Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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


MULTIMEDIA: Contributors Topics

Keynote: “Eternal Progression”

Talk Nation Radio: Gregory Shupak on the Case Against Bombing ISIS

The Binding Problem of Consciousness: Transhuman Debate 2.0

Cyborg Art- Prefigurative, Performative, Inhuman, Hybrid?

Manifesto for Cyborgs

Chris Hables Gray on Singularity 1 on 1: We Need Strong Citizenship!

Futurist Gerd Leonhard interview with Stuff(NZ): work, jobs, automation and more

Future of Technology: the new question is WHY not IF

Technology versus Humanity: a provocative film by Futurist Speaker Gerd Leonhard

The Abundance of Solar Energy

How to Make Intellligent Robots That Understand the World

Recovering From Religion

Neuroscience and the Soul

Technological Unemployment and Basic Income

Basic Income and other ways to fix capitalism

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Contributors Topics

If U.S. Military Spending Returned to 2001 Level

by David Swanson

In 2001, U.S. military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015.

These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now, not counting state and local spending on the military.

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Film: Costa Rica Abolished its Military, Never Regretted it

by David Swanson

The forthcoming film, A Bold Peace: Costa Rica’s Path of Demilitarization,  should be given every possible means of support and promotion. After all, it documents the blatant violation of laws of physics, human nature, and economics, as understood in the United States—and the violators seem positively gleeful about it.

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Objectification & Pornography

by William Gillis

No one would disagree that porn is a major site of importance in modern patriarchy. And there are usually three broad categories of critique leveled against it: 1) That the means of its production are exploitative. 2) That it pushes narratives and perspectives reinforcing of patriarchy. 3) That the very act of getting off to or sexualizing visual stimuli mentally reduces other people to objects.

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Ritual Killing and Skepticism in Zambia

by Leo Igwe

Zambia has just recorded its ‘first case’ of albino killing. Suspected ritualists butchered a 37 year old albino woman in the eastern district of Lundazi. They cut off her right hand and extracted the teeth from her mouth. In Zambia, ritual murder is on the rise.

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The Case for Circumcision

by Tsvi Bisk

Over the past several years the Jewish custom of male circumcision, in which the foreskin of the penis is removed, has been increasingly compared to female circumcision, in which the clitoris and sometimes the labia are removed, and condemned as genital mutilation. This comparison demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of anatomy. The clitoris is analogous to the penis and the labia to the scrotum which are certainly not removed in male circumcision. The foreskin is comparable to the clitoral hood which is sometimes removed surgically in women in order to enhance sexual pleasure.

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Not Choice but Choices: An Interview with Abortion Counselor and Advocate Charlotte Taft

by Valerie Tarico

“We focus on abortion as if that were the conversation, but we have been bamboozled into putting our focus there.”

When you think about abortion, what comes to mind? A woman’s right? The Religious Right? Feminists, or fetal photography, or fundamentalists? Do you see the color pink—as in Planned Parenthood—or the color red—as in anger and blood? If you worked in abortion care, the answer probably would be none of the above.

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Transhumanism and Aesthetics

by William Gillis

The recent push by a circle of my friends to produce more anarcho-transhumanist imagery has gotten me thinking about the paucity of aesthetics in the broader transhumanist movement.

Frankly—if we’re going on aesthetics alone—I’ve found most of what’s produced by transhumanists to be quite repelling. This is kind of understandable though. Transhumanism has long existed in an awkward state. We’re not really a traditionally evangelical sort of ideology, or an ideology at all really. Believing that physical/technological freedom is important is hardly a political platform, valuing scientific research is not really a traditional call to action, and so it’s no wonder that when some decide to make glossy brochures they so often come across as awkward imitations. The ideologues of those perspectives we’re at odds with have a lot of experience in the dark arts and in comparison we often come across as naive dilettantes.

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A Misleading Moment of Celebration for a New Surveillance Program

by Norman Solomon

The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The new law, he told me, is “a new spy program.” It restarts some of the worst aspects of the Patriot Act and further codifies systematic violations of Fourth Amendment rights.

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Albino Killings, Witchcraft, And Political Elections In Tanzania

by Leo Igwe

If you are one of those who think there is no connection between politics and the savage practice of albino killing in Tanzania, then you need to read the recent statement from the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Pereira Silima. Silima made it clear to politicians in the country that if they stopped patronizing the ‘witch doctors’ then this East African country might see an end to the shameful and horrific murders of albinos.

The people in Tanzania need to discard the belief that drives them to attack kidnap and kill people living with albinism.

