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

Genetic Enineering and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

Can Gene Therapy Cure HIV?

The Global Gender Gap Report 2014

The Most Controversial Decision in History

Artificial Photosynthesis

Artificial intelligence and the Singularity - History, Trends and Reality Check

The Union of Nanotechnology with Biotechnology

Innovation Ecosystems in Emerging Economies

The Future of Robotic Automated Labor

Consciousness and Neuroscience

Fusion: “Posthuman” - 3D Printed Tissues and Seeing Through Walls!

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?




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Life Topics




Drones, Ethics, and the rising tide of U.S. Technological Imperialism

by B. J. Murphy

Warfare is no stranger to world history. It has become a byproduct of life itself, though is becoming less of a presence as greater activities emerge, i.e. new developing markets, scientific research, and exponentially growing technologies. For what’s left of warfare in our modern age is being coupled with the growing market of new advanced technologies, particularly that of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aka: drones.



Prosthetic Technology and Human Enhancement: Benefits, Concerns and Regulatory Schemes Pt1

by John Niman

Prosthetic devices have helped restore functionality in humans who suffer from diseases requiring amputation or from limbs lost in battle for over three thousand years. I will begin this paper by explaining some of that historical journey. Next, I will highlight a few of the prosthetic devices available today to demonstrate that much, but not all, of that functionality can now be restored. Then I will explain what the future of prosthetic devices might look like if they faithfully adhere to Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns.



What’s Wrong with the FDA’s Plan B Compromise? Almost Everything.

by Valerie Tarico

Once again women’s health and autonomy is being compromised for politics. The Obama administration had the mandate and information they needed to make a science-based decision that put women’s health as top priority, and once again they failed to do so. In 2011 the FDA said that emergency contraception like Plan B and Next Choice should be available over the counter to all who seek it.



When the Future Seems So Far Away: Health and Security for Vulnerable Beings

by Benjamin Abbott

Because of a close friend with mysterious yet serious medical problems, I’ve spent more time in hospitals over the last few months than my entire earlier life. This experience has heightened my suspicions of sanguine visions that present indefinite lifespans as within our reach. While I find these dreams as appealing as ever, I recommend transhumanists pay greater attention to social rather than technological methods for ameliorating physical frailty. Against the U.S. government’s obsessive focus on preventing spectacular violence via organized coercion, I offer freedom, equality, and community as ways to cope with vulnerability. As Wesley Strong argues, improving the human condition starts right now and doesn’t require nanotech genies.



Ten Responses to the Technological Unemployment Problem

by Jon Perry

On the internet and in the media there has been growing discussion of technological unemployment. People are increasingly concerned that automation will displace more and more workers—that in fact there might be no turning back at this point. We may be reaching the end of work as we know it.



The Politics of Transhumanism and the Techno-Millennial Imagination, 1626-2030

by J. Hughes

Abstract: Transhumanism is a modern expression of ancient and transcultural aspirations to radically transform human existence, socially and bodily. Before the Enlightenment these aspirations were only expressed in religious millennialism, magical medicine and spiritual practices. The Enlightenment channeled these desires into projects to use science and technology to improve health, longevity and human abilities, and to use reason to revolutionize society. Since the Enlightenment techno-utopian movements have dynamically interacted with supernaturalist millennialism, sometimes syncretically, and often in violent opposition.

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Sensible Tax Reform, Wealth disparities.. and Gun Control

by David Brin

Optimism is so out of fashion these days, on both the left and the right, that  - ironically -  a guarded optimism has become the natural state for any genuine contrarian. I could try to ignore that reflex and stay true to my natural dour cynicism.  But facts are lining up with those who see light at the end of the tunnel. For example, I often cite Professor Steven Pinker's proof (The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined) that on average, per capita levels of violence have declined steeply (if unevenly) around the world every decade since 1945.



Life in the 2040s: nanofactories, flying cars, household robots, more

by Dick Pelletier

Of course, no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, but by combining present day knowledge with anticipated advances, we can make plausible guesses about what life might be like in the 2040s. Over the coming decades, healthcare research will wield huge benefits for humankind. By 2040, stem cells, gene therapy, and 3-D bio printing promise to cure or make manageable most of today’s diseases. Regenerative medicine breakthroughs are appearing almost daily. Experts now predict that the rise in health discoveries will help us achieve our dreams of indefinite lifespan as we wind through the 2040s.



Building a Quantum Computer

by Patrick Tucker

We are changing the way we build machines, so we may soon be able to build machines that are more like us. In the movie Prometheus, a work set in the future supposedly about our search for our own beginnings, one of the characters is an android named David. David is a lot more human in many ways than the human characters in the film.



Dr. Frankenstein, meet Dr. Spock

by P. Tittle

Thanks to genetic research, we may soon see people with the money to do so making sure their kids are born-to-succeed – parents paying to guarantee their kids have the right stuff.  I’m not talking about a straightened spine or a functional optic nerve.  I’m talking about designer kids: those made with healthy bodies, intelligent minds, and perhaps a certain specific ability to boot.



Boston, Islam and the Real Scientific Solution

by Rick Searle

The tragic bombing on April 15 by the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlane and Dzhohkar collided and amplified contemporary debates- deep and ongoing disputes on subjects as diverse as the role of religion and especially Islam in inspiring political violence, and the role and use of surveillance technology to keep the public safe.



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.

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