When I go to the gym I get easily bored, so I listen to either music or, more likely, audiobooks. Recently, I’ve spent exercise time with a couple of scifi entries by author Robert Sawyer. I started out with Flashforward, then moved to Calculating God. Both books are based on clever premises, unfold nicely, but are — in my opinion — ruined by the author’s penchant for invoking deus-ex-machina scenarios near the end. And they both preach a bit too much science, to the point of feeling like a lecture to the reader, especially Calculating God. Nonetheless, they do make the time at the gym pass significantly faster…
The technological revolution gives us an opportunity to view questions of social justice differently. One example pertains to the handicapped. We now see them as needy unfortunates; objects of social and humanitarian concern rather than autonomous subjects capable of managing their own lives.
For a long time, outdated perceptions have contributed to the lack of investment in birth control for men. Since women traditionally have borne the primary burden of unwanted childbearing and parenting, decision makers have long assumed that men wouldn’t be interested in contraceptives—or would have a very low tolerance for cost, side effects, or hassle. Today, though, in the age of paternity tests and child support, with fathers and mothers sharing parenting responsibility—more and more men want to be in control of their own fertility.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working on the Biometric Optical Surveillance System (BOSS) allowing authorities to identify individuals by their faces—from images collected by street cams, driver’s license photos, mug shots or other sources. As Ginger McCall points out, there is little or no "legal oversight of such technologies." And I agree! Oversight and "under-sight" or sousveillance is absolutely essential lest this lead to Big Brother!
The year is 2020 and your favorite 1980′s actor doesn’t look the way (s)he used to. Many iterations of cosmetic and then reconstructive surgery have now succumbed to gravity and the shortcomings of the biological substrate that is the human body. It is particularly hard for a superstar actor to come to terms with this. The combination of years of hard work to reach the top, the adoration of fans, wealth and ego are a hard mix to overcome. An actor’s career however is not over, should he or she choose the next milestone – Voice acting.
On September 18 Google announced their crusade against death via the Time journal cover. Calico company was created specifically to fight aging. Larry page made it clear for the shareholders that Google is an innovative company and that they can afford the most courageous projects, while the investments won’t be too large and won’t undermine the foundations of the company.
Part 2 on Male Contraception: Eight promising possibilities for males. My teenage nephew came to visit last summer, and I asked him if there was anything he needed from the drug store. “Uh, condoms?” he said. It was easier to ask liberal Aunt Val than Grandma, who is raising him. We hopped in the car. At the local Walgreens, we found the display and we lingered, picking packages up and putting them back. “Wow, there’s a lot of choices,” he enthused, exchanging a rainbow of colors for a fruit-flavored variety pack.
I would like to address what I consider to be three common criticisms against the desirability and ethicacy of life-extension I come across all too often – three specters of immortality, if you will. These will be Overpopulation (the criticism that widely-available life-extension therapies will cause unmanageable overpopulation), Naturality (the criticism that life-extension if wrong because it is unnatural), and Selfishness (the criticism that life-extension researchers, activists and supporters are motivated by a desire to increase their own, personal lifespans than by a desire to decrease involuntary suffering in the world at large).
A study from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology suggests that nearly half of U.S. jobs could be at risk of computerization over the next two decades. The study examined more than 700 detailed occupation types, noting the tasks workers perform and the skills required.
Building a robot that can act autonomously in an environment has long been the goal of roboticists. The most common, colloquial definition of an autonomous robot is a robot(s) that can perform desired tasks in unstructured environments without continuous human guidance (1). This a fairly general definition that applies equally well to domestic and military robots, but does not specify how to give the robot autonomy.
What especially distinguishes human beings from other animals has been the degree to which they seek out and invent ways to leverage the basics of their biology to reach ever more complex levels of thought and action. Early human beings leveraged their fragile and limited bodies with tools including fire, leveraged their own natural psychology using naturally occurring drugs and religious rituals and used music to obtain a more emotional connection with one another and the world.
Following the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1860, many political theorists and opportunistic politicians applied his findings to human society. In the 20th century, these ideas were put into practice — and it nearly destroyed us. Here’s why Social Darwinism was one of the worst ideas ever.
Current theories about “embodied cognition” – the notion that our minds are in some sense determined by our bodies – stand to revolutionize the way we think about who, and what, we are. But the philosophical roots of embodied cognition teach us that our minds might not be the abstract things we always thought they were.
