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Archive for the ‘lifeboat’ category: Page 8

Jan 4, 2014

What If the Third World is in Outer Space?

Posted by in categories: futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, lifeboat, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, transhumanism, treaties

Here’s a thought experiment inspired by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI): Suppose in our search for beings in other galaxies, we come across a species that looks very much like us and can communicate with us reasonably well, so that it doesn’t take very long for them to understand what we’re about. In other words, they are definitely within our sphere of spontaneous sympathy. Moreover they even possess technologies that we consider relatively advanced, such as mobile phones. (After all, how else could we have recognised them as intelligent beings?) At the same time, however, they also tend to live half as long as we do – and for reasons that are quite obvious to us because they lack the sort of societal infrastructure that would enable them to live longer.

To be sure, these beings think that their lives are perfectly fine, aside from spates of internecine strife that seem to be fuelled by alien sources (perhaps the same aliens that enabled us to discover them). In any case, their culture is designed around the way they have conducted their lives for centuries. The question is whether we should violate Star Trek’s Prime Directive and substantially intervene to provide them with an infrastructure that would allow them to live longer and perhaps flourish in a way that would go beyond the sort of superficial trade relations that currently mark our maintenance of a ‘respectful’ distance from them. Here are some options:

1. No matter the cost to them or us, ‘civilising’ these aliens is an end worth pursuing in its own right – even if it ends up a gallant failure.
2. We can’t really afford much backlash from the natives, especially given that backups from Earth will not be forthcoming. So, we need to tread carefully, perhaps envisaging a long-term strategy of cultivating natives over several generations.
3. We commit to leaving the natives with some care packages and a time-limited run of advisors whose mission is to get them to use those packages as effectively as possible, so that eventually they can produce their contents for themselves.
4. We simply obey the Prime Directive and deal with them as free market traders without any particular concern for how they end up using whatever the both of us agree to have been a fair exchange of goods.

Now let us think about planet Earth, where we have the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and not the Prime Directive – as our guiding normative principle. Clearly, (4) would be seen as a libertarian dys/utopia that would render the Declaration irrelevant (though it may well capture China’s current policy towards the Third World), whereas (3) would be seen as the default position of most development aid. I have advocated (2) as Imperialism 2.0, and of course classic Imperialism is captured by (1).

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Sep 3, 2013

Longevitize!: Essays on the Science, Philosophy & Politics of Longevity

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, education, ethics, futurism, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, philosophy, policy

longevitize2013 med

Containing more than 160 essays from over 40 contributors, this edited volume of essays on the science, philosophy and politics of longevity considers the project of ending aging and abolishing involuntary death-by-disease from a variety of viewpoints: scientific, technological, philosophical, pragmatic, artistic. In it you will find not only information on the ways in which science and medicine are bringing about the potential to reverse aging and defeat death within many of our own lifetimes, as well as the ways that you can increase your own longevity today in order to be there for tomorrow’s promise, but also a glimpse at the art, philosophy and politics of longevity as well – areas that will become increasingly important as we realize that advocacy, lobbying and activism can play as large a part in the hastening of progress in indefinite lifespans as science and technology can.

The collection is edited by Franco Cortese. Its contributing authors include William H. Andrews, Ph.D., Rachel Armstrong, Ph.D., Jonathan Betchtel, Yaniv Chen, Clyde DeSouza, Freija van Diujne, Ph.D., John Ellis, Ph.D., Linda Gamble, Roen Horn, the International Longevity Alliance (ILA), Zoltan Istvan, David Kekich (President & C.E.O of Maximum Life Foundation), Randal A. Koene, Ph.D., Maria Konovalenko, M.Sc. (Program Coordinator for the Science for Life Extension Foundation), Marios Kyriazis, MD, M.Sc MIBiol, CBiol (Founder of the ELPIs Foundation for Indefinite Lifespans and the medical advisor for the British Longevity Society), John R. Leonard (Director of Japan Longevity Alliance), Alex Lightman, Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE), Josh Mitteldorf, Ph.D., Tom Mooney (Executive Director of the Coalition to Extend Life), Max More, Ph.D. , B.J. Murphy, Joern Pallensen, Dick Pelletier, Hank Pellissier (Founder of Brighter Brains Institute), Giulio Prisco, Marc Ransford, Jameson Rohrer, Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D., MBA, JD., Peter Rothman (editor-in-chief of H+ Magazine), Giovanni Santostasi, Ph.D (Director of Immortal Life Magazine, Eric Schulke, Jason Silva , R.U. Sirius, Ilia Stambler, Ph.D (activist at the International Longevity Alliance), G. Stolyarov II (editor-in-chief of The Rational Argumentator), Winslow Strong, Jason Sussberg, Violetta Karkucinska, David Westmorland, Peter Wicks, Ph.D, and Jason Xu (director of Longevity Party China and Longevity Party Taiwan).

