The history of our belief in progress is a complicated one. This belief first arose during the eighteenth century Enlightenment and became a central feature of the Western worldview until circa the mid-twentieth century, when the first anthropogenic “existential risk” was introduced. Although progressionism suffered a serious blow with the inauguration of the Atomic Age, a renewed belief in the goodness and historical reality of techno-progress has reemerged within the transhumanist movement.
(with co-author M. Heather Dragoo) Abstract: As a genre, science fiction provides a uniquely fertile medium from which we can extrapolate the defining characteristics of personhood, explore our future potentials, and project our current selves onto tomorrow. One such example is the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.
By an overwhelming majority, respondents to a recently concluded poll said they expect the pace of development in emerging technologies to remain swift over the next two decades, but they are divided over how strong the opposition will be to human enhancements.
For active online gamers, real life is broken. It doesn’t make any sense. Effort isn’t connected to reward. The path forward is confused, convoluted, and contradictory. Worse, there’s a growing sense that the entire game is being corrupted to ensure failure. So why play it?
One of the biggest letdowns for me about the film Wall-E was that all of the robots, save the evil navigator, were in some way visually anthropomorphic. They had hands, eyes, voices, that were unmistakably humanish. Pixar’s great mascot, Luxo Jr., managed to be lovable without these traits. There is a certain extra level of magic involved in making a great character that is utterly unrecognizable as human.
Yesterday in Shanghai, a woman miscarried. The child that wasn’t born would have led a unified China to attack and defeat India, Russia, and finally Europe, resulting in a Chinese empire that ruled the world from 2050 to 2100. Instead, China wilted under internal political strife caused by economic and environmental pressures, and became a second-rate power in the 21st century.
We tend think about compassion on the level of individual selves and minds: Bob feels compassionate toward Jim because Jim lost his wife, or his wallet, etc. Bob sympathizes with Jim because he can internally, to a certain extent, “feel what Jim feels.”
After a yearlong hiatus, I thought it was about time that I got back on the nano-horse and giddy-upped into some new thoughts and understandings regarding that tiny little thing we call “nanotechnology.”
You can make an argument that the quality of health care in the United States is as good as anywhere in the world (if you can afford it)—but the system we use to allocate and pay for that care is obviously broken and needs to be fixed.
A lot of things keep me up at night – everything from the trivial (“did I remember to brush my teeth?”) to the to the profound (“does it matter?”). But recently, I’ve been plagued more than usual in the wee small hours by the challenge of developing sustainable and resilient technologies.
I have proposed that a scenario of slower-than-disruptive tech development over the next 15-20 years combined with weak or reduced opposition to human enhancement could result in “increasing irrelevance” for transhumanists. But what exactly does that mean?
Virtual worlds are persistent online computer-generated environments where people can interact, whether for work or play, in a manner comparable to the real world. The most popular current example is World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online game with eleven million subscribers. However, other virtual worlds, notably Second Life, are not games at all but Internet-based collaboration contexts in which people can create virtual objects, simulated architecture, and working groups.
Most Enlightenment thinkers believed in the inevitability of human political and technological progress, transforming the Christian expectation that history was predetermined to end in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth into a conviction that humanity would be able to continually improve itself. But the scientific worldview does not support historical inevitability, only uncertainty.
While it’s common to look at transhumanist themes through the lens of science fiction, I think it’s at least as fascinating to consider the ethical issues and themes explored in controversial, well-written dramas such as Nip/Tuck.
If the field of futures were invented today, what would it look like? What would its intellectual foundations be? Who would it serve and influence? And how would its ideas and insights be put into practice?
The only way for us to survive is to evolve. Transhumanism - a movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve the mental and physical characteristics and capacities of humans - is the way forward, writes Natasha Vita-More.