In 2009, Dr. George Tiller, family doctor and abortion provider, was shot and killed in his Wichita, Kansas church by an anti-choice extremist. Before the murder, Julie Burkhart worked side by side with Dr. Tiller for eight years. Afterwards, Ms. Burkhart vowed to carry on his vision of safe, accessible abortion care for the women of Kansas. An Interview with Julie Burkhart, reproductive rights hero.
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”.
Advocates of human enhancement often say that we ought to increase our intelligence as a species. But the consequences of actually doing this have never fully been explored. An excessive amount of intelligence might actually prove to be a bad thing — and a distraction from what really matters.
Suppose you are an athlete, training for the Olympic games. Your coach enters your changing room one morning and offers you a choice. You can either follow a rigorous training program for the next six months, or you can take a handful of magic pills and take the next six months off. Either way you’ll be prepared for the Olympic games. Which should you choose?
This is a story that hasn’t been covered yet, as far as we know: Alan Grayson is fighting for the right of US troops in the Middle East to read any online news outlet they want - including the one that keeps breaking new stories about the NSA.
“The year is 2032. You have just celebrated your 80th birthday and you have some tough decisions ahead. You can keep repairing your current body or move into a new one. The growing of ‘blank’ bodies has become one of the fastest advancing health industries in the world, and by using your own genetic material, body farmers can recreate your biological condition at age 20.” The above scenario was taken from “When Death Becomes Optional,” written by Google’s top-rated Futurist, Thomas Frey in a recent K21st article.
As you may have observed, I’m repeatedly drawn to the enhancement debate. I can’t exactly say why. Prima facie, it doesn’t seem particularly interesting (from an intellectual perspective): after all, who could object to “enhancement”? But, of course, it’s more complicated than that. Indeed, one of the alluring aspects of the debate has to do with the terminology in which it is couched.
If you could take a pill that would make you more moral, would you do it? It sounds attractive. I know that I often fail to be as compassionate or as charitable as I ought to be. If there was some way for me to overcome these moral failings I would be inclined to take it. But if I took, say, a compassion-pill would my actions be tainted thereafter? Would they be less morally commendable than they might otherwise have been?
Although today, technologies that can accurately simulate a deceased person’s life experience, their consciousness, emotions, and memories do not exist, many experts believe that exponential advances in computers, artificial intelligence, and communications technologies could bring this dream into reality by mid-century or before.
As our technologies take us from the theoretical to the practical, a number of thorny moral quandaries remain unanswered. Here are important unresolved ethical questions that are on the verge of becoming highly relevant.
During our current technological age of the 21st century, topics like robotics, AI, mind uploading, and indefinite life extension are no longer topics of science-fiction, but rather of science-facts and possibilities. The most common one being heavily debated at the current moment is mind uploading. Once we’re able to artificially replicate the human brain, and then begin uploading ourselves into said artificial brain, will we lose consciousness?
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.
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.
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…
This essay will not only focus on the mathematics, engineering and science behind AI, but also the philosophical reasoning and problems of artificial design. It delves into science, socio-science and art to find a new way in which to view the problems surrounding artificial design.
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.
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.
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.
When I was a kid, I remember a guy named Daniel Ellsberg leaking some classified documents to the New York Times about the Vietnam War called “the Pentagon Papers.” When the whistleblower finally stood trial for espionage, my parents weren’t quite sure how to feel. But when Richard Nixon’s crew was revealed to have been conducting illegal wiretaps in an effort to discredit the former intelligence contractor, well, they were outraged and decided Ellsberg was a hero. So did the judge and most of America.
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.
Gradually, the medieval practices of the alchemists gave way to the modern discipline of chemistry, bringing priceless benefits to medicine and to industry, through the increasing application of strict scientific principles advocated by pioneering thinkers like Galileo, Kepler, Bacon and Descartes.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to understand the science behind human violence; and then find ways to alter an enemy's thoughts by implanting false, but believable stories in their brains. The goal is to create a more peaceful scenario: We're your friend, not your enemy.