It is a pleasure to inaugurate this New Atlantis blog focusing on some of the most prominent “-isms” surrounding humanity’s technological future: transhumanism, posthumanism, extropianism, the mouth-filling Singularitarianism, and others in that constellation. It can be difficult for the uninitiated to keep these terms straight, and even to know quite what they amount to — a worldview, a philosophy, an ideology, a movement. They hold in common several core beliefs about the future, including a sense that machines will someday be much more intelligent than we human beings are today; that human bodies will undergo radical technological enhancement; that we will merge our minds with machines; and that molecular nanotechnology will play a crucial part in bringing about these changes.
This blog’s attitude will be one of civil skepticism. We have addressed these subjects many times in the pages of The New Atlantis — starting with our first issue and the landmark essay “Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls” by Leon R. Kass. Our skepticism is twofold. First, there is reason to doubt many of these futurists’ extreme technical claims; they sometimes seem to be based more on wishes and dreams than a rigorous assessment of what is actually possible. Second, and more importantly, these futurists’ aspirations reveal an understanding of the human person and of political community that is profoundly misguided: shallow, solipsistic, and utopian.
There have been books and articles, magazines and conferences dedicated to this futurist constellation — but let’s remember that it remains a relatively small phenomenon, more on the periphery than in the mainstream of modern science. Why, then, are we launching this blog? Why should we be concerned about a fringe that so many people consider silly or even crazy? Well, for one thing, these strains of futurism are not unconnected to the central aims of the modern scientific project, which can be traced all the way back to the writings of Bacon and Descartes four centuries ago. And for another, even if most of these futurists’ wishes never materialize, human life could still be disruptively transformed even if just a few come to pass — and even the very pursuit of these goals comes at a price.
And so we present “Futurisms.” One of the blog’s lead authors, Charles T. Rubin, teaches political science at Duquesne University. As a New Atlantis contributing editor, he has written several articles touching on the rhetoric, philosophy, and human implications of the project to remake man. He is also working on a book on this subject. The other main author, Ari N. Schulman, is a writer and software developer, and the New Atlantis assistant editor. His essay “Why Minds Are Not Like Computers” from earlier this year throws cold water on one of the most abused analogies in the artificial intelligence literature. Other New Atlantis editors will chime in from time to time, as will a few guest contributors. Whether you agree or disagree with what appears here, we hope you’ll find “Futurisms” worth reading and debating.
[UPDATE: A few further thoughts about what we’re up to on this blog, from Professor Rubin.]
Charles T. Rubin, New Atlantis contributing editor.
Adam Keiper, New Atlantis editor.
Ari N. Schulman, New Atlantis executive editor.
Brendan Foht, New Atlantis assistant editor.
by Charles T. Rubin
- Machine Morality and Human Responsibility
- Beyond Mankind
- Why Be Human?
- Our Bodies, Ourselves
- The Rhetoric of Extinction
- Man or Machine?
