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



UPCOMING EVENTS: Disability

Global Conference: Augmentation
September 3-5


Hughes, Vita-More, de Grey, Roux @ TransVision 2014
November 20-22
Paris, France




MULTIMEDIA: Disability Topics

Can Brain Implants Make Us Smarter?

A vote for stem cells

History of a Time to Come

An incremental view of AI, IoT, and solar and battery power

Why orthodox medicine must change - the need for preventative/regenerative medicine

Voluntary Cybernetic Enhancement

Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group

Art + Science = NeuroEthics

Roadmap to Immortality – Cyborgization, and Cryonics

Neurogrid: Further Melding Human & Machine

Who Wants To Be Ironman?

Implantable Technology - Pros and Cons

The Future of Being Human

On the Origin of Suffering

Bionic connections: Interfacing with the nervous system




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Disability Topics




Let’s Bet on Money?

by Maria Konovalenko

Let’s make a bet? I will propose something incredibly effective in the area of life extension and no one will be able to suggest a better strategy. Deal?



An Ethical Framework for the Use of Enhancement Drugs

by John Danaher

Debate about the merits of enhancement tends to pretty binary. There are some — generally called bioconservatives — who are opposed to it; and others — transhumanists, libertarians and the like — who embrace it wholeheartedly. Is there any hope for an intermediate approach? One that doesn’t fall into the extremes of reactionary reject or uncritical endorsement?



Disabled Americans: Pawns in a Larger Social Security Game?

by Richard Eskow

William Galston writes in the Wall Street Journal about a Republican senator’s plans to force a confrontation on government disability benefits. Though Mr. Galston doesn’t seem to see it this way, it sounds as if Sen. Orrin Hatch plans to hold benefits for disabled Americans hostage in order to force Social Security cuts on everyone.



IEET Readers Iffy About Mandatory Longevity Therapy for Children

We asked “If a gene therapy that added fifty years of life was safe and effective, should parents be legally required to give it to their children?” Only a third of the 182 respondents thought mandatory gene therapy for longevity for kids was a good idea.

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Obama Brain Initiative: Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s patients raise hopes

by Dick Pelletier

The DARPA-funded program launches this month at two prestige locations, UC San Francisco (UCSF) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). This $26 million, multi-institutional research was announced last October by the President as our best chance at reducing the damage caused by a wide range of brain disorders including Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's, and other dementia-related illnesses.



Third International “Genetics of Aging and Longevity” Conference

by Maria Konovalenko

More than 200 participants from North America, Europe and Asia met in post-Olympic Sochi for five days this April, as world-famous anti-aging researchers exchanged ideas at the third International Conference on Genetics of Aging and Longevity. They discussed progress and remaining obstacles, in their efforts to deepen our understanding of this complex phenomenon and develop strategies for interventions.



The North Wind Doth Blow: The Past, Present and Future State of Cryonics in Canada

by Christine Gaspar

The Cryonics Society of Canada was created by Douglas Quinn in 1987. Two years prior, he became the first contracted Canadian cryonicist, and went on to be the president of the CSC (Cryonics Society of Canada), and editor of the Canadian Cryonics News [1]. One of the early ideas in cryonics circles which he advocated for was the concept of permafrost burial [2] as a low cost alternative to standard cryopreservation by using areas of northern Canada where the ground never thaws at a certain depth.



Changing the Abortion Conversation – An Aikido Strategy

by Valerie Tarico

Picture this: A group of abortion opponents stand outside a women’s clinic holding pictures of fetal remains. As they stand there, calling and offering pamphlets to people entering the clinic, a trickle of pro-choice activists also arrive…



Are We Obligated to Make Ourselves More Moral and Intelligent? (Part One)

by J. Hughes

Most of the ethical discussion of the use of stimulant drugs without a prescription in education has been negative, associating their use with performance enhancement in sports and with drug abuse. But the use of stimulants as study drugs actually has few side effects, and is almost entirely applied to the student’s primary obligation, academic performance. In this essay I consider some objections to off-label stimulant use, and to stimulant therapy for ADD, and argue that there are ethical arguments for the use of stimulants, and for future cognitively and morally enhancing therapies, in education, the work place, and daily life.



