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Hughes Citings in the New York Times
Jul 11, 2010  

The IEET’s Executive Director, James Hughes, was cited in two recent articles in the New York Times.

The first mention was in an article about Ray Kurzweil and the Singularity University. Dr. Hughes was asked about why some Singularitarians were unhappy with the prominent way that Ray Kurzweil had framed the Singularity, as a pre-determined evolution towards a positive millennium:

“I think he’s a genius and has certainly brought a lot of these ideas into the public discourse,” says James J. Hughes, the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, a nonprofit that studies the implications of advancing technology. “But there are plenty of people that say he has hijacked the Singularity term.”

In the second piece, published in today’s New York Times Magazine, Kerry Howley explores the gender gap in acceptance of cryonics. The essay is mostly a touching profile of transhumanist Robin Hanson and his techno-skeptic hospice nurse wife Peggy Jackson. He’s signed up for a “neuro” (having his head removed and frozen by Alcor) and she thinks the idea is gross. Dr. Hughes offers some thoughts about the biases against life extension and acknowledges that the opinion of his wife on cryonics is one of the reasons he is not yet signed up.

Whether or not the human race subconsciously equates attempts to defeat death with treachery, it’s true that a general air of menace hangs over the quest for immortality in Western literature. Think Gilgamesh or Voldemort. “There is a lot of ancient cultural stereotyping about the motives and moral character of people who pursue life extension,” says James Hughes, the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, a nonprofit organization enamored of life extension. Hughes has chosen not to participate in what he considers a worthy experiment. “Although it’s a rather marginal bet for a potentially huge payoff,” he says, “I value my relationship with my wife.”


Actually, Peggy is a social worker, not a nurse.

I have seen the comments to the NYT piece, recommended the reasonable comments, and left two comments of my own. Perhaps the editors will not publish them, even if they are on topic and not abusive. Here they are:

1 The comment 10 by jp “An easy solution would be to just agree with him all the way to the grave. Then bury or cremate him. He’ll never know.” is disgusting. I suggest the same solution should be applied to whatever wishes jp will express in his or her will.
2 I am signed up for cryonic suspension. On the basis of my scientific training the recent scientific information available to me, I think there is a fair chance it will work. If it works, I hope I will buy Robin a beer in a less intolerant world. Perhaps it will not work. So what? Even a small chance is better than no chance. In either case, since I am not hurting anybody, it is my own decision to make and my own business. This is called “freedom”. My wife does not take cryonics seriously. I don’t try to “convert” her, and she does not try to “convert” me.

Most comments show the intolerance typical of a bigot and intolerant society, which is not surprising. And this has nothing to do with gender. The “feminism” of some comments is the idiotic and intolerant feminism of the 70s, even more bigot than the rest of society if you ask me.

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