Social Darwinism, Ayn Rand’s objectivism, capitalism and eugenics are all catastrophes of human thought: How to create a federation of anarchist-socialist / anarchist-syndicalist workers. Warning: This is a techno-optimist and “politically”-positive article.
In 2002, 26 percent of Norwegian contraceptive users relied on a long acting method that they could simply fit and forget, the IUD. In the United States, that rate was 2 percent. Long acting reversible contraceptives (aka LARCs) such as IUDs and implants are rapidly growing in popularity, but the US and Canada lag behind many other countries in making these top tier methods widely available.
Brown University researchers have developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of transmitting neural data to an external receiver. The system, which has performed remarkably well in monkeys and pigs for over a year, could eventually allow humans to control external devices with their thoughts.
Positive futurists believe we will see more progress during the next 37 years than was experienced in the last 200 years. In The Singularity is Near, author Ray Kurzweil reveals how science will change the ways we live, work, and play. The following represents a decade-by-decade look at how we may evolve.
Futurist Sara Robinson has called modern contraception the most disruptive technology of the last hundred years. From the time our ancestors first walked out of the Great Rift Valley—perhaps even before—culture, religion, and division of labor enshrined the simple, universal fact that women had little control over their fertility.
That’s like asking: Which of your children do you like best? Glory Season is my brave, indomitable daughter. The Postman is my courageous, civilization-saving son. Earth is the child who combined science and nature to become a planet. The Uplift War…well, I never had a better character than Fiben the earthy-intellectual chimp!
Democratic Legitimacy and the Enhancement Project Klaming and Vedder (2010) have argued that enhancement technologies that improve the epistemic efficiency of the legal system (“epistemic enhancements”) would benefit the common good. But there are two flaws to Klaming and Vedder’s argument. First, they rely on an under-theorised and under-specified conception of the common good. When theory and specification are supplied, their CGJ for enhancing eyewitness memory and recall becomes significantly less persuasive. And second, although aware of such problems, they fail to give due weight and consideration to the tensions between the individual and common good.
It’s not quite Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but it may not be too far off, either. By grafting human glial cells into the brains of mice, neuroscientists were able to “sharply enhance” their cognitive capacities. These improvements included augmentations to memory, learning, and adaptive conditioning. It’s a breakthrough that could yield important insights into the treatment of human brain disorders.
The “Darwinian” theory of evolution is here to stay. I used the scare quotes to refer to it in the previous sentence because the current incarnation, known as the Modern Synthesis (and incorrectly referred to as “neo-Darwinism,” which actually was an even earlier version) is significantly more sophisticated and encompassing than the original insight by Darwin. Indeed, my opinion — which is certainly not universally shared — is that evolutionary biology is currently undergoing another gradual but significant change, referred to as the Extended Synthesis, that will expand its domain of application and explanatory tools even further.
Although the quantified self movement has been getting a lot of attention within technoprogressive and transhumanist communities, appealing to the self-engineering mindset, not many IEET community members have started quantifying themselves. Two thirds either measure nothing about themselves, or only watch their weight. Only one in eight are using mobile health devices or apps to record facts about their bodies or minds.
A couple of weeks back, I looked at David Owens’s article “Disenchantment”. In this article, Owens argues that the ability to manipulate and control all aspects of human life — which is, arguably, what is promised to us by enhancement technologies — would lead to disenchantment. Those of you who read my analysis of Owens’s article will know that I wasn’t too impressed by his arguments. Since then I’ve been wondering whether there might be a better critique of enhancement, one which touches upon similar themes, but which is defended by more rigorous arguments.
“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships or fears.” – Alice Walker Walker’s words ring profoundly true for me, at the moment. In my sci-fi course (which is actually all about science fiction becoming real-world, bleeding-edge science; personhood; and the technological Singularity; but sci-fi is better shorthand) we’ve just covered a number of approaches to concepts such as mind uploading and immortality.
The Missing Mutation: Are We Really Smarter than our Ancestors? Several innovations that happened in the Neolithic seem to provide no advantage and sometimes create problems instead of solving them. About 10,000 years ago the burial ritual lasted a lifetime and the living were supposed to give offerings to the dead that were not valuable. At some point the burial ritual became much simpler but the living were supposed to give offerings to the dead that were valuable (e.g., food at times of starvation). Neither attitude makes a lot of sense from a materialistic viewpoint: what is the adaptive advantage of wasting goods and food for dead people? At the same time the cult of the dead moved from underground to aboveground (temples, pyramids), again an incredible waste of resources.
Transhumanism is often misunderstood and maligned by who are ignorant of it – or those who were exposed solely to detractors such as John Gray, Leon Kass, and Taleb himself. This essay will serve to correct these misconceptions in a concise fashion. Those who still wish to criticize transhumanism should at least understand what they are criticizing and present arguments against the real ideas, rather than straw men constructed by the opponents of radical technological progress.
“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.” Buckminster Fuller
Science and technology have utterly transformed humanity during my lifetime. Where forecasts of the future used to be measured in decades, today, new medical discoveries are announced almost weekly. This article focuses on cutting-edge research that promises a healthier and longer lifespan for all of us.
Suicide Girls and the IEET Team up to Tackle Feminism, Erotica, Science, and the Future of Technology: An Interview with Voodou Suicide. We discuss everything from sex robots to the future of nanotechnology. It was a pleasure interviewing her, and I think you will enjoy the questions and answers and learn something at the same time!
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.
Arthur Caplan, renowned bioethicist, presents simply brilliant argumentation that aging is an unnatural process in this paper. It’s a must-read. I’d love to highlight the main thoughts that I find are profoundly important for the whole fighting aging field.
In my last article, I used a cartoon model of intelligence to examine different aspects of whatever that thing is we call critical thinking. The usefulness of the schematic goes well beyond that exercise, however. Specifically, there's the fascinating idea of a "unit of usefulness" often called an interface. It's worthwhile examining how it works in the context of education.
Emerging technologies like bioengineering, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and geoengineering have great promise for humanity, but they also come with great peril. They could revolutionize everything from pollution control to human health—imagine a bioengineered microbe that converts CO2 into automobile-worthy liquid fuels, or nanotechnologies that target cancer cells.
But they also pose the potential to cause a global catastrophe in which millions or even billions of people die.
Our brain is the source of everything that makes us human: language, creativity, rationality, emotion, communication, culture, and politics. Now, researchers are set to repair brain functions, to create mind-machine interfaces, and enhance human mental capacities in radical ways.
This is the second part in a brief series looking at whether human enhancement — understood as the use of scientific knowledge and technology to improve the human condition — would rob our lives of meaning and value. The focus is on David Owens’s article “Disenchantment”. The goal is to clarify the arguments presented by Owens, and to subject them to some critical scrutiny.
Today, drones, eldercare and pets. Tomorrow, household servants, love partners and much more. Although some people might find the idea of love with a machine repulsive, experts predict that as the technology advances and robots become more human-like, we will view our silicon cousins in a friendlier light.
Historians, scientists and poets alike have written that the human being strives for the infinite. In the old days this meant that it strives to become one with the god who created and rules the world. As atheism began to make strides, Schopenhauer rephrased the concept as a “will to power”. Nietzsche confirmed that god is dead, and the search for “infinite” became a mathematical and scientific program instead of a mystical one. Russell, Hilbert and others started a logical program that basically aimed at making it easy to prove and discover everything that can be.