- Artificial Intelligence and Human Nature
by Adam Keiper
by Adam Keiper and Ari N. Schulman
by Ari N. Schulman
by other authors
- Humanism and Transhumanism (Fred Baumann)
- The Trouble with the Turing Test (Mark Halpern)
- Disenchanting Determinism (Caitrin Nicol)
- The Anti-Theology of the Body (David B. Hart)
- Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls (Leon R. Kass)
- Transitional Humanity (Gilbert Meilaender)
- Till Malfunction Do Us Part (Caitrin Nicol)
- Methuselah and Us (Diana Schaub)
"There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" 1984 2001 30 Rock Aaron Saenz Abraham Lincoln academia addiction Adventures of Huckleberry Finn aesthetics Agnes Heller AI Al Jazeera Alan Jacobs Alan Rubenstein Alasdair MacIntyre Alcor Alex Backer Alex Knapp Allen Buchanan Amy Gutmann Ana Maria Cuervo Anders Sandberg Andrew Hessel animal uplift Anna Salamon anti-progress Apple argument from inevitability argument from infallibility Aristotle art Arthur C. Clarke artifacts Artificial intelligence artificial life artificial wombs Asilomar assisted reproductive technology Aubrey de Grey Audrey Hepburn augmented reality authenticity automation autonomy Avatar avian flu beauty behavioral science Ben Goertzel Benjamin Storey Beyond Therapy Big Dog Bill Joy bioart bioethics bionics body image body modification Brad Templeton Bradley Allenby Bradley J. 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Banks Ian Pearson ICRAC IEET immortality infanticide IQ Irfan Khawaja Isaac Asimov Isaac Newton Itamar Arel IVF J. M. Bernstein Jamais Cascio James Hughes James Jorasch James W. Wagner Japan Jason Furman Jason Robert Jende Andrew Huang Jeopardy Jesse Schell Jessica Scorpio Jill Lepore John Markoff John Ruskin John Singer Sargent John Smart Jonah Lehrer Joseph Weizenbaum journalism joy Judaism Juergen Schmidhuber Julian Savulescu Katja Grace Ken Hayworth Kevin Jain Kevin Kelly Kindle kissing Kyle Munkittrick L5 Society lambda calculus Lauren Silbert law of accelerating returns lay science Leon Kass Leon R. 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Jay Olshansky Santa Claus science science fiction scientific enterprise scientism scientists secrecy sectarianism seduction community self-driving cars September 11 Seth Lloyd sex sex selection sexual enhancement Sherry Turkle simulation Singularitarianism Singularity Singularity Hub Singularity Summit Singularity University Slate sleep smart phones SMBC social interaction social robotics society Sonia Arrison Sorites paradox space space colonization space exploration sports Star Trek Star Wars stem cell research Stephen Cave Stephen Johnston Stephen Wolfram Steve Sailer Steve Talbott Stuart Hameroff substrate chauvinism suffering superstition suspended animation synthetic biology systems tacos Tao Tea Party movement Techno-Human Condition Ted Fishman Ted Goertzel Teddy Ruxpin terrorism The New York Times The New Yorker The Prospect of Immortality the rhetoric of extinction thinking thought experiments Tim Tyler Time magazine Tocqueville Todd May totalitarianism transhumanism transhumanist tech fail translation travel Turing Machines Turing Test TV Twitter Tyler Cowen tyranny UAVs UGVs uncanny valley unemployment uploading USVs utilitarianism Utopia UUVs virtual reality virtues Wafaa Bilal Walker Percy Walter Kirn Watson we are already x whole-brain emulation William Dickens Wired wisdom women's lib XKCD Yuval Levin
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- The stars our destination
- Life blahg, cont'd
- Life blahg
- The economics of magic pills: Questions for Methus...
- Text and the City
- Are psychologists humans too?
- Transhumanism and the Escape from the Everyday
- Transhumanist Resentment Watch
- A human on/off switch
- The Myth of Libertarian Enhancement
- Moral relativism and the future of technology
- The Crisis of Everyday Life
- Make your brain USB-compatible
- "The means to make the man of the future"
- The Revolution Will Be PowerPointed
- Scenes from the Singularity Summit
- "How much it matters to know what matters"
- On persuasion and saving the world
- Rationalism, risk, and the purpose of politics
- Methuselah speaks
- Investing in the Singularity?
- Peter Thiel on the Singularity and economic growth...
- Remembering, forgetting, and improving our minds
- Robo-cars and energy independence
- Kurzweil and his critics
- Gregory Benford on living longer
- Make scientists cooperate to usher in the Singular...
- One day closer to the Singularity
- He walks among us
- Enhancing cognitive abilities
- "Foundations of Intelligent Agents"
- Boyden bunts
- Simulation and the Singularity
- Stephen Wolfram's alternate dimensions
- Asking too much of "compression"
- Liveblogging the Singularity Summit
- On quantum computing (and consciousness)
- "Conscious Pilot" talk doesn't take flight
- "Pathways to Beneficial Artificial General Intelli...
- "Technological Convergence Leading to Artificial G...
- "We need whole brain emulation"
- Hello, World!
- Watch this space
- Introducing “Futurisms”