What did you really see and hear? Don’t be so sure you know the answer.
Garth Spruiell has spent the last thirty years working as a professional video editor, most recently creating promotional content for The Weather Channel and before that tweaking everything from ads to religion to porn for an independent editing shop in Los Angeles. He knows the tricks of the trade: how to grab your attention, heighten emotion, create seamless transitions, or even weave a compelling story from a whole lot of nothing.
You know the shocking story: in January 2015, two masked Islamist gunmen launched a paramilitary attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly magazine. The gunmen murdered twelve people: two police officers and ten of the magazine’s staff, including the much-loved editor and cartoonist Stéphane Charbonnier (known as “Charb”).
In the immediate aftermath, many people expressed solidarity with Charlie Hebdo’s staff and their loved ones, and with the citizens of Paris. There were vigils and rallies in cities across the world. Twitter hashtags proliferated, the most viral being #JeSuisCharlie: “I am Charlie.”
When someone asks me what I do, and I tell them that I’m a futurist, the first thing they ask “what is a futurist?” The short answer that I give is “I use current scientific research in emerging technologies to imagine how we will live in the future.”
However, as you can imagine the art of futurology and foresight is much more complex. I spend my days thinking, speaking and writing about the future, and emerging technologies. On any given day I might be in Warsaw speaking at an Innovation Conference, in London speaking at a Global Leadership Summit, or being interviewed by the Discovery Channel. Whatever the situation, I have one singular mission. I want you to think about the future.
A recent New York Times article chronicled 23-year-old Kim Suozzi’s decision to cryonically preserve her brain. Kim, who died recently of cancer, raised the money for her cryonic preservation by soliciting donations with this post at the subreddit “atheism” at the online site reddit—yes atheists can be generous people. Here is the video that accompanied the post:
“When I retire from work, I will finally live the life I’ve always wanted.”
Employment. Earning a living. Our life’s work. Career. Vocation.
Retirement. Freedom. Doing what I really want. Finally free.
What’s the deal with our relationship to work? When I was young, I was told to get a good job, earn a living, then retire and live a life free of work. I would listen to the adults around me and wonder what it meant. As if the only work we do is for another in order to receive money. Where does this idea come from? For if it’s true, then the human being doesn’t do a lick of work before getting that good job, and then after sixty, doesn’t work again.
Catholic Pro-life organization wants you to just put up with suffering—and actually says so!
The American Life League [ALL] mobilizes devout Catholics against medical options that, to their way of thinking, violate God’s will. If you should drive past a Planned Parenthood and see elderly women fingering rosary beads next to pictures of the Virgin Mary, or young men holding Bibles and praying, American Life League probably had a hand in their presence there. Ironically, ALL also spreads misinformation about birth control, for example via a Pill Kills campaign—which means they feed the line-up of Catholic women waiting for abortion services.
Aging is truly the travesty of our age. It constitutes the largest source of in-principle-preventable death in existence today – a toll of 100,000 real, feeling, hoping and daring human beings lost irreversibly for all time, per day. That’s a million human lives lost every one and a half weeks. A loss equal to the entire population of Canada every year, and to the entire U.S. population every decade. It accounts for three quarters of all deaths globally and for nine-tenths of all deaths in most developed countries.
I have been pursuing gene therapies for aging, so my decision to discuss this goes against my current direction. We really don’t know what the limits are of what we might be able to do by playing the autonomic nervous system, but here are some thoughts to chew on.
Earth is a colorful and diversely populated planet. Evolution just happened to be a genius beyond reckoning, but one that many of us take for granted much of the time - perhaps not on a conscious level, but in more of a conditioned and familiar sense. Continents of Homo sapiens developed into different races, created various cultures based on environment (and most likely genes), and the rest is history. Using this as a lens through which to frame humans’ development of robots, is there any reason to doubt that we will one day have any less of a diverse population of robots?
Gareth John is an IEET reader and supporter who lives in Mid Wales; he’s an ex-Buddhist priest with a MA in Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, and a PhD focusing on non-monastic traditions of Tibetan tantric Buddhism. He has Bipolar disorder. In this Q & A, he generously shares his experience. This is Part 2 of two parts.
Gareth John is an IEET reader and supporter who lives in Mid Wales; he’s an ex-Buddhist priest with a MA in Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, and a PhD focusing on non-monastic traditions of Tibetan tantric Buddhism. He has Bipolar disorder. In this Q & A, he generously shares his experience.
Hank Pellissier: Can you explain in your own words what Bipolar disorder is, for our readers?
Gareth John: Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
Throughout history, small bands of radicals have attempted to transcend the ordinary limitations of human nature and current society. Were they brave explorers voyaging into alien realms of the soul and intellect, or fools? In either case, they apparently failed. Or did they? Perhaps we can learn from the past histories of perfectionist movements like Oneida and the Process, both of them precursors of contemporary Transhumanism, and from virtual worlds like A Tale in the Desert that today are building imaginary societies based on cooperation and innovative forms of communication. The current crisis facing psychiatry and social psychology erodes the respect we might have felt for conventional attempts to transcend the human condition, giving renewed plausibility to utopian experiments. If we are doomed to fail, we might as well do so in an interesting way!
