This summer True Blood, now in its third season, continues to explore the issues that it has in the past, such as personhood and the coexistence of humans with a species that has many advantages over humans. However, with the introduction of werewolves and the greater focus on shapeshifters, this year there are even better opportunities to relate True Blood to morphological freedom.
Last week I made a presentation at a conference on disability rights held at Union College in Schenectady, New York. I was invited by my former student, Joe Stramondo, who is now teaching philosophy in Michigan. The topic that our panel addressed was the impact of enhancement technologies on the understanding of disability.
Understanding human-technology relations is a project of significant import, both for transhumanists aiming to overcome our limitations through technological means and for ethicists interested in questions concerning technology’s influence on the human condition.
(with co-author M. Heather Dragoo) Abstract: As a genre, science fiction provides a uniquely fertile medium from which we can extrapolate the defining characteristics of personhood, explore our future potentials, and project our current selves onto tomorrow. One such example is the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.
Early last month, the now-famous paper by Dr Andrew Wakefield that supposedly linked vaccines to the onset of autism, was formally retracted by the Lancet, the journal that published it back in 1998. This was a monumental decision, considering it was the conclusions drawn from this paper that launched the firestorm of debate around the safety of vaccines, and likely the cause of the current vaccine crisis.
While it’s common to look at transhumanist themes through the lens of science fiction, I think it’s at least as fascinating to consider the ethical issues and themes explored in controversial, well-written dramas such as Nip/Tuck.
Who is the IOC to determine what is physically normal in sport? Why should the attainment of fitness peaks (natural or otherwise) be prevented or constrained? And how could they ever come to describe the perfectly ‘normal’ human athlete?
I always like watching movies I haven’t seen in a while. Life changes you and your perspectives, so when you watch a movie again later you bring something new to the viewing experience. Potentially a perspective you didn’t think about the first time you went.
We have learned to accept differences in appearance caused by nature or by accident. And we are getting better about appreciating the diversity of bodily expression that modern society has brought. But all this is only the beginning.
Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, West Germans as well as East Germans are regularly polled on their stance toward religion. When asked whether they believe in God, most East Germans simply respond by saying: “Nope, I’m perfectly normal.”
Do you think modern medicine is on the brink of eliminating disease forever? Not quite yet, it seems, which is why health insurance will remain a necessity for at least the next few decades. But just because we need insurance doesn’t mean we should allow corporations to steal from the healthy to cheat the unhealthy.
If we take a long view of human civilization and history, it is hard not to be impressed by how far we have come. Sure, we could always do more, and yes, I’m as impatient as you for the next steps forward. But it doesn’t hurt once in a while to pat ourselves on our collective backs for what we’ve accomplished over the last few thousand years.
As previously noted, David Brin will be guest blogging on Sentient Developments this week. The first topic that David will be addressing is one that is near and dear to both of our hearts: biological uplift. To get you primed for this discussion I can recommend a number of articles, books and resources.
[Warning: contains spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica episode Islanded in A Stream of Stars] In some instances, one should cling to hope and keep fighting even when that hope seems lost. At other times, it is necessary to accept defeat and loss, or abandon a goal towards which substantial resources have been dedicated. Distinguishing between these two situations is the challenging, yet crucial element.
The IEET and the editors of the Journal of Evolution and Technology (JET) are pleased to announce the publication of two special issues of JET, one brought together by Sky Marsen with the intention of publishing a book on transhumanism, and the other a collection of papers from the IEET’s May 2006 Human Enhancement Technology and Human Rights conference at Stanford University. Together they represent the wide array of issues at play in the debate over human enhancement and our transhuman future, from the daily lived experience of pushing to maximize one’s potential, to the legal, political and philosophical arguments we will need to secure universal access to safe enhancement technologies. Enjoy!
Oscar Pistorius, AKA “Blade Runner”—the South African sprinter who uses carbon fiber prosthetics in place of the lower legs amputated as a child—has officially lost his bid to run in the 2008 Olympics.
Mirror neurons are theorized to be, according to some of the more heavily popularized literature these days, neurons which activate in the primate brain upon observation of another individual performing an action.
The most voted option took into account a second-order effect of considering disability costs to society, namely the possibility that this could open a window for eugenic measures. This type of analysis is generally part of the IEET’s approach to the study of policy and technology, a sensitivity apparently shared by those who took the poll.
New poll: Should (legal, safe) nootropics be banned from academic tests?
Champions of electronic voting machines often tout their benefits for differently enabled citizens in particular. Although concerns about the underaccessibility of old voting systems are certainly legitimate (and overdue), too often this rhetoric of improved accessibility has actually functioned as a way of deflecting growing criticism of the extraordinary insecurity of many of the actual systems that have been put in place across the country.