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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Access

Global Conference: Augmentation
September 3-5


Siegel @ Buddhist Geeks Conference
October 16-18
Boulder, Colorado




MULTIMEDIA: Access Topics

American Society for Engineering Education: Why Diversity is so Important

A vote for stem cells

This Is My Body

Why You are Wrong About Death and Aging

Turing Tests for Morality & Intimacy, Moral Enhancement & Digital Moral Assistants

Voluntary Cybernetic Enhancement

Cooking that kills: Where are the new cookstove technologies promised for developing countries?

The future of two ‘inevitable’ parts of the human condition; work and death

Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group

Roadmap to Immortality – Nanomedicine

Art + Science = NeuroEthics

Body Artist working on ‘My Body My Rights’

Singularity 1 on 1: Let’s Bring Engineers into Studying the Brain

Finding Cesar Chavez—a transformative moment

Tracing pathological consequences of fundamental aging processes




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Access Topics




Life in the 2050s: Consciousness unraveled, non-bio brains improve life, Next-Gen human evolves

by Dick Pelletier

Of course, no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, but by combining present day knowledge with anticipated advances, we can make plausible guesses about what life might be like in the 2050s. Over the coming decades, healthcare research will wield huge benefits for humankind. By 2050, stem cells, gene therapy, and 3-D bio printing promise to cure or make manageable most of today’s diseases.



5 Criticisms of the Movie “Her” From the Point of View of Speculation

by Jon Perry

Her is a great movie that I fully recommend. And as a movie it really only has one mandate: create an emotional impact on its audience. And by this metric Her succeeds wonderfully. However, how internally consistent is Her? How much sense does it make from the point of view of speculation? As it stands, Her actually does better than most science fiction movies. But it’s not perfect.



Big Data, Predictive Algorithms and the Virtues of Transparency (Part One)

by John Danaher

Transparency is a much-touted virtue of the internet age. Slogans such as the “democratisation of information” and “information wants to be free” trip lightly off the tongue of many commentators; classic quotes, like Brandeis’s “sunlight is the best disinfectant” are trotted out with predictable regularity. But why exactly is transparency virtuous? Should we aim for transparency in all endeavours? Over the next two posts, I look at four possible answers to that question.



IEET Digital Democracy and Education in Madagascar 2014

Dustin Eirdosh, Coordinator, IEET Madagascar (African Futures Project) makes great progress with technology education.

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Cryptocurrencies as a Single Pool of Wealth

by Gennady Stolyarov II

Thoughts on the Purchasing Power of Decentralized Electronic Money
 The recent meteoric rise in the dollar price of Bitcoin – from around $12 at the beginning of 2013 to several peaks above $1000 at the end – has brought widespread attention to the prospects for and future of cryptocurrencies. I have no material stake in Bitcoin (although I do accept donations), and this article will not attempt to predict whether the current price of Bitcoin signifies mostly lasting value or a bubble akin to the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630s. Instead of speculation about any particular price level, I hope here to establish a principle pertaining to the purchasing power of cryptocurrencies in general, since Bitcoin is no longer the only one.



The sciphi of gay adoption

by Massimo Pigliucci

Gay marriage is rapidly becoming less and less controversial, at least in the Western world. Yes, the battle hasn’t been won just yet, both in Europe and in the US, but we are getting there at a pace that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.



The Tyranny of Happiness

by Mateus Stein

In The Tyranny of Happiness, the last chapter of Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream, the philosopher and bioethicist Carl Elliott explores how the ideal of a happy life can be systematically imposed to people under specific circumstances. Making myself clearer, in the aforesaid essay, Elliott employs a critical analysis of the pursuit for a happy life in the American society since about the period of the Declaration of Independence until the present days.



Butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT

by Alan Brooks

This author chose Butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT, to write about because it is an antioxidant and also possesses antiviral, antimicrobial, properties: thus as it is available at low cost it could offer a double bang for the buck. But then, as world-famous dentist Christian Szell would ask, “is it safe?”