Available on Amazon today!

Sep 1, 2013

Building a Better Future — Lessons from 3 Months of Lifeboat Foundation Expert Interviews

Posted by in categories: futurism, human trajectories, lifeboat

black.banner.large.new.typeJust over three months ago I found an organization called “Lifeboat.” I’d been interviewing experts from a variety fields about the issues and opportunities of moving beyond our present human potential (technologically or otherwise), and decided to reach out to a community with many perspectives and different areas of expertise. When I emailed Eric Klein at Lifeboat, my message was something as simple as:

Daniel: “Might it be possible to connect with one of your experts for 15–20 over the course of the coming month? I didn’t want to email them without contacting your Foundation itself, first.”

Eric: “This is fine.”

Little did I know that a message would be cast out to the vast network of Lifeboat members, and the next three months would be a flurry of back-and-forth emails, fascinating conversations, and writing new articles.

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Aug 2, 2013

The future in 100…1,000…10,000…etc. years

Posted by in categories: futurism, lifeboat

A full view of the future has to consider a huge range of time scales. Freeman Dyson pointed this out (as D. Hutchinson alerted me). I borrowed his idea in the following passage from my book, The Human Race to the Future, published by the Lifeboat Foundation.


Our journey into the future begins by asking what the next hundred years will be like. Call that century-long time frame the “first generation” of future history. After a baker’s dozen or so chapters we then move to the second generation — the next order of magnitude after a hundred — the next thousand years. The seventh generation then has a ten million year horizon, the very distant future. Beyond the seventh generation are time horizons above even ten million years. This “powers of ten” scaling of future history was used by well-known physicist Freeman Dyson in chapter 4 of his 1997 book, Imagined Worlds.

Technical update on the ebook edition: Many Kindle devices and reader software systems have a menu item for jumping to the table of contents, and another menu item for jumping to the “beginning” of a book, however that is defined. I found out how to build an ebook that defines these locations so that the menu items work. You can use basic html commands. To define the location of the table of contents, you can insert into the html code of the book, right where the table of contents begins, the following html command:

<a name="toc"></a>

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Jul 31, 2013

There Is No Need For An End

Posted by in categories: education, lifeboat

The imposition of compositional structure within the craft of writing was recently pointed out to me. As students we are told repeatedly to open, elaborate and conclude a writing work. This carries on into so-called professional life. Indeed the questions that arise during the course of any given writing work are outside the scope of the work itself, the material of the work deals with facts and recommendations, which are based on our conclusions. To end a piece of professional or student work without conclusions and with questions would be seen as a lack of seriousness. We believe time invested into investigation is only worthy if we emerge with answers. And the answers we are to have begin with our original questions and are influenced by the way we approach the questions. And yet we approach the questions knowing they will need to be answered and so our opening approach is very limited. We not only formulate opening questions we feel we will have a good chance of answering, but our entire attention during the duration of looking at the question is focused on finding an answer. So where is the originality then in our thought? And where is the opportunity to explore the limitations of thought itself as it is applied to the complexity and urgency of matters in the world? If my opening point of inquiry is designed to be something I know I can find an answer for, then certainly I have no opportunity to go beyond what I know to address it, not really, and so there is nothing new. And if I begin a problem knowing I will be judged on finding an answer for that problem then I will necessarily limit or eliminate any point of fact or inquiry that takes me from that task. The generally accepted process and presentation of writing today is linear and monolithic in an academic and professional context. We talk about complexity and interrelatedness but we judge, evaluate and reward a written approach to that complexity and interrelatedness according to how well it fits into what we already know and according to the standards we have already found to be acceptable. Because we are bound to our knowledge and our processes of merit through training, repetition, various forms of aggrandizement and institutional awareness, however subtle or overt, we disregard or penalize information and modalities that fall outside our realm of knowing. Therein, the places we go to fulfill our knowing may expand (geographically or otherwise) but the way we approach and arrive at knowing remains the same. Although some may develop original technical innovations, those technical innovations will be used as tools to serve the knowledge system that is already established within any given realm of inquiry.

