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Transhuman – Wikipedia

Transhuman or trans-human is the concept of an intermediary form between human and posthuman.[1] In other words, a transhuman is a being that resembles a human in most respects but who has powers and abilities beyond those of standard humans.[2] These abilities might include improved intelligence, awareness, strength, or durability. Transhumans sometimes appear in science-fiction as cyborgs or genetically-enhanced humans.

The use of the term “transhuman” goes back to French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who wrote in his 1949 book The Future of Mankind:

Liberty: that is to say, the chance offered to every man (by removing obstacles and placing the appropriate means at his disposal) of ‘trans-humanizing’ himself by developing his potentialities to the fullest extent.[3]

And in a 1951 unpublished revision of the same book:

In consequence one is the less disposed to reject as unscientific the idea that the critical point of planetary Reflection, the fruit of socialization, far from being a mere spark in the darkness, represents our passage, by Translation or dematerialization, to another sphere of the Universe: not an ending of the ultra-human but its accession to some sort of trans-humanity at the ultimate heart of things.[4]

In 1957 book New Bottles for New Wine, English evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley wrote:

The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way, but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature. “I believe in transhumanism”: once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Peking man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny.[5]

One of the first professors of futurology, FM-2030, who taught “new concepts of the Human” at The New School of New York City in the 1960s, used “transhuman” as shorthand for “transitional human”. Calling transhumans the “earliest manifestation of new evolutionary beings”, FM argued that signs of transhumans included physical and mental augmentations including prostheses, reconstructive surgery, intensive use of telecommunications, a cosmopolitan outlook and a globetrotting lifestyle, androgyny, mediated reproduction (such as in vitro fertilisation), absence of religious beliefs, and a rejection of traditional family values.[6]

FM-2030 used the concept of transhuman as an evolutionary transition, outside the confines of academia, in his contributing final chapter to the 1972 anthology Woman, Year 2000.[7] In the same year, American cryonics pioneer Robert Ettinger contributed to conceptualization of “transhumanity” in his book Man into Superman.[8] In 1982, American Natasha Vita-More authored a statement titled Transhumanist Arts Statement and outlined what she perceived as an emerging transhuman culture.[9]

Jacques Attali, writing in 2006, envisaged transhumans as an altruistic vanguard of the later 21st century:

Vanguard players (I shall call them transhumans) will run (they are already running) relational enterprises in which profit will be no more than a hindrance, not a final goal. Each of these transhumans will be altruistic, a citizen of the planet, at once nomadic and sedentary, his neighbor’s equal in rights and obligations, hospitable and respectful of the world. Together, transhumans will give birth to planetary institutions and change the course of industrial enterprises.[10]

In March 2007, American physicist Gregory Cochran and paleoanthropologist John Hawks published a study, alongside other recent research on which it builds, which amounts to a radical reappraisal of traditional views, which tended to assume that humans have reached an evolutionary endpoint. Physical anthropologist Jeffrey McKee argued the new findings of accelerated evolution bear out predictions he made in a 2000 book The Riddled Chain. Based on computer models, he argued that evolution should speed up as a population grows because population growth creates more opportunities for new mutations; and the expanded population occupies new environmental niches, which would drive evolution in new directions. Whatever the implications of the recent findings, McKee concludes that they highlight a ubiquitous point about evolution: “every species is a transitional species”.[11]

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Transhuman – Wikipedia

Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential | A Cosmic Vision …

We are pleased to announce that Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential is the winner of the Montaigne Medal (Eric Hoffer Book Awards) for most thought-provoking book of 2015.

Ted Chu also won the prestigious Gold Award from IndieFAB, for Best Philosophy Book of 2014

Ted Chu brings an astonishing breadth of philosophical, religious, and technological reflection to bear on the most important questions we could ask.

Ted Chu is a pioneering visionary whose futurist concern deserves close attention.

In my opinion Teds book is absolutely profound in the way it draws upon a dazzling variety of philosophical and scientific resources in order to place humanity within a cosmic evolutionary perspective . . . it is a one-of-a-kind book within my transhumanist library. Nikola Danalyov, Singularity Weblog

Today we face the imminent possibility of transcending our biological form, of becomingor creatingentirely new lifeforms that will overcome our all-too-human limitations. In Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential, Chu makes the provocative claim that the human race is not only an end in itself, but may also be a means to a higher endand that our true purpose is to give rise to our evolutionary successors. Here are key tenets of Chus book.

In this wide-ranging philosophic work, Ted Chu re-examines the question of human purpose in light of the transhuman potentials that science and technology have now placed within our reach.

Dr. Chu argues that we need a deeper understanding of our place in the universe in order to navigate the daunting choices ahead of us that arise from advances in biotechnology, AI, robotics, and nanotechnology. Toward that end, he surveys human wisdom both East and West, traces humanitys long evolutionary trajectory, and breaks new ground in evolutionary theory.

Chu makes us fully aware of the many risks ahead, but offers an original cosmic vision that provides the courage and the perspective we will need to explore the potentials of our posthuman future.Ted Chus elegantly written and well-researched book has, for me at least, the same status as Ray Kurzweils The Singularity Is Near. Even critics of his Cosmic Vision will find Chus book required reading.

Formerly the chief economist at General Motors, Ted Chu was also chief economist for Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the worlds largest sovereign wealth funds. He is currently professor of economics at New York University at Abu Dhabi. During his 25 years as a business economist, Dr. Chu also held positions as macroeconomist for the World Bank and Arthur D. Little. For the last 15 years, his second career has been conducting independent research on the philosophical question of humanitys place in the universe, building on his lifelong interest in the frontiers of evolutionary progress. As part of these research efforts, he founded the nonprofit CoBe (Cosmic Being) Institute in Michigan and serves as a senior scholar at ChangCe, a Beijing-based independent think tank. Born and raised in China, Chu graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, and earned his PhD in economics at Georgetown University.

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Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential | A Cosmic Vision …

Home – Believer

BELIEVER gained worldwide recognition for their boundary-breaking, artistic form of progressive metal music. The early albums threwopen the doors to collaborations between metal and orchestral musicians and sealedthe bands legacy. BELIEVERsfocus on creativity and innovation has earned praise from fans and musicians worldwide.

July 10, 2017 | Progressive metallers BELIEVER are back with new music. New songs from Believer will be released throughout 2017, culminating in the release of a physical product to be announced later this year. Believer fans will enjoy digital releases every few months with new artwork from Eye Level Studios Michael Rosner to accompany each release. The secondinstallment, 2of 5, contains the songs Perfect Day and Return to Zeroand wasreleased via Trauma Team Productions on July 10, 2017. Believer is thrilled to bring back violinist Scott Laird, a long-time friend and collaborator, for the song Return to Zero. 2 of 5 was mixed by Kevin Gutierrez at Assembly Line Studios and mastered by Bill Wolf of Wolf Productions.

These tracks are #amazing! Love them even more than their early releases. Mike Boardley on metalinjection.net

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Home – Believer

Cattle breeders back calls for ranches – Vanguard

By Ben Agande

KadunaThe National Secretary, Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Sani Dahiru, yesterday, threw its weight behind the call for establishment of ranches, saying it was the only way out of the persistent farmers/herders clashes across the country.

Speaking at a workshop organised by Ahmadu Bello University for farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the 19 northern states in Zaria, Kaduna State, yesterday, Dahiru said relevant governments in the northern states should assist herders to establish ranches.

He said: Ranch will make them to stay in one place, learn fattening and milk making. This is what National Animal Production and Research Institute, NAPRI, of ABU, Zaria, will assist us on.

Earlier, NAPRIs Director of Breeding and Genetics, Professor Bartholomew Nwagu, noted that conflict arose when farmers encroached on trans-human paths, leading herders to move onto agricultural land.

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Cattle breeders back calls for ranches – Vanguard

The risk of a transhumanist future – BioEdge

Transhumanism has received significant media attention in recent times not in the least because the one of the movements leaders, Zoltan Istvan, ran for president in 2016 US elections.

But a British PhD candidate has warned of the darker side of a transhumanist future.

Sociologist Alex Thomas of East London University believes that transhumanism will further enforce a societal obsession with progress and efficiency at the expense of social justice and environmental sustainability. In an article published this week in The Conversation, Thomas argues that unbridled technological progress, in which technology become more intrusive and integrate seamlessly with the human body, could lead to a loss of basic societal values such as compassion and a concern for the environment.

Thomas interweaves examples ranging from new military technologies to powerful enhancement medications, arguing that, rather than assisting humanity, these technologies could potentially lead to a mechanisation of humanity and facilitate a subtle form of authoritarian control.

Continued here:

The risk of a transhumanist future – BioEdge

Transhumanism could lead to immortality for the elite – Gears Of Biz

The rapid development of so-called NBIC technologies nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science are giving rise to possibilities that have long been the domain of science fiction.

Disease, ageing and even death are all human realities that these technologies seek to end.

They may enable us to enjoy greater morphological freedom we could take on new forms through prosthetics or genetic engineering.

Or advance our cognitive capacities.

We could use brain-computer interfaces to link us to advanced artificial intelligence (AI).

Nanobots could roam our bloodstream to monitor our health and enhance our emotional propensities for joy, love or other emotions.

Advances in one area often raise new possibilities in others, and this convergence may bring about radical changes to our world in the near-future.

Transhumanism is the idea that humans should transcend their current natural state and limitations through the use of technology that we should embrace self-directed human evolution.

If the history of technological progress can be seen as humankinds attempt to tame nature to better serve its needs, transhumanism is the logical continuation: the revision of humankinds nature to better serve its fantasies.

As David Pearce, a leading proponent of transhumanism and co-founder of Humanity+, says:

If we want to live in paradise, we will have to engineer it ourselves.

If we want eternal life, then well need to rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code and become god-like only hi-tech solutions can ever eradicate suffering from the world.

Compassion alone is not enough.

But there is a darker side to the naive faith that Pearce and other proponents have in transhumanism one that is decidedly dystopian.

There is unlikely to be a clear moment when we emerge as transhuman.

Rather technologies will become more intrusive and integrate seamlessly with the human body.

Technology has long been thought of as an extension of the self.

Many aspects of our social world, not least our financial systems, are already largely machine-based.

There is much to learn from these evolving human/machine hybrid systems.

Yet the often Utopian language and expectations that surround and shape our understanding of these developments have been under-interrogated.

The profound changes that lie ahead are often talked about in abstract ways, because evolutionary advancements are deemed so radical that they ignore the reality of current social conditions.

In this way, transhumanism becomes a kind of techno-anthropocentrism, in which transhumanists often underestimate the complexity of our relationship with technology.

They see it as a controllable, malleable tool that, with the correct logic and scientific rigour, can be turned to any end.

In fact, just as technological developments are dependent on and reflective of the environment in which they arise, they in turn feed back into the culture and create new dynamics often imperceptibly.

Situating transhumanism, then, within the broader social, cultural, political, and economic contexts within which it emerges is vital to understanding how ethical it is.

Max More and Natasha Vita-More, in their edited volume The Transhumanist Reader, claim the need in transhumanism for inclusivity, plurality and continuous questioning of our knowledge.

Yet these three principles are incompatible with developing transformative technologies within the prevailing system from which they are currently emerging: advanced capitalism.

One problem is that a highly competitive social environment doesnt lend itself to diverse ways of being.

Instead it demands increasingly efficient behaviour.

Take students, for example.

If some have access to pills that allow them to achieve better results, can other students afford not to follow?

This is already a quandary.

Increasing numbers of students reportedly pop performance-enhancing pills.

And if pills become more powerful, or if the enhancements involve genetic engineering or intrusive nanotechnology that offer even stronger competitive advantages, what then?

Rejecting an advanced technological orthodoxy could potentially render someone socially and economically moribund (perhaps evolutionarily so), while everyone with access is effectively forced to participate to keep up.

Going beyond everyday limits is suggestive of some kind of liberation.

However, here it is an imprisoning compulsion to act a certain way.

We literally have to transcend in order to conform (and survive).

The more extreme the transcendence, the more profound the decision to conform and the imperative to do so.

The systemic forces cajoling the individual into being upgraded to remain competitive also play out on a geo-political level.

One area where technology R&D has the greatest transhumanist potential is defence.

DARPA (the US defence department responsible for developing military technologies), which is attempting to create metabolically dominant soldiers, is a clear example of how vested interests of a particular social system could determine the development of radically powerful transformative technologies that have destructive rather than Utopian applications.

The rush to develop super-intelligent AI by globally competitive and mutually distrustful nation states could also become an arms race.

