Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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


MULTIMEDIA: Biosecurity Topics

Terrorists Might Be Dumb, but They’re Tech-Savvy

The Abundance of Solar Energy

Will technology’s dark side eclipse humanity’s bright future?

We Can Now Edit Our DNA. But Let’s Do it Wisely

Automating Science: Panel at Philosophy of Science

3-D Printing Guns, Drugs, and DNA Weapons: Organized Crime Is Being Decentralized

Mars is the Next “New World,” And We’ll Set Foot on it Soon.


Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio

What is the Future of Synthetic Meat?

Let’s kick oil while the price is down

Molecular and Cellular Damage as the Cause of the Diseases of Aging (1:20min)

Regulating a Damage Repair Approach to Cure the Diseases of Aging (55min)

Interview on Robot Overlordz: Tech Unemployment and Enhancement

The Need for Cognitive Privacy

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Biosecurity Topics

Nuclear Waste Pollution is an Existential Risk that Threatens Global Health

by Margaret Morris

Deadly environmental pollution has become an existential risk that threatens the prospect for the long-term survival of our species and a great many others. Here we will focus on the nuclear waste aspect of the problem and ways to mitigate it before there is a critical tipping point in our global ecosystem.

As philosopher Nick Bostrom said in his 2001 paper titled “Existential Risks,” published in the Journal of Evolution and Technology, “Our future, and whether we will have a future at all, may well be determined by how we deal with these challenges.”1

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Review of Phil Torres’ The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse

by John G. Messerly

Phil Torres’ new book The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us about the Apocalypse, is one of the most important books recently published. It offers a fascinating study of the many real threats to our existence, provides multiple insights as to how we might avoid extinction, and it is carefully and conscientiously crafted.

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Why I’m Starting the First AngelList Cleantech Syndicate

by Ramez Naam

I’ve been writing and speaking about the incredible pace of solar, wind, and storage for years. I’ve been quietly investing in startups in that space as well.

Today I’m taking a new step: I’m launching an AngelList Syndicate specifically focused on investing in clean energy technology. If you’re an angel investor, I invite you to come join me.

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Introducing the Subfield of Agential Riskology

by Phil Torres

The field of Existential Risk Studies has, to date, focused largely on risk scenarios involving natural phenomena, anthropogenic phenomena, and a specific type of anthropogenic phenomenon that one could term “technogenic.” The first category includes asteroid/comet impacts, supervolcanoes, and pandemics. The second encompasses climate change and biodiversity loss. And the third deals with risks that arise from the misuse and abuse of advanced technologies, such as nuclear weapons, biotechnology, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence.

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‘I’m Glad the Future Doesn’t Need Us’ - Bill Joy’s Pessimistic Futurism

by John G. Messerly

In his well-known piece, “Why the future doesn’t need us,” Bill Joy argues that 21st century technologies—genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology (GNR)—will extinguish human beings as we now know them, a prospect he finds deeply disturbing. I find his arguments deeply flawed and critique each of them in turn.

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A New Doomsday Argument

by Phil Torres

I want to elaborate briefly on an issue that I mentioned in a previous article for the IEET, in which I argue (among other things) that we may be systematically underestimating the overall probability of annihilation. The line of reasoning goes as follows:

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Transcending Overpopulation With a Bionic Future

by B. J. Murphy

Recently, in response to the article, “Humai’s Vision of the World of Tomorrow,” I was asked an excellent question by Jaspreet Saluja; he asked: Why would the govt. want to allow HUMAI, given the unsustainable population that it will bring given that nobody dies?

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Pulp Ethics Exponential tech needs exponential ethics

by Nicoletta Iacobacci

Numerous innovations have the potential to dramatically augment human cognition and capabilities. They could magnify the economy and give rise to other, even more powerful technologies. Our response to this is crucial.

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Is Cheap Oil a Bad Thing?

by David Brin

I cannot understand the markets’ panic over lower oil prices.  Sure, it hurts if you own Exxon or drilling-fracking services companies, or work for one, or if you are Saudi or Venezuela or Russia or Iran.  But for most of the world, it amounts to a spectacular tax cut and cost discount for all manufacturers, transportation and consumers of almost anything. See this article on much cheaper airline deals

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#1: Seven Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World Forever

by Gray Scott

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on September 29, 2015,  and is the #1 most viewed of the year.

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#12: Bad luck and cancer; did the media get it wrong?

by Andrew Maynard

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on January 3, 2015, and is the #12 most viewed of the year.

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Confronting Future Catastrophic Threats to Humanity

by Seth Baum

This is the introductory editorial to the Futures special issue.  It was co-written with Bruce E. Tonn.

Humanity faces a range of threats to its viability as a civilization and its very survival. These catastrophic threats include natural disasters such as supervolcano eruptions and large asteroid collisions as well as disasters caused by human activity such as nuclear war and global warming. The threats are diverse, but their would-be result is the same: the collapse of global human civilization or even human extinction.

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Responses to catastrophic AGI risk: a survey

by Roman Yampolskiy


Many researchers have argued that humanity will create artificial general intelligence (AGI) within the next twenty to one hundred years. It has been suggested that AGI may inflict serious damage to human well-being on a global scale (‘catastrophic risk’).

After summarizing the arguments for why AGI may pose such a risk, we review the fieldʼs proposed responses to AGI risk. We consider societal proposals, proposals for external constraints on AGI behaviors and proposals for creating AGIs that are safe due to their internal design.

(This report was co-written with IEET contributing writer Kaj Sotala)

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#15: Split the Earth: 50% for Humans, 50% for Protected Biodiversity Zones

by Alex Lightman

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on June 21, 2015, and is the #15 most viewed of the year.

