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FM-2030 – Wikipedia

FM-2030

FM-2030 (October 15, 1930 July 8, 2000) was a Belgian-born Iranian-American author, teacher, transhumanist philosopher, futurist, consultant and athlete.[1] FM-2030 was born Fereidoun M. Esfandiary (Persian: ).

He became notable as a transhumanist with the book Are You a Transhuman?: Monitoring and Stimulating Your Personal Rate of Growth in a Rapidly Changing World, published in 1989. In addition, he wrote a number of works of fiction under his original name F.M. Esfandiary.

The son of an Iranian diplomat, he travelled widely as a child, living in 17 countries by age 11; then, as a young man, he represented Iran as a basketball player at the 1948 Olympic Games in London[2] and served on the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine from 1952 to 1954.[3]

In the mid-1970s F.M. Esfandiary legally[2] changed his name to FM-2030 for two main reasons. Firstly, to reflect the hope and belief that he would live to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2030; secondly, and more importantly, to break free of the widespread practice of naming conventions that he saw as rooted in a collectivist mentality, and existing only as a relic of humankind’s tribalistic past. He viewed traditional names as almost always stamping a label of collective identityvarying from gender to nationalityon the individual, thereby existing as prima facie elements of thought processes in the human cultural fabric, that tended to degenerate into stereotyping, factionalism, and discrimination. In his own words, “Conventional names define a person’s past: ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, religion. I am not who I was ten years ago and certainly not who I will be in twenty years. […] The name 2030 reflects my conviction that the years around 2030 will be a magical time. In 2030 we will be ageless and everyone will have an excellent chance to live forever. 2030 is a dream and a goal.”[4]

He was a lifelong vegetarian and said he would not eat anything that had a mother.[5] FM-2030 once said, “I am a 21st century person who was accidentally launched in the 20th. I have a deep nostalgia for the future.”[6] He taught at The New School, University of California, Los Angeles, and Florida International University.[1] He worked as a corporate consultant for Lockheed and J. C. Penney.[1] He was also an atheist.[7]Fereidoun was, in his own words, a follower of “upwing” politics, in which he meant that he endorsed universal progress.[8][9]

On July 8, 2000, FM-2030 died from pancreatic cancer and was placed in cryonic suspension at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, where his body remains today. He did not yet have remote standby arrangements, so no Alcor team member was present at his death, but FM-2030 was the first person to be vitrified, rather than simply frozen as previous cryonics patients had been.[5] FM-2030 was survived by four sisters and one brother.[2]

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FM-2030 – Wikipedia

FM-2030 – Wikipedia

FM-2030

FM-2030 (October 15, 1930 July 8, 2000) was a Belgian-born Iranian-American author, teacher, transhumanist philosopher, futurist, consultant and athlete.[1] FM-2030 was born Fereidoun M. Esfandiary (Persian: ).

He became notable as a transhumanist with the book Are You a Transhuman?: Monitoring and Stimulating Your Personal Rate of Growth in a Rapidly Changing World, published in 1989. In addition, he wrote a number of works of fiction under his original name F.M. Esfandiary.

The son of an Iranian diplomat, he travelled widely as a child, living in 17 countries by age 11; then, as a young man, he represented Iran as a basketball player at the 1948 Olympic Games in London[2] and served on the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine from 1952 to 1954.[3]

In the mid-1970s F.M. Esfandiary legally[2] changed his name to FM-2030 for two main reasons. Firstly, to reflect the hope and belief that he would live to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2030; secondly, and more importantly, to break free of the widespread practice of naming conventions that he saw as rooted in a collectivist mentality, and existing only as a relic of humankind’s tribalistic past. He viewed traditional names as almost always stamping a label of collective identityvarying from gender to nationalityon the individual, thereby existing as prima facie elements of thought processes in the human cultural fabric, that tended to degenerate into stereotyping, factionalism, and discrimination. In his own words, “Conventional names define a person’s past: ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, religion. I am not who I was ten years ago and certainly not who I will be in twenty years. […] The name 2030 reflects my conviction that the years around 2030 will be a magical time. In 2030 we will be ageless and everyone will have an excellent chance to live forever. 2030 is a dream and a goal.”[4]

He was a lifelong vegetarian and said he would not eat anything that had a mother.[5] FM-2030 once said, “I am a 21st century person who was accidentally launched in the 20th. I have a deep nostalgia for the future.”[6] He taught at The New School, University of California, Los Angeles, and Florida International University.[1] He worked as a corporate consultant for Lockheed and J. C. Penney.[1] He was also an atheist.[7]Fereidoun was, in his own words, a follower of “upwing” politics, in which he meant that he endorsed universal progress.[8][9]

On July 8, 2000, FM-2030 died from pancreatic cancer and was placed in cryonic suspension at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, where his body remains today. He did not yet have remote standby arrangements, so no Alcor team member was present at his death, but FM-2030 was the first person to be vitrified, rather than simply frozen as previous cryonics patients had been.[5] FM-2030 was survived by four sisters and one brother.[2]

