Tag Archives | Transhumanism

Death Should be Optional

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

via H+ Magazine:

Now more than ever, the topic of death is marked by no shortage of diverging opinions.

On the one hand, there are serious thinkers — Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Michio Kaku, Marshall Brain, Aubrey de Grey and others — who foresee that technology may enable humans to defeat death. There are also dissenters who argue that this is exceedingly unlikely. And there are those like Bill Joy who think that such technologies are technologically feasible but morally reprehensible.

As a non-scientist I am not qualified to evaluate scientific claims about what science can and cannot do. What I can say is that plausible scenarios for overcoming death have now appeared. This leads to the following questions: If individuals could choose immortality, should they? Should societies fund and promote research to defeat death?

The question regarding individuals has a straightforward answer: We should respect the right of autonomous individuals to choose for themselves.

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The Transhuman World

eu20141116bvia The Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies:

Whatever a transhuman is, xe (a pronoun to encompass all conceivable states of personhood) will have to live in a world that enables xer to be transhuman. I’ll explore the impact of three likely-seeming aspects of that world: ubiquitous interconnected smart machines, continuous classification, and virtualism.

Ubiquitous Interconnected Smart Machines

[…] High Frequency Traders aggressively trade in the direction of price changes […and…] may compete for liquidity and amplify price volatility.
(Kirilenko, Kyle, Samadi, and Tuzun 2011)

Newton’s theory of gravity was initially ridiculed for its “action at a distance” mysticism, particularly by those who were beginning to see the universe as a mechanical analog, built from atoms that kept causes close to effects (Kearney 1971). It was the clockwork philosophy of Galileo and many others that led to much of the technology we now take for granted, ultimately co-opting Newton’s ideas.

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Let Me State the Obvious: Transhumanism is Really Influenced by the Drug War

pinklazer3You ever notice how supposedly smart people are often too dumb to realize that there are different kinds of intelligence. I mean, Jimi Hendrix probably wouldn’t be able to write code for shit, but he could play the hell out of a guitar. Last time I checked, Henry Miller isn’t a science legend and LeBron James isn’t a technological icon. I love that sermon that Jesus gave about organic chemistry. I’m pretty sure that’s the one that got him killed. Man, what’s at the movies this weekend? Yeah, a bunch of new films about how to make better computers, totally. I suppose the reason I mention this has to do with the fact that in the last week or so I’ve stumbled upon roughly 5 different articles by highly respected scientists informing me that computers are going be smarter than humans in the near future. Anytime anyone says something like this the appropriate response should be, what the fuck are you talking about?… Read the rest

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Terasem: Rapture of the Nerds

TIME reports on the Terasem Movement, a transhumanist school of thought focused on promoting joy, diversity, and the prospect of technological immortality via mind uploading and geoethical nanotechnology:

In the backyard of a cottage here overlooking the water, two poles with metal slats shaped like ribcages jut out from the ground. They look indistinguishable from heat lamps or fancy light fixtures.

These are satellite dishes, but they aren’t for TV. They’re meant for dispatching “mindfiles,” the memories, thoughts and feelings of people who wish to create digital copies of themselves and fling them into space with the belief that they’ll eventually reach some benevolent alien species.

livehappily

Welcome to the future. Hope you don’t mind E.T. leafing through your diary.

The beach house and the backyard and the memory satellites are managed by 31-year-old Gabriel Rothblatt, a pastor of Terasem, a new sort of religion seeking answers to very old kinds of questions, all with an abiding faith in the transformative power of technology.

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Hell On Earth: Should Life Extension Technology Be Used to Punish Criminals?

Prometheus having his liver eaten by an eagle....

Prometheus having his liver eaten by an eagle. Painting by Jacob Jordaens, c. 1640, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That which is giving can be used to take away. What if life extension is used to punish? Should we punish the most heinous of villains for 100… 200… 300 years? What say you disinfonauts?

via aeon

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Hitler got off easy, given the scope and viciousness of his crimes. We might have moved beyond the Code of Hammurabi and ‘an eye for an eye’, but most of us still feel that a killer of millions deserves something sterner than a quick and painless suicide. But does anyone ever deserve hell?

That used to be a question for theologians, but in the age of human enhancement, a new set of thinkers is taking it up. As biotech companies pour billions into life extension technologies, some have suggested that our cruelest criminals could be kept alive indefinitely, to serve sentences spanning millennia or longer.

