Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Life

“A Dangerous Master” by Wendell Wallach (Lecture & Book Signing)
May 5-
Connecticut Science Center | Downtown Hartford, CT


Rushkoff on “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus” @ Personal Democracy Forum
June 10
New York City, NY


Humans, Machines, and the Future of Work Conference
December 5-6
Rice University, Houston, Texas




MULTIMEDIA: Life Topics

This is your brain on communication

Gene editing can now change an entire species — forever

This virtual lab will revolutionize science class

Will World War 3 Be Prevented Because of Global Interdependence?

Rituals Improve Life According to Ancient Chinese Philosophers

Optimize Brain Health by Balancing Social Life with Downtime

Multitasking Is a Myth, and to Attempt It Comes at a Neurobiological Cost

The Neuroscience of Enlightenment

US Anti-Drug Laws Aren’t Scientific — They’re Colonialist and Racist

The Algocracy and Transhumanism Podcast: Episode 3

The Algocracy and Transhumanism Podcast: Episode 2

How To Make A Living When Robots Take Our Jobs

Why we should give everyone a basic income

Automate Now? Robots, Jobs and Universal Basic Income A Public Debate

Mind Hack: Combat Anxiety with This Breathing Technique




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Life Topics




An open source future for synthetic biology

by Harry J. Bentham

If the controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) tells us something indisputable, it is this: GMO food products from corporations like Monsanto are suspected to endanger health. On the other hand, an individual’s right to genetically modify and even synthesize entire organisms as part of his dietary or medical regimen could someday be a human right.



IEET Affiliate Scholar Rick Searle was a 3rd place winner of a $2,000 prize from FQXi

IEET Affiliate Scholar Rick Searle was a 3rd place winner of a $2,000 prize in this spring’s FQXi essay contest “How Should Humanity Steer the Future?” The contests are regular events held by the Fundamental Questions Institute whose mission is “To catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.”

Full Story...
Link to FQXi



IEET Fellow Stefan Sorgner on German public radio (WDR)

With more than 100,000 podcast users alone, IEET Fellow Stefan Sorgner was interviewed by Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln (WDR, West German Broadcasting Cologne.) Below is the audio in German…

Full Story...
Link to WDR



Top 5 Killer Apps: QS-Automotive Sensors

by Melanie Swan

The Internet of Things means not just that computing devices have connectivity to the cloud but that they are connected to each other, and therefore that novel applications can be developed in this rich ecosystem. One area for development is linking quantified self wearable sensors with automotive sensors for applications including Fatigue Detection, Real-time Parking and Assistance, Anger/Stress Reduction, Keyless Authentication, and DIY Diagnostics.



City As Superintelligence

by Rick Searle

A movement is afoot to cover some of the largest and most populated cities in the world with a sophisticated array of interconnected sensors, cameras, and recording devices, able to track and respond to every crime or traffic jam ,every crisis or pandemic, as if it were an artificial immune system spread out over hundreds of densely packed kilometers filled with millions of human beings.



CBS Approves Pilot of TV Drama Based on Work of IEET Advisor Arthur Caplan

CBS will produce a pilot of “Austen’s Razor,” a drama inspired by the career of bioethicist and IEET Advisor Arthur L. Caplan.

Full Story...



IEET Fellow David Eagleman to Host PBS Series on The Brain

IEET Fellow David Eagleman has written and will host a six hour television series on The Brain for PBS.  The series will premeire in 2015, and deals with tough questions of ethics and emerging neurotechnologies.

Full Story...



IEET Scholar Ted Chu Appointed Chief Economist at World Bank’s International Finance Corporation

Ted will be moving to Washington D.C. to lead the Global Economics and Strategy Department and be responsible for IFC’s strategy and development impact functions, leading a global team of approximately 100 people.

Full Story...



Do Cognitive Enhancing Drugs Actually Work?

by John Danaher

I’ve been writing about the ethics of human enhancement for some time. In the process, I’ve looked at many of the fascinating ethical and philosophical issues that are raised by the use of enhancing drugs. But throughout all this writing, there is one topic that I have studiously avoided. This is surprising given that, in many ways, it is the most fundamental topic of all: do the alleged cognitive enhancing drugs actually work?



Robot Servants Are Going to Make Your Life Easy. Then They’ll Ruin It

by Evan Selinger

Jibo, the “world’s first family robot,” hit the media hype machine like a bomb. From a Katie Couric profile to coverage in just about every outlet, folks couldn’t get enough of this little robot with a big personality poised to bring us a step closer to the world depicted in “The Jetsons” where average families have maids like Rosie. In the blink of an eye, pre-orders climbed passed $1.8 million and blew away the initial fundraising goal of $100k.



Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (Part 1)

by J. Hughes

The ability to think clearly and make good decisions is on almost every society’s list of virtues. In this essay I discuss the debate over different aspects of intelligence, the degree to which they are shaped by genes, chemistry and society, and the role of intelligence in other virtues.



IEET Fellow Susan Schneider Interviewed in the cover story for The Humanist (Sept/Oct)

Can consciousness be created in a machine? Is the mind/brain simply a computational system? IEET Fellow and University of Connecticut philosopphy professor, Susan Schneider, was interviewed by The Humanist on these pressing topics. What kind of technology will exist in a transhumanist world the humanists are starting to question…

Full Story...
Link to The Humanist



Fumed silica: Another nano material we need to worry about?

by Andrew Maynard

Pick up a jar of chili powder, and the chances are it will contain a small amount of fumed silica – an engineered nanomaterial that’s been around for over half a century.  The material – which is formed from microscopically small particles of amorphous silicon dioxide – has long been considered to be non-toxic.