If recent right-wing insanity has driven you over the edge and you’ve decided to tell the world that you think Planned Parenthood is a good place or abortion care is a good thing (or even decided to share a personal story), you will need to get prepared for the muck that’s likely to get slung your way. Fortunately, once you move beyond your inner circle of people who matter, much of what flies through the air will be ignorant comments and insults from people who don’t. As someone who is public about why I am pro-abortion, and about my own story, here are eleven lame shaming themes I’ve encountered, along with my responses.
The Doomsday argument (DA) is controversial idea that humanity has a higher probability of extinction based purely on probabilistic arguments. The DA is based on the proposition that I will most likely find myself somewhere in the middle of humanity’s time in existence (but not in its early time based on the expectation that humanity may exist a very long time on Earth.)
Thank you Foundation Beyond Belief for selecting me as the recipient of the Heart of Humanism Award for 2015. I believe I have just received the best award the world has to offer.
Superstition confuses the mind. It distorts reality, hardens the conscience and poisons the heart. Irrational belief drains the well of human compassion causing suffering, death, darkness and destruction. As Voltaire once noted, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”.
In my junior year at Stanford I started inviting David Pearce (IEET Fellow, who advocates the “abolition of suffering”) to give talks there. I was able to hang out with him over the course of many afternoons, and even had the chance to interview him once. He made me aware of the causal relevance of the Stanford Transhumanist Association (it is a force multiplier, memetically speaking), and solidified my commitment to prioritizing suffering over everything else.
Pourquoi et comment est-il possible de concevoir une évolution transhumaniste dans un contexte de Décroissance?
Une opposition en apparence
À la lecture des publications proposées par le courant des “objecteurs de croissance”, on pourrait être amenés à penser que ce mouvement n’a strictement rien à échanger avec le Transhumanisme. Leur présentation relève de la critique la plus radicale, la plus hostile même, se confondant avec celle d’une organisation comme l’association Pièce et Main d’Oeuvre. Leurs rédacteurs n’hésitent pas à reprendre pour eux le qualificatif de “néoluddites”, à savoir, ceux qui se disent prêts à détruire les outils de la technologie, les machines.
Fortyyears after Roe v. Wade, the anti-abortion movement is a radical failure by the very metrics that Pro-life leaders cite to inspire their base. What would an effective anti-abortion movement look like?
U.S. women have obtained nearly 53 million legal abortions since 1973. At least in part, that is because self-described abortion foes ignore or oppose the most powerful strategies for making abortion obsolete. The anti-abortion movement is dominated by religious fundamentalists whose determination to control sex—who has it, with whom, for what purpose—takes priority over their desire to reduce abortions. This focus has seriously interfered with eliminating the supply and demand for abortion services.
We see far less emphasis on depicting immortality as desirable and attainable through the right variety of religious practices and/or moral codes in Norse religion and mythology. We do, however, find in it conceptions of life after death, as well as the notion of significantly prolonged life in the physical world:
“Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all religions come from that hope.” ~ Robert Green Ingersoll’s Views on Politics and Religion. Chicago Times, 1879
Is religion at odds with the life extension movement? A resounding yes and no. Religion constitutes at once perhaps the best historical validation of the widespread, longstanding and deep-rooted desirability of indefinite longevity, as well as a non-negligible detriment to the contemporary progress in the field of biomedical gerontology. Insofar as religion was created to appeal to humanity’s longing for indefinite longevity, or more precisely for the absence of involuntary and irreversible death, then religion is at odds with itself.
I wonder if people in the United States understand what it means that the Labour Party in London now has a peace activist in charge of it. Jeremy Corbyn does not resemble any U.S. politicians. He doesn’t favor “only the smart wars” or prefer drone murders to massive invasions. Corbyn opposes wars, and he works to end militarism.
In the North of Ghana, among the Dagomba, the name for a witch is Sonya, and a wizard is Bukpaha. But in local discourse there is often no reference to Bukpaha. Sonya is commonly used to refer to a person, male or female (though largely female), who engages in malevolent magic.
Another Dagomba term for Sonya is Pakurugu, which means an old woman, or as the English speaking Dagomba say, an ‘old lady’. Among the Dagomba, the notion of witchcraft has a female face. Men are more often perceived as ‘doctors’ with the cure for witchcraft.
Will our daughters, sons and young neighbors have the same reproductive rights we have? Only if advocates of chosen childbearing tap the deep moral roots and emotions beneath abortion care.
Picture a future in which children come into the world by design rather than by default. In this future, young women and men pursue their dreams and form the families of their choosing without the ever-present risk of a surprise pregnancy that plagues young lives today. Contraceptives almost never fail, and most pregnancies are healthy thanks to “preconception care” and prenatal care.
I have been mapping out the major axis of the states of consciousness accessible by humans via the use of psychotropic drugs.
My procedure is: I asked people from all sorts of drug forums online, as well as people in the general population, to answer a survey in which they are required to rate the effects of a drug they have taken (rating them on 30+ attributes such as “cheerful”, “calming” and “mystical”). You can read the methodology and the details of the analysis in here.
What technologies are currently shaping our world…and which will continue to mold our future? In this special posting, we’ll take you on a tour of many wondrous web sites and other resources that aim spotlights at the future. And invite you all to chime in with favorites that I missed!
In the United Kingdom, ongoing social and political controversy over voluntary euthanasia, or (physician) assisted suicide, has reached a new stage. Labour MP Rob Marris has put forward a private member’s bill, and it will be debated in the House of Commons this month. Thus, the UK now becomes a focus of attention for those of us with an interest in the issue of assisted suicide.
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