Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Vision

Vita-More, Rothblatt, Hughes @ Juniata H+ Conference
July 26-31
Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA USA


Living Machines 2015
July 27-31
La Pedrera, Barcelona, Spain


Sorgner, Wallach @ International Conference on the Integration of Science, Technology and Society
August 3-7
Daejeon, S. Korea


Sorgner @ Beyond Humanism Conf: From Humanism to Post- and Transhumanism?
September 15-18
Seoul, S. Korea


Transhumanism and the Church
September 24-26
Samford University, Birmingham, AL USA


Siegel @ Transformative Technology Conference
October 2-4
Sofia University, Palo Alto CA, USA


Humanism and its prefixes (non-, trans-, post-, in-, a-)
October 3-4
Berkeley CA, USA




MULTIMEDIA: Vision Topics

Partiality to Humanity and Enhancement

What if Nothing is Sacred? Politics and Bioethics without Sanctity

Emergence, Reduction & Artificial Intelligence

Neurolaw

What is the Future of Advertising?

The Singularity Song

Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

You’re Wired for Anxiety. And You’re Wired to Handle It

Futurist Gray Scott on Artificial Intelligence

Rover’s-Eye View of Marathon on Mars

Futuristic Now Episode 001

Thync: A Mood-Altering Wearable

Does Homosexuality Make Evolutionary Sense?

Peaceful Coexistence of Conflicting Ideologies

The “God Helmet” Can Give You Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences




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Technoprogressive List

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Vision Topics




America’s best-kept sex secret: lots of us don’t want it

by Valerie Tarico

America’s obsession with sex is rivaled only by America’s obsession with repressing sex—except for the millions of Americans who find the whole thing simply uninteresting.

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Free Will Does Not Exist - Should it be a Transhumanist Enhancement?

by Hank Pellissier

Humans Do Not Have Free Will.

I agree with that statement. So do the vast majority of today’s scientists; neurology and psychology journals increasingly define free will as “an illusion… a figment of our imagination.”

In his 1932 “My Credo” Albert Einstein wrote “I do not believe in free will.”  In the best-seller Free Will, Sam Harris declares the notion “incoherent.” Neuro-philosopher Garrett Merriam opines in an IEET interview “the notion of ‘free will’.. [is a] useless concept… I have high hopes that neuroscience will…eliminate [it]…”

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Will Transhumanism Lead to Greater Freedom?

by John G. Messerly

A friend emailed me to say that he believed that transhumanists should strive to be free, if free will doesn’t currently exist, or strive to be freer, if humans currently possess some small modicum of free will. He also suggested that becoming transhuman would expedite either process. In short he was claiming that transhumanists should desire more freedom.

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The Yuck Factor — What Planned Parenthood Smears, Homophobia, & Middle School Have in Common

by Valerie Tarico

Medical procedures and research are yucky. Good healthcare means getting over it. If religious conservatives have their way, reproductive healthcare will be dictated by the same psychology that drives middle school jokes about genitals, dead babies and poop—our instinctive squeamish reaction to things that are disgusting and shocking, especially if they relate to sex. Good thing public health advocates and medical providers have a higher set of priorities.

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The King of Weird Futures

by Rick Searle

Back in the late winter I wrote a review of the biologist Edmund O. Wilson’s grandiloquently mistitled tract-  The Meaning of Human Existence. As far as visions of the future go Wilson’s was a real snoozer, although for that very reason it left little to be nervous about. The hope that he articulated in his book being that we somehow manage to keep humanity pretty much the same- genetically at least- “as a sacred trust”,  in perpetuity. It’s a bio-conservatism that, on one level, I certainly understand, but one I also find incredibly unlikely given that the future consists of….well…. an awfully long stretch of time (that is as long as we’re wise enough or just plain lucky ). How in the world can we expect, especially in light of current advances in fields like genetics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence etc, that we can, or even should, keep humanity essentially unchanged not just now, but for 100 years, or 1000s year, 10,000s years, or even longer?

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Transhumanist Therapy II: A Century of Electronic Psychotherapy

by William Sims Bainbridge

While less controversial than it was fifty years ago, psychotherapy is an anomalous feature of modern culture, plagued by defects.  Among its shortcomings, psychotherapy has made remarkably little use of information technologies. This blog considers electronic devices to measure human emotional response, that may have been stigmatized by their use in radical religious movements, or by their origins in primitive attempts a century ago to cure neurotics.  I do not recommend simply adopting those religious or therapeutic practices, but adapting the technology to new uses.  A mentally healthy individual could employ emotion-sensing hardware to identify personal goals, consider the meaning of past events, and explore future possibilities.

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Penis 2.0: Here’s What the Penis of the Future Should Look Like

by George Dvorsky

Like our brains, the human penis hasn’t evolved in tens of thousands of years — and that’s a real shame. Our favorite male body part is capable of so much more. In consideration of pending advances in science and technology, here’s what to expect with penis 2.0.

