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Archive for the ‘policy’ category

Aug 24, 2016

Steve Fuller’s Review of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Posted by in categories: big data, bioengineering, biological, bionic, cyborgs, disruptive technology, energy, evolution, existential risks, futurism, homo sapiens, innovation, moore's law, neuroscience, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, robotics/AI, science, singularity, theory, transhumanism

My sociology of knowledge students read Yuval Harari’s bestselling first book, Sapiens, to think about the right frame of reference for understanding the overall trajectory of the human condition. Homo Deus follows the example of Sapiens, using contemporary events to launch into what nowadays is called ‘big history’ but has been also called ‘deep history’ and ‘long history’. Whatever you call it, the orientation sees the human condition as subject to multiple overlapping rhythms of change which generate the sorts of ‘events’ that are the stuff of history lessons. But Harari’s history is nothing like the version you half remember from school.

In school historical events were explained in terms more or less recognizable to the agents involved. In contrast, Harari reaches for accounts that scientifically update the idea of ‘perennial philosophy’. Aldous Huxley popularized this phrase in his quest to seek common patterns of thought in the great world religions which could be leveraged as a global ethic in the aftermath of the Second World War. Harari similarly leverages bits of genetics, ecology, neuroscience and cognitive science to advance a broadly evolutionary narrative. But unlike Darwin’s version, Harari’s points towards the incipient apotheosis of our species; hence, the book’s title.

This invariably means that events are treated as symptoms if not omens of the shape of things to come. Harari’s central thesis is that whereas in the past we cowered in the face of impersonal natural forces beyond our control, nowadays our biggest enemy is the one that faces us in the mirror, which may or may not be able within our control. Thus, the sort of deity into which we are evolving is one whose superhuman powers may well result in self-destruction. Harari’s attitude towards this prospect is one of slightly awestruck bemusement.

Here Harari equivocates where his predecessors dared to distinguish. Writing with the bracing clarity afforded by the Existentialist horizons of the Cold War, cybernetics founder Norbert Wiener declared that humanity’s survival depends on knowing whether what we don’t know is actually trying to hurt us. If so, then any apparent advance in knowledge will always be illusory. As for Harari, he does not seem to see humanity in some never-ending diabolical chess match against an implacable foe, as in The Seventh Seal. Instead he takes refuge in the so-called law of unintended consequences. So while the shape of our ignorance does indeed shift as our knowledge advances, it does so in ways that keep Harari at a comfortable distance from passing judgement on our long term prognosis.

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Aug 23, 2016

Brain Malware — Here’s How Hackers Can Get Inside Your Head

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, mobile phones, neuroscience, policy

I have share my own risks on BMI a while back especially that which is connected (net, cloud, etc.)


brain malware 1Short Bytes: For a moment, forget computer and smartphone malware. There’s even a bigger danger in town in the form of brain malware. By exploiting brain-computer interfaces (BCI) being used in medical and gaming applications, hackers can read your private and sensitive data. Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Washington shed more light on the subject, demanding a policy-oriented regulation on BCIs.

Aug 18, 2016

NASA just made all the scientific research it funds available for free

Posted by in categories: policy, space

NASA just announced that any published research funded by the space agency will now be available at no cost, launching a new public web portal that anybody can access.

The free online archive comes in response to a new NASA policy, which requires that any NASA-funded research articles in peer-reviewed journals be publicly accessible within one year of publication.

“At NASA, we are celebrating this opportunity to extend access to our extensive portfolio of scientific and technical publications,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman. “Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air, and space.”

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Aug 17, 2016

How to make India an innovation hub

Posted by in categories: education, engineering, finance, policy

Innovation is all the buzz in Asia. Australia, China, Korea, Vietnam, and now lets look at India.

Personally, I believe there is great potential in India for some amazing innovations. Just look at their own historical sites and artifacts, art, etc.; no one can claim creativity, imagination, etc. does not exist. And, not to mention the engineering feats that have been proven by India many times.


India has moved 16 rungs up the global ranking for innovation in 2016, as compared to 2015, but still remains a lowly 66th, well below Malaysia and Vietnam, leave alone China in the middle-income category and far below countries like South Korea and Japan, and other high-income innovation hubs like Switzerland, the US, the UK and Singapore. What can be done to make India a hub of innovation? Improve the quality of education across all levels. A technology policy that incentivises genuine R&D is required. Ease of entry and exit of firms, competition, a vibrant financial sector that allocates capital to new profit potential, a culture of entrepreneurship and an end to failure-shaming would help. The least obvious requirement is political empowerment of the common man.

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Aug 11, 2016

The Chimera Quandary: Is It Ethical To Create Hybrid Embryos?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, genetics, health, policy

In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a monster that is part lion, part goat and part snake. Far from reality, sure, but the idea of mixing and matching creatures is real — and has ethicists concerned.

That’s because last week, the National Institutes of Health proposed a new policy to allow funding for scientists who are creating chimeras — the non-mythological kind. In genetics, chimeras are organisms formed when human stem cells are combined with tissues of other animals, with the potential for creating human-animal hybrids.

Pablo Ross of the University of California, Davis, inserts human stem cells into a pig embryo as part of experiments to create chimeric embryos.

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Aug 4, 2016

US Government gives go-ahead to research to grow part-animal part-human organs for transplants

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health, policy

Posting for the friends who hasn’t heard about the US funding the new program to grow half human and half animal embryos. Part of the goal is to enable organs to be made available for transplants, etc…


The federal government is planning to lift a moratorium on funding of controversial experiments that use human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human.