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FM-2030 – Wikipedia

transhuman – Wiktionary

English[edit]Etymology[edit]

trans- + human, also attested as trans-human in the 1950s. Attributed to Teilhard de Chardin, as French trans-humain (noun, sometimes capitalised as (le) Trans-humain), who used it alongside ultra-humain (“the ultra-human”). As a countable English noun (plural transhumans) introduced by F. M. Esfandiary in the 1960s (here trans- is short for transitional).

transhuman (comparative more transhuman, superlative most transhuman)

transhuman (countable and uncountable, plural transhumans)

The rest is here:

transhuman – Wiktionary

What is Transhumanism?

The human desire to acquire posthuman attributes is as ancient as the human species itself. Humans have always sought to expand the boundaries of their existence, be it ecologically, geographically, or mentally. There is a tendency in at least some individuals always to try to find a way around every limitation and obstacle.

Ceremonial burial and preserved fragments of religious writings show that prehistoric humans were deeply disturbed by the death of their loved ones and sought to reduce the cognitive dissonance by postulating an afterlife. Yet, despite the idea of an afterlife, people still endeavored to extend life. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (approx. 2000 B.C.), a king embarks on a quest to find an herb that can make him immortal. Its worth noting that it was assumed both that mortality was not inescapable in principle, and that there existed (at least mythological) means of overcoming it. That people really strove to live longer and richer lives can also be seen in the development of systems of magic and alchemy; lacking scientific means of producing an elixir of life, one resorted to magical means. This strategy was adopted, for example, by the various schools of esoteric Taoism in China, which sought physical immortality and control over or harmony with the forces of nature.

The Greeks were ambivalent about humans transgressing our natural confines. On the one hand, they were fascinated by the idea. We see it in the myth of Prometheus, who stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans, thereby permanently improving the human condition. And in the myth of Daedalus, the gods are repeatedly challenged, quite successfully, by a clever engineer and artist, who uses non-magical means to extend human capabilities. On the other hand, there is also the concept of hubris: that some ambitions are off-limit and would backfire if pursued. In the end, Daedalus enterprise ends in disaster (not, however, because it was punished by the gods but owing entirely to natural causes).

Greek philosophers made the first, stumbling attempts to create systems of thought that were based not purely on faith but on logical reasoning. Socrates and the sophists extended the application of critical thinking from metaphysics and cosmology to include the study of ethics and questions about human society and human psychology. Out of this inquiry arose cultural humanism, a very important current throughout the history of Western science, political theory, ethics, and law.

In the Renaissance, human thinking was awoken from medieval otherworldliness and the scholastic modes of reasoning that had predominated for a millennium, and the human being and the natural world again became legitimate objects of study. Renaissance humanism encouraged people to rely on their own observations and their own judgment rather than to defer in every matter to religious authorities. Renaissance humanism also created the ideal of the well-rounded personality, one that is highly developed scientifically, morally, culturally, and spiritually. A milestone is Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), which states that man does not have a ready form but that it is mans task to form himself. And crucially, modern science began to take form then, through the works of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

The Age of Enlightenment can be said to have started with the publication of Francis Bacons Novum Organum, the new tool (1620), in which he proposes a scientific methodology based on empirical investigation rather than a priori reasoning. Bacon advocates the project of effecting all things possible, by which he meant the achievement of mastery over nature in order to improve the condition of human beings. The heritage from the Renaissance combines with the influences of Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Marquis de Condorcet, and others to form the basis for rational humanism, which emphasizes science and critical reasoning rather than revelation and religious authority as ways of learning about the natural world and the destiny and nature of man and of providing a grounding for morality. Transhumanism traces its roots to this rational humanism.

In the 18th and 19th centuries we begin to see glimpses of the idea that even humans themselves can be developed through the appliance of science. Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire speculated about extending human life span through medical science. Especially after Darwins theory of evolution, atheism or agnosticism came to be seen as increasingly attractive alternatives. However, the optimism of the late 19th century often degenerated into narrow-minded positivism and the belief that progress was automatic. When this view collided with reality, some people reacted by turning to irrationalism, concluding that since reason was not sufficient, it was worthless. This resulted in the anti-technological, anti-intellectual sentiments whose sequelae we can still witness today in some postmodernist writers, in the New Age movement, and among the neo-Luddite wing of the anti-globalization agitators.

