Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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


November 5-7
Trento, Italy

Orban, Wood, Pearce @ SIAI Seoul
November 6-7
Seoul, South Korea

MULTIMEDIA: Security Topics

3D Printed 9mm Semi-Automatic

The Future of Work and Death (Trailer)

Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets

There’s Plenty of Drinking Water on Mars

If Your Robot Commits Murder, Should You Go to Jail?

Is it Time to Start Worrying About AI?

How the Mysterious Dark Net is Going Mainstream

10 Amazing Robots That Will Change the World

Don’t Fear the AI Apocalypse

3-D Printing Guns, Drugs, and DNA Weapons: Organized Crime Is Being Decentralized

The Age of Robots

Mars is the Next “New World,” And We’ll Set Foot on it Soon.

We’re approaching humanity’s make or break period

The Net is Also a Tool of Oppression


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Security Topics

Gun Control’s MP3 Moment

by Jamais Cascio

Reading the continued, ongoing arguments about gun regulations (“reasonable” or otherwise) is frustrating. Not only for the usual reasons (absolutist positions, inability to recognize multi-causal phenomena, relentless hostility towards different opinions, etc.), but because of how incredibly irrelevant it is becoming. 3D-printable firearms are already here, and becoming increasingly reliable. Every gun control law in the world is obsolete.


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Scenario 2099: Rewilding, Population Implosion, Artificial Photosynthesis, and - Global Cooling?

by Tsvi Bisk

Howard Nathan was reading his hologram news “paper” at breakfast (funny how archaisms survive, he thought— there hadn’t been paper newspapers for well over 50 years). It was December 2099, and the pundits had begun to pontificate about the new century. The headline “Worried Environmentalists” caught his eye; it was an article about the impending manmade Ice Age and the disappearance of the world’s deserts.

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Technology and Human Dignity

by David Orban

The conversation around technological unemployment, which assumes that we will see increasing amounts of social tension due to automation replacing human work in all sectors, hides a more fundamental issue. Technology must be designed and deployed in order to support human dignity, the building of sustainably meaningful lives, and the creation of resilient communities.

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Could Artificial Morals and Emotions Make Robots Safer?

by Kevin LaGrandeur

This past summer saw the release of the new film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Like so many recent movies, the villains in this one were once again killer robots. But the idea of deadly, weaponized robots isn’t just isolated to titillating movie plots. Such machines are already with us, in one form or another, in many places on the globe.

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How Nature Plays the Lottery

by James Cross

Rick Searle has a post Life: Inevitable or Accident?  where he discusses the somewhat contrasting ideas of Jeremy England and Henry Gee. I touched a little on Jeremy England in a post here.

England’s idea seems to be that the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes life inevitable. He has been quoted as saying that “You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant.”

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Seven Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World Forever

by Gray Scott

When someone asks me what I do, and I tell them that I’m a futurist, the first thing they ask “what is a futurist?” The short answer that I give is “I use current scientific research in emerging technologies to imagine how we will live in the future.”

However, as you can imagine the art of futurology and foresight is much more complex. I spend my days thinking, speaking and writing about the future, and emerging technologies. On any given day I might be in Warsaw speaking at an Innovation Conference, in London speaking at a Global Leadership Summit, or being interviewed by the Discovery Channel. Whatever the situation, I have one singular mission. I want you to think about the future.

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Dear Elon Musk: Are You Sure You Want to Nuke Mars?

by Tery Spataro

34.9 million miles away from Earth an epic explosion occurs. On Mars.

All eyes on Earth glaze upward to watch as the atmosphere slowly peals back from the neighbor we hardly knew…

It all started with a simplistic comment made on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, by the genius Elon Musk.

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IEET Fellow David Brin Named 2015 NEH Visiting Fellow at Bard College

IEET Fellow David Brin has been named the first annual National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. David will be in residence at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College from Monday, October 5, to Sunday, October 25. As part of David’s fellowship, he will mentor selected Bard students on their fiction and nonfiction writing. Brin will also offer a number of lectures and discussions during his residency at Bard.

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Can We Save Freedom by Hiding?

by David Brin

Across all my years as an impudent dissenter from mob-think regarding freedom and privacy, one fact has left me boggled, time and again. The way activists and academics and pundits – many of them clearly intelligent and sincere thinkers – leap to make the same mistake, over and over again.  The error of technological myopia.

