Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Innovation

Human by Design: Conference on Human Augmentation
August 3
Paley Center for Media, NYC


Robotic Online Short Film Festival
November 20
Universidad Elche, Spain


Humans, Machines, and the Future of Work Conference
December 5-6
Rice University, Houston, Texas




MULTIMEDIA: Innovation Topics

How To Make A Living When Robots Take Our Jobs

Edible Electronics

Cognitive Buildings!

Will We Ever Be Able to Vacation in Space?

Medical 3D Printing

A forgotten Space Age technology could change how we grow food

What will be the next big scientific breakthrough?

Brett Frischmann on Reverse Turing Tests and Machine-like Humans

Danaher Interview on Robot Overlordz Podcast about Algocracy

Transhumanism for the Mind: Enlightenment for the Future of Humanity

How to face new scientific technologies

Traveling With Robots

Could the Solution to the World’s Biggest Problems Be…a Park?

Apple Hasn’t Lost Its Simplicity without Steve Jobs

When we design for disability, we all benefit




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Innovation Topics




“Robots will colonize space, without human beings”

by David Orban

Robots will colonize space, without human beings

There’ll be a new civilization, the sum of human intelligence and artificial intelligence, where artificial intelligence will be able to analyze a problem, identify the resources needed to deal with it, plan a strategy, adapt and improve itself to resolve the problem.” It will do this not only for specific, planned objectives – like the IBM computer that beat chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1996 or the vision system that recognizes obstacles in today’s self-driving cars – but “in a generalized way, with any problem”. This will happen soon, “within the next two or three decades”. A valuable time “for us to get ready for a world that will see huge changes, and make sure the effects are positive and compatible with people’s lives and aspirations”.



Agential Risks: A New Direction for Existential Risk Studies

There are two ways to avoid an existential catastrophe involving advanced technologies, such as nuclear weapons, biotechnology, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology. First, we could study the technologies and figure out ways to make them more difficult for malicious agents to exploit. And second, we could study the malicious agents and figure out ways of reducing the probability of them wanting to exploit such technologies.

Full Story...
Link to X-Risks Institute's Technical Reports



Reverse Turing Tests: Are Humans Becoming More Machine-Like?

by John Danaher

Everyone knows about the Turing Test. It was first proposed by Alan Turing in his famous 1950 paper ‘On Computing Machinery and Intelligence’. The paper started with the question ‘Can a machine think?’. Turing noted that philosophers would be inclined to answer that question by hunting for a definition. They would identify the necessary and sufficient conditions for thinking and then they would try to see whether machines met those conditions. They would probably do this by closely investigating the ordinary language uses of the term ‘thinking’ and engaging in a series of rational reflections on those uses. At least, Oxbridge philosophers in the 1950s would have been inclined to do it this way.



IEET Affiliate Scholar Franco Cortese Publishes Article in International Journal of Technoethics

The Technoethical Ethos of Technic Self-Determination

This paper addresses concerns that the development and proliferation of Human Enhancement Technologies (HET) will be (a) dehumanizing and (b) a threat to our autonomy and sovereignty as individuals. The paper argues contrarily that HET constitutes nothing less than one of the most effective foreseeable means of increasing the autonomy and sovereignty of individual members of society. Furthermore, it elaborates the position that the use of HET exemplifies – and indeed even intensifies – our most human capacity and faculty: namely the desire for increased self-determination, which is referred to as the will toward self-determination. Based upon this position, the paper argues that the use of HET bears fundamental ontological continuity with the human condition in general and with the historically-ubiquitous will toward self-determination in particular. HET will not be a dehumanizing force, but will rather serve to increase the very capacity that characterizes us as human more accurately than anything else.

Full Story...
Link to International Journal of Technoethics



Looking Toward the Red Planet. Mars Party.

by Pedro Villanueva

The school of Economics to Mars is a philosophy economic founded by Pedro Villanueva, that promotes a new economy after the economy of the knowledge that prevails today.



Transparent Smart Chargepoints and the Internet of Things

by Thijs Turèl

On the 25 of September Marcelo Rinesi published his article ‘The Price for the Internet of Things will be a vague dread of a malicious world’. With this response, I want to take on the implicit challenge he poses. How can we build an internet of things that will not fill us with dread? This article will present my ideas on a ‘transparent smart chargepoint’. Let me explain what I mean by this. ‘Chargepoint’ refers to the device that is designed for charging for electric cars. ‘Smart’ refers to the fact that the chargepoint optimizes the charging process on various variables – such as the price of electricity, the congestion on the electricity grid. ‘Transparent’ means that it is designed to be open as open as possible about the algorithms that run it.



Death and Transfiguration

by William Sims Bainbridge

In a remarkable 2012 IEET blog, “The Praxis,” Dirk Bruere introduced a quasi-religious conception of Transhumanism that not only foresaw the possibility of technological immortality for selfish individuals, but notably suggested that we have the obligation to help each other achieve eternal life, even using advanced technology as best we can to provide salvation to people who have already died:



Youths and the Imperative of Humanism in Africa

by Leo Igwe

Humanism has become a necessity for Africa and for Africans particularly for young people across the region who are struggling to make sense of life and existence.  Youths are critical to any human endeavor because they are the agents of hope, continuity, change and promise. Without young people, any society or initiative will go into extinction. Without young people, there is no future for humanity. So, it is with Africa and the humanist movement in the region.