A significant stimulus in the formation of transhumanism was the essay Daedalus: Science and the Future (1923) by the British biochemist J. B. S. Haldane, in which he discusses how scientific and technological findings may come to affect society and improve the human condition. This essay set off a chain reaction of future-oriented discussions, including The World, the Flesh and the Devil by J. D. Bernal (1929), which speculates about space colonization and bionic implants as well as mental improvements through advanced social science and psychology; the works of Olaf Stapledon; and the essay Icarus: the Future of Science (1924) by Bertrand Russell, who took a more pessimistic view, arguing that without more kindliness in the world, technological power will mainly serve to increase mens ability to inflict harm on one another. Science fiction authors such as H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon also got many people thinking about the future evolution of the human race. One frequently cited work is Aldous Huxleys Brave New World (1932), a dystopia where psychological conditioning, promiscuous sexuality, biotechnology, and opiate drugs are used to keep the population placid and contented in a static, totalitarian society ruled by an elite consisting of ten world controllers. Huxleys novel warns of the dehumanizing potential of technology being used to arrest growth and to diminish the scope of human nature rather than enhance it.

The Second World War changed the direction of some of those currents that result in todays transhumanism. The eugenics movement, which had previously found advocates not only among racists on the extreme right but also among socialists and progressivist social democrats, was thoroughly discredited. The goal of creating a new and better world through a centrally imposed vision became taboo and pass; and the horrors of the Stalinist Soviet Union again underscored the dangers of such an approach. Mindful of these historical lessons, transhumanists are often deeply suspicious of collectively orchestrated change, arguing instead for the right of individuals to redesign themselves and their own descendants.

In the postwar era, optimistic futurists tended to direct their attention more toward technological progress, such as space travel, medicine, and computers. Science began to catch up with speculation. Transhumanist ideas during this period were discussed and analyzed chiefly in the literary genre of science fiction. Authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Stanislaw Lem, and later Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan, and Vernor Vinge have explored various aspects of transhumanism in their writings and contributed to its proliferation.

Robert Ettinger played an important role in giving transhumanism its modern form. The publication of his book The Prospect of Immortality in 1964 led to the creation of the cryonics movement. Ettinger argued that since medical technology seems to be constantly progressing, and since chemical activity comes to a complete halt at low temperatures, it should be possible to freeze a person today and preserve the body until such a time when technology is advanced enough to repair the freezing damage and reverse the original cause of deanimation. In a later work, Man into Superman (1972), he discussed a number of conceivable improvements to the human being, continuing the tradition started by Haldane and Bernal.

Another influential early transhumanist was F. M. Esfandiary, who later changed his name to FM-2030. One of the first professors of future studies, FM taught at the New School for Social Research in New York in the 1960s and formed a school of optimistic futurists known as the UpWingers. In his book Are you a transhuman? (1989), he described what he saw as the signs of the emergence of the transhuman person, in his terminology indicating an evolutionary link towards posthumanity. (A terminological aside: an early use of the word transhuman was in the 1972-book of Ettinger, who doesnt now remember where he first encountered the term. The word transhumanism may have been coined by Julian Huxley in New Bottles for New Wine (1957); the sense in which he used it, however, was not quite the contemporary one.) Further, its use is evidenced in T.S. Elliots writing around the same time. And it is known that Dante Alighieri referred to the notion of the transhuman in historical writings.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations sprung up for life extension, cryonics, space colonization, science fiction, media arts, and futurism. They were often isolated from one another, and while they shared similar views and values, they did not yet amount to any unified coherent worldview. One prominent voice from a standpoint with strong transhumanist elements during this era came from Marvin Minsky, an eminent artificial intelligence researcher.

In 1986, Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation, the first book-length exposition of molecular manufacturing. (The possibility of nanotechnology had been anticipated by Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman in a now-famous after-dinner address in 1959 entitled There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.) In this groundbreaking work, Drexler not only argued for the feasibility of assembler-based nanotechnology but also explored its consequences and began charting the strategic challenges posed by its development. Drexlers later writings supplied more technical analyses that confirmed his initial conclusions. To prepare the world for nanotechnology and work towards it safe implementation, he founded the Foresight Institute together with his then wife Christine Peterson in 1986.

Ed Regiss Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (1990) took a humorous look at transhumanisms hubristic scientists and philosophers. Another couple of influential books were roboticist Hans Moravecs seminal Mind Children (1988) about the future development of machine intelligence, and more recently Ray Kurzweils bestselling Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), which presented ideas similar to Moravecs. Frank Tiplers Physics of Immortality (1994), inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness) argued that advanced civilizations might come to have a shaping influence on the future evolution of the cosmos, although some were put off by Tiplers attempt to blend science with religion. Many science advocates, such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Douglas Hofstadter, have also helped pave the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas.

In 1988, the first issue of the Extropy Magazine was published by Max More and Tom Morrow, and in 1992 they founded the Extropy Institute (the term extropy being coined as an informal opposite of entropy). The magazine and the institute served as catalysts, bringing together disparate groups of people with futuristic ideas. More wrote the first definition of transhumanism in its modern sense, and created his own distinctive brand of transhumanism, which emphasized individualism, dynamic optimism, and the market mechanism in addition to technology. The transhumanist arts genre became more self-aware through the works of the artist Natasha Vita-More. During this time, an intense exploration of ideas also took place on various Internet mailing lists. Influential early contributors included Anders Sandberg (then a neuroscience doctoral student) and Robin Hanson (an economist and polymath) among many others.

