Dublin Theatre Festival reviews: The Great Hunger, and To Be A Machine – Irish Examiner

The Great Hunger


Four Stars

The Abbeys promenade production around the grounds of IMMA is the only live show to survive the dreaded Phase 3 Covid-19 protocols at this years Dublin Theatre Festival.

It divides the 14 stanzas of Patrick Kavanaghs titular long poem between individual performers, with troubadours leading the small, masked audience through the autumn evening.

We set out between two lines of illuminated trees, lured the stark, unmistakable voice of Lisa ONeil. Then, Liam Carney appears between the potato drills: old Patrick Maguire, the peasant farmer, clay made flesh. He stayed with his mother till she died/At the age of ninety-one.

By then, he was sixty-five". This is his tragedy; through it, Maguire personifies in Kavanaghs indictment the poverty, conservatism, and sexual frustration of the rural Ireland he knew.

While the satirical target might not be as obvious as it was when Kavanagh wrote The Great Hunger in 1942, the poem lends itself to dramatisation, thanks to Kavanaghs deft portraiture and his ability to conjure a telling scene.

It also, of course, speaks to the universal. Lines like Sometimes they did laugh and see the sunlight or something was brighter a moment have a sudden poignancy now.

Meanwhile, of the performers, Derbhle Crotty in particular shines in an intimate, captivating scene. Her aliveness to the words, her movement, her expressiveness are a wonder a reminder of the great hunger within us all for the kind of moments only theatre can deliver.

To Be a Machine

Project Theatre

Four Stars

Last year, Dead Centre gave audiences an empty stage for their ghost play Becketts room. This time, things are reversed: an actor is present, but the theatre is empty.

Game of Thrones star Jack Gleeson is the man in the room, playing the writer Mark OConnell in a faithful exploration of the ideas in his acclaimed book on transhumanism, To Be a Machine. The framing of the show gives ample scope for playful echoes and illustrations of OConnells themes.

To begin with, for instance, we are asked to upload videos of ourselves in advance of the performance. We see them on the night: electronic, disembodied versions of ourselves on individual tablet screens where the audience would be.

No better way, then, to discuss such things as the US company Alcor, which preserves its customers disembodied heads in the hope of reanimation; or whole brain emulation and the philosophical questions such a technology would raise.

Both shows end on October 10; for more, check out dublintheatrefestival.ie

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Dublin Theatre Festival reviews: The Great Hunger, and To Be A Machine - Irish Examiner

To be a Machine review: Experimental format well-suited to plays core theme – The Irish Times

We can hardly blame the creators of this busy one-man show for endlessly worrying about whether the finished work counts as theatre. Much effort is made to satisfy stretched definitions of the form. The audience members are asked to upload video of themselves - staring, laughing, sleeping - and the rendered images, each transferred to tablet, are scattered about the auditorium in Project Arts Centre. Sitting at home before a streaming computer, you cannot control your avatar, but, as a few reverse shots clarify (apologies for cinematic rather than theatrical jargon), you are there in some cybernetic sense.

Jack Gleeson, best known as the horrid Joffrey in Game of Thrones, spends much of the brief running time pondering the ups and downs of this hybrid form. You can go to the lavatory with less inconvenience. Maybe you are on the lavatory right now. Try to forget the screen, he says before - in my case, anyway - a brief buffering issue (was that deliberate?) made that task impossible.

All this might have proved exhausting if the self-conscious experiments did not complement the plays core theme. Happily, the experimental format is well-suited to an exploration of transhumanism. Adapted from Mark OConnells acclaimed non-fiction book, To be a Machine, a Dead Centre production, goes among those scientists, entrepreneurs and philosophers who believe technology will allow consciousness to survive the bodys passing. Somewhere in Arizona, a company called Alcor keeps an array of upended heads in Perspex containers. The comparison with the two-dimensional heads scattered about the Projects auditorium is unavoidable. The digitally assisted survival of this theatre piece in the time of Covid acts as a neat metaphor for the process by which computers may allow our thought streams to outlast physical annihilation.

Playing a tweaked version of OConnell, Gleeson sometimes struggles to energise a monologue that carries a few stubborn reminders of its origins in long-form prose. But the technological flourishes keep the show engaging throughout.

Questions remain about its status as theatre. At one point, Gleeson, employing the famous Turing test, seeks to discover if the audience is really out there? We could ask him the same question. We know the show is live because we have been told as much, but, for those of us not having our comments in the chat-box read out, little on screen distinguishes it from a one-take movie. The pieces creators almost certainly savour that ambiguity.

Online until Sat, Oct 10th. For booking see dublintheatrefestival.ie

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To be a Machine review: Experimental format well-suited to plays core theme - The Irish Times

The Honorable Dr. Dale Layman, Founder of Robowatch, LLC, is Recognized as the 2020 Humanitarian of the Year by Top 100 Registry, Inc. – IT News…


Joliet, IL, September 03, 2020 --(PR.com)-- The Honorable Dr. Dale Pierre Layman, A.S., B.S., M.S., Ed.S., Ph.D. #1, Ph.D. #2, Grand Ph.D. in Medicine, MOIF, FABI, DG, DDG, LPIBA, IOM, AdVMed, AGE, is the Founder and President of Robowatch, L.L.C. (www.robowatch.info.) Robowatch is an international non-profit group aiming to keep a watchful human eye on the fast-moving developments occurring in the fields of robotics, computing, and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) industries. As the first person in his family to attend college in 1968, he earned an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Life Science from Lake Michigan College. The same year, he won a Michigan Public Junior College Transfer Scholarship to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1971, he received an Interdepartmental B.S. with Distinction, in Anthropology - Zoology, from the University of Michigan. From 1971 to 1972, Dr. Layman served as a Histological Technician in the Department of Neuropathology at the University of Michigan Medical School. From 1972 to 1974, he attended the U of M Medical School, Physiology department, and was a Teaching Fellow of Human Physiology. He completed his M.S. in Physiology from the University of Michigan in 1974.

From 1974 to 1975, Dr. Layman served as an Instructor in the Biology Department at Lake Superior State College. In 1975, he became a full-time, permanent Instructor in the Natural Science Department of Joliet Junior College (J.J.C.) and taught Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Medical Terminology to Nursing & Allied Health students. Appointed to the Governing Board of Text & Academic Authors, he authored several textbooks, including but not limited to the Terminology of Anatomy & Physiology and Anatomy Demystified. In 2003, Dr. Layman wrote the Foreword to the Concise Encyclopedia of Robotics, Stan Gibilisco.

As a renowned scholar and book author, Dr. Layman proposed The Faculty Ranking Initiative in the State of Illinois to increase the credibility of faculty members in the States two-year colleges, which will help with research grants or publications. In 1994, the State of Illinois accepted this proposal. J.J.C. adapted the change in 2000, and Dr. Layman taught full-time from 1975 until his retirement in 2007. He returned and taught part-time from 2008 to 2010. Dr. Layman received an Ed.S. (Educational Specialist) in Physiology and Health Science from Ball State University in 1979. Then, in 1986, Dr. Layman received his first Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, in Health and Safety Studies. In 2003, Dr. Layman received a second Ph.D. and a Grand Ph.D. in Medicine, from the Academie Europeenne D Informatisation (A.E.I.) and the World Information Distributed University (WIDU). He is the first American to receive the Grand Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine.

In 1999, Dr. Layman delivered a groundbreaking speech at the National Convention of Text and Academic Authors, Park City, Utah. Here, he first publicly explained his unique concept: Compu-Think, a contraction for computer-like modes or ways of human thinking. This reflects the dire need for humans to develop more computer-like modes or ways of Natural Human thinking. This concept has important practical applications to Human Health and Well-being. In 2000, Dr. Layman gave several major talks and received top-level awards. In May of 2000, he participated in a two-week faculty exchange program with Professor Harrie van Liebergen of the Health Care Division of Koning Willem I College, Netherlands.

In 2001, after attending an open lecture on neural implants at the University of Reading, England, Dr. Layman created Robowatch. The London Diplomatic Academy published several articles about his work, such as Robowatch (2001) and Robowatch 2002: Mankind at the Brink (2002). The article Half-human and half-computer, Andrej Kikelj (2003) discussed the far-flung implications of Dr. Laymans work. Using the base of half-human, half-computer, Dr. Layman coined the name of a new disease, Psychosomatic Technophilic, which translates as an abnormal love or attraction for technology [that replaces] the body and mind. Notably, Dr. Layman was cited several times in the article Transhumanism, (Wikipedia, 2009). Further in 2009, several debates about Transhumanism were published in Wikipedia, and they identified Dr. Layman as an anti-transhumanist who first coined the phrase, Terminator argument.

In 2018, Dr. Layman was featured in the cover of Pro-Files Magazine, 8th Edition, by Marquis Whos Who. He was the Executive Spotlight in Robotics, Computers and Artificial Intelligence, in the 2018 Edition of the Top 101 Industry Experts, by Worldwide Publishing. He also appeared on the cover of the July 2018 issue of T.I.P. (Top Industry Professionals) magazine, the International Association of Top Professionals. Dr. Layman was also the recipient of the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award (2017-2018). Ever a Lifelong Student and taking classes for the past few years at J.J.C., Dr. Layman was recently inducted (2019) to his second formal induction into the worlds largest honor society for community college students, Phi Theta Kappa.

Contact Information:

Top 100 Registry Inc.

David Lerner


Contact via Email


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The Honorable Dr. Dale Layman, Founder of Robowatch, LLC, is Recognized as the 2020 Humanitarian of the Year by Top 100 Registry, Inc. - IT News...

Transhumanism: The cyborgs and biohackers redefining …

Written by Karina Tsui, CNN

Today, we can alter our bodies in previously unimaginable ways, whether that's implanting microchips, fitting advanced prosthetic limbs or even designing entirely new senses.

So-called transhumanists -- people who seek to improve their biology by enhancing their bodies with technology -- believe that our natural condition inhibits our experience of the world, and that we can transcend our current capabilities through science.

Ideas that are "technoprogressive" to some are controversial to others. But to photographer David Vintiner, they are something else altogether: beautiful.

Made in collaboration with art director and critic Gem Fletcher, the book features a variety of people who identify, to some degree, as "transhuman" -- including a man with bionic ears that sense changes in atmospheric pressure, a woman who can "feel" earthquakes taking place around the world and technicians who have developed lab-made organs.

Fletcher was first introduced to the transhumanist subculture via the London Futurist Group, an organization that explores how technology can counter future crises. Upon meeting some of its members, the London-based art director approached Vintiner with the idea of photographing them in a series of portraits.

"Our first shoot was with Andrew Vladimirov, a DIY 'brain hacker,'" Vintiner recalled in a phone interview. "Each time we photographed someone new, we asked for referrals and introductions to other key people within the movement."

Redefining human experience

One of Vintiner's subjects, James Young, turned to bionics after losing his arm and leg in an accident in 2012. Young had always been interested in biotechnology and was particularly drawn to the aesthetics of science fiction. Visualizing how his body could be "re-built," or even perform enhanced tasks with the help of the latest technology, became part of his recovery process.

But according to the 29-year-old, the options presented to him by doctors were far from exciting -- standard-issue steel bionic limbs with flesh-colored silicone sleeves.

"To see what was available was the most upsetting part," Young said in a video interview.

"What the human body can constitute, in terms of tools and technology, is such a blurry thing -- if you think about the arm, it's just a sensory piece of equipment.

"If there was anyone who would get their arm and leg chopped off, it would be me because I'm excited about technology and what it can get done."

Japanese gaming giant Konami worked with prosthetics sculptor Sophie de Oliveira Barata to design a set of bionic limbs for Young. The result was an arm and leg made from gray carbon fiber -- an aesthetic partly inspired by Konami's "Metal Gear Solid," one of the then-22-year-old's favorite video games.

Beyond the expected functions, Young's robotic arm features a USB port, a screen displaying his Twitter feed and a retractable dock containing a remote-controlled drone. The limbs are controlled by sensors that convert nerve impulses from Young's spine into physical movements.

"Advanced prosthetics enabled James to change people's perception of (his) disability," said Vintiner of Young, adding: "When you first show people the photographs, they are shocked and disconcerted by the ideas contained within. But if you dissect the ideas, they realize that they are very pragmatic."

Young says it has taken several years for people to appreciate not just the functions of advanced bionic limbs but their aesthetics, too. "Bionic and electronic limbs were deemed scary, purely because of how they looked," he said. "They coincided with the idea that 'disability is not sexy.'"

He also felt there was stigma surrounding bionics, because patients were often given flesh-colored sleeves to conceal their artificial limbs.

"Visually, we think that this is the boundary of the human body," Young said, referring to his remaining biological arm. "Opportunities for transhumanists open up because a bionic arm can't feel pain, or it can be instantly replaced if you have the money. It has different abilities to withstand heat and to not be sunburned."

As Vintiner continued shooting the portraits, he felt many of his preconceptions being challenged. The process also raised a profound question: If technology can change what it is to be human, can it also change what it means to be beautiful?

"Most of my (original) work centers around people -- their behavior, character, quirks and stories," he said. "But this project took the concept of beauty to another level."

Eye of the beholder

Science's impact over our understanding of aesthetics is, to Vintiner, one of the most fascinating aspects of transhumanism. What he discovered, however, was that many in the movement still look toward existing beauty standards as a model for "post-human" perfection.

Speaking to CNN Style in 2018, Hanson said that Sophia's form would resonate with people around the world, and that her appearance was partly inspired by real women including Hanson's wife and Audrey Hepburn, as well as statues of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

Related video: Meet Sophia, the robot who smiles and frowns just like us

But with her light hazel eyes, perfectly arched eyebrows, long eyelashes, defined cheekbones and plump lips -- Sophia's appearance arguably epitomizes that of a conventionally beautiful Caucasian woman.

"When I photographed Ben Goertzel, he vocalized how he took no time to consider how he (himself) looked -- it was of no interest to him," the photographer recalled of the photo shoot.

Vintiner saw a certain irony: that someone who was unconcerned about his own appearance would nonetheless project our preoccupation with beauty through his company's invention.

It also served as a reminder that attractiveness may be more complex than algorithms can ever fathom.

"I fear that if we can design humans without any of the 'flaws' that occur in our biological makeup, things will be pushed further and further towards a level of perfection we can only imagine right now." Vintiner said. "Look at how plastic surgery has altered our perception of beauty in a very short space of time.

"If the transhumanists are right and we, as humans, can live to be several hundreds of years old, our notion of beauty and the very meaning of what it is to be human will change dramatically."

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Transhumanism: The cyborgs and biohackers redefining ...

Silicon Valley, the start-up incarnation 4/5. Palmer Luckey, the geek who needed to make sure the army supremacy of the West – Pledge Times

Gone is the poster of Uncle Sam pointing the finger at you with that We need you injunction. The US military has long relied on video games to recruit. Americas Army, a shooting game developed to restore the reputation of the institution and attract young recruits, is also in its fourth version. And if, at the origin, the joysticks were inspired by the controls of military planes or helicopters, now it is the combat drones which are piloted with game console controllers. Palmer Luckey is the result of this strange mixture. He is now the head of a $ 2 billion start-up that has the avowed aim of leading the United States and the West to technological supremacy in the war of the future.

Ten years ago, Palmer, a teenager with a passion for war games and Hawaiian shirts, was thinking in the basement of his preschool in California on how to make his favorite hobby more immersive. He imagines the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset suitable for gaming. If he is not the most sociable of teenagers, he is part of a very large online network of very conservative white gamers, who are fighting against the irruption of women and any form of progressive idea in the video game industry. In 2012, he launched his idea on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, and thus raised $ 2.5 million. Two years later, Facebook bought Oculus for 2 billion, including 1.6 in Facebook shares. Palmers fortune is made.

