Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Overview of technopolitics

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Russell Blackford and Damien Broderick eds.


Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Comment on this entry

Positive Beliefs

Dick Pelletier

Ethical Technology

January 10, 2013

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.


Complete entry


Posted by Kris Notaro  on  01/10  at  09:19 AM

I hope none of this technology is made in sweatshop like conditions!

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  01/10  at  09:43 AM

Unfortunately, much of it probably is.

Posted by Pastor_Alex  on  01/10  at  11:36 AM

There is some interesting research on the effect of nana-particles on the environment. They may be a boon to our species, but we will need to be careful with how we use and dispose of them. Nano silver has already been shown to interact in unexpected ways with DNA. We must get ahead of the game and be proactive in managing how our technology will change our environment.

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  01/10  at  11:53 AM

You are right, Alex. Most technologies can become harmful as well as provide benefits.

That is why sights such as IEET are so important. It’s up to us to draw attention to tomorrow’s technologies and enlighten people to the many benefits and caution them on potential dangers.

Most people want that “magical future”, but we must go forward with care.

Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  01/10  at  01:32 PM

If we do get that “magical future” would we start calling our use of technology “technomancy” ( ?

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  01/10  at  04:31 PM


“Magical Future” is in the context of Arthur C. Clarke’s famous saying: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  01/10  at  05:24 PM

I know, I just though it sounded a lot like the fulfillment of the science fiction theme “technomancy”.  I bet a lot of transhumanist sci-fi fans would like to play that out.

Posted by Taiwanlight  on  01/12  at  12:19 PM

‘Bold forward thinkers at DARPA believe that nanodust will one day be used on the battlefield to penetrate enemy brains, compelling them to surrender. Some say scientists could even program this nano-weapon to search for neural patterns of specific terrorists, criminals, and other wanted individuals.’

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend not to have a sunny disposition and this part had the alarm bells tolling. Let me rewrite it a little to outline a much darker possibility:

Thinkers believe that nanodust will one day be used in public society to penetrate the brains of the 99%, compelling them to surrender. Some say scientists could even program this nano-weapon to search for neural patterns of anyone trying to resist, and other wanted individuals.’

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Clarke seemed to forget that magic traditionally came in more than one form.

‘Ask not for whom the bells toll ,,,’

Comments most definitely invited.

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  01/12  at  04:40 PM


Of course, you are correct. New technologies almost always come with a double edge sword. Sometimes risks outweigh benefits; and sometimes they don’t.

As a positive futurist, I believe that most technologies will benefit humanity. Am I wrong? Time will tell.

Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  01/12  at  06:07 PM

Out of curiosity, which technologies do you think are the least risky to develop and use?

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  01/12  at  06:26 PM

I think most efforts involved with radical life extension promise great rewards with little dangers.

A major exception to this might be molecular nanotechnology to build nano-robots that could repair cellular damage. This revolutionary science would also provide terrorists with awesome weaponry.

Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  01/12  at  10:06 PM

I actually agree with you on this one.  Here’s another question.  Do you think all humans will eventually become machines or do you think there will be a percentage of humanity that will opt for remaining biological (this includes one who use genetic tweaking).  The later is a scenario that I’m going with in my novel series.

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  01/13  at  10:03 AM


I don’t think any humans will become machines. That sounds degrading.

When Kurzweil and others say we will merge with our machines, this does not imply that we will consider our future selves machines. I think that we will always view ourselves as human, with unique human memories, emotions, and consciousness.

As the decades unfold in the years to come, entrepreneurial researchers will develop non-biological body parts that operate more efficiently, and as these new creations become affordable, more and more people will opt for these improvements.

And converting to non-bio will not happen overnight. For example, it may take considerable time getting used to living without requiring food or breathable air; but eventually, more people will recognize the advantages of living in stronger bodies that can self-repair and humanity will evolve.

Will everyone choose to swap out their biology for more efficient body components? No, but those who reject improving their bodies will suffer the usual shortcomings of today’s life and will die out. By century’s end though, nearly everyone on the planet, including those living offworld will be non-biological.

Will we still consider ourselves human, or will post-human or trans-human become a more accurate description of who we are? Maybe we will have to wait for brain enhancements to resolve this issue.