In Radical Evolution, novelist Verner Vinge describes a scenario in which superhuman intelligence is the ultimate weapon.

Ideally, mankind would proceed with the utmost care in developing such a powerful and transformative innovation.

There is quite rightly a huge amount of trepidation around the creation of super-intelligence and the emergence of the singularity the idea that once AI reaches a certain level it will rapidly redesign itself, leading to an explosion of intelligence that will quickly surpass that of humans (something that will happen by 2029 according to futurist Ray Kurzweil).

If the world takes the shape of whatever the most powerful AI is programmed (or reprograms itself) to desire, it even opens the possibility of evolution taking a turn for the entirely banal could an AI destroy humankind from a desire to produce the most paperclips for example?

Its also difficult to conceive of any aspect of humanity that could not be improved by being made more efficient at satisfying the demands of a competitive system. It is the system, then, that determines humanitys evolution without taking any view on what humans are or what they should be.

One of the ways in which advanced capitalism proves extremely dynamic is in its ideology of moral and metaphysical neutrality.

As philosopher Michael Sandel says: markets dont wag fingers.

In advanced capitalism, maximising ones spending power maximises ones ability to flourish hence shopping could be said to be a primary moral imperative of the individual.

Philosopher Bob Doede rightly suggests it is this banal logic of the market that will dominate:

If biotech has rendered human nature entirely revisable, then it has no grain to direct or constrain our designs on it.

And so whose designs will our successor post-human artefacts likely bear?

I have little doubt that in our vastly consumerist, media-saturated capitalist economy, market forces will have their way.

So the commercial imperative would be the true architect of the future human.

Whether the evolutionary process is determined by a super-intelligent AI or advanced capitalism, we may be compelled to conform to a perpetual transcendence that only makes us more efficient at activities demanded by the most powerful system.

The end point is predictably an entirely nonhuman though very efficient technological entity derived from humanity that doesnt necessarily serve a purpose that a modern-day human would value in any way.

The ability to serve the system effectively will be the driving force.

This is also true of natural evolution technology is not a simple tool that allows us to engineer ourselves out of this conundrum.

But transhumanism could amplify the speed and least desirable aspects of the process.

For bioethicist Julian Savulescu, the main reason humans must be enhanced is for our species to survive.

He says we face a Bermuda Triangle of extinction: radical technological power, liberal democracy and our moral nature.

As a transhumanist, Savulescu extols technological progress, also deeming it inevitable and unstoppable.

It is liberal democracy and particularly our moral nature that should alter.

The failings of humankind to deal with global problems are increasingly obvious.

But Savulescu neglects to situate our moral failings within their wider cultural, political and economic context, instead believing that solutions lie within our biological make up.

Yet how would Savulescus morality-enhancing technologies be disseminated, prescribed and potentially enforced to address the moral failings they seek to cure?

This would likely reside in the power structures that may well bear much of the responsibility for these failings in the first place.

Hes also quickly drawn into revealing how relative and contestable the concept of morality is:

We will need to relax our commitment to maximum protection of privacy.

Were seeing an increase in the surveillance of individuals and that will be necessary if we are to avert the threats that those with antisocial personality disorder, fanaticism, represent through their access to radically enhanced technology.

Such surveillance allows corporations and governments to access and make use of extremely valuable information.

In Who Owns the Future, internet pioneer Jaron Lanier explains:

Troves of dossiers on the private lives and inner beings of ordinary people, collected over digital networks, are packaged into a new private form of elite money

It is a new kind of security the rich trade in, and the value is naturally driven up. It becomes a giant-scale levee inaccessible to ordinary people.

Crucially, this levee is also invisible to most people.

Its impacts extend beyond skewing the economic system towards elites to significantly altering the very conception of liberty, because the authority of power is both radically more effective and dispersed.

Foucaults notion that we live in a panoptic society one in which the sense of being perpetually watched instils discipline is now stretched to the point where todays incessant machinery has been called a superpanopticon.

The knowledge and information that transhumanist technologies will tend to create could strengthen existing power structures that cement the inherent logic of the system in which the knowledge arises.

This is in part evident in the tendency of algorithms toward race and gender bias, which reflects our already existing social failings.

Information technology tends to interpret the world in defined ways: it privileges information that is easily measurable, such as GDP, at the expense of unquantifiable information such as human happiness or well-being.

As invasive technologies provide ever more granular data about us, this data may in a very real sense come to define the world and intangible information may not maintain its rightful place in human affairs.

Existing inequities will surely be magnified with the introduction of highly effective psycho-pharmaceuticals, genetic modification, super intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, nanotechnology, robotic prosthetics, and the possible development of life expansion.

They are all fundamentally inegalitarian, based on a notion of limitlessness rather than a standard level of physical and mental well-being weve come to assume in healthcare.

Its not easy to conceive of a way in which these potentialities can be enjoyed by all.

Sociologist Saskia Sassen talks of the new logics of expulsion, that capture the pathologies of todays global capitalism.

The expelled include the more than 60,000 migrants who have lost their lives on fatal journeys in the past 20 years, and the victims of the racially skewed profile of the increasing prison population.

In Britain, they include the 30,000 people whose deaths in 2015 were linked to health and social care cuts and the many who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire.

Their deaths can be said to have resulted from systematic marginalisation.

Unprecedented acute concentration of wealth happens alongside these expulsions.

Advanced economic and technical achievements enable this wealth and the expulsion of surplus groups.

At the same time, Sassen writes, they create a kind of nebulous centrelessness as the locus of power:

Continued here:

Transhumanism could lead to immortality for the elite – Gears Of Biz

William Gibson: what we talk about, when we talk about dystopia – Boing Boing

With pre-orders open for the graphic novel collecting William Gibson’s amazing comic book Archangel, and a linked novel on the way that ties the 2016 election to the world of The Peripheral, William Gibson has conducted a fascinating interview with Vulture on the surge in popularity in dystopian literature.

Gibson reads literary trends as a kind of window into our collective fears and desires about the future — he notes that while the 20th century was rife with speculation about the 21st; here in the early decades of 21C we almost never talk about 2200 and beyond (I wonder if that’s not just a function of the fact that we’re in the first half of the 21st century, while most sf was written in the back half of 20C).

Where things get sharp is where Gibson points out that huge swathes of the human population are living in dystopias as grim as any cyberpunk future (“dystopia is not evenly distributed”). In the 1960s, during the civil rights movement’s heyday, LBJ said “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket,” while Trump’s 2016 campaign was a long exercise in telling poor white people that they may end up in the same dire straits that racialized Americans had navigated since the colonialism’s first genocidal years on the continent — proving the corollary to LBJ, namely, convincing white people they may be the next underclass will stampede them into voting for anyone who promises to stop it.

The steady accumulation of wealth at the top of the income distribution since the Reagan years are a kind of macroscopic version of the Trump phenomenon: if you want to convince first-worlders that the end-times are coming, simply convince them that they will live in the dystopian conditions that already prevail elsewhere, confirm their lurking anxiety that the privilege they’ve enjoyed was an accident of history and not a vote of confidence in their innate superiority. Convince them that they are one bad beat away from having kids with swollen bellies lying outside rude huts, too weak to brush the flies away from their eyes.

I think this is the special genius of The Handmaid’s Tale: by putting a white, educated, formerly middle-class woman in the position of a sex-slave to a religious fascist — by putting a North American in the place of a woman under the Taliban or Isis — the entwined destiny and fragility of all people on earth (including those in the unevenly distributed dystopias of the Rest of the World) is manifested and our worst fears are confirmed.

There are other reasons that dystopian stories flourish. Science fiction, as Gibson has pointed out, is a pulp literature, a storytelling mode in which the plot is the highest priority. These stories demand a series of ever-raising stakes to keep the tension ratcheting up towards a climax. Disaster stories in which the small problems of workaday life are turned into ever-larger problems of “natural” disaster, human misconduct, worsening disaster, human atrocities, build to an unbeatable crescendo of man-against-nature-against-man that you can’t bear to look away from.

As Gibson says, our resonating stories are a window into our collective fears and hopes. We’re still talking about Skynet and The Matrix because the fear of transhuman, immortal colony-organisms that use humans as their energy-source and gut-flora is a great metaphor for the relationship most of us have to limited liability transnational corporations.

These, in turn, are the result of extreme market ideology, the idea that markets aren’t just places were you go every other week — they’re moral arbiters that tell us who the worthy and unworthy are among us. The Thatcherite doctrine that “there is no such thing as society” is a claim that we have no solidarity, no shared destiny, that “greed is good” and that we are all brands and businesses, and that “there is one and only one social responsibility of businessto use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”

This is a common motif of dystopia: neighbor against neighbor, families turning on each other. In our hearts, we know that we have a common destiny. Not only are do we require other people to help us accomplish anything truly ambitious — we also are entwined at the level of our very microbes, in our very climate. You can’t find high enough ground to escape climate change, not when the people dying in the lowlands are breeding antibiotic resistant TB and coughing it into the air we all breathe. You could try for ever-more baroque secession strategies — underground shelters, air scrubbers, hydroponics — but at a certain point, it’s far cheaper to just take care of the people around you and vice-versa.

The popularity of today’s dystopias might represent the fear of shear between the contradictions of believing in the primacy of the individual (and the idea that our shared destiny is a delusion) and the certainty of the very small and unimaginably large ways in which we are linked. If we go on believing that we owe each other nothing, we’ll arrive at a world in which we behave that way — a perfect dystopia.

There are those who say dystopian and apocalyptic fiction are masturbatory; that they placate us with catharsis when we need to be agitated into action to prevent the real-life collapse of civilization. To what extent do you agree with that outlook?

Much of the planets human population, today, lives in conditions that many inhabitants of North America would regard as dystopian. Quite a few citizens of the United States live under conditions that many people would regard as dystopian. Dystopia is not very evenly distributed. Fantasy is fun, but naturalism is the necessary balance realism, to be less precise. Naturalistic fiction written today is necessarily fairly pessimistic otherwise, it wouldnt be a realistic depiction of the present. If you were, say, a tiger, and you knew whats about to happen to your species (extinction, almost certainly), wouldnt it be realistic to have a pessimistic view of things? I think its realistic, as a human, to have a pessimistic view of a world minus tigers.

William Gibson Has a Theory About Our Cultural Obsession With Dystopias [Abraham Riesman/Vulture]

(Image: Fred Armitage, CC-BY-SA)

Jules Yap takes to Ikeahackers to describe how you can use four Knuff magazine boxes to form a storage-top for a small-apartment-sized coffee table, using an Ikea stool for your base.

Lexi Alexander is the German-Palestinian world kickboxing champ who moved to the US when Chuck Norris helped her get a Green Card; after helping the US Army develop its unarmed combat training program and working as a stuntwoman, she became a virtuoso action-film director, starting with indie movies and working her way up to directing []

Before Laurie Penny was a brilliant young feminist novelist, she was a brilliant young essayist, blazing through the British (and then the worlds) media with column after column that skewered social ills on what Warren Ellis aptly dubbed her red pen of justice.

Web technology has matured considerably in the last decade, and developers are continually in demand. If youre looking to add some skills to your resume, or are just interested in exploring the possibilities of the web, check out this Interactive Web Developer Bootcamp.In this course, youll get a comprehensive overview of full-stack development using modern []

Even if you only use your PC for web browsing, media playback, or light document creation, default software can sometimes come up short. To give your Windows PC a bit of a boost, weve compiled a variety of helpful, paid apps that can enhance your user experience and make you more productive.In thePremium PC Power []

Many people find it easiest to learn things by doing them. If youre looking to give a doer in your life an interesting, hands-on project, check out these tech-focused DIY kits:DIY AT-AT Cable Organizer & Card Case ($32.99)With this kit, you get to put together a wooden replica of an AT-AT that keeps cables, pens, []

Read more:

William Gibson: what we talk about, when we talk about dystopia – Boing Boing

Transhumanism: Can technology help mankind transcend its natural limitations? – Scroll.in

The rapid development of so-called NBIC technologies nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science are giving rise to possibilities that have long been the domain of science fiction. Disease, ageing and even death are all human realities that these technologies seek to end.

They may enable us to enjoy greater morphological freedom we could take on new forms through prosthetics or genetic engineering. Or advance our cognitive capacities. We could use brain-computer interfaces to link us to advanced artificial intelligence.

Nanobots could roam our bloodstream to monitor our health and enhance our emotional propensities for joy, love or other emotions. Advances in one area often raise new possibilities in others, and this convergence may bring about radical changes to our world in the near-future.

