Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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


MULTIMEDIA: Personhood Topics

Ep 8: Liz Parrish, Life Extension & Reversing the Aging Process

Technology is Harming Our Relationships, and We Can Stop It

Buddhism and Robot Ethics

Sex Robots Are Coming

It’s All Fun and Games Until The Robot Wins

Otherness: Will We Meet Beings with Different Minds than Ours?

If Your Robot Commits Murder, Should You Go to Jail?

Personal Integrity, Role Alienation, and Utilitarian Moral Enhancement

We’re approaching humanity’s make or break period


Emergence, Reduction & Artificial Intelligence

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

Chimps have feelings and thoughts. They should also have rights

The Awareness

Review of EX MACHINA

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Personhood Topics

Obfuscation: protect privacy by destroying the Web!

by David Brin

Time for a return to the core issue of our time: how shall we best preserve and extend freedom?  Along with freedom’s contingent benefits, like privacy?

After Paris, can we be both safe and free?

by David Brin

Of course we are all still quivering, following the attacks in Paris last week that killed 129 people, not so very far from where my wife and I lived for a couple of years, as newlyweds during the 1990s.  Our hearts go out to the brave folk of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité in la Ville Lumiere.

Moral and Legal Imperatives for Sentient A.I. - Terasem Colloquium in Second Life Dec. 10th

by Giulio Prisco

The 2015 edition of the Terasem Annual Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic Persons, themed “Moral and Legal Imperatives for Sentient AI” will take place in Second Life – Terasem sim – on December 10, with Zoltan Istvan and Jack Sarfatti among the speakers.

Is Anyone Competent to Regulate Artificial Intelligence?

by John Danaher

Artificial intelligence is a classic risk/reward technology. If developed safely and properly, it could be a great boon. If developed recklessly and improperly, it could pose a significant risk. Typically, we try to manage this risk/reward ratio through various regulatory mechanisms. But AI poses significant regulatory challenges. In a previous post, I outlined eight of these challenges. They were arranged into three main groups. The first consisted of definitional problems: what is AI anyway? The second consisted of ex ante problems: how could you safely guide the development of AI technology? And the third consisted of ex post problems: what happens once the technology is unleashed into the world? They are depicted in the diagram above.

Platform Adoption Statement #1 of the Nevada Transhumanist Party

by Gennady Stolyarov II

The following sections are hereby added to the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform. Pursuant to Article I, Section XXV, these sections are not officially considered part of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution at this time, but shall have equivalent standing to the Platform Sections within that Constitution. It will be possible to officially amend the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution to include these statements during periodic biennial filings of Certificates of Continued Existence with the Nevada Secretary of State.

The Future Business of Body Shops

by B. J. Murphy

The following essay was originally published as a chapter for The Future of Business: Critical Insights Into a Rapidly Changing World From 60 Future Thinkers. The book was edited by Rohit Talwar and published by Fast Future Publishing.

Why it matters that you realize you’re in a computer simulation

by Eliott Edge

What if our universe is something like a computer simulation, or a virtual reality, or a video game?  The proposition that the universe is actually a computer simulation was furthered in a big way during the 1970s, when John Conway famously proved that if you take a binary system, and subject that system to only a few rules (in the case of Conway’s experiment, four); then that system creates something rather peculiar.

Will At-Home Therapeutic Miscarriage Make Abortion Clinics Obsolete?

by Valerie Tarico

At the turn of the millennium, the FDA approved a pill that could replace most abortions with early at-home therapeutic miscarriage.  When will that potential be realized?

Promising… and worrisome news

by David Brin

Don’t let the gloom industry get you down. The news isn’t all bad. Progress happens. For example…

The beauty of the holonic understanding of reality

by Enrique Lescure

The Universe can be defined in many ways. What is clear is that there are different levels of realities, which are interacting with one another. Matter is arranged in atoms, which taken together turns into molecules. These molecules arrange themselves in larger objects, such as grains of sand, rock, driplets of liquid, single-cell organisms or cells belonging to larger organisms. This diverse symphony of matter forms eco-systems which form a biosphere that constantly develops through evolution – a neverending symphony of beauty and colours.

