Robots are replacing humans on the battlefield—but could they also be used to interrogate and torture suspects? This would avoid a serious ethical conflict between physicians’ duty to do no harm, or nonmaleficence, and their questionable role in monitoring vital signs and health of the interrogated. A robot, on the other hand, wouldn’t be bound by the Hippocratic oath, though its very existence creates new dilemmas of its own.
On October 6, 2011, protestors will converge on Washington D.C. to recreate Tahrir Square here in the United States. It is important to transhumanists and non-transhumanists alike because it calls for, in the end, the reduction of the use of money and technology to feed America’s imperial war efforts and to challenge those in charge to use our defense money for environmental purposes.
Inspired by Ayn Rand, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, along with Patri Friedman and others, are helping the Seasteading Institute plan a floating ‘start-up country’ off the coast of San Francisco, built on oil-rig like platforms in international waters.
Can Europe, whose motto is “unity in diversity,” help to navigate humanity through the upcoming decades like a clear-eyed Renaissance astronomer? Or will it simply sink, squabbling and sniveling, into irrelevancy?
Steve Rogers, the man who would become Captain America, was not subjected to an accidental burst of gamma radiation or the bite of a radioactive spider. Instead, he willingly enlisted and subjected himself to an experimental process for the creation of super-soldiers. His superpowers were deliberate and intended. However, the circumstances of Captain America’s enlistment into the army are, at best, questionable.
You can always tell when you’ve got a bona fide crackpot idea. You’ll hear one or more of the following responses: A) They’ll never let you do that. B) That’ll never work. C) They’ll put you in jail. D) You’re gonna get us all killed.
“Girl Fight! Girl Fight!” This shrill cry on our primary school playground always stampeded us to the spectacle of young females scratching, kicking, biting, slapping and pulling hair. With luck—we boys hoped—a blouse might get ripped and we’d see a bra.
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. has moved rapidly from activating only a handful of unarmed unmanned flying systems to currently deploying over 7,000 unmanned systems in the air and over 12,000 on the ground, many of these heavily armed. There is every reason to suspect this rapid incorporation of military robotics will only accelerate.
Dr. Patrick Lin, a Fellow of the IEET and an assistant professor of philosophy at California Polytechnic State University, was a featured guest on a recent edition of the NPR program “Talk of the Nation,” discussing the ethics of robot warfare.
With the US facing a possible double dip recession, and a resurgent far right political movement poised to sweep into Congress in the Fall elections, I found myself reading two strangely complementary dystopian novels about economic collapse. The first, Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by Survivalblog writer James Rawles, is a manual for right-wing survivalist gun-nuts dressed up like a novel. The second, Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, is an example of contemporary literature at its finest. Although from nearly opposite ends of the social universe both novels see the spiraling economic and political crisis in the United States ending in the complete collapse of the Republic as we know it.
Imagine this sci-fi scenario: A small tribe with unique literature, customs and myths believes they’ve been “chosen” for a glorious destiny. But they’re driven out of their native land, forced to wander the globe for aeons, persecuted and annihilated, until they’re impelled by a utopian novel to return to their homeland. They name their new city after the inspirational book and their country becomes a technological powerhouse… but still, they’re surrounded by enemies. They wage eternal war, they hover between hope and apocalypse”¦ their contributions to humanity are astounding but they continue to fear total extinction. Familiar? Of course. I’ve described Israel and the Jews.
(by Milan M CirkoviÄ‡, Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom) We describe a significant practical consequence of taking anthropic biases into account in deriving predictions for rare stochastic catastrophic events. The risks associated with catastrophes such as asteroidal/cometary impacts, supervolcanic episodes, and explosions of supernovae/gamma-ray bursts are based on their observed frequencies. As a result, the frequencies of catastrophes that destroy or are otherwise incompatible with the existence of observers are systematically underestimated. We describe the consequences of this anthropic bias for estimation of catastrophic risks, and suggest some directions for future work. DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01460.x
In response to a flurry of interest that’s been stirred by Stephen Hawking’s new Discovery Channel show—specifically, his lead-in episode about extraterrestrials, wherein he recommended against our calling attention to ourselves—I’ll offer a hurried little riff here, about Hawking and aliens, with added contributions by and about Paul Davies, Robin Hanson, and others.
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.
Transhumanism spans a huge swath of intellectual territory, straddling bioethics, philosophy, science fiction, engineering, and computer science. Throw in conspiracy theories and cyberpunk nihilism and you have all the ingredients for Deus Ex.
Dr. Patrick Lin, director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, has accepted an appointment as Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies for 2010.
In a recently concluded poll, IEET readers showed a mix of attitudes toward the “scientific discoveries and technological accomplishments” of the last ten years. Now we want to know what you think about the social and political developments of that same period.