Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Life



MULTIMEDIA: Life Topics

What Carries Our Personal Identity?

The Longevity Dividend

All your devices can be hacked

Military robots and the future of war

The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn

Should you be able to patent a human gene?

Non-lethal weapons, a moral hazard?

‘No Solitary Confinement for Juveniles or the Mentally Ill — At All.’

Cyborg Art- Prefigurative, Performative, Inhuman, Hybrid?

Podcast Interview - Is High Tech Turning Us Into the Borg?

Powerful Nonsense Ep 95 - Finding meaning in an automated world

Manifesto for Cyborgs

Switzerland: Basic Income ‘Robot’ causes a commotion in Davos

Singularity 1 on 1: Compassion is the reason to reverse aging!

Chris Hables Gray on Singularity 1 on 1: We Need Strong Citizenship!




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Life Topics




Geoengineering as a Human Right

by Kris Notaro

Geoengineering has come under attack recently by conspiracy theorists, scientists, to “greens.” There have been many kinds of proposals for geoengineering, and even a legal/illegal experiment pouring 200,000 pounds of iron sulfate into the North Pacific which was supposed to increase plankton that would absorb carbon dioxide. The experiment did not work and pissed off a lot of scientists. China also recently stopped their “flattening of mountains.” Therefore this article is not purely about techniques of combating global warming, but about the need for people to understand that geoengineering is a must, not only a must, but also a “human right.”



Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time

by George Dvorsky

Anesthesia was a major medical breakthrough, allowing us to lose consciousness during surgery and other painful procedures. Trouble is, we’re not entirely sure how it works. But now we’re getting closer to solving its mystery — and with it, the mystery of consciousness itself. When someone goes under, their cognition and brain activity continue, but consciousness gets shut down.



Radcliffe-Richards on Sexual Inequality and Justice (Part One)

by John Danaher

Let’s start with a thought experiment. Suppose that in a given population 50% of people have blue eyes and 50% have brown eyes. Suppose further that there is no evidence to suggest that eye colour has any effect on cognitive ability; indeed, suppose that everything we know suggests that cognitive ability is equally distributed among blue and brown-eyed people. Now imagine that in this population 80% of all senior academics and professors are blue-eyed. What conclusions should we draw about the justice of this society?



Interview with Transhumanist Biohacker Rich Lee

by Zoltan Istvan

Transhumanism—the rapidly growing international movement that aims to use radical science and technology to significantly improve the human being—has many fascinating fields of study. One of my favorite areas is biohacking. I recently had a chance to chat with Rich Lee, a leading biohacker whose upgrades and experiments to his body are both impressive and courageous. His exploits have been featured in CNN, The GuardianPopular ScienceThe Huffingon Post, and many other well-known media sites.



When Global Catastrophes Collide: The Climate Engineering Double Catastrophe

by Seth Baum

It could be difficult for human civilization to survive a global catastrophe like rapid climate change, nuclear war, or a pandemic disease outbreak. But imagine if two catastrophes strike at the same time. The damages could be even worse. Unfortunately, most research only looks at one catastrophe at a time, so we have little understanding of how they interact.



Liberal Democracy, The Third Way, & Social Futurism (pt. 1 of 3)

by Amon Twyman

The developed nations of the Western world are currently characterised by a political-economic system typically referred to as Liberal Democracy“*. Up until very recently, there has been a tendency for all major political parties to converge on an ostensibly moderate, centrist, Liberal Democratic position. This position is characterised by Representative Democracy on the one hand, and commitment to Liberalism (both social and economic, but with emphasis on Market Liberalism) on the other. This worldview is frequently depicted by its proponents as the polar opposite of and only ethical or viable alternative to Authoritarian forms of social organization.



Cognitive Enhancement Memory Management: Retrieval and Blocking

by Melanie Swan

One familiar notion of cognitive enhancement is prescription drugs that boost focus and concentration: ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) medications like Modafinil, Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate, and Methylin [1], and amphetamines like Adderall, Dexedrine, Benzedrine, Methedrine, Preludin, and Dexamyl [1-3].



How Should Humanity Steer the Future?

by Rick Searle

Over the spring the Fundamental Questions Institute (FQXi) sponsored an essay contest the topic of which should be dear to this audience’s heart- How Should Humanity Steer the Future? I thought I’d share some of the essays I found most interesting, but there are lots, lots, more to check out if you’re into thinking about the future or physics, which I am guessing you might be.