Machine Trust Language (MTL): Human-Machine Collaboration

by Melanie Swan

Andreas Antonopoulos’s articulation of network-enforced trust primitives (Oct 2015, Feb 2014) could be extended more broadly into the concept of Machine Trust Language (MTL). While blockchains are being popularly conceived as trust machines, and as a new mode of creating societal shared trust, Andreas addresses how at the compositional level, this trust is being generated. The key idea is thinking in terms of a language of trust, of its primitives, its quanta, its elemental pieces, its phonemes, words, and grammar that can be assembled into a computational trust system.

H.P. Lovecraft and the Horror of the Posthuman

by Rick Searle

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.

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The Ethics of Commercial Surrogacy: Gender Inequality Arguments

by John Danaher

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).

Hey Humans—Robots Are NOT Better Than You!

by Nicole Sallak Anderson

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? 

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Taxing Sugar Products to Elevate Brain Health

by Steven Umbrello


Although the overall trends regarding the consumption of added sugars as decreased from 1999-2007, the overall mean intake of added sugars continues to be an area of concern as they exceed the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on recommended intake. Numerous studies show the necessity of sugar on the brains function, however socio-cultural factors, which lead to overconsumption on added sugars, contribute to devastating health consequences.

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The Space of Mind Designs and the Human Mental Model

by Roman Yampolskiy

The following essay is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my recently published book, Artificial Superintelligence

2.1 Introduction

In 1984, Aaron Sloman published “The Structure of the Space of Possible Minds,” in which he described the task of providing an interdisciplinary description of that structure. He observed that “behaving systems” clearly comprise more than one sort of mind and suggested that virtual machines may be a good theoretical tool for analyzing mind designs.

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Seven Ways Racism Is Built In

by David Swanson

1. Wealth Gap: The playing field is not level. The median wealth of a white household in the United States is over 13 times that of a black household, and the gap is widening. Most black households have less than $350 in savings. It takes money not just to make money but to get a start, to live near good schools, to live free of lead paint poisoning, or to address the special needs that every person has.

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The Politics Of Gay Marriage In Nigeria

by Leo Igwe

President Muhammad Buhari has stated during his recent visit to the US that his government would not consider decriminalizing gay marriage in Nigeria. Well, that did not come to me as a surprise because President Buhari is a hardline conservative muslim whom I think would be unwilling to support any legislative or policy change that is not compatible with sharia law.

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Do Extraterrestials Philosophize?

by Rick Searle

The novelist and philosopher R. Scott Bakker recently put out a mind blowing essay on the philosophy of extraterrestrials, which isn’t as Area 51 as such a topic might seem at first blush.  After all, Voltaire covered the topic of aliens,  but if a Frenchman is still a little too playful for your philosophical tastes, recall that Kant thought the topic of extraterrestrial intelligence important to cover extensively as well, and you can’t get much more full of dull seriousness than the man from Koeningsberg.

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Iron Man and the Modern Identity Crisis

by Micah Redding

A year ago, I was traveling across the world. I had just moved out of my house, taken a leave of absence from my part-time job, and left without a lot of money or a good sense of whether I would be employed when I got back.

I slept on hard floors, in hostels, on couches, and in rooms that were built on rooftops. I went without warm showers for a long time. I hiked up into the mountains of Nepal, witnessed the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution firsthand, and tried to figure out what to do when a street fight broke out around me in Moscow.

And when I came back, I was changed.

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Why Are Conservative White Males Forcing More Abortions and Births on Poor Brown Women?

by Valerie Tarico

What do conservative politicians want even more than balanced budgets or an end to abortion?

When Republicans in Colorado pulled the plug on America’s most successful teen pregnancy prevention program,  they told the world something about themselves and their political kin: Conservatives may talk about ending abortion or balancing state budgets, but there’s something they want more. This point has been underscored by the latest spliced-video smear campaign against Planned Parenthood that, if successful, will defund every service Planned Parenthood provides except abortion.

So what are conservatives really after?

