• Imagine the frat parties: Ted Greenwald, a senior editor of the print edition of Wired magazine, has been attending and covering Singularity University for Wired.com. We’ll have more on this in the days ahead. Meanwhile, Nick Carr suggests some mascots for Singularity U.
• Squishy but necessary: Last month, Athena Andreadis, the author of the book The Biology of Star Trek, had a piece in H+ Magazine throwing cold water on some visions of brain uploading and downloading. Money quote: “It came to me in a flash that many transhumanists are uncomfortable with biology and would rather bypass it altogether for two reasons.... The first is that biological systems are squishy — they exude blood, sweat and tears, which are deemed proper only for women and weaklings. The second is that, unlike silicon systems, biological software is inseparable from hardware. And therein lies the major stumbling block to personal immortality.”
• Thanks, guys: We’re pleased to have fans over at the “Fight Aging” website, where they say we “write well.” The praise warms our hearts, it truly does. We only wish that those guys were capable of reading well. Their post elicited this response from our Futurisms coauthor Charles Rubin: “Questioning what look to us to be harebrained ideas of progress does not make us ‘against progress.’ Nor does skepticism about ill-considered notions of the benefits of immortality make us ‘for suffering’ or ‘pro-death.’ It may be that the transhumanists really cannot grasp those distinctions, perhaps because of their apparently absolute (yet completely unjustified) confidence in their ability to foretell the future. Only if they have a reliable crystal ball — if they can know with certainty that their vision of the future will come to pass — does opposition to their vision of progress make us ‘anti-progress’ and does acknowledging the consequences of mortality make us ‘pro-death.’” Indeed. And I might add that such confidence in unproven predictive powers seems less like the rationality transhumanists claim to espouse than like uncritical faith.
• A sporting chance: Gizmodo has an essay by Aimee Mullins — an actress, model, former athlete, and double amputee — about technology, disability, and competition. Her key argument: “Advantage is just something that is part of sports. No athletes are created equal. They simply aren’t, due to a multitude of factors including geography, access to training, facilities, health care, injury prevention, and sure, technology.” Mullins concedes that it might be appropriate to keep certain technological enhancements out of sport, but she is “not sure” where to draw the line, and she advises not making any decisions about technologies before they actually exist.
• On ‘Neuro-Trash’: A remarkable essay in the New Humanist by Raymond Tallis on the abuse of brain research. Tallis starts off by describing how neuroscience is being applied to ever more aspects of human affairs. “This might be regarded as harmless nonsense, were it not for the fact that it is increasingly being suggested ... that we should use the findings of neurosciences to guide policymakers. The return of political scientism, particularly of a biological variety, should strike a chill in the heart.” Beneath this trend, Tallis writes, lies the incorrect “fundamental assumption” that “we are our brains.” (Vaughan over at MindHacks describes Tallis’s essay as “barnstorming and somewhat bad-tempered.” Readers looking for more along these lines might also enjoy our friend Matt Crawford’s New Atlantis essay on “The Limits of Neuro-Talk.”)
• Calling Ringling Bros.: We’ve known for a long time that people talking on cell phones get so distracted that they can become oblivious to what’s physically around them — entering a state sometimes called “absent presence.” In the October issue of Applied Cognitive Psychology, a team of researchers from Western Washington University reported the results of an experiment observing and interviewing pedestrians to see if they noticed a nearby clown wearing “a vivid purple and yellow outfit, large shoes, and a bright red nose” as he rode a bicycle. As you would expect, cell phone users were pretty oblivious. Does this suggest that we’ll suffer from increasing “inattentional blindness” as we are bombarded with ever more stimuli from increasingly ubiquitous gadgets? Not necessarily: it turns out that pedestrians listening to music tended to notice the clown more than those walking in silence. The cohort likeliest to see the clown consisted of people walking in pairs.
• Metaphor creep: “If the brain is like a set of computers that control different tasks,” says an SFSU psychology professor, then “consciousness is the Wi-Fi network that allows different parts of the brain to talk to each other and decide which action ‘wins’ and is carried out.”
