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Category Archives: Transhumanist
Posted: August 18, 2021 at 2:42 am
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin is on a mission to make humans immortal. Buterin, 27, proposes the idea that aging is an engineering problem.
He is not alone in his combined interest in Bitcoin and biohacking. Famous biomedical aging researcher Aubrey de Grey, Xanadu architect and Agoric chief scientist Mark Miller, Bitcoin Cash billionaire Roger Ver and former chief technology officer of Coinbase and a16z general partner Balaji Srinivasan, are all fascinated by the pursuit of longevity.
De Grey recently helped advise a decentralized collective funding longevity research. He says:
I have been gratified since the beginning of blockchain to see the enormous fanbase that I and the longevity movement have in there.
Miller, alongside his engineering hall-of-fame accomplishments, is a senior research fellow at the Foresight Institute, a not-for-profit founded in 1986 with the aim of advancing technology for the long-term benefit of life.
Im very much involved in this new world of crypto commerce, often referred to as the blockchain sector, he says. Im very hopeful about that as creating an ecosystem in which secure software will dominate because insecure software results in massive losses quickly, with no recourse.
Srinivasans Twitter bio describes his vision as: Immutable money, infinite frontier, eternal life. #Bitcoin. Srinivasan states that the ultimate purpose of technology is to eliminate mortality and life extension is the most important thing we can invent.
Blockchain communities are clearly excited about longevity. But what does cryptocurrency have to do with life extension, and where might this future be headed?
It turns out that the link between crypto and cryogenics stretches back to core contributors, and the Cypherpunks mailing list and its links to transhumanist groups, including the first person to transact Bitcoin with Satoshi, Hal Finney.
Crypto philanthropists are donating significant wealth to this area, which is typically difficult to garner mainstream support for. They may be the only people on the planet optimistic enough to fund tech that currently only exists in sci-fi novels.
According to Buterin, longevity is a battle worth fighting for. Buterin donated $25 million in SHIB cryptocurrency tokens to the Future of Life Institute in June 2021 and has donated over $350,000 to the SENS Research Foundation to reimagine ageing.
He discussed the topic in recent podcast interviews with the likes of Lex Fridman and Tim Ferriss saying that life extension is definitely really important to me.
I think I hope to see the concept of seeing your parents and grandparents die just slowly disappear from the public consciousness as a thing that happens over the course of half a century.
Buterin has emphasized his adherence to the moral philosophy of effective altruism. This value, known to transhumanists as the moral urgency of saving lives, is perhaps what motivated his donations of dog coins to both COVID-19 relief in India and life-extension.
Just even the process of aging turning into something that just becomes reversible and it being a regular thing for people to live one and a half, two centuries and then go even further from there, Buterin states.
Pinned in Buterins Twitter is an essay called The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant by professor Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute. It argues that allowing death from old age is unethical. If you view aging as a disease, the urgency to support the transhumanist project also makes sense.
While we still lack effective and acceptable means for slowing the aging process, we can identify research directions that might lead to the development of such means in the foreseeable future, states Bostrom. The key to freeing humanity from the dragon tyrant of aging, is funding. The new riches from crypto are key.
Bitcoin.com founder Roger Ver has already signed up to be cryogenically frozen. Rather than investing in cryptocurrency stuff, I want to focus on the extreme life extension technologies, because if you die, you cant enjoy your life anymore, Ver told Cointelegraph. Hes so confident in the tech, he even considered being cryogenically frozen as a legitimate alternative to going to prison in 2002.
DAOs are also taking part in this life extension renewal. There is a strong overlap of crypto people and longevity people, Vincent Weisser, core team member at VitaDAO tells Cointelegraph. VitaDAO funds longevity research and exceeded its initial token raise funding target of $490,000 in June 2021.
Now, they are working with popular blockchain crowd-funding platform Gitcoin to include a future funding category for longevity and life extension.
Transhumanist philanthropy and funding at scale holds the potential to significantly impact longevity research and the transhumanist project.
Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that promotes the use of technology to enhance the human condition. This includes information technology, genetic engineering, and artificial intelligence for radical extension of human lifespan, augmentation of physical and intellectual capacities, space colonization, and super-intelligent machines.
The goal is not just life extension, but more, to the point of becoming superhuman. Although the transhumanist pursuit of post-humanity is often thought of as medical, the gambit of transhumanist technologies includes economic and social institutional design and cultural development.
Like crypto communities, transhumanism is grounded in a vision of evolution and individual freedom of choice. In practice, this leads to a sense of personal responsibility for contributing to solutions, such as biohacking or making provisions for being cryogenically frozen and one day hopefully reanimated. The goal of the transhumanist project for society is one based on freedom in determining social arrangements, enabled by self-generating systems and spontaneous order. This description of perpetual, open systems is similar to blockchain.
Not everyone thinks eternal life, or the philosophy underpinning it, is a good idea. Political economist Francis Fukuyama calls transhumanism the most dangerous idea in the world and argues it is a strange libertarian movement whose crusaders want nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological constraints. He lists the risks of the fraught nature of humankind to want to live forever, the effects on equality between the haves and the have nots, and that the essence of humanity is mortality. Yet, transhumanism has a long history in crypto communities.
Transhumanist values are reflected in the ideological underpinnings of blockchain communities around anarchy and autonomy, self-improvement, and a long-term mindset.
Transhumanist ideas have long existed in the technology communities that pioneered the core tenets of public blockchains. For example, cryptography pioneer Ralph Merkle (inventor of public key distribution and Merkle trees) considered himself a transhumanist, publishing on such matters as The Molecular Repair of the Brain.
Furthermore, there was substantial cross-pollination of ideas between the Cypherpunks mailing list, which discussed ideas on privacy and digital cash throughout the 1990s and 2000s in the lead-up to the invention of Bitcoin in 2008, and the Extropian mailing list.
Extropy is the extent of a systems intelligence, information, order, vitality, and capacity for improvement. According to 1998s Principles of Extropy published by president of the Extropy Institute, Max Moore, extropians are those who seek to increase extropy. The core principles, refined in The Extropist Manifesto in 2010, are endless eXtension, meaning perpetual growth and progress in all aspects of human endeavor; transcending the restrictions of authoritarianism, surveillance, or social control; overcoming property rights, including IP and money, by sharing knowledge, culture, and resources; intelligence, including independent thinking and personal responsibility; and smart machines, specifically the attainment of Friendly Artificial Intelligence that exceeds human ability, through funding and favorable legislation.
Extropians advocate and explore the philosophies of transhumanism (technological enhancement), extropy (improving the human condition), and the future. Numerous prominent cypherpunks also subscribed to the Extropian mailing list, including co-founders of the cypherpunk movement Timothy C. May and Eric Hughes.
Another active member of the extropians was Hal Finney. Finney was co-developer of the first anonymous remailer, the first person to transact Bitcoin with Satoshi and the first maintainer of the Bitcoin codebase. He was cryogenically frozen when he passed away in the hope of living in the future alongside his wife, Fran, who noted that Hal liked the present. But he looked towards the future. For this community, technologies like digital cash offered a way of long-term thinking about the future of humanity, transhumanism, and solutions and preventions for cryogenics, outer space, and catastrophic environmental or societal collapse.
The cypherpunks interest in extropianism, and vice versa, was concerned with building infrastructure today that would sustain the future of human evolution. In some ways, this makes sense.
In order for ones cryogenic suspended animation to be paid for, maintained and reversed to wake them up in the far-flung future where science advances to the point where this aspiration is realized, there needs to be an incentive. In 1994, Wired magazine reported over 27 frozen people (technically 17 frozen heads and 10 entire bodies) at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the same company that Roger Ver has signed up with.
Immortality is mathematical, not mystical, stated Mike Perry, their overseer. The hope is that Bitcoin will be a resilient long-term incentive for someone to wake up Hal, Fran and other friends. Herein lies the need for long-term blockchain infrastructure, to last as a secure monetary reward until the century when unfreezing is possible.