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by Adrian Cull

The new television show Humans raises some important ethical questions for a not-too-distant future society where human-looking domestic robots are commonplace. The 8 part series, shown on AMC in the US and Channel 4 in the UK, is based on the Swedish series Äkta människor (“Real Humans”) and is set in modern day London with the only discernible difference being that a company is manufacturing and selling “synths” – multi-purpose robots designed to look like humans and work as direct replacements for them. The drama tackles a wide range of questions from how synths would be treated and their impact on society, alongside the main story line of what happens if the artificially intelligent humanoids gain true self awareness and consciousness.

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The TV Series Humans: A Deep Look into Our Humanity

by Nicole Sallak Anderson

I recently binge watched my first TV series, Humans, which airs Sunday nights on AMC. As a science fiction writer myself, many people have been suggesting I check it out for weeks now. Finally I gave in, sat down on the couch, and watched the first six episodes over the course of two days. Not bad for a mother of two. And now I have to wait two whole days to see what happens next!!!!!

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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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When Is A Minion Not A Minion? - Should We Create Aware Machines?

by Aubrey de Grey

If asked to rank humanity’s problems by severity, I would give the silver medal to the need to spend so much time doing things that give us no fulfillment—work, in a word. I consider that the ultimate goal of artificial intelligence is to hand off this burden, to robots that have enough common sense to perform those tasks with minimal supervision.

But some AI researchers have altogether loftier aspirations for future machines: they foresee computer functionality that vastly exceeds our own in every sphere of cognition. Such machines would not only do things that people prefer not to; they would also discover how to do things that no one can yet do. This process can, in principle, iterate—the more such machines can do, the more they can discover.

What’s not to like about that? Why do I NOT view it as a superior research goal than machines with common sense (which I’ll call “minions”)?

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Human Rights for Cyberconscious Beings

by Martine Rothblatt

Even if they aren’t flesh, “mindclones” deserve protection.

For much of the 20th century, capital punishment was carried out in most countries. During the preceding century many, like England, had daily public hangings. Today, even Russia, with a mountainous history of government-ordered executions, has a capital-punishment moratorium. Since 1996, it has not executed a criminal through the judicial system.

If we can learn to protect the lives of serial killers, child mutilators, and terrorists, surely we can learn to protect the lives of peace-loving model citizens known as mind clones and bemans—even if they initially seem odd or weird to us.

excerpt from Virtually Human: The Promise and Peril of Digital Immortality

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Scientists Make Monkeys Smarter Using Brain Implants - Could You Be Next?

by George Dvorsky

For the very first time, scientists have demonstrated that a brain implant can improve thinking ability in primates. By implanting an electrode array into the cerebral cortex of monkeys, researchers were able to restore — and even improve — their decision-making abilities. The implications for possible therapies are far-reaching, including potential treatments for cognitive disorders and brain injuries.

But there’s also the possibility that this could lead to implants that could boost your intelligence.

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Thoughts on Lauritzen’s “Stem Cells, Biotechnology, and Human Rights”

by John G. Messerly

Any reader of this blog knows that I am a transhumanist; I believe in using technology to overcome all human limitations. What follows is a summary of an article by Paul Lauritzen, a Professor Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic, Jesuit John Carroll University near Cleveland Ohio. I believe his argument worthless, and contrary to everything I believe in, but I will summarize it as best I can. As I proceed I will provide a few parenthetical comments, as well as a few critical remarks at the end.

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The Problem of Personal Identity in Two Pages

by John G. Messerly

The problem – Is a person the kind of thing that can die on earth and be alive somewhere else? To understand this consider a thought experiment. If we make a perfect copy of you—complete with your thoughts and memories—is that copy really you or just a duplicate? (If you think the copy is you, then the waking up in heaven scenario is not problematic; if you think it’s just a copy, then the thing that wakes up in heaven isn’t you.)

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A New York Judge Has Granted Legal Person Rights To Chimpanzees (Updated)

by George Dvorsky

For the first time in U.S. history, a supreme court has granted a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of two lab chimpanzees, effectively recognizing them as legal persons. While the future of the chimps has not yet been decided, it’s a huge step forward in establishing personhood status for highly sapient animals.

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