Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Enablement

Humans, Machines, and the Future of Work Conference
December 5-6
Rice University, Houston, Texas




MULTIMEDIA: Enablement Topics

When we design for disability, we all benefit

How college loans exploit students for profit

Work/Life Balance Is a Non-Issue If You Find Your Purpose

Is Your To Do List Functioning As Mood Repair or Enhancing Your Productivity?

Poverty Is a Threat to Democracy

How We Fail Non-traditional Students

The Future of Making Babies

Automate Now? Robots, Jobs and Universal Basic Income A Public Debate

The Digital Economy Should Be about Capital Creation, Not Extraction

Algorithms: Killing Jobs, Narrowing Our Personalities

Hackers Will Be Tempted by Cyborg Vulnerabilities

The Rise of A.I., Shifting Economies, and Corporate Consciousness Will Define the Future

Building Better Humans

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus

Cyborg Buddha – IEET’s James Hughes on Transhuman Enlightenment and Basic Income




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What is Transhumanism today in France?

by Marc Roux

This is a translation of a presentation by the Association Française Transhumaniste - Technoprog! on “What is Transhumanism today in France.” Technoprog! encourages the development of and promotes reflection on technologies that improve and greatly extend the life of individuals and of mankind. In our opinion, transhumanism should ensure that enhancement technologies are not restricted to a minority of the wealthy and that citizens are alerted to possible abuses of technology, so that an informed citizenry can master the technology and not be controlled by it.



Transgenic Animals and the Future

by Brenda Cooper

This is part three of three.  Now that I’ve listed some of the ways humans use animals (traditional and GM) and talked about ethics, I want to cover some reasons we may need GMO animals in the future.  I want to remind readers that the highest ground is almost certainly to use conservation and respect to maintain a healthy ecosystem, to rely on care instead of test tubes.



83 years of technology advances; but best yet to come

by Dick Pelletier

Eighty three years is a mere blink in history’s eye, but since my birth, October 26, 1930, I’ve watched many technology advances and medical research breakthroughs take place; some that have altered the way we live.



The Open Information Revolution

by Roberta Scarlett

Information and knowledge have been both feared and sought in the past.  New information brings change, and change is often met with fear and resistance.  In the past books were burned by the church and new technology destroyed by Luddites.  The change that new information and knowledge brought was often regarded as threat to established interests. But inevitably with time, it brings benefits for all.  New information changes our perception of ourselves, others and our environment.  It breeds ideas and solutions for the obstacles we face and creates a positive feedback loop which is the driving force behind progress.



No, Extreme Human Longevity Won’t Destroy the Planet

by George Dvorsky

It’s only a matter of time before humanity solves the aging problem. And resistance to radical life extension has already begun, driven by fears of overpopulation and the exhaustion of our planet’s resources. Here’s why the critics are wrong.



Medical technologies could provide indefinite lifespan by 2030, experts say

by Dick Pelletier

While doctors and nurses will continue to treat patients, software programs will take up a growing share of the work. In a new technology-driven area, home-based software will monitor patients and provide daily advice. When patients are not feeling well, they will run their symptoms by the software and get automatic prognoses on what might be ailing them and whether an appointment with a human doctor is necessary.



Improvements in Prenatal Genetic Testing Raise Ethical Issues

by R. J. Crayton

A new study spearheaded at Columbia University aims to provide parents with more information about their unborn children—including potential abnormalities and genetic defects. Spread across 10 different research hospitals that plan to secure 1,000 women each to participate, knowledge gained from the study will contribute to the ethical dialogue surrounding what parents do with more prenatal testing data.



Documentary Featuring IEET’s J. Hughes on Smithsonian Channel

The cover article in Smithsonian magazine for September was “The Insane and Exciting Future of the Bionic Body,” which is a teaser for the documentary Bionic Man that will air on the Smithsonian Channel October 20. The documentary features a number of segments with IEET Executive Director J. Hughes discussing the social and ethical implications of bionic replacement parts.

Full Story...



