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Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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IEET News for June 14, 2008

June 14, 2008

1. A Note From Dr. J.
2. Articles
3. Latest from JET
4. Multimedia
5. TechEthx News
  - Existential Risks List Posts
  - Trans-Spirit List Posts
6. Events
  - with IEET Speakers
  - all events


While riding the Washington D.C. Metro last week, several hundred feet underground, on my way to a give a talk to the World Humanist Congress, listening to a fascinating BBC podcast about the Soviet pseudoscientist Trofim Lysenko [], I thought about my embarrassing new vegetable garden. I had planted fifteen types of seeds in Mid-May. Some things, like the arugula, squash, peas and cucumbers, came up immediately. For the carrots, peppers, cilantro, basil and onions however, I waited a month till those rows were thick with weeds, looking for a hint of my crops. Nothing. With my opinionated mother-in-law coming in a couple of weeks I quickly went out and bought potted basil, leeks, peppers and lettuce, stapled new tags on my row posts, and re-wrote the Five Year Plan to conform with the new reality.

Not as deceitful or disastrous as Lysenko, whose wrong and constantly failing ideas about Soviet agriculture, backed for fifty years by Stalin, made the USSR a perpetually hungry food importer. My kids probably would have preferred crop failure to the heaping mound of baby arugula they were obliged to eat last night. But my personal experience of embarrassing brownthumb underlined for me the lesson of Lysenko experience: the incredible and fragile achievement of a relatively autonomous scientific process, with its culture of critical discourse and freedom from political orthodoxy. A freedom that has been under an unprecedented challenge in Washington D.C these last eight years by the corporate-Taliban junta that has occupied the White House attempting to impose its own Lysenkoism on climate science, stem cells, food and drug regulation, sex education, environmental protection, etc., not to mention is blinkered groupthink and manufactured “intelligence” on foreign policy. Thankfully liberal democracy, like independent science, encourages regular, peaceful “regime change.”

So anyway, the talk to the humanists went well, as did the day I spent being interviewed by Canadian public television, the two days I spent mid-May in D.C. as an NSF grants review panelist, the day I spent in early June as a corporate futures consultant at the Saatchi and Saatchi complex in New York’s SoHo, and the talk I gave in Second Life last week at the Future of Religion conference. This week things have slowed down and my overdue writing commitments are down to three or four. Seems like other folks have some opening in their schedules this week, as some of the hitherto MIA Longevity Dividend course students (other than the very productive Becky and Morris) promise to start generating their anti-aging agit-prop. I’ll be publishing select pieces from the course for the next few months. This week we will also be rolling out the new website format and adding a bioculture blog.

Make sure to check out all the articles and reviews that Russell, Marcelo and our small team of article reviewers and editors have been cranking through JET (which never would have seen the light of day if it had been left to me, so big ups to Russell who I still owe an intro for the HETHR conference papers so we can publish those.)

Also this coming couple of weeks we have Mark Walker speaking on “Apocalyptic Threats and Happy Pills” in Toronto (June 14), Aubrey’s huge Aging 2008 conference in Los Angeles (June 27-29), Kristi Scott speaking at Oxford on biopolitical themes in SF (July 1-3), followed by Mike Treder and me speaking at Nick Bostrom and Milan Cirkovic’s Global Catastrophic Risks Conference, also at Oxford (July 17-20). We will be reprising this catastrophic risks conference in day-long seminar form in Mountain View, California on November 14, so watch for that.

And don’t forget to water, weed and support scientific agriculture.

Dr. J.



Silke Fauve: America’s Journey to Universal Healthcare: A Long and Winding Road (June 13, 2008)
Neither Obama’s nor McCain’s proposed health care reforms can fix America’s broken system.

Michael Anissimov: Is there a Nanotech Rapture to be Ruptured? (June 13, 2008)
Nanotech expert Dr. Richard A.L. Jones contributed “Rupturing The Nanotech Rapture” to the IEEE’s Special Report on the Singularity, that topic that all the cool kids, like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, are talking about.

J. Hughes: Review: Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population (June 9, 2008)
Most observers of social movements, even their participants, underestimate their diversity and complexity.

Russell Blackford: Thoughts on art and nudity (June 9, 2008)
As of this morning, the case against acclaimed artistic photographer Bill Henson appears to have collapsed completely.

