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CyBuddha News


Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (Part 2)

Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (part 1)

Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 3)

Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 2)

Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 1)

Enhancing Virtues: Self-Control and Mindfulness

Enhancing Virtues: Positivity


CyBuddha Events


Siegel @ Science and Non-Duality

2014-10-22 - 27
San Jose, CA USA





Cyborg Buddha Resources


Altered States of Consciousness and Transcendence

  • Trans-Spirit list a transhumanist research program into religion and spirituality. It seeks to understand religion and spirituality in terms of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, and to project the future of religion and spirituality in the dawning transhuman era.
  • "Trans-Spirit: Religion, Spirituality and Transhumanism," Michael LaTorra, Journal of Evolution and Technology 14(1) August 2005: 39-53.
  • Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Promoting clinical research on psychedelics
  • Council on Spiritual Practices

  • Scientific Study of Consciousness and Neurotechnology

  • Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
  • NeuroInsights a neurotechnology consulting firm directed by Zack Lynch
  • Mind and Life Institute Works on establishing research partnerships between modern science and Buddhism, especially the Dalai Lama.
  • Wisebrain.org The "neurodharma" project of psychologist Rick Hanson and neurologist Rick Mendius, both of whom are Buddhist meditators. They teach a "Train the Brain Course" and have a many talks, slides, and articles at the site.

  • Neuroethics and Cognitive Liberty

  • Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics
  • Wikipedia on Cognitive Liberty
  • Neuroethics Society scholars, scientists and clinicians who share an interest in the social, legal, ethical and policy implications of advances in neuroscience.
  • Neuroethics at UPenn a source of information on neuroethics, provided by Martha Farah of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Happiness, Positive Psychology and The Virtues

  • Positive Psychology Center at UPenn, directed by Martin Seligman
  • Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman.
  • Wikipedia on Positive Psychology
  • Ethics of Mood Enhancement NY Academy of Sciences
  • The Hedonistic Imperative Advocates the development of neurotechnology to permit the elimination of all suffering
  • Abolitionist SocietyPromotes eliminating involuntary suffering and increasing lifelong individual happiness through science


  • Cyborg Buddha Project

    IEET Executive Director James Hughes - a former Buddhist monk and attenuated Buddho-Unitarian - is writing a book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha: Using Neurotechnology to Become Better People.

    IEET Board member Mike LaTorra - a Zen priest and author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao - runs the Trans-Spirit list promoting discussion of neurotheology, neuroethics, techno-spirituality and altered states of consciousness.

    IEET Board member George Dvorsky - a practicing Buddhist - writes and podcasts frequently from a rationalist, transhumanist, and Buddhist point of view, winning him an award this year as one of the best Buddhist blogs.

    The three of us are launching the IEET Cyborg Buddha Project to combine our efforts and promote discussion of the impact that neuroscience and emerging neurotechnologies will have on happiness, spirituality, cognitive liberty, moral behavior and the exploration of meditational and ecstatic states of mind.


    Sep 10, 2014

    Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (Part 2)

    by J. Hughes

    We can make the world more intelligent by reducing poverty and violence, and improving nutrition and education, and we can use exercise, diet, and life-long learning to improve our own intelligence.


    Sep 5, 2014

    Enhancing Virtues: Intelligence (part 1)

    by J. Hughes

    The ability to think clearly and make good decisions is on almost every society’s list of virtues. In this essay I discuss the debate over different aspects of intelligence, the degree to which they are shaped by genes, chemistry and society, and the role of intelligence in other virtues.


    Sep 3, 2014

    Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 3)

    by J. Hughes

    We can encourage empathy and compassion through social policy and individual practices. But fully realizing our capacities for empathy and compassion will require careful, nuanced neurotechnological intervention.


    Sep 1, 2014

    Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 2)

    by J. Hughes

    The growth of our empathetic ability may have been key for the growth of civilization, and civilization may have selected for it. Two social policies that we can implement today to further empathy are reducing inequality, and screening and treating autism and psychopathy.


    Aug 29, 2014

    Enhancing Virtues: Caring (part 1)

    by J. Hughes

    Empathy draws on both mammalian circuits that we share with other animals and cognitive abilities that only appear to be present in our closest relatives, the great apes and and cetaceans, and ourselves.  As with happiness and self-control, there is strong evidence that differences in our capacity for compassion and empathy are tied to differences in the brain structures and neurochemistries that they depend on.


    Aug 19, 2014

    Enhancing Virtues: Self-Control and Mindfulness

    by J. Hughes

    Self-control and attentiveness are cornerstones of moral character, and our capacity for these virtues are about half hard-wired. A child’s capacity for self-control predicts their adult likelihood of a successful life, and of myriad bad habits. I discuss the relationship of attention to moral behavior, the ways we can build a more mindful society, and how we can practice self-control and mindfulness with techniques like fasting, exercise and meditation. But many of us, even if we have above average capacities for self-control and attention, will also benefit from the growing number of technologies that enable self-control, from stimulant medications and treatments for addiction to gene therapies and brain-machine devices.


