Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Rights

InsurTech 2016
September 27-28
Suntec Convention & Exhibition Center Singapore


Robotic Online Short Film Festival
November 20
Universidad Elche, Spain


Humans, Machines, and the Future of Work Conference
December 5-6
Rice University, Houston, Texas


BlockCon 2017
March 28-29
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore




MULTIMEDIA: Rights Topics

The Science of Fear-Mongering: How to Protect Your Mind from Demagogues

Rachel O’Dwyer on Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Digital Commons

Robots Must Pay For Their Crimes!

Increase Your Productivity by Mastering Singular Focus and Mindful Meditation

Karen Levy on the Rise of Intimate Surveillance

What Makes You YOU? Individuality, Consciousness and The Borg

The Future of Human-Machine Relationships, HER Movie Review

What Is Universal Basic Income and Why Support It?

Algorithms and Online Dating Won’t Change Your Ancient Brain

How To Make A Living When Robots Take Our Jobs

A forgotten Space Age technology could change how we grow food

Self-Awareness Is Essential in Comedy and in Life

Danaher Interview on Robot Overlordz Podcast about Algocracy

Transhumanism for the Mind: Enlightenment for the Future of Humanity

How to face new scientific technologies




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Rights Topics




Liberalism’s Great Challenge: How Can We Critique Ideas while Protecting People?

by Valerie Tarico

Secular and reformist Muslims plead that we learn to tell the difference between analyzing ideas and attacking people.

When Islam is at question, members of the American Left and Right race into opposite corners. After the Orlando nightclub massacre, to cite one recent example, conservatives spewed anti-Muslim invective to the point that ordinary American Muslims were afraid to leave home.



Our emerging culture of shame

by Rick Searle

remember a speech that the novelist Tom Wolfe gave on CSPAN or some such back in the 1990s in which he said something like “Nietzsche predicted that the 20th century would be the age of ideology, and that the century after the age of morality, and I believe him” I’ve never been able to find the source of the quote, but the more the 21st century rolls on, the more I’m finding it to increasingly, frighteningly true.



Decentralized Crypto-Finance: Blockchains, Automatic Markets, and Algorithmic Trust

by Melanie Swan

A revolutionary set of concepts and underlying technology enablement has arisen in the form of blockchain technology. Blockchains allow the digital payments layer the Internet never had, and more broadly contemplate an era whereby all forms of secure value transfer could take place via the Internet. This includes all monetary assets (the cash or spot market) and all assets and liabilities over any future time frame (the futures and options market, mortgages, debt and equity securities, treasury issuance, and public debt).



Vote for IEET’s Managing Director’s Scholarship Competition

IEET Managing Director Steven Umbrello has entered a photo competition in order to be entered to win a scholarship for his graduate studies. In order to help him make the shortlist you can follow the link below to vote for his picture titled ‘Arrogance Dying’.

VOTE HERE



Shedding Light on Peter Thiel’s Dark Enlightenment

by Rick Searle

Lately I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of deja vu, and not in the least of a good kind. The recent bout was inspired by Ben Smith’s piece for BuzzFeed in which he struggled to understand how an Ayn Rand loving libertarian like the technologist Peter Thiel could end up supporting a statist demagogue like Donald Trump. Smith’s reasoning was that Trump represented perhaps the biggest disruption of them all and could use the power of the state to pursue the singularity and flying-cars Theil believed were one at our fingertips.



IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher Publishes New Paper on Moral Enhancement

IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher has a new paper coming out in the journal Neuroethics. This one argues that directly augmenting the brain might be the most politically appropriate method of moral enhancement. This paper brings together his work on enhancement, the extended mind, and the political consequences of advanced algorithmic governance. Details below:

Full Story...
Link to Neuroethics



The Movie “Spotlight”: Philosophical Reflections

by John G. Messerly

Last night I watched “Spotlight,” one of the finest films I’ve seen in years.

The film follows The Boston Globe‘s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States,[6] and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories by the “Spotlight” team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.[7] … The film … was named one of the finest films of 2015 by various publications. Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture along with Best Original Screenplay … (from Wikipedia)



Piketty on Free Higher Education and the Value of Meritocracy

by John Danaher

I have worked hard to get where I am. I come from a modest middle class background. Neither of my parents attended university. They grew up in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when the economy was only slowly emerging from its agricultural roots. I and my siblings were born and raised in the 1970s and 1980s, in an era of high unemployment and emigration. Things started to get better in the 1990s as the Irish economy underwent its infamous ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom. I did well in school and received a (relatively) free higher education, eventually pursuing a masters and PhD in the mid-to-late 2000s.



Is Death the Sculptor of Life or an Evil to be Vanquished?

by John Danaher

My friend Michael Hauskeller recently recommended a paper on academia.edu. It was by Davide Sisto and it was entitled “Moral Evil or Sculptor of the Living? Death and the Identity of the Subject”. I was intrigued. Longtime readers will know that I have, for some time now, been half in love with the philosophy of death. I am always keen to read a new perspective or take on the topic.



