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Category Archives: Transhuman

Synergy Between Torah and Science: How Far is TOO Far? – Breaking Israel News

Posted: July 5, 2017 at 8:41 am

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker, as a potsherd with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him that fashioned it: What makest thou? Or: Thy work, it hath no hands? Isaiah 45:9 (The Israel Bible)

Photo: Shutterstock

Transhumanism, an intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities, a concept once limited to the realm of science-fiction, is now becoming more of a reality than ever before. The once outlier philosophy is quickly becoming mainstream, an accepted part of the social conscience that is the new religion for the anti-religious, including its own Messianic vision.

There are many aspects to the transhumanism philosophy, often abbreviated as H+ or h+, including physical longevity through medical breakthroughs and/or merging mankind with machines. Many transhumanists advocate transferring the sum total of a persons knowledge and experiences into a computer and recreating the individual as a form of artificial intelligence (AI) in order to extend an individuals life.

In its most extreme form, transhumanism advocates limiting human population. This extreme philosophy is criticized for being eugenicist master-race ideology and infringing on basic reproductive rights.

Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, director of Ohr Chadash Torah Institute, noted that as in any social reform, the driving intention behind the movement is the key element, the factor that decides whether it will be a positive or negative influence on human history.

There is an aspect of this movement that is a culture of Me, Rabbi Trugman told Breaking Israel News. Individual freedom has become a form of self-idol worship. For example, having children for many people today does not fit into this emphasis on the individual as it necessarily limits ones personal freedom.

With technology as a central element of transhumanism, Rabbi Trugman noted that Torah is compatible with science and technology within certain limits.

Science allows us a certain control, ruling over the natural world, Rabbi Trugman said. But the verse that says we can rule over the world comes along with the commandment to be fruitful and multiply.

And God blessed them; and God said unto them: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth. Genesis 1:28

Many environmentalists blame religion for ruining the environment, Rabbi Trugman explained. But the Bible commands us to rule over the destructive aspects of nature, not to destroy the very earth that supports and nurtures us.

The synergy of science and Torah is a positive thing, but it requires limits, continued Rabbi Trugman. Technology cannot trump everything. There is an aspect of hubris, taking the place of God, when people set out to create a new being, which is forbidden by Torah law. Or ruling over creation and life through euthanasia or selective eugenics, choosing who reproduces.

Many of the new techno-billionaires are attracted to transhumanism: Peter Thiel, the founder of Paypal, adheres to a form of the philosophy called immortalism and invests heavily in projects to extend life indefinitely. Rabbi Trugman explained that this aspect of transhumanism is an exaggeration of love of self, a necessary and positive attribute.

The rabbi warned, however, that this trait can be exaggerated to the point where it becomes harmful to the individual and to the culture.

Zoltan Istvan, known for his endorsement of transhumanism as his political party and own philosophy, puts forth the idea that all humans desire to reach a state of perfect personal power, to be omnipotent in the universe. In this, the movement is a form of alternate Messianic movement. And therein lies a much larger danger.

I am sure that some of them have good intentions, to fix humanity and solve the economic and social problems of the planet, Rabbi Trugman said. But as we have seen throughout history, science, guided just by human nature, can run amok. A higher morality is required as a guide to ensure that technology doesnt end up being hijacked by those who would use science for less than benevolent purposes.

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Transhumanism just another ‘religion’ in which man seeks to become God – WND.com

Posted: July 2, 2017 at 8:41 am

An intelligence so capable it can perceive every cause and effect. The promise of eternal life. The dawn of a new age in whichsuffering will be eliminated, every need will be met and the individual will find fulfillment by subordinating himself to something far greater than himself.

These are the promises of most great faiths. The capacityto understand and predict everything thatcould possibly occur is a characteristic most would ascribe toGod.

But today, thisrhetoric surrounds an ostensibly scientific and secular movement. Transhumanism, the attempt to overcome the bodys limitations through technology, and the hunt for artificial intelligence are promoted with evangelistic language.

Around the world, heavily funded by billionaire philanthropists, researchers are probing whether aging can be curbed or even prevented, just like any other disease.

Indeed, scientist Aubrey de Grey, chief science officer of the SENS Research Foundation, argues the biggest obstacle to immortality is simply a lack of funding to fuel research.

Even dissident and Wikileaks head Julian Assange confidently predicted de facto immortality would soon exist because people would upload their consciousness to an artificial intelligence and live forever as part of a simulation.

Its like a religion for atheists, Assange said.

Assange is not alone in identifying the fundamentally religious impulse behind the movement. In a recent piece at Aeon a digital magazine on science, philosophy, society and the arts Beth Singler of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion pointed out how despite itsscorn for religion, the AI community often sounds like a group of believers in a coming god.

[B]elievers in a transhuman future in which AI will allow us to transcend the human condition once and for all draw constantly on prophetic and end-of-days narratives to understand what theyre striving for, she writes.

The community has also generated thought experiments in which the singularity, the creation of artificial intelligence thatwill spark runaway growth, is framed as something akin to the formation of a god. For example, Rokos Basilisk posits an AI which, because it would conceive of itself being able to provide the greatest good for the greatest number, would actually punish humans, even after death, who do not labor to bring it into existence.

Joseph Farah, founder of WND and author of The Restitution of All Things, argues secularists and scientists who seek to escape the need for God ultimately and inevitably find themselves groping back towards the divine.

Theres an old saying, If you dont believe in something, youll believe in anything,' he said. Theres an absolute, fundamental need for human beings to believe in something.

