As reactions continue to race around the internet about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery – the actual discussions, not the Monday-morning quarterbacking of her decision or the utterly vile “but what about her boobies” reaction from that particular subgroup of men who manage to amaze me by their continued ability to manage basic functions like breathing – I’ve been sent links.
As we trek through the next decade, older citizens might look in the mirror and wonder, “Who is that gorgeous creature?” Their reflection would reveal a body filled with enthusiasm, sporting a dazzling smile, wrinkle-free skin, perfect vision, natural hair color, real teeth, and an amazing sharp mind and memory.
In total, Africa’s growth rate has averaged well above 5% in the past decade, after 20 difficult years of flat and often negative growth in several countries. The challenge for the continent in the coming years is whether Africa will be able to maintain these impressive growth rates, and whether future growth will be built on the types of productivity enhancements that are associated with rising living standards.
By the time you have finished reading this sentence, you will be acutely aware of the sensation of your back resting against the chair. This demonstration is used by psychology lectures to demonstrate that people are largely unaware of the vast majority of sensations that they experience. This disregard stems in part from mechanical limitations of the brain and the need to maintain a stable body image. The mechanical limitations are not germane to the topic of the paper beyond saying that the brain can only process so much incoming sensory information and it must decide which information is relevant at the moment.
In order to communicate with super intelligent beings (in this context, extraterrestrials that have figured out how travel many light years to reach our planet) we should first start with something we all share. A fundamental starting point – that is, pure consciousness.
For the purposes of this paper, I will only address one potential regulatory scheme, and only in conjunction with prosthetic enhancement available in the near future ( less than 10 years) that augments slightly, but not significantly, human biological capabilities. I will not address the convergence of technology and the regulatory scheme needed to address that.
The issue of employment has grown in prominence on national and global development agendas in recent times, given its socio-economic and political implications. Though the employment challenge has its own dimensions, it scourges countries worldwide regardless of their stage of socio-economic development. Thus, employment is currently a global policy issue.
News reports tell us that more than 500 people have now died and more than 2,500 were injured in Savar, Bangladesh, while the toll in West, Texas stands at 15 dead and over 200 injured. Behind these two disasters is a common thread of greed - and a common need for unionized resistance.
One benefit to society that neural augmentation brings is an increase in the availability of education. Websites like Wikipedia and databases of scholarly articles already give anyone with access to the Internet access to vast amounts of information on virtually any topic. Excellent schools like MIT, through their OpenCourseWare program, offer free online classes in many subjects. If the human brain is augmented as Kurzweil suggests, this educational benefit will become even more pronounced. People will be able to upload information directly into their minds, and will be able to retain vastly more information than they can now.
Warfare is no stranger to world history. It has become a byproduct of life itself, though is becoming less of a presence as greater activities emerge, i.e. new developing markets, scientific research, and exponentially growing technologies. For what’s left of warfare in our modern age is being coupled with the growing market of new advanced technologies, particularly that of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aka: drones.
Prosthetic devices have helped restore functionality in humans who suffer from diseases requiring amputation or from limbs lost in battle for over three thousand years. I will begin this paper by explaining some of that historical journey. Next, I will highlight a few of the prosthetic devices available today to demonstrate that much, but not all, of that functionality can now be restored. Then I will explain what the future of prosthetic devices might look like if they faithfully adhere to Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns.
Because of a close friend with mysterious yet serious medical problems, I’ve spent more time in hospitals over the last few months than my entire earlier life. This experience has heightened my suspicions of sanguine visions that present indefinite lifespans as within our reach. While I find these dreams as appealing as ever, I recommend transhumanists pay greater attention to social rather than technological methods for ameliorating physical frailty. Against the U.S. government’s obsessive focus on preventing spectacular violence via organized coercion, I offer freedom, equality, and community as ways to cope with vulnerability. As Wesley Strong argues, improving the human condition starts right now and doesn’t require nanotech genies.
Artificial wombs are a staple of science fiction, but could we really build one? As time passes, we’re inching closer and closer to the day when it will finally become possible to grow a baby entirely outside the human body. Here’s what we’ll need to do to pull it off.
Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee hearing on drones was not your usual droning and yammering. Well, mostly it was, but not entirely. Of course, the White House refused to send any witnesses. Of course, most of the witnesses were your usual professorial fare. But there was also a witness with something to say. Farea Al-Muslimi came from Yemen. His village had just been hit by a drone strike last week.
Corporate interests and their elected representatives have created a world of illusion in order to resist paying a decent wage to working Americans. They’d have us believe that minimum-wage workers are teens from ’50s TV sitcoms working down at the local malt shoppe.
The freedom to die in peace has been much in the news of late. When an 83-year-old man shot first his dying wife and then himself in a Pennsylvania hospice, distressed commenters speculated that local law left him with no better options. The wife was bedridden, in a unit for people who have less than six months to live, and Pennsylvania has no Death with Dignity provisions like those in Washington and Oregon.
Sometimes a science-fiction novel achieves the impossible, and actually succeeds in reaching out and grasping the future, anticipating its concerns, grappling with its possibilities, wrestling with its ethical dilemmas. H.G. Wells’ short 1886 novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, is like that. The work achieved the feat of actually being relevant to our own time at the very least because the scientific capabilities Well’s imagined in the novel have really only begun to be possible today, and will be only more so going forward. The ethical territory he identified with his strange little book ones we are likely to be increasingly called upon to chart our own course through.
The longstanding and growing concern over structural unemployment caused by automation highlights the absurdity of capitalism. Like homelessness caused by too many houses, poverty from mechanization looks perverse and nonsensical from a system-optimization standpoint. This article briefly sketches the history of both fears and hopes surrounding automated labor in order to argue against economic status quo of coercion, inequality, and inefficiency. I recommend distributing and/or socializing the twenty-first-century’s increasingly robotic means of production while simultaneously troubling sanguine post-scarcity dreams through attention to uncertainty, ecology, and pluralism.
University of Wisconsin anthropologist John Hawks recently discovered that Earth's rapid population growth played a key role in human development by supercharging our evolutionary progress. The researcher identified 1,800 gene changes that were made in ancient times when we shared our world with the Neanderthals, which was an unusually large amount for such a brief period. The new genes, many that protect us from disease, emerged as our ancestors evolved into today's humans.
It might be said that some contemporary futurists tend to use technological innovation and scientific discovery in the same way God was said to use the whirlwind against defiant Job, or Donald Rumsfeld treated the poor citizens of Iraq a decade ago. It’s all about the “shock and awe”. One glance at something like KurzweilAI.Net leaves a reader with the impression that brand new discoveries are flying off the shelf by the nanosecond and that of all our deepest sci-fi dreams are about to come true. No similar effort is made, at least that I know of, to show all the scientific and technological paths that have led into cul-de-sac, or chart all the projects packed up and put away like our childhood chemistry sets to gather dust in the attic of the human might-have- been. In exact converse to the world of political news, in technological news it’s the jetpacks that do fly we read about not the ones that never get off the ground.
As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve recently begun reading two books on the ethics of human enhancement. One of those books is called Humanity’s End and it’s by Nicholas Agar. Agar seems like an interesting character. In an earlier book he defended a liberal position on positive eugenics. This suggested he had a willingness to embrace certain forms of enhancement. And yet in this book he offers an argument against radical human enhancement. There’s not necessarily an incompatibility between the two positions, but it’s an interesting shift nonetheless.
At age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia. When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister. “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said. “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.
‘Black Mirror’ purports to be one thing - “a hybrid of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected that taps into our contemporary unease about the modern world”, and a single viewing of any episode will affirm this statement. Covering issues of privacy, mob justice, televisual spectacle, relationships in the modern age and the movement of communication, ‘Black Mirror’ ties all these strands together through our use of technology.
This is a starting point to investigate the ongoing mission of computer scientists to create AI which is self-aware and conscious. Is qualia simply materialist/physicalist information? What is going on with all the biological experiments done on people and animals?
In the summer of 1983, I was ambling along a beach in Ecuador talking and flirting with a local high school boy. We rounded a curve. The long open stretch we had been walking disappeared from sight and we were alone—or almost alone. Ahead of us on a rocky outcropping four guys sat, watching the shore. As we approached, they hopped down and sauntered toward us.