Andy Miah: Paralympics 2.0 (June 9, 2008)
Oscar Pistorius was right all along, at least for now. He was right to appeal the ruling from the International Association of Athletics Federations that forbade him from competing alongside Olympians in Beijing for one simple reason: he is an Olympian.

Doug Rushkoff: Beyond Brand Obama (June 9, 2008)
Nothing against Barack Obama, but we’d be mistaken to consider his politics a complete break from the past, a renaissance in participatory government, or the realization of an Internet-enabled “open source” democracy.

Athena Andreadis: The Heirs of Prometheus (June 1, 2008)
Like anyone who’s breathing, I have been tracking the Phoenix Lander.  So I thought this might be a good moment to share a personal memory of one of its ancestors.

Jamais Cascio: SimFuture(s) (June 1, 2008)
I’ve long been a fan of the use of games and sims as a way of working through future-facing issues.

Mike Treder: The Power Pyramid (June 1, 2008)
How much power do we truly have in making our ideas matter? My estimate that only about one in a million among us—about six thousand people in the whole world—possesses enough power to effect change on a global basis.

George Dvorsky: Of dead race horses and the dead long-ball: Two very different consequences of enhancement in sports (June 1, 2008)
What do race horses breaking legs and batters breaking records have in common? Performance-enhancing drugs.

Russell Blackford: Hollywood versus the Mutants (May 31, 2008)
When Hollywood movies depict mutated human beings — sometimes beautifully, grotesquely, or bizarrely transformed in appearance from the Homo sapiens norm — they draw upon traditions that are thousands of years old.

Jamais Cascio: Who Decides the Ideal Climate? (May 28, 2008)
Who gets to determine the “right” climate for the Earth?

Kristi Scott: The Pistorius Effect (May 25, 2008)
A lot of discussion has been going around regarding Pistorius. Should he or shouldn’t he be allowed to compete for a spot in the Beijing Olympics? If he makes it, should he or shouldn’t he be allowed to compete.

Mike Treder: The Invisible Hand Needs Some Help (May 21, 2008)
Over 200 years ago, Adam Smith proclaimed, “I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.”

Russell Blackford: Same-sex marriages today, polygamous marriages tomorrow? (May 21, 2008)
Over at the Bad Idea Blog, “Bad” notes that advocates of same-sex marriage often simply dismiss slippery slope arguments such as the claim that judicial rulings in favour of same-sex marriage would lead to the legal recognition of polygamy.



V.R. Manoj. “Spiritual Transcendence in Transhumanism”

Sky Marsen. “The Role of Meaning in Human Thinking”

Tim Clark. “Carter’s Cartesian Paraphrase and ‘Operational Autonomy’: The Carter-Bostrom Anthropic Principle, the Principle of Mediocrity, and ‘Being No One…’”

Randy Mayes. A review of J. Craig Venter’s A Life Decoded

Anoop Gupta. Anthropocentrism revisited. A Review of Mark D. Hauser’s Wild Minds

Riccardo Campa. Making Science by Serendipity. A review of Robert K. Merton and Elinor Barber’s The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity



The Effect of Longevity on Retirement and Pensions (06/09)
UK Pensions Radio speaks with IEET Fellow Aubrey de Grey on the debate concerning retirement age and its affect on pensions and pension funds.

The Coming Convergence (06/08)
In The Coming Convergence Stanley Schmidt lays out the accelerating technological trends in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science, and how their convergence into new metasciences will bring about dramatic risks and benefits.

Aging: Stop Right There! (06/03)
Imagine if aging were a disease like measles, one that could be cured. Some scientists think it’s possible and that we’ll eventually halt - or at least slow - the march of time and extend lifespans into the triple digits and beyond.

KMO on Singularity and the End of Oil (06/01)
KMO produces the psychedelic transhumanist and End of Oil “C-Realm” podcast. We talk about ‘shrooms, the Singularity and gardening.

The science of happiness (05/21)
The enchanting Natasha Mitchell on why the pursuit of happiness is a global obsession.

Past and Present of Research on Artificial General Intelligence (05/21)
IEET Fellow Ben Goertzel organized the first Artificial General Intelligence conference, which was held FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, March 1-3, 2008. This talk was his opening overview of the field. 




