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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Rights

Cascio @ Climate Engineering Conference 2014
August 18-21
Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, Germany


Global Conference: Augmentation
September 3-5


Neuro-Interventions and the Law Conference
September 12-14
Atlanta, GA USA


Neuro-Interventions and the Law
September 12-14
Atlanta, GA USA


Sorgner @ Posthuman Politics
September 25-28
University of the Aegean, Lesbos, Greece


CyborgCamp ‘14
October 2-4
MIT's Media Lab 75 Amherst St. Cambridge, Boston


LaGrandeur @ Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
October 9-12
Dallas, TX USA




MULTIMEDIA: Rights Topics

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble

Soylent Update Keto Version

Fermi Paradox & the Great Filter- Are We Likely Doomed?

Artificial Intelligence, Anthropics & Cause Prioritization

American Society for Engineering Education: Why Diversity is so Important

Steven Wise of Nonhuman Rights Project on Colbert Report

A vote for stem cells

The Singularity Is Near Movie Trailer

Artificial Intelligence - We Had Better Start Thinking About it Now!

Primitivism, Progress, the Transhuman & the Technological Avalanche

History of a Time to Come

Cyborg Buddha

Buddhism & Transhumanism

The Future of Human Space Exploration (1hr)

A 30-year history of the future




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Rights Topics




Bostrom on Superintelligence (3): Doom and the Treacherous Turn

by John Danaher

In the first two entries, I looked at some of Bostrom’s conceptual claims about the nature of agency, and the possibility of superintelligent agents pursuing goals that may be inimical to human interests. I now move on to see how these conceptual claims feed into Bostrom’s case for an AI doomsday scenario.



Bring It On! — Why It’s Tme For Over the Counter Oral Contraceptives.

by Valerie Tarico

When Plan B emergency contraceptives became available without a prescription, I sent my teenage daughter, Marley, and her friend Amanda out to do a little research. Was the medication available in our local pharmacies? What would happen if they asked for help?
Most of the drugstores the girls visited in their meander through Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood kept the medication behind a counter or locked up because it’s so expensive (close to $50 for a single dose).



Hacking the world, public health style

by Andrew Maynard

What has the Maker Movement got to do with public health? Quite a lot as it turns out, as I explore in the latest Risk Bites video.  This in turn was inspired by being invited to talk at the inaugural We Make Health Fest in Ann Arbor (August 16 – please join us if you can!).



9 Obvious Steps to Immortality

by Maria Konovalenko

Maria Konovalenko discusses personalized medicine services, why you should participate in clinical trials of geroprotector drug candidates,  Personalized science, Why scientific research should be organized, why you should be friends with people with no harmful habits,  “Create crowdfunding campaigns in the area of longevity”, why you should increase your own competence, promote the value of human longevity, and neuropreservation.



Bostrom on Superintelligence (2): The Instrumental Convergence Thesis

by John Danaher

This is the second post in my series on Nick Bostrom’s recent book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. In the previous post, I looked at Bostrom’s defence of the orthogonality thesis. This thesis claimed that pretty much any level of intelligence — when “intelligence” is understood as skill at means-end reasoning — is compatible with pretty much any (final) goal. Thus, an artificial agent could have a very high level of intelligence, and nevertheless use that intelligence to pursue very odd final goals, including goals that are inimical to the survival of human beings. In other words, there is no guarantee that high levels of intelligence among AIs will lead to a better world for us.



Bostrom on Superintelligence (1): The Orthogonality Thesis

by John Danaher

In this entry, I take a look at Bostrom’s orthogonality thesis. As we shall see, this thesis is central to his claim that superintelligent AIs could pose profound existential risks to human beings. But what does the thesis mean and how plausible is it?



Dazed and Confused — The Case for Comprehensive Sexual Education

by Valerie Tarico

Can a girl get pregnant if she has sex standing up? Will my boyfriend be able to feel my IUD? What are dental dams, and why do people use them for sex? Does everybody shave or trim down there? If a guy pays for dinner, what does a girl owe him?



Sherlock Holmes as Cyborg and the Future of Retail

by Rick Searle

Lately, I’ve been enjoying reruns of the relatively new BBC series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which imagines Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective in our 21st century world. The thing I really enjoy about the show is that it’s the first time I can recall that anyone has managed to make Sherlock Holmes funny without at the same time undermining the whole premise of a character whose purely logical style of thinking make him seem more a robot than a human being.



