Immortality: Silicon Valley’s latest obsession ushers in the transhumanist era – South China Morning Post

Zoltan Istvan is launching his campaign to become Libertarian governor of the American state of California with two signature policies. First, hell eliminate poverty with a universal basic income that will guarantee US$5,000 per month for every Californian household for ever. (Hell do this without raising taxes, he promises.)

The next item in his in-tray is eliminating death. He intends to divert trillions of dollars into life-extending technologies robotic hearts, artificial exoskeletons, genetic editing, bionic limbs and so on in the hope that each Californian man, woman and AI (artificial intelligence) will eventually be able to upload their consciousness to the Cloud and experience digital eternity.

What we can experience as a human being is going to be dramatically different within two decades, Istvan says, when we meet at his home in Mill Valley, California. We have five senses now. We might have thousands in 30 or 40 years. We might have very different bodies, too.

I have friends who are about a year away from cutting off their arm and replacing it with a prosthetic version. And sure, pretty soon the robotic arm really will be better than a biological one. Lets say you work in construction and your buddy can lift a thousand times what you can. The question is: do you get it?

For most people, the answer to this question is likely to be, Erm, maybe Ill pass for the moment. But to a transhumanist such as Istvan, 44, the answer is, Hell, yes! A former National Geographic reporter and property speculator, Istvan combines the enthusiasm of a child whos read a lot of Marvel comics with a parodically presidential demeanour. Hes a blond-haired, blue-eyed father of two with an athletic build, a firm handshake and the sort of charisma that goes down well in TED talks.

Like most transhumanists (there are a lot of them in California), Istvan believes our species can, and indeed should, strive to transcend our biological limitations. And he has taken it upon himself to push this idea out of the Google Docs of a few Silicon Valley dreamers and into the American political mainstream.

Twenty-five years ago, hardly anybody was recycling, he explains. Now, environmentalism has conditioned an entire generation. Im trying to put transhumanism on a similar trajectory, so that in 10, 15 years, everybody is going to know what it means and think about it in a very positive way.

What were saying is that over the next 30 years, the complexity of human experience is going to become so amazing, you ought to at least see it

Zoltan Istvan

I meet Istvan at the home he shares with his wife, Lisa an obstetrician and gynaecologist with Planned Parenthood and their two daughters, six-year-old Eva, and Isla, who is three. I had been expecting a gadget-laden cyber-home; in fact, he resides in a 100-year-old loggers house built from Californian redwood, with a converted stable on the ground floor and plastic childrens toys in the yard. If it werent for the hyper-inflated prices in the Bay Area (Its sort of Facebook yuppie-ville around here, says Istvan) youd say it was a humble Californian homestead.

Still, there are a few details that give him away, such as the forbidding security warnings on his picket fence. During his unsuccessful bid for the presidency last year he stood as the Transhumanist Party candidate and scored zero per cent a section of the religious right identified him as the Antichrist. This, combined with Lisas work providing abortions, means they get a couple of death threats a week and have had to report to the FBI.

Christians in America have made transhumanism as popular as its become, says Istvan. They really need something that they can point their finger at that fulfils Revelations.

Istvan also has a West Wing box set on his mantelpiece and a small Meccano cyborg by the fireplace. Its named Jethro, after the protagonist of his self-published novel, The Transhumanist Wager (2013). And there is an old Samsung phone attached to the front door, which enables him to unlock the house using the microchip in his finger.

A lot of the Christians consider my chip a mark of the beast, he says. Im like, No! Its so I dont have to carry my keys when I go out jogging.

Istvan hopes to chip his daughters before long for security purposes and recently argued with his wife about whether it was even worth saving for a university fund for them, since by the time they reach university age, advances in artificial intelligence will mean they can just upload all the learning they need. Lisa won that argument. But hes inclined not to freeze his sperm and Lisas eggs, since if they decide to have a third child, 10 or 20 or 30 years hence, theyll be able to combine their DNA.

Even if theres a mischievous, fake-it-till-you-make-it quality to Istvan, theres also a core of seriousness. He is genuinely troubled that we are on the verge of a technological dystopia that the mass inequalities that helped fuel US President Donald Trumps rise will only worsen when the digital revolution really gets under way. And he despairs of the retrogressive bent of the current administration: Trump talks all the time about immigrants taking jobs. Bulls**t. Its technology thats taking jobs. We have about four million truck drivers who are about to lose their jobs to automation. This is why capitalism needs a basic income to survive.

And hes not wrong in identifying that emerging technologies such as AI and bio-enhancement will bring with them policy implications, and its probably a good idea to start talking about them now.

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Certainly, life extension is a hot investment in Silicon Valley, whose elites have a hard time with the idea that their billions will not protect them from an earthly death. Google was an early investor in the secretive biotech start-up Calico, the California Life Company, which aims to devise interventions that slow ageing and counteract age-related diseases. Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel has invested millions in parabiosis: the process of curing ageing with transfusions of young peoples blood.

Another biotech firm, United Therapeutics, has unveiled plans to grow fresh organs from DNA. Clearly, it is possible, through technology, to make death optional, the firms founder, Martine Rothblatt, told a recent gathering of the National Academy of Medicine in Los Angeles.

In attendance were Google co-founder Sergey Brin, vegan pop star Moby and numerous venture capitalists. Istvan fears that unless we develop policies to regulate this transition, the Thiels of this world will soon be hoarding all the young blood for themselves.

Clearly, it is possible, through technology, to make death optional

Martine Rothblatt

Istvan was born in Oregon in 1973, the son of Hungarian immigrants who fled Stalins tanks in 1968. He had a comfortable middle-class upbringing his mother was a devout Catholic and sent him to Catholic school and an eye for a story. After graduating from Columbia University, he embarked on a solo round-the-world yachting expedition, during which, he says, he read 500 works of classic literature. He spent his early career reporting for the National Geographic channel from more than 100 countries, many of them conflict zones, claiming to have invented the extreme sport of volcano boarding along the way.

One of the things he shares in common with Americas current president is a fortune accrued from real estate. While he was making films overseas in the noughties, his expenses were minimal, so he was able to invest all of his pay cheques in property.

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So many people in America were doing this flipping thing at the time, explains Istvan. I realised very quickly, Wow! I could make enough money to retire. It was just quite easy and lucrative to do that.

At his peak, he had a portfolio of 19 fixer-upper houses, most of which he managed to sell before the crash of 2008. He now retains nine as holiday rentals and uses the proceeds to fund his political campaigns (he is reluctant to name his other backers). Still, he insists hes not part of the 1 per cent; the most extravagant item of furniture is a piano, and his groceries are much the same as you find in many liberal, middle-class Californian households.

Istvan cant think of any particular incident that prompted his interest in eternal life, other than perhaps a rejection of Catholicism.

Fifty per cent of me thinks after we die we get eaten by worms, and our body matter and brain return unconsciously to the cosmos [] The other half subscribes to the idea that we live in a holographic universe where other alien artificial intelligences have reached the singularity, he says, referring to the idea, advanced by Google engineer Ray Kurzweil, that pretty soon we will all merge with AI in one transcendental consciousness.

However, when Istvan first encountered transhumanism, at university via an article on cryonics (the practice of deep-freezing the recently dead in the hope that they can be revived at some point), he was sold. Within 90 seconds, I realised thats what I wanted to do in my life.

After a near-death experience in Vietnam he came close to stepping on a landmine Istvan decided to return to America and make good on this vow. I was nearing 30 and Id done some great work, but after all that time Id spent in conflict zones, seeing dead bodies, stuff like that, I thought it would be a good time to dedicate myself to conquering death.

He spent four years writing his novel, which he proudly claims was rejected by more than 600 agents and publishers. Its a dystopian story that imagines a Christian nation outlawing transhumanism, prompting all the billionaires to retreat to an offshore sea-stead where they can work on their advances undisturbed (Thiel has often threatened to do something similar).

Istvan continued to promote transhumanism by writing free columns for Huffington Post and Vice, chosen because they have strong Alexa rankings (ie, they show up high in Google search results).

I wrote something like 200 articles, putting transhumanism through the Google algorithm again and again, he says. I found it a very effective way to spread the message. I covered every angle that I could think of: disability and transhumanism; LGBT issues and transhumanism; transhumanist parenting.

Hes proud to say hes the only mainstream journalist who is so devoted to the cause. A lot of people write about transhumanism, but I think Im the only one who says, This is the best thing thats ever happened!

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Istvans presidential campaign was an attempt to take all of this up a level. It sounds as if he had a lot of fun. He toured Rust Belt car parks and Deep South mega-churches in a coffin-shaped immortality bus inspired by the one driven by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters to promote LSD in the 1960s.

His platform Make America Immortal Again earned a fair amount of publicity, but Americans seemed ill-prepared for such concepts as the AI imperative (the idea that the first nation to create a true AI will basically win everything, so America had better be the first) and the singularity. At one point, he and his supporters were held at gunpoint by some Christians in Alabama.

The experience taught him a salutary lesson: unless you are a billionaire, it is simply impossible to make any kind of dent in the system. Hence his defection to the Libertarian Party, which vies with the Greens as the third party in American politics. Every town I go to, theres a Libertarian meet-up. With the Transhumanists, Id have to create the meet-up. So theres more to work with.

The Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, received 3.27 per cent of the votes last year, including half a million votes in California. About seven or eight million are likely to vote in the California governor race, in which context, half a million starts to become a lot of votes, Istvan explains.

His own politics are somewhere between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, he admits, and he has a hard time converting the right wing of his new party to causes such as basic income. (The general spirit of libertarian America is, Hands off!) But he believes transhumanism shares enough in common with libertarianism for the alliance to be viable; the core precepts of being able to do what you like as long as you dont harm anyone else are the same. And the gubernatorial campaign serves as a primary for the 2020 presidential election, when he believes the Libertarian candidate will have a feasible chance of participating in the television debates.

But whats wrong with death? Dont we need old people to die to make space for new people? And by extension, we need old ideas and old regimes to die, too. Imagine if William Randolph Hearst or Genghis Khan were still calling the shots now. And imagine if Mark Zuckerberg and Vladimir Putin were doing so in 200 years. Innovation would cease, the species would atrophy, everyone would get terribly bored. Isnt it the ultimate narcissism to want to live forever?