Transhumanism is the idea that humans should transcend their current natural state and limitations through the use of technology that we should embrace self-directed human evolution. If the history of technological progress can be seen as humankinds attempt to tame nature to better serve its needs, trans-humanism is the logical continuation: the revision of humankinds nature to better serve its fantasies.

As David Pearce, a leading proponent of transhumanism and co-founder of Humanity+, says:

If we want to live in paradise, we will have to engineer it ourselves. If we want eternal life, then well need to rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code and become god-like only hi-tech solutions can ever eradicate suffering from the world. Compassion alone is not enough.

But there is a darker side to the naive faith that Pearce and other proponents have in transhumanism one that is decidedly dystopian.

There is unlikely to be a clear moment when we emerge as transhuman. Rather, technologies will become more intrusive and integrate seamlessly with the human body. Technology has long been thought of as an extension of the self. Many aspects of our social world, not least our financial systems, are already largely machine-based. There is much to learn from these evolving human/machine hybrid systems.

Yet the often Utopian language and expectations that surround and shape our understanding of these developments have been under-interrogated. The profound changes that lie ahead are often talked about in abstract ways, because evolutionary advancements are deemed so radical that they ignore the reality of current social conditions.

In this way, transhumanism becomes a kind of techno-anthropocentrism, in which transhumanists often underestimate the complexity of our relationship with technology. They see it as a controllable, malleable tool that, with the correct logic and scientific rigour, can be turned to any end. In fact, just as technological developments are dependent on and reflective of the environment in which they arise, they in turn feed back into the culture and create new dynamics often imperceptibly.

Situating transhumanism, then, within the broader social, cultural, political, and economic contexts within which it emerges is vital to understanding how ethical it is.

Max More and Natasha Vita-More, in their edited volume The Transhumanist Reader, claim the need in transhumanism for inclusivity, plurality and continuous questioning of our knowledge.

Yet these three principles are incompatible with developing transformative technologies within the prevailing system from which they are currently emerging: advanced capitalism.

One problem is that a highly competitive social environment doesnt lend itself to diverse ways of being. Instead it demands increasingly efficient behaviour. Take students, for example. If some have access to pills that allow them to achieve better results, can other students afford not to follow? This is already a quandary. Increasing numbers of students reportedly pop performance-enhancing pills. And if pills become more powerful, or if the enhancements involve genetic engineering or intrusive nanotechnology that offer even stronger competitive advantages, what then? Rejecting an advanced technological orthodoxy could potentially render someone socially and economically moribund (perhaps evolutionarily so), while everyone with access is effectively forced to participate to keep up.

Going beyond everyday limits is suggestive of some kind of liberation. However, here it is an imprisoning compulsion to act a certain way. We literally have to transcend in order to conform (and survive). The more extreme the transcendence, the more profound the decision to conform and the imperative to do so.

The systemic forces cajoling the individual into being upgraded to remain competitive also play out on a geo-political level. One area where technology R&D has the greatest transhumanist potential is defence. DARPA (the US defence department responsible for developing military technologies), which is attempting to create metabolically dominant soldiers, is a clear example of how vested interests of a particular social system could determine the development of radically powerful transformative technologies that have destructive rather than Utopian applications.

The rush to develop super-intelligent AI by globally competitive and mutually distrustful nation states could also become an arms race. In Radical Evolution, novelist Verner Vinge describes a scenario in which superhuman intelligence is the ultimate weapon. Ideally, mankind would proceed with the utmost care in developing such a powerful and transformative innovation.

There is quite rightly a huge amount of trepidation around the creation of super-intelligence and the emergence of the singularity the idea that once AI reaches a certain level it will rapidly redesign itself, leading to an explosion of intelligence that will quickly surpass that of humans (something that will happen by 2029 according to futurist Ray Kurzweil). If the world takes the shape of whatever the most powerful AI is programmed (or reprograms itself) to desire, it even opens the possibility of evolution taking a turn for the entirely banal could an AI destroy humankind from a desire to produce the most paperclips for example?

Its also difficult to conceive of any aspect of humanity that could not be improved by being made more efficient at satisfying the demands of a competitive system. It is the system, then, that determines humanitys evolution without taking any view on what humans are or what they should be. One of the ways in which advanced capitalism proves extremely dynamic is in its ideology of moral and metaphysical neutrality. As philosopher Michael Sandel says: markets dont wag fingers. In advanced capitalism, maximising ones spending power maximises ones ability to flourish hence shopping could be said to be a primary moral imperative of the individual.

Philosopher Bob Doede rightly suggests it is this banal logic of the market that will dominate:

If biotech has rendered human nature entirely revisable, then it has no grain to direct or constrain our designs on it. And so whose designs will our successor post-human artefacts likely bear? I have little doubt that in our vastly consumerist, media-saturated capitalist economy, market forces will have their way. So the commercial imperative would be the true architect of the future human.

Whether the evolutionary process is determined by a super-intelligent AI or advanced capitalism, we may be compelled to conform to a perpetual transcendence that only makes us more efficient at activities demanded by the most powerful system. The end point is predictably an entirely nonhuman though very efficient technological entity derived from humanity that doesnt necessarily serve a purpose that a modern-day human would value in any way. The ability to serve the system effectively will be the driving force. This is also true of natural evolution technology is not a simple tool that allows us to engineer ourselves out of this conundrum. But transhumanism could amplify the speed and least desirable aspects of the process.

For bioethicist Julian Savulescu, the main reason humans must be enhanced is for our species to survive. He says we face a Bermuda Triangle of extinction: radical technological power, liberal democracy and our moral nature. As a transhumanist, Savulescu extols technological progress, also deeming it inevitable and unstoppable. It is liberal democracy and particularly our moral nature that should alter.

The failings of humankind to deal with global problems are increasingly obvious. But Savulescu neglects to situate our moral failings within their wider cultural, political and economic context, instead believing that solutions lie within our biological make up.

Yet how would Savulescus morality-enhancing technologies be disseminated, prescribed and potentially enforced to address the moral failings they seek to cure? This would likely reside in the power structures that may well bear much of the responsibility for these failings in the first place. Hes also quickly drawn into revealing how relative and contestable the concept of morality is:

We will need to relax our commitment to maximum protection of privacy. Were seeing an increase in the surveillance of individuals and that will be necessary if we are to avert the threats that those with antisocial personality disorder, fanaticism, represent through their access to radically enhanced technology.

Such surveillance allows corporations and governments to access and make use of extremely valuable information. In Who Owns the Future, internet pioneer Jaron Lanier explains:

Troves of dossiers on the private lives and inner beings of ordinary people, collected over digital networks, are packaged into a new private form of elite money…It is a new kind of security the rich trade in, and the value is naturally driven up. It becomes a giant-scale levee inaccessible to ordinary people.

Crucially, this levee is also invisible to most people. Its impacts extend beyond skewing the economic system towards elites to significantly altering the very conception of liberty, because the authority of power is both radically more effective and dispersed.

Foucaults notion that we live in a panoptic society one in which the sense of being perpetually watched instils discipline is now stretched to the point where todays incessant machinery has been called a superpanopticon. The knowledge and information that transhumanist technologies will tend to create could strengthen existing power structures that cement the inherent logic of the system in which the knowledge arises.

This is in part evident in the tendency of algorithms toward race and gender bias, which reflects our already existing social failings. Information technology tends to interpret the world in defined ways: it privileges information that is easily measurable, such as GDP, at the expense of unquantifiable information such as human happiness or well-being. As invasive technologies provide ever more granular data about us, this data may in a very real sense come to define the world and intangible information may not maintain its rightful place in human affairs.

Existing inequities will surely be magnified with the introduction of highly effective psycho-pharmaceuticals, genetic modification, super intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, nanotechnology, robotic prosthetics, and the possible development of life expansion. They are all fundamentally inegalitarian, based on a notion of limitlessness rather than a standard level of physical and mental well-being weve come to assume in healthcare. Its not easy to conceive of a way in which these potentialities can be enjoyed by all.

Sociologist Saskia Sassen talks of the new logics of expulsion, that capture the pathologies of todays global capitalism. The expelled include the more than 60,000 migrants who have lost their lives on fatal journeys in the past 20 years, and the victims of the racially skewed profile of the increasing prison population.

In Britain, they include the 30,000 people whose deaths in 2015 were linked to health and social care cuts and the many who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire. Their deaths can be said to have resulted from systematic marginalisation.

Unprecedented acute concentration of wealth happens alongside these expulsions. Advanced economic and technical achievements enable this wealth and the expulsion of surplus groups. At the same time, Sassen writes, they create a kind of nebulous centrelessness as the locus of power:

The oppressed have often risen against their masters. But today the oppressed have mostly been expelled and survive a great distance from their oppressors The oppressor is increasingly a complex system that combines persons, networks, and machines with no obvious centre.

Surplus populations removed from the productive aspects of the social world may rapidly increase in the near future as improvements in AI and robotics potentially result in significant automation unemployment. Large swaths of society may become productively and economically redundant. For historian Yuval Noah Harari the most important question in 21st-century economics may well be: what should we do with all the superfluous people?

We would be left with the scenario of a small elite that has an almost total concentration of wealth with access to the most powerfully transformative technologies in world history and a redundant mass of people, no longer suited to the evolutionary environment in which they find themselves and entirely dependent on the benevolence of that elite. The dehumanising treatment of todays expelled groups shows that prevailing liberal values in developed countries dont always extend to those who dont share the same privilege, race, culture or religion.

In an era of radical technological power, the masses may even represent a significant security threat to the elite, which could be used to justify aggressive and authoritarian actions (perhaps enabled further by a culture of surveillance).

In their transhumanist tract, The Proactionary Imperative, Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska argue that we are obliged to pursue techno-scientific progress relentlessly, until we achieve our god-like destiny or infinite power effectively to serve god by becoming god. They unabashedly reveal the incipient violence and destruction such Promethean aims would require: replacing the natural with the artificial is so key to proactionary strategy at least as a serious possibility if not a likelihood [it will lead to] the long-term environmental degradation of the Earth.

The extent of suffering they would be willing to gamble in their cosmic casino is only fully evident when analysing what their project would mean for individual human beings:

A proactionary world would not merely tolerate risk-taking but outright encourage it, as people are provided with legal incentives to speculate with their bio-economic assets. Living riskily would amount to an entrepreneurship of the self [proactionaries] seek large long-term benefits for survivors of a revolutionary regime that would permit many harms along the way.

Progress on overdrive will require sacrifices.

The economic fragility that humans may soon be faced with as a result of automation unemployment would likely prove extremely useful to proactionary goals. In a society where vast swaths of people are reliant on handouts for survival, market forces would determine that less social security means people will risk more for a lower reward, so proactionaries would reinvent the welfare state as a vehicle for fostering securitised risk taking while the proactionary state would operate like a venture capitalist writ large.

At the heart of this is the removal of basic rights for Humanity 1.0, Fullers term for modern, non-augmented human beings, replaced with duties towards the future augmented Humanity 2.0. Hence the very code of our being can and perhaps must be monetised: personal autonomy should be seen as a politically licensed franchise whereby individuals understand their bodies as akin to plots of land in what might be called the genetic commons.

The neo-liberal preoccupation with privatisation would so extend to human beings. Indeed, the lifetime of debt that is the reality for most citizens in developed advanced capitalist nations, takes a further step when you are born into debt simply by being alive you are invested with capital on which a return is expected.

Socially moribund masses may thus be forced to serve the technoscientific super-project of Humanity 2.0, which uses the ideology of market fundamentalism in its quest for perpetual progress and maximum productivity. The only significant difference is that the stated aim of godlike capabilities in Humanity 2.0 is overt, as opposed to the undefined end determined by the infinite progress of an ever more efficient market logic that we have now.

Some transhumanists are beginning to understand that the most serious limitations to what humans can achieve are social and cultural not technical. However, all too often their reframing of politics falls into the same trap as their techno-centric worldview. They commonly argue the new political poles are not left-right but techno-conservative or techno-progressive (and even techno-libertarian and techno-sceptic). Meanwhile Fuller and Lipinska argue that the new political poles will be up and down instead of left and right: those who want to dominate the skies and became all powerful, and those who want to preserve the Earth and its species-rich diversity. It is a false dichotomy. Preservation of the latter is likely to be necessary for any hope of achieving the former.

Transhumanism and advanced capitalism are two processes which value progress and efficiency above everything else. The former as a means to power and the latter as a means to profit. Humans become vessels to serve these values. Transhuman possibilities urgently call for a politics with more clearly delineated and explicit humane values to provide a safer environment in which to foster these profound changes.