If its not the God, it will be a god. Transhumanists offer an alternative god. You can be like God, the old lie the serpent told Eve in the Garden. You can still have eternal life apart from serving God and obeying His commandments. Its as simple as that. Transhumanists are peddling that kind of lie, again, so naturally they would have their own doctrines, gospel story, creation story, etc.

Ultimately, Farah maintains transhumanism and the quest for immortality, despite its supposedly secular orientation, leads to anti-Christian spiritual and even demonic connotations.

Absolutely, I think thats implied in the way this plays out, he said. Its about living forever. We all know these bodies wear out over time. But you can conquer death. Thats a spiritual idea and it comes from Gods consistent message to us. Its hardwired into our fallen genetic material. And, I believe it is at least inspired by the father of lies.

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Mark Biltz, the discoverer of the Blood Moons phenomenon and the author of Gods Day Timer, pointed out the term transhuman ultimately came out of religious literature.

He pointed to an article in the London Guardian profiling how a former Christian fell into transhumanism.The very word first appeared not in a work of science or technology but in Henry Francis Careys 1814 translation of Dantes Paradiso, the final book of the Divine Comedy, Biltz noted.

Dante, in this passage, is dramatizing the resurrection, the moment when, according to Christian prophecies, the dead will rise from their graves and the living will be granted immortal flesh, he said.

The vast majority of Christians throughout the ages have believed that these prophecies would happen supernaturally God would bring them about, when the time came. But since the medieval period, there has also persisted a tradition of Christians who believed that humanity could enact the resurrection through science and technology.

Whats amazing to me is how transhumanists are not just made up of atheists exclusively but Christian involvement has been growing exponentially, he said.

It is hard to believe how this is coming into mainstream Christianity! Indeed, there is even a Christian Transhumanist Association, headed by a preachers kid who was saturated in the Bible and Christian thought but has identified as a transhumanist since the mid-90s. He states in an article in Vice that we may see the next wave of Christians embrace transhumanist technologies as part of a sacred duty to participate with God in the redemption of the world.'

Biltz says he is troubled by such theological innovations.

When I read this I see how the deception of Christians in these last days will be so persuasive, he said. Christians are like the proverbial frogs in the boiling water. Believers need to get on Gods calendar so they realize we are at the time in history were we really need to be looking up, for our redemption draws nigh. Man has always wanted to become god or at least create a god in their own image. This just demonstrates how close we are to the coming of the Messiah.

The Bible story is more miraculous and astounding than you could have imagined. See the incredible proof of the unchanging nature of God and the exciting clues to what awaits at the end of days in Gods Day Timer by Mark Biltz, available as a book or documentary now in the WND Superstore.

Joel Richardson, the New York Times bestselling author of The Islamic Antichrist and Mystery Babylon, believes what is occurring is part of an old pattern in human behavior.

Mankind is essentially religious, whether they will admit it or not, he explained. If someone claims to deny the one, true God of the Bible, and every other god, they will inevitably find another created object to worship, most often themselves.

Richard said the Silicon Valley techno-gods of our time are among the most arrogant and most overt of the self-worshippers.

Perhaps understandably so. Never before in human history has technology and particularly the kinds of technology that is just on the horizon, so deeply challenge not only the essence of what it means to be human, but also our very perception of what it means to be God, he said.

Because of technology, mankind is entering a very dangerous spiritual phase of its existence. The tower of Babel is once again being erected. Those who are at the vanguard of these technologies, though denying true religion, understand the fundamentally religious nature of their work. This is why you will find so much of their work enshrouded in such religious language.

Richardson argues all of this was foretold in the Bible.

As always, it is mankinds arrogance that is his undoing, he said. Ultimately, these are those who the apostle Paul spoke of long ago when he said, that though they self-profess to be wise, they become fools, darkened in their understanding. After all, we all know how the story of the Tower of Babel ends. There is only one true God. He is the one who once warned, Though you say you are gods, you will die like mere men.'

One of the greatest mysteries in Scripture solved at last! Discover the terrifying truth behind the shadowy identity of one of the greatest horrors of the end times. New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson reveals the secret of Mystery Babylon, available now in the WND Superstore.

Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries suggests transhumanism is comparable to the theory of evolution in how it assertsknowledge will evolve to a higher level likely without God.

Man just has to play God or at least be godlike, she said. This advancement comes through cloning and genetic manipulation. Transhumanists look to the future and believe the human condition will see improvement in physical ability, lifespan, mental acuity and health. In addition, the world conditions can also be improved. Such technological advancements, some have said, would even redefine what it means to be human.

It says in the Bible that knowledge will increase. It doesnt suggest this knowledge will be used to good or evil, but I believe, like everything else today, man is trying to be like God. Man will abuse this increase in knowledge and understanding. Thus, transhumanism is almost a religion in itself.

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Pastor Carl Gallups, who examines current headlines in the light of end times prophecy in his book When The Lion Roars, argues the reason transhumanism so closely resembles a religion is because it was predicted in the Bible itself.

From the Garden of Eden to the book of Revelation we watch the story unfold, and the prediction that humankind would eventually, near the return of Jesus Christ, accept the very same lies that started in the Garden, the pastor explained.

Those lies can be summarized as: Man can be God-like, man can live forever without obeying Gods morality code, and therefore man can create God, life and morality in his own image, rather than the other way around. This is exactly what the transhumanists imagine themselves doing. Thus they are in a constant dilemma of trying to explain exactly what it is they are up to without falling into biblical language and imagery. If this scenario wasnt so clearly predicted thousands of years ago, complete with the somber results that are soon to come, it would almost be comical.