Personhood: Revisiting the Hierarchy of “Ender’s Game” to expand the circle

by Jønathan Lyons

For the consideration of which beings qualify as persons, I suggest that the bar be set higher than that of mere sentience: a conscious life; intelligence; and the capability of abstract thought — that is, the process of using one’s mind to consider something carefully. ... A Hierarchy of Exclusion is a tool whose very name tells us that it is designed to keep some out of a privileged status for moral consideration; but our purpose here is inclusion. So let’s upend Card’s hierarchy.



The 21st Century: a global civilization heads for the stars

by Dick Pelletier

A recent UN State of the Future Report projects that by 2100, world population will total 9 billion, just 2 billion more than today. But the report did not account for radically increased life spans. Many forward thinkers, including this writer, believe that today’s biotech efforts with stem cell therapies and genetic engineering techniques, combined with molecular nanotech breakthroughs (the much hyped nanorobots whizzing through our veins), will provide a radical extension of human life.



Humans Are Already More “Enhanced” by Technology Than We Realize

by Evan Selinger

Time recently ran a cover story titled, “Can Google Solve Death?” The wording was a bit much, as the subject of the piece, Google’s new firm Calico, has more modest ambitions, like using “tools like big data to determine what really extends lives.” But even if there won’t be an app for immortality any time soon, we’re increasingly going to have to make difficult decisions about when human limits should be pushed and how to ensure ethics keeps pace with innovation.



Mind Controlled Prosthetic Legs and Exoskeletons

by John Niman

Doctors fitted the first mind-controlled prosthetic leg onto Zac Vawter recently. I posed earlier this year about prosthetic limbs, and noted that mind controlled prosthetic hands are also available. 



The Falling Sky: A Different Sort of Science Fiction

by Rick Searle

Rebecca Rosen over at the Atlantic has a fascinating recent article about how the MIT Media Lab is using science-fiction to help technologists think through the process of design. Not merely to think up new gadgets, but to think iteratively and consciously about the technologies they are creating to try and prevent negative implications from occurring before a technology is up and running. A fascinating idea that get us beyond the endless dichotomy of those who call for relinquishment and those urging, risks be damned, full-steam ahead.



Of Dogs and Disabilities

by J. Hughes

The new documentary Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement explores the difficult relationship of human enhancement and the disability movement. It is interesting and generally well balanced. But there is one brief clip of me from a television debate which apparently leaves audiences gasping. It is one in which I appear to compare people with disabilities to dogs. I really didn’t, and was actually making a substantially different point quite contrary to the filmmaker’s tortured attempt to link transhumanism to 1930s eugenics.

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Handicapped Liberation

by Tsvi Bisk

The technological revolution gives us an opportunity to view questions of social justice differently. One example pertains to the handicapped.  We now see them as needy unfortunates; objects of social and humanitarian concern rather than autonomous subjects capable of managing their own lives.



Google’s Calico – Maybe Not Such a Good News

by Maria Konovalenko

On September 18 Google announced their crusade against death via the Time journal cover. Calico company was created specifically to fight aging. Larry page made it clear for the shareholders that Google is an innovative company and that they can afford the most courageous projects, while the investments won’t be too large and won’t undermine the foundations of the company.



Three Specters of Immortality

by Franco Cortese

I would like to address what I consider to be three common criticisms against the desirability and ethicacy of life-extension I come across all too often – three specters of immortality, if you will. These will be Overpopulation (the criticism that widely-available life-extension therapies will cause unmanageable overpopulation), Naturality (the criticism that life-extension if wrong because it is unnatural), and Selfishness (the criticism that life-extension researchers, activists and supporters are motivated by a desire to increase their own, personal lifespans than by a desire to decrease involuntary suffering in the world at large).



Half of U.S. jobs may be lost to automation in 2 decades, report says

by Dick Pelletier

A study from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology suggests that nearly half of U.S. jobs could be at risk of computerization over the next two decades. The study examined more than 700 detailed occupation types, noting the tasks workers perform and the skills required.



A Buddhist Approach to AI

by Daniel J. Neumann

Humanity is on the threshold of technologies so great; we may not be mature enough to handle them. The converging technologies predicted by Kurzweil’s Singularity offer technological paradigm-shifts. More interestingly to me, Artificial Intelligence (AI) may become more self-aware than humans. The imperatives for creating smarter-than-human AI sheds light on a possible solution to our blind drive for more technology without consideration.