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Voluntary Collaborationism: The Emergent Economic Model?

by RU Sirius


I wrote this article in May 2011 for H+ magazine.  I am sharing it on IEET today, with updated commentary.

I am forming the US Open Source Party in with Krist Novoselic, Jon Lebkowsky and others, as an example of voluntary collaborationism towards a political goal.

2015 commentary is in bold and italics.

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How Vertical Farming is Revolutionizing the Way We Grow Food

by George Dvorsky

Traditional farming is taking a huge toll on the environment—a problem that’s set to worsen due to our ever-growing global population. Yet there are some high-tech solutions. Here’s what you need to know about the burgeoning practice of controlled-environment agriculture and how it’s set to change everything from the foods we eat to the communities we live in.

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Cuba is Waiting for the Change

by David Orban

In a world that has decided to turn away from the experiment of planned economies, Cuba’s loyalty to the failed model kept its society in a state of suspended animation.

Millions of people live lives that can’t fulfill their full potential. The lifting of the US embargo is not only going to bring Cuba into the world stage of trade and commerce. This vibrant Caribbean culture has the opportunity to allow it to leapfrog into the 21st century by embracing new generations of technologies that are better performing and create a sustainable socio-economic model.

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The Doomsday Argument

by Alexey Turchin

The Doomsday argument (DA) is controversial idea that humanity has a higher probability of extinction based purely on probabilistic arguments. The DA is based on the proposition that I will most likely find myself somewhere in the middle of humanity’s time in existence (but not in its early time based on the expectation that humanity may exist a very long time on Earth.)

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How Can Bitcoin Help Emancipate Billions, and Help Food Security?

by David Orban

Through the fundamental invention of the Blockchain, we now have a tool that, through the use of planet-wide communications networks and smartphones that are available to anybody, can put a Western city-dweller and an Indonesian fisherman on equal footing, to participate in global commerce, maximizing their mutual advantage, and heightening incentives to achieve local and global food security.

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World’s Largest Camera Will Show Us the Universe Like We’ve Never Seen It

by George Dvorsky

The U.S. Department of Energy has green-lit the construction of a 3.2-gigapixel digital camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Once complete, the instrument will be used by astronomers to study everything from the Big Bang to the motions of nearby asteroids.

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We aren’t uniquely self-destructive, just inexcusably so

by Marcelo Rinesi

Natural History is an accretion of catastrophic side effects resulting from blind self-interest, each ecosystem an apocalyptic landscape to the previous generations and a paradise to the survivors’ thriving and well-adapted descendants. There was no subtle balance when the first photosynthetic organisms filled the atmosphere with the toxic waste of their metabolism. The dance of predator and prey takes its rhythm from the chaotic beat of famine, and its melody from an unreliable climate. Each biological innovation changes the shape of entire ecosystems, giving place to a new fleeting pattern than will only survive until the next one.

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IEET Poll: China Rising

We asked “Will China be the dominant world power in the 2020s?” Almost two thirds of the 143 respondents felt that China will continue to grow in influence, but will not be dominant by the 2020s.

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Nitpicking Recent (Great) Hard Science Fiction Novels: AURORA and THE MARTIAN

by David Brin

Is interstellar travel by bio-humanity even possible?  Not according to my dear bro and esteemed colleague Kim Stanley Robinson. Whose new novel AURORA follows one of the first… and possibly last… efforts to send a generation starship to a neighboring star. Naturally, any KSR book is worth rushing out to purchase… though like many of his other works, there is a very strong sense that the author has a point to make. 

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Transhumanisme et Décroissance

by Marc Roux

Pourquoi et comment est-il possible de concevoir une évolution transhumaniste dans un contexte de Décroissance?

Une opposition en apparence

À la lecture des publications proposées par le courant des “objecteurs de croissance”[1], on pourrait être amenés à penser que ce mouvement n’a strictement rien à échanger avec le Transhumanisme. Leur présentation relève de la critique la plus radicale, la plus hostile même, se confondant avec celle d’une organisation comme l’association Pièce et Main d’Oeuvre. Leurs rédacteurs n’hésitent pas à reprendre pour eux le qualificatif de “néoluddites”[2], à savoir, ceux qui se disent prêts à détruire les outils de la technologie, les machines.

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DARPA’S Tiny Guardians in the Form of Microchips

by B. J. Murphy

In the second decade of the 21st century, crime has fully embraced the age of advanced technology. To address these futurist crimes, we have to consider combating them, fire with fire. In other words, using advanced technology to counter-balance the level of power criminals could possibly attain at the opportunity of the technological age. Which is why DARPA is stepping up its game in terms of chip making.