Gallups warned transhumanists are pursuing something the Bible warned about in the last days.

Even the transhumanist prophets predict an ultimate and soon-coming intelligence that will surpass any human capability perhaps even leading to unthinkable brutality, the pastor said. They even admit that what they are up to is, ultimately, rebellion against human existence as it has been given. Again, exactly what the Bible predicted. Demonically, that intelligence, rebellious spirit and brutality will manifest itself in the personage of the Antichrist. Transhumanists are not only saying basically the same thing as the Bible but are actually working feverishly to usher in the same biblical predictions they mock.

Gallups said ultimately Christians have a choice: whether they will place their faith in the promises of technology or the prophecies of Scripture thatseem to be predicting exactly whats happening today.

Which came first, the Word of God and the lies of the Garden of Eden or the modern transhumanists pursuit that matches the Bibles description of the last days? The answer is so obvious that apparently even some of the transhumanists see it the Word of God and its prophecies came first. Therefore, Im sticking with the original source, Gods holy Word.

Extraordinary events predicted centuries in advance are unfolding now. Here is your guide to the incredible prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes. Dont miss the bestselling sensation from one of Americas most prolific and beloved pastors. When the Lion Roars: Understanding the Implications of Ancient Prophecies for Our Time by Carl Gallups, available now in the WND Superstore.

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How to stay pro-tech when social media can eat young lives – New Scientist

Posted: July 1, 2017 at 8:45 am

Having a new social machinery to hand is no guarantor of success

Amy Lombard/The New York Times/Redux/Eyevine

By Pat Kane

FACEBOOKS Mark Zuckerberg is king of all he surveys in social media. His next horizon is near-mythical: techno-telepathy. Direct mind-to-mind contact is the ultimate communications technology, the mogul says.

Youll think a text or update and send it, affirmed his experimental tech director, Regina Dugan. The old Arthur C. Clarke line that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic seems evergreen in 2017.

Look around your streets or better, a mall, lobby or campus and youll see a generation of humans already deeply entangled in, and entranced by, their communication devices. As the next incessant blink, buzz or chirp pulls you towards the touchscreen yet again, havent you ever felt the urge accompanied by a twinge of your carpal tunnel to just respond, or receive, in a purely mental way?

Zuckerbergs aspiration to go from iPhone to psy-phone seems more like a shift in degree than kind. Yet what Ray Kurzweil once called the age of spiritual machines sometimes has to deal with the sweaty, fleshy, emotional reality of human beings as they are, particularly younger ones budding through those (so far) unavoidable heaves and surges we know as adolescence and early adulthood.

Going by these two fascinating ethnographies, even the digitally naturalised Generation Z (the kids of Gen X) are hardly ready for the direct and pure mingling of minds. Not while theres selfie-taking, sexting, cyberbullying or Yik Yakking to be done, day after day.

Yik Yak a controversial Twitter-style app which shut down in April this year provides Donna Freitass The Happiness Effect with its malevolent subtitle. Through hundreds of interviews with undergrads and graduates in 13 US colleges, Freitas lays out the regime of nervy identity construction through social media that occupies much of their emotional lives.

Nervy identity construction via social media occupies much of students emotional lives

Whether its due to their awareness that their timeline is a potential CV, or that their likes are an indicator of social status on campus, they are under pressure to display their best and most positive selves at all times. Now you dont have to wait for your 10-year high school reunion to show off how great your life is, says junior student Brandy. Its like that every day.

The anonymised Yik Yak app released a torrent of mutual abuse through some of Freitass campuses. Out from under the compulsion to display public happiness, the Repressed returned with a vengeance. Yik Yak was like a bad soap opera, said one. Another abandoned the service because I was overwhelmed by the racism and homophobia that exists on my campus.

So many of the tales here are about trying to establish some kind of autonomy over, or even just etiquette around, the endless connective demands of social media and smartphones. Ethics and mores are being established on the fly. Among Freitass students, the general attitude towards visually led dating apps where you display your wares to engage in hook-ups was an extended eewwww. For these febrile, nervy souls, steamy liaisons still need sociable encounters first.

Consistent with this reserve, the new ritual for courtly romance would seem to be the declaration that ones new boy/girlfriend is now Facebook official. When a couple agree to change their relationship status on the platform, they are (in one male students words) standing on top of a mountain and shouting it out to the world.

So far, so sweet, so familiar. The ecstasies of online communication are tempered by recognisable real-world (and real-body) anxieties and modesties.

Freitas is obviously a good pastor and counsellor to these fluttery kids, even as she mines them for research. But her matronising tone does remind you that Facebooks founding circumstance was as a campus social network, profiting from playing around with the status anxieties of Harvard University students.

The idea that the stifling managerialism behind Zuckerbergs network is seeking to enter your intimate mental life, at some stage in the neurotech future, feels like something that would invite neo-Luddism, if not outright rebellion.

One might have a romantic notion the agenda-setting SF novels of Cory Doctorow come to mind that the kids from the wrong side of the tracks would be the ones who demanded something different, less managed, more edgy, from their communication platforms. (Freitass students are clearly attending prestigious universities, where pressures to succeed keeps things normative.)

