Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS: FreeThought

“A Dangerous Master” by Wendell Wallach (Lecture & Book Signing)
May 5-
Connecticut Science Center | Downtown Hartford, CT


Rushkoff on “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus” @ PFSK 2016 Forum
May 13
New York City, NY


Rushkoff on “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus” @ Hammer Museum
May 17
Los Angeles, California


Rushkoff on “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus” @ Powell’s Books
May 20
Portland, OR


Rushkoff on “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus” @ Webvisions
May 20
Portland, OR


Rushkoff on “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus” @ Personal Democracy Forum
June 10
New York City, NY


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




MULTIMEDIA: FreeThought Topics

Algorithms: Killing Jobs, Narrowing Our Personalities

Online Companies Like Facebook Have Created a Meaningless Economy

Episode #1- Tal Zarsky on the Ethics of Big Data and Predictive Analytics

Immortality: When We Digitally Copy Our Minds, What Happens to Humanity?

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus

Cyborg Buddha – IEET’s James Hughes on Transhuman Enlightenment and Basic Income

What really happens when you mix medications?

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

How Netflix Implements Big Data Is All about You

A Lesson about the Psychology of Meetings from SNL and Google

Van Gogh’s Mental Illness

An Atheist’s Guide to Persuasion: Reciprocate and Be Respectful

Terrorists Might Be Dumb, but They’re Tech-Savvy

What Science Says about Monogamy

Surrogacy Conference




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FreeThought Topics




How Games of Thrones Teaches Us About the Syrian Refugee Crisis

by Stefan Morrone

Fans of Game of Thrones were treated to a big piece of news last week. As audiences know, the fan-favorite character Jon Snow was left to die at the hands of his Night’s Watch Brothers at the end of the previous season.  Yesterday, a poster was revealed showing a bloodied image of the character.



#29: A Secular Satanist’s Approach Towards Technoprogressive Transhumanism

by B. J. Murphy

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on February 9, 2015, and is the #29 most viewed of the year.

Full Story...



Star Trek Philosophy: “We Were Like You Once, But We Evolved”

by B. J. Murphy

The following dialogue below took place on Star Trek: Enterprise, on episode 18, season 2, titled “The Crossing.” It was between members of the Enterprise crew (Captain Archer, Commander T’Pol, and Lieutenant Reed) and a non-corporeal alien entity known as the Wisp, of which they discuss the Wisp’s past biological existence and how they evolved into a non-corporeal species.



Scientific Illiteracy and the Coming Singularity

by Gareth John

Anyone who’s read any of my previous posts will already know that I am, let us say, technologically challenged. Some twenty years ago I studied towards a PhD in Tibetan Studies and Classical Sanskrit and Tibetan languages. Alas, since then with this knowledge unused it has faded away although I can still say Chandamaharoshana Tantra without bringing on a manic mood swing.



Proliferated Futuristic Weaponry: World’s First 3-D Printed Revolver

by B. J. Murphy

In light of the recent news where the Australian government officially criminalized the mere act of owning blueprints to 3D print a gun, it certainly raises the question of how other countries will handle the future prospect of advanced 3D printed weaponry. The ownership of a gun is already a controversial topic currently being debated here in the United States, and with 3D printed guns now being added into the mix, the controversy is likely to become exacerbated.



Star Trek Philosophy: “Killing Is Wrong, No Matter Who’s Doing It”

by B. J. Murphy

The following dialogue below took place on Star Trek: Voyager, on episode 13, season 7, titled “Repentance.” It was between Seven of Nine (whom is a former Borg drone) and the Doctor (whom is a holographic emergency medical physician), of which they discuss the morality (or lack thereof) behind the act of killing another living being.



Obfuscation: protect privacy by destroying the Web!

by David Brin

Time for a return to the core issue of our time: how shall we best preserve and extend freedom?  Along with freedom’s contingent benefits, like privacy?

In the LA Review of Books, Internet Privacy: Stepping Up Our Self-Defense Game, Evan Selinger reviews a slim book—Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest, by Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum.



Benefiting from Exponentials Globally

by David Orban

Singularity University is expanding through the SingularityU Global program. The launch of SingularityU Milan, the first Italian chapter, is part of this program. It allows orders of magnitude more people to directly participate in its events and leverage the power of exponential technologies.



Anonymous vs ISIS: Vigilante justice in the War against Terrorism

by Stefan Morrone

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind centred around the terrorist group knows as the Islamic State.  First, several attacks in Paris left 129 dead and countless others injured, then a bomb threat in Germany and a threat by ISIS to attack the rest of Europe and Washington, D.C. Fear grips the hearts of people around the world in an iron vice. And that is exactly what ISIS wants.  Right now, they are winning.



