Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view



UPCOMING EVENTS: Virtuality



MULTIMEDIA: Virtuality Topics

Is the Universe a Giant Computer Simulation?

The Outsourcing Illusion: Why Tempting Technology Can Lead to Dangerous Delegation

Review of VRLA Expo 2015

Identity, Digital

Identity, Virtual

Identity Engineered

Dreaming as Virtual Reality (1hr)

What is the Future of Virtual Reality?

The Singularity Is Near Movie Trailer

The Colbert Report /w Martine Rothblatt and BINA48

Back To The Future In The Metaverse

Bionic connections: Interfacing with the nervous system

IBM’s Nanofluidic Circuit

Forever Alone? Maybe Not: Technology and Loneliness

Neuromorphic Hardware - Better Tech Through Nature




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Virtuality Topics




IEET Audience Sees a Virtual Future for Sex

We asked the IEET audience “In the coming century will face-to-face, in-body sex be more or less common?” given tech that will encourage virtualization such as brainjacks, porn, sexbots, and electronically-mediated sex. Or will we revel in our newly young, perpetually healthy, and hormonally tweaked bodies by having a lot more face-to-face sex. The 140 of you who responded were two-to-one convinced we are headed for more virtual sex.

Full Story...



Virtual Reality Will Enable the Next Large Revival in the Global Church

by Christopher J. Benek

25 years ago most people didn’t imagine that the Internet would reshape the way that they existed on a day-to-day basis. 25 years from now people will think about Virtual Reality the same way we think about the Internet today – we won’t even be able to imagine our global existence without it. One of the largest beneficiaries of this technological development could be the global church because VR is going to change the way that Christians participate in worship.

Full Story...



Fermi Paradox, Doomsday Argument, Simulation Hypothesis—is our view of reality seriously flawed?

by Dirk Bruere

There are three interlocking statistical arguments concerning the nature of the universe in which we live and which provide what I believe to be a strongly convincing indication that our view of reality is seriously flawed on a massive scale. Let’s begin by asking a simple question…

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Human Rights for Cyberconscious Beings

by Martine Rothblatt

Even if they aren’t flesh, “mindclones” deserve protection.

For much of the 20th century, capital punishment was carried out in most countries. During the preceding century many, like England, had daily public hangings. Today, even Russia, with a mountainous history of government-ordered executions, has a capital-punishment moratorium. Since 1996, it has not executed a criminal through the judicial system.

If we can learn to protect the lives of serial killers, child mutilators, and terrorists, surely we can learn to protect the lives of peace-loving model citizens known as mind clones and bemans—even if they initially seem odd or weird to us.

excerpt from Virtually Human: The Promise and Peril of Digital Immortality

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IEET Readers Lean Toward Possibly Purposeful Universe

We asked “Does the universe have a purpose?” and of the 120 of you that answered only a quarter said unequivocally “yes.” A third were unequivocally in the “No” purpose camp. But a third held out for purpose being possible, either as a result of our being in a simulation or as something we begin to understand as we become superintelligent.

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The Legal Dilemma of Age Play in Virtual & Augmented   Reality

by B. J. Murphy

A few months ago I made the case here on IEET on the future possibilities of sex crimes as a result of exponentially growing technologies, from drones to haptic body suits. I didn’t make the case to try to convince people from refraining to use these technologies – especially for sexual purposes – but rather to stoke a discussion on the possible risks of said technologies and start developing a means to mitigate these risks if and when they present themselves.

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IEET Audience Skeptical of Taxing Bitcoin Income

We asked “Should income from virtual currencies like Bitcoin be taxed like regular income?” More than half of the 350 of you who responded were skeptical that such income could be tracked, and another 18% were opposed to taxing it if it could be.

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Virtual reality a new frontier for religions

by Giulio Prisco

In “Virtual reality a new frontier for religions,” published yesterday on Hypergrid Business, I argue that massively popular virtual churches, place of worship and spiritual communities in Virtual Reality (VR) will be developed with next-generation VR systems.



