Pinker’s book is copiously researched and argued, but it leaves one with a host of questions. It is not merely that tragic incidents of violence that we see all around us seem to fly in the face of his argument, it is that his viewpoint, at least for me, always seems to be missing something, to have skipped over some important element that would challenge its premise or undermine its argument, a criticism that Pinker has by some sleight of hand skillfully managed to keep hidden from us.
Perhaps what transhumanism should be is less of a cult of cults pretending that various science fictions are true and more of a science patch to humanism. Humanism already included science and learning in general. So the patch is not to add science, but to fix its use and expectations in culture. To advance by tuning the dangerous oscillations out of the civilization-science feedback system.
By all accounts Aaron Swartz was brilliant, gifted, idealistic ... and fragile. Too bad he wasn’t “too big to fail.” I never met Aaron, but I know a lot of people who knew him well. (We did “converse” as members of the same online discussion group.) I learned about Aaron’s suicide at the age of 26 the same way millions of other people did: on the Internet whose freedom he served with such dedication and brilliance.
Can we reclaim the moral high ground in the debate about abortion as a part of thoughtful, wise loving and living? We won’t know until we try. Most Americans think of childbearing as a deeply personal or even sacred decision. So do most reproductive rights advocates. That is why we don’t think anybody’s boss or any institution should have a say in it. But for almost three decades, those of us who hold this view have failed to create a resonant conversation about why, sometimes, it is morally or spiritually imperative that a woman can stop a pregnancy that is underway.
A mature tapeworm has a very simple lifestyle. It lives in the gut of a host animal, anchoring itself to the wall of the intestine with its scolex (or head), from which trails a long string of segments (proglottids) that contain reproductive structures. The tapeworm absorbs nutrients through its skin and gradually extrudes more proglottids, from the head down; as they reach the end of the tape they mature into a sac of fertilized eggs and break off.
Though pain has clearly served an important evolutionary purpose, not everyone is convinced that we still need it. A growing number of forward-looking thinkers are suggesting that we need to get rid of it — and that we’ll soon have the technological know-how to do this. But should we choose to embark on such a radical experiment, we’ll need to pay close attention to the risks and those aspects of humanity we might risk losing.
James Miller has an interesting looking new book out, Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World. I haven’t had a chance to pick up the book yet, but I did listen to a very engaging conversation about the book at Surprisingly Free.Miller is a true believer in the Singularity, the idea that at some point, from the next quarter century to the end of the 21st, our civilization will give rise to a greater than human intelligence which will rapidly bootstrap to a yet higher order of intelligence in such a way that we are unable to see past this event horizon in historical time.
Science fiction, or actual U.S. military project? Half a world away from the battlefield, a soldier controls his avatar-robot that does the actual fighting on the ground. Another one wears a sticky fabric that enables her to climb a wall like a gecko or spider would. Returning from a traumatic mission, a pilot takes a memory-erasing drug to help ward off post-traumatic stress disorder. Mimicking the physiology of dolphins and sled-dogs, a sailor is able to work his post all week without sleep and only a few meals.
This paper develops a mathematical modeling framework using fault trees and Poisson processes for analyzing the risks of inadvertent nuclear war from U.S. or Russian misinterpretation of false alarms in early warning systems, and for assessing the potential value of inadvertence risk reduction options. The model also uses publicly available information on early-warning systems, near-miss incidents, and other factors to estimate probabilities of a U.S.-Russia crisis, the rates of false alarms, and the probabilities that leaders will launch missiles in response to a false alarm. The paper discusses results, uncertainties, limitations, and policy implications.
What if you could read my mind? What if I could beam what I’m seeing, hearing, and thinking, straight to you, and vice versa? What if an implant could store your memories, augment them, and make you smarter?
I see a future that truly promises to change our world in imaginative ways. Already, nano-enhanced clothes have appeared with the look and feel of cotton, but stain-sweat-wrinkle free; offered by Dockers, Eddie Bauer, Gap, Old Navy and Perry Ellis. Future nano-clothes will be completely self-cleaning and will change texture and color on command.
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.
How ‘bout life in a body that can never age or get sick: Imagine living in a body fashioned from ‘designer genes’ that can never age or get sick. Now picture yourself thinking with a mind that processes data millions of times faster than today’s brains; and finally, consider a world with virtual reality indiscernible from reality and a technology that would enable you to change body size and skin color by simply using thoughts or voice commands.
Building machines that process information the same way a brain does has been a dream for over 50 years. Artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, and neural networks have all experienced some degrees of success, but machines still cannot recognize pictures or understand language as well as humans can.
On December 23 (2012), many keralite (people hailing from Kerala, a southern state of India) viewers both home and abroad anxiously glued their attentions to their Television sets, for their favourite singer, Mr.Sukesh Kuttan in the finale of the hit reality TV show on Asianet channel called “Idea Star SingerSeason 6”. However, Sukesh did not sing much to the disappointment of the viewers.
For several months now, I’ve wanted to put together a post talking about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and particularly in the context of food. I’ve had several debates with my friends – I tend toward the pro-GMO camp and several of my friends are anti-GMO. I maintained that if they simply looked at the science, reviewed the research, and avoided sources with an agenda that often post incorrect information that they would come around to my way of thinking.
Perceived failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has prompted interest in avoiding the harms of climate change via geoengineering, that is, the intentional manipulation of Earth system processes. Perhaps, the most promising geoengineering technique is stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), which reflects incoming solar radiation, thereby lowering surface temperatures.
The words “cyborg” and “transhuman” are frequently used interchangeably, but to what extent, and in what ways, do the concepts have the same referents? And which is the preferable concept to identify with when contemplating one’s own future?
Humanity’s merge with its technology, which began shortly after the taming of fire, is still happening today. Many predict that the fine-tuning of our DNA-based biology through stem cell and genetic research will spark a powerful nanotech revolution that promises to redesign and rebuild our bodies and the environment, pushing the limits of today’s understanding of life and the world we live in.
By Prof. Dr. Greg Whitlock on Dr. Stefan Lorenz Sorgner.
In his Menschenwürde nach Nietzsche: Die Geschichte eines Begriffes (Human Dignity according to/after Nietzsche: The History of a Concept), Sorgner conceived a bold plan and executed it remarkably well with noteworthy results. His plan entailed presenting four paradigmatic notions of human dignity; next, presenting Nietzsche’s critical evaluation of the notion of human dignity in relation to the four paradigms; and finally, reflecting on Nietzsche’s criticism in a way that embraced much of it and, consequently, largely rejected the humanist notion of the dignity of man. Sorgner took the additional steps of arguing for a posthumanism to replace the outmoded humanist notion of human dignity, as he had developed it. Each phase of the plan was carried out with care in every detail.
Experts predict that over the next nine decades, exponential advances in biotech, nanotech, infotech, and cognitive sciences will enable humanity to evolve from a group of self-centered squabbling cultures to become a peaceful global village with amazing technological abilities.
During the last century, researchers unraveled one of humanity’s greatest mysteries: the nature of life. We discovered that the almost magical properties of living things, the ability to grow, heal and reproduce, was brought about by life’s molecular machinery.
Wired’s Kevin Kelly has penned an article in which he argues that we should let robots take our jobs — a welcome development that will help us to “dream up new work that matters.” Moreover, it will be through this process that humanity can liberate itself from dangerous and demeaning work, and allow us to become “more human than we already are.”
A growing number of cosmologists believe that we are but one of many universes and at least one of these other worlds lies close to ours, possibly only a millimeter away. We can’t see this world because scientists believe it exists in a type of space different from the four dimensions of our everyday reality.
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