Christians Should Support Scientists and Technologists

by Christopher J. Benek

It is often articulated in society that Christianity and science/technology are at odds. While most people of faith do not hold this belief, it is imperative that the church universal continue to dispute this negative stereotype. The most effective way that Christians can do so is by actively affirming their support for people called to work in the fields of science and technology.



Platform Adoption Statement #1 of the Nevada Transhumanist Party

by Gennady Stolyarov II

The following sections are hereby added to the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform. Pursuant to Article I, Section XXV, these sections are not officially considered part of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution at this time, but shall have equivalent standing to the Platform Sections within that Constitution. It will be possible to officially amend the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution to include these statements during periodic biennial filings of Certificates of Continued Existence with the Nevada Secretary of State.



A Multifaceted Strategy to Defeat ISIS

by Gennady Stolyarov II

The recent slaughters of hundreds of innocent civilians in Paris, in Ankara, in Beirut, and aboard the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 illustrate without a shadow of doubt that the threat from the barbaric sect known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, and the Islamic State cannot be contained within the Middle East. ISIS is an enemy of humanity, decency, and Western civilization. It will continue killing completely peaceful civilians of Western nations, both in their home countries and abroad, in gruesome ways. ISIS is a cancer upon humanity, and it will continue to metastasize and inflict damage until it is either eradicated or until it completely kills its host. Like cancer, ISIS cannot coexist with a healthy humankind. This cancerous “Islamic State” should be eradicated using the resources of any willing parties.



Will At-Home Therapeutic Miscarriage Make Abortion Clinics Obsolete?

by Valerie Tarico

At the turn of the millennium, the FDA approved a pill that could replace most abortions with early at-home therapeutic miscarriage.  When will that potential be realized?



Promising… and worrisome news

by David Brin

Don’t let the gloom industry get you down. The news isn’t all bad. Progress happens. For example…



The beauty of the holonic understanding of reality

by Enrique Lescure

The Universe can be defined in many ways. What is clear is that there are different levels of realities, which are interacting with one another. Matter is arranged in atoms, which taken together turns into molecules. These molecules arrange themselves in larger objects, such as grains of sand, rock, driplets of liquid, single-cell organisms or cells belonging to larger organisms. This diverse symphony of matter forms eco-systems which form a biosphere that constantly develops through evolution – a neverending symphony of beauty and colours.



Religion and the Meaning of Life: The Problem (Part 2)

by John G. Messerly

1) Is Life Meaningful Even If Religion Is True?

Yesterday’s post discussed some problems with grounding the meaning of life on religious beliefs. However, there is another argument which severs the connection between religious truth and the meaning of life. And that argument is that the truth of religion is irrelevant to the question of life’s meaning. In other words, even if some religion is true, it does not matter for our concerns. We can see this if we try to state exactly how it is that religion gives life meaning, something surprisingly hard to formulate.



Religion and the Meaning of Life: The Problem (Part 1)

by John G. Messerly

Are Religious Claims True?

The main problem with any proposed religious answer to the question of the meaning of life is that, in general, religious beliefs are probably false. After all, there is no convincing evidence for the gods, an afterlife, or other supernatural phenomena that persuades most philosophers. (Only a small minority of professional philosophers are theists.)

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Maverick Nannies and Danger Theses

by Kaj Sotala

In early 2014, Richard Loosemore published a paper called “The Maverick Nanny with a Dopamine Drip: Debunking Fallacies in the Theory of AI Motivation“, which criticized some thought experiments about the risks of general AI that had been presented. Like many others, I did not really understand the point that this paper was trying to make, especially since it made the claim that people endorsing such thought experiments were assuming a certain kind of an AI architecture – which I knew that we were not.



Propaganda in America Today

by John G. Messerly

I generally avoid political issues in this blog,  but there are a number of very disturbing trends in American politics today that demand attention. The reason for that attention is simple. As both Plato and Aristotle reasoned long ago, one cannot have a good life without a good government; without a good government, few of us will be able to live well.



Democracy vs. the Oligarchy: from Athens to Switzerland

by Steven Umbrello

Around the 5th century B.C.E. the Greek polis of Athens, which would become one of the largest empires of the Mediterranean, instated what was a very novel and advanced system of government. Coming from the Greek word Demokratia, which refers to the entirety of the citizen body, the Athenians created the first real sophisticated direct democracy. This form of democratic governance differed considerably from contemporary systems. The Athenian system provided “equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participate directly in the political arena”. However, this distribution of political power only applied to the free male citizen body that was of legal age (18 years).



