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Archive for the ‘homo sapiens’ category

Oct 1, 2014

The Abolition of Medicine as a Goal for Humanity 2.0

Posted by in categories: aging, biological, bionic, biotech/medical, ethics, futurism, genetics, homo sapiens, human trajectories, life extension, medical, philosophy, policy, transhumanism

What follows is my position piece for London’s FutureFest 2013, the website for which no longer exists.

Medicine is a very ancient practice. In fact, it is so ancient that it may have become obsolete. Medicine aims to restore the mind and body to their natural state relative to an individual’s stage in the life cycle. The idea has been to live as well as possible but also die well when the time came. The sense of what is ‘natural’ was tied to statistically normal ways of living in particular cultures. Past conceptions of health dictated future medical practice. In this respect, medical practitioners may have been wise but they certainly were not progressive.

However, this began to change in the mid-19th century when the great medical experimenter, Claude Bernard, began to champion the idea that medicine should be about the indefinite delaying, if not outright overcoming, of death. Bernard saw organisms as perpetual motion machines in an endless struggle to bring order to an environment that always threatens to consume them. That ‘order’ consists in sustaining the conditions needed to maintain an organism’s indefinite existence. Toward this end, Bernard enthusiastically used animals as living laboratories for testing his various hypotheses.

Historians identify Bernard’s sensibility with the advent of ‘modern medicine’, an increasingly high-tech and aspirational enterprise, dedicated to extending the full panoply of human capacities indefinitely. On this view, scientific training trumps practitioner experience, radically invasive and reconstructive procedures become the norm, and death on a physician’s watch is taken to be the ultimate failure. Humanity 2.0 takes this way of thinking to the next level, which involves the abolition of medicine itself. But what exactly would that mean – and what would replace it?

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Sep 18, 2014

Why Superintelligence May Not Help Us Think about Existential Risks — or Transhumanism

Posted by in categories: alien life, biological, cyborg, defense, disruptive technology, ethics, existential risks, futurism, homo sapiens, human trajectories, internet, military, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, science, singularity, transhumanism

Among transhumanists, Nick Bostrom is well-known for promoting the idea of ‘existential risks’, potential harms which, were they come to pass, would annihilate the human condition altogether. Their probability may be relatively small, but the expected magnitude of their effects are so great, so Bostrom claims, that it is rational to devote some significant resources to safeguarding against them. (Indeed, there are now institutes for the study of existential risks on both sides of the Atlantic.) Moreover, because existential risks are intimately tied to the advancement of science and technology, their probability is likely to grow in the coming years.

Contrary to expectations, Bostrom is much less concerned with ecological suicide from humanity’s excessive carbon emissions than with the emergence of a superior brand of artificial intelligence – a ‘superintelligence’. This creature would be a human artefact, or at least descended from one. However, its self-programming capacity would have run amok in positive feedback, resulting in a maniacal, even self-destructive mission to rearrange the world in the image of its objectives. Such a superintelligence may appear to be quite ruthless in its dealings with humans, but that would only reflect the obstacles that we place, perhaps unwittingly, in the way of the realization of its objectives. Thus, this being would not conform to the science fiction stereotype of robots deliberately revolting against creators who are now seen as their inferiors.

I must confess that I find this conceptualisation of ‘existential risk’ rather un-transhumanist in spirit. Bostrom treats risk as a threat rather than as an opportunity. His risk horizon is precautionary rather than proactionary: He focuses on preventing the worst consequences rather than considering the prospects that are opened up by whatever radical changes might be inflicted by the superintelligence. This may be because in Bostrom’s key thought experiment, the superintelligence turns out to be the ultimate paper-clip collecting machine that ends up subsuming the entire planet to its task, destroying humanity along the way, almost as an afterthought.

But is this really a good starting point for thinking about existential risk? Much more likely than total human annihilation is that a substantial portion of humanity – but not everyone – is eliminated. (Certainly this captures the worst case scenarios surrounding climate change.) The Cold War remains the gold standard for this line of thought. In the US, the RAND Corporation’s chief analyst, Herman Kahn — the model for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove – routinely, if not casually, tossed off scenarios of how, say, a US-USSR nuclear confrontation would serve to increase the tolerance for human biological diversity, due to the resulting proliferation of genetic mutations. Put in more general terms, a severe social disruption provides a unique opportunity for pursuing ideals that might otherwise be thwarted by a ‘business as usual’ policy orientation.