Revolutionary Independence

by Richard Eskow

The event we celebrate on the Fourth of July is not America’s victory over Great Britain. The British weren’t defeated until September 3, 1783. July 4, 1776 is the day the Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence.



May I bring up climate change?

by David Brin

A few days ago, I drove up the Califonia coast to help my son move. The trip coincided with the attempted (3 am) launch from Vandenberg AFB of JPL's Orbiting Carbon Observatiory—OCO-2—which will nail down Earth's CO2 cycle. OCO is part of a constellation of five earth-sensing satellites bring launched just this year. (The first OCO failed, weirdly, and others were canceled, back during the Bush Administration. Whereupon it took a while to re-start the earth-sensing programs.)



Virtually Sacred, by Robert Geraci – religion in World of Warcraft and Second Life

by Giulio Prisco

Robert Geraci, the author of “Apocalyptic AI – Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality,” has a new book published by Oxford University Press: “Virtually Sacred – Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life.” I recommend this book to all those interested in the history and sociology of religions online, and online religions (there is a difference), and also (especially) to those who wish to participate in new, forward-looking, cosmic religious movements. All are invited to come and to Robert Geraci’s talk in Second Life, on Sunday June 29 at noon EDT (9am PDT, 6pm EU) in Soleri City.



The Importance of Qualia to Transhumanism and Science pt2

by Kris Notaro

In my last article on transhumanism and qualia we looked at the definition of qualia and biological experiments that suggest qualia are nothing more then a physical outcome of a complex system, (for now the brain). But what if qualia is not physical in nature in the same way we think of the typical physicalist notion of an atom? What if qualia was not purely biologically evolved, instead was/is part of the universe like the “strings” in M-theory and String Theory, or the basic hydrogen atom? I will argue in defense of quaila and suggest that logical operators can be “felt” by the current human mind.



Yes, Polarization Is Asymmetric—it’s not about physics… but politics

by David Brin

Back when I published research on optical ellipsometry, “polarization” seemed an innocent-enough term — and indeed, lately there have been applications that let us peer into the very origins of the universe. Alas though, more and more, we hear talk about a polarization of politics — especially in the USA - that has destroyed a great nation’s ability to argue fairly, negotiate pragmatically, and forge the sort of effective compromise solutions that enabled past generations to keep moving ahead.



How to Stop Facebook From Making Us Pawns in Its Corporate Agenda

by Evan Selinger

You didn’t know it, but Facebook used some of you to manipulate your friends. Even though you can’t anticipate how a company will integrate your data into its undisclosed activities, you’re still unintentionally providing grist for the manipulation mill.



Feedback Loops and Individual Self-Determination

by Gennady Stolyarov II

I have always been fond of the concept of feedback loops, and it is indeed the case that much of humankind’s progress, and the progress of a given individual, can be thought of as a positive feedback loop. In the technology/reason interaction, human reason leads to the creation of technology, which empowers human reason and raises rational thinking to new heights, which enables still further technology, and so on.



Hobby Lobby, Contraception, & the Supreme Court Ruling

by Kelly Hills

As expected, the last case ruled on before the Supreme Court of the United States adjourned until October was the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga case. For those unaware, this case is based on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, classifying contraceptives as preventive healthcare required under all insurance plans without a co-pay. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood both objected to this, saying that covering some forms of birth control, like the IUD/IUS or Plan B, violated their religious beliefs by requiring them to fund abortive medications.1



5 Signs the U.S. Is Failing to Protect Women’s Rights in the Workplace

by Richard Eskow

The Prime Minister of Morocco recently compared women to “lanterns” or “chandeliers,” saying that “when women went to work outside, the light went out of their homes.” His remarks, which ran counter to Morocco’s constitutionally-guaranteed rights for women, promptly provoked both street demonstrations and an “I’m not a chandelier” Twitter hashtag.



Wild ride ahead: glimpse at humanity’s long range future

by Dick Pelletier

Imagine if you could take an exotic vacation billions of light years from Earth, peek in on the dinosaurs’ first-hand, or jump into a parallel universe where another you is living a more exciting life than yours; and you could swap places if you like.



Malthusian Fiction and Fact

by Rick Searle

Prophecies of doom, especially when they’re particularly frightening, have a way of sticking with us in a way more rosy scenarios never seem to do. We seem to be wired this way by evolution, and for good reason.  It’s the lions that almost ate you that you need to remember, not the ones you were lucky enough not to see. Our negative bias is something we need to be aware of, and where it seems called for, lean against, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss and ignore every chicken little as a false prophet even when his predictions turn out to be wrong, not just once, but multiple times. For we can never really discount completely the prospect that chicken little was right after all, and it just took the sky a long, long time to fall.



