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.”
How is this for a bold statement: the ultimate morality or immorality of transhumanism rests with the position it will take on the question of human rights and more specifically its adoption or denial of the principles of one document little discussed outside of the circle of international lawyers and human rights activists: The Universal Declaration of Right of 1948.
When asked what the biggest bottleneck for Radical or Indefinite Longevity is, most thinkers say funding. Some say the biggest bottleneck is breakthroughs and others say it’s our way of approaching the problem (i.e. that many are seeking healthy life extension, a.k.a. “aging gracefully”, instead of more comprehensive methods of indefinite life-extension), but the majority seem to feel that what is really needed is adequate funding to plug away at developing and experimentally-verifying the various, sometimes mutually-exclusive technologies and methodologies that have already been proposed. I claim that Radical Longevity’s biggest bottleneck is not funding, but advocacy.
I’ve heard you are interested in the topics of aging and longevity. This is very cool, because fighting for radical life extension is the wisest and most humanitarian strategy. I would like to tell you what needs to be done, but, unfortunately, I haven’t got your email address, or any other way to be heard.
By 2030, America will be 150,000 doctors short, just as the median age of baby boomers hits 72. A voracious consumption of health care will far eclipse what can reasonably be provided by the current distribution model, but never fear; technology to the rescue.
We have our views about how we should establish some more efficient and equitable system depending on how we as individuals view issues facing humanity. Some of us want to ‘save’ the economy, the environment, or deal with political corruption. But when we think about solutions, we should consider that man-made systems are not pre-established, they’re emergent.
The IEET would like to collaborate with active members of our community in writing technoprogressive policy documents to be included in the Technoprogressive Policy Wiki, as well as longer technoprogressive white papers.
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