• Another kind of ‘Futurism’: This year marks the centenary of the international Futurist art movement. The 1909 Futurist Manifesto that kicked it all off is explicitly violent and even sexist in its aims (“we want to exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the slap and the blow with the fist ... we want to glorify war — the only cure for the world...”) and critical of any conservative institutions (professors and antiquaries are called “gangrene”; museums, libraries, and academies are called “cemeteries of wasted effort, calvaries of crucified dreams, registers of false starts”). Central to the Futurist vision was a love of new technologies — and of all the speed, noise, and violence of the machine age.
Charles T. Rubin, New Atlantis contributing editor.
Adam Keiper, New Atlantis editor.
Ari N. Schulman, New Atlantis senior editor.
Brendan Foht, New Atlantis assistant editor.
Mark Gubrud, Futurisms contributor.
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 Mark Gubrud
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 advertising aesthetics Agnes Heller AI AirLand Battle AirSea Battle Al Jazeera Alan Jacobs Alan Rubenstein Alasdair MacIntyre Alcor Alex Backer Alex Knapp aliens 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 arms control art Arthur C. Clarke artifacts Artificial intelligence artificial life artificial wombs Asilomar assisted reproductive technology assumption of mediocrity Aubrey de Grey Audrey Hepburn augmented reality authenticity automation autonomous weapon system autonomy Avatar avian flu AWS 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. Thames Brain Preservation Foundation brain scans brain uploading brain-computer interfaces Brandon Keim Brave New World breathing Brian Christian Brian Malow Bryan Caplan C.S. Lewis Campaign to Stop Killer Robots Caprica Carl Woese cats CCW cell phones character Charles Darwin Charles T. Rubin Charles Taylor chess children chimeras China Christianity Christine Rosen Christmas Clearpath Robotics cloning CNN coercion cognitive computing cognitive enhancement cognitive liberty comments commercials communication technologies compression computational biology Condorcet consciousness constant connection Constiution creativity cryonics Cuban Missile Crisis cyborg Cynthia Kenyon Dale Carrico Daniel Sarewitz Daniel Sportiello Darlene Cavalier DARPA David A. Noebel David Benatar David Brin David Chalmers David F. Noble David Foster Wallace David Gelernter David Pearce David Rose death Deep Blue democracy Derek Parfit design designer babies despair despotism dictators disability disruption distraction distributive justice diversity DIYbio DOD Down syndrome drones dualism e-memory e-readers Earth eclipse Eclipse of Man economics Ed Boyden Ed Regis efficiency Eliezer Yudkowsky ELIZA embodiment empathy enhancement Enlightenment entropy environmentalism equality of access Eric Drexler Eric Talbot Jensen ethics ETI eugenics everyday life evolution evolutionary psychology existential risks exoplanets extraterrestrial intelligence extraterrestrial life extropy eyes in the back of your head Facebook faith fantasy fashion faux caution fiction Fight Aging Fixed Flannery O'Connor flash crash flash war folk psychology Foresight Institute Fort Hood Frances Willard Francis Bacon Francis Fukuyama Fred Baumann free markets French Revolution Friedrich Nietzsche friendly AI Future of Life Institute Futurism (art) Futurisms futuristic distance G.K. Chesterton gaming Garry Kasparov Gary Drescher Gary Marcus Gary Wolf genetics geoengineering George Dvorsky George Orwell Gilbert Meilaender Gizmodo global warming gloomy God Golda Meir goodness Google Gordon Bell government GPS Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition Greg Benford Gregor Wolbring Gregory Benford Gödel H+ magazine H+ Summit 2010 H.G. Wells Halloween Hank Hyena Hans Moravec heartbreak Heather Knight Heidegger Her history holism hope hubris human excellence human extinction human life human nature Human Rights Watch human significance humanism humanities humanoid robotics humor Iain M. 