“Daddy, why did the bad guys kill Anne Frank?” asks my eight-year-old daughter. I hesitate, then I tell her about Nazis and the Holocaust: Kristallnacht, the trains, the camps, head-shaving, tattooing, starvation, disease, digging one’s own grave, the gassings, the ovens. “Daddy,” she asks when my gruesome chronology is complete, “will it happen again?”
First of all, I do not believe for a second that Iran ever had any intention of destroying Israel. I believe the Iranian regime is a very rational and pragmatic regime, one that has worked with Russia and China (both guilty of atrocities against Muslims) and whose closest ally is Syria (a Sunni country). We are always told that the enemy (whether the Soviet Union or Saddam Hussein) is an irrational demon in order to justify our own irrational behavior, but later find out that the demon’s first priority was its own survival.
Fear this? Mutant, homicidal wasps employed as border guards. Eavesdropping optimized birds spying on civilian activists. Hybrid human/beasts annihilating drafted youths on reality TV. All this DNA mayhem, and more, occurs in the bestsellers by Suzanne Collins, who replays an ancient device utilized in the classic myth of the Minotaur, a bull-man fusion that lurked in the Labyrinth of Crete.
Last month we asked “Is it ethical for an advanced military to use drones or robots to attack enemy soldiers?” A third of you want military drones and robots banned, and a quarter believed they were unproblematic. But the center of opinion was that they should be under human control or used by both sides.
The Syrian regime of Bashir Assad is the last remaining of the secular despots of the Arab world after the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The rest of the Arab world is in the hands of “enlightened” kings/sheiks/sultans that somehow have better weathered the “Arab Spring” or is in the process of becoming democratic (Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria).
For centuries, world politics has been organized around nations and their official functionaries—with artificial borders drawn up, separating French from German, Australian from New Zealander. But this could all be blown away as technology and political movements reshape our understanding of world governance.
Identical twins they’re not. The two halves of Korea - a rabbit-shaped, mountainous peninsula jutting into the Yellow Sea - are wildly dissimilar. The North is an impoverished, tyrannized, height-and-economy stunted state, bizarrely cloistered with secret tunnels, rogue nuclear missiles and a recent “boy-king.” The South is a workaholic, studious, sleep-deprived builder of huge ships, skyscrapers, Samsung, Hyundai, globe-leading innovations, and direct democracy.
This is the first piece of fiction that we are publishing, submitted in response to our call for short science fiction reflecting “on the social, moral, political, economic or philosophical consequences of future technologies, in particular pieces that touch on the IEET’s core issues - the ethics and policy dimensions of life extension, human enhancement, moral enhancement, non-human personhood, structural unemployment and catastrophic risks.” We will be publishing at least four of the twenty submissions we have received so far, one a week, and will continue reviewing submissions for consideration. - J. Hughes
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.