What do Imaginary Sky Masters have to do with Transhumanism?

by Lincoln Cannon

Sometimes atheist Transhumanists ask me, “What do imaginary sky masters have to do with Transhumanism?” Of course there’s an appeal to ridicule in the question, so it’s not exactly a shining model of rational engagement. But underlying the ridicule is a real question worth addressing. Here’s my answer:

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What the Case of Zoltan Istvan Says about the State of Transhumanist Politics

by Steve Fuller

Thanks to Luke Robert Mason, I’ve now got up to speed on the controversy surrounding Zoltan Istvan’s candidacy for the US Presidency in 2016. Istvan is a Columbia philosophy and religion graduate and author of the science fiction book, The Transhumanist Wager. But he is perhaps nowadays best known from driving a coffin-shaped bus across the United States to dramatize his primary policy commitment – namely, that the US government should work towards extending the life expectancy of its citizens indefinitely. 

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Reverse Missionaries: Are African Churches Exporting Homophobia to the West?

by Leo Igwe

In recent years, the issue of gay rights in Africa has generated intense debate and discussions. Some countries have tried to tighten the laws against homosexuality and prohibit same sex marriage. They claim homosexuality is an evil, corrupt and immoral lifestyle which western societies are trying to impose on African nations.

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Why I still Support Charlie Hebdo

by Russell Blackford

You know the shocking story: in January 2015, two masked Islamist gunmen launched a paramilitary attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly magazine. The gunmen murdered twelve people: two police officers and ten of the magazine’s staff, including the much-loved editor and cartoonist Stéphane Charbonnier (known as “Charb”).

In the immediate aftermath, many people expressed solidarity with Charlie Hebdo’s staff and their loved ones, and with the citizens of Paris. There were vigils and rallies in cities across the world. Twitter hashtags proliferated, the most viral being #JeSuisCharlie: “I am Charlie.”

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Anti-Abortion Group Touts Virtue of Suffering

by Valerie Tarico

Catholic Pro-life organization wants you to just put up with suffering—and actually says so!

 

The American Life League [ALL] mobilizes devout Catholics against medical options that, to their way of thinking, violate God’s will. If you should drive past a Planned Parenthood and see elderly women fingering rosary beads next to pictures of the Virgin Mary, or young men holding Bibles and praying, American Life League probably had a hand in their presence there. Ironically, ALL also spreads misinformation about birth control, for example via a Pill Kills campaign—which means they feed the line-up of Catholic women waiting for abortion services.

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Against Sainthood for Benedict Daswa: Why Replace Sangoma Witchcraft with Catholic Witchcraft?

by Leo Igwe

I am against the ongoing efforts and campaign by the Catholic Church to make the late South African schoolteacher, Benedict Daswa, a saint. While I acknowledge the heroic struggle waged by Daswa against witchcraft based violence and exploitation of his Venda people, a struggle that eventually led to his brutal murder; while I understand the need to celebrate and commemorate his life, legacy and achievement, this initiative to make him an object of ‘worship’ or reverence by the catholic establishment is a self-serving scheme and is literally an insult on the memory of this critical and courageous mind.

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Heart of Humanism Award and Witch-hunts in Africa

by Leo Igwe

Thank you Foundation Beyond Belief for selecting me as the recipient of the Heart of Humanism Award for 2015. I believe I have just received the best award the world has to offer. 

Superstition confuses the mind. It distorts reality, hardens the conscience and poisons the heart. Irrational belief drains the well of human compassion causing suffering, death, darkness and destruction. As Voltaire once noted, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”.

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The Misogyny Behind Witchcraft Accusations

by Leo Igwe

In the North of Ghana, among the Dagomba, the name for a witch is Sonya, and a wizard is Bukpaha. But in local discourse there is often no reference to Bukpaha. Sonya is commonly used to refer to a person, male or female (though largely female), who engages in malevolent magic.

Another Dagomba term for Sonya is Pakurugu, which means an old woman, or as the English speaking Dagomba say, an ‘old lady’. Among the Dagomba, the notion of witchcraft has a female face. Men are more often perceived as ‘doctors’ with the cure for witchcraft.

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The Space of Mind Designs and the Human Mental Model

by Roman Yampolskiy

The following essay is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my recently published book, Artificial Superintelligence

2.1 Introduction

In 1984, Aaron Sloman published “The Structure of the Space of Possible Minds,” in which he described the task of providing an interdisciplinary description of that structure. He observed that “behaving systems” clearly comprise more than one sort of mind and suggested that virtual machines may be a good theoretical tool for analyzing mind designs.

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42 Splices and Counting: Nine Facts You Should Know About the Planned Parenthood Smear Campaign

by Valerie Tarico

Imagine that someone hated you (or your company) and wanted to make you look bad. So, he pretended to be a friend or colleague, went to your events, repeatedly asked you to meetings or lunch, gained your trust, and then spent two years recording private conversations. Could he find stuff that would make you sound like a heartless monster? If you’re like me, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, there’s no way it would take years.

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