Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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


MULTIMEDIA: Personhood Topics

Being Human In 100 Years

Neo - Official Teaser Trailer

Born Poor, Stay Poor: The Silent Caste System of America

Born Poor, Stay Poor: The Silent Caste System of America

The Ways That Technology Has Changed the Definition of Death

Robots Must Pay For Their Crimes!

Increase Your Productivity by Mastering Singular Focus and Mindful Meditation

Karen Levy on the Rise of Intimate Surveillance

The Future of Human-Machine Relationships, HER Movie Review

Algorithms and Online Dating Won’t Change Your Ancient Brain

How To Make A Living When Robots Take Our Jobs

Self-Awareness Is Essential in Comedy and in Life

Transhumanism for the Mind: Enlightenment for the Future of Humanity

Could the Solution to the World’s Biggest Problems Be…a Park?

Why Haven’t US Schools Changed in 150 years? Media and Political Neglect

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Le syndrome 1984 ou Gattaca

by Julien Varlin

On accuse souvent le transhumanisme d’être la porte ouverte à une société dystopique totalitaire et à des inégalités extrêmes. Et si on se trompait de cible ?

IEET Fellows Kevin LaGrandeur and John Danaher interviewed on Future of Work

Fellows Kevin LaGrandeur and John Danaher were interviewed by Future Left about the potential impact of automation and computerization on the future of the American workforce.  Their comments are included in an initiative to get theAmerican presidential to address this issue in their platforms, and their comments are also included in an article here.

Is Robust Moral Realism a kind of Religious Belief?

by John Danaher

Robust moral realism is the view that moral facts exist, but that they are not reducible to non-moral or natural facts. According to the robust realist, when I say something like ‘It is morally wrong to torture an innocent child for fun’, I am saying something that is true, but whose truth is not reducible to the non-moral properties of torture or children. Robust moral realism has become surprisingly popular in recent years, with philosophers like Derek Parfit, David Enoch, Erik Wielenberg and Russell Shafer-Landau all defending versions of it.

Liberalism’s Great Challenge: How Can We Critique Ideas while Protecting People?

by Valerie Tarico

Secular and reformist Muslims plead that we learn to tell the difference between analyzing ideas and attacking people.

When Islam is at question, members of the American Left and Right race into opposite corners. After the Orlando nightclub massacre, to cite one recent example, conservatives spewed anti-Muslim invective to the point that ordinary American Muslims were afraid to leave home.

Our emerging culture of shame

by Rick Searle

remember a speech that the novelist Tom Wolfe gave on CSPAN or some such back in the 1990s in which he said something like “Nietzsche predicted that the 20th century would be the age of ideology, and that the century after the age of morality, and I believe him” I’ve never been able to find the source of the quote, but the more the 21st century rolls on, the more I’m finding it to increasingly, frighteningly true.

Shedding Light on Peter Thiel’s Dark Enlightenment

by Rick Searle

Lately I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of deja vu, and not in the least of a good kind. The recent bout was inspired by Ben Smith’s piece for BuzzFeed in which he struggled to understand how an Ayn Rand loving libertarian like the technologist Peter Thiel could end up supporting a statist demagogue like Donald Trump. Smith’s reasoning was that Trump represented perhaps the biggest disruption of them all and could use the power of the state to pursue the singularity and flying-cars Theil believed were one at our fingertips.

IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher Publishes New Paper on Moral Enhancement

IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher has a new paper coming out in the journal Neuroethics. This one argues that directly augmenting the brain might be the most politically appropriate method of moral enhancement. This paper brings together his work on enhancement, the extended mind, and the political consequences of advanced algorithmic governance. Details below:

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Link to Neuroethics

The Movie “Spotlight”: Philosophical Reflections

by John G. Messerly

Last night I watched “Spotlight,” one of the finest films I’ve seen in years.

The film follows The Boston Globe‘s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States,[6] and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories by the “Spotlight” team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.[7] … The film … was named one of the finest films of 2015 by various publications. Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture along with Best Original Screenplay … (from Wikipedia)

Piketty on Free Higher Education and the Value of Meritocracy

by John Danaher

I have worked hard to get where I am. I come from a modest middle class background. Neither of my parents attended university. They grew up in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when the economy was only slowly emerging from its agricultural roots. I and my siblings were born and raised in the 1970s and 1980s, in an era of high unemployment and emigration. Things started to get better in the 1990s as the Irish economy underwent its infamous ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom. I did well in school and received a (relatively) free higher education, eventually pursuing a masters and PhD in the mid-to-late 2000s.