Scientists create false memories by manipulating neurons

by Dick Pelletier

Research may one day lead to better understanding of consciousness… Imagine you’re a mouse, and you’re feeling a chill throughout your body because a researcher is placing you into a chamber. You distinctly remember feeling shocks in that chamber…



Germany is the first European country to recognize a third gender

by George Dvorsky

Starting this November, German parents will be able to select male, female, or “indeterminate” when filling out their newborn’s birth certificate. This means that parents won’t have to label their baby’s gender, thereby allowing those born with intersex characteristics to make a decision later in life. Or not.



Better Humans? Understanding the Enhancement Project, by Michael Hauskeller

by Andy Miah

Andy Miah on the pros and cons of humanity 2.0 If you could enhance one aspect of your biology, what would it be? Would you use cosmetic surgery to make yourself more beautiful? How about cognitive enhancers to improve your memory or wit? What if you and your partner could take love pills to iron out any problems in your relationship?



Synthetic life promises ‘magical future’

by Dick Pelletier

Say goodbye to global warming, toxic waste, and dependency on fossil fuels, and get ready to enjoy perfect health with exotic drugs that could one day cure most diseases and extend lifespan indefinitely.



Legal and Bioethical Considerations for Physicians and Patients in Cases of Emergency Contraception

by Kyle Treman

Abortion and contraception involve multiple scientific, religious, ethical and legal influences that affect the pharmacist–patient relationship. Both legal and ethical sources provide adequate evidence that patients have the right to emergency contraception and pharmacists have the right to conscientiously object to controversial procedures. However, the current system of pharmacist’s ‘duty to refer’ places a disproportionate risk on the women seeking emergency contraception and appropriates physician’s authority over patient autonomy.



On Cyborgs, Patents, Property and Open Source

by Kamil Muzyka

When speaking about transhumanism, one might think either about genetically altered human beings, or about ones with cybernetic enhancements and augmentations. Those second ones are popularly known as cyborgs. Most of us, optimists, would be likely to view neuroprosthetics and neural implants as a commodity available for every human being on the planet… to be honest, it’s more like a cyberpunk noir.



2030s Cognitive Machines: a glimpse of life in a future wonderworld

by Dick Pelletier

"It's the year 2030, and as I glance around my bedroom, I feel secure knowing that microscopic sensors embedded throughout the house constantly monitor my breathing, heart rate, brain activity and other vital health issues. For example, blood non-invasively extracted last night checked for free-radicals and precancerous cells, and then ordered all the necessary preventative drugs from my home nanoreplicator.



Does machine consciousness matter?

by Dylan Chandler

Named for its creator Alan Turing, the Turing test is meant to test a machine’s intelligence by assessing its conversational abilities (Bieri, 1988, 163). Turing adapted the test to suit machines from an existing test, the Imitation Game, wherein a man and a woman would converse via teletype (Bieri, 1988, 163).



East Asia is More “Transhumanist” than the USA & Europe

by Hank Pellissier

Transhumanism is a “Western philosophy” - it’s roots can be traced to FM-2030 (born in Iran, but lived and taught in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami) and Max More (born in England, founded Extropy Institute in California, currently CEO of Alcor in Arizona). Transhumanism today is primarily identified with Humanity Plus, a nonprofit affiliated with two California groups - Singularity Institute and Foresight Institute, plus Utah’s Mormon Transhumanist Association.



How to get the world to do something about death

by Eric Schulke

We are all going to be dead before we know it, and we all know this. Time just sprints past. Summers skip through ones life like they’re frolicking through a meadow. The world doesn’t do much about that. Why is that? There must be an answer to that, right? Three of the main reasons are (1) that more people need to know why they should desire an extended, indefinitely long life, (2) they need to know why they should think that stopping aging and diseases is achievable, and (3) they need to know what they can do to make an impact: There is one simple thing that every person needs to know to do, which is crucial to making sure that you have the best chances of indefinite life extension being reached in your lifetime.



The Right to be Uploaded

by Kamil Muzyka

The International Bill of Human Rights, consisting both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clearly states, that a human being every human being has a certain pool of rights. The right to live, the right to bear offspring, the right to work, the right to marry, to rest and leisure,  freedom of speech etc.

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