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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Neuroethics

Cognition and Neuroethics in Science Fiction
March 20-21
Flint, Michigan, USA




MULTIMEDIA: Neuroethics Topics

Suffering & Progress in Ethics (Past & Future)

Timescales of the Hedonistic Imperative (6min 31sec)

On Wellbeing, Bliss and Happiness

Can Brain Implants Make Us Smarter?

A vote for stem cells

History of a Time to Come

The Colbert Report /w Martine Rothblatt and BINA48

Wireheading vs the Hedonistic Imperative

Singularity 1 on 1: Science is the Engine of Prosperity!

Voluntary Cybernetic Enhancement

Brain Zapping Concerns

Back To The Future In The Metaverse

Roadmap to Immortality – Cyborgization, and Cryonics

Neurogrid: Further Melding Human & Machine

10 Awesome Facts About Nanotechnology




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Neuroethics Topics




Peering into the Future: AI and Robot brains

by David Brin

In Singularity or Transhumanism: What Word Should We Use to Discuss the Future? on Slate, Zoltan Istvan writes: "The singularity people (many at Singularity University) don't like the term transhumanism. Transhumanists don't like posthumanism. Posthumanists don’t like cyborgism. And cyborgism advocates don't like the life extension tag. If you arrange the groups in any order, the same enmity occurs." 



Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (Part 4): Brain Machines

by J. Hughes

The limitations of cognitive enhancement drugs will soon be complemented and surpassed by brain machine interfaces. The most consumer accessible brain machine devices that provide some intellectual enhancement are neurofeedback and transcranial direct current stimulation.  Genetic and tissue engineering may provide avenues for at least the repair of cognitive deficits, and perhaps enhancement. Progress in actual nano-neural brain-machine interfaces, which will require advances in miniaturization, materials and nanotechnology, will enable more profound enhancement.



Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (Part 3): Pharmaceutical Cognitive Enhancement

by J. Hughes

There are limits to our ability to enhance intelligence, and the intellectual virtues, through social reform and lifestyle changes. For thousands of years we have used stimulants like caffeine, coca, qat and nicotine to boost attention. Now we have increasingly targeted drugs that improve attention, memory and learning, with fewer side effects.



Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (Part 2)

by J. Hughes

We can make the world more intelligent by reducing poverty and violence, and improving nutrition and education, and we can use exercise, diet, and life-long learning to improve our own intelligence.



IEET Fellow David Eagleman to Host PBS Series on The Brain

IEET Fellow David Eagleman has written and will host a six hour television series on The Brain for PBS.  The series will premeire in 2015, and deals with tough questions of ethics and emerging neurotechnologies.

Full Story...



Do Cognitive Enhancing Drugs Actually Work?

by John Danaher

I’ve been writing about the ethics of human enhancement for some time. In the process, I’ve looked at many of the fascinating ethical and philosophical issues that are raised by the use of enhancing drugs. But throughout all this writing, there is one topic that I have studiously avoided. This is surprising given that, in many ways, it is the most fundamental topic of all: do the alleged cognitive enhancing drugs actually work?



Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (part 1)

by J. Hughes

The ability to think clearly and make good decisions is on almost every society’s list of virtues. In this essay I discuss the debate over different aspects of intelligence, the degree to which they are shaped by genes, chemistry and society, and the role of intelligence in other virtues.



Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 3)

by J. Hughes

We can encourage empathy and compassion through social policy and individual practices. But fully realizing our capacities for empathy and compassion will require careful, nuanced neurotechnological intervention.



Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 2)

by J. Hughes

The growth of our empathetic ability may have been key for the growth of civilization, and civilization may have selected for it. Two social policies that we can implement today to further empathy are reducing inequality, and screening and treating autism and psychopathy.



Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 1)

by J. Hughes

Empathy draws on both mammalian circuits that we share with other animals and cognitive abilities that only appear to be present in our closest relatives, the great apes and and cetaceans, and ourselves.  As with happiness and self-control, there is strong evidence that differences in our capacity for compassion and empathy are tied to differences in the brain structures and neurochemistries that they depend on.



An Ethical Framework for the Use of Enhancement Drugs

by John Danaher

Debate about the merits of enhancement tends to pretty binary. There are some — generally called bioconservatives — who are opposed to it; and others — transhumanists, libertarians and the like — who embrace it wholeheartedly. Is there any hope for an intermediate approach? One that doesn’t fall into the extremes of reactionary reject or uncritical endorsement?



The Radical Plan To Phase Out Earth’s Predatory Species

by George Dvorsky

Should animals be permitted to hunt and kill other animals? Some futurists believe that humans should intervene, and solve the “problem” of predator vs. prey once and for all. We talked to the man who wants to use radical ecoengineering to put an end to the carnage. A world without predators certainly sounds extreme, and it is. But British philosopher David Pearce can’t imagine a future in which animals continue to be trapped in the never-ending cycle of blind Darwinian processes.



CBS Gives Pilot Production Commitment to Drama Based on Bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan

CBS has given a pilot production commitment to “Austen’s Razor,” a drama from Legendary Television and CBS Television Studios that’s inspired by the career of bioethics expert Arthur L. Caplan.

Full Story...
Link to CBS



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?



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.



Nanomedical Cognitive Enhancement

by Melanie Swan

Overview of Advances Articulated in Nanomedical Device and Systems Design: Challenges, Possibilities, Visions (2013) [1] This article provides an overview of the research findings related to cognitive enhancement that are presented in Nanomedical Device and Systems Design: Challenges, Possibilities, Visions (2013), an encyclopedic textbook chronicling a plethora of recent advances in myriad areas of nanotechnology and nanomedicine. The final chapter discusses progress in nanomedical cognitive enhancement, where we find ourselves in a modern era in which many technologies appear to be on the cusp – helping to resolve pathologies while also having much future potential for the augmentation of human capabilities.