Istvan does concede that transhumanism is a very selfish philosophy. However, he has an answer for most of the other stuff.

Im a believer in overpopulation Ive been to Delhi and its overcrowded, he says. But if we did a better job of governing, the planet could hold 15 billion people comfortably. Its really a question of better rules and regulations.

And when discussing the desirability of eternal life, he turns into a sort of holiday rep for the future.

What were saying is that over the next 30 years, the complexity of human experience is going to become so amazing, you ought to at least see it, Istvan says. A lot of people find that a lot more compelling than, say, dying of leukaemia.

Still, it comes as little surprise that hes finding live for ever an easier sell than give money to poor people in 21st-century America.

I cant imagine basic income not becoming a platform in the 2020 election, he insists. And if not then, at some point, someone is going to run and win on it. The Republicans should like it because it streamlines government. The Democrats should like it because it helps poor people. Right now, Americans dont like it because it sounds like socialism. But it just needs a little reframing.

Basic-income experiments are already under way in parts of Canada, Finland and the Netherlands, but how would he fund such an idea in the US? He cant raise taxes libertarians hate that. And he doesnt want to alienate Silicon Valley.

If we did a better job of governing, the planet could hold 15 billion people comfortably

Zoltan Istvan

How do you tell the 1 per cent youre going to take all this money from them? It wouldnt work, he says. They control too many things. But Istvan has calculated that 45 per cent of California is government-controlled land that the state could monetise.

A lot of environmentalists are upset at me for that, saying, Woah, Zolt, you want to put a shopping mall in Yosemite? Well, the reality is that the poor people in America will never be able to afford to go to Yosemite. Im trying to be a diplomat here.

And he insists that if Americans miss those national parks when theyve been turned into luxury condos and Taco Bells, theyll be able to replenish them some day if they want.

Theres nanotechnology coming through that would enable us to do that, Istvan argues. We have GMOs [genetically modified organisms] that can regrow plants twice as quick. In 50 or 100 years, were not even going to be worried about natural resources.

Such is his wager that exponential technological growth is around the corner and we may as well hurry it along, because its our best chance of clearing up the mess weve made of things thus far.

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Didnt the political developments of 2016 persuade him that progress can be slow and sometimes go backwards? Actually, Istvan argues that what were witnessing are the death throes of conservatism, Christianity, even capitalism.

Everyone says the current pope is the best one weve had for ages, that hes so progressive and whatever. Actually, Catholicism is dying, says Istvan. Nobodys giving it any money any more, so the pope had better moderate its message. As for capitalism, all of this nationalism and populism are just the dying moments.

Its a system that goes against the very core of humanitarian urges. And while its brought us many wonderful material gains, at some point we can say, Thats enough. In the transhumanist age, we will reach utopia. Crime drops to zero. Poverty will end. Violence will drop. At some point, we become a race of individuals who are pretty nice to each other.

But now weve talked for so long that Istvan needs to go and pick up his daughters from childcare. He insists that I join him. What do his family make of all of this?

My wife is a bit sceptical of a lot of my timelines, he says. Lisa comes from practical Wisconsin farming stock, and its a fair bet that her work with Planned Parenthood keeps her pretty grounded. They met on dating website match.com. Does she believe in all this stuff?

I dont want to say shes not a transhumanist, he says, but I dont think shed cryogenically freeze herself tomorrow. I would. Im like, If you see me dying of a heart attack, please put me in a refrigerator. She thinks thats weird.

We arrive at the community centre where Istvans daughters are being looked after. They come running out in summer dresses, sweet and sunny and happy to be alive. Both of them want to be doctors when they grow up, like their mum.

The Times/The Interview People

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Immortality: Silicon Valley's latest obsession ushers in the transhumanist era - South China Morning Post

Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 10 Review: Built, Not Born – Den of Geek US

This Dark Matter review contains spoilers.

For longtime viewers of Dark Matter, the story that unfolds in Built, Not Born is one that had been anticipated for quite awhile, and the payoff is quite satisfying. Tying the Dwarf Star transhumanist efforts with Two (whom they know as Rebecca) together with the origins of the Android seems obvious in retrospect, but it was a great resolution to one of the most enduring mysteries of the series so far. Although the season-long arcs were again put on hold just like last week, the interlude was a welcome one, and if previous experience holds true, it may all just relate in the end anyway.

To start off, Threes reluctance to help Androids robot friends must be applauded for several reasons. First, it reflected what would otherwise have been an awkward pivot from seemingly more important matters, like following up on Sixs idea of taking sides in the corporate war. Second, it allowed Three to have an ironic and painful discussion with Sarah about machines not being alive. And third, his later apology to Android for his prejudicial attitude and tendency to speak without thinking gave her the smile-inducing line, Its one of the things I like about you.

Of course, Android borrowed that line from Six who reminds her, and simultaneously the audience, that despite what we learn of her origins in this episode, shes far from an imperfect imitation but rather her own being with unique variations. When Six says, Youre more than just a series of programmed responses. Youre an original. And thats what we love about you, he might as well be speaking on behalf of the viewer.

Thats especially true once we find out that her creator and the creator of Victor and the others looks just like the Android we know and love for a reason. Dr. Irena Shaw was not only a disgruntled Dwarf Star employee who felt the super-soldier program that designed Rebecca was inhumane; she also grew to love the woman she helped create (fans of Zoie Palmer in Lost Girl were likely all a-flutter). That love likely allowed her to see the potential in giving emotional, self-aware androids the one last ingredient they needed to make them people: free will. The mystery of Androids origin could not have been more poignant, a story filled with romance and tragedy.

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The part that Victor plays is also wonderfully nuanced, both in his helpfulness in unlocking some of Androids memories and in his secretive motivation for calling for help in the first place. The first red flag that Victor wasnt telling the whole truth should have been when Ruac, who had been shot in the head, was revived and shouted, It was wrong! Clearly he had objections to Victor killing Anyas former owner. Did he remove Ruacs emotion chip to force the required self-termination? It even throws into doubt whether Anyas suicide was preventable! Does Victor have justification for his actions, or is he going down a dark path?

This is especially troubling given that he now has a Sarah android at his side. It wasnt his idea to use Dr. Shaws technology this way, but he obviously sees it as an opportunity. And the Galactic Authority wouldnt pop away from the corporate war or the conflict between Zairon and Pyr for no reason. So what is it about Sarah having a human mind combined with a stronger superior physical construct that will further Victors cause, whatever it might be? A truly compelling new mystery!

It was also a nice touch to have Dr. Shaws caretaker, Chase, look exactly like Arrian, the diplomatic android who had a bit of a crush on the blonde Five in Dark Matters season 2 finale. Chases suggestion that Android could be tweaked elicits an enjoyable defensiveness in Five, who rightly says that she likes this version better. So do we, Five; so do we.

But what do we make of the memories Victor unlocked for Android? Seeing Portia excited about Emilys nano-virus that initially woke up Androids hidden subroutines is an interesting transition point from the emotional Rebecca to the malevolent outlaw she became in Portia Lin. And Android telling Ryo-of-yore, You and the rest of the crew are self-seeking, ethically deficient, and morally barren, yet youre incongruously kind to me, gives us insightful character moments, but will it mean something more down the road? Time will tell.

In the meantime, this episode of Dark Matter was another welcome distraction from the corporate war and Ryos villainy. With three episodes left, those elements are sure to return with a vengeance, but it will be interesting to see how the time travel story and the android history lesson will inform the impending finale. If they were simply character building and tying up of loose ends from earlier seasons, great; if they end up tying in to what happens next, even better. Either way, Dark Matter fans cant help but be pleased although theyd be even happier with a season 4 renewal.

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Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 10 Review: Built, Not Born - Den of Geek US

Rethinking Radical Thoughts: How Transhumanists Can Fix Democracy – Raddington Report (blog)

On a recent evening at a start-up hub in Spitalfields, London, journalist and author Jamie Bartlett spoke to a small group of mostly under 40, mainly techie or creative professionals about his book Radicals: Outsiders Changing the World. The book, which Bartlett started to research in 2014, before Brexit and Trump, chronicles his time with a series of different radical groups, from the Psychedelic Society who advocate the careful use of psychedelics as a tool for awakening to the unity and interconnectedness of all things to Tommy Robinson, co-founder of the unabashedly far-right English Defence League, to the founder of Liberland, a libertarian nation on unclaimed land on the Serbian/Croatian border, to Zoltan Istvan, who ran as US transhumanist presidential candidate on a platform of putting an end to death. He campaigned by racing around America in a superannuated RV which hed modified to look like a giant coffin, dubbed the Immortality Bus. His efforts were in vain, and illegal, as it turned out: his campaign was in breach of the US Federal Electoral Commission rules.

Bartletts book has been damned with faint praise he has been called surprisingly naive about politics, and defining radical so broadly as to make the term meaningless. The general consensus goes that Bartletts journey through the farthest-flung fringes of politics and society is entertaining and impressively dispassionate, but not altogether successful in making a clear or convincing case for radicals or radicalism. But at the talk that night Bartlett challenged what he sees as the complacent acceptance and defense of our current political and governmental systems, institutions and ideas, of the kind of technocratic centrism that prevailed throughout the global North until very recently. Perhaps they need some radical rethinking. Many of the radicals Bartlett spent time with may be flawed, crazy or wrong literally, legally and morally but they can also hold up mirrors and magnifying glasses to political and social trends. And sometimes, they can prophesize them

Bartlett began the evening by saying, If democracy were a business, it would be bankrupt. A provocative statement, but one that he backs up. He pointed to research showing that only 30% of those born after 1980 believe that it is essential to live in a democracy. That rate drops steadily with age. A closer look at the research around peoples attitudes reveals widespread skepticism towards liberal institutions and a growing disaffection with political parties. Freedom Houses annual report for 2016 shows that as faith in democracy has declined so too have global freedoms 2016 marks the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. While a lot of attention has been given to violent polarization, populism and nationalism rising out of anger at demographic and economic changes, Bartlett suggests that perhaps comfort and complacency are culprits too, and he is not the only one: only last weekFinancial Times columnist Janan Ganesh took up a similar theme.

