Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: FreeThought

Robotic Online Short Film Festival
November 20
Universidad Elche, Spain


Humans, Machines, and the Future of Work Conference
December 5-6
Rice University, Houston, Texas




MULTIMEDIA: FreeThought Topics

The Science of Fear-Mongering: How to Protect Your Mind from Demagogues

Karen Levy on the Rise of Intimate Surveillance

What Makes You YOU? Individuality, Consciousness and The Borg

Self-Awareness Is Essential in Comedy and in Life

How to face new scientific technologies

Could the Solution to the World’s Biggest Problems Be…a Park?

The Internet Is Still Brand New. Maybe That’s Why We’re All Fighting

5 Steps to Achieve Enlightenment — All Supported by Science

How Imagination and Intelligence Work Together in the Brain

What’s so sexy about math?

Algocracy and Transhumanism Podcast: Deborah Lupton on the Quantified Self

Zoos Enrich Our Lives but Cost Animals Their Dignity

The Psychology of Solitude: Being Alone Can Maximize Productivity

Work/Life Balance Is a Non-Issue If You Find Your Purpose

History Lesson: Trump’s Rise Might Signal the Collapse of the Republican Party




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FreeThought Topics




How to maintain a vigorous, positive sum society… in theory

by David Brin

I’ve long urged folks to go have another look at one of the founders of the Western-Pragmatic Enlightenment, Adam Smith. Lately, Smith has been picked up by ever more economists and thinkers seeking to understand how we’ve gone astray.



What Is a Global Citizen, and Can it Save Us?

by David Swanson

Headlines this past week claimed that for the first time ever more than half of poll respondents around the world said they saw themselves more as a global citizen than as a citizen of a country. What did they mean in saying that?



A Pro- and Anti-War Dialogue

by David Swanson

Anti-War Advocate: Is there a case that can be made for war?

Pro-War Advocate: Well, yes. In a word: Hitler!



The Ethics of Intimate Surveillance (2): A Landscape of Objections

by John Danaher

This is the second in a two-part series (read Part I here)looking at the ethics of intimate surveillance. In part one, I explained what was meant by the term ‘intimate surveillance’, gave some examples of digital technologies that facilitate intimate surveillance, and looked at what I take to be the major argument in favour of this practice (the argument from autonomy).



The Deeper Meaning of the Anthropocene

by Rick Searle

Last year when I wrote a review of E.O. Wilson’s book The Meaning of Human Existence I felt sure it would be the then 85 year old’s last major work. I was wrong having underestimated Professor Wilson’s already impressive intellectual stamina. Perhaps his latest book Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life is indeed his last, the final book that concludes the trilogy of The Social Conquest of Earth and the Meaning of Human Existence.



MIT Journal, Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments Call for Papers

Advancements in virtual reality are not only technology driven, but actions within virtual environments implicate numerous issues in policy and law. For example, are virtual images copyrightable? Is the speech produced by a virtual avatar afforded rights under the U.S. and other Constitutions? How does criminal law relate to actions performed within virtual environments, or contract law apply to the lease and sale of virtual objects? These and other questions form the theme for this special issue. Legal scholars and practitioners from the U.S. and other jurisdictions are encouraged to submit.

See CFP here.

Link to Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments



IEET Affiliate Scholar Hank Pellissier’s Athiest Ugandan Orphanage and School

Sarah Sloat, a writer at Inverse, has published an article discussing the successful venture spearheaded by Bwambale Robert Musubaho, Hank Pellissier and Zoltan Istvan in funding and developing an An Atheist Ugandan Orphanage.

Link to Inverse



The Ethics of Intimate Surveillance (1)

by John Danaher

Intimate Surveillance’ is the title of an article by Karen Levy - a legal and sociological scholar currently-based at NYU. It shines light on an interesting and under-explored aspect of surveillance in the digital era. The forms of surveillance that capture most attention are those undertaken by governments in the interests of national security or corporations in the interests of profit.