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IEET sponsors “The Future of Politics” conference in Oakland, California

IEET is co-sponsoring a conference on “The Future of Politics.” The event will be held at Humanist Hall, in Oakland, California, on Sunday, October 18, from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm.

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UK Peace Activist Leads the Labour Party

by David Swanson

I wonder if people in the United States understand what it means that the Labour Party in London now has a peace activist in charge of it. Jeremy Corbyn does not resemble any U.S. politicians. He doesn’t favor “only the smart wars” or prefer drone murders to massive invasions. Corbyn opposes wars, and he works to end militarism.

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Religion and Superintelligence

by John G. Messerly

I was contacted by a staff writer from the online newsmagazine The Daily Dot.  He is writing a story at the intersection of computer superintelligence and religion, and asked me a few questions. Here are my answers to his queries.

Dear Dylan:

I see you’re on a tight deadline so I’ll just answer your questions off the top of my head. A disclaimer though, all these questions really demand a dissertation length response. My answers are below:

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The End of OPEC?

by David Brin

Not only was “peak oil” off-base… it was way, way off base. Out in the shale fields, it appears that a new kind of Moore’s Law is at work, with incredible new technologies making wells up to 50% more efficient per year! You may not like carbon—and indeed over the span of a decade, neither do I. But it is in all of our interests that (1) coal be driven out of business by natural gas, (2) American manufacturing be spurred by cheap natural gas, (3) the Middle East lose its compulsory power over our attention, (4) that some powers in the Middle East, especially, come to realize they are not unlimited gods.  

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Hunger is at an all-time low. We can drive it even lower.

by Ramez Naam

A few observations on hunger, extracted from the latest FAO report on The State of Food Insecurity, 2015

1. The percent of humanity that’s hungry is at an all-time low.

According to FAO, 11.3% of the world is undernourished. Most of that hunger is concentrated in the developing world. There, an estimated 12.9% of people are undernourished. In absolute terms, this is a staggering 780 million people. Yet as a fraction of humanity, it’s just over half of the fraction in 1990.

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Envisioning the World of Tomorrow: a Catalog of Future-Looking Web Sites

by David Brin
What technologies are currently shaping our world…and which will continue to mold our future? In this special posting, we’ll take you on a tour of many wondrous web sites and other resources that aim spotlights at the future. And invite you all to chime in with favorites that I missed!

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Do Transhumanists View Overpopulation as a Global Threat? - interview with Steve Fuller

by Hank Pellissier

Transhumanists often disregard overpopulation as a serious problem; perhaps many just accept the relaxed viewpoint Max More expressed in his essay “Superlongevity Without Overpopulation” published in 2005.  I am guilty of that mimicry — in 2009 I supported More’s analysis in my essay “To Breed or Not To Breed?

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On the Right Side of Futurology: A Look at the Struggle Ahead

by Phil Torres

Dan Barker, echoing an idea expressed by many atheists, describes theology as “a subject without an object.” Since there’s little reason for thinking a God exists – much less the God of the Bible – the entire field is ultimately vacuous, despite the grandiloquent rigamarole of, as Jerry Coyne puts it, Sophisticated Theologians(TM). Theology studies nothing. Its heart and soul is a phenomenon that almost certainly doesn’t exist.

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The Future of Property

by Enrique Lescure

Within the Anglo-American, and then specifically American political discourse, the dominant paradigm for around two generations right now is that the main guarantor of liberty (defined as the absence of physical force) is the institution of private property, and the main threat against private property and thence liberty is the state. While the purest expression of these sentiments reside amongst Market Libertarian elements, these thoughts have come to dominate a lot of the thinking within political economics in the west, and thence in the world.

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Why Superintelligence May Not Help Us Think about Existential Risks — or Transhumanism

by Steve Fuller

Among transhumanists, Nick Bostrom is well-known for promoting the idea of ‘existential risks’, potential harms which, were they come to pass, would annihilate the human condition altogether. Their probability may be relatively small, but the expected magnitude of their effects are so great, so Bostrom claims, that it is rational to devote some significant resources to safeguarding against them. (Indeed, there are now institutes for the study of existential risks on both sides of the Atlantic.) Moreover, because existential risks are intimately tied to the advancement of science and technology, their probability is likely to grow in the coming years.

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