What are the fringe ideas of today that might become ideas of the future? We cannot, of course, say, but Bartletts point is we should be paying much closer attention to the crazed hinterlands of human thought. In 2015 transhumanist Zoltan Istvan was talking about using technology to fundamentally change what it is to be human to augment our fleshy bodies with steel and silicon. One of Istvans favored refrains is the transformative effect of artificial intelligence on the way that we work, and the way that we live. In the past six months, it has become near-impossible to read a newspaper or a magazine without stumbling across a take on how AI is set to change our economy. Istvans other hobby-horse is immortality, and using technology to drastically expand the human lifespan ultimately to the point where it increases so fast that time cant catch up with us and we reach a kind of escape velocity. Putting Istvans quasi-religious language aside, increases in life expectancy and in our expectations of medical care pose real challenges to which we will need to find practical and political solutions. Kooky as they may seem, fringe movements have ideas, and ideas that may prove proleptic or prophetic.

Perhaps we are too attached to our traditional ways of doing things our political institutions and our centuries-old processes. Technology and society have completely transformed in the past fifty years and the way we engage with politics through technology has changed beyond recognition in the past year alone, but as Bartlett pointed out, our formal politics has not changed in two hundred years: our parliamentary democracies, our two-party systems. Young people today are deeply disdainful of labels of personal style, of sexual identity, and of political leanings; the labels no longer seem to fit. Younger generations are not apolitical on the contrary and likely do not reject the tenets of democracy, but rather, the way it is framed. The core ideas institutionalized 200 years ago are not the wrong ones, but their implementation might benefit from an injection of radical thinking from those firmly outside the mainstream.

Continued here:

Rethinking Radical Thoughts: How Transhumanists Can Fix Democracy - Raddington Report (blog)

Generation Gone #1 review: Patience is a virtue – AiPT! Comics

It would be tempting to fall into a pool of contemporary cliche when describing Generation Gone. It is a story that involves the military-industrial complex, tech geniuses mad with power, transhumanism, broken relationships, societal betrayal, and millennials looking for some measure of justice for the future taken from them. And it would be easy to pick a side and wash the other in judgemental aphorisms about generational misunderstandings and the world in which we live. I have the feeling, however, that this will not be an easy book to cram into a single box, if this debut issue is any indication.

There are pages of Generation Gone #1 where the art and the characters are allowed to just breathe. No dialogue, just portraits of a life stunted by unseen forces, whether that be the cancer striking at a loved one or a mad transhumanist waiting to pounce. In the hard-hitting first issue to this new series, storytellers Ale Kot and Andr Lima Arajo explore the existential crises that come with despair, over confidence, and the loneliness that their main characters feel even when surrounded by those they love.

While working for the secretive governmental organization, known as DARPA, developing the next super weapon of war, tech genius Akio presents his plan to change the human race by using code that, when read, will rewrite the very DNA of the reader, creating true super humans. His Project Utopia is discarded and later confiscated by General West, the seeming head of the program Akio was hired to create, Airstrip One. In his spare time, Akio has tracked three hackers who plan on infiltrating Bank of America to steal back, as Akio puts it to West, what his generation has stolen from them: a future.

The potential for cliche comes to its apex with the disaffected millennial hackers, Elena, Nick, and Baldwin. While their educational history is put into question by West upon learning Akio has tracked the trio, allowing them to hack into a fake DARPA server, it is not remarked upon how these three came by their skills. They come together as longtime friends and lovers, in Nick and Elenas case, each for a different reason, explored in those wordless pages. Elena wakes early, heading to her job as a waitress before going home to care for her cancer-stricken mother. Baldwin, an African-American man, sees the headlines of another black man shot out of unfounded fear. Nick, the narcissist of the group, heads home, walking past pictures of a soldier, perhaps his brother, whose room he passes on his way to a meticulous self-care ritual. Even in their relationships with each other, they are alone.

Our first introduction to Nick and Elena defines their relationship throughout the story. Elena is in love with Nick, but he is concerned with control, wanting to turn her off. Later he threatens to break up with her on the spot should she drop out of the scheme to rob their way out of their troubles. His self-centeredness hurts Elena, but he is her anchor. Whether he is mooring her in the tempest that is her life or dragging her down remains to be seen. Nicks reckless and selfish behavior comes to a head as he nearly costs the team their anonymity while hacking into Akios fake DARPA. He is all about the score, the self, the win. Once behind their computer screens, the three hackers are in their element, but Nick is sucked in by the power he commands literally at his fingertips.

Akio brings up the isolation of technology in his conversations with the essentially analog West, apologizing for ignoring the chain of command, blaming it sitting behind a computer screen. This exploration of the disconnect of technology with reality can be seen as a take on the disconnect we have with each other through social media or as the disconnect between soldiers and the weapons of war through the use of drones and other technology meant to strike from afar.

In the end, as was telegraphed, Akios code infiltrates the trio causing six full pages of Exorcist-level fluid loss. Before the three hackers begin to leak out of their eyeballs, however, the code mesmerizes them. They are pulled to their screens tightly, even when addressing each other, attempting to pull out of the operation. They simply cannot look away. It takes rewriting their genetic code to rip them bodily from their computers and from the malaise that brought them to this point. The desperation, the isolation, the nihilism of the new millennium.

In the end, Generation Gone sets a provocative table. It could have fallen into any number of cliched traps. Instead, it gives the characters a chance to break through the obvious and, for lack of a better word, soar.

Generation Gone #1 review: Patience is a virtue

Is it good?

In the end, Generation Gone sets a provocative table. It could have fallen into any number of cliched traps. Instead, it gives the characters a chance to break through the obvious and, for lack of a better word, soar.

Lets the art do the talking

Gives a generational malaise a purpose

Embraces transhumanism

Just the one "they're millennials" line. It's a really good book, y'all.

Ales KotAndre Limacomic booksGeneration GoneImagereview

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Generation Gone #1 review: Patience is a virtue - AiPT! Comics

Salvation in Transhumanism: Humanity merges with machines and lives for ever – ZDNet

From left: Chris Conatser, Allison Page, Kevin Whittinghill, Zoltan Istvan and Allen Saakyan

Zoltan Istvan ran for President of the US as a "Transhumanist" with a campaign that called for massive government funding to eliminate human mortality. Donald Trump won with a much crazier campaign.

Earlier this week on the Eureka science show he talked about Transhumanism and his campaign to become California Governor in 2018.

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Reimagining business for the digital age is the number-one priority for many of today's top executives. We offer practical advice and examples of how to do it right.

The hosts Allen Saakyan and Kevin Whittinghill were joined by comedians Chris Conatser and Allison Page. The show uses comedy to educate its audience about important scientific issues.

No foodies...

You can tell by the expressions on their faces (photo above) that Istvan's description of Transhumanism and the chance to live hundreds of years wasn't very appealling. Especially the part when he said that we won't need sex or food in a future Transhumanist world.

Istvan looks like a TV presenter because he used to be one -- at National Geographic. And it was on assignment in Vietnam when he almost stepped on a landmine that he vowed to work on ending human mortality.

Excerpts from Istvan's talk:

- Initially we'll be able to extend our lifespans by 500 years or so. [Like Zeno's paradox we won't catch up with our mortality]

- Ageing will be treated and eliminated like any other chronic disease.

- Our organs will be replaced with fresh ones grown from our own cells so there is no rejection and no lifetime medications.

- Machines of various types and sizes will be embedded in our bodies to protect, heal and augment our senses.

- A bionic eye will replace one of our natural eyes and allow us to see beyond the tiny 1% of the light spectrum so that we can see things like carbon monoxide gas - useful for avoiding pollution.

- CRISPR will allow people to change their DNA to look like the people in the Star Wars bar scene - with tails and fur. [Costume shops - the disruption is coming.]

- Sex won't be anything like as we know it and might not even require other people.

- Eating and food won't be the same. Some Transhumanists want skin with chlorophyll. Lunchtime won't require a sandwich -- slip your shirt off and take a walk in the sun.

- Life extending technologies will come down in price and trickle down to the poorest of the poor.

I asked Istvan what will we be doing during our extra 500 years of life especially since our prime motivators of food and sex won't be present. He said this is the million dollar question, "We don't know."

I rephrased it and asked how will you spend the time? He said he would head back to school and pick up four doctorates and also learn how to play a bunch of musical instruments. That leaves 470 years to go...

Life is cheap...

As the last people were leaving the event a 42 year old man was shot dead outside the club. Transhumanism needs to address morality as well as mortality.

What an ironic commentary: we talk about the need for expensive transhumanist technologies to extend a person's life -- but a bullet bought for pennies has the final say. Stopping gun violence extends lives.

- - -

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600 Miles in a Coffin-Shaped Bus, Campaigning Against Death Itself

Eureka show

Eureka Youtube channel

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Salvation in Transhumanism: Humanity merges with machines and lives for ever - ZDNet

Liberty Might Be Better Served by Doing Away with Privacy – Motherboard

Zoltan Istvan is a futurist, transhumanist, author of The Transhumanist Wager, and a Libertarian candidate for California Governor.

The constant onslaught of new technology is making our lives more public and trackable than ever, which understandably scares a lot of people. Part of the dilemma is how we interpret the right to privacy using centuries-old ideals handed down to us by our forbearers. I think the 21st century idea of privacylike so many other taken-for-granted conceptsmay need a revamp.

When James Madison wrote the Fourth Amendmentwhich helped legally establish US privacy ideals and protection from unreasonable search and seizurehe surely wasn't imagining Elon Musk's neural lace, artificial intelligence, the internet, or virtual reality. Madison wanted to make sure government couldn't antagonize its citizens and overstep its governmental authority, as monarchies and the Church had done for centuries in Europe.

