Agential Risks: A New Direction for Existential Risk Studies
(Jul 21, 2016)
There are two ways to avoid an existential catastrophe involving advanced technologies, such as nuclear weapons, biotechnology, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology. First, we could study the technologies and figure out ways to make them more difficult for malicious agents to exploit. And second, we could study the malicious agents and figure out ways of reducing the probability of them wanting to exploit such technologies.
IEET Affiliate Scholar Franco Cortese Publishes Article in International Journal of Technoethics
(Jul 20, 2016)
The Technoethical Ethos of Technic Self-Determination
This paper addresses concerns that the development and proliferation of Human Enhancement Technologies (HET) will be (a) dehumanizing and (b) a threat to our autonomy and sovereignty as individuals. The paper argues contrarily that HET constitutes nothing less than one of the most effective foreseeable means of increasing the autonomy and sovereignty of individual members of society. Furthermore, it elaborates the position that the use of HET exemplifies – and indeed even intensifies – our most human capacity and faculty: namely the desire for increased self-determination, which is referred to as the will toward self-determination. Based upon this position, the paper argues that the use of HET bears fundamental ontological continuity with the human condition in general and with the historically-ubiquitous will toward self-determination in particular. HET will not be a dehumanizing force, but will rather serve to increase the very capacity that characterizes us as human more accurately than anything else.
IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher Publishes New Paper in Journal: Bioethics (Jun 5, 2016)
IEET Affiliate Scholar John Danaher Publishes New Paper - Robots, Law and the Retribution Gap (Jun 4, 2016)
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How To Live With Doubt About Life’s Meaning
by John G. Messerly
Jul 23, 2016 • (1) Comments • Permalink
I received a correspondence from a reader who wonders about “the triumph of judgment over spontaneity as we emerge from childhood into adulthood and the consequent obstacle it poses for living in psychic comfort.” In other words she worries about how to reconcile “a naturally felt purposefulness and zest for life against an intellectual sense of life’s essential pointlessness and its indifference to human concerns that give rise to the recognition of absurdity.” The only consolation she experiences is with her grandchildren “as they go about engaging the world with perfect unmediated wonder, boundless energy, and demands for attention.”
“Robots will colonize space, without human beings”
by David Orban
Jul 22, 2016 • (1) Comments • Permalink
Robots will colonize space, without human beings
There’ll be a new civilization, the sum of human intelligence and artificial intelligence, where artificial intelligence will be able to analyze a problem, identify the resources needed to deal with it, plan a strategy, adapt and improve itself to resolve the problem.” It will do this not only for specific, planned objectives – like the IBM computer that beat chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1996 or the vision system that recognizes obstacles in today’s self-driving cars – but “in a generalized way, with any problem”. This will happen soon, “within the next two or three decades”. A valuable time “for us to get ready for a world that will see huge changes, and make sure the effects are positive and compatible with people’s lives and aspirations”.
Reverse Turing Tests: Are Humans Becoming More Machine-Like?
by John Danaher
Jul 21, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
Everyone knows about the Turing Test. It was first proposed by Alan Turing in his famous 1950 paper ‘On Computing Machinery and Intelligence’. The paper started with the question ‘Can a machine think?’. Turing noted that philosophers would be inclined to answer that question by hunting for a definition. They would identify the necessary and sufficient conditions for thinking and then they would try to see whether machines met those conditions. They would probably do this by closely investigating the ordinary language uses of the term ‘thinking’ and engaging in a series of rational reflections on those uses. At least, Oxbridge philosophers in the 1950s would have been inclined to do it this way.
Joycelyn Elders Clinic at Uganda Humanist School offers Sex Education, Free Condoms, AFRIpads
by Hank Pellissier
Jul 20, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
“Joycelyn Elders Clinic” was recently launched by a USA nonprofit, to serve the 329 students attending Garama Humanist Secondary School in the village of Kisinga, in western Uganda.
Moral Uncertainty and Moral Enhancement
by John Danaher
Jul 19, 2016 • (2) Comments • Permalink
[This is the rough draft of a paper I presented at the RIP Moral Enhancement Conference at Exeter on the 7th July 2016]
Some people are frightened of the future. They think humanity is teetering on the brink. Something radical must be done to avoid falling over the edge. This is the message underlying Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu’s book Unfit for the Future. In it they argue that humanity faces several significant existential risks (e.g. anthropocentric climate change, weapons of mass destruction, loss of biodiversity etc.).
Looking Toward the Red Planet. Mars Party.
by Pedro Villanueva
Jul 18, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
The school of Economics to Mars is a philosophy economic founded by Pedro Villanueva, that promotes a new economy after the economy of the knowledge that prevails today.
Beware the Rise of Gerontocracy: Some Hard Lessons for Transhumanism, Not Least from Brexit
by Steve Fuller
Jul 17, 2016 • (7) Comments • Permalink
Transhumanists will know that the science fiction author Zoltan Istvan has unilaterally leveraged the movement into a political party contesting the 2016 US presidential election. To be sure, many transhumanists have contested Istvan’s own legitimacy, but there is no denying that he has generated enormous publicity for many key transhumanist ideas. Interestingly, his lead idea is that the state should do everything possible to uphold people’s right to live forever. Of course, he means to live forever in a healthy state, fit of mind and body. Istvan cleverly couches this policy as simply an extension of what voters already expect from medical research and welfare provision. And while he may be correct, the policy is fraught with hazards – especially if, as many transhumanists believe, we are on the verge of revealing the secrets to biological immortality.
