Transhumanists will know that the science fiction author Zoltan Istvan has unilaterally leveraged the movement into a political party contesting the 2016 US presidential election. To be sure, many transhumanists have contested Istvan’s own legitimacy, but there is no denying that he has generated enormous publicity for many key transhumanist ideas. Interestingly, his lead idea is that the state should do everything possible to uphold people’s right to live forever. Of course, he means to live forever in a healthy state, fit of mind and body. Istvan cleverly couches this policy as simply an extension of what voters already expect from medical research and welfare provision. And while he may be correct, the policy is fraught with hazards – especially if, as many transhumanists believe, we are on the verge of revealing the secrets to biological immortality.
On the 25 of September Marcelo Rinesi published his article ‘The Price for the Internet of Things will be a vague dread of a malicious world’. With this response, I want to take on the implicit challenge he poses. How can we build an internet of things that will not fill us with dread? This article will present my ideas on a ‘transparent smart chargepoint’. Let me explain what I mean by this. ‘Chargepoint’ refers to the device that is designed for charging for electric cars. ‘Smart’ refers to the fact that the chargepoint optimizes the charging process on various variables – such as the price of electricity, the congestion on the electricity grid. ‘Transparent’ means that it is designed to be open as open as possible about the algorithms that run it.
Over the last few decades one hears the term ‘community’ bandied about with increasing frequency. The most quoted is in my anecdotal memory the ‘black community’. One also often hears about the ‘gay community’ and more recently the ‘lgbt (or lgbtq) community’.
Google’s recent victory against top-ranked Go player Lee Sedol marks another milestone in artificial intelligence development, and though this might be considered “old” news by today’s standard, it’s still a fresh achievement for the AI world.
Unnoted by many, the transhumanist forerunner Zoltan Istvan has founded the “U.S. Transhumanist Party” and is running for U.S. president in the November 2016 election. He is touring the nation in his campaign vehicle, the “Immortality Bus,” since one of his promises is: “Do you want to live forever? Vote for me!” Like other transhumanists, Istvan aims at opening up new political perspectives, if not even a “post-ideological” political sphere characterized by technological universalism. TLR spoke with political and social analyst Roland Benedikter about the backgrounds and the perspectives. The interview builds on previous interviews and articles of Benedikter, for example HERE and HERE.
According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, 51% of Americans are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that a family member will be killed by terrorists. Another Gallup Poll found that 11% of Americans are afraid of “thunder and lightning.” Yet the average person is at least four times more likely to die from a lightning bolt than a terrorist attack.
While the idea may sound absurd, it happened just a few generations ago. The industrial north and the slave-holding, agrarian south couldn’t agree on, among other things, the extension of slavery into new states, as both sides didn’t want the other to gain a congressional voting advantage. A series of compromises over many years maintained the delicate balance, but gradually the two sides became more partisan, the rhetoric more divisive, and civil discourse eventually disappeared. Soon violence would be used to adjudicate their disputes, with the south firing the first shot. Within four years 700,000 Americans were dead, thousands more injured, homeless, widowed or orphaned. If that proportion of Americans were killed today, about 8 million Americans would die. The south thought that slavery and the lifestyle it provided were worth dying and killing for … and die and kill they did.
A classic objection to the radical extension of life is: “But such an extension will lead to an overpopulation crisis!”
The idea is simple: as the resources and space of our planet are not unlimited, if the older generations stop dying and the newer generations continue to be born, then sooner or later, we will run out of both space and resources.
There is now an almost constant stream of articles saying what was politically incorrect to state out loud just 5-8 years ago – Technological Unemployment is certain, it is imminent and ‘something like a basic income’ will be necessary. I have said so much on this societal issue in the last ten years that it quite often feels like an obligatory rehash of the arguments in favor of a basic income. The best and most authoritative arguments are still being voiced by Martin Ford and I suggest everyone to check his level-headed and well researched presentations on the topic. In my understanding Martin blows arguments against out of the water.
I corresponded with an old friend yesterday who was communicating the tedium of his work as a software engineer. He is thankful that he earns a six-figure salary, and he understands that most people in the world would happily trade places with him, but that doesn’t change the fact that a future filled with a lifetime of coding doesn’t excite his probing and restless mind. Minds like his need stimulation, and they could contribute so much to the rest of us if they were freed to follow their interests . Moreover, while technology companies pay some of the best wages in the United States, they expect more than 40 hours of work in return, which leaves my friend with less time with his children than he would like.
Despite decades of progress, racism and bigotry are still prevalent in the United States. Often, they even dominate the news in American media, like during the Baltimore riots or the Ferguson shooting. Movements like Black Lives Matter remind us that the society we live in still has many biases to be fought against, but that good work can be done to combat bigotry if people unite against it.