Convergent Risk, Social Futurism, and the Wave of Change (Part 2 of 2)

by Amon Twyman

The third section in this chapter will lay out a ‘toolkit’ of policies and strategic options for a transition phase toward a Social Futurist outcome. Such a medium-term focus on transition and interim steps may give an impression that our viewpoint is reformist rather than deeply revolutionary, when in fact it should be considered revolutionary on two levels.



Beauty Is Skin-deep—But That’s Where Genetic Engineering Is Going Next

by Ted Chu

A Korean woman was on the verge of divorce because her husband no longer found her attractive and was having an affair. Nothing worked in her efforts to save the marriage and as a last resort she underwent cosmetic surgery. The result was so dramatic and her son didn’t recognize her when she returned home.



Convergent Risk, Social Futurism, and the Wave of Change (Part 1 of 2)

by Amon Twyman

In recent years there has been a growing understanding that technologies often do not develop in isolation, but instead affect and frequently accelerate each others’ development. This process of increasing interdependence between developing technologies is known as convergence. When discussing this phenomenon, commentators tend to focus on the convergence of NBIC (Nanometre scale, Biological, Information, and Cognitive) technologies.



Why Solitary Confinement Is The Worst Kind Of Psychological Torture

by George Dvorsky

There may be as many as 80,000 American prisoners currently locked-up in a SHU, or segregated housing unit. Solitary confinement in a SHU can cause irreversible psychological effects in as little as 15 days. Here’s what social isolation does to your brain, and why it should be considered torture.



The Trifecta of Roommate Selection Technology: Privacy, Prejudice, And Diversity

by Evan Selinger

Over at The New York TimesNatasha Singer discusses the pros and cons of universities providing incoming students with online technology that helps them select roommates. She does a great job of identifying salient points. But I think it’s important to augment the story by adding some remarks on privacy and prejudice.



The Maverick Nanny with a Dopamine Drip: Debunking Fallacies in the Theory of AI Motivation

by Richard Loosemore

My goal in this article is to demolish the AI Doomsday scenarios that are being heavily publicized by the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, the Future of Humanity Institute, and others, and which have now found their way into the farthest corners of the popular press. These doomsday scenarios are logically incoherent at such a fundamental level that they can be dismissed as extremely implausible - they require the AI to be so unstable that it could never reach the level of intelligence at which it would become dangerous.  On a more constructive and optimistic note, I will argue that even if someone did try to build the kind of unstable AI system that might lead to one of the doomsday behaviors, the system itself would immediately detect the offending logical contradiction in its design, and spontaneously self-modify to make itself safe.



Chiding CEOs at Walgreens and Other Corporate Defectors

by Richard Eskow

Walgreens is the pharmacy that, at least according to its website, can be found “at the corner of Happy & Healthy.” If its executives have their way, however, it may soon be found near the intersection of Ziegelackerstrasse and Untermattweg in Bern, Switzerland. By acquiring the much smaller Swiss company that is located near that corner, the American company can dodge millions in American taxes.



Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About Religious Freedom 200 Years From Now!

by Valerie Tarico

In 1878, the Supreme Court of the United States wrestled with a religious freedom case focused on Mormons and polygamy. In the written decision, Chief Justice Morrison Waite explained the court’s attempt to discern the intent of the First Amendment. He turned to someone who had been in the room when the Amendment was written—Thomas Jefferson...



LEV: The Game – Play to Win Indefinite Life

by Gennady Stolyarov II

LEV: The Game is a work in progress, whose potential to spread the message of indefinite life extension to the general public encourages me greatly. Developed by a team from Belgium – consisting of Anthony Lamot, Mathieu Hinderyckx, and Maxime Devos – this Android mobile game is currently in its Alpha phase. 



When risk gets personal

by Andrew Maynard

When you’re facing a life or death situation, what do the odds mean – to you personally?  As Brian Zikmund-Fisher from the University of Michigan School of Public Health pointed out to Robert Siegel on NPR yesterday, “We’re never 95 percent alive. We either live or die. We experience outcomes”. 



Plato and the Physicist: A Multicosmic Love Story

by Rick Searle

So I finally got around to reading Max Tegmark’s book Our Mathematical Universe, and while the book answered the question that had led me to read it, namely, how one might reconcile Plato’s idea of eternal mathematical forms with the concept of multiple universes, it also threw up a whole host of new questions. This beautifully written and thought provoking book made me wonder about the future of science and the scientific method, the limits to human knowledge, and the scientific, philosophical and moral meaning of various ideas of the multiverse.



