Tag Archives | Futurism

How Timothy Leary Led The Way To Transhumanism With SMI2LE

leary

Via KurzweilAI R.U. Sirius reveals Leary’s proto-transhumanist SMI2LE manifesto :

Leary may have been the first to signal a memeplex for the transhuman future — SMI2LE (Space Migration Intelligence Increase and Life Extension) — back in the mid-1970s. My new book, Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time, explores Leary’s life and philosophies, including his transhuman explorations.

Leary emerged from prison in 1976 as one of the advocates for advances in the human condition that would soon be called transhumanism. Leading transhumanists rarely acknowledge that Leary defined the movement with precision 38 years ago.

In fact, going back to 1974, about a year after Leary expressed, in his Starseed Transmission, his wild prison fantasy of taking 5,000 advanced mutants out to galaxy central, Gerard K. O’Neill, a physicist and professor at Princeton University released a paper claiming that human settlements could be built in space at Lagrange points — locations where a habitat could theoretically remain stable.

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Developing Robots To Care For The Elderly

robots

Will you believe your grandparents when they swear to you that the robots have turned on them? Via the Telegraph:

Experts believe that Linda, a £25,000 robot, could be the perfect solution to one of the biggest hazards facing elderly residents in care homes: falls.

Continuously sweeping the building in search of distressed residents is exactly the kind of repetitive task to which robots are ideally suited.

Not only could robots like Linda patrol corridors for continuous surveillance 24 hours a day, but they could perform additional tasks such as carrying messages or escorting patients to appointments.

The problem of teaching machines to distinguish between an everyday situation and an emergency is now being tackled by a £7m EU-funded project being conducted at six universities in Britain and abroad.

The project, known as STRANDS (Spatio-Temporal Representations and Activities for Cognitive Control in Long-term Scenarios) is focused on programming robots to learn about their environment and recognise when something is amiss.

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Why The Singularity Is Not Coming

singularityVia Edge.org, Bruce Sterling tells us what to not worry about:

Twenty years have passed since Vernor Vinge wrote his remarkably interesting essay about “the Singularity.”

This aging sci-fi notion has lost its conceptual teeth. Its chief evangelist, visionary Ray Kurzweil, just got a straight engineering job with Google. Despite its weird fondness for AR goggles and self-driving cars, Google is not going to finance any eschatological cataclysm in which superhuman intelligence abruptly ends the human era. Google is a firmly commercial enterprise.

We’re no closer to “self-aware” machines than in the 1960s. A modern wireless Cloud is an entirely different cyber-paradigm than imaginary 1990s “minds on nonbiological substrates” that might allegedly have the “computational power of a human brain.” A Singularity has no business model, no major power group in our society is interested in provoking one.

[Instead] we’re getting what Vinge predicted would happen without a Singularity, which is “a glut of technical riches never properly absorbed.”

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Novels of The Coming Transhuman Mind Meld

crux2This week sees the release of Crux (Aug 27), the second title in a transhumanist trilogy featuring a mind-linking, mind-expanding, nano-drug that its author believes theoretically possible – and he may just know about these things. He’s Ramez Naam, a noted futurist and author of the HG Wells Award winning non-fiction book on human augmentation, More than Human.

In Crux, and its prequel, Nexus, the self-described “techno-optimist” Naam pits the hallowed forces of progress against the Emerging Risks Directorate, a US government department executing a brutal and futile campaign against human augmentation that evokes the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror”.

I wanted to talk with the author about the implications for such augmentation as I myself had written about a similar technology in my own novel, Human+, and recently recorded an interview with him for The Eternities podcast. We talked also about my own novel’s very different central question, of whether technological innovation itself could obstruct progress; in this case, the progress of human consciousness towards its full potential.… Read the rest

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Cybernetic Society and Its Reflections in Science Fiction

01-Cybernetics-Norbert-Wiener

Norbert Wiener, author of “Cybernetics,” a 1948 book in which he develops a theory of communication and control.

Jason Stackhouse writes on Engineerjobs:

Our own attempts to design centrally planned economies yielded only brittle, crushingly totalitarian states, Stalinist nightmares of fiat rule, corruption, and dehumanization. Yet the dream persists: a planned, smoothly-functioning world, responding rationally to evolving conditions, shepherding resources for the benefit of humanity.

Can engineers do better? As it turns out, we can – and almost did, 40 years ago.

The Foundation and the Culture

Many science fiction fans advance Star Trek as an example of such a planned, internally harmonious society. While Trek is many things, it’s not the best example of a cashless utopia – money, graft, and greed rear their heads the moment our crew leaves the ship.
Star Trek Utopia

Star Trek’s crew was not quite a Cybernetic Society.

Better representations can be found in the works of Isaac Asimov and Iain Banks.

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What Will Humanity Look Like In 100,000 Years?

look like in 10,000 years

Obviously, this rendering is largely speculation, but I agree that humanity will likely spend the foreseeable future trying to turn ourselves into anime characters. Via the New York Daily News:

In 100,000 years, people might have larger heads and sideways-blinking oversized Disney eyes that glow green with cat-like night vision. At least, that is what two researchers say could happen in “one possible timeline.”

Artist Nickolay Lamm teamed up with computational geneticist Alan Kwan to envision a future where zygotic genome engineering technology develops to the point where humans will be able to control their own evolution.

This ability, the team says, could result in more facial features that humans find intrinsically attractive: strong lines, straight nose, intense eyes and perfect symmetry. Kwan thinks that the human head might expand to accommodate a larger brain.

But perhaps their most remarkable conjecture is that future humans could start to blink sideways like owls to “protect from cosmic ray effects,” they added.

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The Emerging Speculative Genre Of “Cli Fi”

climate fiction

Is environmental change poised to thrust us into new worlds? NPR writes:

Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow is the latest in what seems to be an emerging literary genre. Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short.

“I think we need a new type of novel to address a new type of reality,” says Rich, “which is that we’re headed toward something terrifying and large and transformative. And it’s the novelist’s job to try to understand, what is that doing to us?” As far as Rich is concerned, climate change itself is a foregone conclusion. The story — the suspense, the romance — is in how we deal with it.

Of course, science fiction with an environmental bent has been around since the 1960s (think J.G.

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The Architectural-Utopia Desert Commune Of Arcosanti

arcosantiVisionary architect Paolo Soleri died in April at 93. His landmark work is the domed utopian village Arcosanti in Arizona, a communal, hippie-futurist “human laboratory” created in 1970, where hundreds of people still live with the purpose of developing new ways of physically organizing human life. ArchDaily writes:

Paolo Soleri spent a lifetime investigating how architecture, specifically the architecture of the city, could support the countless possibilities of human aspiration. The urban project he founded, Arcosanti, 65 miles north of Phoenix, was described by NEWSWEEK magazine as “the most important urban experiment undertaken in our lifetimes.”

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