Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Rights

Sorgner @ Beyond Humanism Conf: From Humanism to Post- and Transhumanism?
September 15-18
Seoul, S. Korea


Transhumanism and the Church
September 24-26
Samford University, Birmingham, AL USA


Roux on H+ & Cyborgization @ “Transformed Body” (“Le Corps Transformé”)
October 9-10
Montpellier, France


Prisco @ Modern Cosmism Conference
October 10
NYC, NY USA


Engineering the Brain
October 15-16
Chicago, IL USA


Enhancing Understanding of Enhancement
October 27-28
Belgrade, Serbia


Anticipation
November 5-7
Trento, Italy




MULTIMEDIA: Rights Topics

Emergence, Reduction & Artificial Intelligence

Neurolaw

What is the Future of Advertising?

Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

Thync: A Mood-Altering Wearable

Does Homosexuality Make Evolutionary Sense?

The “God Helmet” Can Give You Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences

Here’s What Brian Greene’s Gut is Telling Him About Intelligent Life in the Universe

Did the Evolution of the Brain… Evolve Our Morality?

The Forgotten History of Autism

Could You Transfer Your Consciousness To Another Body?

Sleepless in the Future?

Cyborg Sex - Greg Stevens and B.J. Murphy discuss sexuality and gender in a transhumanist future

Synthetic Sex and “Being Yourself”

Chimps have feelings and thoughts. They should also have rights




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Rights Topics




The Social Fabric of a Technically Advanced Society

by Nicole Sallak Anderson

There is so much human potential. I see it everywhere I turn. Yet something seems to hold us back, ever so slightly, from actually becoming a stable species. Yes, we have come a long way, yet at this moment in time it seems we have but two choices before us, begin to cooperate and live in harmony, or destroy everything, including our planet.

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Free Will Does Not Exist - Should it be a Transhumanist Enhancement?

by Hank Pellissier

Humans Do Not Have Free Will.

I agree with that statement. So do the vast majority of today’s scientists; neurology and psychology journals increasingly define free will as “an illusion… a figment of our imagination.”

In his 1932 “My Credo” Albert Einstein wrote “I do not believe in free will.”  In the best-seller Free Will, Sam Harris declares the notion “incoherent.” Neuro-philosopher Garrett Merriam opines in an IEET interview “the notion of ‘free will’.. [is a] useless concept… I have high hopes that neuroscience will…eliminate [it]…”

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Will Transhumanism Lead to Greater Freedom?

by John G. Messerly

A friend emailed me to say that he believed that transhumanists should strive to be free, if free will doesn’t currently exist, or strive to be freer, if humans currently possess some small modicum of free will. He also suggested that becoming transhuman would expedite either process. In short he was claiming that transhumanists should desire more freedom.

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The Yuck Factor — What Planned Parenthood Smears, Homophobia, & Middle School Have in Common

by Valerie Tarico

Medical procedures and research are yucky. Good healthcare means getting over it. If religious conservatives have their way, reproductive healthcare will be dictated by the same psychology that drives middle school jokes about genitals, dead babies and poop—our instinctive squeamish reaction to things that are disgusting and shocking, especially if they relate to sex. Good thing public health advocates and medical providers have a higher set of priorities.

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The King of Weird Futures

by Rick Searle

Back in the late winter I wrote a review of the biologist Edmund O. Wilson’s grandiloquently mistitled tract-  The Meaning of Human Existence. As far as visions of the future go Wilson’s was a real snoozer, although for that very reason it left little to be nervous about. The hope that he articulated in his book being that we somehow manage to keep humanity pretty much the same- genetically at least- “as a sacred trust”,  in perpetuity. It’s a bio-conservatism that, on one level, I certainly understand, but one I also find incredibly unlikely given that the future consists of….well…. an awfully long stretch of time (that is as long as we’re wise enough or just plain lucky ). How in the world can we expect, especially in light of current advances in fields like genetics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence etc, that we can, or even should, keep humanity essentially unchanged not just now, but for 100 years, or 1000s year, 10,000s years, or even longer?

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Transhumanist Therapy II: A Century of Electronic Psychotherapy

by William Sims Bainbridge

While less controversial than it was fifty years ago, psychotherapy is an anomalous feature of modern culture, plagued by defects.  Among its shortcomings, psychotherapy has made remarkably little use of information technologies. This blog considers electronic devices to measure human emotional response, that may have been stigmatized by their use in radical religious movements, or by their origins in primitive attempts a century ago to cure neurotics.  I do not recommend simply adopting those religious or therapeutic practices, but adapting the technology to new uses.  A mentally healthy individual could employ emotion-sensing hardware to identify personal goals, consider the meaning of past events, and explore future possibilities.

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Penis 2.0: Here’s What the Penis of the Future Should Look Like

by George Dvorsky

Like our brains, the human penis hasn’t evolved in tens of thousands of years — and that’s a real shame. Our favorite male body part is capable of so much more. In consideration of pending advances in science and technology, here’s what to expect with penis 2.0.