For many decades, the Fourth Amendment has mostly done its job. But privacy concerns in the 21st century go way beyond search and seizure issues: Giant private companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook are changing our sense of privacy in ways the government never could. And many of us have plans to continue to use more new tech; one day, many of us will use neural prosthetics and brain implants. These brain-to-machine interfaces will likely eventually lead to the hive mind, where everyone can know each other's precise whereabouts and thoughts at all times, because we will all be connected to each other through the cloud. Privacy, broadly thought of as essential to a democratic society, might disappear.

The key is to make sure government is engulfed by ubiquitous transparency too.

"While privacy has long been considered a fundamental right, it has never been an inherent right," Jeremy Rifkin, an American economic and social theorist, wrote in The Zero Marginal Cost Society. "Indeed, for all of human history, until the modern era, life was lived more or less publicly, as befits most species on Earth."

The question of whether privacy needs to change is really a question of functionality. Is privacy actually useful for individuals or for society? Does having privacy make humanity better off? Does privacy raise the standard of living for the average person?

In some ways, these questions are futile. Technological innovation is already calling the shots, and considering the sheer amount of new tech being bought and used, most people seem content with the more public, transparent world it's ushering in. Hundreds of millions of people willingly use devices and tech that can monitor them, including personal home assistants, credit cards, smartphones, and even pacemakers (in Ohio, a suspect's own pacemaker data will be used in the trial against him.) Additionally, cameras in cities are ubiquitous; tens of thousands of fixed cameras are recording every second of the day, making a walk outside one's own home a trackable affair. Even my new car knows where I'm at and calls me on the car intercom if it feels it's been hit or something suspicious is happening.

Because of all this, in the not so distant futureperhaps as little as 15 yearsI imagine a society where everybody can see generally where anyone else is at any moment. Many companies already have some of this ability through the tech we own, but it's not in the public's hands yet to control.

Massive openness must become a two-way street.

For many, this constant state of being monitored is concerning. But consider that much of our technology can also look right back into the government's world with our own spying devices and software. It turns out Big Brother isn't so big if you're able to track his every move.

The key with such a reality is to make sure government is engulfed by ubiquitous transparency too. Why shouldn't our government officials be required to be totally visible to us all, since they've chosen public careers? Why shouldn't we always know what a police officer is saying or doing, or be able to see not only when our elected Senator meets with lobbyists, but what they say to them?

For better or worse, we can already see the beginnings of an era of in which nothing is private: WikiLeaks has its own transparency problems and has a scattershot record of releasing documents that appear to be politically motivated, but nonetheless has exposed countless political emails, military wires, and intel documents that otherwise would have remained private or classified forever. There is an ongoing battle about whether police body camera footage should be public record. Politicians and police are being videotaped by civilians with cell phones, drones, and planes.

But it's not just government that's a worry. It's also important that people can track companies, like Google, Apple, and Facebook that create much of the software that tracks individuals and the public. This is easier said than done, but a vibrant start-up culture and open-source technology is the antidote. There will always be people and hackers that insist on tracking the trackers, and they will also lead the entrepreneurial crusade to keep big business in check with new ways of monitoring their behavior. There are people hacking and cracking big tech's products to see what their capabilities are and to uncover surreptitious surveillance and security vulnerabilities. This spirit must extend to monitoring all of big tech's activities. Massive openness must become a two-way street.

And I'm hopeful it will, if disappearing privacy trends continue their trajectory, and if technology continues to connect us omnipresently (remember the hive mind?). We will eventually come to a moment in which all communications and movements are public by default.

Instead of putting people in jail, we can track them with drones until their sentence is up

In such a world, everyone will be forced to be more honest, especially Washington. No more backdoor special interest groups feeding money to our lawmakers for favors. And there would be fewer incidents like Governor Chris Christie believing he can shut down public beaches and then use them himself without anyone finding out. The recent viral phototaken by a plane overheadof him bathing on a beach he personally closed is a strong example of why a non-private society has merit.

If no one can hide, then no one can do anything wrong without someone else knowing. That may allow a better, more efficient society with more liberties than the protection privacy accomplishes.

This type of future, whether through cameras, cell phone tracking, drones, implants, and a myriad of other tech could literally shape up America, quickly stopping much crime. Prisons would eventually likely mostly empty, and dangerous neighborhoods would clean upinstead of putting people in jail, we can track them with drones until their sentence is up. Our internet of things devices will call the cops when domestic violence disputes arrive (it was widely reportedbut not confirmedthat a smarthome device called the police when a man was allegedly brandishing a gun and beating his girlfriend. Such cases will eventually become commonplace.)

A society lacking privacy would have plenty of liberty-creating phenomena too, likely ushering in an era similar to the 60s where experimental drugs, sex, and artistic creation thrived. Openness, like the vast internet itself, is a facilitator of freedom and personal liberties. A less private society means a more liberal one where unorthodox individuals and visionariesall who can no longer be pushed behind closed doorswill be accepted for who or what they are.

Like the Heisenberg principle, observation, changes reality. So does a lack of walls between you and others. A radical future like this would bring an era of freedom and responsibility back to humanity and the individual. We are approaching an era where the benefits of a society that is far more open and less private will lead to a safer, diverse, more empathetic world. We should be cautious, but not afraid.

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Liberty Might Be Better Served by Doing Away with Privacy - Motherboard

My Turn: The smartphone as a social tool – Concord Monitor

For years Ive been firmly in the camp of those who argue that to the degree technology distracts us from being present to those we are with, its a bad thing.

I disagree, however, that the inevitable result of technology is social disconnection or that its bad for conversation.

When social critics drag out the image of a couple ignoring each other while tapping on their smartphones in a restaurant, they are whacking a straw man. This typically illustrates the speakers discomfort with technologys evolving role in our lives and unduly romanticizes what conversation was like before smartphones.

I encountered this trope most recently during a homily at a Sunday Mass. The deacon, a kind, wise fellow, was speaking on community as an aspect of love, as illustrated by the community of the Trinity. He pointed out our modern world was in danger of losing that essential community for which weve been designed. One of the culprits? Smartphones in restaurants.

You walk into a restaurant, he said sadly, and half the people arent talking anymore, just looking down at their smartphones.

Two questions occurred to me. One, is it true? Two, to the degree that it is, is it bad?

Before addressing these questions, I will point out I am not arguing for a culture of distraction. I keep most notifications shut off on my smartphone and clear most of my home screen so Im not tempted into 20 minutes of Facebook browsing when all I wanted to do was check the weather. This comes per the recommendation of Tristan Harris and his Time Well Spent initiative. Harriss group argues that app makers, who are currently using behavioral science and big data to make our tech more addictive, have a moral obligation to stop making Cookie Jam. (Okay, they dont single out Cookie Jam, but seriously, stop sending me invites. Im not going to play.) They dont argue against technology itself, only that it should serve us, not the other way around. Watch the video, its brilliant.

If were out to dinner together, Ill silence my ringer and keep my phone in my pocket. Ill look at you most of the time. That brings us back to the two questions.

Have you ever walked into a restaurant and seen half its diners looking at their phones? I never have. Not even close. A good number of people on phones? Sure. And for fogies like us who remember the days before smartphones, does it seem like a disproportionate number? Sure. But half is an overstatement, exaggeration for effect, or misperception.

If I acknowledge its rude to check my email, text messages or voicemail when Ive made a commitment of time and attention to my dining companion, what possible excuse could I have for suggesting people ought to feel comfortable taking their smartphones out at dinner?

Your smartphone is not just a messaging device. Its a part of your intellect, your memory, your augmented consciousness. This device, with its incredible processing power, memory, connectivity and even artificial intelligence, represents a step toward a transhumanist future. Transhumanism is a movement that believes technology will enhance human intellect and physiology, and strives to push that enhancement in beneficial directions.

This is already happening. Consider chess. You know who can beat a human in chess? A computer. You know who can beat a computer in chess? A human teamed with a computer. This hybrid player concept, known as a centaur, is an example of augmented human intellect. It also probably represents the future of work for most of us and certainly our children. Ignore at your peril.

Back to dinner. Youre telling me about the amazing trip you just went on. You take out your phone to show me pictures you took of the Painted Desert. Are either one of us distracted? On the contrary. Youve just opened a window into your mind and memory, and brought me closer to the experience youre trying to share than you likely could have otherwise.

But, grouses the curmudgeon, in our day we talked, used our words to describe these things. We didnt have to rely on pictures.

Which is BS and you know it. How many of you old-timers were forced, for the price of dinner at a friends home, to sit through 4,000 grainy vacation slides? If your host could have lugged the projector to the restaurant, he would have.

Speaking of words, lets say Im trying to recall for you a beautiful poem I read earlier in the week, or an erudite passage from an op-ed column. If used in a deliberate way, this massive, near-infinite library at our fingertips is not a distraction. Its a miracle.

Technology, used deliberately, clearly enhances human exchanges rather than diminishing them. Why then are we so concerned about each others tech habits at meals, on subway trains, in parks and airports?

We are misremembering the world before smartphones as one massive, sparkling community conversation. We forget the couple at the restaurant grimly poking at their soup, going the whole meal hardly saying a thing. We forget parents at breakfast tables tucked away behind morning newspapers while the kids read the backs of cereal boxes. People on subways and airplanes absorbed in novels, praying the person next to them wouldnt turn out to be a talker.

One of the things that makes living in communities as dense as ours tolerable is our remarkable ability to ignore each other when appropriate and engage when appropriate. The smartphone enhances both of those skills.

Finally, back to the homily, the Trinity, the ultimate conversation.

I recall once, traveling alone on a hot day in Paris, waiting in line to get into Notre Dame Cathedral. My spirit soared, lifted into the great vaults and arches, drawn heavenward, craving conversation with the eternal, the creator.

I sat down before the great altar and felt moved to pray an old prayer, the Rosary. This is typically prayed with a string of beads. Not having one in my pocket, I took out my smartphone, launched my Laudate app, opened the interactive Rosary and commenced to conversing with the Almighty. And regardless of what some of my fellow pilgrims may have thought seeing me bent over my smartphone, it was an excellent conversation.

(Ernesto Burden is the vice president of digital for Newspapers of New England, the Monitors parent company. He lives in Manchester.)