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Why Steven Pinker’s Optimism About the Future of Humanity is Misguided

by Phil Torres

It’s easy to be seduced by the news headlines into thinking that the world is going to hell. The Syrian war is an international tangle of state and non state actors, some of whom are genuinely motivated by apocalyptic narratives in which they see themselves as active participants. In fact, a growing number of observers have suggested that the Syrian conflict could be the beginning of a Third World War. Here in the US, there are daily mass shootings, campus rapes, racial discrimination, and police brutality, to name just a few causes for moral alarm. In Europe, the past month has seen multiple terrorist attacks in Paris and London and the worst refugee crisis since World War II. And so on.

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Hacktivism: The 21st Century Solution to Communications Disruption

by Nicole Sallak Anderson

My father went to Vietnam. As an ROTC member in college, he had no choice—serve or go to prison. Not being a fan of prison, he went. My father was also an electrical engineer and lifelong ham radio hobbyist. As a result, when he arrived in the hot, sweaty jungles of Vietnam he wasn’t sent to the front line, instead he was assigned to building the communications towers that would keep the US army and its allies connected throughout the war.

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?

In the LA Review of Books, Internet Privacy: Stepping Up Our Self-Defense Game, Evan Selinger reviews a slim book—Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest, by Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum.

Technoprogressive Political Platform for the USA

by Ben Goertzel

This year we’ve seen a flurry of activity at the intersection of transhumanism and contemporary politics – the emergence of Transhumanist Parties in several different countries, and Zoltan Istvan’s controversial, mostly theatrical run for US President (see this article for a brief summary of some of the controversy). 

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Approaching Zero: How West Africa is Crushing the Ebola Epidemic

by George Dvorsky

The West African Ebola outbreak is finally starting to approach manageable levels, after nearly 18 excruciating months and over 11,000 lost lives. Here’s what the current situation on the ground looks like and how the battle against Ebola finally might be won.

This is the largest and longest Ebola outbreak in human history. At its peak, there were 950 confirmed cases each week, prompting fears of a global pandemic. Officials have reported 28,421 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Of these, some 11,300 people have died — a fatality rate of 40%. A total of 881 healthcare workers have been infected; of those, 513 died.

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Creating Human-Friendly AGIs and Superintelligences: Two Theses

by Ben Goertzel

I suppose nearly everyone reading this blog post is already aware of the flurry of fear and excitement Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has recently stirred up with his book Superintelligence, and its theme that superintelligent AGI will quite possibly doom all humans and all human values.   Bostrom and his colleagues at FHI and MIRI/SIAI have been promoting this view for a while, and my general perspective on their attitudes and arguments is also pretty well known.

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Phil Torres Establishes X-Risks Institute

What will the future look like? The further upwards one moves from the basement domain of physics, the harder it often gets to predict long-term trends. Nonetheless, we have some fairly good clues about what to expect moving forward.

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The Future of Artificial Intelligence – Separating Facts from Fictions

by Daniel Faggella

The news is a tough nut to crack in today’s over-stimulated and often sensational, media-driven world. This is true more than ever in the coverage of artificial intelligence (AI). Many of us are not sure if AI is going to wake up any moment and wreak insidious havoc, taking over or destroying society as we know it.

Dr. Andras Kornai is all about separating AI fact from fiction.

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The Depopulation Time Bomb

by Michael Lee

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?

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Guns vs Cameras - which are “equalizers” that can prevent tragedy?

by David Brin

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.

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Existential Risks Now to Yield AI Enrichment, Not Destruction

by Daniel Faggella

With a BA in Philosophy, Mathematics, and Artificial Intelligence, plus a PhD in Philosophy, Nick Bostrom is uniquely qualified to consider what happens at the junction of humanity and

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Do Robotic Cars Dream of Electric Sheep?

by David Orban

Google’s robotic cars learn from each other when they are back in the garage, and train in simulated worlds at an accelerated pace. Our future will be inhabited by smart machines using their time much differently than we do.

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IEET Co-Founder Nick Bostrom sets out threats from future technologies at UN meeting

IEET co-founder Nick Bostrom briefed a UN committee about the national and international security risks posed by artificial intelligence and other future technologies at a UN event last week.

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Gun Control’s MP3 Moment

by Jamais Cascio

Reading the continued, ongoing arguments about gun regulations (“reasonable” or otherwise) is frustrating. Not only for the usual reasons (absolutist positions, inability to recognize multi-causal phenomena, relentless hostility towards different opinions, etc.), but because of how incredibly irrelevant it is becoming. 3D-printable firearms are already here, and becoming increasingly reliable. Every gun control law in the world is obsolete.


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How Nature Plays the Lottery

by James Cross

Rick Searle has a post Life: Inevitable or Accident?  where he discusses the somewhat contrasting ideas of Jeremy England and Henry Gee. I touched a little on Jeremy England in a post here.

England’s idea seems to be that the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes life inevitable. He has been quoted as saying that “You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant.”

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Seven Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World Forever

by Gray Scott

When someone asks me what I do, and I tell them that I’m a futurist, the first thing they ask “what is a futurist?” The short answer that I give is “I use current scientific research in emerging technologies to imagine how we will live in the future.”

However, as you can imagine the art of futurology and foresight is much more complex. I spend my days thinking, speaking and writing about the future, and emerging technologies. On any given day I might be in Warsaw speaking at an Innovation Conference, in London speaking at a Global Leadership Summit, or being interviewed by the Discovery Channel. Whatever the situation, I have one singular mission. I want you to think about the future.

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