I finally had the chance to see Elysium this week. As films go, the picture is certainly visually gripping and the fight scenes awesome, if you are into that sort of thing. But, in terms of a film about ideas the picture left me scratching my head, and I could only get a clue as to the film’s meaning as intended by Neill Blomkamp, Elysium’s screenwriter and director, by looking elsewhere.
Named for its creator Alan Turing, the Turing test is meant to test a machine’s intelligence by assessing its conversational abilities (Bieri, 1988, 163). Turing adapted the test to suit machines from an existing test, the Imitation Game, wherein a man and a woman would converse via teletype (Bieri, 1988, 163).
Transhumanism is a “Western philosophy” - it’s roots can be traced to FM-2030 (born in Iran, but lived and taught in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami) and Max More (born in England, founded Extropy Institute in California, currently CEO of Alcor in Arizona). Transhumanism today is primarily identified with Humanity Plus, a nonprofit affiliated with two California groups - Singularity Institute and Foresight Institute, plus Utah’s Mormon Transhumanist Association.
Ever since Socrates, philosophers have been in the business of asking questions of the type “What is X?” The point has not always been to actually find out what X is, but rather to explore how we think about X, to bring up to the surface wrong ways of thinking about it, and hopefully in the process to achieve an increasingly better understanding of the matter at hand. In the early part of the twentieth century one of the most ambitious philosophers of science, Karl Popper, asked that very question in the specific case in which X = science. Popper termed this the “demarcation problem,” the quest for what distinguishes science from nonscience and pseudoscience (and, presumably, also the latter two from each other).
We are all going to be dead before we know it, and we all know this. Time just sprints past. Summers skip through ones life like they’re frolicking through a meadow. The world doesn’t do much about that. Why is that? There must be an answer to that, right? Three of the main reasons are (1) that more people need to know why they should desire an extended, indefinitely long life, (2) they need to know why they should think that stopping aging and diseases is achievable, and (3) they need to know what they can do to make an impact: There is one simple thing that every person needs to know to do, which is crucial to making sure that you have the best chances of indefinite life extension being reached in your lifetime.
Our front yard is different than our back yard. The front is sunny and bright and grows flowers and moss-free grass. The back is partly shaded and often five degrees cooler. The two spaces have different micro-climates. This isn’t new science. Thomas Jefferson understood it. When he gardened at Monticello, he planted grapes on a sunny hillside that saw significant warmth for two months longer than many of his other lands.
Even as the U.S. security state becomes more closed, centralized and brittle in the face of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks, civil society and the public are responding to the post-Snowden repression by becoming more dispersed and resilient.
Since the dawn of the new era there has been one phenomenon that has eluded any attempt to restrain it, piracy. As the internet became ever more present in the life of society information flow has serve as the main drive of progress, and with it file sharing and other forms of copyright infringement have evolve.
The International Bill of Human Rights, consisting both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clearly states, that a human being every human being has a certain pool of rights. The right to live, the right to bear offspring, the right to work, the right to marry, to rest and leisure, freedom of speech etc.
The strategic aim of universal health coverage is to ensure that everyone can use the health services they need without risk of financial ruin or impoverishment, no matter what their socio-economic situation. The over-arching concept of universal health coverage takes a broad view of the services that are needed for good health and well-being.
One common argument against indefinite lifespans is that a definitive limit to one’s life – that is, death – provides some essential baseline reference, and that it is only in contrast to this limiting factor that life has any meaning at all. In this article I refute the argument’s underlying premises, and then argue that even if such premises were taken as true, its conclusion – that eradicating death would negate the “limiting factor” that legitimizes life – is also invalid, because the ever-changing state of self and of world can constitute such a limiting factor just as well as death can, which can be seen lucidly in the simple fact that opportunities once here are now gone, and that it is not death but life itself that is responsible for that.
Positive futurists believe we will see more progress during the next five decades than was experienced in the last 200 years. In The Singularity is Near, author Ray Kurzweil reveals how science will change the ways we live, work, and play. The following offers some of the incredible possibilities we can expect.
Planning childbirth and discouraging or eliminating factors that contribute to preventable birth complications are a priority for many transhumanists. All people should have access to reproductive services for free to use at their discretion, especially if we concede to live under a capitalist system that requires poverty, which in turn limits access to adequate care. This is a basic concept on which many transhumanists, especially at the IEET, agree.