Where we stand on questions of social justice and environmental sustainability has never been more important. Technology doesnt allow us to escape these questions it doesnt permit political neutrality. The contrary is true. It determines that our politics have never been important. Savulescu is right when he says radical technologies are coming. He is wrong in thinking they will fix our morality. They will reflect it.

Alexander Thomas, PhD Candidate, University of East London.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

Read this article:

Transhumanism: Can technology help mankind transcend its natural limitations? – Scroll.in

Transhumanists May Lead Us Into a Dystopian Future – Inverse

As technologies integrate with human bodies, a dark future awaits.

By Alexander Thomas, University of East London

The rapid development of so-called NBIC technologies nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science are giving rise to possibilities that have long been the domain of science fiction. Disease, ageing and even death are all human realities that these technologies seek to end.

They may enable us to enjoy greater morphological freedom we could take on new forms through prosthetics or genetic engineering. Or advance our cognitive capacities. We could use brain-computer interfaces to link us to advanced artificial intelligence (AI).

Nanobots could roam our bloodstream to monitor our health and enhance our emotional propensities for joy, love or other emotions. Advances in one area often raise new possibilities in others, and this convergence may bring about radical changes to our world in the near-future.

Transhumanism is the idea that humans should transcend their current natural state and limitations through the use of technology that we should embrace self-directed human evolution. If the history of technological progress can be seen as humankinds attempt to tame nature to better serve its needs, transhumanism is the logical continuation: the revision of humankinds nature to better serve its fantasies.

As David Pearce, a leading proponent of transhumanism and co-founder of Humanity+, says:

If we want to live in paradise, we will have to engineer it ourselves. If we want eternal life, then well need to rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code and become god-like only hi-tech solutions can ever eradicate suffering from the world. Compassion alone is not enough.

But there is a darker side to the naive faith that Pearce and other proponents have in transhumanism one that is decidedly dystopian.

There is unlikely to be a clear moment when we emerge as transhuman. Rather technologies will become more intrusive and integrate seamlessly with the human body. Technology has long been thought of as an extension of the self. Many aspects of our social world, not least our financial systems, are already largely machine-based. There is much to learn from these evolving human/machine hybrid systems.

Yet the often Utopian language and expectations that surround and shape our understanding of these developments have been under-interrogated. The profound changes that lie ahead are often talked about in abstract ways, because evolutionary advancements are deemed so radical that they ignore the reality of current social conditions.

In this way, transhumanism becomes a kind of techno-anthropocentrism, in which transhumanists often underestimate the complexity of our relationship with technology. They see it as a controllable, malleable tool that, with the correct logic and scientific rigour, can be turned to any end. In fact, just as technological developments are dependent on and reflective of the environment in which they arise, they in turn feed back into the culture and create new dynamics often imperceptibly.

Situating transhumanism, then, within the broader social, cultural, political, and economic contexts within which it emerges is vital to understanding how ethical it is.

Max More and Natasha Vita-More, in their edited volume The Transhumanist Reader, claim the need in transhumanism for inclusivity, plurality and continuous questioning of our knowledge.

Yet these three principles are incompatible with developing transformative technologies within the prevailing system from which they are currently emerging: advanced capitalism.

One problem is that a highly competitive social environment doesnt lend itself to diverse ways of being. Instead it demands increasingly efficient behaviour. Take students, for example. If some have access to pills that allow them to achieve better results, can other students afford not to follow? This is already a quandary. Increasing numbers of students reportedly pop performance-enhancing pills. And if pills become more powerful, or if the enhancements involve genetic engineering or intrusive nanotechnology that offer even stronger competitive advantages, what then? Rejecting an advanced technological orthodoxy could potentially render someone socially and economically moribund (perhaps evolutionarily so), while everyone with access is effectively forced to participate to keep up.

Going beyond everyday limits is suggestive of some kind of liberation. However, here it is an imprisoning compulsion to act a certain way. We literally have to transcend in order to conform (and survive). The more extreme the transcendence, the more profound the decision to conform and the imperative to do so.

The systemic forces cajoling the individual into being upgraded to remain competitive also play out on a geo-political level. One area where technology R&D has the greatest transhumanist potential is defence. DARPA (the US defence department responsible for developing military technologies), which is attempting to create metabolically dominant soldiers, is a clear example of how vested interests of a particular social system could determine the development of radically powerful transformative technologies that have destructive rather than Utopian applications.

The rush to develop super-intelligent AI by globally competitive and mutually distrustful nation states could also become an arms race. In Radical Evolution, novelist Verner Vinge describes a scenario in which superhuman intelligence is the ultimate weapon. Ideally, mankind would proceed with the utmost care in developing such a powerful and transformative innovation.

There is quite rightly a huge amount of trepidation around the creation of super-intelligence and the emergence of the singularity the idea that once AI reaches a certain level it will rapidly redesign itself, leading to an explosion of intelligence that will quickly surpass that of humans (something that will happen by 2029 according to futurist Ray Kurzweil). If the world takes the shape of whatever the most powerful AI is programmed (or reprograms itself) to desire, it even opens the possibility of evolution taking a turn for the entirely banal could an AI destroy humankind from a desire to produce the most paperclips for example?

Its also difficult to conceive of any aspect of humanity that could not be improved by being made more efficient at satisfying the demands of a competitive system. It is the system, then, that determines humanitys evolution without taking any view on what humans are or what they should be. One of the ways in which advanced capitalism proves extremely dynamic is in its ideology of moral and metaphysical neutrality. As philosopher Michael Sandel says: markets dont wag fingers. In advanced capitalism, maximising ones spending power maximises ones ability to flourish hence shopping could be said to be a primary moral imperative of the individual.

Philosopher Bob Doede rightly suggests it is this banal logic of the market that will dominate:

If biotech has rendered human nature entirely revisable, then it has no grain to direct or constrain our designs on it. And so whose designs will our successor post-human artefacts likely bear? I have little doubt that in our vastly consumerist, media-saturated capitalist economy, market forces will have their way. So the commercial imperative would be the true architect of the future human.

Whether the evolutionary process is determined by a super-intelligent AI or advanced capitalism, we may be compelled to conform to a perpetual transcendence that only makes us more efficient at activities demanded by the most powerful system. The end point is predictably an entirely nonhuman though very efficient technological entity derived from humanity that doesnt necessarily serve a purpose that a modern-day human would value in any way. The ability to serve the system effectively will be the driving force. This is also true of natural evolution technology is not a simple tool that allows us to engineer ourselves out of this conundrum. But transhumanism could amplify the speed and least desirable aspects of the process.

For bioethicist Julian Savulescu, the main reason humans must be enhanced is for our species to survive. He says we face a Bermuda Triangle of extinction: radical technological power, liberal democracy and our moral nature. As a transhumanist, Savulescu extols technological progress, also deeming it inevitable and unstoppable. It is liberal democracy and particularly our moral nature that should alter.

The failings of humankind to deal with global problems are increasingly obvious. But Savulescu neglects to situate our moral failings within their wider cultural, political and economic context, instead believing that solutions lie within our biological make up.

Yet how would Savulescus morality-enhancing technologies be disseminated, prescribed and potentially enforced to address the moral failings they seek to cure? This would likely reside in the power structures that may well bear much of the responsibility for these failings in the first place. Hes also quickly drawn into revealing how relative and contestable the concept of morality is:

We will need to relax our commitment to maximum protection of privacy. Were seeing an increase in the surveillance of individuals and that will be necessary if we are to avert the threats that those with antisocial personality disorder, fanaticism, represent through their access to radically enhanced technology.

Such surveillance allows corporations and governments to access and make use of extremely valuable information. In Who Owns the Future, internet pioneer Jaron Lanier explains:

Troves of dossiers on the private lives and inner beings of ordinary people, collected over digital networks, are packaged into a new private form of elite money It is a new kind of security the rich trade in, and the value is naturally driven up. It becomes a giant-scale levee inaccessible to ordinary people.

Crucially, this levee is also invisible to most people. Its impacts extend beyond skewing the economic system towards elites to significantly altering the very conception of liberty, because the authority of power is both radically more effective and dispersed.

Foucaults notion that we live in a panoptic society one in which the sense of being perpetually watched instils discipline is now stretched to the point where todays incessant machinery has been called a superpanopticon. The knowledge and information that transhumanist technologies will tend to create could strengthen existing power structures that cement the inherent logic of the system in which the knowledge arises.

This is in part evident in the tendency of algorithms toward race and gender bias, which reflects our already existing social failings. Information technology tends to interpret the world in defined ways: it privileges information that is easily measurable, such as GDP, at the expense of unquantifiable information such as human happiness or well-being. As invasive technologies provide ever more granular data about us, this data may in a very real sense come to define the world and intangible information may not maintain its rightful place in human affairs.

Existing inequities will surely be magnified with the introduction of highly effective psycho-pharmaceuticals, genetic modification, super intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, nanotechnology, robotic prosthetics, and the possible development of life expansion. They are all fundamentally inegalitarian, based on a notion of limitlessness rather than a standard level of physical and mental well-being weve come to assume in healthcare. Its not easy to conceive of a way in which these potentialities can be enjoyed by all.

Sociologist Saskia Sassen talks of the new logics of expulsion, that capture the pathologies of todays global capitalism. The expelled include the more than 60,000 migrants who have lost their lives on fatal journeys in the past 20 years, and the victims of the racially skewed profile of the increasing prison population.

In Britain, they include the 30,000 people whose deaths in 2015 were linked to health and social care cuts and the many who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire. Their deaths can be said to have resulted from systematic marginalisation.

Unprecedented acute concentration of wealth happens alongside these expulsions. Advanced economic and technical achievements enable this wealth and the expulsion of surplus groups. At the same time, Sassen writes, they create a kind of nebulous centrelessness as the locus of power:

The oppressed have often risen against their masters. But today the oppressed have mostly been expelled and survive a great distance from their oppressors The oppressor is increasingly a complex system that combines persons, networks, and machines with no obvious centre.

Surplus populations removed from the productive aspects of the social world may rapidly increase in the near future as improvements in AI and robotics potentially result in significant automation unemployment. Large swaths of society may become productively and economically redundant. For historian Yuval Noah Harari the most important question in 21st-century economics may well be: what should we do with all the superfluous people?

We would be left with the scenario of a small elite that has an almost total concentration of wealth with access to the most powerfully transformative technologies in world history and a redundant mass of people, no longer suited to the evolutionary environment in which they find themselves and entirely dependent on the benevolence of that elite. The dehumanising treatment of todays expelled groups shows that prevailing liberal values in developed countries dont always extend to those who dont share the same privilege, race, culture or religion.

In an era of radical technological power, the masses may even represent a significant security threat to the elite, which could be used to justify aggressive and authoritarian actions (perhaps enabled further by a culture of surveillance).

In their transhumanist tract, The Proactionary Imperative, Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska argue that we are obliged to pursue techno-scientific progress relentlessly, until we achieve our god-like destiny or infinite power effectively to serve God by becoming God. They unabashedly reveal the incipient violence and destruction such Promethean aims would require: replacing the natural with the artificial is so key to proactionary strategy at least as a serious possibility if not a likelihood [it will lead to] the long-term environmental degradation of the Earth.

The extent of suffering they would be willing to gamble in their cosmic casino is only fully evident when analysing what their project would mean for individual human beings:

A proactionary world would not merely tolerate risk-taking but outright encourage it, as people are provided with legal incentives to speculate with their bio-economic assets. Living riskily would amount to an entrepreneurship of the self [proactionaries] seek large long-term benefits for survivors of a revolutionary regime that would permit many harms along the way.

The economic fragility that humans may soon be faced with as a result of automation unemployment would likely prove extremely useful to proactionary goals. In a society where vast swaths of people are reliant on handouts for survival, market forces would determine that less social security means people will risk more for a lower reward, so proactionaries would reinvent the welfare state as a vehicle for fostering securitised risk taking while the proactionary state would operate like a venture capitalist writ large.

At the heart of this is the removal of basic rights for Humanity 1.0, Fullers term for modern, non-augmented human beings, replaced with duties towards the future augmented Humanity 2.0. Hence the very code of our being can and perhaps must be monetised: personal autonomy should be seen as a politically licensed franchise whereby individuals understand their bodies as akin to plots of land in what might be called the genetic commons.

The neoliberal preoccupation with privatisation would so extend to human beings. Indeed, the lifetime of debt that is the reality for most citizens in developed advanced capitalist nations, takes a further step when you are born into debt simply by being alive you are invested with capital on which a return is expected.

