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



UPCOMING EVENTS: FreeThought

LaTorra, Pellissier @ Religion and Transhumanism - the future of faith, ethics, and philosophy
May 10
Piedmont, CA USA




MULTIMEDIA: FreeThought Topics

How Positive Psychology/Thinking is Concealing some of the Real Causes of our Collective Suffering

Learn Anything, Anywhere

Technofuture Politics

On Technoprogressivism (Full Interview)

A Non-Trivial Pursuit of Happiness

How to break the Internet, destroy democracy and enslave the human race (or not)

Consciousness, Artificial Intelligence and Surveillance

Everything Will Be Alright Episode 5

Personhood Beyond the Human: On Denial of Death and the Threat of Animality

Personhood Beyond the Human: On What Might a Species-Free Ethics Look Like?

Brain, Mind, and Consciousness - Skeptics Society 2005

Terasem’s Lifenaut Project: Be The Author of Your Own Story

The SexBot Revolution

Radical mindfulness

FEMEN’s topless activists porn or power




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FreeThought Topics




Back to the future in the Metaverse

by Giulio Prisco

All seems to indicate that new, fully immersive next-generation virtual worlds and user interfaces may be behind the corner. Let’s go back to the future in the Metaverse!



Does radical enhancement threaten our sense of self?

by John Danaher

If we extended our lives by 200 years, or if we succeeded in uploading our minds to an artificial substrate, would we undermine our sense of personal identity? If so, would it be wiser to avoid such radical forms of enhancement? These are the questions posed in chapter 4 of Nicholas Agar’s book Truly Human Enhancement. Over the next two posts I’ll take a look at Agar’s answers. This is all part of my ongoing series of reflections on Agar’s book.



Will sex workers be replaced by robots? (A Precis)

by John Danaher

I recently published an article in the Journal of Evolution and Technology on the topic of sex work and technological unemployment (available here, here and here). It began by asking whether sex work, specifically prostitution (as opposed to other forms of labour that could be classified as “sex work”, e.g. pornstar or erotic dancer), was vulnerable to technological unemployment. It looked at contrasting responses to that question, and also included some reflections on technological unemployment and the basic income guarantee.



Social Futurist revolution & the Zero State

by Amon Twyman

We have recently seen increased interest in the issues of workplace automation,technological unemployment, and Basic Income Guarantee (AKA Universal Basic Income). Some observers have been perplexed by visceral and sharply divided public opinion, with people viewing these phenomena as inherently positive or negative.



Should we bet on radical enhancement?

by John Danaher

This is the third part of my series on Nicholas Agar’s book Truly Human Enhancement. As mentioned previously, Agar stakes out an interesting middle ground on the topic of enhancement. He argues that modest forms of enhancement — i.e. up to or slightly beyond the current range of human norms — are prudentially wise, whereas radical forms of enhancement — i.e. well beyond the current range of human norms — are not. His main support for this is his belief that in radically enhancing ourselves we will lose certain internal goods. These are goods that are intrinsic to some of our current activities.



Veridical Engagement and Radical Enhancement

by John Danaher

This is the second post in my series on Nicholas Agar's new book Truly Human Enhancement. The book offers an interesting take on the enhancement debate. It tries to carve out a middle ground between bioconservatism and transhumanism, arguing that modest enhancement (within or slightly beyond the range of human norms) is prudentially valuable, but that radical enhancement (well beyond the range of human norms) may not be.



Every Scientist Should Be An Anarchist

by William Gillis

The first time I encountered the claim that an anarchistic society would impede scientific progress I was too shocked — and later busy chortling — to sketch out a thorough response. It’s a surprising sentiment to me for a lot of reasons, not the least for the well known correspondence between scientific progress and social and material freedom in mass societies.



Equality, Fairness and the Threat of Algocracy: Should we embrace automated predictive data-mining?

by John Danaher

I’ve looked at data-mining and predictive analytics before on this blog. As you know, there are many concerns about this type of technology and the increasing role it plays in our lives. Thus, for example, people are concerned about the oftentimes hidden way in which our data is collected prior to being “mined”. And they are concerned about how it is used by governments and corporations to guide their decision-making processes. Will we be unfairly targetted by the data-mining algorithms? Will they exercise too much control over socially important decision-making processes? I’ve reviewed some of these concerns before.