The World Transhumanist Association was founded in 1998 by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce to act as a coordinating international nonprofit organization for all transhumanist-related groups and interests, across the political spectrum. The WTA focused on supporting transhumanism as a serious academic discipline and on promoting public awareness of transhumanist thinking. The WTA began publishing the Journal of Evolution and Technology, the first scholarly peer-reviewed journal for transhumanist studies in 1999 (which is also the year when the first version of this FAQ was published). In 2001, the WTA adopted its current constitution and is now governed by an executive board that is democratically elected by its full membership. James Hughes especially (a former WTA Secretary) among others helped lift the WTA to its current more mature stage, and a strong team of volunteers has been building up the organization to what it is today.

Humanity+ developed after to rebrand transhumanism informing Humanity+ as a cooperative organization, seeking to pull together the leaders of transhumanism: from the early 1990s: Max More, Natasha Vita-More, Anders Sandberg; the late 1990s: Nick Bostrom, David Pearce, James Hughes; the 2000s: James Clement, Ben Goertzel, Giulio Prisco and many others. In short, it is based on the early work of Extropy Institute and WTA.

In the past couple of years, the transhumanist movement has been growing fast and furiously. Local groups are mushrooming in all parts of the world. Awareness of transhumanist ideas is spreading. Transhumanism is undergoing the transition from being the preoccupation of a fringe group of intellectual pioneers to becoming a mainstream approach to understanding the prospects for technological transformation of the human condition. That technological advances will help us overcome many of our current human limitations is no longer an insight confined to a few handfuls of techno-savvy visionaries. Yet understanding the consequences of these anticipated possibilities and the ethical choices we will face is a momentous challenge that humanity will be grappling with over the coming decades. The transhumanist tradition has produced a (still evolving) body of thinking to illuminate these complex issues that is unparalleled in its scope and depth of foresight.

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What is Transhumanism?

Transhuman – Wikipedia

Not to be confused with “trans” used as an abbreviation for “transsexual” or “transgender” in the terms trans man, trans woman.

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

Transhuman | Snafu Comics Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

A Transhuman or trans-human is an intermediary form between the human and the hypothetical posthuman.

The etymology 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.

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.

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 Pekin man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny. 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.

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. In the same year, American cryonics pioneer Robert Ettinger contributed to conceptualization of “transhumanity” in his book Man into Superman. In 1982, American artist Natasha Vita-More authored the Transhuman Manifesto 1982: Transhumanist Arts Statement and outlined what she perceived as an emerging transhuman culture.

Many thinkers today do not consider FM-2030’s characteristics to be essential attributes of a transhuman. However, analyzing the possible transitional nature of the human species has been and continues to be of primary interest to anthropologists and philosophers within and outside the intellectual movement of transhumanism.

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.”

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Transhuman | Snafu Comics Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Gov Shutdown Means 95 Percent of NASA Employees Aren’t At Work

The ongoing government shutdown means that 95 percent of NASA's workforce is home on furlough during New Horizons' historic flyby.

Get Furlough

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft soars by the space rock Ultima Thule on New Years Eve, it will be the most distant object humankind has ever explored.

Though you’ll be able to stream the historic flyby on the YouTube channel of Johns Hopkins Univerisity’s Applied Physics Laboratory, the event — which is arguably the most awe-inspiring item of space news all year — won’t be available on NASA TV, which typically offers extensive commentary and access to subject matter experts regarding the space agency’s projects. The reason: the ongoing government shutdown means that 95 percent of NASA’s workforce is home on furlough.

“Act of Ineptitude”

NASA employees are disgusted by the legislative dysfunction that’s keeping all but the most mission-critical workers home during the historic flyby, according to the Houston Chronicle — and their ire is reportedly focused on politicians who have allowed the science agency’s work to grind to a halt.

“We have not heard from a single member who supports the president’s inaction,” said the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, a union that represents federal workers, in a statement quoted by the paper. “Most view this as an act of ineptitude.”

Heat Death

The Chronicle also pointed to a post by Casey Dreier, a senior space policy adviser to the nonprofit scientific advocacy organization The Planetary Society, that chastised leaders for failing the nation’s scientific workers — and worried that the political brinkmanship of a shutdown could lead talented workers away from government work entirely, altering the dynamics of space exploration.

“I fear that we will see more and more NASA employees ask themselves why they put up with such needless disruptions and leave for jobs the private sector,” Dreier wrote. “We know that NASA can get back to work, but how long will the best and the brightest want to work at an agency that continues to get callously tossed into political churn?”