The friction between necessity and special interests

by Khannea Suntzu

Societal disparity is a hot button topic sure to arouse emotions. Those who currently have or make comparatively more money as always follow heir self-interest and stick to decennia old post cold war talking points best summarized as “anyone who works hard will eventually be successful”. This is clearly a self-validating and wealth consolidating statement and it’s completely understandable from a zero sum perspective. For the lucky few at the top of the economic food chain any compelling statement that “if most people who work hard in life will not be successful”, pretty much means that society is injust and is subject to renegotiation. And we have been at a collective consensus in western society for centuries now that for statistical majorities of the population – society must be just.



Consciousness, Reality, and the Simulation Hypothesis

by Giulio Prisco

Yesterday a post in the Turing Church Facebook group (h/t Martin C.) mentioned a Skeptico interview with filmmaker Kent Forbes, the creator of “The Simulation Hypothesis,” a recent film about the reality-as-a-sim concept, consciousness and quantum physics. Review and related thoughts below.



A World Ruled by Networks

by Rick Searle

One of the more confusing characteristics of our age is how it trucks in contradiction. As a prime example: the internet is the most democratizing medium in the history of humankind giving each of us the capability to reach potentially billions with the mere stroke of a key. At the same time this communication landscape is one of unprecedented concentration dominated by a handful of companies such as Facebook Google, Twitter, and in China Baidu.



Skepticism and the Meaning of Life

by John G. Messerly

I received a correspondence from a reader who wonders about “the triumph of judgment over spontaneity as we emerge from childhood into adulthood and the consequent obstacle it poses for living in psychic comfort.” In other words she worries about how to reconcile “a naturally felt purposefulness and zest for life against an intellectual sense of life’s essential pointlessness and its indifference to human concerns that give rise to the recognition of absurdity.” The only consolation she experiences is with her grandchildren “as they go about engaging the world with perfect unmediated wonder, boundless energy, and demands for attention.”



IEET Fellow Stefan Sorgner’s Autobiographical Nietzschean Transhumanism in New Book

In the book mentioned below IEET Fellow Stefan Lorenz Sorgnerwas invited to autobiographically present his Nietzschean transhumanism - together with such well known thinkers like Bernard Stiegler and Jean-Luc Nancy. It is forthcoming in French in October 2016:

 

Link to Pourquoi Nous Somme Nietzschéens



Transhumanist Hank Pellissier on Being an “Atheist Missionary”

by Hank Pellissier

Hank Pellissier is certainly an inimitable individual. As a transhumanist and humanitarian, he applies science and technology to inform his approach to alleviating suffering, such as through his efforts to supplement the diet of the Philippines’ Mangyan community with soylent to improve brain health and nutrition. Currently, his work as the director of the Brighter Brains Institute is focused in Uganda, where he spearheads projects to establish and support humanist schools, health clinics, and orphanages.



How our police became storm troopers, redux

by Rick Searle

Give events of late I thought it relevant to re-post this piece from the summer of 2014 on the militarization of policing. Sadly, almost nothing has changed, except that my prediction that police would start using robots to kill people has come true, though in a way I certainly did not anticipate. I haven’t changed anything from the original post besides cleaning up the some of the shitty grammar and adding the mind-blowing photo by Jonathan Bachman, a freelancer for Reuters. If they have history books in 20 years time that photo will be in them.



Longévité et surpopulation : déconstruire une idée reçue

by Alexandre Maurer

Lorsqu’on parle d’allonger radicalement l’espérance de vie, on se heurte à une objection quasi-systématique : “Mais cela va conduire à une crise de surpopulation !”



How To Live With Doubt About Life’s Meaning

by John G. Messerly

I received a correspondence from a reader who wonders about “the triumph of judgment over spontaneity as we emerge from childhood into adulthood and the consequent obstacle it poses for living in psychic comfort.” In other words she worries about how to reconcile “a naturally felt purposefulness and zest for life against an intellectual sense of life’s essential pointlessness and its indifference to human concerns that give rise to the recognition of absurdity.” The only consolation she experiences is with her grandchildren “as they go about engaging the world with perfect unmediated wonder, boundless energy, and demands for attention.”



IEET Affiliate Scholar Franco Cortese Publishes Article in International Journal of Technoethics

The Technoethical Ethos of Technic Self-Determination

This paper addresses concerns that the development and proliferation of Human Enhancement Technologies (HET) will be (a) dehumanizing and (b) a threat to our autonomy and sovereignty as individuals. The paper argues contrarily that HET constitutes nothing less than one of the most effective foreseeable means of increasing the autonomy and sovereignty of individual members of society. Furthermore, it elaborates the position that the use of HET exemplifies – and indeed even intensifies – our most human capacity and faculty: namely the desire for increased self-determination, which is referred to as the will toward self-determination. Based upon this position, the paper argues that the use of HET bears fundamental ontological continuity with the human condition in general and with the historically-ubiquitous will toward self-determination in particular. HET will not be a dehumanizing force, but will rather serve to increase the very capacity that characterizes us as human more accurately than anything else.