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My Turn: The smartphone as a social tool - Concord Monitor

There’s No Harm in Fantasizing About a Better Future – Reason (blog)

In Radicals for Utopia, published last month, journalist Jamie Bartlett profiles Zoltan Istvan, who ran for president under the Transhumanist Party's banner in 2016. Along with several other journalists, Bartlett traveled across the southwest on Istvan's "immortality bus" (a rickety camper shaped like a coffin-slash-log cabin), and watched Istvan preach the gospel of transhumanism to fellow futurists and skeptics alike.

"Transhumanist science is undeniably exciting and fast-moving," Bartlett writes of watching Istvan tell a half-empty auditorium in Las Vegas that humanity will conquer death within 15 to 25 years. "But the science is not almost there."

He knocks Istvan for "flit[ting] with misleading ease between science and fiction, taking any promising piece of research as proof of victory." In another scene, Bartlett channels the frustration of other futurists who have tired of the transhumanism project altogether. "Transhumanists have been promising us jetpacks and immortality," one biohacker tells Bartlett. "We're sick of [their] bullshit promises." Later, we learn that Istvan is not particularly liked by even other transhumanists, that he is terrible at leading a political party, and that the chief goal of his campaign was to get people to pay attention to him. In other words, that he is like every other person who has ever run for president.

After painting Istvan as bumbling (when the immortality bus breaks down) and unscientific (when he expresses enthusiasm for cryogenics), Bartlett describes him as something like a villain.

"Transhumanism feels like the perfect religion for a modern, selfish age; an extension of society's obsession with individualism, perfection and youth," he writes. He accuses Istvan of "ignor[ing] current problems and overlook[ing] the negative consequences of rapidly advancing technology." It's an odd claim considering Istvan's presidential platform called for "the complete dismantlement and abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere, as rapidly as possible." Nuclear weapons were once a rapidly advancing technology, they are currently a problem, and Istvan seems to be quite concerned about their negative consequences.

It's an even odder claim considering that the people who are dedicating themselves to the problems du jour don't seem capable of actually fixing any of them. Last I checked, the Israelis and Palestinians are still at it. Al Qaeda, too. The world is less poor than it once was, but there are still three-quarters of a billion people living in extreme poverty. In the U.S., black lives still matter less than blue and white ones. Is this really transhumanism's fault? What would Bartlett have Istvan do? Go back in time and donate the money he spent on the Immortality Bus to Hillary Clinton?

Bartlett then tells us that many other technologists and intellectuals are opposed to the world Istvan hopes one day to live (forever) in. Elon Musk "declared AI to be comparable to summoning the Devil," he writes. "Stephen Hawking said 'the development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.'" Francis Fukuyama "called transhumanism 'the world's most dangerous idea.'" Artificial intelligence seems to worry Barlett more than Istvan's other enthusiasms. He notes that self-driving cars will likely displace human truckers and that drones will displace human warehouse workers. Apparently, no one wants to live in a world where poor little boys and girls can't realize their dreams of living out of a long-haul cab and inhaling particulates in storage facilities.

All things considered, Bartlett's treatment of Istvan the candidate is fair. Anyone who desires the powers of the presidency deserves, at the very least, to have his or her vision for the job harshly interrogated. And many aspects of Istvan's vision are pie in the sky. But the techno fear-mongering throughout the rest of the chapter feels off. Everyone can't be expected to worry about everything, and there are plenty of people in Silicon Valley worried about the ramifications of automation and sentient machines. There's Musk, and also Y Combinator, which is running a basic income experiment right now in anticipation of a world with fewer menial jobs for humans. (Bartlett also notes that AI may displace doctors and lawyers, but he reduces it to an employment problem without acknowledging that it might also mean fewer misdiagnoses and overall better care.)

Nobody in Silicon Valley, or outside it, knows which line of inquiry will prove fruitful, or when. Ascribing carelessness, or malice, to the people pursuing those experiments is a disservice to the spirit of inquiry itself. As Scott Alexander noted in May, many of these folks are working on some rather amazing, life-affirming, world-improving applications. Regardless, it is farcical to lay blame for the bad (or the good) at the feet of transhumanists, who are mostly fanboys of the next big thing, not the people making it. And it is particularly disappointing to see someone bash these people for imagining how they might enjoy a future none of us can stop.

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There's No Harm in Fantasizing About a Better Future - Reason (blog)

Very funny transhumanist Disney comic – Boing Boing

This genius Bizarro! comic by Dan Piraro is from a few years back.

More about Walt Disney's mythical cryonic suspension at Snopes.

Acting coach Bob Menery is not a professional sports announcer yet. Watching him talk gives me the same weird sensation as seeing Mel Blanc do Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. Below is an older video of Menery experimenting with the voice.

When youre proud to admit you did it.

The fine young men of MegaIceTV made a live action re-enactment of the entire Pizza Delivery episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. What a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon! The original is below. Dont miss their other bad/good videos either! (via r/DeepIntoYou)

Amazons Prime Day is one of the most clever user acquisition schemes on the web, echoing the mission of hallowed holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. People like to shop. Thats cool, and Prime Day mines deep into the Amazon product labyrinth to drop prices on things you probably didnt even know existed, let []

If you are a UI designer, creating custom icons is often more trouble than its worth since you probably already spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with a range of application states, device sizes, and UX guidelines. Instead of reinventing the wheel for every project, consider using assets from Icons8.Icons8 is a massive online []

Python is one of the most robust programming languages around, but that doesnt mean its strictly for experts. Thanks to its versatility and elegant, human-readable syntax, Python is a great starter language for novices, and has significant applications for data scientists and web developers alike. To get up to speed with this powerful language, or []

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Very funny transhumanist Disney comic - Boing Boing

Could a robot be president? – Hot Air

If youre imagining a Terminator-style machine sitting behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, think again. The president would more likely be a computer in a closet somewhere, chugging away at solving our countrys toughest problems. Unlike a human, a robot could take into account vast amounts of data about the possible outcomes of a particular policy. It could foresee pitfalls that would escape a human mind and weigh the options more reliably than any person couldwithout individual impulses or biases coming into play. We could wind up with an executive branch that works harder, is more efficient and responds better to our needs than any weve ever seen.

Theres not yet a well-defined or cohesive group pushing for a robot in the Oval Officejust a ragtag bunch of experts and theorists who think that futuristic technology will make for better leadership, and ultimately a better country. Mark Waser, for instance, a longtime artificial intelligence researcher who works for a think tank called the Digital Wisdom Institute, says that once we fix some key kinks in artificial intelligence, robots will make much better decisions than humans can. Natasha Vita-More, chairwoman of Humanity+, a nonprofit that advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities, expects well have a posthuman president somedaya leader who does not have a human body but exists in some other way, such as a human mind uploaded to a computer. Zoltan Istvan, who made a quixotic bid for the presidency last year as a transhumanist, with a platform based on a quest for human immortality, is another proponent of the robot presidencyand he really thinks it will happen.

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Could a robot be president? - Hot Air

Ana Matronic: ‘Robots confuse the boundaries between life and death’ – Siliconrepublic.com

Robotophile and transhumanist Ana Matronic took to the Inspirefest stage predicting a future where gender doesnt matter when were all cyborgs.

If you couldnt tell, the name Ana Matronic is a sure sign that someone has not just an interest in robots, but an outright fascination and love for them.

That was made clear on stage at Inspirefest 2017 when the Scissor Sisters singer, DJ and author took us back through her life from an obsession with the cult 70s TV show The Bionic Woman and writing her first self-published zine about robots, to dressing as a robot at a burlesque show in San Francisco.

However, the real focus of her talk was the fascinating philosophical questions posed to us in a present and future where the line between human and robot is becoming increasingly blurred.

And if so, what role does gender play if any when our brains are in robots or uploaded to the cloud?

During those days of creating her fanzine in college for The Bionic Woman, Matronic went as far as to create her own robot-infused religion based on the philosophies of Joseph Campbell called Bionic Love that had Jaime Sommers as its muse and messiah.

My religion playfully painted the caring and compassionate Ms Sommers as the union of opposing forces of science and nature, she said.

Shes the embodiment of the future and herald of the coming technological age and a reminder to never lose your humanity in the face of it.

It was with the work of academic and writer Donna Haraway however that Matronics real interest in the topic of cyborgs and where the concept fits in with human constructs.

What triggered Matronics many philosophical questions was Haraways surprising revelation that, for her, we dont have to wait to be a cyborg in the future as we already are cyborgs.

She wrote [a book] confirming my deification of The Bionic Woman and transformed my love of robots into something more, Matronic said.

According to Haraways argument, a cyborg doesnt have to be a half-human, half-machine entity with bionic limbs, but anyone who has had science alter their body in some capacity such as getting a vaccination.

Quoting Haraway: In the tradition of western science and politics, the relation between organism and machine has been a border war. The cyborg manifesto is an argument for the pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and the responsibility for their construction and a world without gender and world without end.

It was with Haraways work, Matronic said, that her discovery and interest in the topic of transhumanism began.

An example of transhumanism would be the uploading of a persons consciousness online so that they can continue on, something that is already underway with early brain emulation software.

Unlike things like time travel and interdimensional travel, Matronic said, robots are here and theyre real not just through physical robots, but artificial intelligence as well.

Robots confuse the boundaries between life and death; human and machine; male and female; master and servant; thinking and feeling; ability and disability; creation and destruction, she said.

I take pleasure in the confusion of these boundaries and as an artist I have a unique platform to share and study these stories and as a transhumanist, I take responsibility of this examination and the construction of new boundaries.

So what are these boundaries being broken down and built again in a cyborg future?

For people like Martine Rothblatt working on brain emulation software and as a transgender person robots and robot bodies offer a way to detach ourselves the limitations of anatomy, or more simply, personhood is about equity, not equipment.

We have an opportunity in this moment to be prepared for the arrival of mechanical and digital people and I believe it is our responsibility to be prepared, Matronic said.

When robots do occupy space in our society, when robot rights and robosexuality is not just spoken about in an episode of Futurama but when its actually here humans will be forced to look around and ask how well we have done for the rights of our fellow humans.

She continued: If you dont do that before the robo-demonstrations, we are going to have problems, and not just with the robots.

