Ever have the experience that you seriously think you’re trying to achieve one thing, but then in hindsight, years later, you look back and feel like your past self was actually trying to achieve something else entirely?
(co-authored with J. Simone Riccardi) There can be no doubt that the explosion of Internet technology started in the 90s has had a huge impact on our culture. For the first time in history, geographically distributed large groups of people have been able to interact in near-real time. Usenet groups and mailing lists, and then the Web, message boards, blogs, social networks, IP voice and video conferencing, have enabled and empowered global communities held together by common interests and world-views instead of geographical proximity.
In its first season, Caprica has done an excellent job of exploring the ethical issues relating to V-World (the virtual world created by the ultra-rich Daniel Graystone), looking at the dangers of becoming overly immersed in V-World, and whether an avatar constitutes a real person. Also in the past year, we’ve seen Gamer and Surrogates, two movies that explore some common themes with interesting parallels to those in Caprica.
Democracy ... capitalism ... communism ... socialism ... anarchism ... the list goes on and on ... is there any really good way to structure a human society? If not, then what’s the best of the bad lot?
One of the charming peculiarities of modern Western culture—and especially American culture, which I’ve lived in most of my life, and which has played a pivotal role in the development of humanity’s advanced technologies—is its emphasis on the individual rather than the social group.
Respondents to a recently concluded IEET reader poll chose Dolphin as the animal whose consciousness they would most like to briefly inhabit. Given a dozen animals to choose from, Fish ranked dead last.
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.
For active online gamers, real life is broken. It doesn’t make any sense. Effort isn’t connected to reward. The path forward is confused, convoluted, and contradictory. Worse, there’s a growing sense that the entire game is being corrupted to ensure failure. So why play it?
We tend think about compassion on the level of individual selves and minds: Bob feels compassionate toward Jim because Jim lost his wife, or his wallet, etc. Bob sympathizes with Jim because he can internally, to a certain extent, “feel what Jim feels.”
Virtual worlds are persistent online computer-generated environments where people can interact, whether for work or play, in a manner comparable to the real world. The most popular current example is World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online game with eleven million subscribers. However, other virtual worlds, notably Second Life, are not games at all but Internet-based collaboration contexts in which people can create virtual objects, simulated architecture, and working groups.
We have been brainwashed to believe that “blood is thicker than water.” But we lack familial shared genes with spouses and best friends. In reality what is most important is shared thoughts, experiences and feelings. Affinity based upon genes is as obsolete as loyalty based upon melanin. The beme is mightier than the gene.
What properties of consciousness and mind will remain the same in a posthuman world? Will enhanced minds look at themselves and reality like we do? What can we learn from cognitive science and consciousness studies to help answer these questions? What are some ethical consequences of enhancing the brain/mind?
What is this thing called “self”—this inner image of “Ben Goertzel” that I carry around with me (that, in a sense, constitutes “me”), that I use to guide my actions and inferences and structure my memories?
Humanity is devoting some of its best minds, from a wide diversity of fields, to helping software achieve consciousness. The quest is not especially difficult as it is a capability that can be intelligently designed; there is no need to wait for it to naturally evolve.
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.
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