Our assumptions and biases about knowledge creation are interwoven with our experiences, our interpretations of those experiences, and our identification with the experiences and interpretations. Patterns emerge and we craft a self through the mosaic and soon that mosaic can stand in for our self. When that mosaic of experience and interpretation is cultivated through authority and the authority of our own experience and sense of self, we will extend our sense of authority into the realm of that which we already know. In this we are setting up a subtle preoccupation with what we know and with the familiar way we arrive at knowledge while simultaneously we derive a prejudice against what we do not know and also any unknown means to cultivate the known.

For example, pretend I am a teacher with a PhD, many people have applauded my research and I publish books, give famous lectures and have tenure at a prestigious school. I feel confident in my work and consider myself to be an authority in my field. A student comes along who does not know me and takes my class for the first time. She questions my logic and says my class is a bore. She tells me my exams do not test her knowledge of the subject but instead test her ability to repeat my version of the subject. She writes a paper calling into doubt the major premises of my field, to which I have contributed the most popularly followed lines of inquiry and she proposes an entirely new approach to the field and ends her paper with grand questions about the nature of intellectual thought. How do I approach this? In a typical situation I would question the student’s credibility as a student. I would consider her farfetched and someone who is incapable of understanding the subject matter. I would have trouble finding a way to give her a passing course score. She would be a problem to fix or to solve or to ignore. Never would I consider that perhaps she had a point. Why? I assumed the ascendency of my own knowledge based on my own sense of authority. Because the student operated outside my realm of knowledge and outside my sense of appropriateness in the acquisition of knowledge, I decided she was wrong. Invisible to me are my own assumptions of authority, including my assumption that authority has validity. Even though I have a wide set of experiences related to a branch of knowledge I am unable to see that those experiences are necessarily limited because I have only had a certain set of them, no matter how vaunted, and that knowledge itself is limited because it is always about what is already known. So I approach my student as if she is a problem instead of approaching her as a person with insight that may also be valid and should be explored. If we use something that is already known to approach what is new, how can we really approach it? The new will consistently be framed according to its relationship or lack of relationship with what has been established. And as has already been stated, what has been established is where authority has been placed, including our reverence for all the things we have already authorized.

Many of us operate in this field of inquiry, discovery and selfhood and it is apparent when we review our written forays into the realms of global problem solving discourse. So often we conclude. So often we have answers and set approaches to solving problems. So often we solicit recommendations for action. But rarely do we ponder over, except that which we have relegated to philosophy. In the realms of activity (politics, business, economics, education, health, environment, etc.) we theorize action, take action or meet to form a new activity. We say events and circumstances are too urgent to stop for too much thought, but in our haste, our actions themselves lead to further reasons to have to meet again to reorient ourselves. Our writing becomes a part of this process. We write in order to validate our next action and we guide that writing according to what we think that action should be. We rarely write to discover the appropriate terms upon which our action should be based. We rarely question the terms upon which our previous action has been based. We rarely inquire into our standards, we just try to find novel ways to meet them.

Continue reading “There Is No Need For An End” »

Jul 8, 2013

KurzweilAI is promoting our book today!