A Cynical Argument for the Liberal Arts (Parts 7-12)

by David Eubanks

The preceding installments have described a tension between organized human effort and individual freedom. The former entails the adoption of a machine-like way of processing observations and acting on them (nowadays a techno-bureaucracy) that has no inherent morality: human values lie entirely with the people who make judgments within this machine.



The Problem is not GMOs, Per Se

by Harry J. Bentham

Since giving my support to the May 24 march against Monsanto, I have taken the time to review some of the more unusual opinions in the debate over genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). The enthusiasts for technological development as a means of eliminating scarcity and disparity view GMOs favorably.



Money What If – HumanCoin

by Khannea Suntzu

I just watched a video of an event in Amsterdam where the well-known Libertarian Stefan Molyneux spoke. Let me link it for your edification. Immediately after the event his Google+, Gmail and Youtube were deleted, as a result of complain vandalism. In other words, what he said caused a counter reaction. Now I am not usually overly enthusiastic about Peter and his Libertarian ideas, but in this video he makes a pretty much spectacular point against the power of unbridled governance. This particular line of reasoning I really like.



Extending Legal Protection to Social Robots

by Kate Darling

“Why do you cry, Gloria? Robbie was only a machine, just a nasty old machine. He wasn’t alive at all.”
“He was not no machine!” screamed Gloria fiercely and ungrammatically. “He was a person like you and me and he was my friend.” Isaac Asimov (1950). Most discussions of “robot rights” play out in a seemingly distant, science-fictional future. While skeptics roll their eyes, advocates argue that technology will advance to the point where robots deserve moral consideration because they are “just like us,” sometimes referencing the movie Blade Runner. Blade Runner depicts a world where androids have human-like emotions and develop human-like relationships to the point of being indistinguishable from people. But Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the novel on which the film is based, contains a small, significant difference in storyline…



Mapping Militarism

by David Swanson

World Beyond War has created a set of online interactive maps to help us all see where and how war and preparations for war exist in the world today.  You can find the maps we’ve created thus far at http://bit.ly/mappingmilitarism and send us your ideas for more maps here.  We’ll be updating some of these maps with new data every year and displaying animation of the progress away from war or the regress toward more war as the case may be.



Is it possible to build an artificial superintelligence without fully replicating the human brain?

by Maciamo Hay

The technological singularity requires the creation of an artificial superintelligence (ASI). But does that ASI need to be modelled on the human brain, or is it even necessary to be able to fully replicate the human brain and consciousness digitally in order to design an ASI?



Why “Fetal Personhood” is a Dangerous Word Game

by Valerie Tarico

What does it mean to be a person? For the anti-abortion group, Personhood USA, a “person” is present from the moment a sperm penetrates an egg, and members are fighting to have their definition encoded into law. Online coaching tools for abortion opponents use the term person interchangeably with human or human being. Are they interchangeable? Does it matter?



How The Missing Biography of Satoshi Nakamoto Impacts the World at Large

by Nikki Olson

When Satoshi Nakamoto cracked the code for the blockchain he altered the course of all our lives, whether one has an interest in using Bitcoin or not. The full extent to which the world is changed by this peer-to-peer technology is not yet realized, but becomes more and more apparent as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies grow and develop, and future platforms built on top of these networks are envisioned. It is not an exaggeration to write that a major paradigm shift has occurred, one that many believe is of similar caliber to the World Wide Web.



DIY Soylent wants to feed a starving school of indigenous children

by Hank Pellissier

Can DIY-Soylent cure the pangs of World Hunger? Can the alchemists of future food collect sufficient funds to fill the bellies of famished children?



On Fire and Climate Change

by Brenda Cooper

Somewhere around a dozen years ago, I was sitting in a bar in Eastern Washington. It could have been Lake Chelan or Yakima. I really don’t remember. But I do remember meeting two cowboys. Real cowboys (we still have them in the west). They weren’t talking about herds of cows over their beers.  They were talking about fires.



Imagine a time when aging, death no longer dominate our lives

by Dick Pelletier

If predictions by future thinkers such as Aubrey de Grey, Robert Freitas, and Ray Kurzweil ring true – that future science will one day eliminate the disease of aging – then it makes sense to consider the repercussions a non-aging society might place on our world.

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