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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Life

Cascio @ Climate Engineering Conference 2014
August 18-21
Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, Germany


Global Conference: Augmentation
September 3-5


Cascio @ TEDx in Marin
September 18
Marin


Sorgner @ Posthuman Politics
September 25-28
University of the Aegean, Lesbos, Greece


CyborgCamp ‘14
October 2-4
MIT's Media Lab 75 Amherst St. Cambridge, Boston


Siegel @ Buddhist Geeks Conference
October 16-18
Boulder, Colorado


Sorgner @ 3rd World Humanities Forum
October 30-1
Daejeon City, Korea




MULTIMEDIA: Life Topics

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble

Achieving Personal Immortality Roadmap

Buildings That Can Heal the Environment

Singularity 1 on 1: The Curiosity Cycle

Humans Need Not Apply (Mechanical Minds Will do Your Job)

Bits. Bits Everywhere! With MIT Media Lab’s

What’ll be the Impacts of Self Driving Cars?

Philosophy of Science - Intro and the Demarcation Problem - Science & Pseudoscience

Neil deGrasse Tyson Testifies Before Senate Science Committee and We Stopped Dreaming (2)

What Does Utopia Look Like?

Neil deGrasse Tyson - We Stopped Dreaming (Episode 1)

High Tech Jainism

On Lab Meat / in vitro meat

Are we Wielding Technology or Yielding to It?

Who are the Top Ten Living Futurists?




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Life Topics




Enhancing Virtues: Self-Control and Mindfulness

by J. Hughes

Self-control and attentiveness are cornerstones of moral character, and our capacity for these virtues are about half hard-wired. A child’s capacity for self-control predicts their adult likelihood of a successful life, and of myriad bad habits. I discuss the relationship of attention to moral behavior, the ways we can build a more mindful society, and how we can practice self-control and mindfulness with techniques like fasting, exercise and meditation. But many of us, even if we have above average capacities for self-control and attention, will also benefit from the growing number of technologies that enable self-control, from stimulant medications and treatments for addiction to gene therapies and brain-machine devices.



Don’t fear the robot car bomb

by Patrick Lin

Within the next few years, autonomous vehicles—alias robot cars—could be weaponized, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fears. In a recently disclosed report, FBI experts wrote that they believe that robot cars would be “game changing” for law enforcement. The self-driving machines could be professional getaway drivers, to name one possibility. Given the pace of developments on autonomous cars, this doesn’t seem implausible.



“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).



One Nation Under Siege: “Counterinsurgency Cops” in Ferguson – and on TV

by Richard Eskow

The transfer of used military equipment from the armed forces to police departments around the country has been accompanied, at least to a certain extent, by a shift in public thinking. The news media have played a critical part in that shift, both in its coverage and in what it chooses not to cover.



“Lucy”: A Movie Review

by R. Dennis Hansen

The recent sci-fi movie Lucy includes questionable science, laugh-out-loud dialogue, strange psychedelic graphics, a well-worn plot, an idiotic chase scene, and ridiculous violence, but I liked it a lot.  It is a guilty pleasure on a par with G.I. Jane and T2.



End Police Brutality, Support Sousveillance Laws!

by B. J. Murphy

On August 9, at around 12 in the afternoon, Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were attacked by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. With his hands in the air, telling Officer Wilson that he was unarmed, the officer shot Brown several times, killing him as a result. This was the eyewitness account told by Brown’s friend Dorian.



Is using nano silver to treat Ebola misguided?

by Andrew Maynard

On Thursday this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ebola victims in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos will receive Nano Silver in an attempt to treat the infection.  The news comes hot on the heels of the World Health Organization’s decision to sanction the use of unlicensed Ebola drugs in West Africa on ethical grounds.  It also coincides with a US Food and Drug Administration statement released yesterday warning against fraudulent Ebola treatment products.



Enhancing Virtues: Positivity

by J. Hughes

Positive moods are a virtue, both in enabling enjoyment of life and in supporting prosocial behavior. But it is not the only kind of happiness, and in excess can be quite excessive. Along with positive moods we also want to cultivate flourishing, a sense that overall our lives are meaningful and going well. What are the public policies and life behaviors that support positive moods and flourishing lives? As we enter a “hedonistic imperative” future in which we are able to tweak our moods with “happy-people-pills-for-all” how will we find the right balance of positive mood to achieve flourishing lives?