Conceivable Collaboration: 4 Examples Combining People & AI

by Daniel Faggella

Google’s recent victory against top-ranked Go player Lee Sedol marks another milestone in artificial intelligence development, and though this might be considered “old” news by today’s standard, it’s still a fresh achievement for the AI world. 



Transhumanisme et écologie

by Marc Roux

Le mois de décembre 2015 a vu la signature d’un accord dit « universel », par 195 pays, et qui marquera peut-être un tournant dans la manière dont les humains envisagent collectivement leur rapport à la Terre. Les technoprogressistes pourront s’en réjouir à double titre. D’une part il doit permettre de mieux affronter les immenses défis que nous imposent les crises climatiques, mais d’autre part, loin d’un écologisme fondamentaliste, il reconnaît, dans son article 10, « l’importance qu’il y a à donner pleinement effet à la mise au point et au transfert de technologies de façon à accroître la résilience … ».



A Transhumanist Wants to be US President?

by Roland Benedikter

Unnoted by many, the transhumanist forerunner Zoltan Istvan has founded the “U.S. Transhumanist Party” and is running for U.S. president in the November 2016 election. He is touring the nation in his campaign vehicle, the “Immortality Bus,” since one of his promises is: “Do you want to live forever? Vote for me!”  Like other transhumanists, Istvan aims at opening up new political perspectives, if not even a “post-ideological” political sphere characterized by technological universalism. TLR spoke with political and social analyst Roland Benedikter about the backgrounds and the perspectives. The interview builds on previous interviews and articles of Benedikter, for example HERE and HERE.

Originally published on the Leftist Review on June 30 2016



The Machine Made me Do It: Human responsibility in an era of machine-mediated agency

by John Danaher

[This the text of a talk I’m delivering at the ICM Neuroethics Network in Paris this week]

Santiago Guerra Pineda was a 19-year old motorcycle enthusiast. In June 2014, he took his latest bike out for a ride. It was a Honda CBR 600, a sports motorcycle with some impressive capabilities. Little wonder then that he opened it up once he hit the road. But maybe he opened it up a little bit too much? He was clocked at over 150mph on the freeway near Miami Beach in Florida. He was going so fast that the local police decided it was too dangerous to chase him. They only caught up with him when he ran out of gas.



Before the artisanal cheese comes the darkness

by Rick Searle

In 1832 the English architect, Augustus Pugin, published his beautiful book Contrasts. The book was full of sketches in which Pugin juxtaposed the bland, utilitarian architecture of the 19th century with the intricate splendor of buildings built in medieval Europe.



The World’s First Child-Sized Exoskeleton Will Melt Your Heart

by George Dvorsky

We’ve seen exoskeletons before, but nothing quite like this one. The new brace, developed by Spanish researchers, will help children with spinal muscular atrophy.

The 26-pound device consists of long support rods and are adjusted to fit around a child’s legs and torso. A series of motors mimic human muscles in the joints, endowing the patient the required strength to stand upright and walk. A series of sensors, along with a movement controller and a five-hour battery, complete the system. The aluminum and titanium device can also be expanded and modified to accommodate children between the age of 3 and 14.



Worst case scenario – 2035 and no basic income.

by Khannea Suntzu

There is now an almost constant stream of articles saying what was politically incorrect to state out loud just 5-8 years ago – Technological Unemployment is certain, it is imminent and ‘something like a basic income’ will be necessary. I have said so much on this societal issue in the last ten years that it quite often feels like an obligatory rehash of the arguments in favor of a basic income. The best and most authoritative arguments are still being voiced by Martin Ford and I suggest everyone to check his level-headed and well researched presentations on the topic. In my understanding Martin blows arguments against out of the water.



How VR Gaming will Wake Us Up to our Fake Worlds

by Eliott Edge

“It has no relationship whatsoever to anything anchored in some kind of metaphysical superspace.  It’s just your cultural point of view […] Travel shows you the relativity of culture.”

— Terence McKenna



Mens Health Week: One Doctor Thinks We Should Be Talking about Better Birth Control for Guys

by Valerie Tarico

Dr. Stephanie Page at the University of Washington talks about why male birth control matters.

The Centers for Disease Control declared June 13 to 19 of 2016 as “National Men’s Health Week.” If it was Women’s Health Week, media experts would be talking a lot about sexual health and, especially, how women can safeguard against ill-timed or unwanted pregnancy. But for guys, pregnancy prevention is not even on the list, which instead emphasizes sleep, tobacco, food choices, and exercise.



On tragedy, ethics and the human condition.

by Alex McGilvery

The shootings at the Pulse club in Orlando highlight once more just how far we humans need to go in the evolution of our ethics. People on all sides have already weighed in on how their particular way of seeing the world would have prevented the crime. Almost immediately they began talking past each other with little or no effort to hear the other side.



