In graduate school I was warned not to touch anything to do with homosexuality or transgenderism. By that time I had learned that graduate school and high end science was not the open-minded inquiry I had expected. I was, however, convinced then that most transexuals were in part biologically female.
What is universal prosperity? My idea of universal prosperity is that we can lift the living standards of everyone to a really decent level within the next decades. This “prosperity” life standard would include the following:
Robotics promise to enhance human capabilities beyond our imagination, but for whom? Industrialized societies are becoming more unequal, which is bad for our health, our democracies and our economic vitality. One of the culprits in growing inequality is technological innovation. So we should be very concerned about whether the acceleration of emerging technologies, such as robotics and human cyborgization, will make our societies even more unequal.
The main problem with any proposed religious answer to the question of the meaning of life is that, in general, religious beliefs are probably false. After all, there is no convincing evidence for the gods, an afterlife, or other supernatural phenomena that persuades most philosophers. (Only a small minority of professional philosophers are theists.)
Most boundaries have their origin in our fears, imposed in a vain quest of isolating what frightens us on the other side. The last two centuries have been the era of eroding boundaries, the gradual disappearance of what were once thought to be unassailable walls between ourselves and the “other”. It is the story of liberation the flip-side of which has been a steady accumulation of anxiety and dread.
In early 2014, Richard Loosemore published a paper called “The Maverick Nanny with a Dopamine Drip: Debunking Fallacies in the Theory of AI Motivation“, which criticized some thought experiments about the risks of general AI that had been presented. Like many others, I did not really understand the point that this paper was trying to make, especially since it made the claim that people endorsing such thought experiments were assuming a certain kind of an AI architecture – which I knew that we were not.
The recent news that womb transplants will be trialled in the UK has sparked much debate regarding the desirability of this and other future infertility interventions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea of artificial wombs has been brought into this discussion, complete with the usual concerns about women’s reproductive liberty.
The political left has long been oriented toward the future. This is clear in its revolutionary ethos: the utopia of the revolutionary is, after all, always just around the corner. But in orienting itself toward the future, the left has not always been actively futurist in its outlook. Many leftists are uncomfortable with technology and science, viewing them as insidious and malign capitalistic projects. As a result, their utopian dreams often end up looking to a mythic historical Golden Age for inspiration.
For the rest of this article I assume a model which I see as suboptimal – but realistic – conservative compromise:
Almost all social security policies get slashed in favour of a sufficient UBI.
Consumption taxes and income taxes are both increased so much that they can cover any additional cost that a sufficient UBI would impose.
Land value taxation and social dividends are not used to finance the UBI, even though that might be seen as preferred solution.
There is something new and fundamental happening in the world which could be the start of the next enlightenment period. The core of this is shifting from centralized to decentralized models in all aspects of our lives, both individual and societally.
This is a follow-up to my previous post on Debra Satz’s analysis of commercial surrogacy. In that post, I reviewed three classic objections to surrogacy and presented some of Satz’s critiques of those objections. As I mentioned, this was a ground-clearing exercise. Although Satz’s thinks that the traditional objections are flawed, she is not herself a supporter of commercial surrogacy (to be precise, she is not a supporter of ‘contract pregnancy’, which makes the target and conclusion of her arguments less clear — I’ll return to this point below).
I generally avoid political issues in this blog, but there are a number of very disturbing trends in American politics today that demand attention. The reason for that attention is simple. As both Plato and Aristotle reasoned long ago, one cannot have a good life without a good government; without a good government, few of us will be able to live well.
The more means by which people can act the easier attack becomes and the harder defense becomes.
It’s a simple matter of complexity. The attacker only needs to choose one line of attack, the defender needs to secure against all of them. This isn’t just true of small thermal exhaust ports, it’s true in our software ecosystems today and any other system with many dimensions of movement.
Complexity, more degrees of freedom within a system, allow for greater attack surface. When they can come not just from all points on the compass but from above and below as well.
