Friday, March 12, 2004

Google Reads Vannevar Bush

Google's Cookie reports that on
"2004-02-27 Larry Page said:

'On the more exciting front, you can imagine your brain being augmented by Google. For example you think about something and your cell phone could whisper the answer into your ear,'

At the Search Engine Strategies conference on 2004-03-03, Craig Silverstein said that in the future people will have 'search pets':

Silverstein sees search pets as being able to find to the correct answer to these tricky interpretive questions. Will searching as we know it be completely replaced by search pets? 'We'll still search for facts,' he says, 'but in all likelyhood the facts will be contained in a brain implant.'"

Nano-Help for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In Small Times Howard Lovy reflects on Israeli high-tech progressives' "hope that nanotech solutions to water desalination could produce a surplus of fresh water that could be shared with the Palestinians, or used as leverage in future negotiations." Not a sufficient or even necessary condition to get to a two-state solution, but every little bit helps.

cyRev: A Journal of Cybernetic Revolution, Sustainable Socialism & Radical Democracy

I attended a couple of meetings of the Chicago-based Third Wave Study Group back in the 1990s and am an old friend of the founder Carl Davidson. After he retired from trying to organize a workers and peasants revolution in the U.S. in the 1970s Carl had taken up computer consulting, which led to an epiphany that Marxists weren't paying enough attention to the politico-economic consequences of information technology. So he started the study group with other lefties, and the first thing they read was Toffler's The Third Wave
This book started us off looking at the world with new eyes. We have been attempting to update traditional Marxist and revolutionary thought based on the changes taking place in the world especially those that are dependent on or a result of the information technology explosion such as globalization and the crisis in the labor movement, as well as issues that have never fit comfortably into a left perspective such as environmentalism and the latest advances in scientific thought (those that challenge classical reductionist views).
The study group led to a occasional publication cyRev: A Journal of Cybernetic Revolution, Sustainable Socialism & Radical Democracy which has just come out with another issue (see here for archive of previous issues). This issue includes some reprints from other sources, but one of the original pieces is an excellent review of the debates on the technological modernization of the US military by Jerry Harris, a Chicago professor of History. Harris is an advocate of the theory that, partly because of information technology, the global ruling class has completely divorced itself from the nation-state requiring new political alliances and strategies. (Phil Carter has a nice article about DARPA tech for the military in Slate.)

Thursday, March 11, 2004

TransVision 2004 Taking Shape

TransVision 2004, the World Transhumanist Association's annual conference, is starting to take shape and it's looking to be an incredible event. The conference will be held this summer in Toronto from August 6-8 with this year's theme being "Art and Life in the Posthuman Era." Confirmed keynote speakers to date include Howard Bloom, a global brain theorist and well-known speaker on co-evolution and convergence of technology, art and culture, and Steve Mann, Canadian cyborg and the developer of the EyeTap wearable and mediated reality. Other confirmed speakers include biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey, erotic digital artist Tsubasa, transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom, our very own transhumanist bioethicist and activist James Hughes, Extropian artist Natasha Vita-More, developmental singularitarian John Smart, and the Center for Responsibile Nanotechnology's Mike Treder. We're also looking to get artist Stelarc and aging expert S. Jay Olshansky. And that's just the start, as we've got 5 months to go and we're sure to attract more notable speakers. For more information about TV04 visit the Website. If you'd like to present or perform, be sure to send in your proposal.

The Last Wizards - Frodo Has Failed, Bush Has the Ring

Funny photo and campaign launched by the Earth First/Last Wizards

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

See my latest on NBIC and Kass at Betterhumans

Kerry on Bush's Science

According to Many Worlds Theory there is a universe in which Dennis Kucinich is the Democratic nominee and is romping his way to President. I think that's the world in which Babbage was successful in building a difference engine.

In this universe John Kerry is the champion of all that is sane and good, and it turns out the guy is pretty good on science and technology. He serves on the Senate science committee, and well before the Union of Concerned Scientists report on Bush's torturing of federal science, Kerry delivered these remarks:
there have always been the few with a distaste for progress and a fundamental distrust of the American people to have the morality and strength to handle the consequences. Unfortunately, today some of that deep distrust of new discoveries and of the American people has found a home in George Bush’s White House. George Bush has proved a ready ally for those who seek to impose their private moral vision on the American people. Over and over again, this President has put partisan politics above scientific and medical advancement. Whether it is global warming or stem cell research, President Bush has appeased his party’s right wing by ignoring scientific fact and slowing medical progress. Never before in our history has there been an Administration with this recessive strain of pessimism about progress and people...