Socially moribund masses may thus be forced to serve the technoscientific super-project of Humanity 2.0, which uses the ideology of market fundamentalism in its quest for perpetual progress and maximum productivity. The only significant difference is that the stated aim of godlike capabilities in Humanity 2.0 is overt, as opposed to the undefined end determined by the infinite progress of an ever more efficient market logic that we have now.

Some transhumanists are beginning to understand that the most serious limitations to what humans can achieve are social and cultural not technical. However, all too often their reframing of politics falls into the same trap as their techno-centric worldview. They commonly argue the new political poles are not left-right but techno-conservative or techno-progressive (and even techno-libertarian and techno-sceptic. Meanwhile Fuller and Lipinska argue that the new political poles will be up and down instead of left and right: those who want to dominate the skies and became all powerful, and those who want to preserve the Earth and its species-rich diversity. It is a false dichotomy. Preservation of the latter is likely to be necessary for any hope of achieving the former.

Transhumanism and advanced capitalism are two processes which value progress and efficiency above everything else. The former as a means to power and the latter as a means to profit. Humans become vessels to serve these values. Transhuman possibilities urgently call for a politics with more clearly delineated and explicit humane values to provide a safer environment in which to foster these profound changes. Where we stand on questions of social justice and environmental sustainability has never been more important. Technology doesnt allow us to escape these questions it doesnt permit political neutrality. The contrary is true. It determines that our politics have never been more important. Savulescu is right when he says radical technologies are coming. He is wrong in thinking they will fix our morality. They will reflect it.

Alexander Thomas, PhD Candidate, University of East London

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

See the article here:

Transhumanists May Lead Us Into a Dystopian Future – Inverse

AI and Transhumanism: Could Quest for Super-intelligence and Eternal Life Lead to a Dystopian Nightmare? – Newsweek

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The rapid development of so-called NBIC technologiesnanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive scienceare giving rise to possibilities that have long been the domain of science fiction. Disease, aging and even death are all human realities that these technologies seek to end.

They may enable us to enjoy greater morphological freedomwe could take on new forms through prosthetics or genetic engineering. Or advance our cognitive capacities. We could use brain-computer interfaces to link us to advanced artificial intelligence (AI).

Daily Emails and Alerts – Get the best of Newsweek delivered to your inbox

Nanobots could roam our bloodstream to monitor our health and enhance our emotional propensities for joy, love or other emotions. Advances in one area often raise new possibilities in others, and this convergence may bring about radical changes to our world in the near-future.

Transhumanism is the idea that humans should transcend their current natural state and limitations through the use of technologythat we should embrace self-directed human evolution. If the history of technological progress can be seen as humankinds attempt to tame nature to better serve its needs, transhumanism is the logical continuation: the revision of humankinds nature to better serve its fantasies.

As David Pearce, a leading proponent of transhumanism and co-founder of Humanity+, says:

If we want to live in paradise, we will have to engineer it ourselves. If we want eternal life, then well need to rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code and become god-like only hi-tech solutions can ever eradicate suffering from the world. Compassion alone is not enough.

But there is a darker side to the naive faith that Pearce and other proponents have in transhumanismone that is decidedly dystopian.

There is unlikely to be a clear moment when we emerge as transhuman. Rather technologies will become more intrusive and integrate seamlessly with the human body. Technology has long been thought of as an extension of the self. Many aspects of our social world, not least our financial systems, are already largely machine-based. There is much to learn from these evolving human/machine hybrid systems.

Artificial intelligence GLAS-8/Flickr

Yet the often Utopian language and expectations that surround and shape our understanding of these developments have been under-interrogated. The profound changes that lie ahead are often talked about in abstract ways, because evolutionary advancements are deemed so radical that they ignore the reality of current social conditions.

In this way, transhumanism becomes a kind of techno-anthropocentrism,in which transhumanists often underestimate the complexity of our relationship with technology. They see it as a controllable, malleable tool that, with the correct logic and scientific rigour, can be turned to any end. In fact, just as technological developments are dependent on and reflective of the environment in which they arise, they in turn feed back into the culture and create new dynamicsoften imperceptibly.

Situating transhumanism, then, within the broader social, cultural, political, and economic contexts within which it emerges is vital to understanding how ethical it is.

A customs officer in Bulgaria displays Captagon pills in Sofia, 12, 2007. Pills could give advantages to peoplebut only those who can afford them. Reuters/Nikolay Doychinov

Max More and Natasha Vita-More, in their edited volume The Transhumanist Reader, claim the need in transhumanism for inclusivity, plurality and continuous questioning of our knowledge.”

Yet these three principles are incompatible with developing transformative technologies within the prevailing system from which they are currently emerging: advanced capitalism.

One problem is that a highly competitive social environment doesnt lend itself to diverse ways of being. Instead it demands increasingly efficient behaviour. Take students, for example. If some have access to pills that allow them to achieve better results, can other students afford not to follow? This is already a quandary. Increasing numbers of students reportedly pop performance-enhancing pills. And if pills become more powerful, or if the enhancements involve genetic engineering or intrusive nanotechnology that offer even stronger competitive advantages, what then? Rejecting an advanced technological orthodoxy could potentially render someone socially and economically moribund (perhaps evolutionarily so), while everyone with access is effectively forced to participate to keep up.

Going beyond everyday limits is suggestive of some kind of liberation. However, here it is an imprisoning compulsion to act a certain way. We literally have to transcend in order to conform (and survive). The more extreme the transcendence, the more profound the decision to conform and the imperative to do so.

The systemic forces cajoling the individual into being upgraded to remain competitive also play out on a geo-political level. One area where technology R&D has the greatest transhumanist potential is defence. DARPA (the US defense department responsible for developing military technologies), which is attempting to create metabolically dominant soldiers,” is a clear example of how vested interests of a particular social system could determine the development of radically powerful transformative technologies that have destructive rather than Utopian applications.

U.S. army soldiers in a joint military drill together with Serbian and Bulgarian soldiers, at Koren military training ground, Bulgaria, July 15, 2017. DAPRA is currently working to create metabolically dominant soldiers. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

The rush to develop super-intelligent AI by globally competitive and mutually distrustful nation states could also become an arms race. In Radical Evolution, novelist Verner Vinge describes a scenario in which superhuman intelligence is the ultimate weapon.” Ideally, mankind would proceed with the utmost care in developing such a powerful and transformative innovation.

There is quite rightly a huge amount of trepidation around the creation of super-intelligence and the emergence of the singularitythe idea that once AI reaches a certain level it will rapidly redesign itself, leading to an explosion of intelligence that will quickly surpass that of humans (something that will happen by 2029 according to futurist Ray Kurzweil). If the world takes the shape of whatever the most powerful AI is programed (or reprograms itself) to desire, it even opens the possibility of evolution taking a turn for the entirely banalcould an AI destroy humankind from a desire to produce the most paperclips for example?

Its also difficult to conceive of any aspect of humanity that could not be improved by being made more efficient at satisfying the demands of a competitive system. It is the system, then, that determines humanitys evolutionwithout taking any view on what humans are or what they should be. One of the ways in which advanced capitalism proves extremely dynamic is in its ideology of moral and metaphysical neutrality. As philosopher Michael Sandel says: markets dont wag fingers. In advanced capitalism, maximizing ones spending power maximizes ones ability to flourishhence shopping could be said to be a primary moral imperative of the individual.

Philosopher Bob Doede rightly suggests it is this banal logic of the market that will dominate:

If biotech has rendered human nature entirely revisable, then it has no grain to direct or constrain our designs on it. And so whose designs will our successor post-human artefacts likely bear? I have little doubt that in our vastly consumerist, media-saturated capitalist economy, market forces will have their way. So the commercial imperative would be the true architect of the future human.

Whether the evolutionary process is determined by a super-intelligent AI or advanced capitalism, we may be compelled to conform to a perpetual transcendence that only makes us more efficient at activities demanded by the most powerful system. The end point is predictably an entirely nonhumanthough very efficienttechnological entity derived from humanity that doesnt necessarily serve a purpose that a modern-day human would value in any way. The ability to serve the system effectively will be the driving force. This is also true of natural evolutiontechnology is not a simple tool that allows us to engineer ourselves out of this conundrum. But transhumanism could amplify the speed and least desirable aspects of the process.

For bioethicist Julian Savulescu, the main reason humans must be enhanced is for our species to survive. He says we face a Bermuda Triangle of extinction: radical technological power, liberal democracy and our moral nature. As a transhumanist, Savulescu extols technological progress, also deeming it inevitable and unstoppable. It is liberal democracyand particularly our moral naturethat should alter.

The failings of humankind to deal with global problems are increasingly obvious. But Savulescu neglects to situate our moral failings within their wider cultural, political and economic context, instead believing that solutions lie within our biological make up.

Yet how would Savulescus morality-enhancing technologies be disseminated, prescribed and potentially enforced to address the moral failings they seek to cure? This would likely reside in the power structures that may well bear much of the responsibility for these failings in the first place. Hes also quickly drawn into revealing how relative and contestable the concept of morality is:

We will need to relax our commitment to maximum protection of privacy. Were seeing an increase in the surveillance of individuals and that will be necessary if we are to avert the threats that those with antisocial personality disorder, fanaticism, represent through their access to radically enhanced technology.

Such surveillance allows corporations and governments to access and make use of extremely valuable information. In Who Owns the Future, internet pioneer Jaron Lanier explains:

Troves of dossiers on the private lives and inner beings of ordinary people, collected over digital networks, are packaged into a new private form of elite money It is a new kind of security the rich trade in, and the value is naturally driven up. It becomes a giant-scale levee inaccessible to ordinary people.

Crucially, this levee is also invisible to most people. Its impacts extend beyond skewing the economic system towards elites to significantly altering the very conception of liberty, because the authority of power is both radically more effective and dispersed.

Foucaults notion that we live in a panoptic societyone in which the sense of being perpetually watched instills disciplineis now stretched to the point where todays incessant machinery has been called a superpanopticon.” The knowledge and information that transhumanist technologies will tend to create could strengthen existing power structures that cement the inherent logic of the system in which the knowledge arises.

This is in part evident in the tendency of algorithms toward race and gender bias, which reflects our already existing social failings. Information technology tends to interpret the world in defined ways: it privileges information that is easily measurable, such as GDP, at the expense of unquantifiable information such as human happiness or well-being. As invasive technologies provide ever more granular data about us, this data may in a very real sense come to define the world and intangible information may not maintain its rightful place in human affairs.

Existing inequities will surely be magnified with the introduction of highly effective psycho-pharmaceuticals, genetic modification, super intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, nanotechnology, robotic prosthetics, and the possible development of life expansion. They are all fundamentally inegalitarian, based on a notion of limitlessness rather than a standard level of physical and mental well-being weve come to assume in healthcare. Its not easy to conceive of a way in which these potentialities can be enjoyed by all.

A man moves his finger toward a robotic hand at the IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots in Madrid on November 19, 2014. AFP

Sociologist Saskia Sassen talks of the new logics of expulsion,” that capture the pathologies of todays global capitalism.”The expelled include the more than 60,000 migrants who have lost their lives on fatal journeys in the past 20 years, and the victims of the racially skewed profile of the increasing prison population.

In Britain, they include the 30,000 people whose deaths in 2015 were linked to health and social care cuts and the many who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire. Their deaths can be said to have resulted from systematic marginalization.

Unprecedented acute concentration of wealth happens alongside these expulsions. Advanced economic and technical achievements enable this wealth and the expulsion of surplus groups. At the same time, Sassen writes, they create a kind of nebulous centerlessness as the locus of power:

The oppressed have often risen against their masters. But today the oppressed have mostly been expelled and survive a great distance from their oppressors The oppressor is increasingly a complex system that combines persons, networks, and machines with no obvious centre.

Surplus populations removed from the productive aspects of the social world may rapidly increase in the near future as improvements in AI and robotics potentially result in significant automation unemployment. Large swaths of society may become productively and economically redundant. For historian Yuval Noah Harari the most important question in 21st-century economics may well be: what should we do with all the superfluous people?

We would be left with the scenario of a small elite that has an almost total concentration of wealth with access to the most powerfully transformative technologies in world history and a redundant mass of people, no longer suited to the evolutionary environment in which they find themselves and entirely dependent on the benevolence of that elite. The dehumanizing treatment of todays expelled groups shows that prevailing liberal values in developed countries dont always extend to those who dont share the same privilege, race, culture or religion.

In an era of radical technological power, the masses may even represent a significant security threat to the elite, which could be used to justify aggressive and authoritarian actions (perhaps enabled further by a culture of surveillance.)

