The IEET just turned ten years old, and we are astonished with what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last decade.
Hundreds of technoprogressive public intellectuals have become a part of our community. Some have been already established writers and thinkers who sought to collaborate on shared issues and values, and others were just learning to write and speak about our issues. Many have gone on to start their own projects, organizations and journals, writing books and producing podcasts and films.
My title is needlessly provocative, and may ultimately disappoint, but bear with me a moment. I’ve recently been reading Andrew Keen’s book The Internet is not the Answer. It is an interesting, occasionally insightful, but all too often hyperbolic, personalised and repetitive critique of the internet age. I recommend it, albeit in small doses. But this is a digression. I do not wish to give a full review here. Instead, I wish to dwell on one idea that struck me while I read it.
Transhumanism can be read as an intellectual and cultural movement. The objective of this movement is to enhance the human condition with the use of technological means. Enhancement in the transhumanistic sense goes far beyond everything that is regarded as normal and settled. “Enhancement” is presumably not the proper expression for this context and it should be replaced with the word “increase”.
Are there ideas which could prove so incendiary, and so provocative, that it would be better to shut them down? Should some concepts be permanently locked into a Pandora’s box, lest they fly off and cause too much chaos in the world?
Recently the journal Nature published a paper arguing that the year in which the Anthropocene, the proposed geological era in which the collective actions of the human species started to trump other natural processes in terms of their impact, began in the year 1610 AD. If that year leaves you, like it did me, scratching your head and wondering what your missed while you dozed off in your 10th grade history class, don’t worry, because 1610 is a year in which nothing much happened at all. In fact, that’s why the author’s chose it.
Filmed March 2014. Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case. “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”
A few months ago I made the case here on IEET on the future possibilities of sex crimes as a result of exponentially growing technologies, from drones to haptic body suits. I didn’t make the case to try to convince people from refraining to use these technologies – especially for sexual purposes – but rather to stoke a discussion on the possible risks of said technologies and start developing a means to mitigate these risks if and when they present themselves.
Recently, I tuned in to watch a 60 Minutes television story on a experimental cancer treatment being tested that was being hailed as near miraculous. As I saw the face of one white patient after another white patient who was cured by injecting the polio virus into a brain tumor, I started to wonder: where are all the black people? Or Hispanics or Asians? It brought to mind the popular campaign and twitter hashtag, Black Lives Matter
Did a recent graphic by the anti-gay, pro-religious-freedom American Family Association make their intentions a little too clear? The American Family Association (AFA) proudly describes itself as one of the largest and most effective “pro-family” organizations in the United States. This doesn’t mean that AFA advocates for healthcare or paid family leave or family planning or education funding or laws that protect abused children, or aid to dependent children, or other evidence based services that promote family flourishing. Nope; it means they use their legal clout and broadcast media to oppose gay rights in places like Indiana, obstruct access to abortion care, repeal universal healthcare, and defund public services and regulations.
I’ve seen some pieces in the media lately questioning this, so allow me to point to some facts based on real-world data. tl;dr: We’ll probably never power the world entirely on solar, but if we did, it would take a rather small fraction of the world’s land area: Less than 1 percent of the Earth’s land area to provide for current electricity needs.
There are many reasons to reduce or eliminate meat production, and in this week’s episode we cover them and ask the question: are we soon going to be eating synthetic meat? From resources to ethics, there is tremendous pressure to bring down the costs associated with meat. We discuss the challenges tissue engineers face in creating meat that is delicious and affordable, and discuss the limitations of recent successes like the famous $300,000 synthetic burger. We also discuss some of the most promising companies and approaches in the synthetic meat space. Finally we consider other future alternatives to livestock farming such as insect protein, soylent, and the eventual decoupling of our nutritional needs from the pleasure of eating.
Despite the power of incumbency, the backing of President Obama, and an array of wealthy and powerful backers, Rahm Emanuel nevertheless became the first mayor in Chicago history to be forced into a runoff. Sure, Jesús “Chuy” Garcia’s defeat was a setback for the left, but Emanuel’s struggle to retain his office is a warning for politicians everywhere: Corporate Democrats are likely to find themselves on the defensive in 2016 and beyond.
