One of the best art galleries in Moscow is going to host the first art exhibition about radical life extension – “You may not die”. This message is addressed primarily to the artistic community, and is a proposal for cooperation – let’s stand together and convince people that we have the opportunity to stay alive.
With bitcoin nearly doubling in value in the last few weeks (surpassing USD $400 on November 9, 2013 and reaching USD $937 on November 29, 2013) (see this chart in Figure 1 and the real-time exchange rate), the question is whether it is just another inflationary virtual currency bubble like WOW gold and Second Life Lindens, or a trend that will endure.
There are a lot of people out there who would prefer not to die. There are also many people trying to make this a reality by working seriously on the science of life extension. The goal, it would seem, is to reverse (or at least halt) the aging process, and allow us to live indefinitely. Let’s call the people who share this goal the “extensionists”.
Communications technology use is growing at a near exponential rate on a global scale.1 A recent United Nations study shows that more people have access to cell phones than toilets, as 6 billion of the world’s 7 billion people (85 percent) have access to mobile phones, while only 4.5 billion (64 percent) have access to working toilets.2
I have previously based my own ethical approach to interactions with other species on Jeremy Bentham’s derivation of rights from the ability to suffer. Bentham was a British philosopher and the founder of utilitarian philosophy (utilitarianism is “a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, usually defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering.”). As Bentham put it, “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”
I believe Google is making a huge mistake in completely banning facial recognition systems for its Glass product. In my opinion, such a system could be used to help save thousands of lives. But then, we’re too damn caught up on absolute privacy that we’re willing to sacrifice actual, physical lives to ensure our privacy remains untainted. Such individualist dogma is deadly.
I don’t want to die, but apparently Daniel Callahan wants me to. He wants me to say nothing, do nothing about aging and just wait until I am 75 and die quietly. Well, that’s not going to happen, mister. Bioethicisits like Callahan are the ones responsible for our suffering from the horrors of aging-related diseases and death. And here’s why. The opinion of bioethicists prevents the progress from being fast enough to cure aging. The decision-makers rely upon what senior “thinkers” like Callahan have in mind on the problem of life extension.
Although some people might find the idea of love with a machine repulsive, experts predict that as the technology advances and robots become more human-like, we will view our silicon cousins in a friendlier light. As the future unfolds, robots will fill more roles as family caregivers, household servants, and voice-enabled avatars that manage our driverless cars, automated homes, and entertainment systems.
I have worked a number of years in trauma and emergency medicine, and have learned a few lessons about human nature along the way that I think may be of benefit to others. Our tendency as human beings to carry around an Optimism Bias is probably one of our most deadly traits.
There’s a new “viral” video making the rounds. It’s a 15-minute pro gay-marriage film that interviews children about the concepts of prejudice, fairness and gay marriage. All the children in the video except one seem to think that basic principles of fairness should apply to men marrying men and women marrying women. However, throughout the video, one kid insists gay marriage “is just wrong.” When pressed for why this is so, the boy (who appears to be a five- or six-year-old) can provide no reason for his assertion.
Did anyone see the World War Z scene where the zombies reach the top of a massive zombie-proof wall and start pouring over? The same thing has finally happened to Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state. Council members in Pierce County, Washington got busted last week because they allocated taxpayer dollars to fund not one, but two evangelical missionary organizations that target public school kids for conversion.
In this, the final, part we will do two further things. First, we will step back from the particular arguments for and against the legitimacy of mental illness, and focus on Neil Pickering’s meta-philosophical diagnosis of the problems inherent in the debate. Then, having sharpened our appreciation for the meta-philosophical issues, we will consider what is probably the most recent and widely-discussed attempt to define “illness” in such a way that it (properly) includes mental illnesses: Jerome Wakefield’s Harmful Dysfunction analysis.
Of course, no one can predict with 100% accuracy how the future will unfold, but by combining present day knowledge with anticipated advances, we can make plausible guesses about what to expect in 2063.
This is the second post in a brief series looking at the philosophy of mental illness. As noted in part one, some people are suspicious about the concept of mental “illness”. To call something an illness is to deem it worthy of medical scrutiny and treatment. This makes sense — so they argue — when dealing with things like broken bones, viruses, clotted arteries, bacterial infections, cancerous tumours and so forth. They all involve clear, objectively assessable physical effects and causes. Mental illness is not the same: it involves more nebulous, less tractable effects and causes, ones that are not always open to the same level of objective assessment.