#7: No Form, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations, Consciousness:  A Buddhist Perspective on AI

by Andrew Cvercko

It seems as though every day we grow closer to creating fully conscious and emergent artificial intelligences. As I’ve written about before, this poses a problem for many religions, especially those that ascribe a special place for humanity and for human consciousness in the cosmos. Buddhism stands out as an exception. Buddhism may be the one system of religious thought that not only accepts but will actively embrace any AIs that we produce as a species.



#8: Future of love and sex: monogamy no longer the default, say experts

by Dick Pelletier

There’s a pervasive notion that monogamous relationships are the end-all-be-all – the default pact in human couplings that keep the fabric of society from being torn apart. But growing numbers of scientists believe monogamy is not our biological default; and may not even represent the best road to happiness.



#9: Creating sentient machines with ‘deep learning’ AI technology

by Dick Pelletier

Building machines that process information the same way a brain does has been a dream for over 50 years. Artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, and neural networks have all experienced some degrees of success, but machines still cannot recognize pictures or understand language as well as humans can.



What Will Life Be Like Inside A Computer?

by John G. Messerly

Many scientists believe that we will soon be able to preserve our consciousness indefinitely. There are a number of scenarios by which this might be accomplished, but so-called mind uploading is one of the most prominent. Mind uploading refers to a hypothetical process of copying the contents of a consciousness from a brain to a computational device. This could be done by copying and transferring these contents into a computer, or by piecemeal replacement with parts of the brain gradually replaced by hardware. Either way consciousness would no longer be running on a biological brain.



When Mass Suicide Might be Morally Right

by Phil Torres

There are several reasons why creating a superintelligent mind could bring about an existential catastrophe. For example, the AI could be malicious, or unfriendly, a scenario that I call the amity-enmity problem. It looms large in Nick Bostrom’s recent book Superintelligence, in which Bostrom suggests that we should recognize "doom" as the "default outcome" of creating a superintelligence. And AI could also be apathetic about our well-being and continued survival. Perhaps it wants to convert the entire surface of earth into solar panels (an example that Bostrom mentions), and as a result it annihilates the biosphere. Let’s call this the indifference problem.



Summa Technologiae, Or Why The Trouble With Science Is Religion

by Rick Searle

Before I read Lee Billings’ piece in the fall issue of Nautilus, I had no idea that in addition to being one of the world’s greatest science-fiction writers, Stanislaw Lem had written what became a forgotten book, a tome that was intended to be the overarching text of the technological age his 1966 Summa Technologiae.



The Transhuman World

by David Eubanks

Whatever a transhuman is, xe (a pronoun to encompass all conceivable states of personhood) will have to live in a world that enables xer to be transhuman. I’ll explore the impact of three likely-seeming aspects of that world: ubiquitous interconnected smart machines, continuous classification, and virtualism.



“Transcendence” A Movie Review

by Giulio Prisco

I had the opportunity to see Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, with Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, and Morgan Freeman, only last week, more than three months after the film’s release in theaters. Before seeing the film I satisfied my Transcendence cravings with an old, still unnamed copy of Jack Paglen’s script that can be found online (it appears that Paglen’s screenplay was part of what is known as the Black List, a list of popular but unproduced screenplays in Hollywood).



Virtually Sacred, by Robert Geraci – religion in World of Warcraft and Second Life

by Giulio Prisco

Robert Geraci, the author of “Apocalyptic AI – Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality,” has a new book published by Oxford University Press: “Virtually Sacred – Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life.” I recommend this book to all those interested in the history and sociology of religions online, and online religions (there is a difference), and also (especially) to those who wish to participate in new, forward-looking, cosmic religious movements. All are invited to come and to Robert Geraci’s talk in Second Life, on Sunday June 29 at noon EDT (9am PDT, 6pm EU) in Soleri City.



IEET Audience Overwhelmingly Supportive of Turing Test

Two thirds of the 278 respondents to our poll on the Turning Test believe that “It is a strong indication of a mind like a human’s.”

Full Story...



Your Digital Afterlives

by Eric Steinhart

Most transhumanists are already familiar with digitalism, even if they haven’t heard the name. Digitalism uses ideas from computer science to develop new ways of thinking about old topics. Writers like Ed Fredkin, Hans Moravec, Frank Tipler, Nick Bostrom, and Ray Kurzweil are digitalists. Typically, digitalists are scientists, rationalists, naturalists, and atheists. Nevertheless, they have worked out novel and deeply meaningful ways of thinking about things like ghosts, souls, gods, resurrection, and reincarnation.