China May Be the Reason that Speech Recognition Takes Off

by Daniel Faggella

Google may have DeepMind, but Baidu, China’s homegrown Google, has Deep Speech.

Deep Speech, which debuted in December 2015, is a speech recognition system that uses an artificial neural network to translate audio input directly to transcribed output. By contrast, most speech recognition systems, including Siri, use multiple, engineer-crafted steps to make translations.



Evolution: Natural or Technical

by Alexandre Maurer

Transhumanism embodies the idea that humans have to assume their evolution. Given this approach, Transhumanism is often paralleled with Darwin’s theory of natural evolution. Is this parallel pertinent? Yes… and No? In this article, we will try to identify the limits. We will explain why technological evolution (in the context of Transhumanism) appears to be significantly preferable.



Dubai Is Building the World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant

by George Dvorsky

They like to do things big in Dubai, including a newly-approved concentrated solar power project that will generate 1,000 megawatts of power by 2020—and a whopping 5,000 megawatts by 2030.

he Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) has announced the launch of the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) project. Located on a single site within the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the plant will consist of five facilities. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed either in late 2020 or 2021, at which time it’s expected to generate 1,000 MW of power. By 2030, this plant could be churning out five times that amount—enough to raise the emirate’s total power output by 25 percent.



Living Bacteria Can Now Store Data

by George Dvorsky

Using the CRISPR gene-editing tool, scientists from Harvard University have developed a technique that permanently records data into living cells. Incredibly, the information imprinted onto these microorganisms can be passed down to the next generation.



Does Self-Tracking Promote Autonomy? An Initial Argument

by John Danaher

Seneca was a wealthy Roman stoic and advisor to the emperor Nero. In the third of his Letters from a Stoic, entitled ‘On True and False Friendship’, he makes the following observation:

As to yourself, although you should live in such a way that you trust your own self with nothing which you could not entrust even to your own enemy, yet, since certain matters occur which convention keeps secret, you should share with a friend at least all your worries and reflections.



WHAT MORAL ENHANCEMENT?

by Marc Roux

Transhumanists, as good humanists, think the human can be perfected, both physically and morally. Any difference in humans basically is a consequence of philosophy, education, culture or law, that is to say political consensus. Transhumanists now include technology as a means of continuing human enhancement (and not as certain unenlightened commentators jokingly wrote as a substitute thereof). Notwithstanding centuries of legislation, culture, education and philosophy, progress, which the philosophers of the « Enlightenment » called Virtue, seems to be blocked by the remains of the biological condition of humans.



New Details Emerge About the Plan to Build an Artificial Human Genome

by George Dvorsky

Last month, a group of scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs gathered in secret to discuss the possibility of creating a synthetic human genome from scratch. Details of the plan have finally been made public, and it’s as ambitious as it sounds. But critics say they founders of the new project are avoiding the tough ethical questions.



Review of Bryan Magee’s, “Ultimate Questions”

by John G. Messerly

Bryan Magee (1930 – ) has had a multifaceted career as a professor of philosophy, music and theater critic, BBC broadcaster, public intellectual and member of Parliament. He has starred in two acclaimed television series about philosophy: Men of Ideas (1978) and The Great Philosophers (1987). He is best known as a popularizer of philosophy. His easy-to-read books, which have been translated into more than twenty languages, include:



The Monotony of Work

by John G. Messerly

I corresponded with an old friend yesterday who was communicating the tedium of his work as a software engineer. He is thankful that he earns a six-figure salary, and he understands that most people in the world would happily trade places with him, but that doesn’t change the fact that a future filled with a lifetime of coding doesn’t excite his probing and restless mind. Minds like his need stimulation, and they could contribute so much to the rest of us if they were freed to follow their interests . Moreover, while technology companies pay some of the best wages in the United States, they expect more than 40 hours of work in return, which leaves my friend with less time with his children than he would like.



Developing countries – help yourselves! A case study of Kazakhstan

by Ilia Stambler

On May 19, 2016, the World Health Organization released its report “World Health Statistics: Monitoring Health for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” describing the recent state of global health. The news is rather encouraging. The global life expectancy increased by 5 years, from about 66.5 to 71.4 presently, recording the fastest increase since the 1960s. The rightly so-called “developing” countries generally showed a much faster improvement compared to the complacently “developed” ones. Thus, Africa generally had the lowest life expectancy.



IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher Publishes New Paper - Robots, Law and the Retribution Gap

Here is a new paper that John Danaher, IEET Affiliate Scholar, has published and will be coming out in the journal Ethics and Information Technology. In case you are interested, the idea for this paper originated in this blogpost from late 2014.

Full Story...
Link to Ethics and Information Technology



Trading Modern Medicine for Cheap Meat

by Brynn Arborico

How our dwindling antibiotic supply is misspent in agriculture and what we must do to stop it

A “superbug” resistant to all known antibiotics has surfaced in the United States for the first time, in a woman being treated for a urinary tract infection. Unless radical changes are made in how antibiotics get used, doctors fear that the near future may take us back a pre-antibiotic pattern of death by infection. 

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