Let’s Bet on Money?

by Maria Konovalenko

Let’s make a bet? I will propose something incredibly effective in the area of life extension and no one will be able to suggest a better strategy. Deal?



Are we heading for technological unemployment? An Argument

by John Danaher

We’re all familiar with the headlines by now: “Robots are going to steal our jobs”, “Automation will lead to joblessness”, and “AI will replace human labour”. It seems like more and more people are concerned about the possible impact of advanced technology on employment patterns. Last month, Lawrence Summers worried about it in the Wall Street Journal but thought maybe the government could solve the problem. Soon after, Vivek Wadhwa worried about it in the Washington Post, arguing that there was nothing the government could do. Over on the New York Times, Paul Krugman has been worrying about it for years.



Paternalism, Procedure, Precedent: The Ethics of Using Unproven Therapies in an Ebola Outbreak

by Kelly Hills

The WHO medical ethics panel convened Monday to discuss the ethics of using experimental treatments for Ebola in West African nations affected by the disease. I am relieved to note that this morning they released their unanimous recommendation: “it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.”



Why archaeologists make better futurists than science-fiction writers

by Rick Searle

Human beings seem to have an innate need to predict the future. We’ve read the entrails of animals, thrown bones, tried to use the regularity or lack of it in the night sky as a projection of the future and omen of things to come, along with a thousand others kinds of divination few of us have ever heard of. This need to predict the future makes perfect sense for a creature whose knowledge bias is towards the present and the past. Survival means seeing enough ahead to avoid dangers, so that an animal that could successfully predict what was around the next corner could avoid being eaten or suffering famine.



Ways to make civilization robust

by David Brin

The resilience of our entire civilization is increasingly reliant on a fragile network of cell phone towers, which are the first things to fail in any crisis, e.g. a hurricane or other natural disaster… or else deliberate (e.g. EMP or hacker) sabotage.



“Running as Dems While Sounding Republican.” Hey, What Could Go Wrong?

by Richard Eskow

They say that one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and one Politico story certainly doesn’t make a campaign season. But if a recent article there is correct – if the Democratic Party’s strategy this year really is “Running as a Dem (while) sounding like a Republican” – then the party may be headed for a disaster of epic but eminently predictable proportions.



An Ethical Framework for the Use of Enhancement Drugs

by John Danaher

Debate about the merits of enhancement tends to pretty binary. There are some — generally called bioconservatives — who are opposed to it; and others — transhumanists, libertarians and the like — who embrace it wholeheartedly. Is there any hope for an intermediate approach? One that doesn’t fall into the extremes of reactionary reject or uncritical endorsement?



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.



Resuscitation, by Cryonics or Otherwise, Is a Religious Mandate

by Lincoln Cannon

A well known and atheist-minded Transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan blames religion for an anti-cryonics law in Canada. Basically, Transhumanism is the ethical use of technology to extend human abilities, and cryonics is low-temperature preservation of a legally-dead body for resuscitation when new technology might cure the cause of death. Zoltan’s concern is that the religious views of Canadian lawmakers may have informed the law, and that this may influence other lawmakers around the world to inhibit access to cryonics likewise.



An Interview with: Professor George Slusser – Eaton science fiction collection’s Curator

by Gregory Benford

George Slusser is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the University of California in Riverside (UCR, CA, U.S.A.), Ph.D., Comparative Literature (Harvard University), the first Curator (Emeritus) of the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction &Fantasy Utopian and Horror Literature (UCR, CA, U.S.A. –  the world’s biggest SF collection),   Harvard Traveling Fellow,  Fulbright Lecturer, Coordinator of twenty three Eaton SF Conferences, Author of numerous books, studies and articles in the science fiction studies domain.



Bostrom on Superintelligence (5): Limiting an AI’s Capabilities

by John Danaher

This is the fifth part of my series on Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. So far in the series, we’ve covered why Bostrom thinks superintelligent AIs might pose an existential risk to human beings. We’ve done this by looking at some of his key claims about the nature of artificial intelligence (the orthogonality thesis and the instrumental convergence thesis); and at the structure of his existential risk argument.