Femen in North America! Interview with the Feminist- Activist - Topless Leaders

by Hank Pellissier

Femen is notoriously well-known for its anti-authoritarian, anti-religion “top-free” protest activities in Europe, especially in the Ukraine (where they’re originally from) and in Paris, where they’re presently headquartered. Recent activities include disruption of a Catholic Christmas Mass in Cologne Cathedral in Germany, where Josephine – a Femen “sextremist” – clambered up and posed on the altar, arms widespread, with “I Am God” scrawled in black paint on her torso.



International Longevity Alliance (ILA) – Annual Report for 2013 – Roadmap for 2014

by Ilia Stambler

It has been only one year since the International Longevity Alliance (“ILA”) became consolidated in December 2012 at the Eurosymposium on Healthy Aging in Brussels.  This is the first annual report of our progress since our inception. The ILA’s mission is to to promote the advancement of healthy longevity for all people through scientific research, technological development, medical treatment, public health, education, advocacy and social activism.



Caplan: The case against care for those who are brain dead

by Arthur Caplan

Thirteen-year-old Jahi McMath died on Dec. 12 at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. Yet about a month later, Jahi is still on a ventilator because her parents refuse to accept her death. Aided by a misguided legal decision, she has been moved to another facility to be kept on artificial life support, which makes no medical or moral sense. What’s being done to her corpse is wrong, but a bigger issue is the threat her case poses to the rational and moral use of health care resources.



These are the science stories to watch for in 2014

by George Dvorsky

With the holiday season now officially over, it’s time to look ahead and see what’s in store for the coming year. Here are the most anticipated scientific and technological developments of 2014!



Searching for Superorganisms: An Urban Expedition in Madagascar

by Dustin Eirdosh

Every year, tens of thousands of international tourists and researchers descend into the wilds of Madagascar in search of the rarest of the rare organisms on earth. Lemurs, lizards, and even lacewings are just some of the hundreds of endemic species making the island a critical global biodiversity hot spot. While I love spending time in the natural lands of the countryside, these are not the important organisms that I am seeking. I am searching for superorganisms.



Rule by Algorithm? Big Data and the Threat of Algocracy

by John Danaher

An increasing number of people are worried about the way in which our data is being mined by governments and corporations. One of these people is Evgeny Morozov. In an article that appeared in the MIT Technology Review back in October 2013, he argued that this trend poses a serious threat to democracy, one that should be resisted through political activism and “sabotage”. As it happens, I have written about similar threats to democracy myself in the past, so I was interested to see how Morozov defended his view.



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.



Protesting Students Joined by Alumni: “Change the Church”

by Valerie Tarico

In late December, while marriage equality became law in New Mexico and Utah, a Washington vice principal and coach at a Catholic school got fired for marrying his partner, and a Philadelphia Methodist minister was defrocked because he performed a wedding ceremony for his son. 



Knowledge and Power, Or Dark Thoughts In Winter (Part 00110001)

by Rick Searle

For people in cold climes, winter, with its short days and hibernation inducing frigidity,  is a season to let one’s pessimistic imagination roam. It may be overly deterministic, but I often wonder whether those who live in climates that do not vary with the seasons, so that they live where it is almost always warm and sunny, or always cold and grim, experience less often over the course of a year the full spectrum of human sentiments and end up being either too utopian for reality to justify, or too dystopian for those lucky enough to be here and have a world to complain about in the first place.



Bitcoin Fever: 2013 – The Year of a $110 Million Online Heist & More

by Kathryn Cave

Aside from “twerking” the only word that has made both the Oxford and Collins “word of the year” list is “Bitcoin”… and this is little wonder to anyone who has been following the story. In 2013 Bitcoin has caused nothing but greed, debate and bafflement in the online world. It has leapt in value, been accepted in an ever increasing array of stores… and at the start of December was at the heart of the biggest online robbery of all time. Have you been caught up in Bitcoin fever yet?



Why I Wrote a Children’s Book on Indefinite Life Extension

by Gennady Stolyarov II

My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind. Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be 58 years old and already marked by notable signs of senescence, sitting at the kitchen table, drinking my morning coffee, and wondering, “What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now?