Continue reading “Why Superintelligence May Not Help Us Think about Existential Risks -- or Transhumanism” »


Jul 20, 2014

Humans Aren’t the Pinnacle of Evolution and Consciousness—We’re Only a Rung on the Ladder

Posted by in categories: biological, DNA, evolution, homo sapiens, posthumanism, transhumanism

Written By: — Singularity Hub
http://cdn.singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/universe-comes-to-know-itself-1.jpg
In his latest video, host of National Geographic’s Brain Games and techno-poet, Jason Silva, explores the universe’s tendency to self-organize. Biology, he says, seems to have agency and directionality toward greater complexity, and humans are the peak.

“It’s like human beings seem to be the cutting edge,” Silva says. “The evolutionary pinnacle of self-awareness becoming aware of its becoming.”

Read more

Jun 19, 2014

Amazing People with Real Superpowers

Posted by in categories: evolution, geopolitics, homo sapiens

Brent Swancer — Mysterious Universe

monk-featured
The world of comics and movies is full of superheroes and characters with abilities that transcend what is possible for the typical person. We enjoy these stories because we can escape our reality and imagine what it would be like to have amazing powers of our own. Yet, a gifted few in this world don’t have to imagine because like the superheroes in comics and movies, they too have extraordinary powers beyond normal humans.

Here we will look at a selection of real world people with remarkable powers and abilities that surpass those of us mere mortals.

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May 10, 2014

What to make of the film ‘Transcendence’? Show it in classrooms.

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, augmented reality, bionic, computing, cyborg, disruptive technology, existential risks, fun, futurism, homo sapiens, human trajectories, innovation, nanotechnology, philosophy, posthumanism, privacy, robotics/AI, science, singularity, transhumanism

transcendenceI recently saw the film Transcendence with a close friend. If you can get beyond Johnny Depp’s siliconised mugging of Marlon Brando and Rebecca Hall’s waddling through corridors of quantum computers, Transcendence provides much to think about. Even though Christopher Nolan of Inception fame was involved in the film’s production, the pyrotechnics are relatively subdued – at least by today’s standards. While this fact alone seems to have disappointed some viewers, it nevertheless enables you to focus on the dialogue and plot. The film is never boring, even though nothing about it is particularly brilliant. However, the film stays with you, and that’s a good sign. Mark Kermode at the Guardian was one of the few reviewers who did the film justice.

The main character, played by Depp, is ‘Will Caster’ (aka Ray Kurzweil, but perhaps also an allusion to Hans Castorp in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain). Caster is an artificial intelligence researcher based at Berkeley who, with his wife Evelyn Caster (played by Hall), are trying to devise an algorithm capable of integrating all of earth’s knowledge to solve all of its its problems. (Caster calls this ‘transcendence’ but admits in the film that he means ‘singularity’.) They are part of a network of researchers doing similar things. Although British actors like Hall and the key colleague Paul Bettany (sporting a strange Euro-English accent) are main players in this film, the film itself appears to transpire entirely within the borders of the United States. This is a bit curious, since a running assumption of the film is that if you suspect a malevolent consciousness uploaded to the internet, then you should shut the whole thing down. But in this film at least, ‘the whole thing’ is limited to American cyberspace.

Before turning to two more general issues concerning the film, which I believe may have led both critics and viewers to leave unsatisfied, let me draw attention to a couple of nice touches. First, the leader of the ‘Revolutionary Independence from Technology’ (RIFT), whose actions propel the film’s plot, explains that she used to be an advanced AI researcher who defected upon witnessing the endless screams of a Rhesus monkey while its entire brain was being digitally uploaded. Once I suspended my disbelief in the occurrence of such an event, I appreciate it as a clever plot device for showing how one might quickly convert from being radically pro– to anti-AI, perhaps presaging future real-world targets for animal rights activists. Second, I liked the way in which quantum computing was highlighted and represented in the film. Again, what we see is entirely speculative, yet it highlights the promise that one day it may be possible to read nature as pure information that can be assembled according to need to produce what one wants, thereby rendering our nanotechnology capacities virtually limitless. 3D printing may be seen as a toy version of this dream.