IEET Fellow Ramez Naam’s Nexus is a Finalist for the Endeavour Award

 Nexus is a finalist for the 2014 Endeavour Award, for the best SF or fantasy book written by a Pacific Northwest author in the previous year. 

Full Story...
Link to Endeavour Award



CBS Gives Pilot Production Commitment to Drama Based on Bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan

CBS has given a pilot production commitment to “Austen’s Razor,” a drama from Legendary Television and CBS Television Studios that’s inspired by the career of bioethics expert Arthur L. Caplan.

Full Story...
Link to CBS



Is Singapore the next Silicon Valley?

by Ayesha Khanna

Tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook are winning the war for talent and Silicon Valley office space, encouraging start-ups to go on a global hunt for a new heartland. In Asia, Singapore wants to be the answer. The government has established numerous schemes and initiatives to encourage entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to set up shop there.



Baggage Culture and Why Embracing Transhumanism Doesn’t Come Easy

by Zoltan Istvan

Twenty years ago, while in college and wondering why everyone else in the world wasn't hell-bent on trying to live indefinitely via the promising fields of transhumanist science, I began working on the idea of what mass culture is and if it was holding back people from wanting to maximize their lifespans and human potential. I came up with the concept baggage culture, which is explored in detail in my novel The Transhumanist Wager and its philosophy Teleological Egocentric Functionalism (TEF).



Party Time! Excellent! Educators and Health Professionals Celebrate a Drop in Teen Pregnancy

by Valerie Tarico

Public health officials, educators, and parents of teens have reason to party! According to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, American teen pregnancy rates are lower currently than they were back in 1975 when top 40 dance music included “Kung Fu Fighting” and “The Hustle.”



How would you spend $5k to spread info & raise awareness about indefinite life extension?

by Eric Schulke

Movement for indefinite life extension (MILE) activist contest II: How would you spend $5,000 to spread information and raise awareness about people, projects &organizations working toward indefinite life extension?



Ebola, Paternalism, and the Need for WHO’s Medical Ethics Review of Experimental Treatments

by Kelly Hills

The World Health Organization has released a statement (in full, bottom of blog post) that they are going to convene, early next week, a panel of medical ethicists to “explore the use of experimental treatment in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.” The statement goes on to say that “the recent treatment of two health workers from Samaritan’s Purse with experimental medicine has raised questions about whether medicine that has never been tested and shown to be safe in people should be used in the outbreak.”



Machine Ethics Interfaces

by Melanie Swan

Machine ethics is a term used in different ways. The basic use is in the sense of people attempting to instill some sort of human-centric ethics or morality in the machines we build like robots, self-driving vehicles, and artificial intelligence (Wallach 2010) so that machines do not harm humans either maliciously or unintentionally.



The First Machine War and the Lessons of Mortality

by Rick Searle

I just finished a thrilling little book about the first machine war. The author writes of a war set off by a terrorist attack where the very speed of machines being put into action,and the near light speed of telecommunications whipping up public opinion to do something now, drives countries into a world war. In his vision whole new theaters of war, amounting to fourth and fifth dimensions, have been invented. Amid a storm of steel huge hulking machines roam across the landscape and literally shred human beings in their path to pieces. Low flying avions fill the sky taking out individual targets or help calibrate precision attacks from incredible distances beyond. Wireless communications connect soldiers and machine together in a kind of world-net…



Confessions of a Scientist Communicator

by Andrew Maynard

I consider myself to be pretty self-aware.  It’s an illusion of course, but one I am usually blissfully ignorant of. Until some insightful reporter shatters it! This was me a few days ago.  I was talking with a journalist about science communication and the perils and pitfalls faced by young scientists.  As I got into my groove talking about scientists and communication, she interrupted me and asked, “do you think there many scientists that hold such unusual views?” (or words to that effect).



Where the Wild Things Are–Family Planning Conversations on Teen Turf

by Valerie Tarico

No one birth control method fits everyone, but today young women have better options than ever before. Across the United States, from New York to South Carolina to Texas to Oregon, health advocates and providers are scrambling to get the word out about long-acting yet easily reversible contraceptive methods that are now approved for use by teenagers and well liked by most who use them. (See this earlier Sightline series, Twenty Times Better Than the Pill.)

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