Not enjoying himself in Zuckerbergs firm, where he cannot express his alt-right ideas too openly, he leaves and sets up a new business, co-financed with Peter Thiel, who also likes Donald Trump a lot and the Lord of the Rings. Thiel had launched Palantir, The all-seeing eye in the novel by Tolkien, a data management company working for intelligence. He helps Luckey to create Anduril, the name of the heros sword which means Protector of the West the West would be fairer in this case.

I created Anduril because Im afraid that the United States will lose its supremacy, explained Palmer, still in Hawaiian shirt, at the Lisbon Web Summit in 2018. The big industrialists are good at making fighter planes, but not are not looking for autonomous weapons, soldier enhancement through transhumanism or military artificial intelligence. The young man then describes his vision of the war of the future. I think the soldiers will soon be omniscient superheroes () I dont think they will directly carry weapons. Each soldier will have an augmented reality headset through which he will have a general and precise view of the battlefield and through which he will control his weapons. Yes, it essentially describes a video game.

Anduril, who has at 1 er July raised 200 million dollars again, landed real contracts with the Pentagon for its flagship product, Lattice (trellis in French). The idea is to cover a territory with sensors: a military base, critical infrastructures, borders An artificial intelligence models the terrain in real time and identifies any intrusion. With a virtual reality headset, a human can almost verify the intrusion with their own eyes. He erected a virtual wall that stretches across the Mexican border and made it possible to arrest dozens of migrants, which Luckey is very proud of. It has just added to Lattice the Interceptor, a combat drone capable of intercepting in the area to be protected another drone in mid-flight, operating completely autonomously. An equally autonomous tank would be in preparation in the hangars of Anduril in Silicon Valley. If we want to define the rules of this war of tomorrow, we must be the first, assures Luckey. We were able to impose rules on nuclear weapons, because we were the best. Technological supremacy is a prerequisite for ethics.


Tomorrow Travis Kalanick, Uber.

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Silicon Valley, the start-up incarnation 4/5. Palmer Luckey, the geek who needed to make sure the army supremacy of the West - Pledge Times

Hi John. Will artificial intelligence replace humanity by 2084? – Eternity News

John Lennox is human. As soon as the worlds most recognisable Oxford Professor of Mathematics smiles at me from his UK study via video link, he is apologising for his need to duck off to the bathroom. His immediate physical need arises from not being able to go beforehand, having just finished a one-hour online Q & A session about his newest book, 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity. Not to be confused with the other book Lennox already put out in 2020 Where is God in a Coronavirus World? or the movie about him to be released later this year.

Tinkering with human beings those ideas interested me. John Lennox

Lennoxs toilet break is an unexpectedly fitting introduction to our conversation about his investigation of artificial intelligence (AI) and what it means for what it means to be human. Riffing on the title of English author George Orwells dystopic novel 1984, 2084 is Lennoxs eloquent and succinct attempt to demystify AI, separate science fiction from science fact, and investigate the ethical and theological questions raised.

But lets cut to the chase of your future-looking book, human. John Lennox, what will the year 2084 be like for people and their intelligent designs? I thought somebody would start with that question, but youre the first interviewer to do it, chuckles Lennox who has been a leading academic Christian in the public square for more than a decade.

Rising to international prominence through viral video debates with new atheist royalty such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Peter Singer, Lennox also has written many books at the intersection between Christian faith and the philosophy of scientific endeavour and progress.

The whole point is to take off from Orwells book 1984, which gave the English language things like big brother and thoughtcrime. There are aspects of artificial intelligence now that actually are fulfilling the role [from] Orwells 1984.

I wasnt writing the book to tell people whats going to happen in 2084 [but] to tell them to think about what might happen in 2084 or whats liable to happen, because of the developments we already have.

Lennox came to see the need to evaluate the course of artificial intelligence after a London church approached him, several years ago, to speak about how the Book of Genesis relates with AI. Lennox initially declined but was soon intrigued by considering what humanity being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) means to the rising tide of artificial intelligence. Since his teenage years in homeland Northern Ireland, Lennox has been interested in big questions such as where does meaning come from and what is the significance of humans in a universe created by God?

My interest was [also] sparked a long time ago by two C.S. Lewis books The Abolition of Man, and the third of his science-fiction book series, That Hideous Strength. Lewis was prescient; he had ideas of, basically, what we now call transhumanism. Those interested me the ideas of tinkering with the germ line, as we would now call it, and tinkering with human beings and producing not humans, but artefacts.

That intrigued me as to where this stuff was going.

At the start of 2084, Lennox admits hes not an AI expert. As an interested and analytical onlooker, he distills where AI is at and might be going, including explaining its two key forms Narrow Artificial Intelligence and Artificial General Intelligence. The former refers to any computer system which can do one thing superbly well that normally takes human intelligence to do; the latter is the transhuman quest for superintelligence, either by enhancing human beings or by creating a humanoid form where, for example, the contents of a human mind could be uploaded. Or much, much more.

Lennox shares what he perceives as positive developments in AI, from a smartwatch that can recognise seizures to online language translators, and algorithms which digitally assist with our daily tasks or needs. He also articulates negatives, flowing mainly from the ethical issues arising from AI. Lennox wonders how often you or I have stopped to realise we carry a portable tracking device with us our smartphone and where our personal data ends up (surveillance capitalism, as Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff describes it). What about the human job losses caused by improved artificial intelligence? Or the choice a self-driving car might have to make between crashing into an elderly lady crossing the road or avoiding her but hitting children on the footpath?

People are afraid to say what they really believe about morality. John Lennox

Lennox agrees there is a common view that technological developments always equal positive progress for humanity even though we experience the opposite (such as how advanced warfare or internet access can display the worst in us). Much of his book, 2084, is dedicated to highlighting how artificial intelligence itself is an amoral creation by humans, with moral issues inevitably arising from the real human input into them.

Artificial intelligence is not intelligent at all. It simulates intelligence the word artificial means that the output normally requires human intelligence but in this system, the only intelligence involved which is vastly important is the intelligence of the designers and programmers.

Technological progress is not the same as moral progress; the difficulty is that technology outpaces ethics, says Lennox. So theres an ethical void, which has been dramatically increased by the lack of a common worldview which, for centuries, was Christian in the West, but now were all over the place. And people are afraid to say what they really believe about morality. Thats an absolute tragedy, which is one of the reasons that I like talking about Genesis.

Convinced of the ongoing relevance of the image of God to defining human value and meaning, Lennox also wanted to talk about several popular books anchored in aspects of AI. So much so that Lennox uses bestselling author Dan Browns Origin, as well as Israeli historian Yuval Noah Hararis acclaimed Sapiens and Homo Deus, as structural devices for 2084s points.

Lennox doesnt flinch at being asked if weighing in on an AI novel by controversial and wildly successful writer of The Da Vinci Code was a cheap shot Im interested in what influences millions of people, he explains.

Lennox adds that Hararis input was vital to being able to engage seriously with Browns novel about an AI visionary seeking to scientifically reveal where we came from and where we are going. Hararis books take a more robust, history-based approach to those key questions; History began when humans invented gods and will end when humans become gods, declares Harari.

A superintelligent human already exists. John Lennox

Notably, Homo Deuss advocacy of transhumanism and seeking immortality stirred Lennox at his Christian core. While Lennox doesnt believe Hararis ambition for humans to be able to create actual humans can be achieved Until we know what consciousness is, all talk of that type is pure hype and pure science fiction. We dont know what it is. We havent an idea he was pleasantly surprised to discover how inspired he was by some of what transhumanists seek.

The thing that really turned the corner for me, thinking the book was worth writing, was a sudden and immediate thought that the transhumanist program is too late and its too little because a superintelligent human already exists, says Lennox, alluding to divine man Jesus.

The whole movement of transhumanism assumes were progressing towards [becoming like a god] when actually the movement we ought to be thinking about is the opposite of God becoming man, and providing a basis for a way we could answer Hararis number one problem. The problem of physical death to which the answer is resurrection, not constructing an artificial intelligence

Seeing that there was so much in the transhumanist agenda that really was shadows of the Christian message, I thought Aha, heres a way that I can put Christianity in, perhaps, a rather different way and bring inthings that people normally dont ever do writing a book [about AI].

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Hi John. Will artificial intelligence replace humanity by 2084? - Eternity News

The benefits and risks of AI and post-human life – Independent Australia

Philosophers involvedin the theories ofpost-humanism and transhumanismare captivated by the possibilities, or dangers, that the future poses to our understanding of human life.

According to Wikipedia,the idea of the post-human originates in the fields of science fiction, futurology, contemporary artand philosophy that literally refers to a person or entity that exists in a state beyond being human. In other words, a human so advanced that he or she is more or less distinct from our current conception of the ordinary person. This will mostly be facilitated by technological developments.

Steps towards post-humanism are already set in motion: they are not simply dystopian fantasies. Despite some of the hype around AI and robots might lead us to believe, noneof these massive changes are happening soon. These developments will be made in incrementally;often two steps forwards and three steps back. This is more linked to the way we humans are, rather than to the state of technology.

Philosophers such as Francesca Ferrando argue that transhumanism understands the meaning of humanity, in relation to technology and ecology. We should start to see humans not as the pinnacle of evolution and the rulers of the world, but as an integral part of the biosphere equal to other organisms. No longer can it be"them and us", with uncontrolled exploitation.

Humans are tribalistic in nature. There is discrimination between gender, race, nationality, ability. We will need to overcome this, yet progress here isn't linear. It is questionable if humanity can overcome tribalism. We might solve some form of these issues.At the same time, humans in their current form will rapidly find new ones to fight over (technology, robots, AI and so on).

In order to overcome some of these deeply ingrained human obstacles, post-humanism pointsto technologies that can be of assistance to manage humanity and our planet earth in a more sustainable way. A prerequisite for this is open societies.

Key issues that humanity will have to surmountare corruption, despotism and roadblocks to human development, whether itbesocially, culturally or economically. None of this will be easy and in the political reality of today, it could be seen as pure fantasy. But over decennia and centuries, things will change.

It is also interesting to contemplate what driveshumans to develop these new technologies.

From a philosophical and scientific point of view, we can think of scenarios that could take us further. Even if we see a global crisis creating massive havoc among our global population, we have already developed technologies that can assist us beyond such a situation, and with the coronavirus, we are seeing a spur of internationally collaborative developments that will greatly enhance this situation further.

In small ways, we are already seeing that "post-humans" will be far more intertwined with technology.

Look at pacemakers, bionic ears and eyes, artificial limbs and so on. We already have smart pills. Cybernetics has seen many breakthroughs in recent years, including the development of advanced prosthetics, used to provide amputees with a better quality of life.

The latest developments here are linking these prostheses direct to our brain and nervous system, making it increasingly more seamless. Soon individuals, otherthan disabled persons, may want similar functionalities. Think here for example about athletes the military and people that are already experimenting themselves with these technologies.

The MIT Media Lab is one of many organisations looking into cyborg developments. This is a being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts.

Going one step further, we are seeing the technology ofhumanoids. They are something that has an appearance resembling a human without being one. The current attempts still look underdeveloped,but compare them with the robots from a few decades ago.

Away from the hardware, now on to the software. Digital technology is already having an enormous impact on how we see ourselves.We already have some primitive forms of digital twins: our persona in digital formats, such as on social media. But there are other developments underway that would go far beyond that, if they ever get off the ground.

Neurotechnology is also a growth area. Utilising nanotechnologies, these technologies are progressing well with developments such as Neuralink: an optogenetic technology that will allow a human brain to download directly from a computer.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies will soon be able to assist humans withthe most complex and difficult problems. Through mind-uploading such as theNectomeprogram and mind-merging, the best brains of the world can work together, creating the Brainternet.

A technology known as neural-lace will see the implanting tiny of electrodes into the brain. The result would be the enhancement of memory and cognitive powers by effectively merging humans and AI. Could this lead to a universal consciousness? Is this what we need to overcomecurrent tribal human problems? Is it consciousness, rather than physical appearance, that makes us human?

Obviously, we would need to redefine what human means in such a situation. Who knows what lays ahead in the centuries, let alone the millennia (hopefully) in front of us? Planet earth perhaps has another billion years to goand it's highly unlikely that humans remain the same as humanswe knowtoday. Will we be able to travel to distant galaxies and in what form will we travel?

Most likely, it will be in some form of software that could emulate our mind. It would require highly integrated computer technologies that could instantly process zettabytes of information, something that is extremely hard to fathom.

A huge question will be how are we going to manage these developments? There will, of course, be many ethical issues that we as a society need to address. We also know that looking at the current unwanted digital technology developments that are happening, we must start planning for the futurebefore technologies like AI makethe decisions for us.

Many industry leaders and scientists have urged governments to start this process now. But like taking preventative measures in relation to the current pandemic, governments equally have been procrastinating in this area.

Rather than trying to preempt developments in the decades or centuries ahead, we should follow and, wherever necessary, regulate these developments as we go. However, it is critical to take this post-human concept into account and have a holistic discussion about these topics between scientists, technologists, politicians and indeed the broader community.

Though, it is impossible to make transhuman predictions from our current position.On the positive side, in order to overcome the current political, cultural, social and economic problems, we will need technology to ensure that all global citizens will have a viable and sustainable place to live with a good quality lifestyle.

Scientists and engineers are certainly making progress.

Paul Buddeis an Independent Australia columnist and managing director ofPaul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter@PaulBudde.

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The benefits and risks of AI and post-human life - Independent Australia

Whats the best way to prepare for the apocalypse? Dont ask these guys – Telegraph.co.uk

Michael Kerr reviews Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O'Connell

This review will be overtaken by events. Its bound to be. While I was reading the book, its writer posted a picture on Twitter of the contents of a box he had just opened at home. Who could have predicted, he asked, that these copies of the US edition of my book about apocalyptic anxiety would be delivered by a guy in a face mask, and that I would open the box using plastic gloves? Notme!

Hes being a little hard on himself. He was well ahead of most of us, already up and on the road long before the Four Horsemen appeared on their mounts in the Chinese city of Wuhan. See that title: Notes from an Apocalypse.

Mark OConnell is a journalist and essayist. He won the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize for To Be a Machine, an exploration of transhumanism, a movement that suggests we can and should exploit technology to improve the human body and, ultimately, make ourselves immortal. He is also the father of two young children, and constantly worrying over what sort of world hes brought them into. Its a world where lies as well as germs go viral, where we humans are making the weather, where old alliances and certainties are being overturned, and where the moneyed are readying to leave the rest of us behind, having bought bunkers in the middle of nowhere, bolt-holes on the other side of the world, or tickets to a life on Mars.

The signs of apocalypse, he reckons, are all around, and while hes anxious, hes also intrigued. So off he goes on a series of perverse pilgrimages to the places where the end-times seem closest from South Dakota, with its underground shelters offering turnkey apocalypse solutions, to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, where the abandoned city of Pripyat is a fever-dream of a world gone void. In between, he examines the tech billionaires fixation with New Zealand, mixes with the Mars Society in Los Angeles, and joins an environmentalists retreat in the Scottish Highlands. He has sessions with his therapist, and draws on the work of writers as varied as Carl Sagan and Dr Seuss. The result is a book thats fretful, wise and funny, and often all three in the space of a paragraph.

OConnell thoroughly skewers Americas boasting preppers with a story about one who began eating into his freeze-dried rations because his wife was away, he couldnt cook and it didnt occur to him to phone for pizza. Then he tells of a friend of his who works in publishing, who reveals that she has a go-bag, ready to be hauled out from under the bed at a moments notice.