Jacqueline Ryan Vickerys book Worried About the Wrong Things has a cast of quirky, eccentric and talented young digital users, circulating in and around a working-class school near the Mexican border, with the pseudonym Freeway High. But the tale it tells is how, amid circumstances of socio-economic distress, education fails to be the haven that can generate possibilities and progress. And one predictor of school failure is whether it uses digital technology from a harm-driven rather than an opportunity-driven perspective.

The book has an intriguing tension. The authors teacherly interests are evident she promotes a connected learning model that imagines it can bring all the learning moments of a pupil, wherever and whenever they happen, into one educational framework.

Petty and futile constraints on classroom tech use sets a tone of defeatism and alienation

Yet the stories that unfold when she talks to the Freeway High students are pretty difficult to assimilate into any inclusive teaching system. In complete contrast to the compulsive communicators of Freitass book, two sensitive young Latino high-school film-makers (Sergio and Javier) often chose not to post their material on YouTube because they are insecure about its quality, and worried it might harm their career prospects, precarious and tentative as they are.

Freeway High has a classic teacher-liberator of the Dead Poets Society type a Mr Lopez who runs evening Cinematic Art Projects and Digital Media Clubs for the pupils. But, as Vickery charts in great and persuasive detail, the schools prevailing harm-driven view of social media muffles and excludes the digital creativity that already thrums through these kids lives. Petty and futile constraints on classroom tech use, and on the kind of digital material that children can bring in from their own enthusiasms, sets a tone of defeatism and alienation among some of the Freeway High kids.

The author has an obvious favourite pupil, a disruptive, deprived but poetic girl called Selena, with whom she spends considerable time. But she hears later that Selena has dropped out of school in the midst of her college preparations, and now has no connection with her. The book is strewn with tales of exclusion and struggle, in which parental backgrounds are chaotic and the demands of care, commuting and finding a place to live bear down too heavily on digitally ambitious youth.

Across both studies, and no matter the social positioning of each set of users, these young people evidently know they have a new kind of tangible social machinery in their hands (and minds): a machinery made of devices, networks and digital information, with which they can make a mark, pooling their knowledge and consciousness.

As responsible pedagogues, Vickery and Freitas are institutionalised (and institutionalising). And with Mark Zuckerberg as with any Silicon Valley visionary mogul you have to follow the profit-driven interest, not just gawp at the transhuman ambition.

Somewhere between the caring educators and the corporate disruptor, Generation Z is forging its own new society out of a digital revolution still in its early days. The streets will have their uses. And young, yearning bodies wont be ignored, either. The Happiness Effect: How social media is driving a generation to appear perfect at any cost Donna Freitas Oxford University Press

Worried About the Wrong Things: Youth, risk, and opportunity in the digital world Jacqueline Ryan Vickery MIT Press

This article appeared in print under the headline Best behaviour?

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An Interview with Rick Rosner on Women and the Future (Part 1) – The Good Men Project (blog)

Posted: June 29, 2017 at 11:43 pm

Editors note: Scott Douglas Jacobsen interviews his personal and professional friend Rick Rosner, who claims to have the worlds second highest IQ. Errol Morris interviewed him for the TV series First Person. This is an excerpt of that interview, originally some 100,000 words. Additional excerpted segments will appear here on The Good Men Project in the coming weeks.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Many, arguably most, women have greater difficulties than their male counterparts in equivalent circumstances.Their welfare means our welfare men and women (no need to enter the thorny, confused wasteland of arguments for social construction of gender rather than sex; one need not make a discipline out of truisms.).

Net global wellbeing for women improves slowly, but appears to increase in pace over the years millennia, centuries, and decades.Far better in some countries; decent in some countries; and far worse, even regressing, in others.Subjugation with denial of voting, driving, choice in marriage, choice in children, honour killings, andsevere practices of infibulation, clitoridectomy, or excision among the varied, creative means of femalegenital mutilation based in socio-cultural or religiouspractices; objectification with popular media violence and sexuality, internet memes and content, fashion culture to some extent, even matters of personal preference such as forced dress or coerced attire, or stereotyping of attitudinal and behavioral stances.All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks and permit us to stand upright on the ground which God intended us to occupy.Sarah Moore Grimke said.

Everyone owes women.International obligations and goals dictate straightforward statements such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations (UN) in addition to simple provision of first life.MDG 3, 4, and 5relate in direct accordance with this proclamation in an international context mind you.MDG 3 states everyones obligations, based on agreed upon goals, for promotion of gender equality and theempowerment of women. MDG 4 states everyones obligations for reduction ofinfant mortality rate. MDG 5 states everyones obligations towards improvement ofmaternalhealth.All MDGs proclaim completion by 2015.We do not appear to have sufficed in obligations up to the projected deadline of 2015 with respect to all of the MDGs in sum.

In addition to these provisions, we have the conditions set forth in theThe International Bill of Rights for WomenbyThe Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) of the United Nations Development Funds (UNDF) consideration and mandate of the right of women to be free from discrimination and sets the core principles to protect this right. Wheredo you project the future of women in the next 5, 10, 25, 100 years, and further? In general and particular terms such as the trends and the concomitant subtrends, what about the MDGs and numerous other proclaimed goals to assist women especially in developing areas of the world?

Rick Rosner: Predicting gender relations beyond a century from now is somewhat easier than predicting the short-term. In the transhuman future, bodily form, including sex, will be changeable. People will take different forms. And when anyone can change sexes with relative ease, there will be less gender bias.