Now on to the two more general issues, which viewers might find as faults, but I think are better treated as what the Greeks called aporias (i.e. open questions):

Continue reading “What to make of the film 'Transcendence'? Show it in classrooms.” »


Apr 23, 2014

Book Review: The Human Race to the Future by Daniel Berleant (2013) (A Lifeboat Foundation publication)

Posted by in categories: aging, alien life, asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, business, climatology, disruptive technology, driverless cars, drones, economics, education, energy, engineering, ethics, evolution, existential risks, food, futurism, genetics, government, habitats, hardware, health, homo sapiens, human trajectories, information science, innovation, life extension, lifeboat, medical, nanotechnology, neuroscience, nuclear, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, robotics/AI, science, scientific freedom, security, singularity, space, space travel, sustainability, transhumanism

From CLUBOF.INFO

The Human Race to the Future (2014 Edition) is the scientific Lifeboat Foundation think tank’s publication first made available in 2013, covering a number of dilemmas fundamental to the human future and of great interest to all readers. Daniel Berleant’s approach to popularizing science is more entertaining than a lot of other science writers, and this book contains many surprises and useful knowledge.

Some of the science covered in The Human Race to the Future, such as future ice ages and predictions of where natural evolution will take us next, is not immediately relevant in our lives and politics, but it is still presented to make fascinating reading. The rest of the science in the book is very linked to society’s immediate future, and deserves great consideration by commentators, activists and policymakers because it is only going to get more important as the world moves forward.

The book makes many warnings and calls for caution, but also makes an optimistic forecast about how society might look in the future. For example, It is “economically possible” to have a society where all the basics are free and all work is essentially optional (a way for people to turn their hobbies into a way of earning more possessions) (p. 6–7).

Continue reading “Book Review: The Human Race to the Future by Daniel Berleant (2013) (A Lifeboat Foundation publication)” »


Apr 1, 2014

The White Swan’s Beyond Eureka and Sputnik Moments! [TREATISE EXCERPT] By Mr. Andres Agostini at www.AMAZON.com/author/agostini

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, aging, alien life, astronomy, augmented reality, automation, big data, biological, bionic, bioprinting, biotech/medical, business, chemistry, climatology, complex systems, computing, cosmology, counterterrorism, cybercrime/malcode, cyborg, defense, disruptive technology, driverless cars, drones, economics, education, energy, engineering, environmental, ethics, evolution, existential risks, exoskeleton, finance, food, futurism, genetics, geopolitics, government, habitats, hardware, health, homo sapiens, human trajectories, information science, innovation, internet, law, law enforcement, life extension, lifeboat, medical, military, mobile phones, nanotechnology, neuroscience, open access, open source, philosophy, physics, policy, posthumanism, privacy, robotics/AI, science, scientific freedom, security, singularity, space, supercomputing, surveillance, sustainability, transhumanism, transparency, transportation

The White Swan’s Beyond Eureka and Sputnik Moments: How To Fundamentally Cope With Corporate Litmus Tests and With The Permanent Impact of the Dramatic Highly Improbable And Succeed and Prevail Through Transformative and Integrative Risk Management! [TREATISE EXCERPT]. By © Copyright 2013, 2014 Mr. Andres Agostini — All Rights Reserved Worldwide — « www.linkedin.com/in/andresagostini AND www.AMAZON.com/author/agostini » — The Lifeboat Foundation Global Chief Consulting Officer and Partner, Lifeboat Foundation Worldwide Ambassador —

(An Independent, Solemn, Most-Thorough and Copyrighted Answer. Independence, solemnity, thoroughness, completeness, detail, granularity of details, accuracy and rigor, hereunder, will be then redefined by several orders of nonlinear magnitude and without a fail).

[TREATISE EXCERPT].

To Nora, my mother, who rendered me with the definitiveness to seek the thoughts and seek the forethoughts to outsmart any impending demand and other developments. To Francisco, my father: No one who has taught me better. There is no one I regard most highly. It is my greatest fortune to be his son. He endowed me with the Agostini family’s charter, “…Study and, when grown up, you will neither be the tyrants’ toy, nor the passions’ servile slave…” I never enjoyed a “…Mom…”, but considerably enjoyed a gargantuan courageous Mother, Father, Grandparents and Forbears.