Among the principles of extropianism set out by Moore is intelligent technology, meaning technologies that bring beneficial results, including genetic engineering, life-extending bio-sciences, intelligence intensifiers, smarter interfaces to swifter computers, neural-computer integration, worldwide data networks, virtual reality, intelligent agents, swift electronic communications, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, neural networks, artificial life, off-planet migration, and molecular nanotechnology.
Expect to see more life extension, brain-machine interfaces, limb regeneration, curing deafness, bionic sight and more incredible feats in the next decade, states Srinivasan. Transhumanists predict an inevitable singularity, when technology becomes intelligent, uncontrollable and irreversible, to occur around 2035. Blockchain is part of this technology stack.
The lofty, futuristic ideas of transhumanists depend on resilience and digital infrastructure. This is especially true for the goal of friendly artificial intelligence, which is seen as an enabling condition for rapid development across all other core principles of the project. Thanks to blockchain technology, and blockchain philanthropy, we are beginning to have the resources to do it.
An immutable worldwide computer enables a decentralized autonomous organization to allow our uploaded brain image to automatically coordinate with friendly artificial intelligence in a decentralized, freedom-loving way.
Blockchains immutability makes it the perfect long-term infrastructure. Cypherpunks were paranoid about Orwellian dystopias in which authorities would rewrite history to match state propaganda. The architectural and political decentralization of public blockchains means that no one can tamper with, control or delete the record of history. This makes it the perfect record-keeping infrastructure if we are going to live forever.
This is essential when it comes to your brain image or your Bitcoin balance. In order to document who owns what coins when you are cryogenically frozen and woken up in the next century, you need resilient, long-term, tamper-proof blockchains. The values of independence and immutability are essential to both crypto enthusiasts and transhumanists. Buterin states:
Its great that we have people trying to upload or improve brain scanning. Its also great that we have people including cryonics, so we could just go to sleep in the freezer and eventually, hopefully, sometime in the future  anyone who gets cryogenically frozen will be able to wake up.
The combination of transhumanist philosophy, blockchain technology, community obsession and money enable whole new possibilities. The transhumanist-blockchain vision is that we will all be connected, humans and machine intelligence, through decentralized, automatically executing smart contracts and marketplaces.
Blockchains provide a platform infrastructure to enable a host of technologically advanced human-machine futures. One example is a decentralized marketplace for AI, such as SingularityNET by artificial intelligence researcher, transhumanist, and CEO Ben Goertzel. Here, intelligent computational agents buy, sell and barter over work for digital tokens via a blockchain.
In The Transhumanism Handbook, Melanie Swan predicts that crypto cloudminds, in which mind node peers interact through multicurrency pay channels of digital denominations, will algorithmically enforce good behavior between humans and machines through the privacy and transparency of blockchains. According to Srinivasan, this could also lead to cloud cities, which allow their members to negotiate with other jurisdictions and crowdfund territories in the physical world.
Transhumanism, like human beings, is only in its early stages of development.
Transhumanism, with its focus on superhumans and longevity instead of an afterlife, can be viewed as something akin to a religious impulse. Although many transhumanists take their worldview to be in opposition to religious outlooks on life, transhumanism may become the religion of blockchainers. Yet, this doctrine does not come without a clear burden of responsibility.
While some fear transhumanism, a core tenet is to ensure that technology produces positive outcomes for humanity. Transhumanists advocate that the choice to improve human capacities lies with the individual.
Part of the longevity research agenda is figuring out how to measure the risks of friendly artificial intelligence and make it truly friendly to avoid a catastrophe. Transhumanists want to avoid X risk, which is existential risk to humanity of a hypothetical, global, catastrophic future event that could damage human well-being or destroy human civilization. This is why colonizing outer space is so logical, as Elon and other crypto enthusiasts are pursuing. The Extropian Principles, v. 3.0 by Max Moore from 1998 emphasizes this, stating that migration into space will immensely enlarge the energy and resources accessible to our civilization. Of course, smart machines will also help us explore space because they can handle more gravitational force than humans as they enter the orbit of other planets.