I don’t like the word capitalism, but not because I’m against the free market. Open trade and markets provide wealth and raise the standard of living for the majority of people in democratic societies. Free markets also allow the exchange of ideas and innovations without the meddling of governments or religion.
A new study by the Pew Research Center spurred a rash of headlines last week about “the dying middle class.” But the word “dying” might be more appropriate if we were watching the regrettable but inevitable effects of natural forces at work. We’re not. We’re seeing the fruits of deliberate action—and sometimes of deliberate inaction—at the highest levels of power.
PR is essentially the practice of managing the spread of information, and this is a tactical craft. For the PR professional years of experience combine knowledge of pragmatic practice and human intuition to generate desired results, a positive image and receptive message.
According to Oxford, B of A Merrill Lynch, and other researchers, technological job displacement will increase dramatically in the next decade. Awareness of the threat this poses to societal stability is rapidly rising. Along with this awareness, there is increased discussion of guaranteed income (in various flavors) as a solution. This article explores the myriad challenges associated with permanently implementing any such program on a national basis.
I’ve long urged folks to go have another look at one of the founders of the Western-Pragmatic Enlightenment, Adam Smith. Lately, Smith has been picked up by ever more economists and thinkers seeking to understand how we’ve gone astray.
A Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) is a monthly stipend sufficient to provide the necessities of life. While there is disagreement even amongst friends of BIG as to how much is sufficient, we will work with a figure of $833 a month, $10,000 a year. BIG has been in the news in the last few years with a Swiss referendum on the matter and a pilot program in the works for Finland. Arguments from the left for BIG tend to appeal to social justice considerations. One line suggests that in a wealthy country like the U.S., no one should go hungry or be homeless, and BIG is an efficient means to ensure this minimal standard of care.
The debate about algorithmic governance (or as I prefer ‘algocracy’) has been gathering pace over the past couple of years. As computer-coded algorithms become ever more woven into the fabric of economic and political life, and as the network of data-collecting devices that feed these algorithms grows, we can expect that pace to quicken.
What we don’t know can hurt us. In the past year, it seems that 15 years of economic erosion has taken its toll on the wisdom of our 20th century experience. Nostalgic sentiments from an analogue age have seeped into the modern political discourse. Not because, they’ll work, but because people can understand them.
Back in the early 2000s, Ryan Fugger invented something that will come to change the future of economics. He invented Ripple, a P2P credit clearing system. Some argue that P2P credit is unstable and prone to inflation, and I second that, and I believe Ripple should be combined with some form of stable index. Perhaps something like solarcoin.org — what could be more stable than the energy of a photon?
I was first introduced to the work of Ian Morris last summer. Somebody suggested that I read his book Why the West Rules for Now, which attempts to explain the differential rates of human social development between East and West over the past 12,000 years. I wasn’t expecting much: I generally prefer narrowly focused historical works, not ones that attempt to cover the whole of human history. But I was pleasantly surprised.
On the 8th August 1963, a gang of fifteen men boarded the Royal Mail train heading from London to Glasgow. They were there to carry out a robbery. In the end, they made off with £2.6 million (approximately £46 million in today’s money). The robbery had been meticulously planned. Using information from a postal worker (known as “the Ulsterman”), the gang waylaid the train at a signal crossing in Ledburn, Buckinghamshire.
The Brookings Institution recently issued a report showing that poor Americans die at a much earlier age than rich Americans, and that this life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing rapidly. A professor of public health at Yale University told the New York Times, “It’s embarrassing.”
I’ve long maintained that humanity’s greatest gift and greatest curse are one and the same - our prodigious talent for delusion. For believing things - passionately - that are belied by both logic and evidence. This is the wellspring of great art. Indeed, as a novelist* I cater to the desire of my own customers to - temporarily and knowingly - believe they are experiencing other realities and the thoughts of credible characters, engaged in barely plausible adventures.
I feel like there is a lot of exploitation in the world. When I buy clothes, I worry that they have been made by exploited workers, labouring in appalling conditions in sweatshops in developing countries. When I use my mobile phone, I worry that the coltan that is used to manufacture the chips has been sourced from exploited workers in conflict zones, and that the phones themselves have been assembled by exploited workers in large factory complexes somewhere in Asia. Of course, I still buy the clothes and use the phone (like pretty much everybody else). So the question arises: should I worry about the exploitation?
Schools insulated from industry and workplaces do a disservice to young people, as industries of the future require them to innovate and tinker, not just sit in classrooms absorbing lessons.
The industries of the future require students to be innovative and creative so that they can work effectively with technology instead of being replaced by it. They also require resilience and grit, as innovations demand tinkering, and failure is, more often than not, a natural step before success.
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