Transparent Smart Chargepoints and the Internet of Things
by Thijs Turèl
Jul 16, 2016 • (1) Comments • Permalink
On the 25 of September Marcelo Rinesi published his article ‘The Price for the Internet of Things will be a vague dread of a malicious world’. With this response, I want to take on the implicit challenge he poses. How can we build an internet of things that will not fill us with dread? This article will present my ideas on a ‘transparent smart chargepoint’. Let me explain what I mean by this. ‘Chargepoint’ refers to the device that is designed for charging for electric cars. ‘Smart’ refers to the fact that the chargepoint optimizes the charging process on various variables – such as the price of electricity, the congestion on the electricity grid. ‘Transparent’ means that it is designed to be open as open as possible about the algorithms that run it.
Death and Transfiguration
by William Sims Bainbridge
Jul 15, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
In a remarkable 2012 IEET blog, “The Praxis,” Dirk Bruere introduced a quasi-religious conception of Transhumanism that not only foresaw the possibility of technological immortality for selfish individuals, but notably suggested that we have the obligation to help each other achieve eternal life, even using advanced technology as best we can to provide salvation to people who have already died:
The Community Delusion: “We” are not the world.
by Rene Milan
Jul 14, 2016 • (2) Comments • Permalink
Over the last few decades one hears the term ‘community’ bandied about with increasing frequency. The most quoted is in my anecdotal memory the ‘black community’. One also often hears about the ‘gay community’ and more recently the ‘lgbt (or lgbtq) community’.
Youths and the Imperative of Humanism in Africa
by Leo Igwe
Jul 13, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
Humanism has become a necessity for Africa and for Africans particularly for young people across the region who are struggling to make sense of life and existence. Youths are critical to any human endeavor because they are the agents of hope, continuity, change and promise. Without young people, any society or initiative will go into extinction. Without young people, there is no future for humanity. So, it is with Africa and the humanist movement in the region.
Bertrand Russell on Fearing Thought
by John G. Messerly
Jul 12, 2016 • (1) Comments • Permalink
Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. ~ Bertrand Russell
Conceivable Collaboration: 4 Examples Combining People & AI
by Daniel Faggella
Jul 11, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
Google’s recent victory against top-ranked Go player Lee Sedol marks another milestone in artificial intelligence development, and though this might be considered “old” news by today’s standard, it’s still a fresh achievement for the AI world.
Transhumanisme et écologie
by Marc Roux
Jul 10, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
Le mois de décembre 2015 a vu la signature d’un accord dit « universel », par 195 pays, et qui marquera peut-être un tournant dans la manière dont les humains envisagent collectivement leur rapport à la Terre. Les technoprogressistes pourront s’en réjouir à double titre. D’une part il doit permettre de mieux affronter les immenses défis que nous imposent les crises climatiques, mais d’autre part, loin d’un écologisme fondamentaliste, il reconnaît, dans son article 10, « l’importance qu’il y a à donner pleinement effet à la mise au point et au transfert de technologies de façon à accroître la résilience … ».
A Transhumanist Wants to be US President?
by Roland Benedikter
Jul 9, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
Unnoted by many, the transhumanist forerunner Zoltan Istvan has founded the “U.S. Transhumanist Party” and is running for U.S. president in the November 2016 election. He is touring the nation in his campaign vehicle, the “Immortality Bus,” since one of his promises is: “Do you want to live forever? Vote for me!” Like other transhumanists, Istvan aims at opening up new political perspectives, if not even a “post-ideological” political sphere characterized by technological universalism. TLR spoke with political and social analyst Roland Benedikter about the backgrounds and the perspectives. The interview builds on previous interviews and articles of Benedikter, for example HERE and HERE.
Originally published on the Leftist Review on June 30 2016
Existential Risks Are More Likely to Kill You Than Terrorism
by Phil Torres
Jul 8, 2016 • (1) Comments • Permalink
People tend to worry about the wrong things.
According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, 51% of Americans are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that a family member will be killed by terrorists. Another Gallup Poll found that 11% of Americans are afraid of “thunder and lightning.” Yet the average person is at least four times more likely to die from a lightning bolt than a terrorist attack.
Is America on the Verge of Civil War?
by John G. Messerly
Jul 7, 2016 • (8) Comments • Permalink
While the idea may sound absurd, it happened just a few generations ago. The industrial north and the slave-holding, agrarian south couldn’t agree on, among other things, the extension of slavery into new states, as both sides didn’t want the other to gain a congressional voting advantage. A series of compromises over many years maintained the delicate balance, but gradually the two sides became more partisan, the rhetoric more divisive, and civil discourse eventually disappeared. Soon violence would be used to adjudicate their disputes, with the south firing the first shot. Within four years 700,000 Americans were dead, thousands more injured, homeless, widowed or orphaned. If that proportion of Americans were killed today, about 8 million Americans would die. The south thought that slavery and the lifestyle it provided were worth dying and killing for … and die and kill they did.
The Machine Made me Do It: Human responsibility in an era of machine-mediated agency
by John Danaher
Jul 6, 2016 • (0) Comments • Permalink
[This the text of a talk I’m delivering at the ICM Neuroethics Network in Paris this week]
Santiago Guerra Pineda was a 19-year old motorcycle enthusiast. In June 2014, he took his latest bike out for a ride. It was a Honda CBR 600, a sports motorcycle with some impressive capabilities. Little wonder then that he opened it up once he hit the road. But maybe he opened it up a little bit too much? He was clocked at over 150mph on the freeway near Miami Beach in Florida. He was going so fast that the local police decided it was too dangerous to chase him. They only caught up with him when he ran out of gas.