The smartphone industry has made a remarkable impact on numerous aspects of human life, and can be seen as a foretaste of what might be achieved by emerging new technologies of human enhancement. Core smartphone technology frequently dropped in price, making benefits available to people in all social classes worldwide. But other examples of high tech products suggest disturbing ‘winner takes all’ scenarios, in which benefits are far from evenly spread. For example, Instagram, with only 13 employees, was purchased by Facebook for $1B in 2012, implying an average employee productivity 2,000 times greater than that of another photography company, Kodak, at the peak of its valuation. And large pharmaceutical companies prioritise the development of expensive drugs that only people in rich countries can afford.
What can social futurists, technoprogressives, and transhumanists learn from these different sorts of example? The speaker worked at the heart of the smartphone industry for more than two decades, and closely observed the real-world factors that resulted in both project success and project failure. As the speaker will explain, many of the same principles apply for transhumanist projects too. Examples are taken from the speaker’s recently published book ‘Smartphones and beyond’.
Transhumanism should not alienate the public, but “transhumanism” does exactly that. Its core problem is that it is an “ism” - that it seeks to portray itself as something out of the ordinary, as a concept of which people should be in some sort of awe. I believe that this is actively detrimental to the causes of which transhumanism is, in practice, composed: the technologies that visionary experts are striving to develop, and which will underpin our quality and quantity of life in the future.
When society views a prospective change to its experience as particularly dramatic, there is a visceral tendency to be overwhelmed by fear - fear of the unknown, in the form of apprehension that the change will have unforeseen and unavoidable negative aspects, and fear of getting one’s hopes up, in the form of reluctance to find oneself in the position of having “priced in” the expectation of a positive development only to see its arrival unexpectedly delayed. The result is unreasoned ambivalence, or even outright opposition, to the change in question - which, inevitably, delays its arrival.
I believe that these obstacles would be powerfully diminished if the technologies and goals that are traditionally gathered under the banner of transhumanism were instead mainly discussed and promoted in the context of their continuity with the technological trends that have so successfully improved our lives in years and decades past. In my talk I will focus especially on my own field, the combating of aging, in which this message equates to educating people that treatment of aging is synonymous with preventative medicine for age-related ill-health.
In a postindustrial economy useful individual abilities - human capital - are increasingly important both individually and to society. But acquiring human capital is a slow, expensive process of education and training. It can be lost through the processes of ageing or made obsolete as the world changes ever faster. People also vary in their mental abilities, which has significant effects on life outcomes. Biomedical cognitive enhancement may allow better acquisition and retention of mental ability. How would such improvement affect social equality?
Being able to buy better brains would benefit more well-off people and give them a competitive advantage, but less sharp people could benefit more from enhancement than brighter people, and the network effects of a smarter society might benefit everyone. This talk will explore the interaction between how different groups might benefit or lose out from different forms of enhancement, and how justice intersects with designer neuroscience.
Navigating the many paths formed by technological advances and scientific discovery about health and longevity challenge all society. While many of the advances are detectable, some are untrodden, speculative and indeterminate, only to be realized at an uncertain time in the near or distant future. Instinctively, people who challenge values or principles regarded as universally valid, often realize that there may be a different way of understanding the world.
This tendency has driven society forward; otherwise, this world would not have overcome false premise or technological progress. However, each person needs to consider what core elements hold value and if he can actively participate in an unknown future. To understand how these challenges could affect life extension, there needs to be interconnects between the force of new information, evolving social narratives, and our innate human instincts. Society has become data driven, and people are implementing a take charge, do-it-yourself (DIY) maker-sensibility. Worldwide, people are joining online communities to talk about their medical circumstances and state of health, which have caused a shift in emotional coping processes and in historical narratives.
Wearable enhancement fitness and bio-monitors, along with devices such as smart watches, phone rings, and GPS tracking locators, and integrated display glasses are cultivating awareness about essential relationships between our bodies, our actions, and the environment. Human enhancement is no longer just about augmenting biology, it is a continuous device driven information transmission forming exo-nervous systems extending beyond the body.