READ MORE: NASA, other federal workers not as supportive of government shutdown as Trump claims, union rep says [Houston Chronicle]

More on government shutdowns and space travel: Government Shutdown Hampers SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Testing

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Gov Shutdown Means 95 Percent of NASA Employees Aren’t At Work

Scientists to Test New Cancer Treatment on Human Patients in 2019

A new cancer treatment that uses the body's own immune system to fight cancer is scheduled to start human trials in 2019.

Cancer Treatment

A new cancer treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer is scheduled to start human trials in 2019.

The U.K.’s Telegraph reports that the new treatment, devised by researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London, uses implanted immune system cells from strangers to fight tumors, instead of old-school cancer treatments like chemotherapy — a new tack in oncology that the researchers say could boost cancer ten-year cancer survival rates from 50 percent to 75 percent.

Immune System

The scientists behind the project explained it as a “do-it-yourself” approach to cancer treatment in interviews with the Telegraph. Instead of relying on chemicals or radiation outside the body to fight tumors, the transplants aim to help the bodies of cancer patients fight the tumors on their own.

“It’s a very exciting time,” said Charlie Swanton, one of the Francis Crick researchers involved in the work, in an interview with the paper. “Using the body’s own immune cells to target the tumor is elegant because tumours evolve so quickly there is no way a pharmaceutical company can keep up with it, but the immune system has been evolving for over four billion years to do just that.”

“Rapidly Treated Diseases”

Swanton told the Telegraph that he believes the trials could lead to a whole new tool set that doctors will be able to use to fight cancer.

“I would go so far as to say that we might reach a point, maybe 20 years from now, where the vast majorities of cancers are rapidly treated diseases or long-term chronic issues that you can manage,” he said. “And I think the immune system will be essential in doing that.”

READ MORE: Cancer breakthrough: Scientists say immune system transplants mean ‘future is incredibly bright’ [The Telegraph]

More on cancer research: Researchers May Have Discovered a New Way to Kill off Cancer Cells

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Scientists to Test New Cancer Treatment on Human Patients in 2019

Holograms Are Resurrecting Dead Musicians, Raising Legal Questions

Dead Musicians

Michael Jackson. Amy Winehouse. Tupac. Roy Orbison.

Those are just a few of the dead musicians who have been resurrected on stage in recent years as holograms — and a new feature by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation explores not just the critical reception and technological frontiers of the new industry, but the legal minefield it raises to dust off the visage of a famous person and bring them out on the road.

Back to Life

According to University of Sydney digital human researcher Mike Seymour, today’s musical holograms have only started to tap the medium’s potential. In the future, he predicted to the ABC, machine learning will let these long-dead holograms interact with the crowd and improvise.

Additionally, according to the report, the law is still grappling with how to handle life-after-death performances. In the U.S., a legal concept called a “right to publicity” gives a person, or their estate, the right to profit from their likeness. But whether right to publicity applies after death, and for how long, differs between states.

Atrocity

Of course, no legal or technical measures will win over fans of an act who find it disrespectful to raise a performer from death and trot them out on tour.

“If you are appalled by [the idea], because you think it’s an atrocity to the original act, you are going to hate it,” Seymour told the broadcaster. “And if you are a fan that just loves seeing that song being performed again, you are going to think it’s the best thing ever.”

READ MORE: Dead musicians are touring again, as holograms. It’s tricky — technologically and legally [Australian Broadcasting Corporation]

More on hologram performances: Wildly Famous Japanese Pop Star Sells Thousands of Tickets in NYC. Also, She’s A Hologram

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Holograms Are Resurrecting Dead Musicians, Raising Legal Questions

New Theory: The Universe is a Bubble, Inflated by Dark Energy

A mind-bending new theory claims to make sense not just of the expanding universe and extra dimensions, but string theory and dark energy as well.

Dark Energy

A mind-bending new theory claims to make sense not just of the expanding universe and extra dimensions, but string theory and dark energy as well.

According to the new model, proposed in the journal Physical Review Letters by researchers from Uppsala University, the entire universe is riding on an expanding bubble in an “additional dimension” — which is being inflated by dark energy and which is home to strings that extend outwards from it and correspond to all the matter that it contains.

Breaking It Down

The paper is extraordinarily dense and theoretical. But the surprising new theory it lays out, its authors say, could provide new insights about the creation and ultimate destiny of the cosmos.

In the long view, though, physicists have suggested many outrageous models for the universe over the years — many of which we’ve covered here at Futurism. The reality: until a theory not only conforms to existing evidence but helps explain new findings, the road to a consensus will be long.

READ MORE: Our universe: An expanding bubble in an extra dimension [Uppsala University]

More on dark energy: An Oxford Scientist May Have Solved the Mystery of Dark Matter

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New Theory: The Universe is a Bubble, Inflated by Dark Energy

Poll: Two Thirds of Americans Support Human Gene Editing to Cure Disease

The majority of U.S. adults would support gene editing embryos to protect babies against disease, according to a new poll.

Human Gene Editing

The majority of U.S. adults support human gene editing to protect babies against disease, according to a new poll.