Mind-to-mind thought talking possible by 2030, scientist says

by Dick Pelletier

Today we enjoy basic conversations with our smart phone, desktop PC, games console, TV and soon, our car; but voice recognition, many believe, should not be viewed as an endgame technology. Although directing electronics with voice and gestures may be considered state-of-the-art today, we will soon be controlling entertainment and communications equipment not by talking or waving; but just by thinking!



Three-Parent Babies Are an Ethical Choice

by Arthur Caplan

The FDA is considering approving an experiment to repair a genetic disease in humans by creating embryos with DNA from three parents. Genes would be transferred from a healthy human egg to one that has a disease and the “repaired” egg then fertilized in the hope that a healthy baby will result. The goal of the experiment in genetic engineering is not a perfect baby but a healthy baby.



The Right to be or not to be Disabled: A Response to the Center for Genetics and Society: (CGS)

by Evan Reese

In a recent newsletter, The Center for Genetics and Society (CGS) is asking people to sign a letter they’ve drafted requesting the FDA not approve clinical trials of a genetic therapy which could prevent thousands of children a year here in the U.S. from being born with serious disabilities. So how does that square with their claim to be for the rights of the disabled?



IEET Audience Supports Right to Die for Disabled, After Some Time

We asked “How long should caregivers prevent recently disabled people from refusing life-sustaining care (and thereby causing their own deaths)?” Of the more than 230 of you who answered, almost half (47%) said “The recently disabled should be treated until they are no longer depressed, and have a sustained, rational intent to die.”

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Caplan: The case against care for those who are brain dead

by Arthur Caplan

Thirteen-year-old Jahi McMath died on Dec. 12 at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. Yet about a month later, Jahi is still on a ventilator because her parents refuse to accept her death. Aided by a misguided legal decision, she has been moved to another facility to be kept on artificial life support, which makes no medical or moral sense. What’s being done to her corpse is wrong, but a bigger issue is the threat her case poses to the rational and moral use of health care resources.



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!



Freedom: Non-Frustration, Non-interference or Non-domination? (Part One)

by John Danaher

Freedom is an important ideal in liberal political theory, but what exactly does it entail? What do we have to do in order achieve the ideal of political freedom? How will we know if we have achieved it? The first step to answering these questions will be to provide some concrete conception of what it means to be free.



#7 There Can Be No Healthy Aging

by Maria Konovalenko

The study, conducted by a team of scientists and clinicians from JCVI and WCHN, will focus on two groups of elderly individuals aged 65 to 85 years by correlating genetics with a variety of human genomic, gut microbiome and other “omics” profiles and integrating these data with the individuals’ health record. One group will consist of healthy individuals, and the other will have individuals with a variety of diagnosed health conditions.



Will Today’s Handicapped Become Tomorrow’s First Post-Human?

by B. J. Murphy

Needs will almost always come before wants. When it comes to Transhumanism, the ability to differentiate the two tends to blur, because a need could also be a want, depending on the various methods of achieving a need. There’s the “getting by” need, and then there’s the “thriving” need.



How to Survive the Pre-Singularity Era (Part I)

by Christine Gaspar

I have worked a number of years in trauma and emergency medicine, and have learned a few lessons about human nature along the way that I think may be of benefit to others.  Our tendency as human beings to carry around an Optimism Bias is probably one of our most deadly traits.



Are mental illnesses real? (Part Three)

by John Danaher

In this, the final, part we will do two further things. First, we will step back from the particular arguments for and against the legitimacy of mental illness, and focus on Neil Pickering’s meta-philosophical diagnosis of the problems inherent in the debate. Then, having sharpened our appreciation for the meta-philosophical issues, we will consider what is probably the most recent and widely-discussed attempt to define “illness” in such a way that it (properly) includes mental illnesses: Jerome Wakefield’s Harmful Dysfunction analysis.