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The Basic Affordability of Basic Income

by Scott Santens

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, The Economist in its May 23rd edition, published a piece with no name attached, where it labeled the idea of a basic income for all as “basically unaffordable.”  It then followed the publication with share after share via social media, with tweets such as “Why a ‘basic income’ for all is a bad idea for all”, and “Why the Green Party is wrong to support a ‘basic income’ for all.”

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Who’s Winning the Surveillance Arms Race?

by Valkyrie Ice McGill

You know the names Manning, Snowden and Assange, at least, you do unless you’ve been living under a rock. I’m pretty sure you also know that “Big Brother” doesn’t like them much.

But what you might not know is that their very existence shows that “Big Brother” isn’t as large and in charge as you might think he is.

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Top 5 Myths About Monsanto (Part 1)

by B. J. Murphy

Anyone who has the scientific tenacity to question “common truths” and come to a valid conclusion outside of the confines of popular opinion are destined to be heralded as someone working in the pocket of some agency. Conspiracy theories run amok throughout society, believing any large corporation to be intrinsically “evil”. One corporation in particular stands out the most: Monsanto!

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The Future of Personal Privacy - Review of “You Have Been Inventoried”

by Tery Spataro

On Friday March 6, 2015, more than 3,000 people attended the ASU Emerge event. This is where Eric Kingsbury, futurist, founder of KITEBA, cofounder of the Confluence Project, launched “You Have Been Inventoried”.  I helped with some of the content for the project, along with others from the Confluence Project.

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How Freedom of Information Will Change the World

by Valkyrie Ice McGill

Everywhere you look in the world you can see pessimism, gloom, doom and negativity. No matter where you live, it seems many are convinced that there’s just no hope. Many people have stopped trying to do anything, while they “wait for god” or “wait for the Singularity.” Or simply wait, period.

The negativity is everywhere.

So, here’s one of my rants, against that negativity.

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What, Me Worry? - I Don’t Share Most Concerns About Artificial Intelligence

by Lawrence Krauss

There has of late been a great deal of ink devoted to concerns about artificial intelligence, and a future world where machines can “think,” where the latter term ranges from simple autonomous decision-making to full fledged self-awareness. I don’t share most of these concerns, and I am personally quite excited by the possibility of experiencing thinking machines, both for the opportunities they will provide for potentially improving the human condition, to the insights they will undoubtedly provide into the nature of consciousness.

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Can Transhumanism Overcome a Widespread Deathist Culture?

by Zoltan Istvan

The rapidly growing field of transhumanism—an international social movement whose highest immediate priority is overcoming human death via science and technology—is facing a colossal challenge. About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something transhumanists often refer to as “deathist” culture.

In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.

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What a Concept: Alleviating Poverty by Giving Money to the Poor

by Douglas Cruickshank

After I’d been living in rural Africa for a few months, I remarked to an American friend, “Based on careful analysis, I’ve discovered why people here are so poor: They don’t have any money.”

Poor people don’t have money. When they get money they become less poor. Sounds staggeringly obvious, but you’d be surprised how convoluted, dysfunctional and tangled up in bureaucracy that equation becomes once governments and the big foreign aid organizations—the Do-Gooder Industrial Complex—get involved.

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What Happened When Liberia Tested a Pilot Program of Cash Transfers to the Extreme Poor in Bomi?

by Scott Santens

Further evidence of the potential of basic income

I’m always on the lookout for more scientific evidence of what happens when people are provided cash incomes unconditionally. Recently I found something new, a pilot program tested in Bomi and Maryland Counties in Liberia that started in 2009 and ended in late 2014.

Implemented by the Liberian Ministry of Gender and Development with support from UNICEF and funded by the EU and Japan, it was called the “Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCT)” and was aimed at the “ultra-poor” - the poorest of the poor.

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Hindu Fundamentalism - is it going down the way of Islam?

by piero scaruffi

One of the most important books ever published on Hinduism, Wendy Doniger’s 683-page “The Hindus - An Alternative History” (2010), still cannot be found in India.

The ultra-nationalist political agitator Dinanath Batra sued its publisher and the publisher withdrew the book from the Indian market. The lawsuit was based on a law (Hate Law Speech Section #295A, enacted in 1927 by the British under pressure from the Muslim community) that de facto allows courts to punish religious blasphemy.

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We May be Systematically Underestimating the Probability of Annihilation

by Phil Torres

This article examines the risks posed by “unknown unknowns,” which I call monsters. It then introduces a taxonomy of the unknowable, and argues that one category of this taxonomy in particular should lead us to inflate our prior probability estimates of annihilation, whatever they happen to be. The lesson here is ultimately the same as the Doomsday Argument, except the reasoning is far more robust.

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Hate Speech Hurts - Should It Be Banned?

by Aaron Moritz

Sticks and stones can break my bones
, but words can never hurt me

The Nursery Rhyme is Bulls**t. Words hurt.