To a transhumanist, the goal of technology is to amplify our abilities and extend human freedoms. How could we ensure humanity lives forever and life spreads throughout the universe? asks Weisser from VitaDAO. Its all about probabilities and increasing the probability that humanity will survive, he says.
A long-term mindset treats aging as an engineering problem. Now, it remains to be seen if the intersection of blockchain philanthropy, VitaDAOs research collective, and other decentralized, transhumanist pursuits will be cautiously and collectively propelled forwards with the kind of long-termism that will benefit humanity. As Buterin states:
I hope you guys can  come to my thousandth birthday party.
Inside the Wild Ride of "Titane," the French Body-Horror Film That Just Won the Palme d’Or – InsideHook
Posted: July 21, 2021 at 2:28 am
This is the latest volume of the French Dispatches, our on-the-ground coverage of the 74th Cannes Film Festival, which is back in 2021 after a yearlong hiatus due to COVID-19. Watch this space over the next fortnight for more.
Titane did a good job of keeping its secrets and building anticipation for its premiere Tuesday night. Writer-director Julia Ducournaus first feature, Raw, was a major breakthrough in Canness smaller Critics Week section in 2016: a film about a virginal vegan veterinary student who comes of age and into a taste for human flesh, it earned gasps when its heroine eats a severed finger, and then got grosser from there. The logline for Ducournaus followup, now in the main competition, was cryptic: Following a series of unexplained crimes, a father is reunited with the son who disappeared ten years ago. Titane: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys, often used in medical prostheses due to its pronounced biocompatibility. Titane means titanium. The preview didnt help much: it was just a sequence of extreme but nearly incoherent images of car-show honeys twerking on hot rods, the steroidal French star Vincent Lindon flexing in front of a mirror, metal protheses, et cetera. It promised an autoerotic treatise on body modification and tons of gnarly setpieces and exceeded expectations in a deluge of blood, fire and motor oil.
Following a childhood car accident, Alexia (heretofore unknown Agathe Rouselle) has a titanium plate in her head, which goes well with her half-blonde mullet and the Love is a dog from hell tattoo between her breasts. Shes one of the girls at the hilariously pornographic car show, wearing booty shorts and fishnets, humping ecstatically on the hood of an El Dorado with flames painted all over it, as well as a hydraulic system that eventually gets quite the workout. Ducournau frontloads much of Titanes body-horror stuff, throwing us right into the films motifs of vulnerable flesh and hard metal when Alexia gets her hair caught in another girls nipple piercing. But after a very gory first act, the narrative shifts into a quite tender (but still darkly hilarious and perverse) story of found families, with Alexia somehow ending up the ward of a fire station in which Lindon is the undisputed Daddy of a hothouse full of glistening chrome and hard bodies.
Raw had a strong central allegory about a young woman discovering her appetites, whereas Titanium feels more like a series of riffs on a set of themes related to hybridity: hybridity of gender identity, film genre, family, even what it means to be human. Or, instead of hybridity, refer back to the logline: Biocompatibility. Titanes trailer begged comparisons to Crash (the sex-and-car-crashes Crash, not the post-racial Crash), and the comparison between David Cronenberg and Ducournau remains throughout the film not just in her films body-horror spectacle and transhumanist subject matter, but its feel for proposing original, open-ended and totally buck-wild metaphors, like Cronenberg did in Videodrome. I dont think its too much of a spoiler to say that the first words out of my mouth at the end of Titane were Long live the new flesh.
If that is a spoiler, then apologies with Titane more than most films at Cannes, I dont want to reveal too much. Ducournau is very consciously working the audience, both with her narratives swerves and shocks, and with her assured staging of sex and violence. She doesnt do a lot of jump scares, preferring to give you time to anticipate the moment, but uses the build-up to play a little audio-visual game with you, so youre always wondering whether this skin-piercing, bone-crunching moment will be done with practical gore effects or offscreen sound. Its the kind of film thats best seen with an audience feeding on its own energy and, yes, its gratitude for the experience.