Lets talk about the transhuman future (100 to 300 years from now) in general, at least as its presented in science fiction that doesnt suck. Three main things are going on:

Theres pervasive networked computing. Everything has a computer in it, the computers all talk to each other, computing costs nothing, data flying everywhere. Structures are constantly being modified by swarms of AI builders. A lot of stuff happens very fast.

Your mind-space isnt permanently anchored to your body. Consciousness will be mathematically characterized, so itll be transferrable, mergeable, generally mess-withable.

People choose their level of involvement in this swirling AI chaos. Most people wont live at the frenzied pinnacle of tech its too much. There are communities at all different levels of tech.

Also, horrible stuff old and new happens from time to time bio-terror, nanotech trouble, economic imperialism, religious strife, etc.

For more about this kind of thing, read Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow, David Marusek, or Neal Stephenson.

So, two hundred years from now, gender wont be much of a limiting factor, except in weird throwback communities. In the meantime, idiots will continue to be idiots, but to a lesser extent the further we go into the future. No one whos not a retard is standing up for the idea of men being the natural dominators of everything. If it seems like were not making progress towards gender equality, it may be because theres a huge political/economic/media faction that draws money and power from the more unsavoury old-fashioned values, with its stance that anyone whos concerned about racism or sexism is nave and pursuing a hidden agenda to undermine American greatness.

Dumb beliefs that arent propped up by doctrine eventually fade away, and believing that men or any elite group is inherently superior is dumb, particularly now and into the future as any purportedly superior inherent abilities become less significant in relation to our augmented selves. Across the world, the best lazy, non-specifically targeted way to reduce gender bias is to open up the flow of information, serious and trivial (however you do that).

In the very short run, maybe the U.S. elects a female President. Doubt this will do that much to advance the cause of women, because Hillary Clinton has already been in the public eye for so long shes more a specific person than a representative of an entire gender. Is thinking that dumb? I dunno. I do know that her gender and who she is specifically will be cynically used against her. I hope that if elected, shes less conciliatory and more willing to call out BS than our current President.

In the U.S., theres currently some attention being paid to rape. Will the media attention to rape make rapey guys less rapey? I dunno. Will increaseattention to rape in India reduce instances there? I dunno. A couple general trends may slowly reduce the overall occurrence of sexual coercion and violence. One trend is the increased flow of information and the reduction of privacy cameras everywhere, everybody willing to talk about everything on social media, victims being more willing to report incidents, better understanding of what does and does not constitute consent. The other trend is the decreasing importance of sex. My baseline is the 70s, when I was hoping to lose my virginity. Sex was a huge deal because everything else sucked food, TV, no video games, no internet and people looked good skinny from jogging and cocaine and food not yet being engineered to be super-irresistible. Today, everybodys fat, and theres a lot of other fun stuff to do besides sex.

I think that some forms of sexual misbehaviour serial adultery, some workplace harassment will be seen as increasingly old-school as more and more people will take care of their desire for sexual variety via the vast ocean of internet porn. Of course, sexual misbehaviour isnt only about sex its also about exercising creepy power or a perverse need to be caught and punished so, unfortunately, that wont entirely go away. During the past century, sexual behaviour has changed drastically the types of sex that people regularly engage in, sex outside of marriage, tolerance for different sexual orientations, freely available pornography and sexual information, the decline in prostitution you could say, cheesily, that sex is out of the closet. And sex thats not secretive or taboo loses some of its power.

But I could be wrong. According to a 2007 study conducted at two U.S. public universities, one fifth of female college students studied suffered some degree of sexual assault.

A version of this post was originally published on In-SightJournal.com and is republished here with permission.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Butcher review – ThisisXbox (press release) (blog)

Posted: June 26, 2017 at 4:43 pm

Butcher is essentially a fast based 2D side scrolling bullet hell shooter from Transhuman Design and published by Crunching Koalas. Originally released on the PC last October, Butcher is a very hard game; indeed the games own tagline is The Easiest Mode is Hard. Beyond that is Harder, Hardest and then Impossible. So is it really as difficult as it seems?

You are a cyborg charged with exterminating the last of humanity. This most reductivist plot equates to shooting everything that moves, and everything that moves is shooting at you. The pixelated visuals deliberately evoke the likes of Duke Nukem and DOOM as does the just keep moving and shoot gameplay itself. Controls are a bit tricky to begin with and important to master, with the right stick and right trigger aiming your reticule and firing, whilst the jump button is on the left trigger. Movement is on the left stick with down allowing you to drop through most floors. Clever level design adds a lot of verticality meaning you are always leaping about on the move from the constant threat that the many enemies bring. As the difficulty levels ramp up, they take away a third of your health and there are no longer any medkits or armour drops, as if it wasnt already tough enough.

Each level comprises of 4 progressively longer and more difficult grim and grimy stages. Quite often you will get locked into a room and wont be able to progress until you have cleared out all of the grunts and dive bombing jet pack wearing enemies. Youll pick up old faithful weapons like assault rifles, shotguns, rail guns and of course, chainsaws to tear through and obliterate the waves of enemies. You will paint the screen crimson with their bloodied entrails as they scream in agony. A loud throbbing industrial metal soundtrack again reminds us of those early 3D shooters, and it does capture the spirit of DOOM. This game is hardcore and it is tremendous fun.

