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



UPCOMING EVENTS: SciTech

Baum on “Risks of accidental nuclear war” @ UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Prep Committee
April 28-9
New York City, NY USA


Baum, Pellissier @ Global Existential Risks and Radical Futures
June 14
Piedmont, CA USA




MULTIMEDIA: SciTech Topics

Scary, Thought-provoking, Futurist Prank by Singularity 1 on 1

Existential Risk

How to break the Internet, destroy democracy and enslave the human race (or not)

Digital Rights Management

Everything Will Be Alright Episode 5

The Artilect War

Managing Big Data for Science in the Age of Supercomputers

Impacts of Artificial Intelligence

The intelligence explosion hypothesis

Give Edward Snowden Clemency!

Climate Change 2013/2014 Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis

Rhys Darby’s Reasons to be Scared of the Future

Transcendence Official Trailer #1 (2014)

TechDebate: Lethal Autonomous (“Killer”) Robots

Risk of massive asteroid strike underestimated




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SciTech Topics




Should we bet on radical enhancement?

by John Danaher

This is the third part of my series on Nicholas Agar’s book Truly Human Enhancement. As mentioned previously, Agar stakes out an interesting middle ground on the topic of enhancement. He argues that modest forms of enhancement — i.e. up to or slightly beyond the current range of human norms — are prudentially wise, whereas radical forms of enhancement — i.e. well beyond the current range of human norms — are not. His main support for this is his belief that in radically enhancing ourselves we will lose certain internal goods. These are goods that are intrinsic to some of our current activities.



Why Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics Can’t Protect Us

by George Dvorsky

It’s been 50 years since Isaac Asimov devised his famous Three Laws of Robotics — a set of rules designed to ensure friendly robot behavior. Though intended as a literary device, these laws are heralded by some as a ready-made prescription for avoiding the robopocalypse. We spoke to the experts to find out if Asimov's safeguards have stood the test of time — and they haven't.



Every Scientist Should Be An Anarchist

by William Gillis

The first time I encountered the claim that an anarchistic society would impede scientific progress I was too shocked — and later busy chortling — to sketch out a thorough response. It’s a surprising sentiment to me for a lot of reasons, not the least for the well known correspondence between scientific progress and social and material freedom in mass societies.



The Singularity Is Further Than It Appears

by Ramez Naam

Are we headed for a Singularity? Is it imminent? I write relatively near-future science fiction that features neural implants, brain-to-brain communication, and uploaded brains. I also teach at a place called Singularity University. So people naturally assume that I believe in the notion of a Singularity and that one is on the horizon, perhaps in my lifetime.



The ethics of global catastrophic risk from dual-use bioengineering

by Seth Baum

A discussion of ethical and legal issues arising from bioengineered technologies that could benefit humanity or pose risk of a global catastrophe.



Can We Avoid a Surveillance State Dystopia?

by Ramez Naam

Yes. Yes we can. The last year has brought with it the revelations of massive government-run domestic spying machineries in the US and UK. On the horizon is more technology that will make it even easier for governments to monitor and track everything that citizens do. Yet I'm convinced that, if we're sufficiently motivated and sufficiently clever, the future can be one of more freedom rather than less.



How can we Prevent Transhumans’ Violent Behavior Toward Humans?

by Ted Chu

The science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov famously proposed three laws for all robots to follow: (1) a robot may not attack a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; (2) a robot must obey the orders given to it by a human being except where such orders would conflict with the first rule; (3) a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first two rules. These “laws,” though they sound just and logical, are utterly impossible to implement if the autonomous robots are to be intelligent and able to reprogram themselves.



Innovations to help us conquer space

by David Brin

I just attended the NASA Innovative and Advance Concepts group (NIAC) symposium at Stanford —(I am on NIAC's Council of External Advisors)—watching and appraising and questioning terrific presentations about future-potential "game-changing" space technologies.  In four days the recipients of NIAC seed grants, showed us how NASA's small but strategic investments in exceptional… even risky… technologies might prove valuable—even vital—if given a chance.



Senior U.S. spies warn of future top 10 security threats

by George Dvorsky

A senior American spy chief has released his assessment of the most troubling threats facing the US — a list that includes terrorism, hackers, WMD proliferation, pandemics, extreme weather events — and the militarization of space.



