Personhood is everywhere. Netflix recently added Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends to their “instant play” repertoire, which means I may or may not have spent several hours watching a cartoon from the early sixties as part of my Saturday routine. As usual, there was a little bit of transhumanist propaganda hidden within it.
Transhumanists like to talk about immortality, anti-aging, and life-extension. These three ideas are often used interchangeably and for most debates, such as over issues of Malthusian catastrophes or existential boredom, they apply. But what if we only conquered the middle of the three; what if we could only slow the aging process, but not add years to our lives? What would the world look like? What would life be like?
While it may be impolitic now for technoprogressives to focus on uploading, for radical life extension advocates it is invaluable to have access to brief and compelling arguments in favor of the efficacy of such a process.
The body has a lot of change to go through on the path to post-humanity. There is a lot of room for improvement and enhancement. Even with all of these cool improvements and enhancements though, my cynical side emerges. While these would be great, are we giving ourselves too much credit that the choices we will make on the route to post-humanity will be practical? Isn’t society a little more vain that that? Seriously? The desire for youth and beauty is by no means a new phenomenon.
(with co-author M. Heather Dragoo) Abstract: As a genre, science fiction provides a uniquely fertile medium from which we can extrapolate the defining characteristics of personhood, explore our future potentials, and project our current selves onto tomorrow. One such example is the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.
One of the biggest letdowns for me about the film Wall-E was that all of the robots, save the evil navigator, were in some way visually anthropomorphic. They had hands, eyes, voices, that were unmistakably humanish. Pixar’s great mascot, Luxo Jr., managed to be lovable without these traits. There is a certain extra level of magic involved in making a great character that is utterly unrecognizable as human.
While it’s common to look at transhumanist themes through the lens of science fiction, I think it’s at least as fascinating to consider the ethical issues and themes explored in controversial, well-written dramas such as Nip/Tuck.
Transhumanism spans a huge swath of intellectual territory, straddling bioethics, philosophy, science fiction, engineering, and computer science. Throw in conspiracy theories and cyberpunk nihilism and you have all the ingredients for Deus Ex.
Over a single generation, the Web and digital media have remade nearly every aspect of modern culture, transforming the way we work, learn and connect in ways that we’re only beginning to understand. FRONTLINE producer Rachel Dretzin (Growing Up Online) teams up with one of the leading thinkers of the digital age, IEET Fellow Douglas Rushkoff (The Persuaders, Merchants of Cool), to continue to explore life on the virtual frontier.
I always like watching movies I haven’t seen in a while. Life changes you and your perspectives, so when you watch a movie again later you bring something new to the viewing experience. Potentially a perspective you didn’t think about the first time you went.
Ratatouille is a fantasy, but a fantasy so close to reality that the fantastic bits almost go unnoticed. The moments where the film asks us to suspend our disbelief are so few and so minor that we forget the film is about a talking rat who can cook. Remy’s unbelievable intelligence is what creates the conflict for the whole story.
My family has the tradition (as do a lot of other families, I think) of watching The Muppet Christmas Carol at some point the week of Christmas. I got to overthinking things per the usual and now am worried about whether or not The Great Gonzo could cast a vote.