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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Directors

Hughes, Walker @ Basic Income Reddit AMA (1pm EDT)
September 20
Reddit/Futurism




MULTIMEDIA: Directors Topics

Buddhism & Transhumanism

Sex and the Art of Cosmic Governance, on Venus+X

Failing the Artificial Intelligence Test (w/ George Dvorsky)

Why the Turing Test is Bullshit

Where is Heaven?

Back To The Future In The Metaverse

Granting rights and personhood to apes

Futurists discuss The Transhumanist Wager

Personhood Beyond the Human Conference - Dec 6-7 2013 at Yale

Google vs Death - Google’s ‘Calico’ an Anti-Aging Initiative

Countering Objections to Mind Uploading

Designer psychologies: Moving beyond neurotypicality - Humanity+ @Parsons 2011

Lightning Talks Panel - Humanity+ @Parsons 2011

Extinction Level Event

Covering the Future Beat: Managing Futureshock when Writing for a Mass Audience




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Directors Topics




10 Horrifying Technologies That Should Never Be Allowed To Exist

by George Dvorsky

As we head deeper into the 21st century, we’re starting to catch a glimpse of the fantastic technological possibilities that await. But we’re also starting to get a grim sense of the potential horrors. Here are 10 frightening technologies that should never, ever, come into existence.



Living, intelligent patterns in Conway’s Life

by Giulio Prisco

Conway’s Game of Life, a cellular automaton devised by the British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970, is a rich mental laboratory to think about our own universe.



Thoughts on Bostrom’s ‘Superintelligence’

by Giulio Prisco

This isn’t a complete review of Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence (2014), but a summary of the thoughts that came to my mind while and after reading the book. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (2014) opens with a cautionary fable: a group of sparrows consider finding an owl to assist and protect them. Only the more cautious sparrows see the danger – that the owl may eat them all if they don’t find out how to tame an owl first – and Bostrom dedicates the book to them (and of course to the cautious humans afraid that superintelligent life forms may destroy humanity if we don’t find out how to control them first).



“Transcendence” A Movie Review

by Giulio Prisco

I had the opportunity to see Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, with Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, and Morgan Freeman, only last week, more than three months after the film’s release in theaters. Before seeing the film I satisfied my Transcendence cravings with an old, still unnamed copy of Jack Paglen’s script that can be found online (it appears that Paglen’s screenplay was part of what is known as the Black List, a list of popular but unproduced screenplays in Hollywood).



The Radical Plan To Phase Out Earth’s Predatory Species

by George Dvorsky

Should animals be permitted to hunt and kill other animals? Some futurists believe that humans should intervene, and solve the “problem” of predator vs. prey once and for all. We talked to the man who wants to use radical ecoengineering to put an end to the carnage. A world without predators certainly sounds extreme, and it is. But British philosopher David Pearce can’t imagine a future in which animals continue to be trapped in the never-ending cycle of blind Darwinian processes.



Why Solitary Confinement Is The Worst Kind Of Psychological Torture

by George Dvorsky

There may be as many as 80,000 American prisoners currently locked-up in a SHU, or segregated housing unit. Solitary confinement in a SHU can cause irreversible psychological effects in as little as 15 days. Here’s what social isolation does to your brain, and why it should be considered torture.



Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time

by George Dvorsky

Anesthesia was a major medical breakthrough, allowing us to lose consciousness during surgery and other painful procedures. Trouble is, we’re not entirely sure how it works. But now we’re getting closer to solving its mystery — and with it, the mystery of consciousness itself. When someone goes under, their cognition and brain activity continue, but consciousness gets shut down.



Virtually Sacred, by Robert Geraci – religion in World of Warcraft and Second Life

by Giulio Prisco

Robert Geraci, the author of “Apocalyptic AI – Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality,” has a new book published by Oxford University Press: “Virtually Sacred – Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life.” I recommend this book to all those interested in the history and sociology of religions online, and online religions (there is a difference), and also (especially) to those who wish to participate in new, forward-looking, cosmic religious movements. All are invited to come and to Robert Geraci’s talk in Second Life, on Sunday June 29 at noon EDT (9am PDT, 6pm EU) in Soleri City.