Building research accountability for biosecurity

Asteroid Deflection Research Center

Charles Perrow: Reducing disaster vulnerability

Canada launches asteroid tracking satellite


Templeton mag’s special issue on H+

New brain blog

Drugs to grow new happy brain

Holding in one’s feelings is not harmful

Does Mindfulness Meditation Help Adults & Teens with ADHD?

Alan Wallace to talk to roboticists about meditating brains

Should the Government Make Us Happy?



Mark Walker on “Apocalyptic Threats and Happy Pills”
Toronto, Canada
2008 June 14-14

Aubrey @ Bioengineering Approaches to Aging
UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
2008 June 27-29

Kristi Scott @ Visions of the Human in Cyberculture, Cyberspace and Science Fiction
Oxford UK
2008 July 1-3

Hughes, Bostrom, Treder @ Global Catastrophic Risks Conference
Oxford University, Oxford, UK
2008 July 17-20

Treder @ World Future Society
Washington, DC
2008 July 26-28

Treder @ Basque Country Program on Globalization
San Sebastian, Spain
2008 Sep 3-5

IEET SEMINAR: Preventing Extinction
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
2008 Nov 14-14

Hughes on Using Neurotech to Become Better People
San Jacinto College, Houston, TX
2008 Dec 2-2


Mark Walker on “Apocalyptic Threats and Happy Pills”
Toronto, Canada
2008 June 14-14

Neural Interfaces Conference
2008 June 15-18

Ethics, Technology and Identity
Delft, Netherlands
2008 June 18-20

Online Deliberation and Advanced Computing
Berkeley, CA USA
2008 June 26-29

Aubrey @ Bioengineering Approaches to Aging
UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
2008 June 27-29

Kristi Scott @ Visions of the Human in Cyberculture, Cyberspace and Science Fiction
Oxford UK
2008 July 1-3

Hughes, Bostrom, Treder @ Global Catastrophic Risks Conference
Oxford University, Oxford, UK
2008 July 17-20

EuroScience Open Forum
Barcelona, Spain
2008 July 18-22

Geoethical Nanotechnology Workshop
Terasem Island in SecondLife
2008 July 20-20

Treder @ World Future Society
Washington, DC
2008 July 26-28

International Philosophical Congress
Seoul, South Korea
2008 July 30-5

Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Montreal, Canada
2008 Aug 2-7

Governing Emerging Technologies
Big Sky, MT
2008 Aug 17-22

Treder @ Basque Country Program on Globalization
San Sebastian, Spain
2008 Sep 3-5

9th World Congress of Bioethics
Rijeka and Opatija, Croatia
2008 Sep 3-8

Science in the 21st Century
Waterloo, Ontario Canada
2008 Sep 8-12

International Congress of AI & Nano
Bogotá, Colombia
2008 Sep 25-26

Psychiatry and Freedom
Dallas, Texas USA
2008 Oct 6-8

World Academy of Art And Science
Hyderbad, India
2008 Oct 16-20

Singularity Summit 2008
San Jose, CA
2008 Oct 17-18

Bioethics Futurism - Am Soc for Bioethics and Humanities
Cleveland, OH, USA
2008 Oct 23-26

H+ & Religion session at American Academy of Religion
Chicago, IL USA
2008 Nov 1-3

Philosophy and Engineering
London, England.
2008 Nov 10-12

11th Annual Accessing Higher Ground: Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference for Education,
Boulder, Colorado, USA
2008 Nov 11-14

Neuroethics Society meeting
Washington, DC
2008 Nov 13-14

IEET SEMINAR: Preventing Extinction
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
2008 Nov 14-14

Hughes on Using Neurotech to Become Better People
Houston, TX, USA
2008 Dec 2-2

International Conference on Human Rights and Biomedicine
Rotterdam, Netherlands
2008 Dec 10-12

Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness
Portland, Oregon
2009 Apr 1-5

First World Congress on Positive Psychology
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
2009 Jun 18-21



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Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Executive Director,
Dr. James J. Hughes
Williams 229B, Trinity College
300 Summit St.
Hartford CT 06106 USA
Email: director @
Phone: 860-428-1837


Emergence is published weekly to monthly, on an as-needed basis. Emergence encourages submissions for publication. Please send submissions to: Submissions will be reviewed by the IEET staff, and final determinations regarding publication are at the sole discretion of the IEET.


Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
IEET, 35 Harbor Point Blvd, #404, Boston, MA 02125-3242 USA
phone: 860-428-1837