Should we have a right not to work?

by John Danaher

Voltaire once said that “work saves a man from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.” Many people endorse this sentiment. Indeed, the ability to seek and secure paid employment is often viewed as an essential part of a well-lived life. Those who do not work are reminded of the fact. They are said to be missing out on a valuable and fulfilling human experience. The sentiment is so pervasive that some of the foundational documents of international human rights law — including the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR Art. 23) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR Art. 6) — recognise and enshrine the “right to work”.



Fighting to Save Lives - The Struggle for Indefinite Life Extension

by Eric Schulke

This is a statue of Dick Winters from the Allied 101 airborne and Easy Company of World War II. He didn’t let us down with the war against the Nazis, battling through Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Germany to get to them and capture and shoot them so they would stop threatening all of our freedoms. I’m very sorry and eternally saddened that the world couldn’t get to the goal of indefinite life extension therapy available for all, in time for more people like Dick.



Liberal Democracy, The Third Way, & Social Futurism (pt. 2 of 3)

by Amon Twyman

Most broadly, Social Futurism stands for positive social change through technology; i.e. to address social justice issues in radically new ways which are only just now becoming possible thanks to technological innovation. If you would like some introduction to Social Futurist ideas, you can read the introduction page at wavism.net and there are links to articles at http://IEET.org listed at the top of this post. In this post I will discuss the Social Futurist alternative to Liberal Democratic and Authoritarian states, how that model fits with our views on decentralization and subsidiarity, and its relevance to the political concept of a “Third Way“.



Feminism and the Basic Income (Part Two)

by John Danaher

This is the second part of my series on feminism and the basic income. In part one, I looked at the possible effects of an unconditional basic income (UBI) on women. I also looked at a variety of feminist arguments for and against the UBI. The arguments focused on the impact of the UBI on economic independence, freedom of choice, the value of unpaid work, and women’s labour market participation.



Ziploc: There’s No Better Way to Protect Your Select Agent Investment

by Kelly Hills

A lot of interesting testimony came out of yesterday’s House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, which was titled “Review of CDC Anthrax Lab Incident,” but broadly covered the numerous slapstick-’cept-it-ain’t-funny errors around dangerous pathogens research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



What Should Be Done to Achieve Radical Life Extension?

by Maria Konovalenko

Theoretically the problem is already solved. It is now quite obvious what kind of research should be done for life extension. For example, testing various combinations of different things that extend lifespan in old mice. Particularly important is longevity gene therapy development.



Why We Should Be Careful About Adopting Social Robots

by Evan Selinger

Although Jibo, designed by MIT professor Cynthia Breazeal to be the “world’s first family robot,” isn’t set to ship until 2015, folks are already excited about this little bot with a “big personality.” While there’s much to be said for Breazeal’s vision of “humanizing technology” so that the smart home of the future doesn’t “feel cold and computerized,” we might want to pause a bit before rushing to build the type of world depicted in the movieHer. Although it is easy to imagine we’ll be better off when we’ve got less to do, we don’t actually know the existential and social implications ofoutsourcing ever-more intimate tasks to technology.



Homo Sapiens versus Nature?

by Harry J. Bentham

There is often imagined to be a struggle between humans and nature. How does this struggle originate, and what is its resolution? Such a question is central to some religious traditions, and has much room to be explored in literature.



Bitcoin: The Financial Singularity is Here

by Nikola Danaylov

I have to admit – I was a total bitcoin skeptic. But after spending several months learning about cryptocurrencies I have come to believe that bitcoin is the financial singularity – the most disruptive technology of our present day beyond whose event-horizon human affairs as we know them – be it financial or otherwise, will be fundamentally transformed.



Responsible innovation key to the success of emerging technologies

by Andrew Maynard

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies on February 25, 2014 released its annual list of breakthrough technologies. The list highlights 10 trends in technological advancement that could offer innovative solutions to a range of pressing global challenges.  As a member of the council that compiles the list each year, I’m excited to see technologies here that could be truly transformative.  At the same time, realizing the benefits they offer will require a good dose of responsible innovation mixed in with the technologies each trend represents.



Feminism and the Basic Income (Part One)

by John Danaher

The introduction of an unconditional basic income (UBI) is often touted as a positive step in terms of freedom, well-being and social justice. That’s certainly the view of people like Philippe Van Parijs and Karl Widerquist, both of whose arguments for the UBI I covered in my two most recent posts. But could there be other less progressive effects arising from its introduction?

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