You only get one life to complete a level, the health bar drops quickly on damage and often one false move means youll have to start over again. You can certainly clear the early levels in just a few minutes, but after a while, as the levels in the stages get longer and more complex, the red mist and controller rage begins to seep in, and I find at that point its best to walk away for a bit. This is definitely a game where you will need to Git Gud. I found I was not particularly Gud and I will admit I laughed when the repeat a single level 10 times achievement popped. Before any others had. I should add that if youre prepared to sacrifice your self respect, a casual mode has been included. This whacks your health up to 400% and doubles the values of pick ups. Apparently

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Video and Photos: Trans Marchers Celebrate the Passing of Trans Human Rights Bill – Torontoist

Posted: June 24, 2017 at 1:45 pm

June 24, 2017 at 11:25 am news

I'm marching today because I finally have the freedom to be the person I always wanted to be"

By Zach Ruiter Photos by Mitchel Raphael

The mood was jubilant as thousandstook part in the 9th annual Toronto Trans MarchonFridayevening. Marcherstook off from Bloor Street at Church, headed southdown Yonge Street, turned left on Carlton Street, endingup inAllan Gardens.

This years march was the fifth year the procession has been officiallypermitted to proceed down Yonge.

For Shadmith Manzour, who marched on Friday, the Trans March is about highlighting the capacity for everybody to really be true to themselves and be proud of who they are.

Many participants were celebrating the recent passing of federal trans rights legislation, Bill C-16, which introduces protection for gender identity and gender expression within the Canadian Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code. We were [one of] the first countries to pass equal marriage and we are the first country to grant rights to trans people, said Rachel Lauren Clark, a Trans March participant.

Somemarchers were reluctant to celebrate the new protections. Theres huge problems with homelessness, with suicide, and violence against transgender people especially trans women of colour, Qaiser, another marcher, says. And well need a lot more than Bill C-16 to address those problems.

The Trans March has established itself as one of the most important events in thePride calendar because it is equal parts a celebration of individualityand a defiant act of resistance and protest against the everydaytransphobia in our culture.

Filed under Cheri DiNovo, kristyn wong-tam, Paul Ainslie, Pride Toronto, Bill C-16, LGBTQ, PFLAG, Pride 2017, toronto trans march, trans rights, transgender

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Meet The Biohacking Pioneers Who Are Redesigning Their Own Bodies – Co.Design (blog)

Posted: June 23, 2017 at 5:44 am

By Meg Miller 3 minute Read

In 2012, 25-year-oldJames Young was in a rail accident in which he lost both his left arm and left leg. An avid video gamer, Young taught himself how to use a controller using only one hand and, occasionally, his teeth. At the 2016BodyHacking Con in Austin, Young debuted a $76,000 carbon-fiber arminspired by the video gameMetal Gear Solid. The high-tech limbhe designed not only gives Young the dexterity todo most of the things he could before his accident, it also charges his phone, displays his social media feeds, and features a mount for a miniature dronecontrolled froma panel onhis forearm.

[Photo: courtesy David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher]Young, who designed the limb along withprosthetic sculptor Sophie de Oliveira Barata, is 1of 30-odd subjects shot for an ongoing photo series by photographer David Vintiner and creative director Gem Fletcher. The series, Transhuman, documents a rapidly growing international movement of the same name. Spanning the fields ofmedicine, technology, philosophy, art,and academia, transhumanism looks at the ways technology canenhance the physical and psychological capabilities of humans beyond the natural limits of biology. Like Young, some within the movement are developing bionic limbs for differently abled bodies. Others experiment with machines to enhance their sense of sight or touch.

Fletcher and Vintiner discovered the transhumanism community through a meet-up that takes place in the basement of a University College London building. In 2015, the pair released partof the ongoing series, called Futurists, which captured many of the main figures in Londons transhumanism scene.

The latest series of images,Transhuman, expands the scope to subjects throughout Europe and the United States.The movement itself is in intense flux, Fletcher tell Co.Design. Its going through a period of rapid growth, so there are new people in the movement all the time. Its truly a shape-shifting subject matter.

[Photo: courtesy David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher]Fletcher andVintiners subjects frequently introduce them to others in the movement; Fletcher says that the community, though international, is relatively tight-knit and inclusive. Meet-ups like the one at UCL, or the BodyHacking conference Young attended in Texas, have made it easy for members to meeteach other. Some, like Aisen Caro, who invented a set of headphones that allows humans to experience echo-location, are scholars. (Caro is aPhD candidate in human informatics at Tsukuba University). Others, like the London-based F_T_R design studio, are inventing ways to blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds. F_T_Rs Skinterfaceproject is a full-body suit equipped with actuators that convey a sense of touch to the wearer while she is experiencing a virtual worldwhile wearing a VR headset, for example.

[Photo: courtesy David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher]Another technology featured in theTranshuman seriesis a fantastical-looking wearable called the Eyesect, designed by the interdisciplinary lab The Constitute. The Eyesect is an otherworldlyheadset that covers the users head completely, and comes equipped with two handheld cameras. The camera feeds what they are seeing onto a screen inside the headset, giving viewers a sense of 360-degree vision. You can move around the camera eyes, so that you have complete freedom to look up, down, forward, and backward all at the same time, says Fletcher. It gives humans the experience that lots of different animals have with this expansive spatial perception.

[Photo: courtesy David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher]Fletcher and Vintiner will continue the series, traveling next to Russia to shoot subjects there, and adding insome film and sound elements to the project as well. The movement is evolving at an exciting rate, says Fletcher, andmore people are gettinginvolved,particularly when it comes to biohacking. The most popular forms of small bodyhacks theyve seen are peopleexperimenting with DIY RFID (radio-frequency identification) implantsthat allow themtounlock doors or turn on lights with the swipe of a hand, for instance. Also popular in this community areimplantable biomagnets,whichallow people to interact with the world in new wayslike by picking up magnetic objects with the touch of a finger.

