John G. Messerly

William James, in his famous book The Varieties of Religious Experience,  draws a contrast between what he calls “once born” and the “twice born” people.  Once born people appear biologically predisposed to happiness. They are relatively untroubled by their own setbacks as well as by the suffering the world; they rarely speak ill of others; they don’t complain much; they tend not to be fearful or angry. Today we might call them happy-go-lucky, easy-going or upbeat.



Where does intelligence come from?

by Danko Nikolic

It is amazing how intelligent we can be. We can construct shelter, find new ways of hunting, and create boats and machines. Our unique intelligence has been responsible for the emergence of civilization.

But how does a set of living cells become intelligent? How can flesh and blood turn into something that can create bicycles and airplanes or write novels?

This is the question of the origin of intelligence.



New Monograph on Transhumanism by IEET Fellow Stefan Sorgner to be Published

A new monograph on transhumanism by IEET Fellow Stefan Lorenz Sorgner will come out in August 2016. It will be published by Herder Verlag.

Full Story...
Link to Herder Verlag



The Positive Effect of Nature on People

by John G. Messerly

A colleague recently sent me a link to an article which claims that having nature in your surroundings extends life and increases happiness. The article titled, “Having a nice garden could save your life, study suggests,” notes the strong association between exposure to greenness and vegetation and lower mortality rates.



“We’ll Live Forever and We’ll Become Cyborgs”

by David Orban

I’ve been interviewed in Panorama, an Italian weekly magazine. (Thanks to Dotwords for the English translation, which I slightly edited.)

Originally published on DavidOrban.com on April 24 2016



Nicotine Gum for Depression and Anxiety

by John G. Messerly

(Disclaimer – I’m not a medical doctor. For more info on these topics consult an M.D.)

I was thinking about a friend who quit smoking about 10 years ago with the help of nicotine gum. She eventually kicked the nicotine gum habit too, although she claimed that it was about as difficult to quit the gum as it was the cigarettes. She did notice that her ability to deal with anxiety was reduced after quitting the gum, and she also became more depressed. As a result, she has considered starting to chew gum again.



Cellules souches d’embryon humain : pourquoi faut-il en permettre la recherche ?

by Marc Roux

Dans le cadre de sa campagne pour le premier tour des élections, l’actuel président de la République, M. François Hollande avait fait une déclaration qui intéresse le transhumanisme. Il a en effet annoncé que, une fois élu, il proposerait de faciliter la recherche sur les cellules souches embryonnaires, sous entendu : humaine (CSEh) (L’Express, 22/02/2012).



Posthuman Rights: Dimensions of Transhuman Worlds

Woody Evans has published an article on Posthuman rights in the Spanish journal, Teknokultura. Below is the abstract of the paper. You can click on the journal title to find the full article online.

Full Story...
Link to Teknokultura



Moral Bioenhancement: Thinking Synergistically - interview with Harris Wiseman

by Hank Pellissier

Harris Wiseman gained his PhD from the University of Cambridge, and is author of the book The Myth of the Moral Brain – The Limits of Moral Enhancement, published by MIT Press.

I emailed him the interview questions below:

Full Story...



“Tracking and Hacking - Values and Happiness with AI” - interview with John C. Havens

by Hank Pellissier

John C. Havens is the author of Heartificial Intelligence: Embracing Our Humanity To Maximize Machines and Hacking Happiness: Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World. He is the founder of The Happathon Project, a non-profit utilizing emerging technology and positive psychology to increase human wellbeing.  John has spoken at TEDx, and is a contributor to Mashable, The Guardian, HuffPo and TechCrunch.

I interviewed him recently via email on his technoprogressive ideas.

Full Story...



Humai’s Head of Engineering On the Future That is to Come

by B. J. Murphy

Just the other week Humai’s head of engineering John LaRocco sat down with The Hartman Media Company where he discussed artificial intelligence (A.I.), head transplants, and synthetic organs. It was an alluring conversation to listen to, one which will help people acquire a better understanding as to the company Humai’s vision for the future ahead of us.



Google Hedonics

by Andrés Gómez Emilsson

Hello my children!
Hello my sons!
Hello my daughters!
Hello my brothers and sisters!
I’m here to tell you that the world’s last unpleasant experience…
Will be a precisely dateable event!
Yes! It will happen in our lifetimes if we commit all of our energy today…

To the task of Paradise Engineering!

– Yacht, Paradise Engineering

(referencing David Pearce’s Hedonistic Imperative

Full Story...



Review of Michael Bess’, Our Grandchildren Redesigned

by John G. Messerly

Vanderbilt University’s Michael Bess has written an extraordinarily thoughtful new book: Our Grandchildren Redesigned: Life In The BioEngineered Society Of The Near Future. The first part of the book introduces the reader to the technologies that will enhance the physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities of our children and grandchildren: pharmaceuticals, bioelectronics, genetics, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and virtual reality.



Everything You Know About Artificial Intelligence is Wrong

by George Dvorsky

It was hailed as the most significant test of machine intelligence since Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in chess nearly 20 years ago. Google’s AlphaGo has won two of the first three games against grandmaster Lee Sedol in a Go tournament, showing the dramatic extent to which AI has improved over the years. That fateful day when machines finally become smarter than humans has never appeared closer—yet we seem no closer in grasping the implications of this epochal event.



VR Will Create Multiple Existences - “meatspace” will not be considered the only true reality

by Brent Logan Reitze

The nature of what is truly real has been pondered by philosophers for centuries. Plato argued we were only seeing shadows of true reality. Descartes pointed out nothing could be proven by your own thoughts. And while we must assume a shared reality to function with other over the course of daily life, that assumption will come to be questioned in the future with the rise of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies. 

Full Story...



Beauty Will Be in the Bionic Eye of the Beholder

by B. J. Murphy

How might we define beauty in a future of cyborgs and the genetically enhanced?

Today we live in a world that has been radically transformed by the hands of advanced science and technology. Depending on which sci-fi literature you might’ve read, one could accurately portray today’s reality as a sci-fi future. A future where everyone is interconnected using tiny computational devices which fit in their pockets, biological limbs being replaced by advanced bionic prosthetics, and disease being combated using gene-editing tools.

Full Story...



Arthur Caplan in Forbes article on football safety

IEET Trustee Arthur Caplan was referenced in a Forbes article that analyzed college football safety.

Full Story...
Link to Forbes

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