The Image World and the Ethics of Virtual Acts

by John Danaher

I recently looked at the work of Stephanie Partridge, who argues that we should take a moralistic attitude toward certain fictional representations. Included within that group of fictional representations are acts of virtual rape (such as might be performed in a video game like RapeLay). In this post, I want to look at a similar set of arguments from Gert Gooskens. These will be drawn from his article “The Ethical Status of Virtual Actions”.



Back to the future in the Metaverse

by Giulio Prisco

All seems to indicate that new, fully immersive next-generation virtual worlds and user interfaces may be behind the corner. Let’s go back to the future in the Metaverse!



Future of love and sex: monogamy no longer the default, say experts

by Dick Pelletier

There’s a pervasive notion that monogamous relationships are the end-all-be-all – the default pact in human couplings that keep the fabric of society from being torn apart. But growing numbers of scientists believe monogamy is not our biological default; and may not even represent the best road to happiness.



The Gamer’s Dilemma: Virtual Murder versus Virtual Paedophilia (Part Two)

by John Danaher

The Gamer’s Dilemma is the title of an article by Morgan Luck. We covered that article in part one. In brief, the article argues that there is something puzzling about attitudes toward virtual acts which, if they took place in the real world, would be immoral.  To be precise, there is something puzzling about attitudes toward virtual murder and virtual paedophilia.



Creating sentient machines with ‘deep learning’ AI technology

by Dick Pelletier

Building machines that process information the same way a brain does has been a dream for over 50 years. Artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, and neural networks have all experienced some degrees of success, but machines still cannot recognize pictures or understand language as well as humans can.



The Gamer’s Dilemma: Virtual Murder versus Virtual Paedophilia (Part One)

by John Danaher

Modern video games give players the opportunity to engage in highly realistic depictions of violent acts. Among these is the act of virtual murder: the player’s character intentional kills someone in the game environment without good cause. Most avid gamers don’t seem overly concerned about this (reputed links between video games and violence notwithstanding). Nevertheless, when the possibility of other immoral virtual acts — say virtual paedophilia — is raised, people become rather more squeamish. Why is this? And is this double-standard justified?



The Singularity promises great benefits, but can we brave the risks

by Dick Pelletier

What can we expect when machines surpass humans in intelligence; a point in time that futurists predict could become reality by 2045.



No Form, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations, Consciousness:  A Buddhist Perspective on AI

by Andrew Cvercko

It seems as though every day we grow closer to creating fully conscious and emergent artificial intelligences. As I’ve written about before, this poses a problem for many religions, especially those that ascribe a special place for humanity and for human consciousness in the cosmos. Buddhism stands out as an exception. Buddhism may be the one system of religious thought that not only accepts but will actively embrace any AIs that we produce as a species.



#14 New Computer Programming Language Imitates The Human Brain

by George Dvorsky

As we pointed out earlier this week, we’re still far from being able to replicate the awesome power of the human brain. So rather than use traditional models of computing, IBM has decided to design an entirely new computer architecture — one that’s taking inspiration from nature.



Mathematical Universe? I ain’t convinced

by Massimo Pigliucci

So the other day Julia Galef and I had the pleasure of interviewing mathematical cosmologist Max Tegmark for the Rationally Speaking podcast. The episode will come out in late January, close to the release of Max’s book, presenting his Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH). We had a lively and interesting conversation, but in the end, I’m not convinced (and I doubt Julia was either).



Google’s Creepy Patent to Automate Your Social Media Voice

by Evan Selinger

Who has time anymore to manage their social media feeds? All the status updating, replying, and posting of smart takes on the day’s news is exhausting. Well, Google want to help you out with that: The company recently submitted a patent for software that learns how users respond to social media posts and then automatically recommends updates and replies they can make for future ones. Consider it outsourcing, for your social life—an amped up, next gen blend of automated birthday reminders and computer generated, personalized remarks (more successful Turing Test than random word salad).

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