Titane inspired a lot of breathless first-look reactions from the kind of festival-goers who are so excited to share the moment that they cant help but overshare afterwords, turning every moment of the film into an instant meme for Twitter followers who havent had a chance to see the movie yet. This does get asses in seats and I think Annettes PR team erred in not releasing stills of the Baby Annette immediately after the opening night screening; they could have extended the movies news cycle at least until Benedetta screened on the first weekend if theyd done it and it can prime an audience to be receptive to the movie. But maybe too receptive? By giving away everything Ducournau has in mind for the audience, youre reducing Titane to a Greatest Hits setlist. A sense of surprise of discovery is so crucial to what Ducournau is doing with this film, and without that sucker-punch adrenaline its possible that this genuinely risky film will seem pat and pre-chewed.
Over at Screen Dailys running grid of international critics star ratings of competition films, Titane is languishing near the bottom, with the more or less forgettable (Nanni Morettis Three Floors, which I skipped) and the definitely execrable (Sean Penns Flag Day, which I wish I had). So itd be a big upset if the film won anything at Saturdays awards ceremony, but Titane, in addition to being the moment in the festival where Ive felt most giddy about the sheer privilege of being here, feels like a culmination of a lot of the festivals trends. Its a lot of movie. It has iconic cars, like critics fave Drive My Car, a three-hour Haruki Murakami adaptation in which some formally daring and emotionally cathartic conversation happens in a beautiful cherry-red Saab 900 Turbo. It has muscular boys dancing out their feelings, like dissident Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapids prickly, self-reflexive Aheds Knee. And thanks to Agathe Rouselle who gives an incredible, nearly silent performance, and once feral and robotic it has both lactation and some very extensive, committed and compelling naked acting by a female performer who carries the movie.
One of the movies Im talking about when I mention lactation and naked female stars is Cow, Andrea Arnolds vrit documentary about a dairy cow named Luma (shout-out to Luma, a legend). Another is Benedetta, Paul Verhoevens lesbian nun movie, based on the true(?) story of Sister Benedetta of Pescia, a 17th century nun who fell afoul of the Catholic church hierarchy for her mystical visions and lesbian relations with a fellow sister. Played by Virginie Efira with a devilish charisma and divine conviction, Benedetta is a sort of avenging-angel of history, who slashes through the Churchs political and and financial machinations and a historical backdrop of the Black Plague, while Verhoeven gooses his audience with a number of instant memes that are like dirty doodles in the margin of a Sunday-school Bible: visions of a Sexy Jesus, a figurine of the Blessed Virgin used for some decidedly unvirginal purposes. Verhoeven throughout his career, from Basic Instinct to Starship Troopers to Black Book, has been interested in power, in all its manifestations aesthetic, political, and sexual. But in Benedetta, like in Titane, the most intense and knotty power dynamic is the one between filmmaker and audience.
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Posted: June 23, 2021 at 1:57 am
Human beings and other primates all inevitably age at fixed rates, according to a new study in Nature Communications. "Human death is inevitable," one of the researchers concludes gloomily in the accompanying press release. "No matter how many vitamins we take, how healthy our environment is or how much we exercise, we will eventually age and die."
The study aims to test the "invariant rate of aging" hypothesis, which posits that the rate of aging is relatively fixed within species. Bodies break down as their tissue and genetic repair mechanisms fail at species-typical rates, leading inevitably to death. The researchers explore this hypothesis by comparing patterns of births and deaths in nine human populations and 30 non-human primate populations, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and baboons living in the wild and in zoos. Their results, they report, imply the existence of "biological constraints on how much the human rate of ageing can be slowed."
To reach this conclusion, Fernando Colchero of the University of Southern Denmark and his team looked at the relationship between life expectancythat is, the average age at which individuals die in a populationand lifespan equality, which measures how concentrated deaths are around older ages.
If deaths are evenly distributed across age groups, the researchers explain, "the result is high lifespan variation and low lifespan equality. If however, deaths are concentrated at the tail-end of the lifespan distribution (as in most developed nations), the result is low lifespan variance and high lifespan equality."