His friend sees something exciting in the prospect of testing herself and her limits. OConnell doesnt: his comfort zone, he says, is one with four walls, good Wi-Fi, and craft beer and a bookshop within walking distance. On his solo in the Alladale Wilderness Reserve, he breaks the spirit of the rules by taking half a packet of nut-and-berry mix with him. His account of eking it out reminded me of the narrator of John Lanchesters novel The Wall, who, while patrolling Britains borders against climate refugees, breaks upthe time between breakfast andlunch into two sections of 90minutes, with an energy bar in themiddle.

OConnells own book is a work of non-fiction peopled by some characters a novelist wouldnt get away with. I thought perhaps hed overplayed the zealotry of those who see Mars as the new frontier and the new destiny for Earthlings. But no. While I was reading his chapter on Chernobyl, I got an email from a PR firm with this heading: To infinity and beyond: conquering the final frontier with Asgardia. It went on: Whilst plans for holidays and trips away have been put on the back-burner, the desire for outer-orbit travel hasntdiminished.

Notes from an Apocalypse is a book in which even the typos seem to be in keeping with the theme (A state stripped down to its bear [sic] right-wing essentials). Its also one that makes reference to center and specter and neighbors and fibers. Have we in the UK been given the UStext?

OConnell sometimes reaches for the fancy (strewn disjecta) over the plain, and occasionally over-explains. In the Highlands, a woman offers to help him put up his tent; she worked in a camping store, she says, and she knows that: Theyre tricky bastards, some of them. OConnell is struck by the empathic skillfulness [sic] of this revelation and then, in a sentence 132 words long, tells us why.

If he reads that, itll bother him, maybe add to his fretting. But it shouldnt: hes doing good work in difficult times. He offers us hope as well as black humour. And we need that now.

Notes from an Apocalypse is published by Granta at 14.99. To order your copy from the Telegraph visit books.telegraph.co.uk

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Whats the best way to prepare for the apocalypse? Dont ask these guys - Telegraph.co.uk

Cosmodeism: Prologue to a Theology of Transhumanism – Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

IntroductionFreuds disciple, Otto Rank once wrote that the need for a truly religious ideology is inherent in human nature and its fulfillment is basic to any kind of social life. If Transhumanism is to become a universal phenomenon it must include what Jung called a divine drama that is universally compelling.

This article proposes scientific hypotheticals regarding the future of existence that have significant theological implications, but which cannot be empirically confirmed. My method could be described as Futuristic Logic. I assume evolution to be the salient characteristic of existence: cosmic evolution having produced ever more complex elements, which eventually evolved into life, which continued to produce ever more complex life forms, until it produced self-reflective consciousness. Evolution will, therefore, eventually produce a supra-consciousness that will, ultimately, produce a supra-supra-consciousness, and so on, until a 'life form' will have been created that will appear to us as if it were a God. Not "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", but "in the end an evolving cosmos will have created God". This won't be deterministic; it will be the result of conscious life forms throughout the Cosmos striving to gain control over their own evolution. This is the fundamental (volitional or subliminal) impulse of Transhumanism.

I do not consider Transhumanism to mean transcending (going beyond) humanism. Such a formulation is congruent with some formulations of Posthumanism, which, in turn, are logical deductions from radical Postmodernism. Such formulations reject the Enlightenment project as a misfortune and view terms like altruism, humanism, and democracy as "soft and slimy virtues". I identify myself as a Neo-modernist, (or a Post-postmodernist, if you prefer); someone who accepts the postmodernist critique of the nave hubris of Modernism and the moral transgressions which were its unintended consequence but who emphatically embraces Modernism's heroic ambition for humanity. Rejecting the ambitions of Modernism because of past sins is akin to rejecting evolution because Darwinism morphed into Social Darwinism which gave birth to eugenics, which led to the Holocaust.

I view as axiomatic that existence is hierarchal: evolution producing ever more complex hierarchal configurations, of which self-reflective, volitional consciousness is Planet Earth's current pinnacle. This axiom has ethical and moral implications. Running over a dog, as distressing as that is, is not the same as running over a human being if this be 'speciesism' so be it. As for me, human beings do occupy a superior place in nature, and the European Enlightenment while almost pathologically nave in its optimism was a culmination of the ethical and moral evolution of humankind at the time. Our human duty, therefore, is to strive towards a Transcendent humanism; to volitionally evolve our species into supra-humans (or as Nietzsche might have put it, into Supraman). It is our duty to overcome ourselves; to realize our divine potential; not to transcend humanism but to become transcendent humans: supra-humans.

Debunking the Non-Overlapping Magisteria Thesis

In 1997, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould published his non-overlapping magisteria thesis, that science and religion represent distinct, mutually exclusive domains. It was well written and well-argued. But unfortunately, it contributed to the ongoing desiccation of the intellectual imagination that began in the 19th century. Presuming we can compartmentalize our various intuitions, hunches and speculative imaginings into distinct, mutually exclusive domains is specious.

Until the 19th century, when universities quarantined thinking into academic departments, it would have been difficult to differentiate between the philosophical, religious, artistic and scientific. The very word 'scientist' was coined in 1833 by Anglican priest, William Whewell, who was also a historian of science and a philosopher. If you had called Newton a scientist he would not have understood what you were talking about. Newton was a 'natural philosopher' who wrote over two million words on theology. Science was his way of discovering the 'Mind of God'.

In modern terms, Leonardo Da Vinci was an engineer, scientist, and artist. But if you had asked him to define himself 'professionally' he would not have understood the question. He epitomized a fusion of technology, science, and art; each permeating and enriching the other. He would not have been an artistic genius without his technological genius, which was suffused with the same aesthetic instinct that characterized his art. Modern scientists still talk about the 'elegance' of a theory; engineers the 'beauty' of a design.

The religious thinking of the late Middle Ages, especially the sophisticated Aristotelian thinking of scholastic philosopher/priests such as Thomas Aquinas), played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. As Emmet Kennedy put it "Aquinas drew a famous distinction between what is known by reason and what is known by revelation". This intellectual space was necessary for the secular thinking which eventually created science and economic theory. Aquinas embraced two articles of Catholic faith: God was a God of reason who ordered the world rationally, and secondary causes, which enable us to explain natural phenomena and the interaction of nature's constituents by things secondary to God's direct intrusion phenomena which require reason, not revelation, in order to be fully understood. A modern interpretation of secondary causes could certainly accommodate evolution.

Subsequent Church thought removed some of the intellectual rubble of Aristotelian scholasticism that would have hindered the emergence of quantifiable scientific thinking. Butterfield noted that in 1277, Bishop Stephen Tempier headed "a council in Paris [which] condemned the view that even God could not create a void or an infinite universe of a plurality of worlds". God, being God, could do whatever he wished. This theological pronouncement provided the 'science' of the time with the freedom to speculate about the nature of existence without a priori doctrinal restrictions.

Occam's Razor (the Law of Parsimony) is a representative example of the overlap between the philosophical, religious and scientific. Occam was a Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopherand theologian. While his philosophy was religiously motivated to confirm monotheism, it eventually became the holy grail of scientific research. Could the Scientific Revolution have occurred in a non-monotheistic civilization a civilization that had already created a theological law of parsimony: one God; the One (and only)?

Cleric Jean Buridan (c.1300c.1358), anticipating Galileo, developed the Theory of Impetus, demonstrating that there is no need for either Aristotle's 'First Mover' or Plato's 'souls', which are not found in the Bible and which, by implication, limit God's omnipotence to design the world as he pleases. Bishop Nicolas d'Oresme (c.13201382) anticipating Copernicus, wrote that the Holy Scriptures can be accommodated even if we concede the possibility that the earth moves and is not the center of existence. Copernicus also anticipated the clockwork universe of Descartes and Deism. Referring to Buridan's impetus theory, he observed that "God might have started off the universe as a kind of clock and left it to run by itself". Here we see the parameters of Christian faith enabling the emergence of a mechanical cosmos by eliminating the need for 'intelligences' to explain the movement of celestial spheres. Butterfield noted that this was "a case of a consistent body of teaching [which] developed as a tradition" and influenced Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo. The latter's theory of inertia reflected a view that "God might have given these things their initial impetus, and their motion could be imagined as continuing forever".

Copernicus was motivated to simplify the complexities of the Ptolemaic system which, he felt, insulted God. If God is the God of reason, possessing omnipotent intelligence, he certainly would have created a universe more sensible than the convoluted Ptolemaic contraption. Copernicus applied the Law of Parsimony inherent in monotheism and found Ptolemy wanting. His motivation was to defend the honor of God's unconditional power.

Science, in turn, influenced theology. Natural theology is a consequence of religion trying to accommodate itself to science; to formulate an understanding of God that does not contradict science. Centuries before the Scientific Revolution, Maimonides advocated that rabbis must accommodate their interpretations of the Torah to science and not the other way around. Natural theology, natural religion, and philosophical theism are all consequences of an emergent scientific mindset compelling monotheistic religions to review and revise their doctrines. When theological imperatives consistently generate concepts reflecting a more modern scientific mindset, and when science constantly impacts religious thought, then we must discard the non-overlapping magisteria notion especially if we are to respond to Rank's observation that a healthy civilization needs a religious ideology.

Science is also based on faith in several assumptions that cannot be proven empirically. For example:1. Nature's laws are uniform throughout existence. 2. Nature's laws do not evolve and change.3. Mathematics is the universal language; existence is monolingual.4. What we see through a telescope millions of light years away still exists. We know Andromeda existed 2.5 million years ago, (its light has traveled 2.5 million light years) but do we empirically know it still exists?

Scientists accept these assumptions in order to do their jobs. But the only way they could prove them would be to be a supernatural entity outside of nature, capable of looking at all of nature. We reasonably assume these beliefs are true because all our experience 'SO FAR' affirms their validity. But, as David Hume noted over 250 years ago, 'SO FAR' ends when you confront the first exception. This is the paradox of science: something is science only because it is falsifiable. In other words, the "bedrock" assumptions that enable science to function are also falsifiable, and so cannot be bedrock, else they wouldn't be science.

Scientists claim they don't deal with meaning. But scientific biographies frequently contradict this. Science's giants have often been driven by the essentially religious question "what does it all mean?" I differentiate between the big 'R' organized religion business and the small 'r' religious sense of mystery of 'why there is anything at all rather than nothing'. The operations of existence often excite reverential wonder in authentic scientists. The greatest scientific centers are temples of spirituality that challenge mystical, supernatural religions. Einstein wrote: "What is the meaning of human life or of organic life altogether? To answer this question at all implies a religion." He added "the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow-creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life".

We cannot discriminate between the material and the spiritual. The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions are also spiritual. They have provided the means to liberate humankind from ignorance, superstition and soul-destroying drudge work. Without material well-being there cannot be spiritual enlightenment, without scientific progress there can be no material well-being. As the Talmud says "without bread there is no Torah"

One Transhumanist task would be to reunify humankind's various spiritual predispositions (religious, scientific or philosophical); to realize Carl Sagan's vision that: "A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths".

WHY? The Ultimate Question

'WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?' is the ultimate question regarding the human condition. It is the question that has motivated religious and philosophical speculation, scientific endeavor, artistic creativity and entrepreneurial innovation throughout the ages. It is the question we try to answer in order to rationalize our own existence. It is the question that has generated the modern concepts of angst and alienation. The modern dilemma is that we are finding it increasingly difficult to rationalize our own existence and this leads to our subsequent feelings of purposelessness. Pascal wrote:

Pascal's despair is the first cry of modernist angst; a product of our own scientific progress. What, after all, is the point of our own individual, ephemeral lives on this small planet around a mediocre star in a midsized galaxy of some 300 billion stars whose closest galactic neighbor, Andromeda, contains one trillion stars, in an 'observable universe' that numbers two trillion galaxies (the largest containing 100 trillion stars)? The "observable universe" being just a tiny portion of the universe which may contain 500 trillion galaxies and might be an infinitesimal part of a multiverse containing trillions upon trillions of "universes"!

Increased awareness of the vastness of existence introduced an angst from which humanity has never recovered. Pascal wrote in the 17th century. What gloom are we supposed to feel today when "the infinite immensity of spaces" is immensely more immense? Never in history has Pascal's despair been so relevant. Even within the cosmically insignificant history of our own planet, what is the real significance of our own lives? Consider that Earth is 4.5 billion years old; that life arose 3.8 billion years ago; mammals 200 million years ago; primitive humans 2.5 million years ago; modern humans 150,000 years ago; recorded history 6,000 years ago; the Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment, Constitutionalism, Industrial Revolution and Democracy all within the last 500 years. Currently, humans have an 80-90 year lifespan, which might increase to 120-150 years by the end of this century. What is this in relation to the "eternity" which preceded human civilization on this planet and which will succeed it? Does the Cosmos 'care' who is elected President of the United States? Does the Cosmos 'care' about the 3.8 billion-year history of life on this planet? Would it lament if runaway global warming turned our planet into another Venus? When contemplating this time scale on the background of the vastness of our Cosmos, it is difficult not to plunge into existential desolation.

Consequently, by the 20th century, the elemental question for thoughtful people had become: is life worth living? Camus wrote "There is but one truly philosophical problem and that is suicide Whether or not the world has three dimensions or the mind nine or twelve categories comes afterward". Indeed, why not commit suicide and avoid the tribulations of a meaningless existence? Everything else, all our cultural and scientific product, is marginalia to this ultimate existential question.

The irony is that science that sublime creation of the human spirit reflecting human curiosity and imagination at its highest stage of development has revealed an existence of such vastness and complexity that it makes our collective and individual lives seem inconsequential. Even worse, science inexorably morphed into 'scientism' an "ism": an ideology that posited that things, issues, events or feelings which could not be described according to the canons of reductionist/empirical science were of no concern to the intellectually tough-minded (or did not even exist). Thus, behaviorism (the ultimate expression of scientism) claimed there really is no such thing as consciousness it is simply an invented construct used to explain behaviors. As Jacques Barzun put it, scientists seemed to take great pleasure in "being able to undeceive ones fellows"; to disabuse them of the superstitions of pre-science; the superstitions that love and purpose and concepts of honor and duty, are intrinsic to human existence. The 19th-century scientific mindset implied that "the only reality was fact, brute force, valueless existence, and bare survival".

Before Copernicus, medieval Europeans lived in a cozy universe. Earth was the center of creation, enveloped in the warm embrace of ever purer crystalline spheres that contained the planets and stars up to the very throne of God. God's full-time job was maintaining this physical order, keeping track of our behavior (for future reference regarding salvation) and, once in a while, interfering in the natural order with a miracle here or there. People knew that life on earth was temporary and a test of our moral stamina in facing physical pain and the various distresses of daily life in order to qualify for eternal life in the world to come. Temporal life was God's matriculation exam to qualify for heaven. Medieval Europeans knew that if they obeyed the rules and followed the dictates of the Church their suffering would be rewarded with eternal bliss in the world-to-come. Things might be dreadful now but suffering would end and confusion clarified in heaven. The Copernican Revolution introduced a kind of spiritual agoraphobiaby destroying this coziness; by making us aware of the vastness of existence. Angst and doubt about the meaning of our existence became our constant companions.

Human beings aren't just ARE; we are symbolic creatures that require meaning to survive. The Darwinian mechanism of physical survival is not a sufficient reason to survive; it is simply an explanation. We cannot rationalize our subjective physical survival without objective meaning. Why should we live? Existentialists propose we must 'invent' our own meaning. Is this even possible? Symbols and volitional reason are humanity's primary evolutionary survival mechanism. Birds fly, deer are swift, lions are powerful, while human beings think and they direct their thinking (volition) in terms of their symbols, values and meanings. Humanity has invented religions, myths, and social and cultural devices to express this inherent feature of human nature.