In a sense, Matronic argued, the rise of robots offers humans the chance to reboot our operating system in every sense.

It certainly seems as if we are moving into a brave, new world.

Continued here:

Ana Matronic: 'Robots confuse the boundaries between life and death' - Siliconrepublic.com

Who do we think we are? – New Scientist

We long to transcend the human condition


By Joanna Kavenna

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

Here we are discussing transhumanism, defined by evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley in 1957 as the belief that the human species can and should transcend itself by realizing new possibilities of and for human nature. What relevance could the poet John Donne have to such a discussion?

A more recent explanation of transhumanism, by Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom, calls it a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. This formulation resembles the poetry of English clerics even less than Huxleys did.

But though Bostrom does not express himself in quite the same fashion as Donne, the overarching sentiment is not dissimilar: Death, thou shalt die, or at least thou shalt be postponed as far as possible. Bostrom continues: Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remold in desirable ways.

In other words, before death postponed or otherwise, life might be made considerably nicer: less fraught with disease and suffering, and altogether less half-baked. This is a metaphor from cooking, and transhumanist rhetoric is awash with such, at times treacherous, metaphors.

Transhumanists hope that by responsible use of science, technology, and other rational means we shall eventually manage to become posthuman, beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have. Bostroms lovely sentiment that the half-baked human must be improved by the responsible use of science has driven humanity for millennia, ever since we began using technologies of flint and fire and so on, and through innumerable and utterly vital developments in medicine and science. So one key question that we must pose and seek to discuss is how, specifically, the transhumanist movement will depart from or further enhance this consistent strain in human history?

Transhumanisms signature ambition, that we may become posthuman, leads us to a baroque and venerable question: what does it mean to be human, anyway? If we want to go beyond something, to transcend it, it is clear we must understand our starting point, the point beyond which we desire to go. The quest to fathom the self, to understand what it means to be human, is fundamental to almost every civilisation known to us. It defines one of the earliest works of literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh from ancient Mesopotamia, in which our protagonist embarks on a quest to understand who on earth he is and what hes meant to do with his mortal span of years. In ancient religious texts such as the Upanishads, all creation begins with the moment of becoming: I am! That is, the world comes from mind itself.

In many global religions, the human self is divided into body and soul, a material and an immaterial part. During the Enlightenment, Descartes famously tried to reconcile this ancient distinction and also placate the church by proposing that the material and immaterial somehow communicated or mingled via the pineal gland.

Skipping boldly through a few centuries of thought, we might arrive (blinking in surprise) at the philosophical novels of Philip K. Dick and his brilliant Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This poses the ancient question again: what does it mean to be human? When is someone/something convincingly human and when are they not? Is your version of being human the same as mine? Or the same as the next humans?

As the Australian philosopher David Chalmers has said, consciousness this mysterious thing that every human possesses or feels they possess remains the hard problem of philosophy. We lack a unified theory of consciousness. We dont understand how consciousness is generated by the brain, or even whether this is the right metaphor to use. We speak of such mysteries in a funny system of squeaks and murmurs that we call language and that swiftly drops into the blackness of prehistory when we seek to trace its origins. We dont know who the first humans were: that fascinating quest likewise drives us straight into a great void of unknowing.

There is nothing wrong with unknowing: it is the ordinary condition of all humanity, so far. Yet, undeterred, we devise bold, elegant theories and advance them in many disciplines of thought. We develop beautiful and exciting almost-human machines and speculate about uploading consciousness. And in so doing, we are consistently rebaking, reheating or refrying the ancient philosophical dilemma: what does it mean to be human?

Pace Bostrom, transhumanism has not developed over the past few decades. Its predilections and concerns have developed over several millennia, and possibly further back, within civilisations we no longer recall. To go back in time to Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun. We are still here, and human, with our paradoxical longing to transcend the human condition.

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Who do we think we are? - New Scientist

Outline of transhumanism – Wikipedia

The following outline provides an overview of and a topical guide to transhumanism:

Transhumanism international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.[1] Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging and hypothetical technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies.[1] They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".[1]

Transhumanism can be described as all of the following:

Neophilia strong affinity for novelty and change. Transhumanist neophiliac values include:

Survival survival, or self-preservation, is behavior that ensures the survival of an organism.[5] It is almost universal among living organisms. Humans differ from other animals in that they use technology extensively to improve chances of survival and increase life expectancy.

Transhumanist politics

The term "transhumanism" was first coined in 1957 by Sir Julian Huxley, a zoologist and prominent humanist.[14]

Human enhancement technologies

Emerging technologies contemporary advances and innovation in various fields of technology, prior to or early in their diffusion. They are typically in the form of progressive developments intended to achieve a competitive advantage.[16] Transhumanists believe that humans can and should use technologies to become more than human. Emerging technologies offer the greatest potential in doing so. Examples of developing technologies that have become the focus of transhumanism include:

Technological evolution

Hypothetical technology technology that does not exist yet, but the development of which could potentially be achieved in the future. It is distinct from an emerging technology, which has achieved some developmental success. A hypothetical technology is typically not proven to be impossible. Many hypothetical technologies have been the subject of science fiction.

Transhumanism in fiction Many of the tropes of science fiction can be viewed as similar to the goals of transhumanism. Science fiction literature contains many positive depictions of technologically enhanced human life, occasionally set in utopian (especially techno-utopian) societies. However, science fiction's depictions of technologically enhanced humans or other posthuman beings frequently come with a cautionary twist. The more pessimistic scenarios include many dystopian tales of human bioengineering gone wrong.

Some people who have made a major impact on the advancement of transhumanism:

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Outline of transhumanism - Wikipedia

The Only Way To Stop The Machines From Taking Over Is Getting … – The Federalist

With yesterdays futuristic technologies increasingly becoming todays product announcements, the progress of science seems unstoppable. Mark OConnells excellent new book To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death follows the authors interactions and interviews with self-professed transhumanists.

This eclectic collection of scientists, tech giants, journalists, and enthusiasts are prophets of a coming post-human species that embraces technology as the means to transcend present biological and psychological limitations. The book itself is masterfully and humorously written, and gives the reader a thorough introduction to the ideas and people behind the transhumanist movement.

The book serves a more important purpose than simply describing transhumanism, however: OConnells interactions with transhumanists show that modern man is not prepared to argue against transhumanism. He must either accept it or find a theological alternative.

It seems that, sociologically speaking, transhumanism springs from the same part of man that desires to create religion. Man fears death, so must overcome it in some way. From this fear, the social scientists tell us, man creates fantasies about deities and paradises, resurrection and glorification. In its own way, transhumanism becomes religious insofar as it represents another in a long line of sets of belief adopted by man in hopes of overcoming his mortality. This time, man seeks help not from mystical transcendent beings but from his own will, instantiated in technology.

Some religious sects like Mormonism have made a place for transhumanist ideas, but transhumanists like Max More have made clear that traditional Christian doctrine and transhumanism are largely incompatible, given the difficulty of reconciling both sets of claims. However, on at least one point, the transhumanist and the Christian agree: death is an enemy to be conquered. The Christian New Testament claims the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. Transhumanists concur, and propose that if death can be conquered through technology, death should be conquered through technology.

I am not a scientist. I lack the knowledge to tell scientists who advocate transhumanist ideas that they are wrong about what technology can accomplish. When non-experts like myself grapple with the transhumanist ideas, we traffic in intuitions and philosophies about consciousness, personality, death, and what it means to be human, rather than in scientific arguments.

This is true of OConnell as well. In his research, OConnell encounters scientists who tell him that living to extreme ages will be possible soon, within his and his childs lifetime. Some subjects interviewed even theorize that eventually we could theoretically upload consciousness and become more machine than man. OConnell clearly sees the progression from the thought of men like Thomas Hobbes to the ideas of transhumanism. Hobbes saw man as fundamentally an organic machine, so there seems to be no reason that machine could not be upgraded.

Despite hearing the arguments and understanding their source, OConnell refuses to accept transhumanism. This is not because he thinks transhumanist ideals are unachievable, but because he cannot stomach the idea of living forever, or being himself in any other physical form. He ultimately objects not to the practicality of the transhumanist project but to the propriety of it.

OConnells resistance to transhumanism culminates in a fascinating exchange in the book where OConnell is forced to defend death and mortality as preferable to eternal life and vitality. He mounts standard arguments: Lifes brevity is what gives it value. Impending death makes our continued existence meaningful in some way. Also, life sucks; why extend it?

OConnells transhumanist companions deftly deflect his objections. There [is] no beauty in finitude, they say. They argue that OConnells qualms come from an essential human need to grapple with death and somehow justify it as good so we can avoid constant dread and despair. And, OConnell admits, the transhumanists are right. There is something palpably absurd about defending death as some sort of human good.

Despite conceding the point, OConnell concludes the book by restating his rejection of transhumanism, and the reader is left wondering why. If the transhumanists are correct in theorizing that our continued acceptance of death is just an evolutionary symptom of a disease that can and will be cured, what possible reason could we have to deny the inevitable?

In a poignant scene in the book, OConnells child begins to wrestle with mortality following the death of his grandmother. The boy is comforted when he learns that his father is writing a book on people who are trying to create a world in which people no longer have to die. What comfort is there to offer if we are to reject both religion and transhumanism? What compelling reason do we have to embrace despair when technology offers hope?

Simply put, defending death is a lost cause. Even if, as OConnell theorizes, the idea of meaning [is] itself an illusion, a necessary human fiction, man has continued maintaining that illusion for millennia and seems to persist in preferring life to death. Unless OConnell and others like him are prepared and able to convince the bulk of humanity that death is a happy end to be embraced, not fought against, it seems a choice has presented itself. This choice is between different religions that offer escape from death. Transhumanism offers the materialist a religion through which to conquer death; other religions offer the same to those who have faith in gods other than technology.

Will OConnell and others who reject both transhumanism and other religions refuse anti-aging treatments if they become available? Will they abstain from extending their lives, if given the choice? Only time, the one thing transhumanism cannot hope to overcome, will tell.