Marcin Gorazda explains what are the epistemic and cognitive concepts of explanation and tries to make a synthesis of both of them.
This talk was delivered during the Copernicus Center International Seminar “The Concept of Explanation in Science, Philosophy and Theology”.
Money has long fascinated me, and not for the obvious reasons. Although I’d like to have more of it, my interest is largely philosophical. It is the ontology of money that has always disturbed me. Ever since I was a child, collecting old coins and hoarding my pocket money, I’ve wondered why it is that certain physical tokens can function as money and others cannot. What is money made from? What is it grounded in? Why do certain monetary systems fail and others succeed?
We have previously announced that the Transhumanist Party will be supporting an independent candidate in the UK national elections next month, and are now glad to announce that this will be a founding party member, Alexander Karran, in the seat of Liverpool Walton.
Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”, which can be trained by meditational practices derived from Buddhist anapanasati.
The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali-term sati, “mindfulness”, which is an essential element of Buddhist practice, including vipassana, satipaṭṭhāna and anapanasati.
Mindfulness practice is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction. It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.
Mikey Siegel has worked to advance human-robot interaction at NASA, MIT, Audi, and other leading institutions. Robotics work continued in a professional context until a change in life priorities pointed towards technology’s potential to reduce stress and increase joy by shifting people’s relationship to themselves. Recently in Hong Kong he acted as director of consciousness engineering at the Center for the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness where he focused on technology’s role in facilitating extraordinary states of wellbeing. Presently, Mikey is involved in a number of ventures including founding a company calledBioFluent Technologies which creates tools designed to point us toward the simple joy of being alive, here and now. He is also actively promoting the idea of Consciousness Hacking which, in the spirit of the Maker Movement, encourages people to build new tools for exploring and altering the way we think, feel and live.
When Crystal O’Connor, the owner of an Indiana pizza parlor said she wouldn’t cater a gay wedding because she is a Christian, the story went viral. Not surprisingly, one immediate response was derision: “What gay couple would have pizza catered at their wedding?” “Wedding pizza—is that a thing in Indiana?”But not all comments and reactions were good humored, and daunted by an outpouring of indignation, hostility and sarcastic Yelp reviewsand pro-gay anti-religion photos, Memories Pizza closed their doors, saying they might not reopen. Some on the Left relished the thought that bigotry might have a tangible pocketbook price.
They are glib and superficially charming. They have a grandiose sense of self worth. They are often pathological liars and routinely engage in acts of cunning and manipulation. If they do something wrong, they are without remorse.
Let's say that you have children, and you would like to help them learn computer programming at a youngish age. As the father of four kids, I have tried to approach it from several different angles. What I would like to do here is collect some ideas for parents who are looking for different options.
You would be writers out there, of both fiction and nonfiction! Have a look at George Orwell's wonderful advice to writers of English prose—Politics and the English Language. It is 95% spot on — valuable for those who want to communicate, instead of being pompous!
Blockchains are a new form of information technology that could have several important future applications. They could be an explosive operational venue for new kinds of autonomous agents like DACs, distributed autonomous corporations. A DAC is a corporation run without any human involvement through a set of business rules based in software code. It is called a ‘corporation’ because it typically engages in corporate operations like fundraising, providing services, and making profits for shareholders. Blockchains are a software protocol upon which digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin run.
Transhumanism has historically been an effectively apolitical movement, focussed on technological improvement of the human condition. While some political obstacles to that goal have been recognised, Transhumanists’ political views have traditionally covered a broad range, making the emergence of a unified Political Transhumanism seem highly problematic. A paradigm shift appears to have occurred in 2014, with the establishment of the Transhumanist Party in the USA by Zoltan Istvan. Subsequently a number of related groups have rapidly appeared around the world, in an entire new movement dedicated to the idea of Political Transhumanism, with the Transhumanist Party as its primary vehicle in any given country.