Its becoming more accessible, Fletcher says of the transhumanism movement. We keep seeing more and more people with chips or small implants. Its almost like the popularity ofpiercings in the 90s.

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.

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Our Outdated Debates – First Things

Posted: at 5:44 am

Could the intensity of Americas abortion debate be like the last burst of light from a dying star? Thanks to social trends, especially those arising from technology and transhumanism, our familiar forms of argument are becoming obsolete.

The New York Times recently ran a series of opinion pieces for and against abortion, framing the debate in familiar terms. The pro-life movement is increasingly young, female, and spunkyso it does not appear to be on its way out. Statistics indicate that Americans, especially younger Americans, favor some restrictions on abortion, and a record number of millennials think abortion should be illegal altogether. Meanwhile, abortion-rights advocates have turned up their rhetoric, seeking to celebrate or normalize abortion. Presenting abortion stories as a badge of honor is increasingly popular. Teen Vogue has spent the better part of a year aggressively marketing abortion to pre-pubescent girls.

Structured in this way, this debate will have no winner and no loser. Abortion and the arguments surrounding it will slowly become antiquated. I believe this for three reasons.

Abortion rates are decliningas are rates of conception. In 2016, birth rates in the United States hit an all-time low: 59.6 births per 1,000 women. Both these trends are due in part to the effectiveness of long-term contraception. Abortion providers have hitched their wagons to universal access to low-cost contraception; ironically, this choice is hurting their business. It turns out pregnancy is a pre-condition for abortion, and Western Europe and North America are no longer fertile markets. This likely accounts for Planned Parenthoods aggressive efforts to relax abortion restrictions abroad, in Africa and South America.

The fewer abortions and fewer pregnancies we have, the less salient the abortion issue will become. The pro-life movement has done little to combat the poverty of imagination that makes children into commodities to be discarded or fetishized. This singularity of vision means that we have failed to make a positive case for children as a social good, a sign of a society that is vibrant and alive, a source of joy, and a sign of hope. Addressing this poverty is a complex intellectual task, one that requires articulating the humanness of the human, and presenting children and childrearing as fundamental to the common good. It requires making a case for having children. This task is more difficult, and for a long time it seemed less urgent, than arguing against violent death and Roe v. Wade. But today we see the consequences of not adequately attending to it.

Finally, technological advances are enabling transhumanist ideologies and eroding our understanding the humanness of the human.

Transhumanism holds that, with the aid of technology, human beings can and should evolve beyond our current physical and mental limitations. Transhumanists point to the history of human manipulation of the environment, of medicine, and of bodily ornamentation to argue that transhumanism is merely one step on the road of progress. Absent a persuasive and compelling vision of human nature and human dignity (in other words, of the humanness of the human), transhumanism exerts enormous pressure on the social imagination. In less than a decade, scientists have perfected human cloning and gene editing. They have created the first inter-species entitya human-pig chimeraand developed a functional artificial womb. Such technologies hold tremendous possibilities, but it would be nave to imagine that they dont pose fundamental challenges to our ideas of what it means to be human.

These scientific and technological innovations should spark lively debate and fresh articulations of what it means to be human and what role technology should have in shaping culture. Yet the sacred neutrality of science shields technology from serious critique. In a study released earlier this year, scientists from the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia detailed artificial womb technology, which has the possibility of revolutionizing care for pre-maturely born infants. This study seems to have been met with general indifference.

What public conversation did take place occurred within a legal-moralistic framework, a framework that fails to persuade when we lack a vision of what it means to be human. Pro-choice and pro-life advocates both focused on the same reality: the visibility of developing life. Pro-choice advocates were predictably concerned that the advent of artificial womb technology will have the adverse effect of humanizing the unborn. Pro-life advocates, on the other hand, expressed cautious enthusiasm that artificial wombs might humanize the unborn.

Scientists and researchers tell everyone not to worry. The lead researcher on artificial womb technology insists that scientists will never push the limits of viability to the point where womens bodies are functionally replaced by technology, and human gestation becomes mechanized. When you do that, he says, you open a whole new can of worms. But thisassurancerings hollow in an age governed by an ethos of what we can do, we may do. Thus, when legitimate ethical concerns are met with dismissals like Thats a pipe dream at this point, one ought to beware the qualifier, at this point. The scientific community has shown very little ability to regulate itself.

Technological possibility will increasingly eclipse the very terms of our debate over abortion, and I suspect that abortion politics as we know it is on its way to being a relic of the pasta particularly brutal way we eliminated human life back when humans used to have children.

Jessica Keating is director of the Office of Human Dignity and Life Initiatives in the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.

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New iOS Games and Apps of the Week: PS4 PlayLink and more – The iPad Guide

Posted: June 16, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Sony announced PlayLink for the PlayStation 4 at E3 this week. The new app allows users to play games on their console by using the touchscreen of their iOS device. Sony previewed a few upcoming PlayLink titles that will be availble at launch. Check out the descriptions and trailers below.

PlayLink will be available for free on both the App Store and Google Play on July 4th.

That's You! - An audacious comedy quiz which challenges you and up to five friends to get personal and find out what you really think about each other. Featuring over 1,000 varied questions, reveal your daring side by taking part in doodle challenges and snapping selfies.

