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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Life

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


Pearce, Sorgner on Nietzsche and transhumanism @ “Transhumanism and Asia”
November 3
Seoul, South Korea


Technology and Politics
November 6-8
Miami Gardens, FL USA


Sorgner on transhumanism
November 12
Nürnberg, Germany


Brin @ San Diego
November 12-13
San Diego, CA USA


2014 Longevity and Genetics Conference: Vancouver
November 15
Vancouver


Sorgner on robotics and H+
November 17
University of Innsbruck, Germany




MULTIMEDIA: Life Topics

Is The Ebola Crisis (in the US) As Severe As The Media is Making It Out To Be?

Five Things Worth Knowing About Ebola

SETI Institute: Risky tales: Talking with Seth Shostak at Big Picture Science

Review The Future: What is the Future of Education?

Neuroscience Symposium: Genetics in psychiatry

Morality and God

Is the UN up to the job?

Digital Leaders TV: The Internet of Things (S01E01) - Full Episode (48min)

Winning the war on cancer?

Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

The Art of Data Visualization, Design & Information Mapping

When Do We Quarantine or Isolate for Ebola?

Open Source Biotech: Fund Anti-Cancer Research and Make Drugs Cheaper at the Same Time

Genetic engineering leads to glow-in-the-dark plants

Singularity 1 on 1: Take Steps and Be Prepared!




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Life Topics




Revisiting Nagel on the Absurdity of Life pt1 & 2

by John Danaher

Is life absurd? Should we bother with it? Does it matter either way? Rightly or wrongly, Thomas Nagel’s 1971 article, “The Absurd”, is one of the most celebrated and widely-cited contributions to the literature on these questions. I certainly am struck by how frequently people refer to it in conversations I have with them about this topic. It seems like anyone with even a dim awareness of literature will have heard of Nagel’s piece.



Managing climate change on the African continent

by Lee-Roy Chetty

Observed temperature increases indicate a greater warming in Africa in recent decades.



Austerity’s Curveballs Push Their Plausible Lies

by Richard Eskow

Since the austerity crowd won't own up to a mistake, I will: I engaged in a kind of thought experiment last week, after we first learned that austerity economics is partly based on a spreadsheet error. I wondered, What if you were a government leader who sincerely believed those figures, or an economist who made the mistake of a lifetime? My empathy was misplaced. This discovery hasn't changed government policy one bit—at least not yet. Economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff seem surprisingly unremorseful. And austerity's paid pitchmen are still hawking their wares.



A potpourri of ironies for the weekend

by David Brin

Baseball fans, here’s a unique (true?) tale of how - just after World War II - a baseball team consisting of Stratford-on-Avon actors and ex-POWs would dress in Elizabethan blouses and crush teams from nearby US air bases. “A dream team “with Paul Robeson (Othello) on first base, Sam Wanamaker (Iago) on second, Laurence Olivier (Coriolanus) on third and Peter O’Toole (Shylock) at shortstop.



Science and a New Kind of Prediction: An Interview with Stephen Wolfram

by Patrick Tucker

Stephen Wolfram, creator of the Wolfram|Alpha search engine and author of the books Mathematica and A New Kind of Science, is known all over the world for his contributions to our understanding of computation. In 2012, he received a lot of attention for something else: At the SXSW show, he revealed that he had a more than 20-year personal computational log of, basically, the life of Stephen Wolfram. This included everything from every e-mail he had sent, to when he had gone to bed, to how long his phone conversations lasted, and much more. He then released this data on his personal blog.



Book Recommendations ♯9: The Problem of Political Authority

by John Danaher

I’ve been meaning to recommend Michael Huemer’s latest book — The Problem of Political Authority — for some time. I don't have much to say about it, except that it is the most comprehensive and tightly-argued defence of political anarchism that I’ve ever come across.It is a book of two halves. In the first half, Huemer looks at the problem of political authority, which he says consists in two sub-problems. The first being the problem of political legitimacy, i.e. does the state have to make certain laws and enforce them by coercion? The second being the problem of political obligation, i.e. do people have an obligation to follow the laws made by the state?



Science-Fictional News—some dark and some hopeful

by David Brin

Shall we start with something positive?  In a world of media flattened by cowardly sameness and copycat repetition, the Syfy Channel  apparently intends to keep the faith and offer us some challenging material, next year. Two miniseries will join the previously-announced adaptation of Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle"— Larry Niven's "Ringworld" and Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End."  Some other projects sound above-average, as well.  Will a renaissance of creative boldness arise out of …SyFy?