In their transhumanist tract, The Proactionary Imperative, Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska argue that we are obliged to pursue techno-scientific progress relentlessly, until we achieve our god-like destiny or infinite powereffectively to serve God by becoming God. They unabashedly reveal the incipient violence and destruction such Promethean aims would require: replacing the natural with the artificial is so key to proactionary strategy at least as a serious possibility if not a likelihood [it will lead to] the long-term environmental degradation of the Earth.

The extent of suffering they would be willing to gamble in their cosmic casino is only fully evident when analysing what their project would mean for individual human beings:

A proactionary world would not merely tolerate risk-taking but outright encourage it, as people are provided with legal incentives to speculate with their bio-economic assets. Living riskily would amount to an entrepreneurship of the self [proactionaries] seek large long-term benefits for survivors of a revolutionary regime that would permit many harms along the way.

Progress on overdrive will require sacrifices.

The economic fragility that humans may soon be faced with as a result of automation unemployment would likely prove extremely useful to proactionary goals. In a society where vast swaths of people are reliant on handouts for survival, market forces would determine that less social security means people will risk more for a lower reward, so proactionaries would reinvent the welfare state as a vehicle for fostering securitised risk taking while the proactionary state would operate like a venture capitalist writ large.

At the heart of this is the removal of basic rights for Humanity 1.0,” Fullers term for modern, non-augmented human beings, replaced with duties towards the future augmented Humanity 2.0. Hence the very code of our being can and perhaps must be monetised: personal autonomy should be seen as a politically licensed franchise whereby individuals understand their bodies as akin to plots of land in what might be called the genetic commons.'”

The neoliberal preoccupation with privatization would extend to human beings. Indeed, the lifetime of debt that is the reality for most citizens in developed advanced capitalist nations, takes a further step when you are born into debtsimply by being alive you are invested with capital on which a return is expected.”

Socially moribund masses may thus be forced to serve the technoscientific super-project of Humanity 2.0, which uses the ideology of market fundamentalism in its quest for perpetual progress and maximum productivity. The only significant difference is that the stated aim of godlike capabilities in Humanity 2.0 is overt, as opposed to the undefined end determined by the infinite progress of an ever more efficient market logic that we have now.

Some transhumanists are beginning to understand that the most serious limitations to what humans can achieve are social and culturalnot technical. However, all too often their reframing of politics falls into the same trap as their techno-centric worldview. They commonly argue the new political poles are not left-right but techno-conservative or techno-progressive (and even techno-libertarian and techno-sceptic). Meanwhile Fuller and Lipinska argue that the new political poles will be up and down instead of left and right: those who want to dominate the skies and became all powerful, and those who want to preserve the Earth and its species-rich diversity. It is a false dichotomy. Preservation of the latter is likely to be necessary for any hope of achieving the former.

Transhumanism and advanced capitalism are two processes which value progress and efficiency above everything else. The former as a means to power and the latter as a means to profit. Humans become vessels to serve these values. Transhuman possibilities urgently call for a politics with more clearly delineated and explicit humane values to provide a safer environment in which to foster these profound changes. Where we stand on questions of social justice and environmental sustainability has never been more important. Technology doesnt allow us to escape these questionsit doesnt permit political neutrality. The contrary is true. It determines that our politics have never been important. Savulescu is right when he says radical technologies are coming. He is wrong in thinking they will fix our morality. They will reflect it.

Alexander Thomasis aPhD Candidate at theUniversity of East London.

Read more here:

AI and Transhumanism: Could Quest for Super-intelligence and Eternal Life Lead to a Dystopian Nightmare? – Newsweek

Super-intelligence and eternal life: transhumanism’s faithful follow it blindly into a future for the elite – The Conversation UK

Distant Earth.

The rapid development of so-called NBIC technologies nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science are giving rise to possibilities that have long been the domain of science fiction. Disease, ageing and even death are all human realities that these technologies seek to end.

They may enable us to enjoy greater morphological freedom we could take on new forms through prosthetics or genetic engineering. Or advance our cognitive capacities. We could use brain-computer interfaces to link us to advanced artificial intelligence (AI).

Nanobots could roam our bloodstream to monitor our health and enhance our emotional propensities for joy, love or other emotions. Advances in one area often raise new possibilities in others, and this convergence may bring about radical changes to our world in the near-future.

Transhumanism is the idea that humans should transcend their current natural state and limitations through the use of technology that we should embrace self-directed human evolution. If the history of technological progress can be seen as humankinds attempt to tame nature to better serve its needs, transhumanism is the logical continuation: the revision of humankinds nature to better serve its fantasies.

As David Pearce, a leading proponent of transhumanism and co-founder of Humanity+, says:

If we want to live in paradise, we will have to engineer it ourselves. If we want eternal life, then well need to rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code and become god-like only hi-tech solutions can ever eradicate suffering from the world. Compassion alone is not enough.

But there is a darker side to the naive faith that Pearce and other proponents have in transhumanism one that is decidedly dystopian.

There is unlikely to be a clear moment when we emerge as transhuman. Rather technologies will become more intrusive and integrate seamlessly with the human body. Technology has long been thought of as an extension of the self. Many aspects of our social world, not least our financial systems, are already largely machine-based. There is much to learn from these evolving human/machine hybrid systems.

Yet the often Utopian language and expectations that surround and shape our understanding of these developments have been under-interrogated. The profound changes that lie ahead are often talked about in abstract ways, because evolutionary advancements are deemed so radical that they ignore the reality of current social conditions.

In this way, transhumanism becomes a kind of techno-anthropocentrism, in which transhumanists often underestimate the complexity of our relationship with technology. They see it as a controllable, malleable tool that, with the correct logic and scientific rigour, can be turned to any end. In fact, just as technological developments are dependent on and reflective of the environment in which they arise, they in turn feed back into the culture and create new dynamics often imperceptibly.

Situating transhumanism, then, within the broader social, cultural, political, and economic contexts within which it emerges is vital to understanding how ethical it is.

Max More and Natasha Vita-More, in their edited volume The Transhumanist Reader, claim the need in transhumanism for inclusivity, plurality and continuous questioning of our knowledge.

Yet these three principles are incompatible with developing transformative technologies within the prevailing system from which they are currently emerging: advanced capitalism.

One problem is that a highly competitive social environment doesnt lend itself to diverse ways of being. Instead it demands increasingly efficient behaviour. Take students, for example. If some have access to pills that allow them to achieve better results, can other students afford not to follow? This is already a quandary. Increasing numbers of students reportedly pop performance-enhancing pills. And if pills become more powerful, or if the enhancements involve genetic engineering or intrusive nanotechnology that offer even stronger competitive advantages, what then? Rejecting an advanced technological orthodoxy could potentially render someone socially and economically moribund (perhaps evolutionarily so), while everyone with access is effectively forced to participate to keep up.

Going beyond everyday limits is suggestive of some kind of liberation. However, here it is an imprisoning compulsion to act a certain way. We literally have to transcend in order to conform (and survive). The more extreme the transcendence, the more profound the decision to conform and the imperative to do so.

The systemic forces cajoling the individual into being upgraded to remain competitive also play out on a geo-political level. One area where technology R&D has the greatest transhumanist potential is defence. DARPA (the US defence department responsible for developing military technologies), which is attempting to create metabolically dominant soldiers, is a clear example of how vested interests of a particular social system could determine the development of radically powerful transformative technologies that have destructive rather than Utopian applications.

The rush to develop super-intelligent AI by globally competitive and mutually distrustful nation states could also become an arms race. In Radical Evolution, novelist Verner Vinge describes a scenario in which superhuman intelligence is the ultimate weapon. Ideally, mankind would proceed with the utmost care in developing such a powerful and transformative innovation.

There is quite rightly a huge amount of trepidation around the creation of super-intelligence and the emergence of the singularity the idea that once AI reaches a certain level it will rapidly redesign itself, leading to an explosion of intelligence that will quickly surpass that of humans (something that will happen by 2029 according to futurist Ray Kurzweil). If the world takes the shape of whatever the most powerful AI is programmed (or reprograms itself) to desire, it even opens the possibility of evolution taking a turn for the entirely banal could an AI destroy humankind from a desire to produce the most paperclips for example?

Its also difficult to conceive of any aspect of humanity that could not be improved by being made more efficient at satisfying the demands of a competitive system. It is the system, then, that determines humanitys evolution without taking any view on what humans are or what they should be. One of the ways in which advanced capitalism proves extremely dynamic is in its ideology of moral and metaphysical neutrality. As philosopher Michael Sandel says: markets dont wag fingers. In advanced capitalism, maximising ones spending power maximises ones ability to flourish hence shopping could be said to be a primary moral imperative of the individual.

Philosopher Bob Doede rightly suggests it is this banal logic of the market that will dominate:

If biotech has rendered human nature entirely revisable, then it has no grain to direct or constrain our designs on it. And so whose designs will our successor post-human artefacts likely bear? I have little doubt that in our vastly consumerist, media-saturated capitalist economy, market forces will have their way. So the commercial imperative would be the true architect of the future human.

Whether the evolutionary process is determined by a super-intelligent AI or advanced capitalism, we may be compelled to conform to a perpetual transcendence that only makes us more efficient at activities demanded by the most powerful system. The end point is predictably an entirely nonhuman though very efficient technological entity derived from humanity that doesnt necessarily serve a purpose that a modern-day human would value in any way. The ability to serve the system effectively will be the driving force. This is also true of natural evolution technology is not a simple tool that allows us to engineer ourselves out of this conundrum. But transhumanism could amplify the speed and least desirable aspects of the process.

For bioethicist Julian Savulescu, the main reason humans must be enhanced is for our species to survive. He says we face a Bermuda Triangle of extinction: radical technological power, liberal democracy and our moral nature. As a transhumanist, Savulescu extols technological progress, also deeming it inevitable and unstoppable. It is liberal democracy and particularly our moral nature that should alter.

The failings of humankind to deal with global problems are increasingly obvious. But Savulescu neglects to situate our moral failings within their wider cultural, political and economic context, instead believing that solutions lie within our biological make up.

Yet how would Savulescus morality-enhancing technologies be disseminated, prescribed and potentially enforced to address the moral failings they seek to cure? This would likely reside in the power structures that may well bear much of the responsibility for these failings in the first place. Hes also quickly drawn into revealing how relative and contestable the concept of morality is:

We will need to relax our commitment to maximum protection of privacy. Were seeing an increase in the surveillance of individuals and that will be necessary if we are to avert the threats that those with antisocial personality disorder, fanaticism, represent through their access to radically enhanced technology.

Such surveillance allows corporations and governments to access and make use of extremely valuable information. In Who Owns the Future, internet pioneer Jaron Lanier explains:

Troves of dossiers on the private lives and inner beings of ordinary people, collected over digital networks, are packaged into a new private form of elite money It is a new kind of security the rich trade in, and the value is naturally driven up. It becomes a giant-scale levee inaccessible to ordinary people.

Crucially, this levee is also invisible to most people. Its impacts extend beyond skewing the economic system towards elites to significantly altering the very conception of liberty, because the authority of power is both radically more effective and dispersed.

Foucaults notion that we live in a panoptic society one in which the sense of being perpetually watched instils discipline is now stretched to the point where todays incessant machinery has been called a superpanopticon. The knowledge and information that transhumanist technologies will tend to create could strengthen existing power structures that cement the inherent logic of the system in which the knowledge arises.

This is in part evident in the tendency of algorithms toward race and gender bias, which reflects our already existing social failings. Information technology tends to interpret the world in defined ways: it privileges information that is easily measurable, such as GDP, at the expense of unquantifiable information such as human happiness or well-being. As invasive technologies provide ever more granular data about us, this data may in a very real sense come to define the world and intangible information may not maintain its rightful place in human affairs.

Existing inequities will surely be magnified with the introduction of highly effective psycho-pharmaceuticals, genetic modification, super intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, nanotechnology, robotic prosthetics, and the possible development of life expansion. They are all fundamentally inegalitarian, based on a notion of limitlessness rather than a standard level of physical and mental well-being weve come to assume in healthcare. Its not easy to conceive of a way in which these potentialities can be enjoyed by all.

Sociologist Saskia Sassen talks of the new logics of expulsion, that capture the pathologies of todays global capitalism. The expelled include the more than 60,000 migrants who have lost their lives on fatal journeys in the past 20 years, and the victims of the racially skewed profile of the increasing prison population.

In Britain, they include the 30,000 people whose deaths in 2015 were linked to health and social care cuts and the many who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire. Their deaths can be said to have resulted from systematic marginalisation.

