Trans-Spirit list a transhumanist research program into religion and spirituality. It seeks to understand religion and spirituality in terms of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, and to project the future of religion and spirituality in the dawning transhuman era.
Abolitionist SocietyPromotes eliminating involuntary suffering and increasing lifelong individual happiness through science
Cyborg Buddha Project
IEET Executive Director James Hughes - a former Buddhist monk and attenuated Buddho-Unitarian - is writing a book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha: Using Neurotechnology to Become Better People.
IEET Board member Mike LaTorra - a Zen priest and author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao - runs the Trans-Spirit list promoting discussion of neurotheology, neuroethics, techno-spirituality and altered states of consciousness.
The three of us are launching the IEET Cyborg Buddha Project to combine our efforts and promote discussion of the impact that neuroscience and emerging neurotechnologies will have on happiness, spirituality, cognitive liberty, moral behavior and the exploration of meditational and ecstatic states of mind.
As you may have observed, I’m repeatedly drawn to the enhancement debate. I can’t exactly say why. Prima facie, it doesn’t seem particularly interesting (from an intellectual perspective): after all, who could object to “enhancement”? But, of course, it’s more complicated than that. Indeed, one of the alluring aspects of the debate has to do with the terminology in which it is couched.
If you could take a pill that would make you more moral, would you do it? It sounds attractive. I know that I often fail to be as compassionate or as charitable as I ought to be. If there was some way for me to overcome these moral failings I would be inclined to take it. But if I took, say, a compassion-pill would my actions be tainted thereafter? Would they be less morally commendable than they might otherwise have been?
Mike McNamee Sports, Vices and Virtues: Morality Plays: Part one of this essay discusses SSAs in general; part two looks at McNamee’s SSA against doping; and part three looks at McNamee’s complaints about the vices of athletes who dope. Just note that although “doping” has a particular meaning in sport, one that may be thought distinct from “performance enhancement”, the terms are used interchangeably in what follows.
In a special live Rationally Speaking, taped at NECSS 2013, Julia Galef moderates a lively discussion between Massimo and Michael Shermer, head of the Skeptic Society and founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine. The topic: Can science tell us what is "moral"? This discussion comes after both men have tackled the question separately in books (Massimo's Answers for Aristotle and Michael's The Science of Good and Evil), and jointly in a recent debate on the Rationally Speaking blog.
Questions under debate include: Does "natural" = "morally right"? How do we make tradeoffs between different people's happiness? And what role should science and philosophy play in making these decisions?
At age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia. When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister. “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said. “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.
Secularism, State Power & Buddhism - (apologies for the echo)
The interview drifts into democratic and libertarian values, state control, humanism & enlightenment values, transhumanism, atheism and buddhism
James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut where he teaches health policy and serves as Director of Institutional Research and Planning. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he also taught bioethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Dr. Hughes is author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future , and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. Since 1999 he has produced a syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio.
“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships or fears.” – Alice Walker Walker’s words ring profoundly true for me, at the moment. In my sci-fi course (which is actually all about science fiction becoming real-world, bleeding-edge science; personhood; and the technological Singularity; but sci-fi is better shorthand) we’ve just covered a number of approaches to concepts such as mind uploading and immortality.
An annotated response to Michael Shermer: Michael Shermer and I have been engaged in what I hope has been a productive discussion on the relationship between science and philosophy as it concerns the field of ethics. Roughly speaking, Michael contends that science has a lot to say about ethical questions (though he is not quite as reductive as Sam Harris, who contends that science is pretty much the only game in town when it comes to ethics). I respond that science provides informative background but grossly underdetermines ethical issues, which therefore require philosophical reflection. Michael’s opening salvo was followed by my response, with Shermer recently adding some thoughts, further articulating his position. The notes below are my point-by-point commentary on that third round. (Throughout, italics indicates Michael’s writing, with my comments immediately following.)
Australian transhumanist Adam Ford interviewed IEET Executive Director James J. Hughes at the December 1-2, 2012 Humanity+ meetings in San Francisco, at which Dr. Hughes and many other IEET fellows spoke.