Is Death the Sculptor of Life or an Evil to be Vanquished?

by John Danaher

My friend Michael Hauskeller recently recommended a paper on It was by Davide Sisto and it was entitled “Moral Evil or Sculptor of the Living? Death and the Identity of the Subject”. I was intrigued. Longtime readers will know that I have, for some time now, been half in love with the philosophy of death. I am always keen to read a new perspective or take on the topic.

The friction between necessity and special interests

by Khannea Suntzu

Societal disparity is a hot button topic sure to arouse emotions. Those who currently have or make comparatively more money as always follow heir self-interest and stick to decennia old post cold war talking points best summarized as “anyone who works hard will eventually be successful”. This is clearly a self-validating and wealth consolidating statement and it’s completely understandable from a zero sum perspective. For the lucky few at the top of the economic food chain any compelling statement that “if most people who work hard in life will not be successful”, pretty much means that society is injust and is subject to renegotiation. And we have been at a collective consensus in western society for centuries now that for statistical majorities of the population – society must be just.

Consciousness, Reality, and the Simulation Hypothesis

by Giulio Prisco

Yesterday a post in the Turing Church Facebook group (h/t Martin C.) mentioned a Skeptico interview with filmmaker Kent Forbes, the creator of “The Simulation Hypothesis,” a recent film about the reality-as-a-sim concept, consciousness and quantum physics. Review and related thoughts below.

Skepticism and the Meaning of Life

by John G. Messerly

I received a correspondence from a reader who wonders about “the triumph of judgment over spontaneity as we emerge from childhood into adulthood and the consequent obstacle it poses for living in psychic comfort.” In other words she worries about how to reconcile “a naturally felt purposefulness and zest for life against an intellectual sense of life’s essential pointlessness and its indifference to human concerns that give rise to the recognition of absurdity.” The only consolation she experiences is with her grandchildren “as they go about engaging the world with perfect unmediated wonder, boundless energy, and demands for attention.”

IEET Fellow Stefan Sorgner’s Autobiographical Nietzschean Transhumanism in New Book

In the book mentioned below IEET Fellow Stefan Lorenz Sorgnerwas invited to autobiographically present his Nietzschean transhumanism - together with such well known thinkers like Bernard Stiegler and Jean-Luc Nancy. It is forthcoming in French in October 2016:


Link to Pourquoi Nous Somme Nietzschéens

How our police became storm troopers, redux

by Rick Searle

Give events of late I thought it relevant to re-post this piece from the summer of 2014 on the militarization of policing. Sadly, almost nothing has changed, except that my prediction that police would start using robots to kill people has come true, though in a way I certainly did not anticipate. I haven’t changed anything from the original post besides cleaning up the some of the shitty grammar and adding the mind-blowing photo by Jonathan Bachman, a freelancer for Reuters. If they have history books in 20 years time that photo will be in them.

How To Live With Doubt About Life’s Meaning

by John G. Messerly

I received a correspondence from a reader who wonders about “the triumph of judgment over spontaneity as we emerge from childhood into adulthood and the consequent obstacle it poses for living in psychic comfort.” In other words she worries about how to reconcile “a naturally felt purposefulness and zest for life against an intellectual sense of life’s essential pointlessness and its indifference to human concerns that give rise to the recognition of absurdity.” The only consolation she experiences is with her grandchildren “as they go about engaging the world with perfect unmediated wonder, boundless energy, and demands for attention.”

Joycelyn Elders Clinic at Uganda Humanist School offers Sex Education, Free Condoms, AFRIpads

by Hank Pellissier

“Joycelyn Elders Clinic” was recently launched by a USA nonprofit, to serve the 329 students attending Garama Humanist Secondary School in the village of Kisinga, in western Uganda.

Death and Transfiguration

by William Sims Bainbridge

In a remarkable 2012 IEET blog, “The Praxis,” Dirk Bruere introduced a quasi-religious conception of Transhumanism that not only foresaw the possibility of technological immortality for selfish individuals, but notably suggested that we have the obligation to help each other achieve eternal life, even using advanced technology as best we can to provide salvation to people who have already died:

The Community Delusion: “We” are not the world.

by Rene Milan

Over the last few decades one hears the term ‘community’ bandied about with increasing frequency.  The most quoted is in my anecdotal memory the ‘black community’.  One also often hears about the ‘gay community’ and more recently the ‘lgbt (or lgbtq) community’.

Youths and the Imperative of Humanism in Africa

by Leo Igwe

Humanism has become a necessity for Africa and for Africans particularly for young people across the region who are struggling to make sense of life and existence.  Youths are critical to any human endeavor because they are the agents of hope, continuity, change and promise. Without young people, any society or initiative will go into extinction. Without young people, there is no future for humanity. So, it is with Africa and the humanist movement in the region.