Why the Pope is Less Wrong Than Keith Farrell

by Kevin Carson

Pope Francis’s remarks on poverty, inequality and capitalism — most recently at his open air mass in Seoul — don’t sit well with many conservatives and right-leaning libertarians. The Pope’s remarks include criticism of growing economic inequality and a call to “hear the voice of the poor.”



Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 3)

by J. Hughes

We can encourage empathy and compassion through social policy and individual practices. But fully realizing our capacities for empathy and compassion will require careful, nuanced neurotechnological intervention.



Why the Price of Theism is Normative Skepticism

by John Danaher

Street defends a form of constructivist antirealism, which I find quite attractive. I was thus pleasantly surprised to find that she had also recently written a paper dealing with one of my favourite topics in the philosophy of religion: the problem of evil and its moral implications. It’s a very good paper too, one that I’m sure will provide plenty of fodder for discussion.



On Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of our Nature”

by piero scaruffi

This book offers a colossal synthesis of history, biology, philosophy, psychology and neurophysiology. Surprisingly, the latter is the least plausible region of the book (we still know too little about the brain). But by mixing historical facts and evolutionary theories and using a bit of logical thinking, Pinker comes up with great insights into human nature. Pinker synthesizes the work of (literally) hundreds of thinkers and researchers and draws his own original conclusions.



Cyberwarfare ethics, or how Facebook could accidentally make its engineers into targets

by Patrick Lin

Without clear rules for cyberwarfare, technology workers could find themselves fair game in enemy attacks and counterattacks. If they participate in military cyberoperations—intentionally or not—employees at Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Sprint, AT&T, Vodaphone, and many other companies may find themselves considered “civilians directly participating in hostilities” and therefore legitimate targets of war, according to the legal definitions of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.



How our police became Storm-troopers

by Rick Searle

The police response to protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri were filled with images that have become commonplace all over the world in the last decade. Police dressed in once futuristic military gear confronting civilian protesters as if they were a rival army. The uniforms themselves put me in mind of nothing so much as the storm-troopers from Star Wars. I guess that would make the rest of us the rebels.



Citizen Power - Part II: Those Cop-Cameras…

by David Brin

Continuing our series on co-veillance, sousveillance and general citizen empowerment, on our streets… last time we discussed our right and ability to use new instrumentalities to expand our ability to view, record and hold others accountable, with the cameras in our pockets.



Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 1)

by J. Hughes

Empathy draws on both mammalian circuits that we share with other animals and cognitive abilities that only appear to be present in our closest relatives, the great apes and and cetaceans, and ourselves.  As with happiness and self-control, there is strong evidence that differences in our capacity for compassion and empathy are tied to differences in the brain structures and neurochemistries that they depend on.



Obamacare’s “Secret Trick” Could Cure CEO Pay Excesses

by Richard Eskow

Our economy is broken. There’s one economy for the wealthy, and another for the rest of us. This division has been worsened by the behavior of corporate executives who manage their corporations for short-term personal gain rather than for long-term fiscal soundness.



Here’s a Terrible Idea: Robot Cars With Adjustable Ethics Settings

by Patrick Lin

Do you remember that day when you lost your mind? You aimed your car at five random people down the road. By the time you realized what you were doing, it was too late to brake.



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).



Death Threats, Freedom, Transhumanism, and the Future

by Zoltan Istvan

Last week, I published a guest post at Wired UK called It's Time to Consider Restricting Human Breeding. It was an opinion article that generated many commentary stories, over a thousand comments across the web, and even a few death threats for me. 



While the world watches Ebola, Meningitis continues to kill in West Africa

by Andrew Maynard

“This year alone, there have been 17,000 cases of meningitis in Nigeria, with nearly 1,000 deaths”. It’s a statement that jumped out at me watching a video from this summer’s Aspen Ideas Festival by my former University of Michigan Public Health student Utibe Effiong.



Karlsen on God and the Benefits of Existence

by John Danaher

The paper tries to fuse traditional concerns about the problem of evil with recent work in population ethics. The result is an interesting, and somewhat novel, atheological argument. As is the case with every journal club, I will try to kick start the discussion by providing an overview of the paper’s main arguments, along with some questions you might like to ponder about its effectiveness.



Talking About Extinction In Front of Dinosaurs

by Jamais Cascio

I'm back from the first Climate Engineering Conference, held in Berlin. Quite a good trip, but in many ways the highlight was the talk I gave at the Berlin Natural History Museum. The gathering took place in the dinosaur room, which holds (among other treasures) the "Berlin Specimen" Archaeopteryx fossil, among the most famous and most important fossils ever discovered.



Citizen Power - Part I: using our cell cameras for safety and freedom

by David Brin

If you push long and hard enough for something that is logical and needed, a time may come when it finally happens! At which point – pretty often – you may have no idea whether your efforts made a difference. Perhaps other, influential people saw the same facts and drew similar, logical conclusions!



Robots Are People, Too

by Richard Eskow

“This is an economic revolution,” a new online video says about automation. The premise of “Humans Need Not Apply” is that human work will soon be all but obsolete. “You may think we’ve been here before, but we haven’t,” says CGP Grey, the video’s creator. “This time is different.” The video has gone viral, with nearly two million YouTube views in one week. But is it true?

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