Philip is a senior political philosophy student at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA, and will begin graduate study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall

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The Only Way To Stop The Machines From Taking Over Is Getting ... - The Federalist

Vatican cardinal on a quest for the soul inside the machine – Crux: Covering all things Catholic

Artificial intelligence. Androids. Transhumanism. Once just fodder for pulp science fiction, technological advances over the past 30 years have brought these subjects to the forefront of any discussion about the future.

Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Vaticans Council for Culture, has been trying to make sure the Church is part of that discussion.

Technology runs and proposes new things at a speed that theology and other paths of human knowledge fail to follow, Ravasi told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Sunday.

Ravasi runs the Courtyard of the Gentiles, an initiative first proposed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to dialogue with non-believers. The name comes from the space set aside at Herods Temple that was accessible to non-Jews who wanted to speak to rabbis and other Jewish authorities about God and religion.

The Courtyard is currently hosting a series of meetings on future technology, and what effect it could have on what it means to be human.

Right now, major corporations such as IBM, Apple, and Facebook are pouring money into developing Artificial Intelligence (AI). Although the idea of a conscious computer system still exists only in the realm of science fiction, one of the major tasks people want AI for is to create bots for customer service, which should respond to people in such a way that they cant tell they arent talking to a person.

In other words, a computer which isnt conscious, but no one can really tell.

Meanwhile, transhumanism is the idea of transforming the human body through technological progress.

Some of this is already happening, and can be a good thing: Pacemakers, high-tech artificial limbs, and other new medical devices have improved the lives of millions. In a very real way, cyborgs have lived among us for years.

Other examples of a transhumanist future can be seen with Google Glass, the headset which could record what you were seeing, as well as overlay information into your field of view; and the idea of permanent implants to replace credit cards (and possibly many of the functions of your smartphone), which is already being tested in some countries.

These technologies are not inherently wrong, yet may soon present serious ethical dilemmas.

If an artificial limb becomes better than the original, is it okay for a person to upgrade?

If you can record everything you see, should you? Is it any different than an enhanced memory? And who should have access to the images?

But before you can even discuss the implications of the latest technology, yet another gadget hits the market raising new questions.

Ravasi expressed concern over the overproduction of technological gadgets, and complained of an era of bulimia in the means, and atrophy in the ends.

The cardinal said one problem is schools and universities do not cover enough general anthropology, and humanity finds itself flattened in the onslaught of technological change.

If I learn to create robots with a high level of human attributes, if I develop an artificial intelligence, if I intervene in a substantial way with the nervous system: Im not only making a big technological advance, in many cases very valuable for therapeutic medical purposes, Ravasi said. Im also making a real anthropological leap, touching on issues such as freedom, responsibility, guilt, conscience and if we want the soul.

The cardinal said the digital natives who have grown up in this new era are functionally different from older people, often overlapping the relationship between real and virtual, and the traditional way of considering what is true and false. It is as if they were in a video game.

(Ravasis concern is more prescient than even he might know: Many of the technological advances, especially in the field of virtual reality, are being made in the game industry, where the ethical questions about the technological advances are often overshadowed by the cool factor.)

Ravasi also expressed concern about how biotechnology is changing the role of humanity from being a guardian of nature into being a kind of creator.

Synthetic biology, the creation of viruses and bacteria that do not exist in nature, is an expression of this tendency, he said. All these operations have ethical and cultural implications that need to be considered.

Ravasi is not the first Vatican official to speak on these themes.

In 2004, the International Theological Commission issued a document on Human Persons created in the Image of God.

The document affirms that bodiliness is essential to personal identity, and calls for people to exercise a responsible stewardship over the biological integrity of human beings created in the image of God.

The document reads:

Because the body, as an intrinsic part of the human person, is good in itself, fundamental human faculties can only be sacrificed to preserve life. After all, life is a fundamental good that involves the whole of the human person. Without the fundamental good of life, the values like freedom that are in themselves higher than life itself also expire. Given that man was also created in Gods image in his bodiliness, he has no right of full disposal of his own biological nature. God himself and the being created in his image cannot be the object of arbitrary human action.

It goes on to list conditions for any bodily intervention:

For the application of the principle of totality and integrity, the following conditions must be met: (1) there must be a question of an intervention in the part of the body that is either affected or is the direct cause of the life-threatening situation; (2) there can be no other alternatives for preserving life; (3) there is a proportionate chance of success in comparison with drawbacks; and (4) the patient must give assent to the intervention. The unintended drawbacks and side-effects of the intervention can be justified on the basis of the principle of double effect.

Yet in many ways, the document talks past the conversation now happening, especially since those having the conversation are often working out very specific problems how to fix this medical disorder, how to create a better customer interface, how to create a more realistic game and are not considering the larger picture they may be helping to create.

Ravasi is hoping the new dialogue will help everyone stand back and see that picture, and seriously consider the implications of what they are doing.

It is essential for believers and nonbelievers to re-propose the great cultural, spiritual, and ethical values like a positive shock against superficiality, the cardinal said now that we are living through an anthropological and cultural change which is complex and problematic, but is certainly also exciting.

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Vatican cardinal on a quest for the soul inside the machine - Crux: Covering all things Catholic

What’s Love Got to Do with Transhumanism? – First Things

Nothing you can make that can't be made. No one you can save that can't be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time. It's easy. All you need is love.

The Beatles

Transhumanism is all the rage among the nouveau riche of Silicon Valley, who are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into research they expect will launch The Singularity. What is that, you ask? The Singularity is an anticipated pointas important to transhumanists as the Rapture is to Evangelical Christiansat which the cascade of scientific advances will become unstoppable, allowing transhumanists to recreate themselves as post-humans.

The transhumanist quest has two primary goals: radical life extensionwhich we will not discuss hereand the exponential increase of human intelligence (perhaps because it would better enable them to achieve the first goal). Transhumanists are obsessed with increasing cognitive functioning. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Inc., has started a company dedicated to developing neural technologies to cure disease and increase human intelligence by way of a direct cortical interfaceessentially a layer of artificial intelligence inside the brain. The company is also reported to be exploring cosmetic brain surgeries to make us smarter.

Musk is not alone in putting his money where his futuristic dreams are. Last year, the New Scientist reported:

The company,Kernel, was launched earlier this year by entrepreneur Bryan Johnson. He says he has spent many years wondering how best to contribute to humanity. I arrived at intelligence. I think its the most precious and powerful resource in existence, says Johnson.

Johnsons belief exemplifies why I find transhumanismessentially neo-eugenicsboth morally deficient and philosophically sterile. Theres nothing wrong with intelligence, of course. It is one of the attributes that make humans exceptional. Indeed, our speciess extraordinary intelligence enabled us to leave the caves.

But intelligence is hardly the most precious and powerful resource in existencenot even close. That place of honor belongs to love. And I find it striking how rarely transhumanists speak about love or how to enhance our capacity to express itexcept, perhaps, in the most carnal sense.

Many animals love, of course. Some birds mate for life. A mare will mourn the death of her foal. A mother bear will kill without hesitation if she thinks her cub is endangered. A dog may sacrifice his own life to save his master. But only humans have the inherent capacity to giveand apprehendLove with a capital L.

Perhaps transhumanists have little interest in the human capacity to love because its full expression transcends carbon molecules and the firing of neurons. It is no coincidence that a deeply faithful theist gave us perhaps the most profound description of loves boundless scope:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never fails.

The purer the love, the less the regard for self. And lack of self-regard conflicts with materialistic transhumanism, which is steeped in solipsism and hyper-individuality.

Heres the tragically ironic thing: The people among us who are most innately capable of loveat least, in the full sense described by St. Paulare those with Down syndrome. Every person I have ever met with that genetic condition is better than I am because of his or her greater capacity to love.

But they are not intelligent, at least not in the particular ways that transhumanists value. And sad to say, we are in the midst of a pogrom to wipe these beautiful and gentle people off the face of the earth. Denmark has the stated goal of becoming Down syndrome free. Ninety percent of fetuses diagnosed with Down in the U.S. are aborted, while Iceland brags that its abortionists dispense with 100 percent of diagnosed fetuses. France recently prevented Down syndrome associations from running TV advertisements about the joys of parenting Down children, because they could make those who aborted their Down babies feel guilty. These awful statistics indict us for lack of love.

Besides, love is not a quantifiable quality, as many consider intelligence to be. There is no quick fix for the love-challenged. Our hearts cannot be enhanced through brain implants or other futuristic tinkering. On the contrary, learning how to love usually requires being loved. It expands through unquantifiable human connections. Transhumanism, on the other hand, is all about effortless improvements. Its adherents seek to become extraordinarylonger life, smarter brains, superhuman capacitieswithout having to really work at it.

Heres the bottom line: No matter how much we strive to engineer ourselves into post-humanity, no matter the fortunes invested by transhumanist venture capitalists in increasing our intelligence, exponentially expanding our capacity to love is the only way we will ever truly enhance the human species.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institutes Center on Human Exceptionalism. His most recent book isCulture of Death: The Age of Do Harm Medicine.

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What's Love Got to Do with Transhumanism? - First Things

Reg Radicals lecture encompasses far right, libertarians, and mushrooms… – The Register

Reg Lectures If the recent elections clash of centre right and a bit left leaves you cold, perhaps the prospect of libertarians versus transhumanists might make you sit up and take notice.

Those were just two of the alternatives Jamie Bartlett highlighted in his Register Lecture, covering his latest book, Radicals, which details two years of researching, and occasionally living with, a range individuals and groups proposing radically different ways to organise society.

Over the course of the talk, Jamie covered his experiences travelling with the US transhumanist party, reported from inside the echo chamber with groups like the EDL, and explained the reasons why a century-old border dispute between Serbia and Croatia could result in the worlds first ultra-libertarian state.

You can see the full lecture below.

Youtube Video

What you wont see is the Q&A, where topics like psychedelic and polyamorous communes were thrown into the mix - after the usual Reg lecture nibbles and top-ups break.

But dont worry. Were cooking up some more lectures that will run in the autumn. To ensure your space, watch this space.

In the mean time, check out our entire archive of Reg lectures here.