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Altruistic Horizons: Our tribal natures, the ‘fear effect’ and the end of ideologies

by David Brin

Social thinkers long yearned for the kind of predictive power offered by universal laws of Galileo, Newton and Einstein—reductionist rules that changed our relationship with the material world, from helplessness to manipulative skill. If only similar patterns and laws were found for human nature! Might we construct an ideal society suited to decent living by all?

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Zoltan Istvan’s “Teleological Egocentric Functionalism”: An approach to viable politics?

by Roland Benedikter

The current foundation phase of “Transhumanist” politics deserves a critical discussion of the philosophical principles that implicitly underlie its new political organization. As part of the effort towards a self-critical evaluation of political transhumanism, which is undoubtedly still in a very early phase of development, this chapter discusses the philosophy drafted by the founder of the “Transhumanist Party of the USA”, Zoltan Istvan, in his bestselling novel “The Transhumanist Wager” (2013) dedicated to develop the vision of a better society. Istvan called the philosophy underlying his meta-national, if not global, vision “Teleological Egocentric Functionalism”. We discuss the achievements, contradictions and dialectics of and within this philosophy; its possible relation to realistic social policy programs; as well as the potential implications and consequences. The goal is to achieve a more considered overall discourse at the contested new ideological interface between humanism and transhumanism which could define an influential zeitgeist of our time.

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Four political futures: which will you choose?

by David Wood

Politics is being shaped by our responses to the prospect of accelerating, exponential technological change. Technosceptics deny accelerating change will occur. Technoconservatives accept that accelerating change poses radical questions, and want to stem the tide of change. Technolibertarians believe accelerating change will be for the best, and technology and capitalism just need to be left to work their wonders. Technoprogressives believe accelerating change poses serious risks as well as rewards, and that we can maximize the rewards and minimize the risks through public policy.

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Can transhumanism avoid becoming the Marxism of the 21st century?

by Steve Fuller

Is there any politically tractable strategy for transhumanism to avoid the Bismarckian move, which ultimately curtails the capacity of basic research to explore and challenge the fundamental limits of our being? My answer is as follows: Transhumanists need to take a more positive attitude towards the military.

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Mapping Approaches to AI Safety

by Alexey Turchin

When I started to work on this map of AI safety solutions, I wanted to illustrate the excellent 2013 article “Responses to Catastrophic AGI Risk: A Survey” by Kaj Sotala and IEET Affiliate Scholar Roman V. Yampolskiy, which I strongly recommend. However, during the process I had a number of ideas to expand the classification of the proposed ways to create safe AI.

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Mind Uploading and The Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

by Keith B. Wiley

We stand at the cusp of guaranteeing the survival of fundamental purpose in the universe, reality, and existence by insuring the continuation of consciousness. This is a far grander calling than merely enabling individual life extension. Existential metaphysical purpose is our foremost responsibility as conscious beings, and computer intelligence is the method of achieving it.



IEET Audience Sees a Virtual Future for Sex

We asked the IEET audience “In the coming century will face-to-face, in-body sex be more or less common?” given tech that will encourage virtualization such as brainjacks, porn, sexbots, and electronically-mediated sex. Or will we revel in our newly young, perpetually healthy, and hormonally tweaked bodies by having a lot more face-to-face sex. The 140 of you who responded were two-to-one convinced we are headed for more virtual sex.

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Danaher Publishes Human Enhancement, Social Solidarity and the Distribution of Responsibility

IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher has a new paper in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice that argues for how human enhancement does not threaten social solidarity.

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If We Can Achieve Gay Marriage and Legal Pot, We Can Fix Climate Change Too

by Ramez Naam

A decade ago, it was nearly inconceivable that in 2015, gay marriage would be legal across the US and marijuana fully legal in four states plus the District of Columbia. Yet it happened. It happened because citizens who wanted change led, from the bottom up, often through citizens initiatives.

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Specifications: An engineer’s approach to upgrading politics

by Rene Milan

Politics 2.0 – what might that mean?  Like most people probably would, i immediately associated it with the numbering system commonly used in software releases, but having worked as a programmer for 30 years i could not see how this could be applied to something as complex and diffuse as politics.  However if taken as something like a cognitive metaphor i still could not clearly grasp its meaning, beyond the vague implication of improvement over Politics 1.x, presumably what humanity is struggling with today.

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Losing Your Religion in Sin City – An Interview with Sociologist Lori Fazzino

by Valerie Tarico

What do vampires and Las Vegas atheists have in common? Ethical rules, social stigma, and a hunger for community. When people think about Las Vegas, most picture some combination of gambling, burlesque, night clubs and legalized prostitution—the pleasures that earned Vegas the nickname Sin City. But when Sociologist Lori Fazzino thinks about Las Vegas, she pictures churches.

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DIY Philanthropy - Four Simple Tips on Helping Directly

by Hank Pellissier

I critiqued the Effective Altruist movement in a previous essay, and suggested a superior alternative: DIY Philanthropy. My recommendation is to erase the ‘middleman” in charitable giving by donating directly to the people you want to assist. Instead of spending hours trying to decide the best non-profit to scribble a check to, you can travel directly to those in need and hand them cash, food, medicine or supplies. Face-to-Face.