We Need to Rethink Access to Scientific Research

by Aaron Moritz

One of humanity’s greatest technological triumphs is today’s potential for widespread and unrestricted access to all of our collected knowledge. As we march towards this noble goal, there is something crucial we need to talk about. That is, some of the most vital information we have is our scientific research, and much of it is still widely unavailable to the public. At least, without paying prohibitively high costs.



Beyond Homophobia: The Even Bigger Reason to Avoid World Vision

by Valerie Tarico

In a media frenzy akin to the Komen scandal, Evangelical aid organization World Vision announced recently that it would allow legally married and monogamous queer Christians on its payroll. Conservative co-religionists, including Franklin Graham of Billy Graham Ministries, and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention took to the media denouncing the decision as a violation of biblical Christianity and all that is good. 



Future of love and sex: monogamy no longer the default, say experts

by Dick Pelletier

There’s a pervasive notion that monogamous relationships are the end-all-be-all – the default pact in human couplings that keep the fabric of society from being torn apart. But growing numbers of scientists believe monogamy is not our biological default; and may not even represent the best road to happiness.



Bioethicist Arthur Caplan receives 2014 Public Service Award for an individual

Caplan’s work fosters greater understanding of science, medicine and ethics. On March 24, 2014 the National Science Board (NSB) announced that renowned bioethicist and IEET Trustee Arthur Caplan, a global leader in medical ethics, is the 2014 recipient of its Public Service Award for an individual.

Full Story...
Link to National Science Foundation



Democracy: There’s an App for That

by Doug Rushkoff

The best thing about Occupy Wall St. wasn’t what it argued politically or accomplished legislatively, but what it modeled for us: a new way of engaging with issues, resolving conflict, and reaching consensus. It was a style of engagement that seemed like it could only happen in person, between young people willing to sit in a cold park all night until they could come to an agreement over an issue.



Conscience Creep: How “Religious Freedom” Spiraled Out of Control

by Valerie Tarico

Secular Americans and many liberal people of faith have been horrified by the Right’s most recent ploy: “religious freedom” claims that would give conservative business owners license to discriminate. Until Arizona made the national spotlight, the need for lunch counter sit-ins had seemed like a thing of the past. But in reality, advocates for religious privileges have been circling toward this point for some time.



Anti-Technology Terrorism: An Upcoming Global Threat?

by Glyn Taylor

We are only just starting to discover what our upcoming technologies will be capable of, and already, through fear of possible future threats, bombs are being sent to physicists. Emerging technologies are set to revolutionise our world during the next few decades; could this lead to the rise of anti-technology terrorism becoming even more of a threat than radical [religion]?



Can We Avoid a Surveillance State Dystopia?

by Ramez Naam

Yes. Yes we can. The last year has brought with it the revelations of massive government-run domestic spying machineries in the US and UK. On the horizon is more technology that will make it even easier for governments to monitor and track everything that citizens do. Yet I'm convinced that, if we're sufficiently motivated and sufficiently clever, the future can be one of more freedom rather than less.



Ethical Arguments for the Use of Cognitive Enhancing Drugs (Part Two)

by J. Hughes

There are four ethical arguments I want to bring to bear on behalf of cognitive enhancing drugs, roughly in order of their historical provenance.



Three Strikes and We’re Out (of the open Internet)

by Brenda Cooper

Someone interviewing me for a magazine asked me what current technology tomorrow’s children would find obsolete.  I almost answered “The Internet.”  Then I decided to think about that answer a little bit because it’s pretty scary. Then I decided it’s true. Shortly, humans may find today’s wide open Internet as archaic as we now find phones that are wired to walls. Here’s why.  There are three huge pressures on the internet as we know it today – the one where I can write this essay, post it on my website, and you can find it and read it.  Whoever you are.