Is America on the Verge of Civil War?

by John G. Messerly

While the idea may sound absurd, it happened just a few generations ago. The industrial north and the slave-holding, agrarian south couldn’t agree on, among other things, the extension of slavery into new states, as both sides didn’t want the other to gain a congressional voting advantage. A series of compromises over many years maintained the delicate balance, but gradually the two sides became more partisan, the rhetoric more divisive, and civil discourse eventually disappeared. Soon violence would be used to adjudicate their disputes, with the south firing the first shot. Within four years 700,000 Americans were dead, thousands more injured, homeless, widowed or orphaned. If that proportion of Americans were killed today, about 8 million Americans would die. The south thought that slavery and the lifestyle it provided were worth dying and killing for … and die and kill they did.

Mens Health Week: One Doctor Thinks We Should Be Talking about Better Birth Control for Guys

by Valerie Tarico

Dr. Stephanie Page at the University of Washington talks about why male birth control matters.

The Centers for Disease Control declared June 13 to 19 of 2016 as “National Men’s Health Week.” If it was Women’s Health Week, media experts would be talking a lot about sexual health and, especially, how women can safeguard against ill-timed or unwanted pregnancy. But for guys, pregnancy prevention is not even on the list, which instead emphasizes sleep, tobacco, food choices, and exercise.

Imagining the Anthropocene

by Rick Searle

Almost a year ago now, while reading an article by the historian Yuval Harari in the British newspaper The Guardian, I had a visceral experience of what it means to live in the Anthropocene. Harari’s piece was about the horrors of industrial meat production, and as evidence of the scale of the monstrosity, he listed a set of facts that I had either not known, or had never taken the time to fully contemplate.

On tragedy, ethics and the human condition.

by Alex McGilvery

The shootings at the Pulse club in Orlando highlight once more just how far we humans need to go in the evolution of our ethics. People on all sides have already weighed in on how their particular way of seeing the world would have prevented the crime. Almost immediately they began talking past each other with little or no effort to hear the other side.

Does Self-Tracking Promote Autonomy? An Initial Argument

by John Danaher

Seneca was a wealthy Roman stoic and advisor to the emperor Nero. In the third of his Letters from a Stoic, entitled ‘On True and False Friendship’, he makes the following observation:

As to yourself, although you should live in such a way that you trust your own self with nothing which you could not entrust even to your own enemy, yet, since certain matters occur which convention keeps secret, you should share with a friend at least all your worries and reflections.

Pourquoi la théorie du genre effraie-t-elle encore?

by Marc Roux

La rentrée des classes en France a été particulièrement médiatisée cette année, notamment à cause de la hausse des effectifs scolaires. Mais avant même que les suppressions de postes et leurs conséquences n’eurent atteint les médias nationaux, une toute autre polémique, concernant le contenu des nouveaux programmes de SVT, avait déjà occupé le paysage médiatique et crée un débat sociétal assez peu commun.

The Monotony of Work

by John G. Messerly

I corresponded with an old friend yesterday who was communicating the tedium of his work as a software engineer. He is thankful that he earns a six-figure salary, and he understands that most people in the world would happily trade places with him, but that doesn’t change the fact that a future filled with a lifetime of coding doesn’t excite his probing and restless mind. Minds like his need stimulation, and they could contribute so much to the rest of us if they were freed to follow their interests . Moreover, while technology companies pay some of the best wages in the United States, they expect more than 40 hours of work in return, which leaves my friend with less time with his children than he would like.

Is Effective Altruism Fair to Small Donors? (Guest Post by Iason Gabriel)

by John Danaher

NOTE: This is a guest post by Iason Gabriel from St. John’s College Oxford. I recently did a series on Iason’s excellent article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’. In this post, Iason develops his counterfactual critique of effective altruism. Be sure to check out more of Iason’s work on his academia page.)

Is Effective Altruism actually Effective?

by John Danaher

(Part one; part two; part three)

This is going to be my final post on the topic of effective altruism (for the time being anyway). I’m working my way through the arguments in Iason Gabriel’s article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’. Once I finish, Iason has kindly agreed to post a follow-up piece which develops some of his views.

Is Effective Altruism Methodologically Biased?

by John Danaher

(Part One; Part Two)

After a long hiatus, I am finally going to complete my series of posts about Iason Gabriel’s article ‘Effective Altruism and its Critics’ (changed from the original title ‘What’s wrong with effective altruism?). I’m pleased to say that once I finish the series I am also going to post a response by Iason himself which follows up on some of the arguments in his paper. Let me start today, however, by recapping some of the material from previous entries and setting the stage for this one.

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