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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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…
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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).
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.
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 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.
Positive futurists believe we will see more progress during the next five decades than was experienced in the last 200 years. In The Singularity is Near, author Ray Kurzweil reveals how science will change the ways we live, work, and play. The following offers some of the incredible possibilities we can expect.
Planning childbirth and discouraging or eliminating factors that contribute to preventable birth complications are a priority for many transhumanists. All people should have access to reproductive services for free to use at their discretion, especially if we concede to live under a capitalist system that requires poverty, which in turn limits access to adequate care. This is a basic concept on which many transhumanists, especially at the IEET, agree.
If you want a dispassionate, unbiased, detached, “objective” examination of the book’s plot, character development, literary style, form, etc., look elsewhere. I will not give you a synopsis of the plot and describe all the main personalities and relationships between the characters. Many other reviewers have done this already. I am going to tell you a bit of what I love about the story and characters, but mostly I will help you to modulate your expectations so that you will be clear as to what this book is and is not. Armed with this information, you may be able to get more out of it than you would have, had you approached it with whatever set of expectations you would have brought to it prior to reading this “review.”
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The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.
East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
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Email: director @ ieet.org phone:
West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
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Email: hank @ ieet.org