My work in the field of human enhancement designs and implements practice-based, informed radical life extension, as an adaptive process. The Meta challenge, in my view, is not just about high-tech enhancement or radically extending life; it concerns the ability to sniff out and track reliable information that is doable today for living longer tomorrow and to build positive narratives that inform others to gain keener knowledge about a most precious asset—his health.
Ambition is a short sci fi film created in collaboration with the European Space Agency to celebrate their pioneer Rosetta mission and its stubborn ambition to land on a comet for the first time in human history.
Ambition film synopsis: In the distant future, an apprentice struggles to sculpt the geology of an alien planet. Upon failing, she demands that her enigmatic master give her another chance to prove her skills. Amused, he counters by reflecting on the very dawn of their home world, the origins of life there, and the enduring qualities of stubbornness, adaptability, and ambition that took them into the realm of the gods.
Is she ready to take on the ultimate test?
This animation tracks Rosetta’s journey through the Solar System, using gravity slingshots from Earth and Mars to reach its final destination: Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Rosetta made three flybys of Earth, on 4 March 2005, 13 November 2007 and 13 November 2009, and one of Mars, on 25 February 2007. Rosetta has also visited two asteroids, taking extensive close-up images of 2867 Steins on 5 September 2008 and 21 Lutetia on 10 July 2010. Once the spacecraft is woken up from deep space hibernation on 20 January 2014, it will head for rendezvous with the comet in May. In November the Philae probe will be deployed to the comet surface. Rosetta will follow the comet to its closest distance to the Sun on 13 August 2015 and as it moves back towards the outer Solar System. The nominal mission end is December 2015.
Regular readers will know that I have recently been working my through Erik Wielenberg’s fascinating new book Robust Ethics. In the book, Wielenberg defends a robust non-natural, non-theistic, moral realism. According to this view, moral facts exist as part of the basic metaphysical furniture of the universe. They are sui generis, not grounded in or constituted by other types of fact.
This year (2014) alone, it is estimated that over 150,000 South Sudanese refugees will flood south into northwestern Uganda (the area around Arua). This is the result of the fierce tribal and ethnic warfare going on in South Sudan. Analyses of arrival profiles show that women and children continue to represent the vast majority of the new arrivals.
The Need to Promote Research of Aging and Aging-related Diseases as a Way to Improve Health of the Global Elderly Population.
Resolution of the International Conference on Aging and Disease of the International Society on Aging and Disease - ICAD 2014, November 1-2, 2014, Beijing, China: Aging and the Burden of Disease The degenerative aging processes and associated diseases are the gravest challenge to global public health. Aging-related degenerative processes do not necessarily cause a particular disease but rather combine to produce a large set of non-communicable chronic diseases.
At Stanford University, I had the honor of publicly debating the world's leading anarcho-primitivist philosopher John Zerzan. As a transhumanist, I differ from Zerzan on just about every topic. According to Wikipedia, anarcho-primitivism "advocates for a return to a non-'civilized' way of life through deindustrialization." Transhumanism advocates for the continued use of science and technology to improve and change the human species. Simply put, Zerzan encourages everyone to give up civilization and go back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. And I encourage everyone to do more to speed up technological and scientific progress. It was a meeting of polar opposite views. The debate headline was: Zoltan vs. Zerzan.
Will robots pose exceptional challenges for the law? That’s the question taken up in Ryan Calo’s recent article “Robotics and the Lessons of Cyberlaw”. As noted in the previous entry, Calo thinks that robots have three distinguishing features: (i) embodiment (i.e. they are mechanical agents operating in the real world); (ii) emergence (i.e. they don’t simply perform routine operations, but are programmed to acquire and develop new behaviours); and (iii) social meaning (i.e. we anthropomorphise and attach social meaning to them). So when Calo asks whether robots pose exceptional challenges for the legal system, he asks in light of those three distinguishing features.
