By now, everybody knows that there’s a big crowd of folks who think something really big is going to happen this year because the Mayan Calendar allegedly ended in 2012 — specifically December 21, 2012. Less well known amongst the masses that are vaguely familiar with the meme is the fact that psychedelic/cyberdelic philosopher Terence McKenna was the original primary source for this notion and for this particular date.
Do you despise Congress? You’re not alone. The current Congress’s 11% approval rating is the lowest since polling began. Yet, because of gerrymandering and the resulting hyper-partisanship, people tend to support their own particular Representative, and to heap the blame on the other party.
Dorothy Roberts is author of the book Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century (New Press, 2011). She is also the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Northwestern University School of Law and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research, with appointments in the departments of Sociology and African American Studies. Here she discusses the rise in identifying race as biological among some scientists.
Synthetic biology is a field of science that has been emerging in the last few years and could have a significant future impact with the potential to pro-actively manage biology and reshape many industrial sectors.
Specifically, synthetic biology or bioengineering is the creation of living systems from nonliving chemicals designed on a computer; the design and construction of new biological entities such as enzymes, genetic circuits, and cells, or the redesign of existing biological systems.
A recently released report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council in the United States suggests that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should dramatically curtail the use of chimpanzees as research subjects. According to the committee who put together the report, chimps should be used as subjects in biomedical research only under stringent conditions, including the absence of any other suitable model and inability to ethically perform the research on people.
I’m unlikely to read many more books before the year is out, and the ones that I really must read for professional purposes don’t look as if they are going to make any list of mine of favourite or top or “best” books. So here is a short list of my best books of the year, the ones that I found especially illuminating or enjoyable. It’s my top 12 for 2011.
There is an unbelievable essay written - in apparent sincerity - by my colleague John C. Wright (a pretty good author, by the way), in which he asserts that the long darkness called feudalism was admirable, and that - by dismal contrast - we now live in an age that is benighted by crudely materialistic modernity and a shabby shallowness of the soul.
“As an artist, I can appreciate precedent representation and objecthood crises at the cite and sight of artistic collage and assemblage. As a transhumanist, however, I’m cognizant that artistic collage and assemblage will look like mere speed bumps when compared to the transubstrationality to be encountered near a singularity spike.”
A few days ago, the famous comic book writer and illustrator Frank Miller issued a howl of hatred toward the young people in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Well, all right, that’s a bowdlerization. After reading even one randomly-chosen paragraph, I’m sure you’ll agree that “howl” understates the red-hot fury and scatalogical spew of Miller’s lavishly expressed hate: “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.”
Two Mormons—Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney—are campaigning as Republicans for President of the United States, with Romney currently favored to nab the nomination. In recent days their faith has been derided by some as a “cult.” Although Mormonism is an ‘indigenous’ American creed, and has over 14 million followers internationally, the average American knows little about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
Like the spokesmen for Arab dictators feigning bewilderment over protesters’ demands, mainstream television news reporters finally training their attention on the growing Occupy Wall Street protest movement seem determined to cast it as the random, silly blather of an ungrateful and lazy generation of weirdos. They couldn’t be more wrong and, as time will tell, may eventually be forced to accept the inevitability of their own obsolescence.
In this essay I would like to reflect on Eastern and Western philosophy, their definition of enlightenment, and their connection to transhumanist thinking. How may Buddhist concepts like ‘Bodhi’ and the ‘Maitreya’ relate to the Western ‘Enlightenment’, human enhancement, and post/transhumanism?
It has been suggested that the whole Earth is a giant organism rapidly progressing toward sentience, and that humankind is the principal agent of this evolution. Such a belief requires that we go beyond the role of being stewards and take a more proactive stance as it relates to the Earth’s future.
Twenty-five hundred years ago, Master Kong was wandering homeless with his disciples, proselytizing his ethical viewpoints. He was greeted in every city with disdain, persecution, imprisonment. When “Confucius” (his Westernized name) died in 479 BC, he expressed wistful dismay that his moral reforms never took root…
Recently I had a chat with Mary DeMarle, the lead writer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, about how the ethics of enhancement and augmentation were considered when crafting the game’s story and characters.