What’s happening inside the black box? Three forms of algorithmic opacity

by John Danaher

The debate about algorithmic governance (or as I prefer ‘algocracy’) has been gathering pace over the past couple of years. As computer-coded algorithms become ever more woven into the fabric of economic and political life, and as the network of data-collecting devices that feed these algorithms grows, we can expect that pace to quicken.



Better Birth Control for Men – How Would It Work? What’s in the Pipeline?

by Valerie Tarico

Most people think of contraception as an issue of women’s health and rights. But for millennia, men too have wanted choices—the means to decide whether, when, and with whom they father a child.



Why Woman-as-Abortion-Victim is Even Worse than Endorsing Punishment

by Valerie Tarico

Republican attempts to distance from “punishment” instead liken women to feeble minded children, incapable of adult moral agency or responsibility.

If Donald Trump’s comment about punishing women for abortions exposed the bloated belly of the Pro-Life Priesthood, his retraction exposed its sulfur-spewing rear end.



Meaning in Life as Being Part of Cosmic Evolution

by John G. Messerly

Below is an excerpt of comments from an astute reader of my book, The Meaning of Life: Religious, Philosophical, Transhumanist, and Scientific Perspectives:



Moral Theories and Moral Intuitions

by John G. Messerly

Moral theories often conflict with our moral intuitions; they are often counter-intuitive. Explanations, theories, or beliefs are counter-intuitive if they violate our ordinary, common-sense view. For example, it’s counter-intuitive to suppose that physical reality is illusory, although there is no way to demonstrate this isn’t the case. Similarly, it’s counter-intuitive to suppose the keyboard upon which I type is moving, although the keyboard, earth, solar system, galaxy, and entire universe move! This demonstrates that non-moral intuitions are often mistaken.



The Catholic Church is Now More Advanced Than U.S. Philosophy Departments

by David Swanson

It ought to be with considerable embarrassment that I say this, as an atheist who thinks religion does far more harm than good, and that it does so not only through the pretense that death isn’t real but first and foremost through the promotion of blind obedience to supposedly infallible authority. Yet, I don’t feel any sort of group loyalty or opposition to the parties involved here, and I’m actually entirely thrilled to recognize the good news that the Catholic Church has now surged far ahead of U.S. academia in the basic measure of opposition to institutionalized mass murder.



The Habit of Thought That Made U.S. #1 in Prisons and Wars

by David Swanson

I’m going to start with a few brief opening remarks about what I think is the habit of thought that has made the United States #1 in the world in prisons and wars. And then I’ll be glad to try to answer as many questions as you think of. These remarks will be published online at American Herald Tribune.



Why Do Ethics Classes Fantasize About Murder So Much?

by David Swanson

At a post-screening discussion where I questioned the director of Eye in the Sky about the disconnect between his drone-kill movie and reality, he launched into a bunch of thought-experiment stuff of the sort I’ve tried to avoid since finishing my master’s in philosophy. Mostly I’ve avoided hanging out with torture supporters.



Breakthrough Starshot: The First Steps to the Stars

by Giulio Prisco

On on the 55th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering space flight, Internet investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking announced a plan for our firsts steps to the stars: Breakthrough Starshot.



Posthuman Rights: Dimensions of Transhuman Worlds

Woody Evans has published an article on Posthuman rights in the Spanish journal, Teknokultura. Below is the abstract of the paper. You can click on the journal title to find the full article online.

Full Story...
Link to Teknokultura



The Future of Gender

by Jules Hamilton

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, a classic sci-fi, and Nebula Award winner for best novel, is about descendants of the human race that, due to evolution, periodically alternate their genetic sex. Sometimes they’re male and sometimes they’re female; it’s an intriguing exploration on the role of culture and gender. The story’s protagonist is like you and me, a visiting alien trying to understand the customs of this other world. What is gender? And why is everyone talking about it so much right now?



Christianity and Transhumanism Are Much Closer Than You Think

by Giulio Prisco

I have long been persuaded that there are strong parallels between transhumanism and religion, not only “new” religions but the traditional religions of our grandfathers as well. There are, of course, differences, but I prefer to emphasize the parallels. After some deep reading and thinking, I realize that Christianity and Transhumanism are closer than I thought, and much closer than you probably think.