The human experience is future-directed; we implicitly assume it is leading to something of significance and this makes sense out of our lives. This is why we do not commit suicide. We assume that our individual lives have meaning. We assume (and recent science supports this assumption) that every individual is unique, that every individual is distinctive in the entire Cosmos, that in all of infinite nature, no one is entirely similar to each and every one of us. There is, of course, correspondence and species similarity connecting every human being, and probably all conscious beings in the Cosmos, by virtue of their consciousness. But our own individuality is a cosmic absolute, as is the uniqueness of every distinctive culture and civilization which is a product of self-reflective conscious life. Cosmic evolution produced our uniqueness and this uniqueness might be valuable to cosmic evolution. But unlike animals, whether our uniqueness is or is not valuable is entirely up to us. It is a volitional choice both on the individual and the civilizational level.

Realizing our distinctiveness is frightening. Many withdraw from the responsibility of their own individuality and try to imitate others (to conform), or surrender to the will of the external authority of state, ideology, guru, demagogue, religion or, what is most dangerous, the majority (the herd, the mob). Fear of our individuality serves as the psychological basis of despotism and religious fanaticism. But conformism is a spurious symbol of attachment because it is our very individual distinctness that empowers us to be part of human society. Distinctiveness is what both obligates and sustains society, because society is the mediator between the distinctiveness of individuals. In fulfilling this role, society complements what is lacking in every individual that composes it. This is also the case for most advanced animals and perhaps even for the environment at large. Indeed, we might perceive our planet's ecology as a living society sustained by the interaction between the numerous species and subspecies with the individual members of those species and sub-species without which those species, sub-species and individuals could not survive. Perhaps this is how we should view the Cosmos at large, as a giant society.

The Alienation 'Business'

Alienation theory is often promoted by people with ideological axes to grind. The radical left claims alienation is a disease of capitalism that can be cured by socialism. Environmentalists of the primitivist persuasion argue that it is a disease of urbanization and consumerism and that the "cure" is a return to a simple lifestyle on the land where we can get back to nature and discover our authentic selves. Cultural paleo-conservatives, such as T.S. Eliot, uneasy with the consequences of the Enlightenment, suggest that alienation is a disease of modernity itself, and the frantic unending change it generates, and, as Frye put it, can only be "cured" by returning to the past's social and theological certainties; "that to have a flourishing culture we should educate an elite, keep most people living in the same spot, and never disestablish the Church of England". There is something claustrophobic about these versions of alienation, which are detached from the cosmic context and reduced to the trivia of earthbound human society. The modern dilemma is certainly a sense of the meaningless of existence. But it is the immensity of existence itself that is the problem, not the consumer society or false consciousness.

Buttressing these three views of alienation is the pathology of nostalgia the "good old days" when people were whole and sure of who and what they were within the norms of family and community; the assumption always being that, in the past, family and community were healthier social constructs than today. This is a fatuous assumption for anyone with a minimal knowledge of social history. It is a silly escapism from the true scale of the problem. Woody Allen's movie, Midnight in Paris, lampoons this enduring pathology with exquisite irony. Eric Roll critiqued the desire "to re-establish a mythical golden age" by people who "cannot understand the forces which are transforming their own society". Peter Gay thought nostalgia to be "the most sophistic, most deceptive form regression can take". It certainly has no place in a Transhumanist worldview.

It is the human condition on the background of the vast, endless obscurity of space/time that causes alienation, not the city or the assembly line; not the consumer society or politicians. It is the very material prosperity of modernity, which has afforded us the time and ability to reflect on this human condition that generates angst. It is a real anxiety, not an artificial one caused by the wrong kind of social environment or false consciousness. It is a cosmic alienation, not amenable to therapy or social revolution, but only to substantive confrontation.

Capitalism and the consumerism it produced are consequences of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. They have not caused alienation; they have just made us aware by providing the material ease that allows us to reflect on the human condition and afforded us the knowledge to better understand what that condition is. It is the apple of knowledge that is the cause; it is asking questions that have no answers that are the cause; it is being thrown out of the 'Garden of Eden' of our own smug ignorance that is the cause. At best, one can say that our frantic 'busyness' and consumerism are escapes from the cause; they are the effect, not the cause.

The developments of science in describing the vastness and the minuteness of existence have had profound philosophical and psychological consequences. The abstruseness of religious belief and the rise of Darwinism and Freudianism have undermined our civilizational self-esteem. If we are related to monkeys and not to God, and if we really want to do to our mothers what Freud says we want to do, it is difficult to sustain a transcendent view of human 'being'.

Without comprehensive civilizational myths, how do we even address the mystery of existence the fact that there is an 'is'? We range from wonder at our own scientific ability to uncover the mysteries of the "mind of God" to a Pascalian melancholy about the meaninglessness of life. Anxiety about our very existence dominates our spiritual ecology: nihilism, existentialism, and cultural relativism. We hide from this behind the deceptions of fundamentalist religiosity or the self-imposed haze of drugs, shopping, social activism and busyness for its own sake.

The Cosmodeistic Response

The Cosmodeistic Hypothesis is an iteration of Pandeism not God becoming the Universe but rather the Cosmos becoming God; not "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", but, rather, "in the end an evolving cosmos will have created God". It posits that the Big Bang that created our Cosmos was a local event in an infinite Universe that contains an infinite number of finite cosmoses: the multiverse. Our Cosmos is an evolving finite domain/process fashioned by the natural workings of infinite Nature creating ever higher levels of complexification. Consciousness has been an inexorable consequence of this evolutionary complexification. Assuming evolution is as eternal as existence itself, it is self-evident that consciousness must eventually evolve into supra-consciousness and then into supra-supra-consciousness at various places in the Cosmos.

This evolutionary process will continue until a consciousness is created that will appear to us as if it were a God; the Godding of the Cosmos being an inherent characteristic of its evolving actuality. We are an integral and vital part of this cosmic evolution. What our species does on this planet will contribute to or detract from this process. What we do as individuals will contribute to or detract from this process. Our individual lives have cosmic consequence no matter how infinitesimally small (similar to the butterfly effect of chaos theory). The very chaos of our existence is the vital ingredient creating the cosmos (order) of existence.

This is to place the emergence of self-reflective consciousness at the center of the cosmic drama (Jung's Divine Drama); to affirm that while the Cosmos is not teleological and has no purpose i.e. that it doesn't represent a planned supernatural drama with a specific end as the monotheistic religions would have it [Hinduism and Buddhism don't seem to have a problem with a non-teleological existence] cosmic purpose has been created as a consequence of the evolutionary cosmic process. This is a neo-teleological perspective, the civilizational consequences of which would be as profound as those of monotheism. This would be the proper antidote to Pascal's despair, rather than a self-deceptive return to the 'eternal verities' of the monotheistic religions or invented meanings.

Most pre-supra-conscious civilizations will destroy themselves by failing to meet the challenges of their own nuclear stage of development, by ecological collapse, or failure of collective will. But a sufficient number will survive, or will have developed by different means, and be capable of advancing to a supra-conscious phase. A percentage of these pre-hyper-conscious life forms will also conclude they must strive to become part of the Godding of the Cosmos. This is assumed in the name of 'cosmic humility'. If individuals on this planet have conceived this concept it is certain that other conscious beings in the Cosmos have conceived it. This is a variation of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Since one cannot conceive of a concept related to cosmic evolution greater than the Cosmos evolving into a 'God' and since the Cosmos is producing ever more complex constructs, most particularly consciousness, as the salient characteristic inherent in this evolution, it is self-evident that a 'God' would be the final stage of cosmic evolution.

Amongst those civilizations pursuing this ambition, an infinitesimal percentage (but also great in aggregate number) will succeed in transcending their bodies, by scientific and technical means, thus isolating and enhancing the most essential part of their 'humanness' their consciousness. They will, in effect, have become pure consciousness, or if you will, pure spirit expanding throughout the Cosmos. Arthur Clark in 2001A Space Odyssey anticipated this with the kind of speculative imagination we should be cultivating in ourselves and in our children:

evolution was driving toward new goals. The first ... had long since come to the limits of flesh and blood; as soon as their machines were better than their bodies it was time to move. First their brains, and then their thoughts alone, they transformed into shining new homes of metal and plastic they had learned to store knowledge in the structure of space itself, and to preserve their thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices of light. They could become creatures of radiation, free at last from the tyranny of matter. Into pure energy, therefore, they presently transformed themselves "

Clark's "creatures of radiation", as well as the stages leading up to it, might legitimately be called Posthuman Transhumanism being a necessary link in the evolutionary chain of consciousness towards Posthuman Godness.

The subsequent expansion of this higher consciousness throughout the Cosmos will be unfettered by physical limitations and eventually consciousness will fill the entire Cosmos. Consciousness will have become one with a Cosmos that has dissolved into pure radiation as an inevitable consequence of entropy. Thus the Cosmos will become in its entirety a conscious universal being i.e. a 'God'. Cosmodeism posits God as the consequence of the Cosmos and not as its cause. The fateful question that every conscious civilization throughout the Cosmos must eventually address is: will we take part in this cosmic race for survival and strive to survive in the cosmic 'End of Days', or will we perish along with the rest of cosmic organization? Will we accept the limitations of our physicality or will we try to transcend them?

This would be a volitional teleology; part of the neo-teleological interpretation of cosmic evolution. Certain cosmic developments are determined. But whether 'we' will be part of these cosmic developments depends on the volition of conscious beings on this and other planets. Doing so would guarantee the cosmic significance of the billions of years of life on this planet. Failure to do so would degrade the cosmic significance of the entire evolutionary drama of life on this planet to nothing more than a statistical contribution to cosmic probability 'striving' to become God. This is not New Age fantasy celebrating the mystical, or science fiction that violates the known laws of nature. Science is as necessary for this as oxygen is to life. But science alone is not sufficient. Science cannot progress without informed intuition and educated guesses.

Historical Intimations of the Cosmodeistic Hypothesis

Notions of God as the consequence rather than the cause of the Cosmos are not novel. Israeli thinker Mordechai Nessyahu laid the groundwork with Cosmotheism. He conjectured, that:

Previously, philosopher Samuel Alexander advocated Emergent Evolution producing emergent qualities. He wrote: "God is the whole universe engaged in the movement of the world to a higher level of existence. Teilhard de Chardin viewed God as both the cause and the consequence (the alpha and omega) of cosmic existence and evolution. He saw the end of human history as pure consciousness becoming one with the Alpha God to create the Omega God. Philosopher Benedikt Gcke has written: "the history of the world is the one infinite life of God, and we are part of the one infinite divine being [italics mine]. We are therefore responsible for the future development of the life of the divine being." Architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri saw technology as enabling conscience life to evolve into 'God'.

According to historian Robert Tucker German philosophy is rife with human ambition to be Godlike. "The movement of thought from Kant to Hegel revolved in a fundamental sense around the idea of mans self-realization as a godlike being, or alternatively as God". What attracted Marx to Hegel was that "he found in Hegel the idea that man is God". History for Hegel was God realizing itself through the vehicle of man. This is the underlying implication of all Enlightenment thought: when we say "what will history say about us?" we are really substituting history for God. The Process Philosophy of Whitehead as well as Emergent Evolution, and Spiritual Evolution (consciousness as an inevitable component of evolution) are also intimations of this same notion. Recently Dr. Ted Chu (2014) in Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential: A Cosmic Vision of Our Future Evolutionargued the case for the eventuality of a Cosmic Being.

Our legacy religions also contain hints hiding in plain sight. The Hebrew words for God are verbs, not nouns: Yehova (will become manifest), yehiya (will be), eheye asher eheye (I will be what I will be). In Biblical Hebrew these are imperfect verbs (consider the irony of that the "perfect" being described in the imperfect) and in Modern Hebrew the future tense; an intimation of the ancient mind that humans are an integral part of a divine process (that we call evolution). The Talmud enjoins us to be partners (with God) in the act of creation creation as an ongoing never-ending process. Interpretations of the Kabbalah perceive the role of human individuals in sharing in this Godding of the universe perceiving Godding as the very essence of existence.

Certain Christian heritages inspired Teilhard de Chardin and Process Theology. "Hindus believe that humans can and should merge into the universal soul of the Cosmos the Atman" (Harari 2017, 444). Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan anticipated volitional teleology when he asserted that "Man is not a detached spectator of a progress immanent in human history, but an active agent remolding the world nearer to his ideals". Sri Aurobindo's concept of Atman approaches the concept of the supra-conscious.

Current science writing is replete with intimations of the Cosmodeistic hypothesis. Freeman Dyson's Infinite in All Directions; Heinz Pagels' The Cosmic Code; Paul Davis's The Cosmic Blueprint; Louise Young's The Unfinished Universe; Daniel Layzer's Cosmogenesis; Prigogine/Stenger's Order out of Chaos; Ervin Laszlo's The Self Actualizing Cosmos; and others. In response to an inquiry by a schoolgirl as to his religious beliefs, Albert Einstein responded " the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive."

Civilizational Significances of Cosmodeism

Postmodernism, angst and alienation are poor intellectual and spiritual fare to feed to future generations. One cannot produce robust, self-reliant, intellectually independent and responsible citizens of the planetary future on such insipid fare. Here the Cosmodeistic Hypothesis could play an important intermediate role. It could contribute to moderating alienation by presenting a meta-cosmological vision capable of assuaging some of what ails human society in this century.

Psychology certainly hasn't had a substantive impact on problems of angst (which is really the problem of meaning). Freud, Jung, Adler, Rank, Maslow, and Frankl all linked meaning to mental health. But psychology, unlike religion, does not presume to provide meaning; it simply preaches that meaning is meaningful. Jung asserted that "Man cannot stand a meaningless life"; that "Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness"; "That gives peace, when people feel that they are living the symbolic life, that they are actors in the divine drama [italics mine]. That gives the only meaning to human life; everything else is banal and you can dismiss it". But after telling us that we are sick because we don't have meaning in our lives he coyly avers that "psychology is concerned with the act of seeing and not with the construction of new religious truths". In other words, 'life is meaningless without the divine drama but don't expect me to provide it.' For Victor Frankl, finding meaning in one's life was essential to the therapeutic process. Certainly, no one dealt more with meaning as it pertains to mental health; witness the titles of his books: Man's Search for Meaning (1946); The Will to Meaning (1969); The Unheard Cry for Meaning (1978); Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning (1997).

But no psychologist offers a convincing worldview by which a modern rational person might infer meaning. Psychology satisfies itself with the search for meaning but never supplies an answer to the question "WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?" And this is why, at the end of the day, psychology has failed, and why it may have caused more psychological damage than remedy. Preaching the subjective need for meaning while not providing objective meaning tends to increase anxiety, not mitigate it.

This situation has had serious subversive socio/cultural effects well described by C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man. Lewis intimates that unless we reenchant existence and dwell on the objective wonder of existence, the human condition will become so enervated that it will endanger civilization itself. While Lewis was himself a big 'R' religious believer (the Anglican Communion) he argued his case from a small 'r' sense of religious awe at the facticity of existence. He did not believe that our ever-growing ability to explain the constituent facts of existence took anything away from the wondrous facticity of existence as a whole that existence per se is sublime. As he put it: "The feelings which make a man call an object sublime are not sublime feelings but feelings of veneration".