Human life expectancy has been increasing at the rate of about three months per year since the 19th century. The researchers report that most of that increase has been "driven largely by changes in pre-adult mortality." In the accompanying press release, Colchero notes that "not only humans, but also other primate species exposed to different environments, succeed in living longer by reducing infant and juvenile mortality. However, this relationship only holds if we reduce early mortality, and not by reducing the rate of ageing."
Historically, about 1 in 4 children died before their first birthdays and nearly half died before reaching adulthood. Globally, only 1 out 35 children today don't make it to their first birthday. The reduction of early adult deaths from accidents, natural disasters, and infectious diseases has also contributed to longer life expectancies. Consequently, global average life expectancy has more than doubled from just 31 years in 1900 to around73 years now. Since more people are now dying at older ages, global lifespan equality has been increasing.
In the United States, average life expectancy at birth was 47 years in 1900; back then, only 12 percent of people could expect to live past age 65. Over the past 12 decades, life expectancy at birth in the U.S. has increased by 30 years; life expectancy at age 60 has risen by only 7 years. In 2014, U.S. life expectancy reached a high of 78.9 yearsbefore stalling out due to the rising deaths from despair among middle-aged whites and then from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 88 percent of Americans can expect to reach 65 years of age.
Why do all animals, including human beings, age? One popular theory for how species-typical rates of aging emerge is that individuals are selected by nature so that they can keep their health long enough to reproduce and get the next generation up to reproductive snuff. If a body invests a lot of energy in repairing itself, it will reduce the amount of energy it can devote to reproduction. Thus, natural selection favors reproduction over individual longevity.
"Understanding the nature and extent of biological constraints on the rate of ageing and other aspects of age-specific mortality patterns is critical for identifying possible targets of intervention to extend human lifespans," the researchers note. Colchero optimistically adds: "Not all is lost. Medical science has advanced at an unprecedented pace, so maybe science might succeed in achieving what evolution could not: to reduce the rate of ageing."
The good news is that a lot of promising research on anti-aging and age-reversal interventions is advancing rapidly. In December, researchers at the University of San Francisco reported that a small molecule drug achieved rapid restoration of youthful cognitive abilities in aged mice, accompanied by a rejuvenation of brain and immune cells. Another December study found that dosing aged mice with amolecule called prostaglandin E2 can activate muscle stem cells to repair damaged muscle fibers, making the mice 20 percent stronger after one month of treatment. As we age, senescent cells accumulate and secrete molecules that cause various age-related diseases. Researchers are working on senolytic compounds that would help restore youthful vigor by clearing out these senescent cells.
The transhumanist biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey, co-founder of the SENS Research Foundation, argues that anti-aging research is on the trajectory to achieve that he calls "longevity escape velocity." That's when the annual rate of increase in life expectancy exceeds 12 months for every year that passes. De Grey recently tweeted that he thinks that there is a 50 percent chance that humanity will reach longevity escape velocity by 2036. If so, our species may finally be able to cheat aging and death.
Read this article:
We Can't Cheat Aging and Death, Claims New Study - Reason
Posted: June 6, 2021 at 2:37 am
Tired of the Republican Party? Fed up with the Democrats? Dont despair. There are dozens of political parties out there begging for your attention, including many you probably never knew existed.
At a time of increasing dissatisfaction with the major parties, voters appear to be shopping for alternatives, both nationally and on the state level.
People join third parties for a variety of reasons. Some are dissatisfied with the parties in power. Others are looking for an organization that better represents their personal political philosophies. Some want to push a single issue.
Regardless of the reason, political parties primarily exist to get candidates elected who share ideological and policy goals. On that front, nontraditional parties continue to be crushed by red and blue behemoths.
The long-established Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties are well known. In fact, Libertarian Gary Johnson did better in 2016 than any third-party presidential candidate since Ross Perot under the Reform Party 20 years earlier. State-level minor party candidates have also made inroads in some states, though it hasnt necessarily resulted in election wins.