Unprecedented acute concentration of wealth happens alongside these expulsions. Advanced economic and technical achievements enable this wealth and the expulsion of surplus groups. At the same time, Sassen writes, they create a kind of nebulous centrelessness as the locus of power:

The oppressed have often risen against their masters. But today the oppressed have mostly been expelled and survive a great distance from their oppressors The oppressor is increasingly a complex system that combines persons, networks, and machines with no obvious centre.

Surplus populations removed from the productive aspects of the social world may rapidly increase in the near future as improvements in AI and robotics potentially result in significant automation unemployment. Large swaths of society may become productively and economically redundant. For historian Yuval Noah Harari the most important question in 21st-century economics may well be: what should we do with all the superfluous people?

We would be left with the scenario of a small elite that has an almost total concentration of wealth with access to the most powerfully transformative technologies in world history and a redundant mass of people, no longer suited to the evolutionary environment in which they find themselves and entirely dependent on the benevolence of that elite. The dehumanising treatment of todays expelled groups shows that prevailing liberal values in developed countries dont always extend to those who dont share the same privilege, race, culture or religion.

In an era of radical technological power, the masses may even represent a significant security threat to the elite, which could be used to justify aggressive and authoritarian actions (perhaps enabled further by a culture of surveillance).

In their transhumanist tract, The Proactionary Imperative, Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska argue that we are obliged to pursue techno-scientific progress relentlessly, until we achieve our god-like destiny or infinite power effectively to serve God by becoming God. They unabashedly reveal the incipient violence and destruction such Promethean aims would require: replacing the natural with the artificial is so key to proactionary strategy at least as a serious possibility if not a likelihood [it will lead to] the long-term environmental degradation of the Earth.

The extent of suffering they would be willing to gamble in their cosmic casino is only fully evident when analysing what their project would mean for individual human beings:

A proactionary world would not merely tolerate risk-taking but outright encourage it, as people are provided with legal incentives to speculate with their bio-economic assets. Living riskily would amount to an entrepreneurship of the self [proactionaries] seek large long-term benefits for survivors of a revolutionary regime that would permit many harms along the way.

Progress on overdrive will require sacrifices.

The economic fragility that humans may soon be faced with as a result of automation unemployment would likely prove extremely useful to proactionary goals. In a society where vast swaths of people are reliant on handouts for survival, market forces would determine that less social security means people will risk more for a lower reward, so proactionaries would reinvent the welfare state as a vehicle for fostering securitised risk taking while the proactionary state would operate like a venture capitalist writ large.

At the heart of this is the removal of basic rights for Humanity 1.0, Fullers term for modern, non-augmented human beings, replaced with duties towards the future augmented Humanity 2.0. Hence the very code of our being can and perhaps must be monetised: personal autonomy should be seen as a politically licensed franchise whereby individuals understand their bodies as akin to plots of land in what might be called the genetic commons.

The neoliberal preoccupation with privatisation would so extend to human beings. Indeed, the lifetime of debt that is the reality for most citizens in developed advanced capitalist nations, takes a further step when you are born into debt simply by being alive you are invested with capital on which a return is expected.

Socially moribund masses may thus be forced to serve the technoscientific super-project of Humanity 2.0, which uses the ideology of market fundamentalism in its quest for perpetual progress and maximum productivity. The only significant difference is that the stated aim of godlike capabilities in Humanity 2.0 is overt, as opposed to the undefined end determined by the infinite progress of an ever more efficient market logic that we have now.

Some transhumanists are beginning to understand that the most serious limitations to what humans can achieve are social and cultural not technical. However, all too often their reframing of politics falls into the same trap as their techno-centric worldview. They commonly argue the new political poles are not left-right but techno-conservative or techno-progressive (and even techno-libertarian and techno-sceptic). Meanwhile Fuller and Lipinska argue that the new political poles will be up and down instead of left and right: those who want to dominate the skies and became all powerful, and those who want to preserve the Earth and its species-rich diversity. It is a false dichotomy. Preservation of the latter is likely to be necessary for any hope of achieving the former.

Transhumanism and advanced capitalism are two processes which value progress and efficiency above everything else. The former as a means to power and the latter as a means to profit. Humans become vessels to serve these values. Transhuman possibilities urgently call for a politics with more clearly delineated and explicit humane values to provide a safer environment in which to foster these profound changes. Where we stand on questions of social justice and environmental sustainability has never been more important. Technology doesnt allow us to escape these questions it doesnt permit political neutrality. The contrary is true. It determines that our politics have never been important. Savulescu is right when he says radical technologies are coming. He is wrong in thinking they will fix our morality. They will reflect it.

Go here to read the rest:

Super-intelligence and eternal life: transhumanism’s faithful follow it blindly into a future for the elite – The Conversation UK

Liam Payne Joins Ranks of Trans-Supportive Celebrities – PopCrush

Theo Wargo, Getty Images

Liam Paynehasofficially added his name to the list of celebrities who are openly and explicitly in support of trans human rights. With anInstagram post earlier today, Payne quoted Thomas Jefferson and hashtagged the image lgbtqrights.

Paynes support comes as part of the recent flood of support for trans people following President Donald Trumps declaration via Twitter, and apparently without taking the extra old-fashioned step of consulting his staff first that transgender citizens will no longer be allowed to enlist in the military. Though the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff insist that there will be no change in the militarys enlistment tactics until an official piece of legislation is passed, Trumps tweets are nonetheless a codification of hate towards trans people. It sets a dangerous precedent for whimsical lawmaking from ones own phone.

That, of course, provides ample opportunity for everyone with a platform to make sure everyone else knows that theyre a great ally. So great that they wave rainbow flags during Pride Month and are very, very against this nonsensical announcement. Even Senator John McCain can try to win some brownie points. Not as many as Payne, and certainly not as many as James Cordens musical routine, but some.

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Liam Payne Joins Ranks of Trans-Supportive Celebrities – PopCrush

What the Gay Lobby Doesn’t Want You to Know – Church Militant

A decade ago, personal video testimonials of people “coming out” as gay exploded on YouTube. Now, search the term “ex-gay,” and you’ll find an explosion of testimonials from those who’ve left the homosexual lifestyle and have never looked back.

But this is the news the LGBT lobby doesn’t want anyone to know, because it bursts the myth that people are “born that way” and they can never really change. So invested are they in the narrative that they’ve lobbied states to outlaw reparative therapy voluntary counseling that helps diminish or eliminate unwanted same-sex attraction. Currently, nine states and counting have banned such therapy for minors, meaning youth who seek help in ridding themselves of homosexual desires can no longer do so with a licensed therapist in those states.

But counselors are hitting back. Remarkably, in a stunning federal filing in May, tens of thousands of licensed therapists and clients lodged a massive fraud claim against the LGBT lobby accusing them of misinformation and outright lies regarding the “born that way” narrative and reparative therapy. And secular media are propping up the fraud, promoting the false notion that reparative therapy resorts to torture, shaming and “shock treatment” none of it true.

The late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a pioneer in reparative therapy, helped many men recapture their heterosexual orientation.

“Homosexuality is not about sex,” Nicolosi said. “It is about a person’s sense of himself, about his relationships, how he forms and establishes relationships, his self-identity, his self-image, personal shame, his ability to sustain intimacy.”

“Homosexual behavior is always prompted by an inner sense of emptiness,” he explained.

Often, when childhood wounds were healed, men would find their same-sex desires diminish or disappear completely, replaced with a healthy, heterosexual attraction.

“Findings from preliminary data collected over a 12-month period indicated statistically significant reductions in distress and improvements in well-being, significant movement toward heterosexual identity, and significant increases in heterosexual thoughts and desires with accompanying significant decreases in homosexual thoughts and desires,” he summarized.

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What the Gay Lobby Doesn’t Want You to Know – Church Militant

SIMPLE CREATURE Review – Film Pulse

2.5

Release Date: July 25, 2017 (DVD and VOD platforms)Director:Andrew FinniganMPAA Rating: NR Runtime: 92 mins

The very concept of transhumanism, the belief that the human body can be pushed past its physical and mental limitations through an incorporation of technology, seems like a narrative concept that is almost impossible to make mundane and stale. The implications, possibilities and risks of the wavering status of humanity transhumanism challenges would supply even the most basic science fiction writer with a wealth of existential questions.

Simple Creature, however, never bothers to ask any of these questions in its Bionic Woman-like fable because, beyond skimming the surface of the possibilities of mechanical augmentation, director Andrew Finnigan shows he hasnt the drive or perhaps the budget to delve any further.

Bearing its catchpenny budget on its shoulders with sets of laughably barren mise-en-scne, the film unfolds uneasily as if confused to what particular issue related to the transhuman debate it wants to address. Millennial college student Em (Carollani Sandberg), whose supposed mastery of modern technology is marked by her dependence on a smartphone, is involved in a near-fatal bus accident that prompts her father to rebuild her because of course we have the technology.

Mind you, we never actually see any of this technology due to budgetary constraints, but the script poorly fills us in with its bizarre, layman techno jargon, making one doubt that Finnigan, who along with directing and writing this dreck is also responsible for the screenplay, hasnt the slightest clue about medical technology. Hes more comfortable with employing buzzwords like nanotechnology as insipid catchalls to the process to ensure no one could be intellectually stimulated by his story.

As Em recovers from her condition, Finnigan demonstrates how uninterested he was in transhumanism to begin with by diverting the films attention to her boyfriend, Seth (DAngelo Midili), and his struggle to keep his family farm operational after his fathers passing. For some unknown reason, Finnigan thought it was prescient to draw parallels between human augmentation and corporate farms infringing on the family-owned business under Simple Creatures blanket thesis: technology does not equal humanity. These scenes before Ems reintegration into the films narrative are only useful to highlight its atrocious sense of pacing.

Half of the film is presented in flowing montage, which dances around things like character building and story through excessive cutting, while the other half is comprised of monotonous dialogue exchanges that played more like the actors building a demo reel, seeing how much personality they could cram into their blank characters.

It is as if the film is permanently stuck its own Kickstarter promotional video, trying to secure enough budget to have makeup effects beyond Em sticking an iPhone cord into her arm to check her vitals. Filming, as he does, from natural light obstructing long shots of utter apathy, Finnigans inconsistent aesthetic practically broadcasts the fresh-out-of-film-school pretensions that one harbors when they earnestly think they can be the next Shane Carruth. As the film goes on, it spirals into a lackluster conspiracy thriller involving the facility in which Em was transformed and the farmers plotting to expose them before limply petering out. Simple Creature is a surprising film in that it somehow made transhumanism boring. Not sure where it wants to place its mistrust of technological advancement that stems from its own ignorance of the topic, Simple Creature spins its wheels futilely without a solid point to make or the means to do so.

Simple Creature review

Written by: Chris Luciantonio

Date Published: 07/25/2017

2.5 / 10 stars

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SIMPLE CREATURE Review – Film Pulse

Let’s Turn America’s Military-Industrial Complex Into A Science-Industrial Complex – HuffPost

Many Americans subscribe to the annoying belief that our nations military-industrial complex is the surest way to remain the wealthiest and leading superpower in the world. After all, its worked for the last century, pro-military supporters love to point out.

However, Americas dependence on warmongering may soon become a liability that is impossible to maintain. Transhumanism, globalization, and outright replacement of human soldiers with robots are redefining the countrys military requirements, and they may eventually render defense budgets far smaller than those now. To compensate and keep America spending approximately 20 percent of the federal budget on defense (as we have for most of the last few years), well either have to manufacture wars to use all our newly-made bombs, or find another way to keep the American economy afloat.

It just so happens that there is another way a method that would satisfy liberals and conservatives alike, as well as other politically-minded folks (Im a libertarian candidate for California governor). Instead of always spending more on our military, we could transition our nation and its economy into a scientific-industrial complex.

Theres a compelling reason to do this beyond what meets the eye. Transhumanist technology is starting to radically change human life. Many experts expect to be able to stop aging and conquer death for human beings in the next 25 years. Others, like myself, see humans merging with machines and replacing our organs with bionic ones.

Such a new transhuman society will require many trillions of dollars to satisfy humans ever-growing desire for physical perfection (machine or biological) in the transhumanist age. We could keep our economy humming along for decades because of it.

Whatever happens, something is going to have to give in the future regarding military profiteering. Part of this is because in the past, the military-industrial complex operated off always keeping a few million U.S. military members ready on a moments notice to travel around the world and fight. But theres almost no scenario where we would need that kind of human-power (and infrastructure to support it) anymore.

Increasingly, small teams of special operation soldiers and uber-high tech are the way America fights its wars. We just dont need massive military bases anymore, nor the thousands of companies to support the constant maintenance of ground troops. Such a reality changes the economics of the military dramatically, and will eventually leave it a fraction of its size in terms of personnel and real estate.