Octavia Butlers fictional religion of ‘Earthseed’ inspires real religious movement

by Giulio Prisco

The fictional cosmic religion of “Earthseed,” featured in the works of Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006), one of the greatest science fiction writers of all times, keeps inspiring new religious ideas and movements in the real world.“[M]any [Terasem] believers embrace traditional positions held by mainstream religions – including the omnipotence of God and the existence of an afterlife – but say these are made possible by increasing advancements in science and technology,” says a recent TIME article about the Terasem religion. “Einstein said science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind,” Terasem founder Martine Rothblatt tells TIME. “Bina and I were inspired to find a way for people to believe in God consistent with science and technology so people would have faith in the future.”



Slow unSingularity – so what? Reply to George Dvorsky and Ramez Naam

by Giulio Prisco

My 2009 article “I am a Singularitian who does not believe in the Singularity” started interesting online discussions [ExI] [SL4]. I wrote this revised version after reading “Is It Time to Give Up on the Singularity?” on io9, by George Dvorsky and Ramez Naam. George is the Chair of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) and a Contributing Editor at io9, and Ramez is the author of the awesome Nexus and Crux, two of the best transhumanist science fiction novels of all times…



Is It Time to Give Up on the Singularity?

by George Dvorsky

Some futurists and science fiction writers predict that we’re on the cusp of a world-changing “Technological Singularity.” Skeptics say there will be no such thing. Today, I’ll be debating author Ramez Naam about which side is right.



10 Futurist Phrases And Terms That Are Complete Bullshit

by George Dvorsky

Last month io9 told you about 20 terms every self-respecting futurist should know, but now it's time to turn our attention to the opposite.  Here are 10 pseudofuturist catchphrases and concepts that need to be eliminated from your vocabulary.



Charlie Stross is wrong, Bitcoin is a social equalizer

by Giulio Prisco

A few months ago Charlie Stross wrote an article titled “Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire.” Charlie is one of my favorite science fiction writers, I have a lot of respect for him, and I pay attention to him even when he is very wrong, as I believe he is in this case.



Prof. Hawking, the AIs will BE US

by Giulio Prisco

Perhaps, as Prof. Stephen Hawking thinks, it may be difficult to “control” Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the long term. But perhaps we shouldn’t “control” the long-term development of AI, because that would be like preventing a child from becoming an adult, and that child is you.



A dirty little secret: books are free (and so should be readers and writers)

by Giulio Prisco

I don’t know anyone who still buys music discs. The age of music downloads started about 15 years ago (remember Napster?), but today it’s much easier: if I want to hear a song, I just find it on Youtube. Film: if a film hasn’t been totally ignored, chances are that it can be found on the torrent sites. And now books: today’s dirty little secret is that most books are free to download.



Back to the future in the Metaverse

by Giulio Prisco

All seems to indicate that new, fully immersive next-generation virtual worlds and user interfaces may be behind the corner. Let’s go back to the future in the Metaverse!



Why Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics Can’t Protect Us

by George Dvorsky

It’s been 50 years since Isaac Asimov devised his famous Three Laws of Robotics — a set of rules designed to ensure friendly robot behavior. Though intended as a literary device, these laws are heralded by some as a ready-made prescription for avoiding the robopocalypse. We spoke to the experts to find out if Asimov's safeguards have stood the test of time — and they haven't.



IEET’s George Dvorsky offers course on Introduction to Transhumanism

George Dvorsky, prominent futurist, writer on ethics and technology and Chairman of the IEET Board of Directors, is offering his Introduction to Transhumanism course during May, from May 1st to May 31st, 2014.

Full Story...