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A Transhumanist Wants to Teach Kids That “Death Is Wrong”

Science Fiction League (March 1958) ... The Re...

Science Fiction League (March 1958) … The Real You (July 6, 2011 / 4 Tammuz 5771) … (Photo credit: marsmet541) (CC)

What do  you think disinfonaughts. Is death wrong, and should we teach the children that it is?

via Motherboard

Gennady Stolyarov is afraid to die, and not afraid to say so. He also strongly believes that human beings don’t have to die, or at least, will live much, much longer in the future. A writer and transhumanist activist, Stolyarov sees death as something that can be “solved” by technology and science, and one day it will possible to extend life indefinitely. To that end, he’s trying to buck the cultural perception that mortality is inevitable, and he’s starting with kids.

Stolyarov published the children’s book Death Is Wrong in November, and Zoltan Istvan, author of The Transhumanist Wager, unearthed the story in a post on Psychology Today. Now Stolyarov is promoting the book with an Indiegogo campaign, trying to crowdfund $5,000 to print and distribute 1,000 copies of the book and get the anti-death word out.

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The Closing of the Scientific Mind

Pic: Repdan (CC)

Pic: Repdan (CC)

Yale Professor of Computer Science David Gelernter thinks that science as become an “international bully”. You may recall that Gelernter was severely injured after receiving a mail bomb from Ted Kaczynski. Wonder what an open dialogue between these two would have been like had Kaczynski chosen a more peaceable tactic for his activism?*

Via Commentary:

The huge cultural authority science has acquired over the past century imposes large duties on every scientist. Scientists have acquired the power to impress and intimidate every time they open their mouths, and it is their responsibility to keep this power in mind no matter what they say or do. Too many have forgotten their obligation to approach with due respect the scholarly, artistic, religious, humanistic work that has always been mankind’s main spiritual support. Scientists are (on average) no more likely to understand this work than the man in the street is to understand quantum physics.

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Artist Neil Harbisson Is The World’s First Legally-Recognized Cyborg

harbisson Dezeen writes that the sensory augmentation device worn by the completely colorblind Harbisson is now recognized by authorities as part of his face:

Barcelona-based Harbisson wears a head-mounted antenna attached to a chip at the back of his skull that allows him to perceive colours. Harbisson charges his eyeborg via a USB power cable that attaches to the back of his head.

Harbisson wears the “eyeborg” headset to overcome a visual impairment called achromatopsia, which means he sees the world in shades of grey. The eyeborg turns colours into sounds, allowing him to “hear” them.

After a long battle with the UK authorities, Harbisson’s passport now carries a photo of him wearing his eyeborg, making him the world’s first government-recognised cyborg. In 2010, Harbisson founded the Cyborg Foundation – an organisation whose mission statement is to “help humans become cyborgs, to promote the use of cybernetics as part of the human body and to defend cyborg rights.”

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DARPA To Spend $70 Million Investigating Brain Implants

alzheimersThe ostensible purpose is to better treat mental illness, but I think we all know what the experimental research wing of the military’s real motives are. As reported by the Boston Globe:

The federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, announced Thursday that it intended to spend more than $70 million over five years to jump to the next level of brain implants, either by improving deep brain stimulation or by developing new technology.

The new program, called Systems-Based Neurotechnology and Understanding for the Treatment of Neuropsychological Illnesses, is part of an Obama administration brain initiative that is intended to promote innovative basic neuroscience. Participants in the initiative include DARPA, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

DARPA’s project is partly inspired by the needs of combat veterans who suffer from mental and physical conditions, and is the first to directly invest in researching human illness as part of the brain initiative.

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Can We Make the Hardware Necessary for Artificial Intelligence?

Eye_iris“Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence” Robert Heinlein

This is my opinion of what might be, not What THE FUTURE!!! Will Be!

My POV is hardware driven, I do electronic design. I don’t present myself as “an authority” on Artificial Intelligence, much less “an authority” on sentient artificial intelligence, until they are Real Things, there is no such thing as an authority in that field. That said, if the hardware doesn’t exist to support sentient AI, doesn’t matter how wonderful the software is.

The following is why I’ve been saying in a number of places that I expect hardware to be able to run a synthetic consciousness in ~20 yrs, @2045singularity on Twitter asked me to clarify what I meant.

1. I assume that if the physical operations of a human brain can be simulated in real-time, programs that simulate human consciousness in real time can be part of that simulation.

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