Are Mental Illnesses Real? (Part Two)

by John Danaher

This is the second post in a brief series looking at the philosophy of mental illness. As noted in part one, some people are suspicious about the concept of mental “illness”. To call something an illness is to deem it worthy of medical scrutiny and treatment. This makes sense — so they argue — when dealing with things like broken bones, viruses, clotted arteries, bacterial infections, cancerous tumours and so forth. They all involve clear, objectively assessable physical effects and causes. Mental illness is not the same: it involves more nebulous, less tractable effects and causes, ones that are not always open to the same level of objective assessment.



Are mental illnesses real? (Part One)

by John Danaher

It may be a push, but I think it is fair to say that no branch of modern medicine faces the same existential challenges as psychiatry. To give a sense of the problem, a quick browse through Amazon reveals a plethora of books, many published within the past ten years, that either directly challenge the legitimacy of mental illness, call into question the medicalisation of the mind, or dispute the unholy alliance between “pharma” and psychiatry.



The Longevity Crisis

by Rick Searle

When our most precious and hard fought for successes give rise to yet more challenges life is revealing its Sisyphean character. We work as hard as we can to roll a rock up a hill only to have it crush us on the way down. The stones that threatens us this time are two of our global civilization’s greatest successes- the fact that children born are now very likely to live into old age and the fact that we have stretched out this old age itself so that many, many more people are living into ages where in the past the vast majority of their peers would be dead. These two demographic revolutions when combined form the basis of what I am calling the Longevity Crisis. Let’s take infant mortality first.



There Can Be No Healthy Aging

by Maria Konovalenko

The study, conducted by a team of scientists and clinicians from JCVI and WCHN, will focus on two groups of elderly individuals aged 65 to 85 years by correlating genetics with a variety of human genomic, gut microbiome and other “omics” profiles and integrating these data with the individuals’ health record. One group will consist of healthy individuals, and the other will have individuals with a variety of diagnosed health conditions.



A Brief History of Painkillers (And Why They Work)

by George Dvorsky

It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without pain relief. We depend on these drugs to an unspeakable degree, yet few of us know what’s available or how they even work. Here’s a quick primer on painkillers and why they’re so good at easing the pain.



The Road From Here: What About Medicare and Social Security?

by Richard Eskow

As the Bob Dylan song says: “Things should start to get interesting right about now.” You may think they’re already interesting—what with government closings, threats of a debt default, and extremist rhetoric under the Capitol Dome—but chances are we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. In twelve weeks or so our new system of government-by-crisis will resume its regularly scheduled programming: more threats, more confrontations, and even more extreme rhetoric.



Improvements in Prenatal Genetic Testing Raise Ethical Issues

by R. J. Crayton

A new study spearheaded at Columbia University aims to provide parents with more information about their unborn children—including potential abnormalities and genetic defects. Spread across 10 different research hospitals that plan to secure 1,000 women each to participate, knowledge gained from the study will contribute to the ethical dialogue surrounding what parents do with more prenatal testing data.



Humans Are Already More “Enhanced” by Technology Than We Realize

by Evan Selinger

Time recently ran a cover story titled, “Can Google Solve Death?” The wording was a bit much, as the subject of the piece, Google’s new firm Calico, has more modest ambitions, like using “tools like big data to determine what really extends lives.” But even if there won’t be an app for immortality any time soon, we’re increasingly going to have to make difficult decisions about when human limits should be pushed and how to ensure ethics keeps pace with innovation.



Mind Controlled Prosthetic Legs and Exoskeletons

by John Niman

Doctors fitted the first mind-controlled prosthetic leg onto Zac Vawter recently. I posed earlier this year about prosthetic limbs, and noted that mind controlled prosthetic hands are also available. 



Of Dogs and Disabilities

by J. Hughes

The new documentary Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement explores the difficult relationship of human enhancement and the disability movement. It is interesting and generally well balanced. But there is one brief clip of me from a television debate which apparently leaves audiences gasping. It is one in which I appear to compare people with disabilities to dogs. I really didn’t, and was actually making a substantially different point quite contrary to the filmmaker’s tortured attempt to link transhumanism to 1930s eugenics.

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