Femen in North America! Interview with the Feminist- Activist - Topless Leaders

by Hank Pellissier

Femen is notoriously well-known for its anti-authoritarian, anti-religion “top-free” protest activities in Europe, especially in the Ukraine (where they’re originally from) and in Paris, where they’re presently headquartered. Recent activities include disruption of a Catholic Christmas Mass in Cologne Cathedral in Germany, where Josephine – a Femen “sextremist” – clambered up and posed on the altar, arms widespread, with “I Am God” scrawled in black paint on her torso.



The Singularity promises great benefits, but can we brave the risks

by Dick Pelletier

What can we expect when machines surpass humans in intelligence; a point in time that futurists predict could become reality by 2045.



Protesting Students Joined by Alumni: “Change the Church”

by Valerie Tarico

In late December, while marriage equality became law in New Mexico and Utah, a Washington vice principal and coach at a Catholic school got fired for marrying his partner, and a Philadelphia Methodist minister was defrocked because he performed a wedding ceremony for his son. 



Is mind uploading existentially risky? (Part Two)

by John Danaher

This is the second in a series of posts looking at Searle's Wager and the rationality of mind-uploading. Searle's Wager is an argument that was originally developed by the philosopher Nicholas Agar. It claims that uploading one's mind to a computer (or equivalent substrate) cannot be rational because there is a risk that it might entail death. I covered the argument on this blog back in 2011. In this series, I'm looking at a debate between Nicholas Agar and Neil Levy about the merits of the argument. The current focus is on Levy's critique.



#2 Editor’s Choice Award: The Antispeciesist Revolution

by David Pearce

When is it ethically acceptable to harm another sentient being? On some fairly modest assumptions, to harm or kill someone simply on the grounds they belong to a different gender, sexual orientation or ethnic group is unjustified. Such distinctions are real but ethically irrelevant. On the other hand, species membership is normally reckoned an ethically relevant criterion. Fundamental to our conceptual scheme is the pre-Darwinian distinction between “humans” and “animals”.



The philosophy of suicide

by Massimo Pigliucci

In a forthcoming episode of the Rationally Speaking podcast, Julia and I discuss the philosophy and science of suicide, i.e. what empirical inquiry tells us about suicides (who commits them, how, what are the best strategies for prevention) and how philosophical reflection may lead us to think of suicide. In this post I will focus on the philosophical side of the discussion, for which an excellent summary source, with a number of additional references, is this article by Michael Cholbi in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, to which I will keep referring below.



#4 A Test to Measure How Rational You Really Are

by George Dvorsky

Standard IQ tests are problematic on many levels — not least, because they do very little to tell us about the quality of our thinking. Looking to overcome this oversight, psychologist Keith Stanovich has started to work on the first-ever Rationality Quotient test. We spoke to him to learn more.



#11 The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational

by George Dvorsky

The human brain is capable of 1016 processes per second, which makes it far more powerful than any computer currently in existence. But that doesn't mean our brains don't have major limitations. The lowly calculator can do math thousands of times better than we can, and our memories are often less than useless — plus, we're subject to cognitive biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions.



#12 Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

by Valerie Tarico

At age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.



#14 New Computer Programming Language Imitates The Human Brain

by George Dvorsky

As we pointed out earlier this week, we’re still far from being able to replicate the awesome power of the human brain. So rather than use traditional models of computing, IBM has decided to design an entirely new computer architecture — one that’s taking inspiration from nature.



Analysis of STRATFOR Leaks Misrepresents Nonviolent Movements

by David Swanson

Carl Gibson and Steve Horn have done an important service in writing their article outlining Srdja Popovic’s inexcusable collaboration with the global intelligence company STRATFOR and his disclosure of the activities of movements and activists with whom he has worked.  Unfortunately, as will be spelled out below, the article falls into a rather simplistic and reductionist analysis of Popovic’s motivations and, more critically, misrepresents the nature of the popular uprisings in Serbia and other countries. The article also contains a number of factual errors and misleading statements. 



#17 A Letter to Sergey Brin

by Maria Konovalenko

I’ve heard you are interested in the topics of aging and longevity. This is very cool, because fighting for radical life extension is the wisest and most humanitarian strategy. I would like to tell you what needs to be done, but, unfortunately, I haven’t got your email address, or any other way to be heard.

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