Abortion Care as a Spiritual Ministry—An Interview with Dr. Willie Parker

by Valerie Tarico

What kind of person becomes a full time abortion provider, traveling across state lines to end unhealthy or unwanted pregnancy despite screaming protesters threatening death and damnation? Whatever image you may have in mind, Dr. Willie Parker probably doesn’t fit it.



Posthumanism and Contemporary Art

by Kevin LaGrandeur

The art in MOCA’s Winter/Spring exhibition Stranger, is art of the posthuman era. The idea of the posthuman is a big new philosophical and scientific concept, and big new philosophical or scientific concepts often cause paradigm shifts in the way we think about our world, about ourselves, and about our relation to the universe. And that, in turn, changes art. Which changes us, because art reflects and anticipates our struggles to absorb and assimilate new ideas and how they relate to us.



Atheism Reduces Maternal Mortality in Nigeria

by Leo Igwe

If you are one of those who think that atheism is of no benefit to Africa and Africans, that disbelieving in god has no social value or significance for this people then you may rethink your position after reading this.

Full Story...



Transhumanismes & religion

by Marc Roux

Régulièrement, la question est posée de savoir si le transhumanisme est une religion. Ma réponse personnelle, comme celle des membres de l’Association Française Transhumaniste : Technoprog!, est résolument négative. Ce mouvement de pensée ne rentre décidément pas dans cette définition. Pour autant, je pense que d’une part le transhumanisme a quelque chose à dire aux religions et que d’autre part, il n’est pas du tout impossible d’envisager le transhumanisme d’un point de vue religieux ou au moins spiritualiste.



FDA Thwarts Abortion Foes by Updating Medication Abortion Regimen

by Valerie Tarico

Updated medication abortion regimen is cheaper and more effective.

Think of a medication you take. Now imagine that state legislators passed a law saying that any doctor prescribing that medication had to administer three times the necessary dose—just because that’s the way it was done in the 1990s. That is exactly what has been happening with mifepristone, one of two medications used to induce therapeutic miscarriage, also known as medication abortion. The same meddling legislators have forced doctors to prescribe the other medication, misoprostol, at a lower than ideal dosage, increasing the risk of an incomplete miscarriage.

Full Story...



Longévité, condition féminine et travail reproductif

by Audrey Arendt

L ’allongement net de la durée de la jeunesse biologique soulève à tort les questions de surpopulation et de croissance démographique, lorsqu’au contraire tout porte à anticiper les effets inverses.



Humai’s Head of Engineering On the Future That is to Come

by B. J. Murphy

Just the other week Humai’s head of engineering John LaRocco sat down with The Hartman Media Company where he discussed artificial intelligence (A.I.), head transplants, and synthetic organs. It was an alluring conversation to listen to, one which will help people acquire a better understanding as to the company Humai’s vision for the future ahead of us.



The Challenge of Secularism and Human Rights in Africa

by Leo Igwe

African countries have been facing various challenges since independence and one of these major dilemmas is defining the relationship between religion and politics. At independence, African countries inherited multiple faiths, political religions that seek to control state formation and structure.

Full Story...



What is the Difference Between Philosophy, Science, and Religion?

by John G. Messerly

In order to more clearly conceptualize philosophy’s territory, let’s consider it in relationship to two other powerful cultural forces with which it’s intertwined: religion and science.

We may (roughly) characterize the contrast between philosophy and religion as follows: philosophy relies on reason, evidence and experience for its truths; religion depends on faith, authority grace, and revelation for truth.

Full Story...



Review of Michael Bess’, Our Grandchildren Redesigned

by John G. Messerly

Vanderbilt University’s Michael Bess has written an extraordinarily thoughtful new book: Our Grandchildren Redesigned: Life In The BioEngineered Society Of The Near Future. The first part of the book introduces the reader to the technologies that will enhance the physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities of our children and grandchildren: pharmaceuticals, bioelectronics, genetics, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and virtual reality.

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