Continue reading “The White Swan's Beyond Eureka and Sputnik Moments! [TREATISE EXCERPT] By Mr. Andres Agostini at www.AMAZON.com/author/agostini” »


Mar 5, 2014

The false allure of centenarians — Why centenarians epitomise our fears about growing old

Posted by in categories: aging, biological, homo sapiens, human trajectories

By Avi Roy, University of Buckingham and Anders Sandberg, University of Oxford

Today we wish a very happy 116th birthday to Misao Okawa who was born in Japan in 1898, making her the world’s oldest person. When she was young, Einstein hadn’t yet grasped the mysteries of a relative universe, cars were becoming affordable and were thought as the saviour of horse-polluted cities and the telephone was the next big thing in communication.

More than a hundred years later, we oft cite Einstein’s famous equation of relativity without understanding it. Cars are tools of pollution and most cities tax their presence. And a great many people shun voice communications for instantaneous texts. A lot has changed in our understanding of the universe, technology and our morality over the past century. But when it comes to living longer lives, we seem to collectively forget some basic biology.


Mind the generation gap.
Itsuo Inouye/AP

The media obsesses over the inevitable “secret” that centenarians (and super-centenarians, like Okawa, who live past 110) reveal as the reason for their exceptionally long life. In the case of Okawa, lots of sushi and eight hours sleep a day. Scientists study centenarians and their families to isolate the causes for longevity – so that we may be able to distribute it to everyone.

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Feb 6, 2014

The Future of Scientific Management, Today!

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, aging, asteroid/comet impacts, augmented reality, automation, big data, biological, bionic, bioprinting, biotech/medical, bitcoin, business, chemistry, climatology, complex systems, computing, cosmology, counterterrorism, cybercrime/malcode, cyborg, defense, driverless cars, drones, economics, education, energy, engineering, entertainment, environmental, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, exoskeleton, finance, food, fun, futurism, general relativity, genetics, geopolitics, government, habitats, hardware, health, homo sapiens, human trajectories, humor, information science, innovation, law, law enforcement, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, medical, military, mobile phones, nanotechnology, neuroscience, nuclear, nuclear energy, open access, open source, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, polls, posthumanism, privacy, robotics/AI, science, scientific freedom, security, singularity, space, supercomputing, surveillance, sustainability, time travel, transhumanism, transparency, transportation, treaties, water

FEBRUARY 08/2014 LIST OF UPDATES. By Mr. Andres Agostini at The Future of Scientific Management, Today! At http://lnkd.in/bYP2nDC
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MITRE-Harvard nanocomputer may point the way to future computer miniaturization

http://www.kurzweilai.net/mitre-harvard-nanocomputer-may-poi.….turization

New form of graphene allows electrons to behave like photons

http://www.kurzweilai.net/new-form-of-graphene-allows-electr.….ke-photons

Continue reading “The Future of Scientific Management, Today!” »


Feb 4, 2014

The Future Observatory

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, aging, asteroid/comet impacts, augmented reality, automation, big data, biological, bionic, bioprinting, biotech/medical, bitcoin, business, chemistry, climatology, complex systems, computing, cosmology, counterterrorism, cybercrime/malcode, cyborg, defense, driverless cars, drones, economics, education, energy, engineering, entertainment, environmental, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, exoskeleton, finance, food, futurism, genetics, geopolitics, government, habitats, hardware, homo sapiens, human trajectories, humor, information science, innovation, law, law enforcement, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, medical, military, nanotechnology, neuroscience, nuclear, nuclear energy, open access, open source, particle physics, philosophy, policy, polls, posthumanism, privacy, rants, robotics/AI, science, scientific freedom, security, singularity, space, space travel, supercomputing, surveillance, sustainability, time travel, transhumanism, transparency, transportation, water

FEBRUARY 05/2014 UPDATES [LIST]. By Mr. Andres Agostini at www.Future-Observatory.blogspot.com
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Do autistic brains create more information at rest or do they have weaker connectivity — or both?

http://www.kurzweilai.net/do-autistic-brains-create-more-inf.….ty-or-both

‘Electronic tongue’ identifies brands of beer with 81.9% accuracy

http://www.kurzweilai.net/electronic-tongue-identifies-brand.….9-accuracy

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