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Reg Radicals lecture encompasses far right, libertarians, and mushrooms... - The Register

Engineering Eden: The quest for eternal life – Baylor College of Medicine News (press release) (blog)

Editors note: This post is related toThe Enhancing Life Project, funded by theJohn Templeton Foundation.The project is comprised of an interdisciplinary group of scholars who examine aspirations that move individuals and communities into the future, and the intersection between spirituality and technology.

If youre like most people, you may associate the phrase eternal life with religion: The promise that we can live forever if we just believe in God. You probably dont associate the phrase with an image of scientists working in a lab, peering at worms through microscopes or mice skittering through boxes. But you should.

The quest for eternal life has only recently begun to step out from behind the pews and into the petri dish.

I recently discussed the increasing feasibility of the transhumanist vision due to continuing advancements in biotech, gene- and cell-therapies. These emerging technologies, however, dont erase the fact that religion not science has always been our salve for confronting deaths inevitability. For believers, religion provides an enduring mechanism (belief and virtue) behind the perpetuity of existence, and shushes our otherwise frantic inability to grasp: How can I, as a person, just end?

The Mormon transhumanist Lincoln Cannon argues that science, rather than religion, offers a tangible solution to this most basic existential dilemma. He points out that it is no longer tenable to believe in eternal life as only available in heaven, requiring the death of our earthly bodies before becoming eternal, celestial beings.

Would a rational person choose to believe in an uncertain, spiritual afterlife over the tangible persistence of ones own familiar body and the comforting security of relationships weve fostered over a lifetime of meaningful interactions?

From a secular perspective, the choice seems obvious. But from a religious perspective, weighing faith and science is not as clear. Its not even clear whether a choice must be made.

If youre Mormon, for example, you believe that humans should and will become Gods themselves, a view consistent with transhumanist ambitions to take human capabilities and nature into their own hands.

From a Christian perspective, too, there is no inherent contradiction between religious principles and the use of science to extend our life spans or change who and what we fundamentally are. Francis Schaeffer, credited with launching evangelicals and fundamentalists into politics in the late 1970s, said that if he were offered a pill to stop aging, he would take it in a heartbeat. Because mankinds duty is as much as its within our power to undo the work of The Fall, he said.

Schaeffer was referring to Adam and Eves rebellion and subsequent fall from divine grace in the Garden of Eden, an event believed by evangelicals to be the cause of all death, disease and suffering in the world.

Enhancing human capability and putting a stop to aging buys us more time to reverse original sin and do Gods work more effectively. Spreading compassion and love to our fellow human beings and pursuing the moral virtues extolled in the scriptures may require better tools, greater reach, and radically longer timeframes.

Perhaps youll be surprised to hear that the Catholic Church strongly supports extending life and health, citing Jesuss commandment to disciples to go forth and heal the sick, even raise the dead, in his name. Some Lutherans, too, might see no essential contradiction between religious principles and the quest for earthly longevity.

Ted Anton, who wrote a book about the science and business behind longevity research, has long been head usher at his Christian Lutheran Church. He told us, Whatever created [our technological] capabilities is endlessly interesting, beautiful, complex, and probably holds a moral requirement that we are children of God. We owe it to each other to research to the very best of our ability, with a goal of helping those who need the help first.

The futurist, Ted Peters, a professor at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, said that his religiosity encourages rather than prohibits his support for even controversial technologies, like emotional bio-enhancements. A neuro-enhancement for compassion? A genetic fix for selfishness?

Peters said, Bioethicists want to defend human freedom, so they dont want us [bio-enhancing] against our will. He continued, But I myself would be happy to give up my freedom if my heart would be sanctified so that Im loving all day long. If you could do that with a hypodermic needle, give me a shot. Ill take it.

Loving all day long doesnt sound so bad. Still, the policy implications of an emotionally bio-enhanced populace spark fear somewhere deep in my gut. Does everyone get to sit and love all day? Or will we love in shifts, to make sure someone is running the nation, or constructing our roads? Is it possible to love while driving effectively in LA traffic? Youd never get anywhere, letting everyone pass in front.

Part of me feels lucky not having any religious beliefs to reconcile with the engine of science which, to me, just seems like it will keep running faster and faster until the wheels fly off and we begin to fly. But other times I think, what deep satisfaction people must have to understand the commotion of scientific progress within a framework that provides meaning and context for our goals and concepts of self. Without these, anticipating the future is like a vase giving shape to emptiness, to use Michael Wests poetic description.

While science may be heralded as a new religion, it is by definition devoid of values. Its a method more than a system of meaning. If we admit that meaning and discovery provide fundamentally different enhancements to the human (or post-human) experience, perhaps there is room for both in our increasingly long futures.

-ByKristin Kostick, Ph.D., research associate in theCenter for Medical Ethics and Health Policyat Baylor College of Medicine

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Engineering Eden: The quest for eternal life - Baylor College of Medicine News (press release) (blog)

Controversial trial to test transhumanist theories – BioEdge

Killing off death will require research and clinical trials. But these may be difficult to do ethically, as a controversial attempt to reanimate brain-dead patients suggests.

Philadelphia-based biotech firmBioquark told STAT that it plans to begin a trial somewhere in Latin America within months. The idea is to inject the patients own stem cells into the spinal cord to stimulate the growth of neurons. Other therapies could accompany this -- an injected blend of peptides, electrical nerve stimulation, and laser therapy for the brain.

As STAT points out, a description of the trial begs many questions. Who decides whether the patient is actually brain dead? How can a dead person participate in a trial? What happens if they do recover and are significantly impaired? Are the researches toying the hopes of families? Even in Latin America, will they get ethical approval?

Scientists and bioethicists are sceptical. Last year bioethicist Art Caplan and neuroscientist Ariane Lewis wrote a blunt editorial denouncing the Bioquark trial as quackery.

Dead means dead. Proposing that DNC may not be final openly challenges the medical-legal definition of death, creates room for the exploitation of grieving family and friends and falsely suggests science where none exists.

Dr Charles Cox, a pediatric surgeon in Houston who works with stem cells, was even more sceptical. I think [someone reviving] would technically be a miracle, he said. I think the pope would technically call that a miracle.

However, Bioquarks CEO, Ira Pastor, responded that the idea was daring, but possible. He points out that there are dozens of cases of patients, mostly young one, who recovered after being brain-dead. Such cases highlight that things are not always black or white in our understanding of the severe disorders of consciousness.

The experiment is part of Pastors Reanima project, which he describes in transhumanist terms on various websites.

It is now time to take the necessary steps to provide new possibilities of hope, in order to counter the pain, sorrow, and grief that is all too pervasive in the world when we experience a loved ones unexpected or untimely death, due to lesions which might be potentially reversible with the application of promising neuro-regeneration and neuro-reanimation technologies and therapies.

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Controversial trial to test transhumanist theories - BioEdge

United Nations Envisions Transhumanist Future Where Man is …

Aaron Dykes Infowars.com June 10, 2012

The Global Future 2045 International Congress, led by iconic futurist Ray Kurzweil and held in Moscow a few months back, lays out a stark vision of the future for neo-humanity where AI, cybernetics, nanotech and other emerging technologies replace mankind an openly transhumanist vision now being steered by the elite, but which emerged out of the Darwinian-circles directed by the likes of T.H. Huxley and his grandchildren Julian, who coined the term Transhumanism, and Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World. Resistance to this rapid shift in society, the 2045 conference argues, is nothing short of a return to the middle ages.

As the video points out, the group admittedly met to draft resolution that will be submitted to the United Nations demanding the implementation of committees to discuss life extension Avatar projects as a necessary tool in the preservation of humankind.

2045: A New Era for Humanity

Russia 2045 dubs itself a strategic social movement, with aims to evolve humanity and extend life towards the everlasting. The project outlines a forecast for development in the following increments:

Now: the emergence of new Transhumanist movements & parties amid the ongoing socio-economic crisis between 2012-2013; new centers for cybernetic technologies to radically extend life, where the race for immortality starts by 2014, the creation of the avatar (robotic human copy) between 2015-2020, as well as robots to replace human manufacturing & labor, servant tasks; thought controlled robots to displace travel needs; flying cars, thought-driven communications implanted in bodies or sprayed on skin. By 2025, the group foresees the creation of an autonomous system providing life support for the brain that is capable of interacting with the environment; brains transplanted into avatar bodies greatly expanding life and allowing complete sensory experiences. Between 2030-2035, the emergence of Re-Brain, a reverse-engineering of the human brain already being mapped out, wherein science comes close to understanding the principles of consciousness. By 2035, the first successful transplantation of personality to other data receptacles and the epoch of cybernetic immortality begins. 2040-2050 brings the arrival of bodies made of nano-robots that can take any shape, as well as hologram bodies. 2045-2050 will bring forth drastic changes to the social structure and sci-tech development. It is in this age that the United Nations original promise of the end to war & violence is again predicted, where instead spiritual self-improvement takes precedent. A New Era of Neo-Humanity Dawns, according to the video.

This is textbook Transhumanism, rooted in many ancient orders and the philosophy of eugenics.

At its heart, Transhumanism represents an esoteric quest for godhood among certain circles of the elite connected to masonry, occultism and science/technology wherein supposedly evolving, superior beings ethically replace lesser humans. This philosophy is portrayed in this summers blockbuster Prometheus, a sort of prequel to the Alien series, and directed by Sir Ridley Scott, who founded the film franchise. See Alexs highly accurate breakdown of the themes behind the movie below, which help illustrate the dangers of emerging technology in the hands of the elite who hold this vision:

Secrets of Prometheus Film Leaked

Fittingly, two of the attendees at the 2012 anglophile Bilderberg meeting were Russians dealing with science & technology (though neither were apparently involved directly in this 2045 conference) including the owner of a Nano technology company, while Bilderberg steering committee members like Silicon Valley exec Peter Thiel are funding private space ventures, artificial island civilizations, next-gen Internet ventures and more.

RUS Chubais, Anatoly B. CEO, OJSC RUSNANO RUS Ivanov, Igor S. Associate member, Russian Academy of Science; President, Russian International Affairs Council

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United Nations Envisions Transhumanist Future Where Man is ...