My conviction is that humanity has become trapped in a completely unsustainable economic and post-industrial system. The problems we face are complex and can no means be exhaustive listed, but I’ll limit it to seven main problem areas. These traps are financial, petrochemical, atmospherical, complexity, political, employment and overpopulation.
The idea that the world itself could be considered an overarching form of mind can trace its roots deep into the religious longings of pantheism- the idea that the universe itself is God, or the closest thing we will ever find to our conception of God. In large part, I find pantheists to be a noble group.
Back in 1992, Francis Fukuyama famously argued that the advent of Western liberal democracy spelled nothing less than the endpoint of sociocultural evolution: we have finally discovered the best way to govern people and organize society, and that’s gonna be it.
Singularity, or something far short of it, the very real revolution in artificial intelligence and robotics is already encroaching on the existential nature of aspects of the human condition that have existed for as long as our history.
I’m irked at how many elephants we’re losing to the ivory trade. They are one of the most intelligent of animals, often ranked alongside dolphins. Elephants are beloved. They show up early in our lives, as the a common expression of the letter “e” in board books for babies. They are the central exhibit in many zoos. Whole websites are devoted to saving them. Rangers in Africa have died to save them, and yet more rangers risk their lives fighting poachers every day.
Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution recently wrote a post called No One is Innocent: “I broke the law yesterday and again today and I will probably break the law tomorrow. Don’t mistake me, I have done nothing wrong. I don’t even know what laws I have broken. Nevertheless, I am reasonably confident that I have broken some laws, rules, or regulations recently because its hard for anyone to live today without breaking the law. Doubt me? Have you ever thrown out some junk mail that came to your house but was addressed to someone else? That’s a violation of federal law punishable by up to 5 years in prison…
In general, I’m not a betting man. Intellectual humility cautions against sticking one’s neck out too far into terrain that is too complex to understand, let alone reasonably predict with any confidence. But some bets are unavoidable.
After rising from the primordial soup 3.5 billion years ago, Earth life began an evolutionary trip that has produced today’s amazing humans. Positive futurists now ponder what’s next. Hawking, Kurzweil, Kaku, Drexler, and other visionaries see technologies advancing exponentially in the coming centuries, which could provide peace, affluence, and increased intelligence, with lifespans approaching immortality.
A few weeks have passed now since the Supreme Court struck down Myriad’s patents on mutations in BRCA genes 1 and 2 correlating to higher rates of breast and ovarian cancers, and the airwaves and blogosphere are still awash with a plethora of incriminations, congratulations, and musings about what it all means, I want to address what is to me a central lesson: philosophy matters.
Transhumanism is about using technology to improve the human condition. Perhaps a nascent stigma attached to the transhumanist movement in some circles comes from the ethical implications and usage of high technology — bio-tech and nano-tech to name a few, on people.
I have wanted to comment for some time about a number of available “theories of truth.” The occasion has now been presented by the fact that I am writing the fourth chapter of my new book (on whether and how philosophy makes progress, forthcoming from Chicago Press), which is about the surprisingly not-so-straightforward concept of progress (and truth) in science itself, the very discipline normally held to be the paragon of a truth seeking enterprise.
On February 2, 2013, I ran my first ultramarathon: 50 kilometers (31.07 miles) in 5 hours, 10 minutes, 50 seconds – all within the comforts of my home on my elliptical trainer. I experienced no pain, no pounding, no strain on the joints, no car traffic, and no vicissitudes of weather. More importantly, I had constant access to water and nourishment if I wished it. The elliptical trainer’s shelf held my tablet computer, and I could pass the time reading articles, watching videos of philosophical discussions, and listening to Mozart.
When I was a child my parents loved to sail. We travelled from the California coast to Catalina Island on weekends, and I remember one specific trip back when the waters were full of bioluminescence. Dolphins surrounded us, jumping alongside the boat in playful streaks of light. They might have been fairies from another world. In those days, I had no idea where they came from or where they were going. All I knew of them was the magical moments when their lives intersected mine in the same space, when a land-being leaned over the water and water-beings leapt up into the air and we could see each other.
The weekend of (June 15th and 16th) marked the date of the 2nd international 2045 Congress. With it’s first international event being held in Moscow in 2012, this year’s transition to New York City seemed to mark a sign of serious expansion for the “2045 Initiative,” which was more or less unknown in the united states until earlier this year. Touting some of the biggest names in transhumanism, technology, business and research, a prestigious and modern auditorium in NYC’s Lincoln Center, and a serious price tag around $800.00, most of the nearly 800 attendees seemed as uncertain and curious as I was as we walking into the big glass doors.
At the end of last month, I'd argued that our fixations on gender binaries resulted in a continuing line of cultural patriarchy, i.e. the commonly-held notion that "hitting women, under all conditions, is never okay," which can be read here. Though, as I look back over the last 24 hours during the heated conflicts of Texas legislators trying to limit, and essentially ban, abortion rights to women, I find myself falling back into gender binary politics. This will not do.
I’m tired of walls, fences, borders, anything that divides us. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” There’s the Berlin Wall, The Fence (between the USA and Mexico), Hadrian’s Wall, and the Great Wall of China. There is Africa which was divided into countries by the colonial powers using boundaries that frequently made no sense whatsoever; they are just lines on a map that require border crossings. Historic dividers may be intriguing tourist attractions, but they were rarely useful for their proposed function. They have become obsolete emblems of civilization’s failures.
One of the first things I saw when I got off the plane in Philadelphia Sunday night, after a trans-Pacific flight, was this statement from Rep. Jodie Laubenberg: In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out. The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.
Claudia Haltom was a juvenile court judge in Memphis who, as she puts it, got tired of taking babies away from teenagers. The final straw came when a 17-year-old mother of three stood in front of her, pregnant. “Who is taking care of your other children while you’re here?” Haltom asked. The girl didn’t know.
Eugenics is a curse word. The very idea of Eugenics can no longer be disassociated from the atrocities waged in its name. On account of this idea people were imprisoned, tortured, mutilated and murdered, all throughout the western world.
We are at the strangest of crossroads, a series of changes that challenge and upend what have been the core elements of the human experience since the beginning of our species. Nothing perhaps cuts so close to that core as what is happening and will happen to the meaning and place of art in our lives. Art here understood as everything from the music we compose to our paintings and drawings to the stories we tell or the films and videos we create.
When the wealthy nations of the world meet as the G8 or in any other gathering, it’s interesting to imagine what they would do if they followed the golden rule, valued grandchildren, disliked unnecessary suffering, or wished to outgrow ancient forms of barbarism, or any combination of those.
The climate crisis demands our immediate attention. Climate change could devastate thousands of at-risk communities beyond repair and leave the face of the earth scarred. We cannot be alarmist enough about continued climate change and the threat it poses to life on this planet. This is the first time in the history of this planet that a species altered global climate to such a degree. The future of life on this planet is entering a period of extreme risk and few are offering rational solutions.
This article attempts to clarify four areas within the movement of Substrate Independent Minds and the discipline of Whole-Brain-Emulation that are particularly ripe for ready-hand-misnomers and misconceptions.
My brain contains up to 100 billion neurons, each connecting to other nerve cells through thousands of synapses. These interactions process signals coming into the nervous system, and then produce output responses that stimulate my body’s biological functions, everything from thinking to walking to kissing.
There are writers and futurists who are swimming upstream against a tide of people screaming about the sky falling. Ramez Naam is one of the them, offering practical tools and illuminating the power of imagination and initiative.