This isn’t an abstract issue for me. As many of you know, earlier this year I underwent surgery for prostate cancer. I was cured – because as a Senator, I was lucky to have some of the best medical care in the world. Millions of Americans are not so lucky – and I’m going to change that. As President, I’ll make health care affordable for every American.

As President, I will end George Bush’s block on stem cell research...

As President, I will increase our funding to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other important agencies and initiatives that promote crucial research...

This year, Louise Brown celebrated her 25th birthday. The name may not mean much to us today, but in 1978 the birth of Baby Louise – the first test-tube baby – was met with hope by many and fear from a few. Twenty-five year later, the many were right. Since then, the half a million children born through invitro-fertilization are living happily and bringing joy to their families. Those that feared the loss of our humanity have been shown again that there is more to our souls than we understand and that progress does not have to mean the loss of our values....

If we trust in the promise of new discoveries – and trust in the power of Americans to use them wisely – we will not go astray. But we cannot stand still. There are diseases to conquer, barriers to break, and horizons to cross. And as long as these challenges are there, America is moving forward. And we deserve a President who knows it. Thank you.

Xian Right: Transhumanists Hate Children

In the article "Imagining the Future" in the latest issue of The New Atlantis, Yuval Levin, conservative aide to Leon Kass and the President's Council on Bioethics, opens another line of attack on transhumanism: we hate kids.
In the “transhumanist” desire for eternal life is a desire to think of the future as belonging to us, and not to future generations. It is a desire to start not from scratch, but from individual, rational, freely choosing adults, and to progress only from there. Indeed, it may be that in its fullness, this innovation-driven vision of the future almost has to exclude children.
The issue also includes an article by two of the three new members of the President's Council on Bioethics, members who Leon Kass was supposedly totally ignorant of the views of: Diana Schaub endorsing the Kass Commission attack on life extension, and Peter Lawler endorsing the Kass Commission attack on Prozac and memory control drugs. In Slate Timothy Noah addresses his analysis to Leon Kass directly:
Leon Kass, You Silly Ass! Please stop denying you tilted the bioethics panel.
He points out the silliness of Kass' argument that he needed to shuffle personnel so the PCB could refocus on neuro-technological enhancement.
....the moral and philosophical divide about the possible enhancement of human faculties tends to mimic the divide over embryo-based research. In arguing that he isn't trying to tilt his panel's balance, Kass is doing something nobody in the ethics racket should ever do. He's telling a big, fat, utterly transparent lie.
Leaping to Kass' defense, Left Luddite bioethicist Carl Elliott writes in Slate that critics miss how unusual the Kass commission's Luddite rants have been from a Republican administration.
The truly striking thing about Beyond Therapy is how just radically at odds it is with mainstream American culture, right and left alike. The report is skeptical of America's faith in technology, worried about America's radical individualism, alarmed at the transformation of medicine from a profession into a business, and deeply concerned about the role of the market in driving the demand for new medical technologies. Beyond Therapy may not please many bioethicists, but neither will it please the libertarian or the business-conservative wings of the Republican Party....The critical ideological divide may be less right versus left than techno-skepticism versus techno-enthusiasm.
But Elliott, good left-winger that he is, balks at the naked role of The New Atlantis, published by the Ethics and Public Policy Center's Biotechnology and American Democracy (BAD) project, in vetting the political correctness of the new panelists.
Until 2001, the EPPC was led by Elliott Abrams, the former Reagan administration official convicted of lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra affair, making the EPPC not merely a right-leaning think tank but one of the rare ethics institutes to be directed by a convicted felon.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Join the Radical Cyborg Tribe at orkut and tribe.net

Get in on the social networking software craze by joining the Radical Cyborg communities at orkut

and Tribe.net

While you are at it sign up for a transhumanism meetup in your area.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Still undecided?

Following Justice De Thezier, I take the advice of AOL News/Time's Election 2004 President Match decision guide. Here are my results:

1. Kucinich - Score: 93%

2. Sharpton - Score: 86%

3. Kerry - Score: 70%

4. Bush - Score: 0%

A quick glance shows that I'm in the Anyone But Bush camp. As Borges said, "No nos une el amor, sino el espanto." - "What binds us isn't love, but horror."