The National Institutes of Health has unveiled a new policy to permit scientists to get federal money to make the embryos, known as chimeras, under certain carefully monitored conditions.

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Aug 2, 2016

Drones Set to Deliver Medicine to Remote Parts of the U.S. — By Jamie Condliffe | MIT Technology Review

Posted by in categories: drones, government, policy, robotics/AI

“The White House has asked whether Zipline’s drones, pioneered in Rwanda, could fly much-needed drugs and blood to Americans.”

Read more

Jul 31, 2016

Futurist-linked groups talking at the Mont Order

Posted by in categories: counterterrorism, futurism, governance, government, policy, terrorism

The following is a selection of points of interest to futurism and forecasts of the political future from the recent Mont Order Conference of July 2016:

STATEMENT 1: NEW SECRET WIKI CREATED

The Mont Order’s secret wiki created via PBworks holds information on the origin and literature of the Mont Order as well as our current structure, ranks and members. Members will be invited via email and will be able to contribute pages or post comments and questions on this literature. The public will not have access to it.

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Jul 16, 2016

Beware the Rise of Gerontocracy: Some Hard Lessons for Transhumanism, Not Least from Brexit

Posted by in categories: aging, biological, ethics, futurism, governance, government, homo sapiens, human trajectories, life extension, neuroscience, policy, strategy, thought controlled, transhumanism

Transhumanists will know that the science fiction author Zoltan Istvan has unilaterally leveraged the movement into a political party contesting the 2016 US presidential election. To be sure, many transhumanists have contested Istvan’s own legitimacy, but there is no denying that he has generated enormous publicity for many key transhumanist ideas. Interestingly, his lead idea is that the state should do everything possible to uphold people’s right to live forever. Of course, he means to live forever in a healthy state, fit of mind and body. Istvan cleverly couches this policy as simply an extension of what voters already expect from medical research and welfare provision. And while he may be correct, the policy is fraught with hazards – especially if, as many transhumanists believe, we are on the verge of revealing the secrets to biological immortality.

In June, Istvan and I debated this matter at Brain Bar Budapest. Let me say, for the record, that I think that we are sufficiently close to this prospect that it is not too early to discuss its political and economic implications.

Two months before my encounter with Istvan, I was on a panel at the Edinburgh Science Festival with the great theorist of radical life extension Aubrey de Grey, where he declared that people who live indefinitely will seem like renovated vintage cars. Whatever else, he is suggesting that they would be frozen in time. He may actually be right about this. But is such a state desirable, given that throughout history radical change has been facilitated generational change? Specifically, two simple facts make the young open to doing things differently: The young have no memory of past practices working to anyone else’s benefit, and they have not had the time to invest in those practices to reap their benefits. Whatever good is to be found in the past is hearsay, as far as the young are concerned, which they are being asked to trust as they enter a world that they know is bound to change.

Questions have been already raised about whether tomorrow’s Methuselahs will wish to procreate at all, given the time available to them to realize dreams that in the past would have been transferred to their offspring. After all, as human life expectancy has increased 50% over the past century, the birth rate has correspondingly dropped. One can only imagine what will happen once ageing can be arrested, if not outright reversed!

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Jul 11, 2016

3 Reasons You Are Living in the Matrix / How to Make a Red Pill

Posted by in categories: complex systems, disruptive technology, education, governance, government, philosophy, physics, policy, rants, science, scientific freedom

Appearances have always played a much more important part than reality in history, where the unreal is always of greater moment than the real.“
–Gustav LeBon, The Crowd (1895)

I’ve gotten no substantive response to my last post on vaccine safety– neither in the comments, nor the TruthSift diagram, nor anywhere else, nor have the papers I submitted to two medical journals… but I have gotten emails telling me I’m delusional and suggesting I seek psychiatric attention. And this of course is integral to the explanation of how such delusions as vaccine safety persist so widely when it is so demonstrably a delusion: the majority who believe the majority must be right because its the majority are emotionally unwilling to confront the evidence. They assume the experts have done that, and they rely on the experts. But the experts assume other experts have been there. Ask your Pediatrician if he’s personally read Bishop et al and formulated an opinion on vaccine aluminum. Neither has the National Academy, except perhaps their members have and decided, perhaps tacitly, not to review the subject. Their decision not to review the animal literature was not tacit, they said they explicitly decided to omit it, although elsewhere they say they couldn’t find human evidence that addressed the issues. So everybody is trusting somebody else, and nobody has picked up the ball. And can you blame them? Because when I pick up the ball, what I receive in return is hate mail and people’s scorn. The emotional response cuts off any possible inspection of the logic.

On most questions where a majority with authority is facing a minority of dissenters or skeptics, the majority is delusional.
In other words, you are living in the matrix; much of what you and people believe is fundamentlaly wrong.

Reason 1, as above, is that the majority forms its view by circular reasoning, and rejects any attempt at logical discussion without considering it seriously, so it is prone to delusion.
Once the crowd concluded vaccines are safe and effective, for example, the question of whether the aluminum is damaging can apparently no longer be raised (even as more gets added to vaccines). And when I or others try to raise it, we are scorned and hated, and ineffectual in changing the opinion supported by circular reasoning. When new research papers appear that call it into question, they are ignored, neither cited in the safety surveys nor influencing medical practice in any way. This paragraph is all simple reporting of what has repeatedly happened.

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