But they wouldn’t support gene edits that make babies smarter or taller, according to the new research by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which polled about a thousand U.S. adults this month to learn about public attitudes toward genetic engineering.

Deep Divides

The AP research found that 71 percent of respondents support gene editing to protect a baby from an inherited condition, and 67 percent support reducing the risk of diseases like cancer.

But just 12 percent would be okay with tampering with intelligence or athletic ability, and only 10 percent would consider altering physical characteristics like eye color or height.

CRISPR Drawer

Questions about using technologies like CRISPR to gene edit human embryos gained immediacy last month, when Chinese scientists claimed to have edited the genes of two babies in order to protect them against HIV — a move that prompted an international outcry, but also questions about when the technology will be ready for human testing.

“People appear to realize there’s a major question of how we should oversee and monitor use of this technology if and when it becomes available,” Columbia University bioethicist Robert Klitzman told the AP of the new research. “What is safe enough? And who will determine that? The government? Or clinicians who say, ‘Look, we did it in Country X a few times and it seems to be effective.

READ MORE: Poll: Edit baby genes for health, not smarts [Associated Press]

More on human gene editing: Chinese Scientists Claim to Have Gene-Edited Human Babies For the First Time

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Poll: Two Thirds of Americans Support Human Gene Editing to Cure Disease

Google Wins Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Technology

Google won a key Illinois lawsuit that has long been a barrier to big tech companies' use of facial recognition software.

Apple Of My Eye

After weeks of notoriety and backlash, Google has scored a legal victory allowing it to keep a close watch on users of Google products.

On Saturday, a U.S. District Judge in Chicago dismissed a lawsuit filled against the internet giant which alleged that Google violated users’ right to privacy by using facial recognition technology without their consent. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2016, was the result of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, one of the strictest biometric security laws in the nation. It requires tech companies to obtain explicit permission from Illinois citizens in order to make any biometric scans of their bodies.

Facebook and Snapchat are facing similar challenges from the law, but Google’s victory could signal a new era in the use and development of facial recognition technology.

“Concrete Injuries”

In his dismissal of the case, U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang cited the lack of “concrete injuries.” In the legal realm this means either physical damage or damage to one’s reputation which actually exists. In short, Chang’s conclusion was that despite not asking permission, Google’s use of the plaintiff’s photos didn’t result in any physical harm or damage to their reputation and was therefore legal. The cases against Facebook and Snapchat are still pending, but Google’s win could provide lawyers with some ammunition in defending the other two tech giants.

Big Brother

Facial recognition technology may take center stage in increasingly common debates about the intersection of advanced technology and rights to personal privacy.  Still, development continues despite the technology’s imperfections and warnings from other tech executives calling for stricter legal guidelines.

Facial recognition technology is becoming increasingly common in everyday life, cropping up at airports and even Taylor Swift concerts. Yet, as we continue to decide who has what right to our data and why, big technology companies are moving quickly to decide our future for themselves.

READ MORE: Google wins dismissal of facial recognition lawsuit over biometric privacy act [TheVerge]

More on facial recognition: Microsoft President Warns Of “1984” Facial Recognition Future

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Google Wins Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Technology

Elon Musk Thinks the First Mars Settler Could Be an AI

On Friday, Elon Musk speculated that a sophisticated artificial intelligence might touch down on the Red Planet before the first human Mars settler.

The MartAIn

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants to establish a base on Mars — but he isn’t sure its first resident will be human.

On Friday, the mercurial billionaire responded to a question on Twitter about whether a sophisticated artificial intelligence might touch down on the Red Planet before human colonists. Musk’s answer: 30 percent.

30%

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 27, 2018

AI Overlords

Musk has a fraught relationship with the topic of AI. He’s publicly warned about the danger’s of unregulated AI, even going so far as to found the organization Open AI to encourage the development of responsible machine learning systems.

It’s such a signature issue for Musk that other tech personalities have weighed in on his claims — including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who said the notion of killer AI was “pretty irresponsible,” and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who quipped at an event earlier this month that Musk was “writing a great screenplay for a Black Mirror episode.”

Case For Optimism

But Musk also believes that AI could be made to help humankind — or that the two could even merge, ushering in a new era of evolution.

Or, as the Friday tweet shows, it seems that Musk could get on board with AI as long as it could help further his visions for the colonization of space.

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Elon Musk Thinks the First Mars Settler Could Be an AI

Leaked Documents Show How Facebook Controls Speech Across the Globe

Leaked documents showing how Facebook controls speech online raise deep questions about the future of the company's role in international discourse.

Unfriended

Documents obtained by the New York Times show how the social giant’s international content moderation strategy is dictated by thousands of pages of PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets that “sometimes clumsily” tell thousands of moderators what to allow and what to delete. The revelation raises deep questions about the future of Facebook’s role in international discourse — especially in the wake of damaging revelations about how the platform allowed propaganda during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

“Facebook’s role has become so hegemonic, so monopolistic, that it has become a force unto itself,” political scientist Jasmin Mujanovic told the Times. “No one entity, especially not a for-profit venture like Facebook, should have that kind of power to influence public debate and policy.”