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 Jeffrey Thurnher Jende Andrew Huang Jeopardy Jesse Schell Jessica Scorpio JFK Jill Lepore John Markoff John Ruskin John Singer Sargent John Smart Jonah Lehrer Joseph Weizenbaum journalism joy Judaism Juergen Schmidhuber Julian Savulescu jus ad bellum jus in bello just war theory KAL007 Kathleen Lawand Katja Grace Ken Hayworth Kenneth W. Anderson Kevin Jain Kevin Kelly killer robots Kindle kissing Kyle Munkittrick L5 Society lambda calculus Lauren Silbert law law of accelerating returns LAWS LAWS2015 lay science Leon Kass Leon R. Kass Lepht Anonym liberalism libertarian transhumanism libertarianism life extension lifelogging linguistics Lisa Katayama literature Lockheed Martin loneliness Lost love LRASM Ludwig Wittgenstein MacIntyre Conference mainstream man as beast Marcus Hutter Marilynne Robinson Mark Gubrud Mark Walker Martine Rothblatt Marxism Maryanne Wolf materialism Matthew Crawford Matthew Waxman Max More memory Methuselah Foundation Methuselarity METI Micah Mattix Michael Anissimov Michael Nielsen Michael Pollan Michael Schmitt Michio Kaku Mike Treder Milan Kundera military Millie Ray mind as computer Mind Children mind control minds Modern Times molecular manufacturing monstrosities moral relativism morality morphological freedom Morris Johnson Moshe Dayan multitasking nanotechnology NASA Natasha Vita-More National Geographic National Nanotechnology Initiative natural rights Neal Stephenson Ned Seeman neuro-everything neurobiology neuroelectronics neuroengineering neuroscience Never Say Die conference New America Foundation Nicholas Carr Nick Bostrom Nick Carr Nietzsche Nikita Khrushchev Nikki Olson Nikolai Fyodorov Noah Goodman Noel Sharkey normativity nuclear weapons Olympics ontological fortitude Orwells Outline of History Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics P. W. Singer paradox of choice parenthood Patrick Hopkins Patrick Lin Patrick McGuire patriotism pattern-identity Paul Ramsey Paul Scharre personal identity personhood Peter A. Lawler Peter Singer Peter Thiel philosophy of mind photography Pioneer plastic surgery plastination politics positive sum game postmodernism predation President's Council on Bioethics Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues progress progressivism psychology public relations quantum computing racism Radiohead Ramez Naam Randal Koene rationality Ray Kurzweil Ray Tallis recommended reading regulation religion relinquishment René Descartes repugnance resentment watch response to critics resurrection rhetoric of inevitability Richard Feynman Rick Weiss rights ritual Robert Ettinger Robin Hanson robotics robots Roger Scruton romance Ron Bailey Ron Fouchier Russia Ryan Gariepy S. Jay Olshansky Sagan Santa Claus science science fiction scientific enterprise scientism scientists secrecy sectarianism seduction community self-driving cars semi-autonomous September 11 Seth Lloyd SETI 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 Stanislav Petrov Star Trek Star Wars stem cell research Stephen Cave Stephen Hawking Stephen Johnston Stephen Wolfram Steve Jobs Steve Sailer Steve Talbott Stuart Hameroff Stuart Russell substrate chauvinism suffering superstition suspended animation synthetic biology systems tacos Tao Tea Party movement Techno-Human Condition Ted Fishman Ted Goertzel Teddy Ruxpin Terminator terrorism The New York Times The New Yorker The Prospect of Immortality the rhetoric of extinction thinking Thomas Malthus thought experiments Tim Tyler Time magazine Tocqueville Todd May Total Recall totalitarianism Transcendence transhumanism transhumanist tech fail translation travel Turing Machines Turing Test TV Twitter Tyler Cowen tyranny U.S. government U.S. military UAVs UGVs uncanny valley unemployment United Nations United States government uploading USSR USVs utilitarianism Utopia UUVs Vasili Arkhipov Vatican verification Vijay Kumar virtual reality virtues Voyager Wafaa Bilal Walker Percy Walter Kirn Watson we are already x whole-brain emulation William Boothby William Dickens Winwood Reade Wired wisdom women's lib XKCD Yom Kippur War Yuval Levin Zoltan Istvan
- ► 2014 (9)
- ► 2012 (38)
- ► 2011 (46)
- ► 2010 (83)
- The New Bioethics Commission
- Looking for a Serious Debate
- The Significance of Man
- The “Anti-Progress” Slur
- Quick Links: Singularity University, Neuro-Trash, ...
- The Human Factor
- The more you know... (about radical life extension...
- Long Live the King
- The problem with defending death
- Robotic sports writers
- Someone is WRONG on the Internet!
- Unmanning the Front Lines
- Singularity Summit videos
- The Myth of Libertarian Enhancement, Cont'd
- Defining ‘Cyborg’ Down
- In texted time
- On being in the world
- Useful Singularity overview
- ▼ November (18)