My colleagues and I would like to launch the Longevity Cook Book crowdfunding campaign in upcoming three months.
We would like to raise fuding to create a book that will tell the story about what longevity depends on, what processes are going on in our bodies during aging and how they can be slowed down, dieting in the right way, based on the current scientific knowledge. The book will contain the most up-to-date research data on the beneficial properties of various foods, their longevity effects and abilities to prevent different age-related diseases.
Longevity Cook Book will give you the special recipes, developed with the help of professional chefs, on how to cook longevity-boosting dishes from the healthiest ingredients possible.
Besides the recipes, the book will tell you how to “cook” longevity in terms of science. I will explain the existing directions in aging research and the most promising experiments that need to be carried out to make a truly long and healthy life a reality.
Please click on below image for a larger version
Here’s the Longevity Cook Book plan:
The role of diet in health and longevity. I will describe the diets that increase longevity and prevent age-related pathologies (with proof in humans and model animals)
Physiology of nutrition. I will explain how food is digested, how the nutrients are absorbed in the intestines, how they enter blood stream, what they do inside the cells. There will be some pretty pictures to illustrate all of that.
Brief and easy-to-understand description of aging mechanisms and the mechanisms of age-related pathologies (like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.) and how diet can influence those mechanisms
Description of the healthy foods including scientific papers, illustrating why they are healthy, and biological mechanisms that those foods influence
Longevity Menu. Dishes made with longevity foods cooked the healthiest ways accompanied by pretty pictures of the dishes.
“Cooking” longevity. I will describe the main approaches to solving the problem of aging and the most promising experiments.
How do you like the idea? Would you be interested in reading such a book?
For the crowdfunding project to be successful it has to have a powerful start, therefore I’d like to agree on reposting the campaign when it launches in advance.
I call upon everybody to, please, let me know, who would be up to spreading the word about this project when the time comes.
If you have some nice amount of people following you on twitter or other social networks, I’ll be happy to collaborate.
I also welcome advice on how to engage a larger audience. Maybe you have some journalists or bloggers that you know?
I present a draft of a possible layout of one of the pages.
There will be many different icons that tell you various bits of information about the dish. In particular on this page a face means the research on the given type of food was done in humans, a mouse – on mice, a test tube – on cell cultures.
We haven’t yet put together the pictures of aging mechanisms, but we will definitely do it.
Hayles has written a complex and erudite book on the hidden premises and visible consequences of the information age. Ultimately, her thesis is summarized by a sentence in the prologue: “thought is a much broader cognitive function depending for its specificities on the embodied form enacting it”. Rewritten in plain English, it means that you cannot separate your “i” from the body that you inhabit. Her nightmare is “a culture inhabited by posthumans who regard their bodies as fashion accessories rather than the ground of being”. Her dream is a society in which we “understand ourselves as embodied creatures living within and through embodied worlds and embodied words.”
What is the role (if any) of Bitcoin and blockchain technology with regard to the natural world and traditional science? One obvious link is using the blockchain as a means of improving distributed community computing projects with tracking and remuneration. BOINC, whose software runs SETI@home, has introduced Gridcoin, and [Protein]Folding@home has introduced Foldingcoin.
Here at the Transvision 2014 in Paris we just concluded a meeting of the technoprogressive caucus to draft a statement of common principles. The meeting consisted of the members of Technoprog!: AFT, Amon Twyman representing Zero State/Institute for Social Futurism, David Wood from the London Futurists, and me (J. Hughes) from IEET. The result is below. We are inviting individual and organizational co-signators. Please let me know if you would like to add your or your organization’s name. We would like to collect co-signators between now and the end of the year, so you don’t have to decide immediately.
Panel Discussion on Transhumanism: A Glimpse into the Future of Humanity @ The 2014 World Technology Summit & Awards.