Scientists Create Genetically Modified Cells That Protect Against HIV

by George Dvorsky

The treatment is considered radical, and the results were drawn from a small scale human trial, but for the first time in medical history, researchers have boosted their patients’ ability to fight HIV by replacing some of their natural immune cells with genetically modified versions.



Special Issue of JET: Hughes, Walker, Campa & Danaher on Tech Unemployment and BIG

The special issue of the Journal of Evolution and Technology is published and has nine essays on technological unemployment and the basic income guarantee, six of them by IEETers.

Full Story...



BIG and Technological Unemployment: Chicken Little Versus the Economists

by Mark Walker

Abstract: The paper rehearses arguments for and against the prediction of massive technological unemployment. The main argument in favor is that robots are entering a large number of industries, making more expensive human labor redundant. The main argument against the prediction is that for two hundred years we have seen a massive increase in productivity with no long term structural unemployment caused by automation. The paper attempts to move past this argumentative impasse by asking what humans contribute to the supply side of the economy. Historically, humans have contributed muscle and brains to production but we are now being outcompeted by machinery, in both areas, in many jobs. It is argued that this supports the conjecture that massive unemployment is a likely result. It is also argued that a basic income guarantee is a minimal remedial measure to mitigate the worst effects of technological unemployment.

Full Story...



Cosmic Beings: Transhumanist Deism in Ted Chu’s Cosmic View

by Giulio Prisco

In Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential: A Cosmic Vision for Our Future Evolution, IEET affiliate scholar Ted Chu, a professor of Economics at New York University in Abu Dhabi and former chief economist for General Motors and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, argues that post-humanity is a logical and necessary evolutionary next step for humanity, and we need a new, heroic cosmic faith for the post-human era. “The ultimate meaning of our lives rests not in our personal happiness but in our contribution to cosmic evolution,” says Chu…



Bioengineered monkeys with human genetic diseases have almost arrived

by George Dvorsky

Looking to create more accurate experimental models for human diseases, biologists have created transgenic monkeys with “customized” mutations. It’s considered a breakthrough in the effort to produce more human-like monkeys — but the ethics of all this are dubious at best.



These are the science stories to watch for in 2014

by George Dvorsky

With the holiday season now officially over, it’s time to look ahead and see what’s in store for the coming year. Here are the most anticipated scientific and technological developments of 2014!



#4 A Test to Measure How Rational You Really Are

by George Dvorsky

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.



The Worst Lies You’ve Been Told About the Singularity

by George Dvorsky

You've probably heard of a concept known as the Technological Singularity — a nebulous event that's supposed to happen in the not-too-distant future. Much of the uncertainty surrounding this possibility, however, has led to wild speculation, confusion, and outright denial. Here are the worst myths you've been told about the Singularity.



#11 The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational

by George Dvorsky

The human brain is capable of 1016 processes per second, which makes it far more powerful than any computer currently in existence. But that doesn't mean our brains don't have major limitations. The lowly calculator can do math thousands of times better than we can, and our memories are often less than useless — plus, we're subject to cognitive biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions.



#14 New Computer Programming Language Imitates The Human Brain

by George Dvorsky

As we pointed out earlier this week, we’re still far from being able to replicate the awesome power of the human brain. So rather than use traditional models of computing, IBM has decided to design an entirely new computer architecture — one that’s taking inspiration from nature.



Experts Gather at Yale to Discuss Whether Animals Are People

by George Dvorsky

This past weekend, the IEET hosted the world's first conference dedicated to the topic of nonhuman animal personhood. Energized by the NhRP's recent initiative to have captive chimpanzees legally recognized as persons and not property, the event brought together legal experts, scientists, philosophers, and futurists from around the world. Here's a recap.



The undiscreet and unPC charm of vintage science fiction

by Giulio Prisco

I think science fiction is at its best when it ignites our mind with imaginative, daring visions of beautiful possible futures, and the drive to turn them into reality. Recently I joined The World Transformed hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon to discuss the importance of positive stories in science fiction, and why there are not enough positive stories in today’s science fiction.

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