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Altruistic Horizons: Our tribal natures, the ‘fear effect’ and the end of ideologies

by David Brin

Social thinkers long yearned for the kind of predictive power offered by universal laws of Galileo, Newton and Einstein—reductionist rules that changed our relationship with the material world, from helplessness to manipulative skill. If only similar patterns and laws were found for human nature! Might we construct an ideal society suited to decent living by all?

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Zoltan Istvan’s “Teleological Egocentric Functionalism”: An approach to viable politics?

by Roland Benedikter

The current foundation phase of “Transhumanist” politics deserves a critical discussion of the philosophical principles that implicitly underlie its new political organization. As part of the effort towards a self-critical evaluation of political transhumanism, which is undoubtedly still in a very early phase of development, this chapter discusses the philosophy drafted by the founder of the “Transhumanist Party of the USA”, Zoltan Istvan, in his bestselling novel “The Transhumanist Wager” (2013) dedicated to develop the vision of a better society. Istvan called the philosophy underlying his meta-national, if not global, vision “Teleological Egocentric Functionalism”. We discuss the achievements, contradictions and dialectics of and within this philosophy; its possible relation to realistic social policy programs; as well as the potential implications and consequences. The goal is to achieve a more considered overall discourse at the contested new ideological interface between humanism and transhumanism which could define an influential zeitgeist of our time.

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Four political futures: which will you choose?

by David Wood

Politics is being shaped by our responses to the prospect of accelerating, exponential technological change. Technosceptics deny accelerating change will occur. Technoconservatives accept that accelerating change poses radical questions, and want to stem the tide of change. Technolibertarians believe accelerating change will be for the best, and technology and capitalism just need to be left to work their wonders. Technoprogressives believe accelerating change poses serious risks as well as rewards, and that we can maximize the rewards and minimize the risks through public policy.

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IEET Audience Sees a Virtual Future for Sex

We asked the IEET audience “In the coming century will face-to-face, in-body sex be more or less common?” given tech that will encourage virtualization such as brainjacks, porn, sexbots, and electronically-mediated sex. Or will we revel in our newly young, perpetually healthy, and hormonally tweaked bodies by having a lot more face-to-face sex. The 140 of you who responded were two-to-one convinced we are headed for more virtual sex.

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If We Can Achieve Gay Marriage and Legal Pot, We Can Fix Climate Change Too

by Ramez Naam

A decade ago, it was nearly inconceivable that in 2015, gay marriage would be legal across the US and marijuana fully legal in four states plus the District of Columbia. Yet it happened. It happened because citizens who wanted change led, from the bottom up, often through citizens initiatives.

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Specifications: An engineer’s approach to upgrading politics

by Rene Milan

Politics 2.0 – what might that mean?  Like most people probably would, i immediately associated it with the numbering system commonly used in software releases, but having worked as a programmer for 30 years i could not see how this could be applied to something as complex and diffuse as politics.  However if taken as something like a cognitive metaphor i still could not clearly grasp its meaning, beyond the vague implication of improvement over Politics 1.x, presumably what humanity is struggling with today.

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Losing Your Religion in Sin City – An Interview with Sociologist Lori Fazzino

by Valerie Tarico

What do vampires and Las Vegas atheists have in common? Ethical rules, social stigma, and a hunger for community. When people think about Las Vegas, most picture some combination of gambling, burlesque, night clubs and legalized prostitution—the pleasures that earned Vegas the nickname Sin City. But when Sociologist Lori Fazzino thinks about Las Vegas, she pictures churches.

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Transhumanism – The Final Religion?

by Dirk Bruere

After several decades of relative obscurity Transhumanism as a philosophical and technological movement has finally begun to break out of its strange intellectual ghetto and make small inroads into the wider public consciousness. This is partly because some high profile people have either adopted it as their worldview or alternatively warned against its potential dangers. Indeed, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama named it “The world’s most dangerous idea” in a 2004 article in the US magazine Foreign Policy, and Transhumanism’s most outspoken publicist, Ray Kurzweil, was recently made director of engineering at Google, presumably to hasten Transhumanism’s goals.

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Book Review: Abundance—A Must Read for Any Futurist

by Nicole Sallak Anderson

Authors Peter H. Diamandis and Steve Kotler have created just about the perfect handbook when it comes to envisioning a technically advanced, democratic and thriving society. Written in 2012, this book is still an important read for anyone who’s interested in a technical future where humanity finally rises above the mire it has been tethered to for millennia.

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Evolution and Ethics

by John G. Messerly

I have been interested in the above topic since taking a wonderful graduate seminar in the subject about 30 years ago from Richard J. Blackwell at St. Louis University. Recently a friend introduced me to a paper on the topic, “Bridging the Is-Ought Divide: Life is. Life ought to act to remain so,” by Edward Gibney who argues (roughly) that the naturalistic fallacy has no force. Gibney is not a professional philosopher, but I found myself receptive to his argument nonetheless.

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Effective Altruism, GiveWell, and GiveDirectly: How to Give Money to the Poor

by Scott Jackisch

I attended the 2014 Effective Altruism Summit, and this essay describes what I learned.  

