Ray Kurzweil didn’t cover much new this afternoon. As one wag said on Twitter, “Shouldn’t Ray’s five year-old stump speech be 10,000 times more interesting and only five minutes long?” But Ben does his best to summarize. By the way, check out Kurzweil, J. Hughes, and a cast of thousands in this New York Times story on the Singularity University - J.
We’re here for day 2 of the H+ Summit: Rise of the Citizen Scientist. Ray Kurzweil will be keynoting at the end of the day, but first we’ll hear talks from a bunch of other great speakers, including the IEET’s George Dvorsky, Aubrey de Grey, James Hughes, Patrick Lin, and Natasha Vita-More.
The IEET will be providing coverage of the H+ Summit today. We’re a few minutes away from Alex Lightman’s opening speech. I’m here with James Hughes and we’ll posting updates after every few talks. The first day is packed with exciting speakers. [Watch the conference live]
Nowhere have I seen a clearer example of the perils of corporatism playing out than in the current handling of the BP oil spill. If only Obama understood the context of the decisions he’s about to make, he might be able to use this as an opportunity to turn all this around, and put people and the planet before profits. (Will someone please tell him to read my book Life Inc?)
Transhumanism is the idea of guiding and improving human evolution with intention through the use of technologies and culture. If those technologies are not robotic and cybernetic but, instead, genetic and organic, then so be it.
Ever have the experience that you seriously think you’re trying to achieve one thing, but then in hindsight, years later, you look back and feel like your past self was actually trying to achieve something else entirely?
Last week I made a presentation at a conference on disability rights held at Union College in Schenectady, New York. I was invited by my former student, Joe Stramondo, who is now teaching philosophy in Michigan. The topic that our panel addressed was the impact of enhancement technologies on the understanding of disability.
Citing a new study in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, The Globe and Mailreports that Canada experienced a significant drop (36.9 per cent) in teenage births and abortions between 1996 and 2006. This is attributed to better access to contraception, better sex education, and changing social norms, but not to a decline in actual sex among teenagers. Rather, Canadian teenagers are now more likely to use condoms and/or the contraceptive pill than was the case in the mid-1990s.
(co-authored with J. Simone Riccardi) There can be no doubt that the explosion of Internet technology started in the 90s has had a huge impact on our culture. For the first time in history, geographically distributed large groups of people have been able to interact in near-real time. Usenet groups and mailing lists, and then the Web, message boards, blogs, social networks, IP voice and video conferencing, have enabled and empowered global communities held together by common interests and world-views instead of geographical proximity.
Last week’s announcement from the J. Craig Venter Institute that scientists had created the first-ever synthetic cell was a profoundly significant point in human history, and marked a turning point in our quest to control the natural world. But the ability to use this emerging technology wisely is already being dogged by fears that we have embarked down a dangerous and morally dubious path.
In its first season, Caprica has done an excellent job of exploring the ethical issues relating to V-World (the virtual world created by the ultra-rich Daniel Graystone), looking at the dangers of becoming overly immersed in V-World, and whether an avatar constitutes a real person. Also in the past year, we’ve seen Gamer and Surrogates, two movies that explore some common themes with interesting parallels to those in Caprica.
The IEET’s Journal of Evolution and Technology has received an “A” ranking in Australia’s official government process for ranking peer-reviewed journals, which means that publication in JET will now carry significant kudos and funding for Australian academics in federally-funded institutions.
Last week, researchers announced that they had achieved a long-anticipated breakthrough: the creation of the first synthetic organism. So, is this a huge step forward? The biggest thing ever? Does it herald exciting possibilities—or maybe ominous dangers? Is it much ado about nothing? That all depends on who you ask.