It’s Complicated

Facebook moderators who spoke to the Times under condition of anonymity said they felt hamstrung by the extraordinarily complex rule set, which forces them to make rapid decisions, sometimes using Google Translate, about fraught topics including terrorism and sectarian violence.

“You feel like you killed someone by not acting,” said a moderator who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity.

The result, according to the Times, is that Facebook has become a “far more powerful arbiter of global speech than has been publicly recognized or acknowledged by the company itself.”

“A Lot of Mistakes”

Facebook executives pushed back against the implication that its content moderation efforts were murky or disorganized, arguing that the platform has a responsibility to moderate the content its users post and defending its efforts to do so.

“We have billions of posts every day, we’re identifying more and more potential violations using our technical systems,” Facebook’s head of global policy management Monika Bickert told the Times. “At that scale, even if you’re 99 percent accurate, you’re going to have a lot of mistakes.”

READ MORE: Inside Facebook’s Secret Rulebook for Global Political Speech [The New York Times]

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Leaked Documents Show How Facebook Controls Speech Across the Globe

Foreign Cyberattack Cripples Major U.S. Newspapers

A cyberattack targeting the printing presses of several newspapers, delaying their delivery this weekend, appears to have originate from outside the U.S.

Late Delivery

This weekend, several of the most widely circulated newspapers in the United States found themselves the target of a cyberattack that reportedly originated on foreign soil.

Many questions about the attack remain unanswered, but one thing is certain: the media is under attack — and if something isn’t done to protect it, we could be headed toward a future in which we can’t believe anything we read.

Stop the Presses

The malware attack targeted newspaper printing plants run by The Los Angeles Times and Tribune Publishing, which owned The Los Angeles Times from April 2007 until June 2018 (and which, in a much-lampooned episode, briefly changed its name to Tronc in 2016.)

The malware prevented editors from transmitting pages of the papers to printing presses, and it delayed the scheduled printing and delivery of the Saturday editions of several newspapers, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Nobody is sure of the source of the attack, but several people with inside knowledge of Tribune told The Los Angeles Times that the attack appeared to be Ryuk ransomware. Experts have linked this software to groups in North Korea and Eastern Europe, but for now, all The Los Angeles Times has confirmed is that the attack appears to have originated from outside the U.S.

Media Under Attack

As the name implies, ransomware attacks are typically financially motivated — attackers disrupt a company’s operations and demand a ransom to end the disruption — but neither Tribune Publishing nor The Los Angeles Times has reported any ransom demand. An anonymous source told The Los Angeles Times that the attackers didn’t appear to steal any information either.

That means a likely motivation behind the attack was preventing newspaper readers from getting their news — and that is highly troubling.

Just this month, the majority of Americans admitted for the first time that they prefer to get their news from social media platforms than from traditional print newspapers. While the latter sources are held to journalistic standards that place a premium on fact-checking and context, the former are notoriously rife with misinformation and bias.

If foreign actors are able to further cripple the U.S.’s already vulnerable newspaper industry by literally preventing the printing of newspapers, the “fake news” that dominates our social media feeds could one day overshadow the real news — and we’ve already gotten a glimpse of the disturbing impact that can have on a democracy.

READ MORE: Malware Attack Disrupts Delivery of L.A. Times and Tribune Papers Across the U.S. [The Los Angeles Times]

More on newspapers: For News, Americans Now Officially Prefer Social Media to Newspapers

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Foreign Cyberattack Cripples Major U.S. Newspapers

Demand for Combustion Engine Cars May Have Peaked in 2018

combustion engine

No Sale

The reign of the fossil fuel-powered car may be ending.

In a report published on Sunday, several experts told the Financial Times that they believe sales of fossil fuel-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles peaked in 2018, meaning that it’s unlikely that more ICE cars will be sold in any future year— and if they’re correct, this epochal change in the auto industry could majorly benefit the environment.

Going Down

Many experts predicted at the beginning of 2018 that demand for ICE vehicles wouldn’t peak until 2022 at the earliest, according to the FT report. But a combination of several factors — including Brexit, the U.S.-China trade war, and new emissions targets in Europe — has dealt a major blow to global car sales this year.

“When you look at 2018 since the summer, new car sales in all of the important markets are going down,” Axel Schmidt, global automotive lead at Accenture, told FT. “Selling combustion engine cars to customers — this will not grow in the future.”

Even if overall car sales increase in 2019, ICE sales would likely fall thanks to the continued adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

Road to Recovery

This might not be what ICEcar manufacturers want to hear, but it’s excellent news for the environment.

