I’m unlikely to read many more books before the year is out, and the ones that I really must read for professional purposes don’t look as if they are going to make any list of mine of favourite or top or “best” books. So here is a short list of my best books of the year, the ones that I found especially illuminating or enjoyable. It’s my top 12 for 2011.
Once in a long while the price of the truth is simply too high to let scientists disclose their findings publicly. That is so when it comes to publishing detailed information about dangerous viruses and microbes.
In this essay I would like to reflect on Eastern and Western philosophy, their definition of enlightenment, and their connection to transhumanist thinking. How may Buddhist concepts like ‘Bodhi’ and the ‘Maitreya’ relate to the Western ‘Enlightenment’, human enhancement, and post/transhumanism?
Eggs were first. Millions of years before mammals, eggs existed, their hard shells protecting the incubating embryo inside. Egg Mom wanders mobile, light in her anatomy—unlike her mammalian sister that waddles around, heavily crippled with the burden of her womb. Eggs were an evolutionary smart idea.
Robots are replacing humans on the battlefield—but could they also be used to interrogate and torture suspects? This would avoid a serious ethical conflict between physicians’ duty to do no harm, or nonmaleficence, and their questionable role in monitoring vital signs and health of the interrogated. A robot, on the other hand, wouldn’t be bound by the Hippocratic oath, though its very existence creates new dilemmas of its own.
Both Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Nobel prize winning Keynsian economist Paul Krugman have a trait in common. They grew up fervent science fiction fans, especially transfixed by the future-historical speculations of Isaac Asimov. Gingrich wrote about this influence that helped to shape his life.
After six years serving as the IEET’s Chairman of the Board, Nick Bostrom will be stepping down and assuming the role of IEET Senior Fellow. And after three years service as managing director of the IEET, Mike Treder will be stepping down to be an IEET Fellow. IEET Affiliate Scholar Hank Pellissier will be replacing Mike as Managing Director.
Fire all the janitors and make poor kids clean their schools? Zap Korea with an airborne superlaser that’s never worked during testing? Ignore global warming and plan to re-engineer the entire planet with untested technology instead?
After much hard work, the editor of the Journal of Evolution and Technology, Russell Blackford, and IEET Fellow Linda MacDonald Glenn are pleased to announce that the special issue that they have been editing if coming online.
The morning-after pill known as Plan B is steeped in controversy again. The Department of Health and Human Services has taken the rare step of overruling the Food and Drug Administration and its science advisors and will not allow the pill to be sold over the counter in drugstores unless a woman can prove she is older than 17.
The new (December 2011/January 2012) issue of Free Inquiry features a set of articles on the prospects of human enhancement, and how these should be viewed by secular people. The positions range across the spectrum from enthusiastic to very resistant, and feature contributions by IEET’s Russell Blackford and James Hughes.