The coming military age of automated drones, robot tanks, cyberwarfare, and artificial intelligence just doesnt require that many people

Well still have the need for technology to fight the wars and conflicts we entangle ourselves in, but itll be mostly engineers, programmers, and technicians who wear the uniform. The coming military age of automated drones, robot tanks, cyberwarfare, and artificial intelligence just doesnt require that many people. In fact, expect the military not just to shrink, but to mostly disappear into ones and zeroes.

Many people think that the beast of a military-industrial complexmade famous by President Dwight Eisenhowers warning against it in his farewell address appeared only in the last 50 years. However, others persuasively argue that America has been at war 93 percent of the time since the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 so its been with us from the beginning.

In liberal California where I live, such facts annoy just about everyone I know except, of course, those who are shareholders and beneficiaries of the defense industry. Thankfully, despite Congress being led by mostly older white religious men, the younger generation clamors for an improved Americaone that can keep its economies running smoothly in a more peaceful way.

This is where the scientific-industrial complex comes in and could satisfy most everyone. And best of all, a society of science requires actual people. Lots of them: nurses, scientists, start-up CEOs, designers, technologists, and even lawyers. The advent of modern medicine to treat virtually every ailment and the whole anti-aging movement, in general affects all 325 million Americans. Over half of us suffer from health issues that can be improved but often arent, for a variety of reasons. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 40 percent of people over the age of 65 suffer from a disability and for two thirds of them, its mobility-related issues. And millions are already racking up the symptoms of heart disease that will kill them. And a younger generation is just waiting to explore bionics, chip implants, and how to upgrade their genes to avoid health problems in the future. All this means we have the fodder to reshape the American economy from a militaristic-based one to a type that thrives off scientific and medical innovation.

Instead of spending American money on sending our soldiers to risk their lives for the whims of war, we could be giving civilians the medicine and healthcare they need to live far better and longer. And living longer has unseen benefits, too. In the future, bonafide transhumans wont have to retire if they dont want to. Their bodies will be ageless and made so strong through technology that work and careers may continue indefinitely and therefore, theyll be able to continue contributing to the economy indefinitely. Transhuman existence is a self-fulfilling economic-boom prophesy for both individual and country.

Currently, the U.S. Constitution (which I personally think needs a significant rewrite for the 21st century) is overly concerned with protection of national sovereigntywhich is one major reason why the military-industrial complex is allowed to grow undeterred. If the U.S. Constitution was endowed with precise wording to also protect an individuals health, well-being, and longevity, then a scientific-industrial complex could rise. This new cultural and legal reform would help to provide the most modern medicine, technology, and science possible to its people. And since I believe interpretation of the non-aggression principle should include harmful natural phenomena like aging, existential risk, and disease I believe minarchist values could support limited government to help people overcome these things.

Shamefully, the Iraq War will cost the U.S. approximately $6 trillion dollars by the time were actually done paying all our bills despite the fact that its highly questionable whether Iraq was ever even a serious national security issue. However, our country undeniably faces a serious national security issue today in fact, Id call it a full blown crisis. Nearly 7,000 Americans will die in the next 24 hours from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, aging, and other issues. And the same amount of people will die tomorrow and the day after.

Overcoming disease and aging in the transhuman age will inevitably occur. The question is not if, but when? The answer lies in how much our nation is willing to spend on scientific and medical research and how soon. But so long as it continues to spend money on the military instead of citizens health, human beings will die which is ironic since its the military that is supposed to protect us (and not inadvertently sabotage us by swallowing funding for bombs instead of medicine). All we need do as a country is change the direction of our spending, from defense to science. If we can transform America into a scientific-industrial complex, well still be able to keep our economy chugging along. Let Americas new wars be fought against cancer, diabetes, Alzheimers, and aging itself. Its a win-win, except for body bag and casket makers.

Read more:

Let’s Turn America’s Military-Industrial Complex Into A Science-Industrial Complex – HuffPost

Southern Kaduna crises: Porous boarders responsible for free e – Daily Trust

The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN) has said that the porous nature of Nigerian boarders is responsible for the free entry and exit of killer herdsmen.

Addressing a press conference in Kaduna On Saturday, MACBAN assistant national secretary general, Ibrahim Abdullahi said, “In Nigeria, our borders are porous, people come in anytime and go out anytime they want, in fact it is a shameful thing today that we don’t even know those that are indigenous Fulani or the transhuman Fulani.

“We don’t know and that is why people mixed things up, you begin to suspect the Fulani man that you grew up with when anything happens. He has not traveled far where did he get the AK 47.”

Abdullahi added “It is either Nigeria opt out of the ECOWAS protocol or we should apply the conditions. We should ensure that anybody coming into the country, we know when he is coming, where he is going and control what they are coming with.

“Another problem we have that you people don’t know is that, these migratory Fulani that come into the country with all forms of weapons, many at times they come in with less than 50 cattle, but when going back they go with thousand cattle rustled from our own Fulani, so our economy is also affected.

“One other issue we need to know again is that, some of these countries that Fulani come from in Africa have crises, like Chad or central African Republic were there is rebellion. Weapons have become like pure water or bread, so people from there see it as normal to hang AK 47.

“So it is left for the government to do the right thing, let us decide who comes in because it is our country, let us decide the terms for the person coming, let us not because of ECOWAS protocol leave everything to fate, that is not going to help us.”

Commenting on the alleged killing of four of their members by Kadara and Gwari communities in Kajuru local government areas of the state, Abdullahi said, “A kidnap incident took place in the area allegedly by Fulani herdsmen, but instead of trying to get to the root of the matter the communities descended on the nearest Fulani community.”

He insisted that there is need for people to understand the different types of Fulani saying, ” Fulani are categorized into three including the settled Fulani, the semi settled Fulanis and the trans human Fulani, those that are constantly on the move and they can also be categorized into two, some of them are Nigerians, some are foreigners from our neighboring countries like Cameroun, Chad and even Niger.

“Those Fulanis are constantly on the move and there is a law that provides for that movement, the ECOWAS protocol on nomadic transhuman movement, but the unfortunate thing is that all the signatories to those protocols, there are conditions governing people entering into your country or going out of your country.

He called on the government to ensure stringent checks at Nigerian boarders with a view to ending the spate of crises in the state and he country at large.

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Southern Kaduna crises: Porous boarders responsible for free e – Daily Trust

Get bloody with Butcher’s free Steam demo | PCGamesN – PCGamesN

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Transhuman Design have released a newplayable demofor their chainsawtastic take on 2D platforming, Butcher.

For more small-scale goodness, here’s our list of thebest indie games.

Describing itself as a blood-soaked love letter to the cult classics of the genre, this 2D shooter puts you in the mechanical boots of a cyborg programmed to eradicate the last remains of humanity [and] your sole purpose is to well… annihilate anything that moves.

The demo features a pack of three levels from the beginning of the game.

This isnt for the fainthearted, either. Even if you reckon youve got the cojones to stomach the gore, the games so feckin’ hard, the developers had to retrospectively release an easy mode called W.I.M.P. DLC for some players (like me, lets face it) to get through it.

If you like what you see, you can also secure 50 percent off the price of the full game at just 3.49 / $4.99 / 4.99. Theres also a half-price bundle if youd like to pick up the soundtrack, too. The discount ends July 17, 2017.

Thanks, RockPaperShotgun.

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Get bloody with Butcher’s free Steam demo | PCGamesN – PCGamesN

Free demo released for side-scrolling action title, Butcher – DSOGaming (blog)

Transhuman Design has released a free demo for its side-scrolling 2D retro shooter, Butcher. This demo features three new levels that have been added to the game, enhancing its beginning. All three levels happen on the Mothership and take place just before the game intro.

Butcher is described asa fast-paced 2D shooter and a blood-soaked love letter to the cult classics of the genre, in which players take the role of a cyborg programmed to eradicate the last remains of humanity. Players are tasked withgrabbing theirweapon of choice (from chainsaw, through shotgun, to grenade launcher) so they cankill theirway through underground hideouts, post-apocalyptic cities, jungles and more.

Those interested can download its demo from here, and below you can find its key features:

See the rest here:

Free demo released for side-scrolling action title, Butcher – DSOGaming (blog)

The Soul of the Matter Now in Paperback; Read Bruce Buff’s Thriller on Intelligent Design! – Discovery Institute

This past week, Bruce Buffs first novel, The Soul of the Matter (Simon & Schuster/Howard Books), which debuted last year, was released in paperback.

In The Soul of the Matter, former cyber-intelligence analyst Dan Lawson seeks to unravel the mysteries his geneticist friend claims he discovered encoded in DNA: secrets that could destroy humankind. After a catastrophic experiment, Dan races against time and deadly pursuit to uncover whether the human soul can survive sciences conquest of nature.

Along the way, charactersare forced to confront the reality of their existence.In his book, Buff examines intriguing questions about science and philosophy.

Does DNA coding demonstrate that we are here by intent?

And is the brain itself enough to produce perceptions, feelings, thoughts and awareness?Perhaps not maybe rather, every moment of our lives is our souls in action.

Find excerpts from the book here, here, and here. And in case you wondered, the rumors are true: Discovery Institute plays a role in the story. Well, were not the main character, but you cant have everything.From David Klinghoffers reviewhere at Evolution News:

As of today, ID is also something else that I wouldnt have predicted: the main theme and dramatic backdrop of a pretty effective and tense thriller by debut novelist Bruce Buff. Following the adventures of ex-CIA officer turned computer hacker Dan Lawson and eerily compelling pediatric oncologist Trish Alighieri, Mr. Buffs The Soul of the Matterexpertly invokes a range of ideas including irreducible complexity, the Cambrian explosion, the enigma of protein evolution, and the malign illusion of a transhuman future.

Imagine Dan Brown meets Stephen Meyer meets Wesley J. Smith and youll have an idea of whats in store for readers. A turning point in the story involves a visit to Seattles Pioneer Square and, yes, Discovery Institute. If Mr. Browns knockout The Da Vinci Code were to be rewritten from a design perspective with the combined insights of Doug Axe, Michael Behe, and Jonathan Wells, you would have something like Mr. Buffs impressive book.

[I]ts a novel that makes your foot jiggle nervously and your palms sweat, even as it deftly deals with a range of ideas connected with ID, and makes some points I hadnt thought of before.

Publishers Weekly declares, A thrilling plot filled with deception and international intriguethis book will leave readers to ponder big questions of existence. B&N Reads describes the book as, A thriller that will have you thinking and questioning everything long after you read the last page.

It is the first in a fast-paced three-book series by Mr. Buff. Get it now!

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The Soul of the Matter Now in Paperback; Read Bruce Buff’s Thriller on Intelligent Design! – Discovery Institute

Three thumbs up to this 3D-printed prosthetic thumb – New Atlas

We’ve all had a moment where an extra pair of hands would have been incredibly useful, but who has ever wondered what they could do with just an extra thumb? London-based designer Danielle Clode not only wondered, but went on to build one. Her 3D-printed, foot-controlled, Third Thumb offers an insight into how prosthetics can do more than just replace disabled limbs, but actually extend our natural abilities.

Danielle Clode created the Third Thumb as her Masters graduate project at the Royal College of Art in London. This human hand extension is centered around a hinge-based thumb, 3D-printed out of a flexible filament called Ninjaflex.

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The thumb is strapped to a hand and powered by a motor that sits like a small watch on the wearer’s wrist. The thumb is then controlled by two pressure sensors that sit under a person’s feet and connect up wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Clode’s intent with the design was to alter people’s perception of prosthetics. She wants the design to allow people to see prosthetics as more than simple limb or body replacements, but rather as devices that can extend our potential abilities.

“When we start to extend our abilities, and when we reframe prosthetics as extensions, then we start to shift the focus from ‘fixing’ disability, to extending ability,” Clode writes on her website.

A video accompanying the project illustrates a variety of everyday tasks that the Third Thumb could potentially benefit. From scrolling through pages on a tablet to playing guitar where the extra thumb could open up entire new chords, the extra thumb certainly offers wonderfully strange and new ways to interact with ordinary objects.

The design is obviously just a concept, although the working prototype is notably well-realized. Clode has developed a couple of different aesthetic pathways for the device, from the obviously functional piece to a more jewelry-orientated design.

As we move towards a transhuman future, ideas like this offer a fascinating glimpse at how augmented bodies could allow us to achieve physical feats that were previously impossible.

Take a look at the Third Thumb in action in the video below.

Source: Dani Clode Design

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Three thumbs up to this 3D-printed prosthetic thumb – New Atlas


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