Effective Altruism is the idea that charitable giving should actually produce measurable results.  It’s an evidence-based approach that is supposedly in contrast to more conventional charities.  

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Conservatives Choose More Unwanted Pregnancy and Abortion over Better Birth Control for Teens

by Valerie Tarico

Fewer pregnant teens, fewer abortions, fewer unwed mothers, fewer single-parent families on welfare, more balanced state budgets. Sounds like a set of goals that should be common ground for anyone who cares about America’s future, right?

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Effective Altruism has Five Serious Flaws - Avoid It - Be a DIY Philanthropist Instead

by Hank Pellissier

In an earlier essay I recommended the Effective Altruism (EA) movement, the humanitarian crusade spearheaded by philosopher Peter Singer.

Today, I retract my support. Although EA’s core intention is morally commendable - donating “expendable income” to world-improving causes - there are multiple details in its strategy and organization that are sloppy, simplistic, ethically dubious and downright foolish.

It pains me to reach this conclusion. Here’s how it happened:

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The Robot Lord Scenario

by Scott Jackisch

I just finished reading Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. This is a nonfiction book in which Ford predicts that all jobs will soon be automated away, and that this will lead to an economic crash, since no one will have any money to buy anything.  I’ve written about this idea before, and Ford’s position hasn’t changed much since his previous book, Lights in the Tunnel.

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The cost of Greek austerity - what would Socrates think of this mess?

by piero scaruffi

In 2008 i was shocked to read that Lehman Brothers had accumulated a total debt of $613 billion: imagine what the world could do with that much money, money that just one firm managed to lose. At the time i was in Africa and i remember checking the GDP of African countries: i was amazed to realize that (in 2008) this amount was more than the GDP of any African country.

It is hard to believe, but in five years the money spent to save Greece from bankruptcy amounts to 350 billion euros (as calculated by the Greek statistics agency ELSTAT), which is about $400 billion.

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The Case for a Marriage-Free State

by John Danaher

The last couple of months have seen major victories for marriage equality. In May, Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage in a national referendum — the first country in the world to do so by popular vote. In June, the US Supreme court issued a landmark 5-4 decision legalising same-sex marriage throughout the United States. These were important steps toward building a fairer and more just society. If marriage is to continue to exist as a legally-recognised relationship status, then it is important that it do so in an egalitarian and inclusive manner. I don’t think anyone should doubt this.

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Child Witchcraft Accusations in Ivory Coast

by Leo Igwe

Ivory Coast is one of the countries in Africa where belief is witchcraft is widespread. A Gallup Poll found in 2010 that up to 95 percent of the populations believed in “sorciellerie” – the French word for witchcraft. This means that witchcraft is more or less a ‘national religion’. Almost everyone in the country thinks as a matter of fact, not fantasy that witchcraft is real in its conception and consequences, that people can harm others using mystical means.

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Fox News Freaks Out Over Seattle Clinics that Give Teens Better Birth Control but not Coca-Cola

by Valerie Tarico

As right wing news outlets have it, untrained government workers in Washington State are doing secret gynecological procedures on 11 year old school girls, implanting dangerous and unhealthy birth control without consent from doting parents who have no idea they are losing their daughters! Liberal priorities are so messed up that it’s easier for an 11 year old to get an IUD than a Coca-Cola at a Washington school.

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Transhumanism: there are [at least] ten different philosophical categories; which one(s) are you?

by Hank Pellissier

In Nick Bostrom’s essay, Transhumanist Values, he states in the first sentence that transhumanism is “a loosely defined movement.”  Further into the essay, he lists five “examples of currents within transhumanism.”

They are:

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Buddhism vs. Utilitarianism - two paths that seek to abolish suffering

by David Pearce

Setting aside differences of metaphysic, how closely do the core values of utilitarians/abolitionists and Buddhists coincide? If suffering and its abolition are central to life on Earth, can differences between the two traditions be resolved to questions of means, not ends?

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Humanism, Transhumanism, and Speculative Posthumanism

by John Danaher

I have recently been working my through David Roden’s book Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human. It is a unique and fascinating work. I am not sure that I have ever read anything quite like it. In the book, Roden defends a position which he refers to as speculative posthumanism. This holds, roughly, that the future we are creating through technological change could give rise to truly weird and alien forms of posthuman life.

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Our Paradoxical Economy - Courtesy of Technology and the Lack of Basic Income

by Scott Santens

The question of slowing productivity amidst rising automation

The Fall of Human Labor

The latest numbers are in, and there are now more people not working in the US as a percentage of the total population, than ever in the last 38 years. It’s being called the “new normal.”

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Longevity will lead to Overpopulation - we need to consider our options now

by Adrian Cull

At some point technology will allow us to live forever. With billionaires spending millions on research [1] and huge corporations such as Google getting in on the act, very soon we are likely to see rapid advances in life expectancy – with the ultimate aim of radical life extension. All diseases will be cured, and the cellular aging that leads to the deterioration in body and mind will be slowed and eventually reversed so that everybody can choose how long they want to live for.

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