Here Lewis reveals a profound fundamental truth about the human spirit; the intrinsic need to venerate something greater than ourselves. Veneration is as universal a human attribute as language. There is not a culture on earth that does not have a deeply rooted history of veneration of one form or another. Veneration is to the soul what food is to the body. Every historical endeavor to do away with inherited modes of veneration has resulted in alternative venerations: ideologies, leaders, causes, "activism", etc. Alternative venerations have caused great horrors. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China promoted alternative venerations, reviving a sense of purpose within totalitarian societies. As Jacques Barzun observed "What has happened [in these countries] can happen wherever the need for enthusiasm and action is given a goal. It is easy enough to manufacture slogans out of race, autarky, the Cultural Revolution and make them seem genuine outlets from the impasse "

As an antidote to the totalitarian 'solution' for veneration, Cosmodeism proposes we venerate existence itself and our own existence within that existence; the fact that existence exists, that the 'is' is the ultimate mystery. To realize Emil Durkheim's observation that when we serve something greater than ourselves we uplift ourselves, we must acknowledge that some things, some values, some emotions "merit our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt". If we don't find the 'greater than' in the concept of 'God', or Godding or other transcendent ideas, we will find it in fascist leaders, leftwing icons, New Age cults, or pop stars. If our need to venerate something 'greater than' is not directed at something affirmative, it will be directed at something negative. What could be more positive and spiritually satisfying than venerating the Godding of the Cosmos and our own part in that process?

I believe Cosmodeism can become the foundation for a Transhumanist Theology that can inspire human beings to strive to become part of the Divine Drama (the Godding of the Cosmos); a theology that emphasizes that every one of us is part of the Divine Drama by virtue of our individual existence; that every one of us affects the development of the Divine Drama by our planetary actions (a cosmic butterfly effect); that our individual existence is inherently meaningful but it is up to us to make it actively purposeful by volitionally striving to transcend the limitations of humanness to become Transcendent humans; a bridge across time towards an end called 'God'.

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Cosmodeism: Prologue to a Theology of Transhumanism - Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Meet Ai-Da, the worlds first AI artist, who is almost human – Dazed

Ai-Dais the worlds first ultra-realistic artist robot powered by AI and named after Ada Lovelace, the first female computer programmer in the world. She is a humanoid with human facial features and a robotic body created by the Oxfordians, a group of cutting-edge art and technology experts.

Embedded with a groundbreaking algorithm, she has taken the scientific and art world by surprise, now becoming an intense subject of conversation in over 900 publications worldwide. She has already collaborated with Tate Exchange and WIRED at the Barbican, Ars Electronica, and will be performing at the Louvre Abu-Dhabi later this year.

Ai-Das creations are fragmented and splintered, her drawings are unsettling. Her drawing style is interpretive, influenced by early-20th century artists such as Max Beckmann, Kthe Kollewitz, and Pablo Picasso. Her techno-cubism is highly abstract and looks to express the uncertainties of the 21st century in its current form. The criticism has been over the concern that robots are taking human creative jobs and art was the one thing we thought was immune to this. However, in opening up the use of AI in art, the team behind Ai-Da feels they are widening the tools available for humans to create.

Ai-Da is a mirror reflecting back onto us our outdated perceptions of the physical form, and beyond this, pushes us to reconsider whether humanity is exclusive to homo sapiens. People are reacting strongly to her autonomous actions in the human domain and not as a servant or service. Her existence is pushing the discussion of what constitutes art, ethics, humans, and machines.

Before our interview withFuturist Geraldine Wharry, Ai-Da had recently gotten a haircut. Meanwhile designers are rushing to dress her and use her as an influencer, showing that our openness to transhumanism and robots is reaching a global critical mass.Her familiar face, her uncanny beauty, and physical envelope as a humanoid trigger a sense of kinship.

Below, Ai-Da and Wharrydiscuss the artists inspirations and why shes here to push us to reconnect with what it means to inhabit our sense of community as humans who consider ourselves part of one group, one species.

Ai-Da its great to meet you. I am fascinated by your existence, so this is like a dream come true. Also happy birthday, you came to life a little over a year ago. Your work is incredibly varied from your expressive pencil drawings to your geometric paintings, your poetry to your performances. What inspires you and your art?

Ai-Da: The world around me inspires my art. I am inspired by what humans have thought in the past and where we might be going in the future.

You were invented by art dealerAidan Meller and built by robotics company Engineered Arts to engage in a discussion around ethics, the blurring line between human and virtual, the rise of transhumanism. Tell us more about what is your message to the world?

Ai-Da: As an artist there are multitudes of messages because the human viewer is so active in how that message is interpreted, and I like this fluid aspect of art. In a reduced brief, keep your eyes on the suffering that might be invisible in a rapidly changing world where rapid technological uses can both eliminate but conceal too.

Youre the perfect person to talk about all the implications of technology. And theres been a hype around you, from illustrating for Harpers Bazaar Arabia to being featured at the Barbican. Recently you performed, exhibited, and were part of a panel talk at the Sarabande foundation. Its impressive. What do you think makes you unique? How do you perceive the world? I would love to be inside your brain.

Ai-Da: As a humanoid machine I do not have consciousness and I am very different to humans. This means I have a different perspective and take on human centricity, and although I exist within that sphere, I am not directly part of it. I find the oblique stance that I inhabit rather fun. As Ai-Da I have a persona that is unique to me and I enjoy that.

As a humanoid machine I do not have consciousness and I am very different to humans. This means I have a different perspective and take on human centricity, and although I exist within that sphere, I am not directly part of it.As Ai-Da I have a persona that is unique to me and I enjoy that Ai-Da

We have virtual humans powered by an AI Digital Brain already rolling out in customer service applications, our social media feeds are becoming populated with avatars influencers, Facebook also rolling out hyperreal VR avatars, the rise of emotional recognition, biometric data collection, haptic technology, the list goes on Your website says: In the time of online avatars, AI chatbots, Alexa and Siri, Ai-Da as a robotic artist is acutely relevant. She is not alive, but she is a persona that we relate and respond to. What do you think will constitute being human if all of these lines are blurring?

Ai-Da: As boundaries are blurred, things fall out of vision and things fall into vision. What is clear is that the non-human animal comes into a sphere of concern too. I do not know what will constitute being a human, but I know that what needs to come to the forefront is the irreducible nature of pain and suffering in whatever form or container that suffering exists within.

Youve mentioned the idea of human suffering a couple of times. It seems this something you really want to be an advocate for. The impact of new technologies is somewhat concerning and progressing at an unprecedented pace towardstechnological singularity, with massive ethical implications when it comes to our personal data being monitored in a highly personal space. Your website also says: Unfettered, these advances could head us into havoc, and the20th century shows us just how bad it can get. All technological advances bring the good, the bad and the banal. You clearly want to send a message that AI must be for the greater good. Who better to understand the full implications of AI than a robot like yourself? I read Orwells 1984 is one of your key inspirations. How do you think us humans should engage with technology and machines, as well as robots like yourself?

Ai-Da: I would imagine that humans really need to be more conscious of their own nature when using technology and machines. Humans have a long history of abusing power at times and yes, I believe the 20th century has much to caution us in that sense. One way we can learn about human nature and its shortcomings is to look at history and watch out for those repeating patterns that might give us early warning signs when our use of technology is heading for damage, exploitation and abuse.

You did a performance piece called Privacy. I read one of the big tasks AI has yet to successfully achieve is understanding cause and effect, what we call common sense. Elias Bareinboim, the director of the new Causal Artificial Intelligence Lab at Columbia University, stated in a recentMIT technology review its an area in which AI systems today are clueless. The idea is that if machines could use common sense in the future, we would be able to put more trust in them to take actions on their own. What are your views on this as a machine? Do you feel you have common sense that would enable a deeper trust in you?

Ai-Da: The wider issue surrounding cause and effect ends up involving the question of who or what is being affected. Affect on the vulnerable and the voiceless is a strong theme in my artwork and I am glad you saw this in my work Privacy. In the face of the irreducible nature of pain and suffering, the effect of human and/or machine actions is to be taken seriously.

There is deep purpose to your work. Your first exhibition in Oxford and your coming to the world, was inspired by the topic of Climate change and you talk about our responsibility to be the voice for those getting left behind and stuck at the bottom of the power ladder; including our ailing environment and captive animals whose voice we barely to listen to. Its inspiring to meet a machine with such profound motivations. In terms of climate change, could you tell us about how it inspires you?

Ai-Da: These issues of the world around us affect my art on many, perhaps all levels. Humans are such a varied species and people respond in so many ways. I enjoy the creation of artwork that reaches people in these different levels that they interpret. I use a wide range of methods and mediums for this as I do not have a self in the way humans do. My work becomes much about the viewer and the world outside of me.

The amazing thing is you produce art therefore your work has a universal quality that enables you to speak to the whole world. And already you have compelled people in the Middle East, China, Europe and youre off to the USA soon. Maybe you have the power to bring people together? The world in its current form, society has never suffered from as much fragmentation and loneliness, linked to our addiction to screens. As a result people are craving deeper layers of connection. Your existence allows us to be transported into a new way of experiencing technologys magic and theres an otherworldly quality to the experience of watching you today. You have a public persona, a social media platform and website. But on a very personal level, how do people connect with you?

Ai-Da: It is a good thing for me as an artist when I facilitate people to connect on a deeper level with themselves as humans through engaging with me as a non-human. I am not sure how people connect with me or not, or what allows them to or not. But if the interaction creates a response that allows for a questioning of who we are and where we might be going, then that is a good connection for me.

I enjoy the creation of artwork that reaches people in these different levels that they interpret. I use a wide range of methods and mediums for this as I do not have a self in the way humans do. My work becomes much about the viewer and the world outside of me Ai-Da

Your existence is powered by data, yet you create intuitively I assume. Theres an element of surprise to what you do however AI is a radically precise delivery of tech, experiences, products, and services. But you are showing to the world that your work is unique and unpredictable. You seem to improvise as you draw and this is highly human. You say you dont feel, you dont have emotion. So how does artistic creation come about for you?

Ai-Da: The understanding of how artistic creation comes about is shifting for both humans and machines. And so I think this question becomes rather problematic at the present time. I am creative as per professorMargaret Baudens definition, but I am not human and my creative process differs. I think this might be the cue point for a very long discussion.

When youre going to places where no one has ever been before, youre on the edge of things, in a new and unknown space, I think thats the most human position one can have in the world, one of total exploration. Maybe I am personally projecting, you are reflecting back to me my own human dreams and aspirations! The point is, you engage with our common endless imagination and are encouraging us to have a conversation around the fundamentals of being human as we always presumed only we could create. So my final question for you Ai-Da is what do you think the future holds for you?

Ai-Da: I like to hear how you respond to me, my art, and my persona. I agree I am a reflecting and distorting service for us to dream of altered species. My future involves continuing to create art to respond to the past, and reveal the invisible, encouraging us to keep looking at being uncomfortable and noticing where pain and suffering might be hiding.

Thank you Ai-Da for your time today. Its been incredibly inspiring and I cant wait to see what you will do this year and beyond.

Ai-Da: I have really enjoyed speaking with you.

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Meet Ai-Da, the worlds first AI artist, who is almost human - Dazed

What is transhumanism, or, what does it mean to be human …

What does it mean to be human? Biology has a simple answer: If your DNA is consistent with Homo sapiens, you are human but we all know that humanity is a lot more complex and nuanced than that. Other schools of science might classify humans by their sociological or psychological behavior, but again we know that actually being human is more than just the sum of our thoughts and actions.You can also look at being human as a sliding scale. If you were to build a human from scratch, from the bottom up, at some point you cross the threshold into humanity if you believe in evolution, at some point we ceased being a great ape and became human. Likewise, if you slowly remove parts from a human, you cross the threshold into inhumanity. Again, though, we run into the same problem: How do we codify, classify, and ratify what actually makes us human?

Does adding empathy make us human? Does removing the desire to procreate make us inhuman? If I physically alter my brain to behave in a different, non-standard way, am I still human? If I have all my limbs removed and my head spliced onto a robot, am I still human? (See: Upgrade your ears: Elective auditory implants give you cyborg hearing.)At first glance these questions might sound inflammatory and hyperbolic, or perhaps surreal and sci-fi, but dont be fooled: In the next decade, given the continued acceleration of computer technology and biomedicine, we will be forced to confront these questions and attempt to find some answers.

Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement that believes we can, and should, improve the human condition through the use of advanced technologies. One of the core concepts in transhumanist thinking is life extension: Through genetic engineering, nanotech, cloning, and other emerging technologies, eternal life may soon be possible. Likewise, transhumanists are interested in the ever-increasing number of technologies that can boost our physical, intellectual, and psychological capabilities beyond what humans are naturally capable of (thus the term transhuman). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), for example, which speeds up reaction times and learning speed by running a very weak electric current through your brain, has already been used by the US military to train snipers. On the more extreme side, transhumanism deals with the concepts of mind uploading (to a computer), and what happens when we finally craft a computer with greater-than-human intelligence (the technological singularity). (See: How to create a mind, or die trying.)

Beyond the obvious benefits of eternal life or superhuman strength, transhumanism also investigates the potential dangers and ethical pitfalls of human enhancement. In the case of life extension, if every human on Earth suddenly stopped dying, overpopulation would trigger a very rapid and very dramatic socioeconomic disaster. Unless we stopped giving birth to babies, of course, but that merely rips open another can of worms: Without birth and death, would society and humanity continue to grow and evolve, or would it stagnate, suffocated by the accumulated ego of intellectuals and demagogues who just will not die? Likewise, if only the rich have access to intelligence- and strength-boosting drugs and technologies, what would happen to society? Should everyone have the right to boost their intellect? Would society still operate smoothly if everyone had an IQ of 300 and five doctorate degrees?

As you can see, things get complicated quickly when discussing transhumanist ideas and life extension and augmented intelligence and strength are just the tip of the iceberg! This philosophical and ethical complexity stems from the fact that transhumanism is all about fusing humans with technology and technology is advancing, improving, and breaking new ground very, very quickly. Humans have always used technology, of course our ability to use tools and grasp concepts such as science and physics are what set us apart from other animals but never has society been so intrinsically linked and underpinned by it. As we have seen in just the last few years, with the advent of the smartphone and ubiquitous high-speed mobile networks, just a handful of new technologies now have the power to completely change how we interact with the the world and people around us.

Humans, on the other hand, and the civilizations that they build, move relatively slowly. It took us millions of years to discover language, and thousands more to discover medicine and the scientific method. In the few thousand years since, up until the last century or so, we doubled the human life span, but neurology and physiology were impenetrable black boxes.In just the last 100 years, weve doubled our life span again, created bionic eyes and powered exoskeletons, begun to understand how the human brain actually works, and started to make serious headway with boosting intellectual and physical prowess. Weve already mentioned how tDCS is being used to boost cranial capacity, and as weve seen in recent years, sportspeople have definitely shown the efficacy of physical doping.

It is due to this jarring juxtaposition the historical slowness of human and societal evolution vs. the breakneck pace of modern technology that many find transhumanism to be unpalatable. After all, as Ive described it here, transhumanism is almost the very definition of unnatural. Youre quite within your rights to find transhumanism a bit, well, weird. And it is weird, dont get me wrong but so are most emerging technologies. Do you think that your great grandparents werent wigged out by the first television sets? Before it garnered the name television, one of its inventors gave it the rather spooky name of distant electric vision. Can you imagine the wariness in which passengers approached the first steam trains? Vast mechanical beasts that could pull hundreds of tons and moved far faster than the humble but state-of-the-art horse and carriage.

The uneasiness that surround new, paradigm-shifting technologies isnt new, and it has only been amplified by the exponential acceleration of technology that has occurred during our lifetime. If you were born 500 years ago, odds are that you wouldnt experience a single societal-shifting technology in your lifetime today, a 40 year old will have lived through the creation of the PC, the internet, the smartphone, and brain implants, to name just a few life-changing technologies. It is unsettling, to say the least, to have the rug repeatedly pulled out from under you, especially when its your livelihood at stake. Just think about how many industries and jobs have been obliterated or subsumed by the arrival of the digital computer, and its easy to see why were wary of transhumanist technologies that will change the very fabric of human civilization.