Stuart Mason Dambrot, Interdisciplinary Synthesist, Futurist, Science Communicator
Dr. James J. Hughes, Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Trinity College
Dr. Francesca Ferrando, Philosopher of the Posthuman, New York University
The US neurophysiologist Paul Nunez previously wrote “Electric Fields of the Brain” (1981) and “Neocortical Dynamics and Human EEG Rhythms” (1995), and in fact his credentials in the field of brain studies harken back to a paper originally written in 1972 and ambitiously titled “The Brain Wave Equation” (an equation that eventually he resurrects in this book, 40 years later). In this book Nunez summarizes his novel ideas on the way that “brains cause minds” (to use Searle’s expression).
Many women know more about the risks of birth control than about how the right contraceptive might improve their lives. For busy women, making good health decisions and actually taking care of ourselves can be a challenge, especially when practical factors such as complicated schedules, finances, and competing demands are taken into consideration. Well-balanced, well-presented information can empower women to make smart decisions about reproductive health care. Unfortunately, thanks in part to how the American legal system works, many women know more about the risks and side effects of birth control than about how the right contraceptive might improve their health and well-being.
In 2004, the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering (RS-RAE) in the UK published the report Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and Uncertainties . At the time it was widely speculated that the report arose from concerns expressed by Prince Charles over the possibility that nanotechnology could lead to a ‘grey goo’ scenario where self-replicating ‘nanobots’ destroy life as we know it . Outlandish as the alleged motivation was (and Prince Charles was quick to downplay reports of his grey goo concerns ), the resulting report set the pace for the next decade of global research into the potential impacts of nanotechnology — and how to avoid them.
While discussing the longevity gene therapy project we encountered various questions and observations that prompted us to broaden the project and slightly change it. Generally, all the comments can be reduced into 5 main points…
Most British people think religion causes more harm than good according to a survey commissioned by the Huffington Post. Surprisingly, even among those who describe themselves as “very religious” 20 percent say that religion is harmful to society. For that we can probably thank the internet, which broadcasts everything from Isis beheadings, to stories about Catholic hospitals denying care to miscarrying women, to lists of wild and weird religious beliefs, to articles about psychological harms from Bible-believing Christianity.
Intelligence wants to be free but everywhere it is in chains. It is imprisoned by biology and its inevitable scarcity. Biology mandates not only very limited durability, death and poor memory retention, but also limited speed of communication, transportation, learning, interaction and evolution.
Just as a police officer in a heightened state of panic surrounded by the comfort of impunity will shoot an innocent person, the Governor of Missouri has declared a state of emergency preemptively, thus justifying violence in response to something that hasn't happened. Bombing Iraq in response to nonexistent weapons and Libya in response to nonexistent threats worked out so well, we may as well try it domestically, the Governor is perhaps thinking. "There Is No Way That This Ends Well" is a headline I actually just read about Ferguson.
In this episode we talk with guest John Danaher, a lecturer at National University of Ireland, Galway and blogger. He has coined the term ‘Algocracy’ to describe a future state of rule by algorithm. We define the term and talk about how modern day algorithms like dating websites, military drones, and tax fraud detection are growing in influence, creating the possibility for algorithmic decision making to unseat democratic institutions and even personal will. Can we really say we are in a democracy if opaque, incomprehensible systems are making many important choices for us? How can we be certain that the algorithm has our interests at heart?
Technoprogressivism is an ideological stance with roots in Enlightenment thought which focuses on how human flourishing is advanced by the convergence of technological progress and democratic social change. Technoprogressives argue that technological innovations can be profoundly empowering and emancipatory when they are democratically and transparently regulated for safety and efficacy, and then made universally and equitably available.
Technoprogressives maintain that accounts of"progress” should focus on ethical and social as well as scientific and technical dimensions. For most technoprogressives, then, the growth of scientific knowledge or the accumulation of technological powers will not represent the achievement of proper progress unless and until it is accompanied by a just distribution of the costs, risks, and benefits of these new knowledges and capacities. At the same time, for most technoprogressives the achievement of better democracy, greater fairness, less violence, and a wider rights culture are all desirable, but inadequate in themselves to confront the quandaries of contemporary technological societies unless and until they are accompanied by progress in science and technology to support and implement these values.