Dr. Hughes is a Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of Humanity+, the Neuroethics Society, the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and the Working Group on Ethics and Technology at Yale University. He serves on the State of Connecticut Regenerative Medicine Research Advisory Committee (formerly known as the Stem Cell Research Advisory Board).
Dr. Hughes speaks on medical ethics, health care policy and future studies worldwide.
Freedom to discriminate with impunity? It’s worse than that. Almost universally, the religious freedom claims pursued in the U.S. over the last two decades seek the freedom to do harm, most often the freedom to harm queers, women, children or religious outsiders or our secular government institutions.
I hear expressions like “I don’t see race” or “I’m color-blind” a lot from people who want to ignore the issues of structural power imbalance or privilege in race issues. The same people are fond of equating racism to simple bigotry; by this standard, white bigotry against blacks and black bigotry against whites are equally “racist.” “Racism” is just a matter of individual attitude, not structural power or history, and the only thing needed to fix it is to get people’s heads in a better space.
Anybody who thinks that the wave of christianity based witch hunting and pentecostalism sweeping across Africa and migrant communities is due to some unique strand of piety and religiosity of Africans should think again. The rise of African pentecostalism has a lot to do with the 'business acumen' of the region's 'pastorpreneurs' who are exploiting the situation in the region.
My Ethiopian guide had mentioned a possible visit to the village of Awra Amba. I had never heard of the place, so I looked it up on the Internet. When I learned that it was a “utopian” community in northern Ethiopia, I decided I to pay a visit. I had previously traveled to a similar “utopian” enterprise–Gaviotas–in Colombia in 2010.
Lecture by philosppher Stefan Sorgner
Friday February 27, 2015, 19.30 - 21.30 hrs., Collegezalencomplex Radboud University, Nijmegen
Organised by the Soeterbeeck Programme
Stefan Lorenz Sorgner is a lecturer in medical ethics at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg, Germany. He studied philosophy at King’s College/University of London (BA), the University of Durham (MA), the University of Giessen and the University of Jena (PhD). In recent years, he taught at the Universities of Jena (Germany), Erfurt (Germany) and Klagenfurt (Austria). His main fields of research are Nietzsche, the philosophy of music, bioethics and meta-, post- and transhumanism.
Dr. Sorgner is author of Metaphysics without Truth - On the Importance of Consistency within Nietzsche’s Philosophy (1999, Utz Verlag; Marquette University Press, 2007) and Menschenwürde nach Nietzsche: Die Geschichte eines Begriffs (2010, WBG). He has co-edited the books Music in German Philosophy: An Introduction (2010, University of Chicago Press), Humanbiotechnologie als gesellschaftliche Herausforderung.(2005, Alber Verlag), Eugenik und die Zukunft (2006, Alber Verlag), Human-Biotechnology as Social Challenge (2007, Ashgate) and Geschichte der Bioethik. (2011, Mentis Verlag). He edits two book series “Beyond Humanism: Trans- and Posthumanism/Jenseits des Humanismus: Trans- und Posthumanismus“ for Peter Lang Publishing, and Musikphilosophie for Alber Verlag.
Dr. Sorgner is a member of the editorial boards of the Encyclopedias of Anthropology (Sage) and Time (Sage), the Handbook of 21st Century Anthropology (Sage), the journals Anthropologia Integra and the Journal of Evolution and Technology.
For so-called “masters of the universe,” Wall Street executives sure seem touchy about criticism. It seems they don’t like being painted as the bad guys. But if they don’t like being criticized, why do so many of them keep behaving like B-movie villains? That’s exactly what executives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America looked after an article appeared last week detailing their coordinated attempt to intimidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democrats who want to fix the mess on Wall Street.
Climate change should be a catalyst for a major change, but we’re not treating it as a real emergency. Naomi Klein believes that capitalism is at war with the climate, but she says sometimes it gives us a gift – the sudden drop in oil prices. So let’s not blow what could be our best chance to prevent catastrophic global warming.