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Wallach Publishes in Prestigious NAS Journal

IEET Fellow Wendell Wallach recently co-published an article in the National Academy of Sciences‘ ISSUES in Science and Technology journal, with ASU law professor Gary E. Marchant,  The piece is entitled Coordinating Technology Governance and it explores the need for, and application of, a nimble authoritative coordinating body, referred to as a Governance Coordination Committee, to fill an urgent gap with regard to the assessment of the ethical, legal, social and economic consequences of emerging technologies.

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Transhumanism – The Final Religion?

by Dirk Bruere

After several decades of relative obscurity Transhumanism as a philosophical and technological movement has finally begun to break out of its strange intellectual ghetto and make small inroads into the wider public consciousness. This is partly because some high profile people have either adopted it as their worldview or alternatively warned against its potential dangers. Indeed, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama named it “The world’s most dangerous idea” in a 2004 article in the US magazine Foreign Policy, and Transhumanism’s most outspoken publicist, Ray Kurzweil, was recently made director of engineering at Google, presumably to hasten Transhumanism’s goals.

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5 Ancient Ways to Survive Drought: Public Baths, Veganism, Nudity, Eco-Latrines, Eating with Hands

by Hank Pellissier

“Blue Gold.” Water is becoming dangerously rare and valuable in drought-stricken areas around the globe, including my home in California.

Today citizens in developed nations each wastefully splash away 100s of gallons per day. But what if fresh H2O continues to dwindle? Suppose humans were rationed a meager allotment, like 10, or 5, or even 2 gallons per day?

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Book Review: Abundance—A Must Read for Any Futurist

by Nicole Sallak Anderson

Authors Peter H. Diamandis and Steve Kotler have created just about the perfect handbook when it comes to envisioning a technically advanced, democratic and thriving society. Written in 2012, this book is still an important read for anyone who’s interested in a technical future where humanity finally rises above the mire it has been tethered to for millennia.

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Evolution and Ethics

by John G. Messerly

I have been interested in the above topic since taking a wonderful graduate seminar in the subject about 30 years ago from Richard J. Blackwell at St. Louis University. Recently a friend introduced me to a paper on the topic, “Bridging the Is-Ought Divide: Life is. Life ought to act to remain so,” by Edward Gibney who argues (roughly) that the naturalistic fallacy has no force. Gibney is not a professional philosopher, but I found myself receptive to his argument nonetheless.

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Effective Altruism, GiveWell, and GiveDirectly: How to Give Money to the Poor

by Scott Jackisch

I attended the 2014 Effective Altruism Summit, and this essay describes what I learned.  

Effective Altruism is the idea that charitable giving should actually produce measurable results.  It’s an evidence-based approach that is supposedly in contrast to more conventional charities.  

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Solar Cost Less than Half of What EIA Projected

by Ramez Naam

Skeptics of renewables sometimes cite data from EIA (The US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration) or from the IEA (the OECD’s International Energy Agency). The IEA has a long history of underestimating solar and wind that I think is starting to be understood.

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Conservatives Choose More Unwanted Pregnancy and Abortion over Better Birth Control for Teens

by Valerie Tarico

Fewer pregnant teens, fewer abortions, fewer unwed mothers, fewer single-parent families on welfare, more balanced state budgets. Sounds like a set of goals that should be common ground for anyone who cares about America’s future, right?

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Effective Altruism has Five Serious Flaws - Avoid It - Be a DIY Philanthropist Instead

by Hank Pellissier

In an earlier essay I recommended the Effective Altruism (EA) movement, the humanitarian crusade spearheaded by philosopher Peter Singer.

Today, I retract my support. Although EA’s core intention is morally commendable - donating “expendable income” to world-improving causes - there are multiple details in its strategy and organization that are sloppy, simplistic, ethically dubious and downright foolish.

It pains me to reach this conclusion. Here’s how it happened:

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The Robot Lord Scenario

by Scott Jackisch

I just finished reading Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. This is a nonfiction book in which Ford predicts that all jobs will soon be automated away, and that this will lead to an economic crash, since no one will have any money to buy anything.  I’ve written about this idea before, and Ford’s position hasn’t changed much since his previous book, Lights in the Tunnel.

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The cost of Greek austerity - what would Socrates think of this mess?

by piero scaruffi

In 2008 i was shocked to read that Lehman Brothers had accumulated a total debt of $613 billion: imagine what the world could do with that much money, money that just one firm managed to lose. At the time i was in Africa and i remember checking the GDP of African countries: i was amazed to realize that (in 2008) this amount was more than the GDP of any African country.

It is hard to believe, but in five years the money spent to save Greece from bankruptcy amounts to 350 billion euros (as calculated by the Greek statistics agency ELSTAT), which is about $400 billion.

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