A number of people who I respect have written articles and chapters in books that support GMO crops. These include leading environmentalist Mark Lynas, author of The God Species: How the planet can survive the age of humans, and Ramez Naam, author of The Infinite Resource: The power of ideas on a finite planet.
With great power comes great responsibility. While this sentiment was first given voice in a Spider-Man comic, the idea itself is a common cultural trope that focuses on responsibility and accountability to something greater than oneself. The contrast of the trope is best summed up by the phrase “with great power comes great perks”, or with Rob MacDougall’s argument in defense of industry funding bioethicists.
The Syrian civil war has already caused over 100,000 deaths. As tragic as this is, it is miniscule compared to the massive and potentially permanent global destruction that could come from the gigaton gorilla lurking in the background: nuclear war between the United States and Russia. While the U.S. and Russia find themselves on opposite sides in Syria, their diplomacy over Syria's chemical weapons could help build the trust and confidence needed to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
My friend Michelle has done something very important and very useful to all of us – she donated money to aging research. I believe this is how we can change the situation – by following Michelle’s example.
Humanity is on the threshold of technologies so great; we may not be mature enough to handle them. The converging technologies predicted by Kurzweil’s Singularity offer technological paradigm-shifts. More interestingly to me, Artificial Intelligence (AI) may become more self-aware than humans. The imperatives for creating smarter-than-human AI sheds light on a possible solution to our blind drive for more technology without consideration.
Kids growing up in the year 2020 will miss out on a lot of things: buying music, the familiar screech of a dial-up internet connection, their first fender bender... But worst of all, they will soon miss out on one of our most sacred traditions: playing hookey.
Former Kansas City Star reporter Martin Manley committed a very public suicide in August. The story captured my attention for two reasons: (1) I used to work in the newsroom of the Kansas City Star and (2) I started thinking about Manley’s death in relation to transhumanism.
As much as I respect Pres. Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology, John Holdren, on his work in fighting against climate change, I’ve come to find out that his political beliefs are almost interrelated with that of Maoist-Third-Worldism (an extremist Leftist ideology).
R.J. Eskow - on Salon - offers "11 Questions to see if Libertarians are Hypocrites." And yes, most of Eskow's posers certainly do set up some stark and thought-provoking contradictions - even hypocrisies - in the oft-touted positions held by many who today use the "L-word" to describe themselves. The article is well-worth reading and it does skewer especially those who bow in obeisance to Ayn Rand, the patron saint of resentful ingrates who want desperately to blame society for being under-achievers. And yet…
Research may one day lead to better understanding of consciousness… Imagine you’re a mouse, and you’re feeling a chill throughout your body because a researcher is placing you into a chamber. You distinctly remember feeling shocks in that chamber…
Alarmists say we are losing our biodiversity and that our ecosystem will be destroyed because of human activity. This will cause mass extinctions that will eventually lead to our own. It’s true, that our species has had a profound effect on the ecosystem, but there is no evidence that our environment is changing such that it won’t continue to support human or other life.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was an 18th century philosopher, one of the earliest philosophers belonging to the enlightenment tradition, and often considered the father of German Idealism. Kant is remembered today more for his moral philosophy than his contributions to metaphysics and epistemology (Rohlf 2010). His contributions to the field of life-extension, however, remain almost completely unexplored, despite the fact that certain claims made in his Theory of Ethics arguably qualify him as a historical antecedent of the contemporary social movement and academic discipline of life-extension.
Energy and environment are the central issues of human civilization in the 21st century. K-12 must educate for scholarship and core skills, but also for hope, optimism and the shared values of national and societal myths. In other words the educator must walk a fine line between the radical skepticism of the critical scientific approach and a hopeful optimism without which life is not worth living. This balancing act has always been difficult – never more so than today.
Robot obeys. Robot does what human Master wants. Robot is Slave. Androids today are quite “primitive” - they don’t look convincingly “human” - not yet. But soon, they’ll be indistinguishable from us…. except… they’ll be 100% compliant… devoted to our wishes… Slavery Will Return. Sure, they’re “just robots” - but with millions of them bustling around obeying our barking orders…
Genetically modified food has had a rough year in what has been a fairly miserable decade. In August, 400 farmers in the Philippines stormed a government-owned GM (as it is known) research field. The protesters destroyed 1,000 square meters of Golden Rice, a variety genetically engineered to cut down on vitamin A deficiency.