Is mind-uploading existentially risky? (Part Three)

by John Danaher

This is the third (and final) part in my ongoing series about the rationality of mind-uploading. The series deals with something called Searle’s Wager, which is an argument against the rationality of mind-uploading. The argument was originally developed by Nicholas Agar in his 2011 bookHumanity’s End. This series, however, covers a debate between Agar and Levy in the pages of the journal AI and Society. The first two parts discussed with Levy’s critique; this part discusses Agar’s response.



Is mind uploading existentially risky? (Part Two)

by John Danaher

This is the second in a series of posts looking at Searle's Wager and the rationality of mind-uploading. Searle's Wager is an argument that was originally developed by the philosopher Nicholas Agar. It claims that uploading one's mind to a computer (or equivalent substrate) cannot be rational because there is a risk that it might entail death. I covered the argument on this blog back in 2011. In this series, I'm looking at a debate between Nicholas Agar and Neil Levy about the merits of the argument. The current focus is on Levy's critique.



Is mind uploading existentially risky? (Part One)

by John Danaher

A couple of years ago I wrote a series of posts about Nicholas Agar’s book Humanity’s End: Why we should reject radical enhancement. The book critiques the arguments of four pro-enhancement writers. One of the more interesting aspects of this critique was Agar’s treatment of mind-uploading. Many transhumanists are enamoured with the notion of mind-uploading, but Agar argued that mind-uploading would be irrational due to the non-zero risk that it would lead to your death. The argument for this was called Searle’s Wager, as it relied on ideas drawn from the work of John Searle.



Google Glass: 10 Days In (Glass and the Barcodes)

by Brenda Cooper

A few people have asked me how it’s going with Glass.  So here’s a report (and there is a story about barcodes – hang on, it’s at the end).  The pictures are all #throughglass.



Freedom: Non-Frustration, Non-Interference and Non-Domination (Part Two)

by John Danaher

This is the second and final part in my series on the different conceptions of political freedom. The series is working from Philip Pettit's article "The Instability of Freedom as Noninterference: The Case of Isaiah Berlin". In this article, Pettit analyses three different conceptions of political freedom—freedom as non-frustration; freedom as non-interference; and freedom as non-domination—and makes an argument for the non-domination conception.



Rewriting our DNA promises amazing benefits, experts say

by Dick Pelletier

What if you could improve memory and intelligence, and live in an ageless body – just by taking a pill? Though this may sound like the stuff of science fiction, experts are developing a better understanding of our genetic mysteries, including the powerful influence that DNA wields on our lives.



Preparing for a New Dark Age

by Rick Searle

Back what now itself seems a millennium ago, when I was a senior in high school and freshman in college, I used to go to yard sales. I wasn’t looking for knickknacks or used appliances, but for cheap music and mostly for books. If memory serves me you could usually get a paperback for 50 cents, four of them for a dollar, and a hard cover for a buck.



#2 Editor’s Choice Award: The Antispeciesist Revolution

by David Pearce

When is it ethically acceptable to harm another sentient being? On some fairly modest assumptions, to harm or kill someone simply on the grounds they belong to a different gender, sexual orientation or ethnic group is unjustified. Such distinctions are real but ethically irrelevant. On the other hand, species membership is normally reckoned an ethically relevant criterion. Fundamental to our conceptual scheme is the pre-Darwinian distinction between “humans” and “animals”.



Freedom: Non-Frustration, Non-interference or Non-domination? (Part One)

by John Danaher

Freedom is an important ideal in liberal political theory, but what exactly does it entail? What do we have to do in order achieve the ideal of political freedom? How will we know if we have achieved it? The first step to answering these questions will be to provide some concrete conception of what it means to be free.



#4 A Test to Measure How Rational You Really Are

by George Dvorsky

Standard IQ tests are problematic on many levels — not least, because they do very little to tell us about the quality of our thinking. Looking to overcome this oversight, psychologist Keith Stanovich has started to work on the first-ever Rationality Quotient test. We spoke to him to learn more.



A Techno-Ramadan Proposal

by B. J. Murphy

I don’t consider myself as someone with nostalgia for the past. Certainly the past is fascinating and worth studying – historically, archaeologically, astronomically, etc. – but I don’t consider it worth pursuing again, all while abandoning everything we’ve achieved thus far. I reach to the stars, though keep a distant memory of what I’ve learned in the past.

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