Hidden Agenda - This narrative-driven adventure drops you into a detective thriller rife with chilling moral dilemmas that may determine life or death. Up to six of you can join in to make tough decisions about how the story unfolds, but not all of you will be working towards the same objective

Knowledge is Power - Answer a variety of trivia questions and outsmart up to five opponents, with power plays and challenges thrown in to keep you on your toes. This game is all about speed and accuracy in the face of some wickedly crafted distractions from your opponents are you up to the task?

Frantics - Arcade-style fun and manic mini-games are all the rage in Frantics, where you and up to three friends have to face off in a variety of challenges. Bluff, battle, negotiate and co-operate your way to victory, but beware mischievous host The Fox is also on hand to stir things up.

SingStar Celebration - Hit the high notes with upbeat tracks, massive hits and your favorite party classics. Whether its your birthday, Christmas, New Years Eve or even just a Saturday night SingStar Celebration is the perfect playlist to any party, with up to eight players able to join in the fun. Use your SingStar mic or combine your smartphone with the SingStar Mic App, and get ready for your big moment.

Players who pre-register for Pocket Knights 2 at http://www.pocketknights2.com will receive exclusive rewards. The sequel to the hit RPG is set to launch worldwide on the App Store after soft launching on Google Play. You can visit the mini site link posted above or Facebook for more details about the game.

Feral Interactive announced that Hitman: The Complete First Season is coming to macOS on June 20th. The Mac version will include all six international missions and three bonus missions from the Linux version of the game.

Here are this week's noteworthy App Store releases:

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Colin McEnroe: It’s 2027, Hartford’s On The Cutting Edge – Hartford Courant

Posted: June 1, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Hartford. 2027.

The city has seen several big companies notably Aetna pull out. It has razed its old civic or XL center and ripped apart its expensive Riverfront Recapture Project. It has endured a long and painful highway reconstruction.

The city is thriving.

"Do you see those new riverfront condos? J.K. Rowling just bought one. She's not in America that much, but she doesn't like what happened to New York. She likes the pace and the creative vibe here."

The person speaking is Arunan Arulampalam, one of Hartford's two mayors. The other one is a computer.

"We're the first major city to use URBOXX, an Artificial Intelligence mayor," says Arulampalam. "As mayor, URBOXX runs 2,000 simulations per day of every city function. It has statutory authority to make micro-adjustments to save money or improve services. We're always on, always synchronous, always optimizing. There are no surprises, whether you're talking about the grand list or on-street parking. So I have more time for deep thoughts about policy."

When Aetna departed, its former campus was converted into shared "maker space," rented cheaply to designers and inventors and owned by a public-private partnership. The formerly deserted building now hums with 3D and 4D printers, holographics and hydroponics.

Very quickly, the real estate around Old Aetna became New Brooklyn a magnet for arts innovators, trend leaders and hipsters priced out of the five boroughs and the Bay Area.

"It was weird," said J. 8.0 Scallion, a transhuman restaurateur who relocated from Boston. "They had all this semi-built space they weren't using, including this fabulous old diner that has been sitting with a For Sale sign for years."

Voila, the Coasis, Scallion's edgy "scientific dining" establishment in partnership with nearby Jackson Labs. Each meal is customized for the individual diner, whose genetic and biometric data is crunched way before the celery sticks.

"Everything we were doing and thinking was wrong, but nobody knew that." So says Colin McEnroe, 72-year-old columnist for the Hartford Courant, now in the 45th year of his column.

"We were worried about big insurance companies when that industry was going to be brought to its knees. Autonomous cars are 15 times as safe as the old kind, and this generation hates owning stuff anyway. The National Public Option was essentially the end of private health insurance as we knew it. What's left for these companies to do?"

Former Aetna employees fondly known as Aefugees have drifted back into the maker spaces where they're collaborating on new products like short-span micro-insurance.

"This generation doesn't want to insure a car or a house. It wants to insure Tuesday afternoon. So we find ways to do that," explained Qi Qi, a principal in Crystal Blue Math, a three-person innovation lab in the old Georgian brick Aetna headquarters.

Across the street from the old campus is the former Cathedral of St. Joseph, now Godspace, a high-tech religious co-worship site that reconfigures itself with holographic overlays to comfort and inspire each of the 11 religious denominations that share it. When the Roman Catholic Archdiocese underwent parish consolidation in 2017, "we saw the handwriting on the apse," Auxiliary Bishop Adam Wang recalled. "We're still a Roman Catholic cathedral. In fact, using virtual reality, we can give you your choice of Catholic cathedrals from six different centuries and five different countries."

Hartford finally stopped patching up its creaky civic center, kicked its addiction to ice hockey and, in its place, put up a new state-of-the-art arena with the 10-gigabit capacity needed for new sports like competitive spectator video gaming. The new facility is operated almost entirely by robots, programmed to slide walls and seating sections around depending on the combination of events on a given night.

Tonight's bill includes an intimate concert by singer-song writer Luke Bronin, the former Hartford mayor who re-devoted himself to music when his wife Sara was named Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Murphy administration.

Bronin finished third on "America's Got Second-Career Talent," and his new album "Bro-Storm" is being heavily downloaded.

"There was a moment there in 2017 when we seemed to be planning a 1987 city," he recalled. "Thank God we ditched that idea!"

Colin McEnroe appears from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays on WNPR-FM (90.5). He can be reached at Colin@wnpr.org.

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