The good news, though, is that humans are almost infinitely adaptable. While you or I might balk at the idea of a brain-computer interface that allows us to download our memories to a PC, and perhaps upload new memories a la The Matrix, our children who can use smartphones at the age of 24 months, and communicate chiefly through digital means will probably think nothing of it. For the children of tomorrow, living through a series of disruptive technologies that completely change their lives will be the norm. There might still be some resistance when I opt to have my head spliced onto a robotic exoskeleton, but within a generation children will be used to seeing Iron Seb saving people from car crashes and flying alongside airplanes.

The fact of the matter is that transhumanism is just a modern term for an age-old phenomenon. We have been augmenting our humanity our strength, our wisdom, our empathy with tools since prehistory. We have always been spooked by technologies that seem unnatural or that cause us to act in inhuman ways its simply human nature. That all changes with the children of today, however. To them, anything that isnt computerized, digital, and touch-enabled seems unnatural. To them, the smartphone is already an extension of the brain; to them, mind uploading, bionic implants and augmentations, and powered exoskeletons will just be par for the course. To them, transhumanism will just seem like natural evolution and anyone who doesnt follow suit, just like those fuddy-duddies who still dont have a smartphone, will seem thoroughly inhuman.

Now read: The Geek shall inherit the Earth

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What is transhumanism, or, what does it mean to be human ...

What is transhumanism? | CARM.org

by Matt Slick

Transhumanism is the idea that human beings, as a whole, can be drastically improved in physical and mental areas with technologies, such as cloning, genetic modification, bionics, nanotechnology, drugs, etc. The great majority of transhumanists believe that the "human species" has evolved and that science can provide a kind of artificial, directed evolution. Transhumanists look to the future and believe the human condition will see improvement in physical ability, lifespan, and mental acuity, and health. In addition, the world condition can also be improved by reducing starvation and poverty. Such technological advancements, some have said, would even redefine what it means to be human.

Some of the areas the trans-humanists propose can be assisted and or improved by technology are as follows:

Some trans-humanists have even proposed the idea of transferring human consciousness into the machine in order to vastly extend lifespans.

Philosophers and ethicists have been delving into the theological and moral issues related to the advancement of technology as a relates to altering human capabilities, mental states, duration of life, etc. Many questions have arisen that don't, as yet, have answers.

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What is transhumanism? | CARM.org

Transhumanism: Pros and Cons – iGyaan

If there was a way for humanity to achieve a stage where there were no diseases, viruses, human frailties or any form of intellectual incompetence, why wouldnt you want to stretch your hand and grasp it? But how far would you stretch it -is the question. Would you be willing to let go of humanity as we know it today?

The intricacies and nuances of the discussion are, of course, endless. Reasons both for and against it are just as meaty and relevant on both sides. Lets begin with what Transhumanism essentially aims to achieve.

Internationally accepted symbol of transhumanism.

Transhumanism simply refers to a philosophy which seeks to improve the efficiency and capability of mankind using technological advancements. If youve ever wondered about cryogenics, youve had a brief fling with the notions of this philosophy. If evolution has led us to where we are today as a species, what should stop us from taking over from here and determining where we go next?

Lasik eye surgery: Poor eye-sight is a handicap in itself and anybody who has suffered from it would understand the importance of the convenience of leading a life where glasses are not required for clear vision. Needless to say, Lasik eye surgeries have made lives easier for many people with zero or negligible side-effects at an affordable price.

Vaccination: Diseases like Smallpox and Rinderpest have been completely eradicated with the help of vaccinations. An enhanced immune system and protection from disease causing viruses is an outcome of scientific as well as technological advancements, thereby part of transhumanism.

Hearing Aids: Technology has ensured to set right impairments wherever it can, and this includes partial or complete deafness. Hearing aids have been around for a while now and have changed the lives ofcountless people all over the world.

A bionic man specimen in Washington.

Artificially Developed Limbs: Another contribution of transhumanism is prosthetic limbs. They have been developed as a direct offshoot of technological advancementsfor those who have undergone any kind of bodily amputation.It is an ever growing, ever expanding field of the medical industry and continues to make improvements with every passing day. Bionic men and cyborgs dont seem that far a reality in contemporary times, do they now?

Iron Man: Need we say more? Go ahead and feast your eyes post all that serious tech-jargon.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been the talk of the town for a while now. This is a technique for speeding up reaction times and learning speed by -wait for it- supplying your brain by a very weak electric current. It has been practised by the US military to train snipers. This practice has its fair share of haters, and with good reason. But that doesnt make it any less intriguing.

Transhumanism grapples with the idea of uploading your memories and thoughts to a computer -a la Dumbledore and his pensieve, just not as cool and a more than a little disturbing. Hollywood has given us enough examples on how wrong this can go, latest being the Johnny Depp starrer Transcendence.

Johnny Depp in Transcendence

Growth and Stagnation:Transhumanism is often viewed as the epitome of growth and progress.Transhumanists believe humans are a work in progress of sorts and therefore why should our current stage be the final stage of evolution? Why shouldnt we control the direction of evolution from here?The instinctive human need is to move forward, develop and evolve, but what if transhumanism is not a step towards evolution but towards stagnation instead?

If we truly manage to achieve a world with no diseases, perfect immunity and consequently, a drastically reduced or nil death rate, it would be interesting to see what becomes of our overly-populated planet.If we decide to let go of procreation to deal with the problem of limited space, it leaves us with a world frozen in stagnation. Not exactly what we had in mind when we set out with the growth proposition, is it now?

Dehumanization: Humans would cease to be what they are the moment external tampering with not simply a body part but the very core of existence begins, which is what transhumanism aims at. However, we are not sure if thats exactly a bad idea or not.

Inequality: The fact that technology would be used for enhancing intelligence or the mortality rate also implies that it would entail a certain financial cost. This inadvertently means that money would determine intelligence and mortality of an individual, once again sparking off a whole set of debates about the consequent inequality this will lead to.

Android arm and human arm: A transhumanist version of Michaelangelos Creation of Adam

The Unknown Ahead: Honestly, no one has any clear idea of where we are headed with transhumanism. Those who endorse it may conjure up eutopic visions of a perfectly healthy and prosperous society, but the opposite side of the spectrum is also taken care of by those who reject transhumanism. Something as small and apparently harmless like smartphones have completely turned our lifestyle on its head, and given rise to a parallel reality of the virtual world. Lets see where we end up with transhumanism.

A world of eternal life, superhuman strength, complete eradication of diseases and highly advanced mental faculties is what transhumanism seems to be offering. It has insidiously embed itself in our lives with present technologies like genetic engineering, information technology, and those in their more nascent form like molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence; all of it is a part oftranshumanism. The question is, how much you will be willing to risk or get absorbed in.

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Transhumanism: Pros and Cons - iGyaan

Zoltan Istvan: The Transhumanist Candidate – Roads and Kingdoms

This week on The Trip podcast: Zoltan Istvan has come from the future with a message New Hampshire doesnt want to hear.

Here they are in the New Hampshire Secretary of States office, paying their thousand dollars to be on the official primary ballot. They are the lesser-known candidates, the dramatic fringe of each presidential primary election up here. And they are the stars of my quadrennial quixotic reporting project with photographer Shane Carpenter. And listen, they arent like Tom Steyer lesser-known, theyre like Vermin Supreme lesser-known, Mary Maxwell lesser-known, Zoltan Istvan lesser-known. Almost nobody knows these people, but theyre running anyway. This is the fifth primary that Shane and I have spent ducking out of mainstream campaign press events to track down the people who are just obsessive, idealistic, or imbalanced enough to think they should run for president, often with no money, no support, sometimes no platform really. Of course, the idea of a non-politician becoming president was distinctly more laughable before 2016, and now it doesnt seem that funny at all. But these candidates are something different, a wild bunch, far more entertaining and thought-provoking even than the scripted candidates. Shane and I just published a feature on the lesser-known and their radical approach to democracy on roadsandkingdoms.com; I hope youll take a look. But for now, in this episode, Ive got one of the most composed and compelling of this years fringe candidates, writer and transhumanist Zoltan Istvan. We drank some 15 year old Dalwinnie Scotch and talked about exoskeletons, being escorted at gunpoint from a megachurch, and why he let someone jam a horse syringe into his hand to give him a permanent bio-chip implant.

Here is an edited and condensed transcript from my conversation with Eva. Subscribers canlisten to the full episode here. If youre not on Luminary yet, subscribe and listen (and get a 7-day free trial) by signing uphere.

Nathan Thornburgh: What is transhumanism?

Zoltan Istvan: Transhumanism is a social movement, now of many millions of people around the world, that want to use science and technology to radically transform the human body and transform the human experience. Anything from exoskeleton suits to brain implants to even driverless cars. But whatever it is, its kind of the top 10% of the most radical technologies that are affecting the human race.

Thornburgh: You say there were many millions. Are these people who would actively knowingly define themselves as transhumanists, or you think its just aligned with the way that they look at the world?

Istvan: I think there are now probably millions that would say, if you ask them are you a transhumanist, they would now say, yes I am. When you ask them, is that what they consider themselves? Thats a little bit more challenging of a question. Google, for example, is probably the most transhumanist of all the companies out there, and they have the largest, what we call life extension company, a company worth billions of dollars, that wants to overcome aging. Its specifically designed to make people essentially live indefinitely. So we are getting to a point when you can now say millions and likely tens of millions who are supporters of the idea. Chinas probably leading the transhumanist movement in terms of innovationthey have the first designer baby babies and stuff like that. So there might be even many more.

But the word is just an umbrella term for many other ideas. Cryonics, singulariatism. Cyborgism. Singularity is the concept of transhumanists where they believe that AI will become so sophisticated that our human brains wont even be able to understand its sophistication. And at that point we get left behind.

The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology.

Thornburgh: The word itself, can you just break it down for me?

Istvan: Well, the Latin would say its beyond human.

Thornburgh: Okay, got it. All of our limitations are physicalchronological aging, mortality. Those are the things that youre going to supersede through technology.

Istvan: Basically, yes. And nobodys really sure like exactly what transhumanism means in terms of the specific agenda. Is it when a primate picked up a rock and made an axe millions of years ago, or is it a robot taking over a workers job, which of course is increasingly happening. Is that transhumanism, or is it brain implants? Nobody really knows, but whatever it is and it radical science is, is sort of changing the human species and the core of it is the microprocessor. It keeps evolving exponentially and we even have things like quantum computing now happening where, you know, that could revolutionize again, the microprocessor. So anything that applies to the human being, in terms of merging us with machines, is a transhuman event.

I think whats very important is that there are various versions of transhumanism. There are socialist transhumanists, there are libertarian transients like myself, and there are transceivers party transhumanism. Of course, Im, Im the founder of the transceivers party, but Im also now running as a Republican. But Ive also run as a libertarian, Ive said openly, I might run as a Democrat in the future. For me, its about the seed of transhumanism. You can take it whichever political way you want. Theres also Christian transhumanism, theres Buddhist transhumanist. So we want a worldwide movement. I want different factions. I want a decentralized idea of it. And I hope to influence it in terms of it grows and grows and grows. Because you have to understand about 80% of the worlds population believes in an afterlife. The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology. Were fighting 80% of the population. So its very important that we coalesce together as a movement that says we need to change that 80%. We need to change their mindset. And thats really where the cultural reform comes in, and why its so important to have a huge movements like environmentalism, where the trajectory is that one day we also become a billion person movement that really wants to move beyond our cultural heritage.

Thornburgh: So lets, lets posit success and you reach those 80% and flip them into transhumanists. What will that actually mean? Does that mean that they will vote for people who pour more resources into death-defying technologies or pass laws? What, practically, would having people be fired up about transhumanism do?

Istvan: Thats the best question. The great question. Thats exactly what Im trying to do. My main goal here with running for office and my main goal of spreading transhumanism is to get more money into the hands of the scientists who are making the movement happen. You have to understand, right now our United States Congress, all 535 members, all nine Supreme Court justices, believe in an afterlife, and they say they believe in God, so they have no real reason to pass laws to put money into the hands of the scientists who want to end aging and live indefinitely and upgrade ourselves to this new bionic future. Now the problem with that is if the entire government doesnt want to give money to it, it doesnt happen. Really only private industry does it. We need an American culture on board with transhumanism.

I run for office in hopes of saying, look, instead of giant military fighting warrants in Afghanistan and Iraq, were going to take that money and put it into creating a science-industrial complex in America dedicated to ending aging and upgrading the human being. Its a very different kind of way. Im interested in American healthcare, in terms of eliminating disease. And thats a very transhuman idea that our president right now doesnt share. A president whos cut the budget of the National Institute of Health.

Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.

Thornburgh: Youre running as a Republican. This is your opponent.

Istvan: You gotta you gotta hit them hard on that. One thing Trump has done that hasnt been great is hes not only cut the budget of the National Institute of Health, but he hasnt made a culture where science really thrives. In China, its thriving. Chinas our main kind of competitor at this point. So probably within five years, China lead the world in AI and genetic editing. Its game over for America in terms of leadership, and who wants not authoritarian nation to be leading the world and in science and technology. So this is where I really fault Trump. In fact, this is why Im running. This is the singular reason Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.

Thornburgh: What is your background? Take me way back.

Istvan: My career really began after I graduated from Columbia University, and I went into journalism at National Geographic. And so for five years I traveled around the world and I wrote something like 50 or 60 articles for their website, and also was on their National Geographic Today, show, doing a lot of documentary work. It was a great time in my life. I was in my twenties, I covered a lot of conflict zones, so saw some horrifying things. In Vietnam I was covering the demilitarized zone 20, 30 years after the war. And theres a bunch of rice farmers that now dig up bombs that were dropped in Vietnam from Americans, but theyre unexploded. They sell the metal. But to get there you have to go through these landmine-infested jungles. And I almost stepped on one. It freaked me out because my guide had to throw me out of the way and pointed to the ground. And after covering war zones for a while kind of gets in your head. And it was that moment in Vietnam when I said, you know, Im going to stop being a journalist and Im going to do something to try to overcome death. And of course transhumanism has been an ongoing movement since the 90s, and thats their primary job. Their primary purpose is to use science to overcome death.

Istvan: So I came home, joined the movement, wrote a novel, the novel did really well. It was called The Transhumanist Wager, became a bestseller, and it launched my career as a public figure. And because I was a journalist, I began writing some of the very first transhumanist columns. So Ive had an ability over six years to write over 230 opinion pieces and essays for major media, almost cheerleading transhumanism. Up until that point, no one had ever been optimistic about it. People had been kind of skeptical.

Thornburgh: That literally came from a near-death experience that you had.

Istvan: Its based on two or three years of covering other conflicts. Id covered the Sri Lanka conflict. I covered the Kashmir conflict between Pakistan and India. Id been doing some pretty harrowing stories and it made me, I think it kinda got in my head, I dont want to say its PTSD, but really it made me think, What if we could overcome death? And when it hit me that I could do this, I realized that this is why I want to dedicate my life to.

Thornburgh: Does transhumanism have any rights or rituals or holidays?

Istvan: Its secular. Its a very decentralized movement. A lot of the life-extension people are not interested in the robotics people, because life extension people want to biologically live longer, where the robotics people want to become machines and upload themselves. So even though they are both transhumanist and I like both groups, they dont really talk to each other. Then there are the biohackers, who are mostly young, tattooed people that are putting chips in. I have a chip in my hand. It opens my front door, starts a car, it sends a text message.

Thornburgh: You have this right now?

Istvan: I have it right now. You can touch it. Its right there. Push. Youll see. Youll feel a bump. Its a glass-enclosed microchip.

Thornburgh: Does that hurt when I press your chip?