According to energy research group Wood Mackenzie, a mid-sized EV produces 67 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a comparable gasoline-powered ICE vehicle. That figure doesn’t just take into account the emissions produced while the car is in use, either — it includes emissions caused by everything from electricity generation to crude oil refinement.

In 2016, transportation was the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., so if EVs continue to replace ICE cars in this nation and others, the world could significantly cut down on the climate-destroying emissions emanating from its roadways.

READ MORE: Combustion Engine Car Sales to Hit Peak Demand in 2018, Say Analysts [Financial Times]

More on ICE cars: These 7 Countries Want to Say Goodbye to Fossil Fuel-Based Cars

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Demand for Combustion Engine Cars May Have Peaked in 2018

Scientist Who Gene Edited Babies Is Being Held By Mysterious Guards

Ball and chain.

Spotted

After Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the scientific community by announcing last month that he had edited the genes of human babies, he mysteriously vanished.

And now he’s been found. The New York Times reports that guards are holding He in a guesthouse at his university, the Southern University of Science and Technology. It’s unclear whether the guards work for the Chinese government, the university, or another organization — but their presence is the latest sign that He’s transgressive research upset the delicate balance of the genetics research community and regulatory systems, prompting retaliation from powerful interests.

Plainclothes Guards

The Chinese government condemned He’s work after he announced it, launching an investigation and banning him from continuing his research. What was unclear, however, was whether He’s disappearance was a result of him laying low or being held somewhere.

Now the Times has found that He is staying at a university guesthouse normally used to house visiting scholars, where a dozen plainclothes guards refused to identify themselves to a Times reporter. He is able to communicate over email and phone calls, according to the Times, and has corresponded with business colleagues.

“He was extremely irresponsible to the employees, partners and investors,” said Liu Chaoyu, with whom He co-founded the gene-testing company Vienomics, in an interview with the Times. Liu last saw He the day before the conference at which he disclosed the existence of the gene-edited babies. “He did not discuss anything with us before he made his announcement and we had to deal with all of it unexpectedly.”

Shock and Awe

The university and Shenzhen police both declined to comment to the Times. In fact, all employees of the university have been barred from speaking to the press, according to a message obtained by the paper.

What’s clear is that He’s unprecedented work sent shockwaves not just through the research ecosystem but through the powerful machinery of international government — and as the saga of his treatment in the wake of the announcement unfolds, it could be a roadmap to the challenges other researchers would face if they follow in his footsteps.

READ MORE: Chinese Scientist Who Claimed to Make Genetically Edited Babies Is Kept Under Guard [The New York Times]

More on He Jiankui: Chinese Scientists Claim to Have Gene-Edited Human Babies For the First Time

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Scientist Who Gene Edited Babies Is Being Held By Mysterious Guards

Washington May Become the First State to Legalize Human Composting

Washington State may be set to become the first state to allow human composting

Death Reimagined

Grandma is in the garden. No, literally.

There’s something beautiful in deciding how one’s final moments should be confined to the memory of our loved ones. Advances in technology and changing mindsets seem to have people wondering why a coffin in the ground should have to be the only option of final resting place. Residents in Washington state have a brand new vision of returning to the Earth. Now a bill being sponsored in the state’s legislature could see Washington become the first state to legalize human composting.

A Tree of Me

The bill, backed by state Senator Jamie Pedersen, would allow for the “recomposition” of human remains, a process which speeds up decomposition and turns remains into a nutrient-packed soil which could be returned to families.

“People from all over the state who wrote to me are very excited about the prospect of becoming a tree or having a different alternative for themselves,” Pedersen told NBCnews.

Although “becoming a tree” and other futuristic burial ideas aren’t entirely new concepts, Washington would become the first state to allow human composting if the bill is passed. The idea isn’t just futuristic, it’s also economical. More and more Americans are turning to crowdfunding to support funeral costs, with the average funeral costing more than $7,000 in 2017, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The recomposition process in comparison is somewhat cheaper with costs expected to fall around $5,500.

Safety First

The process is very similar to traditional composting. Unembalmed human remains are placed in a composting chamber and left to decompose with organic material like woodchips or straw. Air is occasionally pulled into the chamber to help microbes speed up decomposition and in about one month all that remains is a cubic yard of compost.

A five-month study, in which six donor bodies were decomposed, was led by researcher Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, Associate Professor of Sustainable and Organic Agriculture at Washington State. The study was carefully controlled to prevent spreading any harmful pathogens, a concern which led to the defeat of a similar bill sponsored by Pederson in 2017.

Carpenter-Boggs’ study concluded in August that the remains produced were safe and she plans to submit her research for publication in 2019. If the bill passes, it would take effect May 1, 2020. Until then, we can keep dreaming of “becoming trees” but Pederson’s bill could open doors to new burial alternatives and ways we can choose to have our memory honored.

READ MORE: Washington could become the first state to legalize human composting [NBCNews]

More on Burial Alternatives: 7 Futuristic Things To Do With Your Body When You Die

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