Yesterday I and thousands of viewers around the world watched live the LIGO press conference on the first gravitational waves detection from a black hole fusion event. Two days before, the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize was awarded to the first demonstration that a brain can be preserved for future mind uploading. What a great week for science!
IEET Affiliate Scholar Phil Torres has published a book on Existential Risks, titled The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse. The Foreword was written by IEET Fellow Russell Blackford.
Imagine that the year is 2050. A lot of AI applications are now a normal part of life. Cars drive themselves, homes clean themselves (and they do so more cheaply than maids possibly could) and even doctors have been now partially replaced with neural networks. But the so-called Kurzweilian Singularity never took off. You can now talk for 10 rounds of sentences with a chatbot without being able to tell if it is a real person or not. The bots anticipate your questions by analyzing your facial expressions and matching them to a vast library of pre-existing human-machine conversations in order to maximize their level of Turing success (i.e. success at convincing humans the algorithm is a human).
I was recently invited to participate in a conference on “startup societies”—those groups, usually libertarian, that want to peel off from dominant cultures and governments in order to explore their own interests and freedoms in international waters. You may have heard of The Principality of Sealand, Operation Atlantis, Liberland, Fort Galt, The First Millennial Foundation (AKA The Living Universe Foundation), or the dozens of other wannabe micronations. What would the potentials for transhuman experimentation, I was asked, be in such micro societies? In formulating my reply by email, I realized there was more to say, and I wanted to loop the rest of you in on the conversation.
The Brain Preservation Foundation (BPF) announced that the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize has officially been won. The spectacular result achieved by 21st Century Medicine researchers provides the first demonstration that near-perfect, long-term structural preservation of an intact mammalian brain is achievable.
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.
The typical gravestone hasn’t changed in hundreds, if not thousands of years. That said, there are more than a few companies out there trying to use modern technology to upgrade the traditional stone or marble marker. With the likes of wi-fi, video screens and QR codes abound, are these new additions useful or just a hi-tech gimmick?
The World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland just wrapped up its annual gathering. It isn’t hard to make fun of this yearly coming together of the global economic and cultural elites who rule the world, or at least think they do.
My life is filled with trivial, time-wasting tasks. As an academic, teaching and research are the most valuable* activities I perform. And yet as I progress in my career I find myself constantly drawn away from these two things to focus on administrative tasks. While efficient administration is important in large organisations (like universities), it feels like a major time-sink to someone like me because (a) I am not ultimately rewarded for being good at it (career progression depends far more research and, to a lesser extent, teaching) and (b) I don’t have any aptitude for or interest in it.
Dernière partie dédiée à la réflexion sur “Le choix d’une vie très longue en bonne santé : pourquoi?” Préserver et renforcer la part de l’économie non marchande L’accroissement d’abord progressif, puis éventuellement considérable de la durée de vie en bonne santé a commencé depuis longtemps par se traduire par une augmentation de la quantité d’activité fournie par des personnes curieusement qualifiées par les statistiques françaises de « non-actives ».
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.
Ray Kurzweil is an author, inventor, futurist, and currently Director of Engineering at Google. He is involved in fields such as optical character recognition, text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments; he is the author of several books on health, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism; and he may be the most prominent spokesman in the world today for advocating the use of technology to transform humanity.
The story of Ivan Ilyich indicates an inseparable connection between death and meaning. The precise connection is unclear, but surely it depends in large part on whether death is the end of our consciousness. While beliefs in immortality have been widespread among humans, such beliefs are extremely difficult to defend rationally.
If someone were to ask you nearly 30 years ago what your future car will be by 2016, I’d assume that you would base your ideas on Back to the Future Part II. The flying car would almost always come to mind. But then, despite the fact that flying cars do exist in 2016, they’re incredibly expensive and not very popular. What Back to the Future didn’t expect were cars that could drive themselves, were connected to online systems, and were increasingly abandoning fossil fuels.
Growing old, and having lost hope of finding love again, I read about
the Lifemates Co-op and was intrigued. “Mr or Ms Right doesn’t exist
in nature. If you want someone that was made for you, come to us.” I
made an appointment to visit their office and talk with a salesperson…
Deer Antler Velvet is a complex of hormones, growth factors, and minerals extracted from the antlers of a specific deer. It is used for general health and well being, wound and injury recovery, as well as to enhance libido and improve youthful functions. It is surrounded by many arguments and opinions on efficacy.
As a critical posthumanist (with speculative leanings), I found myself always a little leary of transhumanism in general. Much has been written on the difference between the two, and one of the best and succinct explanations can be found in John Danaher’s “Humanism, Transhumanism, and Speculative Posthumanism.
“Scorned by over 500 publishers and literary agents around the world,” says The Transhumanist Wager’s back page blurb, “[Zoltan Istvan’s] philosophical thriller has been called ‘revolutionary’ and ‘socially dangerous’ by readers, scholars, and religious authorities.” Well, surely that ought to whet your appetite!
-A discussion on Zoltan Istvan’s The Transhumanist Wager
Transhumanism is a rising international intellectual movement that seeks to greatly enhance human capacities through emerging science and technologies, with life extension as one of its main goals. However, for many decades, the movement has remained outside of the political mainstream and a large part of it has only been active on the internet.
Yesterday I wrote about the impending death of the great neurologist and author Oliver Sacks. I was particularly struck by this line from Sachs’ public goodbye: “I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential.” This brought to mind the Stoic philosopher Seneca who touched on a similar theme in his short piece, On the Shortness of Life:
For the first time ever, scientists have used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to successfully treat a genetic muscle disorder in a living adult mammal. It’s a promising medical breakthrough that could soon lead to human therapies.
From the days of the Acheulean hand-axe on, humans have always had a symbiotic relationship with technology. How far will that relationship go? One haunting vision of the future is provided by the Borg — one of the main villains of the Star Trek universe.
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