Comments welcome.

Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  01/13  at  02:06 PM

“those who reject improving their bodies will suffer the usual shortcomings of today’s life and will die out.”

Not if they reproduce and accept genetic tweaks.

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  01/13  at  02:26 PM

I believe that eventually, non-bio bodies, with their advantage of strength, immortality and ability to change form on voice or thought command, will become humanity’s preferred way of life.

I cannot conceive that people would prefer to live in bodies that die.

However, most of the technologies that could make this wild concept come true are not even in the dream stage yet; so how will the future unfold? At this stage, it’s only a wild guess.

Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  01/13  at  03:42 PM

“I cannot conceive that people would prefer to live in bodies that die.”

Then you might be surprised.  Personally I wouldn’t want to live forever, though I wouldn’t mind living longer.  Its probably because I do not put my faith in technology and humanity, especially humanity.

Posted by CygnusX1  on  01/13  at  04:27 PM

Humans are inclined to under-estimate the miracle of complexity, (maya), that gives rise to Bio-logical life and even cellular intelligence and learning/evolving, (see White blood cells)

Sure, Bio-logical life is fragile, and the goal is to extend longevity through use of more robust compounds. Yet the ideal would be that these compounds self replicate and even evolve intelligently in the same manner as Bio-logical cellular life?

Saying you wish to live longer yet not indefinitely, needs further reflection and qualification, and as your time of expiry draws imminent, I’m sure there will be a drastic change of “mind”? - Unless, that is, mental suffering is so great as to contradict Self perpetuation?

Strange your last statement? However, I would state myself that I have more faith and hope in Humanity, (the Collective), than in the individual stunted by Self-ishness, apathy, fear and thus laziness? Such is “my” hypocrisy? Seems I’m pre-programmed towards the more holistic viewpoint?

Posted by Intomorrow  on  01/13  at  05:55 PM

“Its probably because I do not put my faith in technology and humanity, especially humanity”

This is understandable. However if one does not ‘put faith’ (i.e. have no trust in, because if you have no faith in something or someone how can you trust that something or someone?) in humanity, then why expect someone else to have faith in/trust a religious creed designed by humanity unless you think the creed was designed by God—which means you then have to:

a) prove to doubtful others your creed is truly derived from God;
b) not share your faith with those you deem skeptical.

You cannot say with full confidence you will reject for lack of faith/trust what others hold dear, yet expect them to accept your faith without evidence.
Want you to know I do not reject religion, but will have no faith in and mistrust the actual people, as distinct from institutions, who expect others to accept what they preach with no reason to trust and no evidence to give. This is not very complicated.

Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  01/13  at  08:10 PM

@ CygnusX1

You don’t have to be an individual to do bad things.  Neither the Nazis nor the Soviets were just individuals and Al Qaueda isn’t just individuals as well.  You also don’t think that the masses could be swayed into making bad decisions? 

@ Intommorrow

I was just talking about myself right there and not implying some message.  Look, I may be religious and I may not agree with everyone of your guys’ opinion but that’s no reason to assume that I’m always trying to preach or something when ever I disagree with something.

Posted by CygnusX1  on  01/14  at  08:17 AM

@ Christian..

Yes these small(ish) groups do have negative influences, but my meaning was a reflection on Humanity as a whole, past, present and future. Although I also do not think that individuals are particularly motivated themselves without “groupthink” The majority need organised groups and philosophies to align to else we are all lost and confused?

The real danger to us all is apathy, and this is the more sinister if this apathy is purposefully orchestrated to keep peoples controlled, divided and ignorant. The cliché however, is that no one man can change the world, when in fact, it is precisely the influence of one man.. go figure?

Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  01/14  at  10:16 AM

I don’t think you could call the Nazis or Soviets “smallish”.

Posted by Intomorrow  on  01/14  at  03:03 PM

Yes you could (besides, CygnusX1 wrote small(ish), not small).
The Nazis and Soviets were the minority core: the Soviets started their revolution in 1917 with a few thousand; the Nazis took over the state in 1933 with a few thousand.
And in both revolutions, it was always rule by a relatively small (smallish) minority.

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