Radical life extension is coming. That means future societies will have to do a dramatic rethink of our ideas about how long offenders should be imprisoned and — more crucially — the ways they’ll be rehabilitated.
Zoltan Istvan’s bestseller The Transhumanist Wager, often reviewed as a rabid anti-religion manifesto, includes the foundations of a new, Cosmist scientific religion, a “Third Way” alternative to traditional belief based on science, but at the same time able to offer all the benefits of religion.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without pain relief. We depend on these drugs to an unspeakable degree, yet few of us know what’s available or how they even work. Here’s a quick primer on painkillers and why they’re so good at easing the pain.
It’s only a matter of time before humanity solves the aging problem. And resistance to radical life extension has already begun, driven by fears of overpopulation and the exhaustion of our planet’s resources. Here’s why the critics are wrong.
Following the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1860, many political theorists and opportunistic politicians applied his findings to human society. In the 20th century, these ideas were put into practice — and it nearly destroyed us. Here’s why Social Darwinism was one of the worst ideas ever.
Starting this November, German parents will be able to select male, female, or “indeterminate” when filling out their newborn’s birth certificate. This means that parents won’t have to label their baby’s gender, thereby allowing those born with intersex characteristics to make a decision later in life. Or not.
Our universe appears to be bound by a finite set of laws, yet we often talk about things that go on for an eternity. “Infinity” is a strange idea. But it’s crucial if you want to understand anything from philosophy to mathematics. Here’s why.
Advocates of human enhancement often say that we ought to increase our intelligence as a species. But the consequences of actually doing this have never fully been explored. An excessive amount of intelligence might actually prove to be a bad thing — and a distraction from what really matters.
Frederick Kaufman has penned a provocative article for Slate's Future Tense column in which he makes the case for open-source genetically modified foods. "It will help fight climate change," he says, "and stick one in Monsanto's eye." What's more, it's an approach that still favors scientific advancement.
As our technologies take us from the theoretical to the practical, a number of thorny moral quandaries remain unanswered. Here are important unresolved ethical questions that are on the verge of becoming highly relevant.
Standard IQ tests are problematic on many levels — not least, because they do very little to tell us about the quality of our thinking. Looking to overcome this oversight, psychologist Keith Stanovich has started to work on the first-ever Rationality Quotient test. We spoke to him to learn more.
A central theme of the recently concluded GF2045 Congress was the idea of achieving a kind of immortality by transferring our minds to avatars or robots. Indeed, as Japanese professor Hiroshi Ishiguro’s presentation clearly showed, our robotic doppelgangers will truly be made to look and act like the real thing.
By definition, the Technological Singularity is a blind spot in our predictive thinking. Futurists have a hard time imagining what life will be like after we create greater-than-human artificial intelligences. Here are seven outcomes of the Singularity that nobody thinks about — and which could leave us completely blindsided.
Zoltan IstvanThe Transhumanist Wager is an epic story of radical libertarian ideas, their enemies, and the violent global conflict that ensues, painted in strong saturated colors with little room for intermediate shades and character development. After reading cover to cover, and then reading it more carefully, I have mixed love/hate feelings about this novel.
It should be within our rights to take our own lives when the circumstances warrant it. That means we must be prepared to accept laws in favor of assisted suicide. This becomes even more important in light of potential technologies that could grant us extreme longevity.
Australian researchers have isolated an immune system cell in salamanders which helps it regenerate missing limbs and damaged organs — and they suspect the same thing could work in humans, too. Salamanders, or axolotls, are unique among vertebrates in that they’ve got remarkable regenerative powers. Adults can literally regrow and restore function to any part of the body, including the spinal cord and heart — even parts of the brain. Moreover, the regenerated tissue is scar free; once repaired, the new tissue looks almost the same as it was before.
It's another blow for immersive virtual reality. University of California researchers have shown that even people with perfect eyesight navigate the world by relying on a lot more than what they see. Here's why VR won't really work until we go beyond visual cues and fancy treadmills.
Biologists have successfully extended the life spans of some mice by as much as 70%, leading many to believe that ongoing experimentation on our mammalian cousins will eventually lead to life-extending therapies in humans. But how reliable are these studies? And do they really apply to humans? We asked the experts.
Many kids and teens paint or spray irreverent, subversive drawings on walls, doors and everywhere else. One subject has always been a favorite, and now our Spirit has drawn it in the sand of Mars! The story is all over the Internet. Space.comsays: “Has juvenile humor landed on Mars? The Internet is buzzing today (April 24) over a phallic design etched into the Red Planet’s surface nine years ago by NASA’s Spirit rover, with some folks suggesting the robot’s drivers drew it on purpose out of boredom, mischievousness or some combination of the two.”
Artificial wombs are a staple of science fiction, but could we really build one? As time passes, we’re inching closer and closer to the day when it will finally become possible to grow a baby entirely outside the human body. Here’s what we’ll need to do to pull it off.
In what might be the first documented case of technologically-assisted interspecies telepathy, an international team of researchers has successfully created a non-invasive brain-to-brain interface that allows humans to make a rat move involuntarily. The breakthrough could lead to more advanced techniques in which a person can control the parts of another person’s body with their thoughts.
Nearly 1.4 million babies are born surgically in the United States each year. That’s a third of all births, and the numbers are only getting bigger. The trend is due in part to an increase in elective cesarean sections, or surgical births that aren’t medically necessary. Why are women in the United States being encouraged to undergo unnecessary surgery?
Slate writer Will Oremus has put together a fairly revealing article about how easy it’s becoming to supercharge our brains, prompting him to wonder why there’s still so much push-back against the idea of technologically enhancing ourselves.
All seems to indicate that the next decade, the 20s, will be the magic decade of the brain, with amazing science but also amazing applications. With the development of nanoscale neural probes and high speed, two-way Brain-Computer interfaces (BCI), by the end of the next decade we may have our iPhones implanted in our brains and become a telepathic species. Ramez Naam’s great sci-fi novel NEXUS is a fascinating preview.
Brown University researchers have developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of transmitting neural data to an external receiver. The system, which has performed remarkably well in monkeys and pigs for over a year, could eventually allow humans to control external devices with their thoughts.