As we learn more and more details regarding government spying, it seems more and more foolhardy to trust our security to third party businesses.The state requires information on its subjects to be effective. From the first census in Egypt more than 5000 years ago, states have sought personal information on their citizens, especially in tyrannical states, where informants and secret police gather information on any and all potentially subversive activities.
My Facebook account is reserved for close friends and family (if you want to follow my writings, there’s Twitter). One of my very close relatives is a fellow of about my age, self-professed politically progressive, and with whom there is a lot of reciprocal respect and love. The ideal conditions to conduct the occasional rational discourse on politics or social issues, right? Wrong.
We have all experienced the frustration of trying to impart some kind of knowledge only to be met with obviously fake arguments. What we may be less aware of, however, is the extent to which people come up with such arguments because they simply don’t want to know. And even if we are aware of this, we may not know what to do about it.
Radical life extension is coming. That means future societies will have to do a dramatic rethink of our ideas about how long offenders should be imprisoned and — more crucially — the ways they’ll be rehabilitated.
It may be a push, but I think it is fair to say that no branch of modern medicine faces the same existential challenges as psychiatry. To give a sense of the problem, a quick browse through Amazon reveals aplethoraofbooks, many published within the past ten years, that either directly challenge the legitimacy of mental illness, call into question the medicalisation of the mind, or dispute the unholy alliance between “pharma” and psychiatry.
In The American Way of War, historian Russell Weigley describes a grinding strategy of destruction employed by the U.S. military over the last 150 years. To end the Civil War, Grant felt he had to destroy lee’s soldiers; in World War I, Pershing relentlessly bombarded and wore down Germany’s proud fighting machine; and the Army Air Corps pulverized major German and Japanese cities to win World War II.
Many transhumanist factions point out a need to gain some form of longevity or even immortality. The most common forms are mind upload, life extending drugs and treatments, body part replacement with prosthetics or “spare parts” and lastly, cryonics.
Zoltan Istvan’s bestseller The Transhumanist Wager, often reviewed as a rabid anti-religion manifesto, includes the foundations of a new, Cosmist scientific religion, a “Third Way” alternative to traditional belief based on science, but at the same time able to offer all the benefits of religion.
When our most precious and hard fought for successes give rise to yet more challenges life is revealing its Sisyphean character. We work as hard as we can to roll a rock up a hill only to have it crush us on the way down. The stones that threatens us this time are two of our global civilization’s greatest successes- the fact that children born are now very likely to live into old age and the fact that we have stretched out this old age itself so that many, many more people are living into ages where in the past the vast majority of their peers would be dead. These two demographic revolutions when combined form the basis of what I am calling the Longevity Crisis. Let’s take infant mortality first.
The study, conducted by a team of scientists and clinicians from JCVI and WCHN, will focus on two groups of elderly individuals aged 65 to 85 years by correlating genetics with a variety of human genomic, gut microbiome and other “omics” profiles and integrating these data with the individuals’ health record. One group will consist of healthy individuals, and the other will have individuals with a variety of diagnosed health conditions.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without pain relief. We depend on these drugs to an unspeakable degree, yet few of us know what’s available or how they even work. Here’s a quick primer on painkillers and why they’re so good at easing the pain.
On Wednesday morning after the November 5 election, a hard Right rag, The Washington Times, headlined with the following caption: “Christie’s win, Cuccinelli’s loss: Two playbooks for defending against the ‘war on women.’”
For Google* there was Innocence of Muslims. For Twitter, there were, and still are, rape threats. For Facebook, now there are decapitations. Facebook’s controversy is the newest in a long line of quagmires that make companies—or at least their customers—question American platitudes about free speech. It comes after Facebook briefly decided not to ban one video of the brutal decapitation of a woman in Mexico to go viral.
Former pro football* player Brett Favre recently admitted he’s suffering serious memory loss from years of head injuries while playing."I don't remember my daughter playing soccer, youth soccer, one summer. I don't remember that,” Favre said in a radio interview.