Inside Google’s Mysterious Ethics Board

by Patrick Lin

The technology world was abuzz last week when Google announced it spent nearly half a billion dollars to acquire DeepMind, a UK-based artificial intelligence (AI) lab. With few details available, commentators speculated on the underlying motivation.



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!



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.



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.



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.



#5 How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand?

by Richard Stallman

The current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. To recover our freedom and restore democracy, we must reduce surveillance to the point where it is possible for whistleblowers of all kinds to talk with journalists without being spotted. To do this reliably, we must reduce the surveillance capacity of the systems we use.



#16 ‘Big Bang’ Theory Wrong?

by Dick Pelletier

The ‘Big Bang’ theory, widely regarded as the leading explanation for the origin of the universe, goes something like this: space and time instantly appeared about 14 billion years ago in a hot, expanding fireball of nearly infinite density.



Maps: how the physical world conquered the virtual

by Rick Searle

If we look back to the early days when the Internet was first exploding into public consciousness, in the 1980’s, and even more so in the boom years of the 90’s, what we often find is a kind of utopian sentiment around this new form of “space”. It wasn’t only that a whole new plane of human interaction seemed to be unfolding into existence almost overnight, it was that “cyberspace” seemed poised to swallow the real world- a prospect which some viewed with hopeful anticipation and others with doom.



Future of surveillance: a world that anticipates our every move

by Dick Pelletier

  What kind of privacy will be left for humans in a future world of ubiquitous computing, with sensors everywhere, and with algorithms that draw alarmingly reliable inferences about our intentions and plans?



Internet Security Is Our Responsibility

by William Sheppard

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.



How to Stop Fear of Knowledge Undermining our Future

by Peter Wicks

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.



Tomorrow’s Wars: bio-weapons, mind-control; is nothing sacred?

by Dick Pelletier

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.



The Pseudoscience Black Hole

by Massimo Pigliucci

As I’ve mentioned on other occasions, my most recent effort in philosophy of science actually concerns what my collaborator Maarten Boudry and I call the philosophy of pseudoscience. During a recent discussion we had with some of the contributors to our book at the recent congress of the European Philosophy of Science Association, Maarten came up with the idea of the pseudoscience black hole. Let me explain.



50 Organizations Seek Ban on Armed Drones

by David Swanson

Fifty organizations and over 75,000 individuals are asking…



Looking to the Future: An Interview

by David Brin
As I prepare to speak to the European Union's Horizon 2020 Congress in Vilnius, Lithuania, on November 6, here is an interview that I gave to one of the major European journals covering the event.



Secession in the Valley, and the End of Politics

by Jamais Cascio

Andrew Leonard has a short, sharp piece in Salon entitled "Silicon Valley dreams of secession," about a recent talk by tech entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan calling for the Valley to secede from the US on a wave of 3D printers, drones, and bitcoins.



How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand?

by Richard Stallman

The current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. To recover our freedom and restore democracy, we must reduce surveillance to the point where it is possible for whistleblowers of all kinds to talk with journalists without being spotted. To do this reliably, we must reduce the surveillance capacity of the systems we use.



DIY Biology or Our Biohacker Future

by David Brin

Biohackers constructed their temple for amatuer bio-creativity in 2009, with the establishment of Brooklyn-based Genspace, the world’s first government-compliant DIY biotech lab.



The Open Information Revolution

by Roberta Scarlett

Information and knowledge have been both feared and sought in the past.  New information brings change, and change is often met with fear and resistance.  In the past books were burned by the church and new technology destroyed by Luddites.  The change that new information and knowledge brought was often regarded as threat to established interests. But inevitably with time, it brings benefits for all.  New information changes our perception of ourselves, others and our environment.  It breeds ideas and solutions for the obstacles we face and creates a positive feedback loop which is the driving force behind progress.



The Drone Paradox

by Sebastian Pereira

There is an overwhelming trend in the world of warfare today, which is to move combat to remote operated systems first, and then to autonomous platforms, in the very near future. We are told that the precision of these tools is without comparisons in the world and their implementation will reduce casualties (both military and civilians), as well as collateral damage, resulting in a more humane battlefield.



No, Extreme Human Longevity Won’t Destroy the Planet

by George Dvorsky

It’s only a matter of time before humanity solves the aging problem. And resistance to radical life extension has already begun, driven by fears of overpopulation and the exhaustion of our planet’s resources. Here’s why the critics are wrong.

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