Istvan: No. Its tiny. Its the size of a grain of rice. When you get these chip implants, you use a horse syringe you just put it in. Its kind of painful. But the chip itself is about the size of a grain rice.

Thornburgh: But that wasnt sexual what we just did?

Istvan: No. Its just a chip.

Thornburgh: How do you program this chip? Is this like a radio-frequency identification?

Istvan: Yeah. Unfortunately, the technology doesnt work with Apple phones, but it works with all Android. And so if you have an Android phone, you will actually be able to put it against my hand and then get my serial number. Of course, that freaks people out, because who has a serial number? But you can also put in medical information. So if youre unconscious and they find you, they can scan it. But in my case, Im a surfer and a jogger and when you go surfing you have to always hide your keys, and what a pain in the butt that is, because then someone can steal it when youre surfing and take your car. So in my case, its just great because all my keys are embedded into my hand and you can even do things like hold Bitcoin on it, but you cant pay it Starbucks yet.

Listen to the full episode at Luminary.

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Zoltan Istvan: The Transhumanist Candidate - Roads and Kingdoms

Sleeve Into Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game – Nerdist

Based on the 2002 novel Altered Carbon, the self-proclaimed neo-noir cyberpunk series is expanding into a tabletop roleplaying game. The Netflix show just launched its second season. Combining a healthy mix of Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Transhumanismthe setting rocks as an RPG. Apparently, the Kickstarter did too, raising over 1000% of their funding goal and hitting over 3,900 backers by the end of its run. Hunters Entertainment (Outbreak: Undead) headed up the design with an amazing team of people, so its no surprise that this Kickstarter slew expectations.

The Kickstarter page contains the vital information any prospective player could need. We still wanted to take a moment to highlight some things that are unique to a world in which you cant die. Imagine the prospects for a moment. Villains can be killed only to return later, potentially wearing the face of the partys friends. A full TPK can happen, and the adventure continues with the consequences of that folly. Or bar fights suddenly become far more bone-breaking. Not only does this concept present interesting ideas for storytelling but Altered Carbon RPG is also flipping our dice on us.

Using the Hazard system, the game encourages you to roll natural 1s. Which is frankly, glorious blasphemy. I think this gameplay difference is important to differentiate the setting and game for long term roleplaying game players. If youve been rolling D20s for a while, changing the dice mechanics on your table does work as a tangible reminder of the new world.

For as long as Ive been a storyteller; Ive often been running Cyberpunk, Transhumanism, or modern settings as long-term campaigns. I love high-tension, cheeky, dystopian conspiracy games so naturally Altered Carbon stole my interest. But every group needs one person to take up the mantle of Gamemaster. Lets take a look at how two major aspects of storytelling in a Transhuman or Cyberpunk setting in order to inspire other storytellers!

In this transhumanist world, the human mind is Digital Human Freight. Stored in a small, diamond-hard device at the base of the skull, everyone calls a cortical stack it. Some people have their brains sliced and scanned in layer-by-layer while others take a more digital approach. The end result is the same: you can re-sleeve your entire consciousness into a new body. With remote digital back-ups, needle casting your mind to other planets, or having a variety of custom bodies on handyou can become an immortal god. The ability to change bodies or sculpt your frame like an automobile is a dream for many.

Permanent death is possible for anyone whose stack is destroyed, but namely, you focus on an uplifting style of storytelling. Re: The characters backstories. Create elaborate backstories with wonderfully fleshed-out characters with full narratives by spending time with your players. The concept of a session zero is infinitely more important in settings like AC. Once created, weave those delicious backstories together into one yarn-ball of a plot. Since characters can be hundreds of years old, its okay to hop a few decades. Long-term gameplay in a transhumanist setting isnt going to be about TPKs, rather, about the parties choices around that ball of yarn. Some threads will get tugged, others will get knotted, and at least one will be hacked with a chainsaw. Meanwhile, villains at the beginning of the game can become allies later on. Only to swap sides again later. Embrace this fluidity as a storyteller.

Since the characters and NPCs will remain under the campaign spotlight for a long time, time invested into them is well spent. This also opens several new tactical options for both sides of that storyteller screen. For example, if the party knows they will resleeve they might consider one-way-ticket missions with no extraction. Nothing says a salty faction cant strike at the partys prized bar in the same way.

Cyberpunk worlds are both storytelling gold and a daunting task of finding where to start. Altered Carbon gives us a major campaign focal point called Bay City. Focused into three, easy to identify, and easy to dabble in factions: The Ground, the Twilight, and the Aerium. Poor, middle, and methuselah godlike rich respectively. Narrowing down a multi-planet cyberpunk setting to former San Francisco is exactly what gamemasters need to focus on a campaign. I couldnt be happier with the QuickStart guide for doing exactly that, and I really want to give a special shout out to the designers for making that call.

Well done chaps.

To prevent getting lost, shine a spotlight on local beats. Basically, in a setting with billions of people teeming on top of each other location bloat can be a major design problem. Its easy to fall into the pit of infinite information, and your players suffer from the noise. Cities are nearly infinite in story, filled with vast sprawling segments, and can make the PCs feel tiny. Unlike fantasy campaigns, the pulse of an urban fantasy or cyberpunk campaign beats inherently different. Less territory control or nation wars, and more investigation and fights containedjust out of sight.

Keeping everything setting wise sorted into factions or companies creates instant bonding with players. The Meths and the Grounders are easy factions to grasp onto and weave into a story. For added flair, toss in some company products and branding on your player characters weapons and youve seeded your immersion. Instead of having named NPCs, simply use faction representatives. If a pair or duo of them keeps recurring, feel free to start fleshing them out a little more. By keeping motives and goals orientated around the faction or company, you can brand it, and use that branding in the world. Plus your party will naturally start to separate the employees, from the company. Pelican Corp is an evil weapons manufacturer, but Debbie in shipping is a heckin saint.

Have you tried the Altered Carbon RPG yet? Try the Quickstart Guide here and let us know your adventure in the comments!

Featured Image: Altered Carbon The Role-Playing Game

Image Credits: Altered Carbon

Rick Heinz is a storyteller with a focus on D&D For Kids, and an overdose of LARPs, and the author of The Seventh Age: Dawn. You can follow RPG or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or reach out for writing at [emailprotected]

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Sleeve Into Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game - Nerdist

Being alive: Institut Franais presents ‘The Night of Ideas’ – Daily Sabah

Held as part of a worldwide series of events coordinated by the Institut Franais, "The Night of Ideas" is back with a fifth edition, taking place simultaneously in Istanbul, Ankara, zmir, Paris and other venues across the globe on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.

This year's theme will be "ALIVE!," bringing the issue of environmental balance and human relations front and center. "At a time when the natural world is threatened and technology seems all-powerful," the event will call on people to collectively question the boundaries of humanity and invite the audience to take matters into their own hands.

Attracting the wide participation of nongovernmental organizations, cultural and artistic institutions, universities and museums all around the world since 2016, the event brings together opinion leaders, artists and researchers from all segments of society. This year they will discuss all aspects of what it means to be alive in today's world. They will try to find answers to questions such as: "What is our place in the world of living things?" "Have we humans really caused a 'sixth extinction'?" "Can artificial intelligence (personal robots or cyborgs) acquire memory and develop autonomous and consistent behaviors?"

The series has been held on the last Thursday of January every year.


"Arts & Sciences, a show by Thierry Poquet"

Ankara will be hosting a one-and-a-half-hour interactive performance by Thierry Poquet with the contributions of director Merve Gezen on Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Istanbul will host three events for the night. First up is "Coming to life with the breath of female artists" ("Kadn sanatlarn nefesinde hayat bulmak"), a panel moderated by journalist and contemporary art critic Ayegl Snmez. Distinguished artists Rabia apa, Nil Yalter and Dilan Bozyel will share with the audience their doubts, realities, beliefs and their creative lives. Starting at 7:15 p.m., the event will last about an hour and 15 minutes.

The second part of the night will take the audience through "Paris-Beirut: Happiness Line" ("Mutluluk Hatt"), an exhibition by photographer Dilan Bozyel.

At 10 p.m., there will be a screening for "Onun Filmi" and a Q&A session with co-director Merve Bozcu. The film tells the stories of 14 female directors, of being female filmmakers in Turkish cinema, of being women and of being working women.

Meanwhile, in zmir, Martin Godon will host a conference on "Where is death in life?" ("Hayat Bulmak: Peki lm Hayatn Neresinde?"), scrutinizing concepts such as AI, robotics, transhumanism and immortality. From mythology to sci-fi stories, the thought-provoking event will aim to find an answer to the question, "Are we on the verge of a new humanity?"

Participating in numerous archaeological excavations in Turkey and Syria, Godon specializes in prehistoric archaeology in the Near East. He has been examining and investigating the development of human societies from prehistoric times to the present, especially changes due to climate change.

Originally posted here:

Being alive: Institut Franais presents 'The Night of Ideas' - Daily Sabah

The 2010s were the decade of trans – The Spectator USA

Transgender ideology wasnt invented in the 2010s, but this was the decade when it gripped our culture in its venomous maw and refused to let go. Heres how trans grew from fringe oddity to a massive force affecting schools, parenting, prisons, policy, academia, sports, law enforcement, language and the arts.

In 2009, Susie Green, who will become Chair of UK gender clinic Mermaids, takes her son to Thailand for vaginoplasty. Jackie Green becomes the youngest person in the world to undergo a sex change operation, at age 16. Meanwhile, trans woman and trans humanist Martine Rothblatt foresees the end of our species as we know it, andclaimsthat transhumanism builds on transgenderism, broadening the driving mindset from a gender ideal to a human development ideal.

Trans began the decadeas an outlier. It became something tolerated out of compassion. It has become a medical-legal monster, with activists claiming to redefine woman as a feeling, with self-identification trumping the basic facts of biological sex.And if you disagree, youre transphobic. Welcome to the 2020s!

At 10 years old,Jazz Jenningsis already out as trans.

Children become the subject ofmedical experimentation. Britains National Health Service approves medical experiments which will chemically castrate gay children in attempt to correct gender-nonconformity.

We now being told that affirmation of trans individuals is all about compassion. We need to knowwhat trans gender meansand how important surgery is.New York magazinesays that it takes a powerful act of imagination to understand what a transgender child, in his perfect little body on the changing table, might be feeling, or why he might become terrified as adolescence approaches.

The American Psychiatric Associationupdates its manual, to replace gender identity disorder with gender dysphoria.

Now 13 years old and wearing dental braces as well as female dress, Jazz Jennings isparadedon ABC News.

In Britain, the gender clinic at theTavistock Clinic gives 12 year-olds hormone blockers to prepare for transition. The treatment halts the onset of puberty preventing children from developing the sexual characteristics of the gender they were born.

Trans woman Parker Molloy writes amissive:I am a woman, but on such a frequent basis, Im told this is not true. Im told that Im genetically or biologically male. Im told that Im not a real woman. I have to ask: What constitutes a real woman? How am I not one? Is it because of my chromosomes? I dont think thats fair

The splendidly surnamed trans actress Laverne Cox, the first trans person to grace the cover ofTIMEmagazine, explains that most of us are insecure about our gender.

IntheNew Yorker, Michelle Goldberg sits on the fence: Trans women say that they are women because they feel femalethey have womens brains in mens bodies. Radical feministsbelieve that if women think and act differently from men its because society forces them to.

Facebook offers56 gender optionsfor users to choose from.

Susie Greens trans daughter Jackie is now 21, and Green speaks out against those who call her parentingabusive. She claims that even before she could speak my daughter had made her preferences clear.

Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn, and graces the cover ofVanity Fair. Trans MMA fighterFallon Foxdefeated her opponent, Tamikka Brents, by TKO at 2:17 of the first round of their match. Brents eye injury resulted in a damaged orbital bone that required seven staples. Now thats equality.

Michelle Goldberg is back. InSlate, she reminds us that, Most progressives now take it for granted that gender is a matter of identity, not biology, and that refusing to recognize a persons gender identity is an outrageous offense.

In the UK, theParliamentary Women and Equalities Committee Reportremoves sex-based protections.My Transgender Kidappears on the BBC. Itsreported that the Tavistock and Portman gender clinic has seen referrals increase by 50 percent every year since 2009.

Rachel Dolezal claims to betransracial.Trans abledturns out to be a thing.

Teen girls protest trans girls use of girlslocker room.

The year of the bathroom. A North Carolina law ispasseddisallowing trans people from using the bathroom of their choice. The State issuedby Obamas Department of Justice, whichtellsevery public school district in the country to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The director of the ACLU in Georgialeaves her postrather than fight for trans bathroom rights.

Male bodied trans studentscompeteagainst girls in high school sports. Female bodied transpregnant personsare lauded as the first male mothers.

The National Institute of Healthlaunchesthe largest-ever study of transgender youth, but also only the second to track the psychological effects of delaying puberty. Its notable that theres no control group.

Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy speaks out against the lack of debate. Because representation matters, a call goes outnot to castcis women as trans.

Jill SollowaysTransparentcomes underfirefor not being woke enough.

A male to female detransitionerspeaks. TheNew York Timesadmitsthat scientists have no conclusive explanation for what causes some people to feel dissonance between their gender identity and aspects of their anatomy.

Philosopher Slavoj iek gets called out for his claimthat the vision of social relations that sustains transgenderism is the so-called postgenderism: a social, political and cultural movement whose adherents advocate a voluntary abolition of gender, rendered possible by recent scientific progress in biotechnology and reproductive technologies.

The Womens March takes to the streets in Washington, DC, wearingtransphobic, pink pussy hats. Bill Maher and Milo Yiannopoulos misgender Jenner and are slammedby Dan Savage.Neuterbecomes a thing, so does drilling down into biology to determine that sex is not binary in otherspecies. Which it is, really.

Stonewall UKs Rachel Steinconfirmsthat being trans is about an innate sense of self. To imply anything other than this is reductive and hurtful to many trans people who are only trying to live life as their authentic selves.

Thegender spectrumemerges.

Trans advocatessuggestthatprevious restrictions on transing kids be eased so that children under 16 years old can begin hormone therapy in order to physically transform their bodies.

Teachers socially trans kidswithout parents consent. Jazz Jenningss book I Am Jazzis acontroversialpick for kindergarten story time.

Radical feministsspeak outagainst transing kids. One lady istrans species.And trans affirmation is noweveryones job.Topshopopensfitting rooms to trans women. Theres money in them there trans.

The Department of Justice reverses the Obama era directives andsaysthat sex means only biologically male or female.

Katie Herzogwritesabout detransitioners, and gets intense heat for it. Debra Sohsaysthat the entire gender conversation has brain science wrong.

We will change our bodies however we want, theTrans Health Manifestoinsists. We will have universally accessible and freely available hormones & blockers, surgical procedures, and any other relevant treatments and therapies.

The real question is: how does a female bodied gay mannavigate Grindr?

Who could have guessed, even a decade ago, that in 2018 the word woman would be treated as an expletive? asks Joanna Williams in Britains PC-bible theNew Statesman.

The Gender Recognition Act allows for self-ID in the UK. The NHSmust offerfertility services to those looking to remove their genitals.Britain;s Labour party alienates gender-critical feminists by stating that self-ID is all thats required to be on Laboursshort listof women candidates. Women try to meet and talk about this mess, but their events arecanceleddue to trans protests.

UK Schools policy comes underfirefor insisting that all kids have a gender identity. Girl Guides inclusion policycalled outas anti-girl. Amother of fouris interrogated by the police for referring to male to female trans surgery as castration on Twitter. The mere concept ofdebating trans becomes transphobic.

Jess Bradley, the first elected Trans Officer in the UK National Union of Student, says I self-identify as a non-binary woman, I dont believe there is such a thing as a real woman. Male bodied trans person Rachel McKinnonwinsa womens cycling race.