Delegating in eDemocracy, my Way!

by Pietro Speroni di Fenizio

Recently I wrote a very long post in which I tried, as exhaustively as possible to discuss if it was the case to let people delegate their vote in eDemocracy. The conclusion was that it would be better not to introduce it. Which is a bitter conclusion, because it halts the conversation before it starts. I also suggested that IF we wanted to allow delegated voting, it should be done in a “non linear” way. In other words, it should be possible to delegate someone, but it’s not a good deal.



Science, morality, and genital mutilation

by Massimo Pigliucci

As readers of Rationally Speaking know, recently Michael Shermer and I have had a friendly debate over the role of science in answering moral questions. I commented on an initial article by Michael, invited him to respond on these pages, and provided a point-by-point commentary on his response. We then both appeared at the 2013 Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, where Julia Galef moderated a spirited but, I think, informative discussion between Michael and me on the same topic.



Is traveling back in time impossible? Experts say maybe not

by Dick Pelletier

Most scientists consider going back in time impossible; that it will never happen, but weren’t airplanes deemed impossible at one time? Now, we wonder how we ever got along without them.



How to Build an Artificial Womb

by George Dvorsky

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.



Can a Drone Murder?

by David Swanson

Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee hearing on drones was not your usual droning and yammering.  Well, mostly it was, but not entirely.  Of course, the White House refused to send any witnesses.  Of course, most of the witnesses were your usual professorial fare. But there was also a witness with something to say.  Farea Al-Muslimi came from Yemen.  His village had just been hit by a drone strike last week.



Visions of Immortality and the Death of the Eternal City

by Rick Searle

It was a time when the greatest power the world had yet known suffered an attack on its primary city which seemed to signal the coming of an age of unstoppable decline.The once seemingly unopposable power no longer possessed control over its borders,it was threatened by upheaval in North Africa,  unable to bring to heel the stubborn Iranians, or stem its relative decline. It was suffering under the impact of climate change, its politics infected with systemic corruption, its economy buckling under the weight of prolonged crisis.



Is there a Case for Robot Slaves?

by John Danaher

Right now it’s Sunday afternoon. There is large pile of washed, but as yet un-ironed clothes on a seat in my living room. I know the ironing needs to be done, and I’ve tried to motivate myself to do it. Honestly. The ironing board is out, as is the iron, I have lots of interesting things I could watch or listen to while I do the ironing, and I have plenty of free time in which to do it. But instead I’m in my office writing this blog post. Why?



Facebook Home Propaganda Makes Selfishness Contagious

by Evan Selinger

The new ads for Facebook Home are propaganda clips. Transforming vice into virtue, they’re social engineering spectacles that use aesthetic tricks to disguise the profound ethical issues at stake. This isn’t an academic concern: Zuckerberg’s vision (as portrayed by the ads) is being widely embraced — if the very recent milestone of half a million installations is anything to go by.



The Terror of Real Time

by Doug Rushkoff

(CNN) —So is this the "new normal"? That's the question I keep hearing as people try to comprehend the tragedy at the Boston Marathon and its chaotic aftermath. The answer is yes—in more ways than you might think.



Plan B Ruling: Fox and Family Research Council Seize Chance to Spread Misinformation

by Valerie Tarico

The Fox News response to the recent Plan B ruling provides a graphic example of how the channel uses “fair and balanced” reporting to creates false perceptions. A press release issued by the conservative Family Research Council uses misdirection to attain the same goal. Anyone who wants to understand why the U.S. is so divided need look no farther than these two pieces of political communication disguised as reporting.



Real Faces of the Minimum Wage

by Richard Eskow

Corporate interests and their elected representatives have created a world of illusion in order to resist paying a decent wage to working Americans. They’d have us believe that minimum-wage workers are teens from ’50s TV sitcoms working down at the local malt shoppe.



IEET Audience Certain About a Cure for Dementia Soon

When we asked “Do you think that there will be a cure for Alzheimers and other dementias by 2030?” only 8% of the 109 of you who responded were pessimistic.

Full Story...



