The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to understand the science behind what makes people violent, and then find ways to hijack their minds by implanting false, but believable stories in their brains, with hopes of evoking peaceful thoughts: We’re friends, not enemies.
Let’s be real. The majority of transhumanists, scientists, astronomers, computer specialists, etc. became interested in their fields of study through their interest in science-fiction. We know the story of how cellphones were designed with Star Trek‘s communicators in mind, as were tablet computers, ebooks, and other new technologies. That has all been well-documented and I’m relatively certain that it is not news to most of us. Star Trek has been very influential in my life, guiding my thought processes in many areas, like physics, astronomy, quantum mechanics - even politics and economics. Part 2 of the Casual Transhuman.
Recently there has been commenters’s discussion here at IEET about whether it should be moving from being essentially a website that provides reading material and a forum for public debate towards more of a genuine “think tank” model, clearly advocating a techno-progressive point of view and attempting to influence policy (both public and private) in a more direct, substantial and well-defined way.
Readers of this blog know that I’ve started to develop a bit of a fascination with psychopathy. It all got started after attending the Moral Brain Moral Brain conference at NYU last April. The more I look into this subject, the more I understand why so many neuroscientists are making such a big fuss about it.
Immaculate doll-face, globulous breasts, teeny waist, slender limbs, vacant ice-blue eyes, long platinum hair - Valeria Lukyanova of Odessa, Ukraine, has re-designed her physical form to resemble Barbie, the plastic Mattel toy. Is the result “beautiful”? Critics screech that she’s “creepy” and “lifeless” with an “uncanny valley” absence of sexuality, but… let’s not kid ourselves here.
The Brain Preservation Foundation is an interesting enterprise co-developed by John Smart (Acceleration Studies Foundation) that’s offering a prize for researchers who manage to preserve animal brains in ways that would be suitable for humans and that keep intact the web of physical connections - or the connectome - that some believe to contain all of the information in both memory and thoughts. Brain preservation aims at locking in these connections against post-mortem decay.
Your relationship is on the rocks. Begrudgingly, you and your significant other visit a marriage counselor in the hopes that there’s still something left to salvage in your relationship. You both spill your guts and admit that the love is gone. The counselor listens attentively, nodding her head every now and then in complete understanding. At the end of the session she offers the two of you some practical words of advice and sees you on your way. Oh, but before you leave she fills out a prescription for the two of you. Your marriage, it would seem, has been placed on meds.
Today I want to talk about three broad categories: Synthetic or engineered medical research or treatments, biological (DNA) research and procedures, and various transplants that have been performed or are being researched.
Transhumanism is a big, complicated, sprawling idea. The central concept – that humans can be made better with technology – touches on a lot of hopes and fears about the future of humanity. Though I’m always going on about how great human enhancement could be, I’ve got my fair share of fears myself. But my fears are probably way different than many of your fears. But how in the world can we represent those concerns? As it turns out, I’ve found a pretty good set of archetypes that represent our hopes and fears: Marvel Comic’s Avengers.
Did you hear? There’s now cold, hard research confirming what the Dilbert set have long known: meetings make you stupid. What’s more, being ranked or assigned a status within a group can have a particularly pernicious effect on our grey matter. A new study—led by a team of researchers at California Institute of Technology with four other institutions—found that IQs can drop precipitously in group settings.
There is more and more, and often positive, coverage of mind uploading and cybernetic immortality in the press, and it appears that leaving biology behind and becoming cyber angels is an idea whose time has come.
Do you want to live forever? Many people - perhaps the majority - Do Not. People who want to die on the current schedule, like sheep led to slaughter at culling time, offer several reasons for their capitulation. One reason is their fear that Eternal Life Might Be Boring. These “Deathists” worry that existence without Abysmal Oblivion lurking ahead, terrifying us into alertness… would render us comatose with ennui.
The demand is rising for enhancement technologies. A recent article at Forbes argues the market is ripe for a means of cognitive augmentation, hypothesizing “IQ” as the next trillion dollar business. And culturally, more are becoming comfortable with the idea of using technology to improve their mood, physiological well-being, creativity, and performance.
As a staunch supporter of one’s right to elect cryopreservation over traditional cremation or burial, the following represents an ongoing research focus toward minimizing the impedance of an optimal cryopreservation by the medical and/or legal requirements of a forensic autopsy.
At the turn of the millennium, miniaturized canines acquired the cherished status of living, designer handbag ornaments. These teeny tiny photogenic doggies, which had been shrunken from generations of in breeding, were snapped up by fashionistas who pouted alongside them in front of seas of clicking cameras.
Traditional-Religious Transhumanists like “Pastor” Alex McGilvery and Lincoln Cannon have articulated their views extensively at IEET in recent months, in essays followed by contentious debates. McGilvery and Cannon believe there’s easy compatibility between their creeds and H+. I welcome them, happily, because I want H+ to be a “Big Tent” with acceptance for everybody. That said, I fervently disagree with their theistic opinions. Wildly, totally, absolutely, passionately, face-squinched-up-in-an-angry-scowl Disagree.
IEET Director and Board Member George Dvorsky is offering an online four-week seminar on transhumanism at The Center for Free Inquiry, teaching alongside John Shook, CFI director of education and AHA education coordinator. The course will run from May 1 to May 31.
Not all religions are created equal. In past articles I have argued that religion can be a powerful force for the transformation of humans, both individually and collectively. This is not to say that religion is necessarily and always a tool for the improvement of the human species. Religion in many times and places has been anything but helpful. For example; the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period deliberately suppressed new knowledge, oddly enough, in favour of pagan Greek philosophers.
Debate is academically steaming on whether or not Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche’s philosophy specifically represents… Transhumanism. The topic was initiated by IEET Fellow Stefan Sorgner, who wrote his original article, “Nietzsche, the Overhuman, and Transhumanism” in the Journal of Evolution and Technology.
In this article, I give a real-life case study (in which I was an attorney of record) where human machine mergers bring up several legal and ethical issues, including disability rights. I review some of the literature on this and discuss different practical ways practicing attorneys may approach the issues. The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the parties.
Supergirl is a staple of DC Comics, and has been an important character ever since her introduction in Superman #123. She consistently ranks among the most popular female characters and is a very common character to see in cosplay and fanart. Here are my ten favorite interpretations of Supergirl on DeviantArt -
One of the more surprising things I learned at the recently concluded Moral Brain conference at NYU is that psychopathy affects 1-2% of the general population. That seems shockingly high to me. But on reflection, it kind of makes sense. I’m sure most of us know at least a couple of people who we suspect might be psychopaths.