    Aug 15, 2014

    Enhancing Virtues: Positivity

    by J. Hughes

    Positive moods are a virtue, both in enabling enjoyment of life and in supporting prosocial behavior. But it is not the only kind of happiness, and in excess can be quite excessive. Along with positive moods we also want to cultivate flourishing, a sense that overall our lives are meaningful and going well. What are the public policies and life behaviors that support positive moods and flourishing lives? As we enter a “hedonistic imperative” future in which we are able to tweak our moods with “happy-people-pills-for-all” how will we find the right balance of positive mood to achieve flourishing lives?


    Aug 10, 2014

    High Tech Jainism

    Adam Ford

    Adam Ford records IEET Fellow David Pearce talking about desire and suffering in relation to Buddhism and Jainism. Published on August 09, 2014.

    “May all that have life be delivered from suffering”, said Gautama Buddha. The vision of a happy biosphere isn’t new. Jains, for instance, aim never to hurt another sentient being by word or deed. But all projects of secular and religious utopianism have foundered on the rock of human nature. Evolution didn’t design us to be happy.

    Yet the living world is poised for a major evolutionary transition. Natural selection has thrown up a species able to self-edit its own genetic source code; phase out experience below “hedonic zero”; and engineer the well-being of all sentience in our forward light-cone. Intelligent agents will shortly be able to pre-select their own hedonic range: its upper and lower bounds, and hedonic set-points. Posthuman life can be animated by gradients of intelligent bliss - a default hedonic tone orders of magnitude richer than today’s peak experiences.

    Why Does Suffering Exist?
    No one knows why suffering exists at all. To the best of our knowledge, unpleasant experience doesn’t play any irreplaceable or computationally unique role in intelligent agents. Inorganic robots can be programmed or trained up to avoid and respond to noxious stimuli without undergoing subjective distress. Likewise, nonbiological machines can functionally replicate the role of our nastier core emotions without their “raw feels” - the ugly implementation detail that blights so many lives today.

    Fortunately, solving the problem of suffering doesn’t depend on our first solving the Hard Problem of consciousness. Neuroscanning and the tools of molecular biology are deciphering the “neural correlates of consciousness”. If we use biotechnology to eradicate the molecular signature of experience below “hedonic zero”, then on some fairly modest assumptions, phenomenal suffering becomes physically impossible.

    So a practical question arises. Which existing psychological functions should we enrich, replicate or scrap? What kinds of function are best offloaded onto smart prostheses rather than biologically tweaked? Ideally, adaptations such as a predisposition to jealous behaviour might be abolished along with their nasty subjective textures. Such Darwinian traits have few defenders, even among bioconservatives. Other roles, notably nociception, will presumably be functionally essential for sentient beings to flourish for the foreseeable future - and perhaps indefinitely. Initially, preimplantation genetic screening of prospective children can ensure tomorrow’s humans are endowed with benign, “low-pain” alleles of e.g. the SCN9A(1) gene to modulate pain-sensitivity. People blessed with high pain tolerance aren’t vulnerable to the life-threatening information-processing deficits of congenital analgesia. Eventually, the avoidance of noxious stimuli can be offloaded onto smart inorganic prostheses, allowing life based entirely on information-sensitive gradients of bliss.

    DOWNLOAD/LISTEN/VIEW


    Jul 28, 2014

    Enhancing Virtues: Building the Virtues Control Panel

    by J. Hughes

    We have already taken the first steps towards virtue engineering. We already take stimulants to get on top of our day in the morning, and to stay alert when we need to be. We give sex offenders testosterone suppression, alcoholics drugs that make them nauseous if they drink, lap bands for those who can’t control their weight, and anti-psychotics for mentally ill criminals. We just aren’t very precise about our moral engineering yet. The next steps will come from advances in brain science to understand the levers of our moral sentiments and behaviors, and how to push them with targeted nanomaterial-enabled pharmaceuticals and nano-neural interfaces.


    Jul 16, 2014

    Cyborg Buddha

    Adam Ford

    IEET Board member Mike LaTorra - a Zen priest and author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao - runs the Trans-Spirit list promoting discussion of neurotheology, neuroethics, techno-spirituality and altered states of consciousness.

    IEET Executive Director James Hughes - a former Buddhist monk and attenuated Buddho-Unitarian - is writing a book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha: Using Neurotechnology to Become Better People.

    IEET Board member George Dvorsky - a practicing Buddhist - writes and podcasts frequently from a rationalist, transhumanist, and Buddhist point of view, winning him an award this year as one of the best Buddhist blogs.

    The three of us are launching the IEET Cyborg Buddha Project to combine our efforts and promote discussion of the impact that neuroscience and emerging neurotechnologies will have on happiness, spirituality, cognitive liberty, moral behavior and the exploration of meditational and ecstatic states of mind.

    DOWNLOAD/LISTEN/VIEW


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