Let’s say you have an spare bedroom and you need some extra income. What do you do? You do more of what you’ve trained for, in an environment with the capital and tools to do it best. Anything else only makes sense if the economy is badly screwed up.
In this article series I present two different versions of a universal basic income (UBI). The first two parts are about a moderate UBI that aims to cover basic living expenses. As short-term goal I propose experimentation with this moderate concept with the medium-term goal to implement it on the national level. It does not matter much which nation is meant exactly, because the logic of the UBI will be basically the same for all nations.
Le robot que vous pouvez voir ci-contre se nomme Baxter. Développé par la start-up Rethink Robotics , il a pour ambition de remplacer les humains dans des tâches industrielles simples. Son atout ? La polyvalence. Les robots industriels classiques ne savent effectuer que quelques tâches ultra-spécialisées.
At the IEET and Brighter Brains conference this past weekend in Oakland, CA, I had the pleasure of meeting an older man who had thought a lot about the future—and he was very afraid. Science, he said, was going to destroy us. And worse, when robots are better than us, what is the purpose of the human being?
Around the 5th century B.C.E. the Greek polis of Athens, which would become one of the largest empires of the Mediterranean, instated what was a very novel and advanced system of government. Coming from the Greek word Demokratia, which refers to the entirety of the citizen body, the Athenians created the first real sophisticated direct democracy. This form of democratic governance differed considerably from contemporary systems. The Athenian system provided “equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participate directly in the political arena”. However, this distribution of political power only applied to the free male citizen body that was of legal age (18 years).
Sometimes atheist Transhumanists ask me, “What do imaginary sky masters have to do with Transhumanism?” Of course there’s an appeal to ridicule in the question, so it’s not exactly a shining model of rational engagement. But underlying the ridicule is a real question worth addressing. Here’s my answer:
There is a serious shortage of kidney donors throughout the developed world. This has obvious consequences for people with severe kidney disease. I’ll use my home country of Ireland as an example. According to one 2009 study, which covered the period 2000-2005, the average waiting time for someone on the transplant list was 8-15 months (with waiting times varying considerably depending on blood type). According to more recent figures from the Health Service Executive’s webpage, the average waiting time is two years, and at present there are over 650 people on the waiting list .
The future of nations is not written in the stars but in their demographics. In particular, a futurist can study national fertility rates, urbanisation trends and the age structure of population groups to get a picture of a country’s long-term future.
Remarkable polymath Benjamin Franklin was one of the founding fathers of America and, back in the 1770s, he enjoyed unbridled optimism about the future of his nation, which at the time was still overwhelmingly rural and comparatively “backward”. Why, then, was his prognosis so rosy?
The most recent mass-shooting tragedy sets into stark contrast two national misfortunes. At surface, they seem similar—crazed gunmen opening fire on citizens and lethal misbehavior by a minority of bad cops. But in several important ways, the trends are diametrically opposite.
Thanks to Luke Robert Mason, I’ve now got up to speed on the controversy surrounding Zoltan Istvan’s candidacy for the US Presidency in 2016. Istvan is a Columbia philosophy and religion graduate and author of the science fiction book, The Transhumanist Wager. But he is perhaps nowadays best known from driving a coffin-shaped bus across the United States to dramatize his primary policy commitment – namely, that the US government should work towards extending the life expectancy of its citizens indefinitely.
Birth control options for men lag behind options for women by almost a century. Can changing attitudes and a new generation of researchers change that? Maybe.
Three state-of-the-art birth control methods for women have annual pregnancy rates below1 in 500, and the user doesn’t have to think about them for years at a time. By contrast, the best option available to men (short of sterilization) has an annual pregnancy rate of about 1 in 6 and has to be rolled onto an erect penis during each sexual encounter. A new generation of researchers would like to change that—but change takes money.
In most of the western world we have a prevailing societal model of self-reliance and personal responsibility. It’s easy to see the limitations of this model – people get old and sick, most people have emotional or other vulnerabilities and significant periods in our life we are just unable to protect ourselves.
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