They don’t physically damage our bodies, but the pain is palpable. It’s also measurable in our brain activity. Social rejection activates the same parts of our brain as a punch to the face or a broken arm.

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India: little real progress for most people during the 20-year economic boom

by piero scaruffi

First of all, someone needs to demystify the idea that Westerners have of India. There are two modern empires in Asia: Russia and mainland China. They are empires because they rule over subjects who, given a choice, would probably not want to be part of them and these are big chunks of territory with huge natural resources (Chechnya and other Muslim regions in the case of Russia, Tibet and Xinjang in the case of China). India is never listed alongside them because it used to be a colony. Somehow the colonial past deters people from seeing what is relatively obvious: India too is an empire just like China and Russia that rules over many “conquered” regions that, given a choice, would probably secede.

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From Children of ‘Witches’ to ‘Child Witches’ in Ghana

by Leo Igwe

Children are among those who populate the witch camps in the Northern Ghana. These children are not at the sanctuary because they were accused of witchcraft. They are at these shelters because their mothers or grand mothers were accused. But from my observations, many of these children end up suffering as a result the label of witchcraft applied to their mothers or grand mothers. The belief in child witches exist among the Dagomba and other ethnic communities in the Northern region. But it takes a different dimension.

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If We No Longer Force People to Work to Meet Their Basic Needs, Won’t They Stop Working?

by Scott Santens

What underlies a question like this is that it’s okay to force people to work by withholding what they need to live, in order to force them to work for us. And at the same time, because they are forced, we don’t even pay them enough to meet their basic needs that we are withholding to force them to work.

What is a good word to describe this?

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The “Reputation Web” Will Generate Countless Opportunities

by Lincoln Cannon

Technological change is accelerating and transforming our world. Assuming trends persist, we will soon experience an evolutionary shift in the mechanisms of reputation, a fundamental on which relationships are based. Cascading effects of the shift will revolutionize the way we relate with each other and our machines, incentivizing unprecedented degrees of global cooperation.

In 2015, you probably have more computing power than that of the Apollo Guidance computer in your smartphone, and yet Moore’s Law continues unabated at its fiftieth anniversary. Machines are becoming faster and smaller and smarter.

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Does the Biblical God Exist? - I Think We Can Do Better

by Valerie Tarico

On May 20 I participated in a four person debate about the existence of God at Western Washington University. On the ‘yes’ side were Mike Raschko and Mark Markuly  from the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. On the ‘no’ side were Bob Seidensticker and me. Here are my remarks:

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Self-Driving Trucks Are Going to Hit Us Like a Human-Driven Truck

by Scott Santens

Late last year, I took a road trip with my partner from our home in New Orleans, Louisiana to Orlando, Florida and as we drove by town after town, we got to talking about the potential effects self-driving vehicle technology would have not only on truckers themselves, but on all the local economies dependent on trucker salaries. Once one starts wondering about this kind of one-two punch to America’s gut, one sees the prospects aren’t pretty.

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The Semi-Orthogonality Thesis - examining Nick Bostrom’s ideas on intelligent purpose

by Lincoln Cannon

In his Orthogonality Thesis, Nick Bostrom proposes that “intelligence and final goals are orthogonal: more or less any level of intelligence could in principle be combined with more or less any final goal.”

However, there’s a problem hinted at by the combination of “orthogonality” and “more or less”. Nick acknowledges that intelligent purpose actually does have some constraints. And arguably those constraints are actually quite strong,  which would mean the Orthogonality Thesis is rather weak

But the weakness may not be fatal. We can formulate a Semi-Orthogonality Thesis that actually accounts better for Nick’s own observations and reasoning without overstating their ramifications, which remain momentous.

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Understanding Witchcraft and Witch Sanctuaries in Northern Ghana

by Leo Igwe

Witch sanctuaries, described by local NGOs as ‘witch camps’, form part of the infrastructure of witchcraft in Northern Ghana. These sanctuaries are shrines, though one of sanctuaries in Gushiegu is not attached to any shrine. Tindana are the heads of the sanctuaries. The Dagbani term, Tindana, literally means - the one who owns the land. They are responsible for consulting the Tindang, the community spirit or god whenever there is a problem like drought or epidemic, war, plague, accusations of death or illness witchcraft, etc

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How Old Are You Now? - What’s Your Biological Age?

by David Kekich

Uh uh. Not so fast.

If your first impulse was to tell me how many years it has been since you were born, stop right there. There could be a huge difference between your chronological age and your biological age.

Let me explain.

Your chronological age measures how long you have been on this planet. Your biological age measures how you look, feel and perform—and is a gauge as to how long you will live. Recent studies have shown that the rate at which you age is only determined 25–35% by your genetics. The rest is up to you.

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