Managing mineral and agricultural wealth better on the African continent

by Lee-Roy Chetty

Continued demand for Africa’s natural resources as well as the recent discoveries of oil, gas and minerals in, among others, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, together with an improved macro-economic environment, sustain prospects for robust economic growth on the continent.



Statement on the Recent TED/Psi/Consciousness Controversy

by Ben Goertzel

There has been a minor kerfuffle recently regarding the TED franchise’s decision to remove from their main video site, TEDx conference talks given by scientists promoting psi research and the exploration of non-reductionistic approaches to consciousness.



See-it, believe-it proof… plus smart mobs and cool science

by David Brin

We'll start this time with CHASING ICE —a documentary by and about one of the world's greatest adventurers, who spent years with his brave & hardy team designing, building and setting up some of the world's toughest cameras to endure the planet's harshest environments, all to track by time-lapse whether glaciers are growing or shrinking.  It's spectacular to watch, long before you finally get to see the hard-won footage.



CISPA Reborn

by Jonathan Lin

The US House of Representatives revitalized efforts to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which never got the approval of the Senate last year. Yesterday the bill passed by a margin of 288 to 127 after two days of debate, which included the potential of malicious cyber attacks raining down on American power grids and disrupting livelihoods.



Pain Rays and Robot Swarms: The Radical New War Games the DOD Plays

by Patrick Lin

In the year 2025, a rogue state—long suspected of developing biological weapons—now seems intent on using them against U.S. allies and interests. Anticipating such an event, we have developed a secret “counter-virus” that could infect and destroy their stockpile of bioweapons. Should we use it?



You Have to Know Your Genes Better than Makes of Cars

by Maria Konovalenko

Knowing what kind of genes are involved in the main biological processes is much more relevant to your life than which car is faster, Porsche or Jaguar. And I’m not talking about dangerous driving here. I am talking about the crucial information about the genes that govern your longevity. You have to know what they are, what they do, what happens to them during aging and what are the ways to make them work better, towards keeping you young for a longer time. I am reprinting the text of the article written by Dr. Matthew Carter and Dr. Anne Brunet from Stanford University. I let myself explain some of the biological terms in brackets to make this beautifully written story of one gene a bit simpler. This is a must-read.



2113 (part two) — Getting stuck in progress

by Khannea Suntzu

It is the year 2113, and humanity “made it”. It was touch and go there for a while — but the advancing tidal wave of technological progress has swept all things that could be argued problematic aside. There are over two thousand billion acknowledged citizens in the solar system, most of them in the Earth-Moon system, but literally hundreds of billions away from the inner heart of activity around the sun. There are tens of thousands of solar space colonies — most of these intricate flower-like variants of O’Neil habitats inhabited by thoroughly post-humans.



Education, Consciousness, Intellectualism, Poverty, Future

by Kris Notaro

When we say “we” “one” or “I” in a context of “ought to think” we are referring to intellectuals in which we assume have a grasp on “rationality”. I assume that I am rational and that the material in which influenced me to write this paper on intellectualism and rationality was rational in itself. But not all “intellectual” media is rational.



Jobs, humans, and machines: Implications for society

by Dick Pelletier

Short term; displaced workers learn new skills. Long term; work-free future evolves. From assembly line robots to ATMs and self-checkout terminals, each year intelligent machines take over more jobs formerly held by humans; and experts predict this trend will not stop anytime soon. Even teachers, doctors, and government officials will one day be replaced by increasingly ‘smarter’ systems.



The Freedom to Die in Peace

by Valerie Tarico

The freedom to die in peace has been much in the news of late. When an 83-year-old man shot first his dying wife and then himself in a Pennsylvania hospice, distressed commenters speculated that local law left him with no better options. The wife was bedridden, in a unit for people who have less than six months to live, and Pennsylvania has no Death with Dignity provisions like those in Washington and Oregon.



Return to the Island of Dr. Moreau

by Rick Searle

Sometimes a science-fiction novel achieves the impossible, and actually succeeds in reaching out and grasping the future, anticipating its concerns, grappling with its possibilities, wrestling with its ethical dilemmas. H.G. Wells’ short 1886 novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, is like that. The work achieved the feat of actually being relevant to our own time at the very least because the scientific capabilities Well’s imagined in the novel have really only begun to be possible today, and will be only more so going forward. The ethical territory he identified with his strange little book ones we are likely to be increasingly called upon to chart our own course through.

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