Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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



UPCOMING EVENTS:

Human by Design: Conference on Human Augmentation
August 3
Paley Center for Media, NYC


Robotic Online Short Film Festival
November 20
Universidad Elche, Spain


Stefan Sorgner @ Meditation & Wirklichkeit Conference in Berlin
November 25-26
Berlin


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




MULTIMEDIA: Topics

What If Artificial Intelligence Was Enlightened? Deep Breath #1

What Makes You YOU? Individuality, Consciousness and The Borg

Transhumanism and Technological Evolution, with Jesse Lawler

The Future of Human-Machine Relationships, HER Movie Review

What Is Universal Basic Income and Why Support It?

Algorithms and Online Dating Won’t Change Your Ancient Brain

How To Make A Living When Robots Take Our Jobs

Edible Electronics

Cognitive Buildings!

Will We Ever Be Able to Vacation in Space?

Medical 3D Printing

Why Did We Stop Going To The Moon?

Baby diapers inspired this new way to study the brain

A forgotten Space Age technology could change how we grow food

What will be the next big scientific breakthrough?




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Topics




Pinker, Foucault and Progress

by Rick Searle

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.



Is Humanism False?

by Samuel Kenyon

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.



Correcting faulty DNA: stronger bodies, smarter minds, longer lives

by Dick Pelletier

What if you could improve your memory, become smarter and stronger, and live in an ageless disease-free body – just by taking a pill?



Aaron Swartz Was Gifted and Brave. Too Bad He Wasn’t ‘Too Big to Fail’

by Richard Eskow

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.



The meek shall inherit the earth, the rest of us are going to the stars

by Giulio Prisco

My essay on uploaded astronauts has been republished in the January issue of the Club of Amsterdam Journal. The next Club of Amsterdam event, on Jan 31, will be about the future of space travel. There is an interesting pre-event discussion: Is Space Travel worth the effort?



Kukuo: Inside a ‘Witch Camp’ in Ghana

by Leo Igwe

Kukuo is a small community located off Bimbilla, near Oti river in the Northern Region of Ghana. It is one of those communities where banished ‘witches’ take refuge.



Abortion As a Blessing, Grace, or Gift–A Renewed Conversation about Reproductive Rights

by Valerie Tarico

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.



Cheering Microbes Into Space!

by Darlene Cavalier

Science Cheerleader Wendy Brown, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, will recruit school kids and volunteers to collect microbial samples from a wide range of environments.





Tapeworm Logic

by Charlie Stross

What use is a human being — to a tapeworm?

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.



Should we eliminate the human ability to feel pain?

by George Dvorsky

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.



Could more than one singularity happen at the same time?

by Rick Searle

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.



Could Human Enhancement Turn Soldiers Into Weapons That Violate International Law? Yes

by Patrick Lin

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.



Analyzing and reducing the risks of inadvertent nuclear war between the United States and Russia

by Seth Baum

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.



Better than the Borg: The Neurotech Era

by Ramez Naam

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?



Positive Beliefs

by Dick Pelletier

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 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational

by George Dvorsky

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.



Ageless Bodies Without Sickness

by Dick Pelletier

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.



Sentient machines: the next step in human evolution

by Dick Pelletier

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.



Behavioural acceptance of Existing Superhumans: Path to equal acceptance of the differently abled

by V.R. Manoj

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.



At the frontiers of the science of health risk – five areas to watch

by Andrew Maynard

This week’s Risk Bites video takes a roller-coaster ride through some of the hottest topics in risk science.



Future Technology Could Eliminate the Need to Eat Food

by Dick Pelletier

By early 2030s, experts predict nanobots will be developed to improve the human digestive system, and by 2040 or before, as radical as this sounds, we could eliminate our need for food and eating.



GMOs: The Future Of Food

by John Niman

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.

Full Story...



Double catastrophe: Intermittent stratospheric geoengineering induced by societal collapse

by Seth Baum

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.



Do You Want to be a Cyborg, or a Transhuman?

by Nikki Olson

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?

Full Story...



Humanity becomes technology

by Dick Pelletier

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.



Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, Menschenwürde nach Nietzsche: Die Geschichte eines Begriffes (English)

by Stefan Sorgner

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.



Earth 2063: a Brief Glimpse at Life Fifty Years into the Future

by Dick Pelletier

We narrate this glance into the future from the point of view of someone looking back from 2063.



A Global Civilization Heads for the Stars and Our Amazing Nanotechnology Future

by Dick Pelletier

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.



Why We Should Let the Robots Take Over

by George Dvorsky

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.”





Parallel universes: scientists ponder evidence of their existence

by Dick Pelletier

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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