Posted by in categories: futurism, lifeboat

KurzweilAI is promoting our book today at
http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-human-race-to-the-future-what-…load-today

Spread the word!

wheel.the.human.race.to.the.future

P.S. You can interact with the author of the book at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thehumanracetothefuture/

May 24, 2013

Why does Science Fiction gravitate towards Dystopia and not the Utopia that Transhumanism promises?

Posted by in categories: ethics, futurism, lifeboat, media & arts, philosophy, singularity

Memories_with_maya_dystopia_Dirrogate_small front_cover_Mwm

Of the two images above, as a typical Science Fiction reader, which would you gravitate towards? In designing the cover for my book I ran about 80 iterations of 14 unique designs through a group of beta readers, and the majority chose the one with the Green tint. (design credit: Dmggzz)

No one could come up with a satisfying reason on why they preferred it over the other, except that it “looked more sci-fi” I settled for the design on the right, though it was a very hard decision to make. I was throwing away one of the biggest draws to a book — An inviting Dystopian book cover.

As an Author (and not a scientist) myself, I’ve noticed that scifi readers seem to want dystopian fiction –exclusively. A quick glance at reader preferences in scifi on sites such as GoodReads shows this. Yet, from noticing Vampire themed fiction rule the best seller lists, and from box office blockbusters, we can assume, the common man and woman is also intrigued by Longevity and Immortality.

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Apr 19, 2013

Bitcoin’s Dystopian Future

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cybercrime/malcode, economics, ethics, finance, futurism, information science, lifeboat, open source, policy

I have seen the future of Bitcoin, and it is bleak.


The Promise of Bitcoin

If you were to peek into my bedroom at night (please don’t), there’s a good chance you would see my wife sleeping soundly while I stare at the ceiling, running thought experiments about where Bitcoin is going. Like many other people, I have come to the conclusion that distributed currencies like Bitcoin are going to eventually be recognized as the most important technological innovation of the decade, if not the century. It seems clear to me that the rise of distributed currencies presents the biggest (and riskiest) investment opportunity I am likely to see in my lifetime; perhaps in a thousand lifetimes. It is critically important to understand where Bitcoin is going, and I am determined to do so.

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Mar 29, 2013

Life and Boats

Posted by in categories: lifeboat, sustainability

In an enormously influential article published in 1974 in Psychology Today, and in a longer version published later that year in BioScience, Garrett Hardin introduced the metaphor of the lifeboat for economic and ethical consideration. This conceptual construction was intended as an improvement over the then-popular ecological metaphor of “spaceship earth” coined by Kenneth Boulding in 1966. Interestingly, in the opening paragraph of “Living on a lifeboat”, Hardin indicates that metaphors in general may be understood as only an early stage in mentally approaching difficult problems, and that this stage may be surpassed as theory advances and becomes more rigorous.

In Hardin’s analogy, large entities such as nations or the biosphere are likened to a boat, while smaller entities – for example, migrating individuals or groups – are likened to swimmers trying to board the already cramped vessel and exploit whatever resources are on board. In the imagined scenario, it is believed that the boat is near carrying capacity, but exactly how near is not known with certainty given the many future possibilities. A central question focuses on at what point, if any, the risk of sinking the entire boat outweighs the good provided for each additional rescued swimmer.

The metaphor of the lifeboat has structured thought about conservation, economics, ethics, and any number of other disciplinary areas for decades. The question I would like to pose is the following: Is the lifeboat scenario still (or was it ever) an apt metaphor for structuring thought about ethical conservation of resources, or have we reached a stage where the boat should be scuttled in favor of either a new metaphor or more literal language? Please feel free to post any thoughts you may have on this issue.

Mar 19, 2013

Ten Commandments of Space

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biological, biotech/medical, cosmology, defense, education, engineering, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, homo sapiens, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, military, neuroscience, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, robotics/AI, singularity, space, supercomputing, sustainability, transparency

1. Thou shalt first guard the Earth and preserve humanity.

Impact deflection and survival colonies hold the moral high ground above all other calls on public funds.

2. Thou shalt go into space with heavy lift rockets with hydrogen upper stages and not go extinct.

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