Full Story...
Link to International Journal of Technoethics



Joycelyn Elders Clinic at Uganda Humanist School offers Sex Education, Free Condoms, AFRIpads

by Hank Pellissier

“Joycelyn Elders Clinic” was recently launched by a USA nonprofit, to serve the 329 students attending Garama Humanist Secondary School in the village of Kisinga, in western Uganda.



Beware the Rise of Gerontocracy: Some Hard Lessons for Transhumanism, Not Least from Brexit

by Steve Fuller

Transhumanists will know that the science fiction author Zoltan Istvan has unilaterally leveraged the movement into a political party contesting the 2016 US presidential election. To be sure, many transhumanists have contested Istvan’s own legitimacy, but there is no denying that he has generated enormous publicity for many key transhumanist ideas. Interestingly, his lead idea is that the state should do everything possible to uphold people’s right to live forever. Of course, he means to live forever in a healthy state, fit of mind and body. Istvan cleverly couches this policy as simply an extension of what voters already expect from medical research and welfare provision. And while he may be correct, the policy is fraught with hazards – especially if, as many transhumanists believe, we are on the verge of revealing the secrets to biological immortality.



Transparent Smart Chargepoints and the Internet of Things

by Thijs Turèl

On the 25 of September Marcelo Rinesi published his article ‘The Price for the Internet of Things will be a vague dread of a malicious world’. With this response, I want to take on the implicit challenge he poses. How can we build an internet of things that will not fill us with dread? This article will present my ideas on a ‘transparent smart chargepoint’. Let me explain what I mean by this. ‘Chargepoint’ refers to the device that is designed for charging for electric cars. ‘Smart’ refers to the fact that the chargepoint optimizes the charging process on various variables – such as the price of electricity, the congestion on the electricity grid. ‘Transparent’ means that it is designed to be open as open as possible about the algorithms that run it.



Death and Transfiguration

by William Sims Bainbridge

In a remarkable 2012 IEET blog, “The Praxis,” Dirk Bruere introduced a quasi-religious conception of Transhumanism that not only foresaw the possibility of technological immortality for selfish individuals, but notably suggested that we have the obligation to help each other achieve eternal life, even using advanced technology as best we can to provide salvation to people who have already died:



The Community Delusion: “We” are not the world.

by Rene Milan

Over the last few decades one hears the term ‘community’ bandied about with increasing frequency.  The most quoted is in my anecdotal memory the ‘black community’.  One also often hears about the ‘gay community’ and more recently the ‘lgbt (or lgbtq) community’.



Youths and the Imperative of Humanism in Africa

by Leo Igwe

Humanism has become a necessity for Africa and for Africans particularly for young people across the region who are struggling to make sense of life and existence.  Youths are critical to any human endeavor because they are the agents of hope, continuity, change and promise. Without young people, any society or initiative will go into extinction. Without young people, there is no future for humanity. So, it is with Africa and the humanist movement in the region.



Bertrand Russell on Fearing Thought

by John G. Messerly

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. ~ Bertrand Russell



Conceivable Collaboration: 4 Examples Combining People & AI

by Daniel Faggella

Google’s recent victory against top-ranked Go player Lee Sedol marks another milestone in artificial intelligence development, and though this might be considered “old” news by today’s standard, it’s still a fresh achievement for the AI world. 



A Transhumanist Wants to be US President?

by Roland Benedikter

Unnoted by many, the transhumanist forerunner Zoltan Istvan has founded the “U.S. Transhumanist Party” and is running for U.S. president in the November 2016 election. He is touring the nation in his campaign vehicle, the “Immortality Bus,” since one of his promises is: “Do you want to live forever? Vote for me!”  Like other transhumanists, Istvan aims at opening up new political perspectives, if not even a “post-ideological” political sphere characterized by technological universalism. TLR spoke with political and social analyst Roland Benedikter about the backgrounds and the perspectives. The interview builds on previous interviews and articles of Benedikter, for example HERE and HERE.

Originally published on the Leftist Review on June 30 2016



Existential Risks Are More Likely to Kill You Than Terrorism

by Phil Torres

People tend to worry about the wrong things.

According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, 51% of Americans are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that a family member will be killed by terrorists. Another Gallup Poll found that 11% of Americans are afraid of “thunder and lightning.” Yet the average person is at least four times more likely to die from a lightning bolt than a terrorist attack.



Is America on the Verge of Civil War?

by John G. Messerly

While the idea may sound absurd, it happened just a few generations ago. The industrial north and the slave-holding, agrarian south couldn’t agree on, among other things, the extension of slavery into new states, as both sides didn’t want the other to gain a congressional voting advantage. A series of compromises over many years maintained the delicate balance, but gradually the two sides became more partisan, the rhetoric more divisive, and civil discourse eventually disappeared. Soon violence would be used to adjudicate their disputes, with the south firing the first shot. Within four years 700,000 Americans were dead, thousands more injured, homeless, widowed or orphaned. If that proportion of Americans were killed today, about 8 million Americans would die. The south thought that slavery and the lifestyle it provided were worth dying and killing for … and die and kill they did.

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