The year is 2025 and there’s a raging snow storm outside. The world is a pale shade of white and gray. You wake up and instinctively look around the bedroom to locate the amber dot glowing on your G-Glass iteration #4 (4th generation upgrade) visor.
If we take what amounts to the very long view of the matter it’s quite easy to see how both the tradition of human rights and transhumanism emerge from what are in effect two different Christian emphasises on the life of Christ. Of course, this is to look at things from the perspective of the West alone. One can easily find harbingers of both human rights and transhumanism outside of Christianity and the West in Non-Western societies and religious/philosophical traditions in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or Taoism among others.
If you want a dispassionate, unbiased, detached, “objective” examination of the book’s plot, character development, literary style, form, etc., look elsewhere. I will not give you a synopsis of the plot and describe all the main personalities and relationships between the characters. Many other reviewers have done this already. I am going to tell you a bit of what I love about the story and characters, but mostly I will help you to modulate your expectations so that you will be clear as to what this book is and is not. Armed with this information, you may be able to get more out of it than you would have, had you approached it with whatever set of expectations you would have brought to it prior to reading this “review.”
A few mornings ago, I woke up at about 6:00 AM to head for class. I put on my clothes, prepared my bag, and sat down for breakfast. At around 6:30, I was looking on the television to see what was on. I searched around and a title caught my eye: LEF on the TV Guide Channel. I thought to myself, “is this what I think it is?” and patiently waited for it to come on. My curiosity was primarily lead on by assumption of what it could be. When it finally came on, it was exactly what I assumed: an infomercial for the Life Extension Foundation.
It is a long-standing trend in futurists circles to paint the future as bleak and dangerous as possible with only a handful of elite ‘rationalists’ able to even understand, let alone adequately address the problem. In this tradition there exist a number of more or less well-known, more or less scary as well as more or less publicised concepts that all have a number of characteristics in common.
One of the first rules one is taught as a futurist-in-training is to avoid “normative scenarios”—forecasts that describe what you want to see, even when the signals and evidence at hand make the scenario highly unlikely. This is much more of a challenge than non-futurists may think, as a good scenarist can usually come up with a plausible set of early indicators and distant early warnings to support just about any forecast. If one’s work focuses on issues that have a strong ethical component (around human rights, for example, or the global environment) the problem is further multiplied.
“That’s the problem with the Malagasy people” my biology student, Etienne, explained to me in response to hearing about the recent theft of seven new computers in our neighboring psychology department. Etienne isn’t in any of my classes, but many students across our small institution are terribly upset by the loss of this scarce resource. These seven computers were to be shared by over 75 students, and now there are none.
I look to the near future and see so much potential. I study and learn open-mindedly, willing to hear out other opinions so long they’re reasonable and to the point. Modern science and technology have become the very tools to which anyone seeking to push positive fundamental change in the world needed. I grasped onto socialism, for it was the socialists throughout history who were there, on the frontlines, fighting for positive social and economic change.
How is this for a bold statement: the ultimate morality or immorality of transhumanism rests with the position it will take on the question of human rights and more specifically its adoption or denial of the principles of one document little discussed outside of the circle of international lawyers and human rights activists: The Universal Declaration of Right of 1948.
When asked what the biggest bottleneck for Radical or Indefinite Longevity is, most thinkers say funding. Some say the biggest bottleneck is breakthroughs and others say it’s our way of approaching the problem (i.e. that many are seeking healthy life extension, a.k.a. “aging gracefully”, instead of more comprehensive methods of indefinite life-extension), but the majority seem to feel that what is really needed is adequate funding to plug away at developing and experimentally-verifying the various, sometimes mutually-exclusive technologies and methodologies that have already been proposed. I claim that Radical Longevity’s biggest bottleneck is not funding, but advocacy.
Under the cooperative model, workers own the business, reducing injustice because they have a stake in the community and because an individual will find it hard to exploit oneself. Workers often buy into their jobs (upfront or amortized), vote on major decisions in general assemblies or committees, and even voluntarily donate to the co-op for re-investment. Known as “workplace democracy,” this model of authentic self-determination renders state action superfluous.
What is really significant when we look at technology in the ancient world is that technology is not limited to Classical mythology. Rather, its presence in those stories coincides in important ways with its appearance in other types of fictional and non-fictional accounts, and not just in Western literature, but in the literature of other cultures as well.