MIT Robot Ethicist, Kate Darling, joins IEET as Affiliate Scholar

Dr. Kate Darling is a Research Specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab and a Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Yale Information Society Project.

Full Story...



Is It Time to Give Up on the Singularity?

by George Dvorsky

Some futurists and science fiction writers predict that we’re on the cusp of a world-changing “Technological Singularity.” Skeptics say there will be no such thing. Today, I’ll be debating author Ramez Naam about which side is right.



Obama Brain Initiative: Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s patients raise hopes

by Dick Pelletier

The DARPA-funded program launches this month at two prestige locations, UC San Francisco (UCSF) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). This $26 million, multi-institutional research was announced last October by the President as our best chance at reducing the damage caused by a wide range of brain disorders including Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's, and other dementia-related illnesses.



Consciousness Engineer Mikey Siegel Joins IEET as Affiliate Scholar

Mikey is a roboticist who is promoting the idea of Consciousness Hacking which, in the spirit of the Maker Movement, encourages people to build new tools for exploring and altering the way we think, feel and live.

Full Story...



Third International “Genetics of Aging and Longevity” Conference

by Maria Konovalenko

More than 200 participants from North America, Europe and Asia met in post-Olympic Sochi for five days this April, as world-famous anti-aging researchers exchanged ideas at the third International Conference on Genetics of Aging and Longevity. They discussed progress and remaining obstacles, in their efforts to deepen our understanding of this complex phenomenon and develop strategies for interventions.



The North Wind Doth Blow: The Past, Present and Future State of Cryonics in Canada

by Christine Gaspar

The Cryonics Society of Canada was created by Douglas Quinn in 1987. Two years prior, he became the first contracted Canadian cryonicist, and went on to be the president of the CSC (Cryonics Society of Canada), and editor of the Canadian Cryonics News [1]. One of the early ideas in cryonics circles which he advocated for was the concept of permafrost burial [2] as a low cost alternative to standard cryopreservation by using areas of northern Canada where the ground never thaws at a certain depth.



The Ethics of Suicide: A Framework

by John Danaher

In 1774, Goethe published the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. The novel consists of a series of letters from a young, sensitive artist by the name of Werther. Over the course of these letters, we learn that Werther has become involved in a tragic love triangle. He believes that in order to resolve the love triangle, some member of it will have to die. Not being inclined to commit murder, Werther resolves to kill himself. This he duly does by shooting himself in the head.



Magna Cortica

by Jamais Cascio

One of the projects I worked on for the Institute for the Future's 2014 Ten-Year Forecast was Magna Cortica, a proposal to create an overarching set of ethical guidelines and design principles to shape the ways in which we develop and deploy the technologies of brain enhancement over the coming years. The forecast seemed to strike a nerve for many people—a combination of the topic and the surprisingly evocative name, I suspect. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic Monthly wrote a very good piece on the Ten-Year Forecast, focusing on Magna Cortica, and Popular Science subsequently picked up on the story. I thought I'd expand a bit on the idea here, pulling in some of the material I used for the TYF talk.



Prof. Hawking, the AIs will BE US

by Giulio Prisco

Perhaps, as Prof. Stephen Hawking thinks, it may be difficult to “control” Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the long term. But perhaps we shouldn’t “control” the long-term development of AI, because that would be like preventing a child from becoming an adult, and that child is you.



Radical Enhancement and Perpetual Childhood

by John Danaher

This is going to be the final part in my series on Nicholas Agar’s book Truly Human Enhancement. In the most recent entry, I went through the first part of the argument in chapter 4. To briefly recap, that argument contends that radical enhancement may lead to the disintegration of personal identity (in either a metaphysical or evaluative sense).



Does radical enhancement threaten our sense of self?

by John Danaher

If we extended our lives by 200 years, or if we succeeded in uploading our minds to an artificial substrate, would we undermine our sense of personal identity? If so, would it be wiser to avoid such radical forms of enhancement? These are the questions posed in chapter 4 of Nicholas Agar’s book Truly Human Enhancement. Over the next two posts I’ll take a look at Agar’s answers. This is all part of my ongoing series of reflections on Agar’s book.



The human trek: from crude beginnings to an immortal future

by Dick Pelletier

Historians place the beginning of culture about 10,000 years ago, when our early ancestors abandoned hunter-gathering in favor of settling into communities, cultivating crops, and domesticating live stock.



Will sex workers be replaced by robots? (A Precis)

by John Danaher

I recently published an article in the Journal of Evolution and Technology on the topic of sex work and technological unemployment (available here, here and here). It began by asking whether sex work, specifically prostitution (as opposed to other forms of labour that could be classified as “sex work”, e.g. pornstar or erotic dancer), was vulnerable to technological unemployment. It looked at contrasting responses to that question, and also included some reflections on technological unemployment and the basic income guarantee.



Veridical Engagement and Radical Enhancement

by John Danaher

This is the second post in my series on Nicholas Agar's new book Truly Human Enhancement. The book offers an interesting take on the enhancement debate. It tries to carve out a middle ground between bioconservatism and transhumanism, arguing that modest enhancement (within or slightly beyond the range of human norms) is prudentially valuable, but that radical enhancement (well beyond the range of human norms) may not be.

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