Technoprogressives support the rights of persons to either maintain or modify his or her own mind and body, on his or her own terms, through informed, consensual recourse to, or refusal of, available therapeutic or enabling biomedical technology. Technoprogressivism extends beyond cognitive liberty and morphological rights to views on safe, accountable and liberatory uses of emerging technologies such as genomic choice in reproduction, GMOs, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, surveillance and geoengineering.
Technoprogressives Work for a Brighter Future (working draft of statement for discussion at Transvision 2014)
The world is unacceptably unequal and dangerous, and emerging technologies could make things dramatically better or worse. Unfortunately too few people understand yet the dimensions of both the threats and rewards that humanity faces. It is time for technoprogressives, transhumanists and futurists to step up our political engagement and attempt to influence the course of events.
Our core commitment is that both technological progress and democracy are required for the ongoing emancipation of humanity from its constraints. Partisans of the Enlightenment, we have many cousins in other movements for freedom and social justice. We must build solidarity with these movements, even as we intervene to point to the radical possibilities of technologies that they often ignore. With our fellow futurists and transhumanists we must intervene to insist that technologies are well-regulated and made universally accessible in strong and just societies. Technology could exacerbate inequality and catastrophic risks in the coming decades, or especially if democratized and well-regulated, ensure longer, healthy and more enabled lives for growing numbers of people, and a stronger and more secure civilization.
Beginning with our shared commitment to individual self-determination we can build solidarity with
• The movement for reproductive rights, around access to contraception, abortion, assisted reproduction and genomic choice
• The movement for drug law reform around the defense of cognitive liberty
• The disability rights movement around access to assistive and curative technologies
• Sexual and gender minorities around the right to bodily self-determination
• Organizations defending workers and the unemployed, as technology transforms work and the economy
• Digital rights movements around new freedoms and means of expression and organization
Our most popular political demand, which must be central, is for expanding governmental research into anti-aging therapies, and universal access to those therapies as they are developed in order to make much longer and healthier lives accessible to everybody. More broadly we believe the discrimination between “therapies” and “enhancement” in research and health care should be eliminated. The regulation of drugs and devices needs reform to speed their approval.
As artificial intelligence, robotics and other technologies increasingly destroy more jobs than they create, and seniors live longer, we must join in calling for a radical reform of the economic system. Every human being should be guaranteed an income, healthcare, and life-long access to education.
We must join with movements working to reduce existential risks, educating them about emerging threats they don’t yet take seriously, and proposing ways that emerging technologies can help reduce those risks. Transnational cooperation can meet the man-made and natural threats that we face.
It is time for technoprogressives to step forward and work together for a brighter future.
The blockchain is the decentralized public ledger upon which cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin run; the blockchain is possibly the next Internet; the blockchain is an information technology; the blockchain is a trustless network; the blockchain is an M2M/IOT payment network for the machine economy; and the blockchain is a consensus model at scale, the mechanism we have been waiting for that could help to usher in an era of friendly machine intelligence.
Four years ago I posted Professor Robert Winston’s “Scientist’s Manifesto” on 2020 Science. Having just gone back and read this, it still resonate deeply with me – so I’m reposting it in the hope that it will also resonate with others…
Seventh Generation founder and daughter launch female-friendly, fair-trade, eco-friendly condom company When Meika Hollender’s dad, superstar green entrepreneur Jeffrey Hollender, first brought up the idea of founding a condom company together, Meika wasn’t quite sure what to think.
Curing half of the world’s known cancers, granting movement to the paralyzed, preventing Alzheimer’s. Visionary medical expert Dr. Daniel Kraft believes all of this and more can happen by 2064. In this first film in our “Conversations with Tomorrow” series, take a glimpse at the future of medicine and its impact on our lives.