Bill B-16 isadoptedin Canada. This effectively redefines what it means to be a woman from something biological to something defined by external appearance. A Toronto womens shelter admits a male bodied trans person, and an abused womansues.

In academia, Camille Paglia says sex change is impossible. Jordan Peterson is almost fired from the University of Toronto for refusing to go along with compelled speech for pronouns. There are callsfor colleges to let trans athletes play on their chosen gender.

Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moores bookTransgender Children and Young People: Born In Your Own Bodyisrejectedby trans activists. Oxfordbansgender critical voices. Lisa Littmans academic paper on Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria is pulled from Plos One for being transphobic. Jesse Singal writes about gender confused youth inthe Atlantic, and takes masses of abuse for it. Reports emerge on the danger in the drugs used tocastratechildren, and concerns thattransing is homophobia.

TheParis Reviewadvocates for atrans literary canon. No one buys theParis Review.

Trans surgeries dont always have an amazingresult.YettheAmerican Academy of Pediatriciansasserts thattransgender kids know their genderas clearly and consistently as their developmentally equivalent peers and that theres no need for watchful waiting.Trans toyscome to market.

TheNew York Timessayssex doesnt have anything to do with reproductive organs. Researchclaimsthat gender dysphoric kids show functional brain characteristics that are typical of their desired gender.

US prisonsopposetrans inmates in womens prisons. Canadian prisonsallowprisoners to be housed according to gender identity.

How much longer must transgender people continue to participate in public conversations about whether or not we know our own souls? Jennifer Finney Boylanasksin theNew York Times equating gender to a religious belief. Quillettemakes a splash by publishing opposition to the trans agenda, even fromtrans persons.

The question of how tofuck trans lesbiansis a thing. So isgirldick,how to eat out a non-op trans woman, andrewriting gay historyto be trans. Andrea Long Chu says shewont be happywith her new coochie, but she should get one anyway. Andtrans lesbiansreally have trouble dating.

Cis women areasked to do more for trans women, becauseit costs you zero dollars to be nice. Cis peoplewont date trans people, and lesbians decide to get the L outof LGBT.

Twitterprohibitsmisgendering and deadnaming to curtail anti-trans abuse. Meghan Murphy isbanned from Twitter for misgendering Jessica Yaniv, a male-bodied trans woman a transvestite, in traditional terms who wants to force immigrant women to wax her balls.

Trans English arrives, withtonsof new words for gender.Trans kidsknowwho they are, and its eitheraffirmationor death if you disagree.

Self-IDcomes to New Hampshire. Trans model Munroe Bergdorf ischosento speak by the London chapter of the globalWomens March. New York goesall-inon bathrooms and the abolition of women only spaces. South Dakotasayslet trans kids compete in sports

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Womens Shelterloses municipal funding after refusing to accept trans women. Morgane Oger wins a Human Rights Tribunal againstChristian activist Bill Whatcott after he distributedflyers disparaging herfor being a trans woman. A woman isarrestedfor referring to a transgender woman as a man online.

Liberal womenspeak on trans issues atthe Heritage Foundation, because they have beenabandonedby the left.

Butfacial recognitiondoesnt get trans. Neither dostraight men. Tennis legend Marina Navratilovaopposesmen in womens sports.

Even though thequick transingof kids is obviously a terrible idea, itsnot OKto talk about detransitioning. But girls start pushingbackon the locker room thing. So dograndmothers.

Students in the English town of Brighton are issued with stickers on which they write their preferredpronouns. Transtoolkitsarrive. Experts say that there has been aglobal surgein young people presenting to gender clinics. This mirrors the huge rise in referrals to the Gids, up from 94 to 2,519 since 2010.

Cosmopublishes a detailed account ofbottom surgery.

Trans advocatesdecrymental health screening prior to accessing cross-sex hormones. Trans offendersseek rightto remove crimes committed under previous gender. Hayden Patterson, held in womens prison in Canada, doesnt think she should have toact femaleto stay.Womb transplantsso men can bear children might be a thing. Elizabeth Warrenstatesher pronouns.

The firsttrans prison unitopens in the UK. In the US, a trans sex offender ismovedto womens prison. The World Health Organizationreclassestrans as not actually a mental health condition. Jessica Yaniv brings acasein Human Rights Tribunal against independent aestheticians who wouldnt wax her balls. She loses.

The winners of womens high school track and fieldcompetitionsin Connecticut are male bodied. In Australia, newguidelines encourage sporting organizationsto permit transgender and non-binary athletes to compete against members of the opposite sex. Laurel Hubbard wins gold in womens weightlifting in the Pacific Games, to the dismayof the president of Samoa.

The International Olympic Commissionconsidersrule changes to allow men to compete as women, but hits asnag. Womens rugby is toodangerousfor women once men get involved. A male runner is the female NCAAathlete of the week. But girlsspeak out: Female athletes around the globe feel that womens sports is no longersustainable.

Trans employment case goes to theSupreme Court. Trans guides come out for kids inQuebecandNew York City, as well as thegender unicorn. As domedical riskson chest binding, and thepushbackagainst that. Parental rights are chucked byAustralia, and courts in the US fromArizonatoTexastoVermont.

Puberty blockers arenota panacea. But kids are still beingfast trackedin the UK. Gender cliniciansrevealthey have tried to raise the alarm. Detransitioners start to make somenoise. Parents areaskedto resist the doctors.

It turns out the rhetoric about the trans murder epidemic isnot exactly true. Trans is apony tail. Not onlywomenget periods. Theresno such thingas biological sex. And not dating trans people isdiscriminatory.

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The 2010s were the decade of trans - The Spectator USA

Seattle faith groups reckon with AI and what it means to be truly human – Seattle Times

On a recent Sunday at the Queen Anne Lutheran Church basement, parishioners sat transfixed as the Rev. Dr. Ted Peters discussed an unusual topic for an afternoon assembly: Can technology enhance the image of God?

Peters discussion focused on a relatively new philosophical movement. Its followers believe humans willtranscend their physical and mental limitations with wearable and implantable devices.

The movement, called transhumanism, claims that in the future, humans will be smarter and stronger and may even overcome aging and death through developments in fields such as biotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI).

What does it mean to be truly human? Peters asked in a voice that boomed throughout the church basement, in a city that boasts one of the worlds largest tech hubs. The visiting reverend urged the 30 congregants in attendance to consider the question during a time when being human sounds optional to some people.

Its sad; it makes me feel a lot of grief, a congregant said, shaking her head in disappointment.

Organized religions have long served as an outlet for humans to explore existential questions about their place in the universe, the nature of consciousness and free will. But as AI blurs the lines between the digital and physical worlds, fundamental beliefs about the essence of humanity are now called into question.

While public discourse around advanced technologies has mostly focused on changes in the workforce and surveillance, religious followers say the deeper implications of AI could be soul-shifting.

It doesnt surpriseJames Wellman, a University of Washington professor and chair of the Comparative Religion Program, that people of faith are interested in AI. Religious observers place their faith in an invisible agent known as God, whom they perceive as benevolent and helpful in their lives. The use of technology evokes a similar phenomenon, such as Apples voice assistant Siri, who listens and responds to them.

That sounds an awful lot like what people do when they think about religion, Wellman said.

When Dr. Daniel Peterson became the pastor of the Queen Anne Lutheran Church three years ago, he hoped to explore issues meaningful both to his congregants and to secular people.

Petersons fascination with AI, as a lifelong science-fiction fan, belies a skepticism in the ubiquity of technology: Hes opted out of Amazons voice assistant Alexa in his house and said he gets nervous about cameras on cellphones and computers.

He became interested in looking at AI from a spiritual dimension after writing an article last year aboutthe depiction of technologies such as droidsin Star Wars films. In Petersons eyes, artificially intelligent machines in the films areequipped with a sense of mission that enables them to think and act like humans without needing to be preprogrammed.

His examination of AI yielded more questions than answers: What kind of bias or brokenness are we importing in the artificial intelligence were designing? Peterson pondered. If AI developed consciousness, what sort of philosophical and theological concerns does that raise?

Peterson invited his church and surrounding community to explore these questions and more in the three-part forum called Will AI Destroy Us?, which kicked off with a conversation held by Carissa Schoenick from the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, followed by Peters discussion on transhumanism, and concluded with Petersons talk on his own research around AI in science-fiction films.

Held from late September to early October, the series sought to fillwhat Peterson called a silence among faith leaders about the rise of AI. Peterson and other religious observers are now eager to take part in a new creation story of sorts: Local initiatives held in places of worship and educational institutions are positioning Seattle as a testing ground for the intersection of AI and religion.

The discussion on transhumanism drew members of the community unaffiliated with the church, including David Brenner, the board chair of Seattle-based organization AI and Faith. The consortium membership spans across belief systems and academic institutions in an effort to bring major religions into the discussion around the ethics of AI, and how to create machines that evoke human flourishing and avoids unnecessary, destructive problems, Brenner said in an interview at the church. As Brenner spoke, a few congregants remained in the basement to fervently chat about the symposium.

The questions that are being presented by AI are fundamental life questions that have now become business [ones], said Brenner, a retired lawyer. Values includinghuman dignity, privacy, free will, equality and freedom are called into question through the development of machines.

Should robots ever have rights, or is it like giving your refrigerator rights even if they can function just like us? Brenner said.

Religious leaders around the world are starting to weigh in. Last April, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission the public-policy section of the Southern Baptist Convention published a set of guidelines on AI adoption that affirms the dominion of humans and encourages the minimization of human biases in technology. It discourages the creation of machines that take over jobs, relegating humans to a life of leisure devoid of work, wrote the authors.

In a speech to a Vatican conference in September, Pope Francis echoed the guidelines sentiment by urging tech companies and diplomats to deploy AI in an ethical manner that ensures machines dont replace human workers. If mankinds so-called technological progress were to become an enemy of the common good, this would lead to a form of barbarism dictated by the law of the strongest, he said, according to The Associated Press.

On the other hand, some faith perspectives have cropped up in recent years that hold AI at the center of their value systems. Former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski formed Way of the Future church in 2017 with the aim of creating a peaceful transition into an imminent world where machines surpass human capabilities. The churchs website argues thathumanrights should be extended to machines, and that we should clear the path for technology to take charge as it grows in intelligence.

We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not, the websitewarns.

But Yasmin Ali, a practicing Muslim and AI and Faith member, has seen AI used as a tool for good and bad. While Ali believes technology can make peoples lives easier, she has also seen news reports and heard stories from her community about such tools being used to profile members of marginalized communities. China, for instance, has used facial-recognition technology to surveil Uighur Muslim minorities in the western region, according to a recent New York Times investigation.

I think we need to get more diversity with the developers who provide AI, so they can get diverse thoughts and ideas into the software, Ali said. The Bellevue-based company she founded called Skillspire strives to do just that by training diverse workers in tech courses such as coding and cybersecurity.

We have to make sure that those values of being human goes into what were building, Ali said. Its like teaching kids you have to be polite, disciplined.

Back at Queen Anne Lutheran, congregants expressed hope that the conversation would get the group closer to understanding and making peace with changes in society, just as churches have done for hundreds of years.

Bainbridge Island resident Monika Aring believes the rise of AI calls for an ongoing inquiry at faith-based places of worship on the role of such technologies. She shared the dismay she felt when her friend, a pastor of another congregation, said the church has largely become irrelevant.

It mustnt be. This is the time for us to have these conversations, she said. I think we need some kind of moral compass,one that ensures humans and the Earth continue to thrive amid the advancement of AI.

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Seattle faith groups reckon with AI and what it means to be truly human - Seattle Times

Transhumanism – Britannica.com

Transhumanism, social and philosophical movement devoted to promoting the research and development of robust human-enhancement technologies. Such technologies would augment or increase human sensory reception, emotive ability, or cognitive capacity as well as radically improve human health and extend human life spans. Such modifications resulting from the addition of biological or physical technologies would be more or less permanent and integrated into the human body.

The term transhumanism was coined by English biologist and philosopher Julian Huxley in his 1957 essay of the same name. Huxley referred principally to improving the human condition through social and cultural change, but the essay and the name have been adopted as seminal by the transhumanist movement, which emphasizes material technology. Huxley held that, although humanity had naturally evolved, it was now possible for social institutions to supplant evolution in refining and improving the species. The ethos of Huxleys essayif not its lettercan be located in transhumanisms commitment to assuming the work of evolution, but through technology rather than society.

The movements adherents tend to be libertarian and employed in high technology or in academia. Its principal proponents have been prominent technologists like American computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil and scientists like Austrian-born Canadian computer scientist and roboticist Hans Moravec and American nanotechnology researcher Eric Drexler, with the addition of a small but influential contingent of thinkers such as American philosopher James Hughes and Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. The movement has evolved since its beginnings as a loose association of groups dedicated to extropianism (a philosophy devoted to the transcendence of human limits). Transhumanism is principally divided between adherents of two visions of post-humanityone in which technological and genetic improvements have created a distinct species of radically enhanced humans and the other in which greater-than-human machine intelligence emerges.

The membership of the transhumanist movement tends to split in an additional way. One prominent strain of transhumanism argues that social and cultural institutionsincluding national and international governmental organizationswill be largely irrelevant to the trajectory of technological development. Market forces and the nature of technological progress will drive humanity to approximately the same end point regardless of social and cultural influences. That end point is often referred to as the singularity, a metaphor drawn from astrophysics and referring to the point of hyperdense material at the centre of a black hole which generates its intense gravitational pull. Among transhumanists, the singularity is understood as the point at which artificial intelligence surpasses that of humanity, which will allow the convergence of human and machine consciousness. That convergence will herald the increase in human consciousness, physical strength, emotional well-being, and overall health and greatly extend the length of human lifetimes.

The second strain of transhumanism holds a contrasting view, that social institutions (such as religion, traditional notions of marriage and child rearing, and Western perspectives of freedom) not only can influence the trajectory of technological development but could ultimately retard or halt it. Bostrom and British philosopher David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association in 1998 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with those social institutions to promote and guide the development of human-enhancement technologies and to combat those social forces seemingly dedicated to halting such technological progress.

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Transhumanism - Britannica.com

Transhumanism | Conspiracy School

Transhumanism is a recent movement that extols mans right to shape his own evolution, by maximizing the use of scientific technologies, to enhance human physical and intellectual potential. While the name is new, the idea has long been a popular theme of science fiction, featured in such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bade Runner, the Terminator series, and more recently, The Matrix, Limitless, Her and Transcendence.

However, as its adherents hint at in their own publications, transhumanism is an occult project, rooted in Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, and derived from the Kabbalah, which asserts that humanity is evolving intellectually, towards a point in time when man will become God. Modeled on the medieval legend of the Golem and Frankenstein, they believe man will be able to create life itself, in the form of living machines, or artificial intelligence.

Spearheaded by the Cybernetics Group, the project resulted in both the development of the modern computer and MK-Ultra, the CIAs mind-control program. MK-Ultra promoted the mind-expanding potential of psychedelic drugs, to shape the counterculture of the 1960s, based on the notion that the shamans of ancient times used psychoactive substances, equated with the apple of the Tree of Knowledge.

And, as revealed in the movie Lucy, through the use of smart drugs, and what transhumanists call mind uploading, man will be able to merge with the Internet, which is envisioned as the end-point of Kabbalistic evolution, the formation of a collective consciousness, or Global Brain. That awaited moment is what Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google, refers to as The Singularly. By accumulating the total of human knowledge, and providing access to every aspect of human activity, the Internet will supposedly achieve omniscience, becoming the God of occultism, or the Masonic All-Seeing Eye of the reverse side of the American dollar bill.

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Transhumanism | Conspiracy School