But there is also a host of more obscure or single-issue parties on the menu of American politics.
Take the Transhumanist Party. Trans what? Transhumanist.
The party, according to its website, supports significant life extension achieved through the progress of science and technology; a cultural, societal, and political atmosphere informed and animated by reason, science, and secular values; and efforts to use science, technology, and rational discourse to reduce and eliminate various existential risks to the human species.
Then theres the United States Pirate Party. It has nothing to do with Capt. Jack Sparrow or that faux holiday in September where people say argh or matey. It does, however, have something to do with piracy. The Pirate Party aims to reform intellectual property laws, foster true governmental transparency, and protect privacy and civil liberties.
No political party outside of the Democrats and Republicans can currently claim a member of Congress, though there are two independents in the U.S. Senate, both of whom caucus with the Democrats.
Talk of a third major political party heated up recently among some prominent conservatives who are disillusioned with the fractured GOP, including 2016 independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, Should they form a new party, the odds of putting someone in office are decidedly against them.
A Gallup poll released in February found support for a third political party in the United States at a high point. The survey found 62% of adults say the parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.
The poll was conducted before news reports that dozens of government officials in prior Republican administrations were discussing an anti-Donald Trump third political party, according to Gallup.
Some Republican voters in Utah are concerned about Trumps influence in the GOP, said Chris Karpowitz, co-director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University.
The U.S. Capitol insurrection and, to a lesser extent, the booing of Sen. Mitt Romney at the Utah GOP convention, have raised worries about where the party is headed and what it stands for, he said. The events of the Trump era has resulted in young Utahns being less attached to the Republican Party, he said.
Whether that decreased willingness to identify with the Republican Party benefits third parties is an open question, Karpowitz said.
Nontraditional parties might be more attractive to some who are not ready to become Democrats, but most voters care about electability, and thats where third parties struggle, he said.
Only one third-party candidate, William Carney, has won a U.S. House election since 1960. New Yorkers voted Carney in as a member of the Conservative Party of New York State in 1979. He switched to the Republican Party in 1985.
Another Conservative Party candidate in New York, James Buckley, served one term in the U.S. Senate before losing reelection as a Republican in 1977. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman won reelection in a party created by his supporters, Connecticut for Lieberman, after losing the 2006 Democratic nomination.
The success rate in the modern era has not been good on a national level for third-party candidates.
But what about on a state level?
The track record isnt good there either, with one notable exception.
A Deseret News review of 50 state legislatures showed only four current officeholders from outside the two major parties a Libertarian in Wyoming, a Libertarian in Maine who switched from the GOP after being elected, a Working Families Party member in New York and member of the Independence Party of New York. There are also a few independents here and there.
But the Vermont General Assembly has more members from a minor party than the rest of the statehouses combined.
The Vermont Progressive Party is perhaps the most effective nontraditional party in the country.
Seven members of the Vermont House of Representatives and two state senators are Progressives. The Vermont House formally recognizes the Progressive caucus alongside the Democrats and Republicans.
In addition, the party holds a plurality on the 12-member Burlington City Council, with six members. (Four Democrats and two independents maintain the other seats). Progressives also held the mayors office for nearly 30 years.
Weve been successful because we primarily focus on local and legislative races, said Josh Wronski, Vermont Progressive Party executive director.
Though it homes in on local races, the Progressive Party does claim a big name: Bernie Sanders. Hes listed as a Progressive endorsed independent on the partys website.
Work closely with him, Wronski said. He accepts our nomination and politely chooses to run as an independent.
The Vermont Progressive Party also does well partly because of a thing called fusion voting. The practice gives candidates the ability to run on multiple party tickets. The parties are listed separately on the ballot but votes for the candidate are pooled. Only eight states in the country allow electoral fusion or multi-party nominations.
Progressives in the Vermont legislature are officially listed as Progressive/Democrat. Another seven members are listed as Democrat/Progressive.
Wronski said fusion voting has been a good way for the party to reach voters who have the perception that there are only Democrats and Republicans.
It has been a really good way to break through that and say were willing to work with not necessarily the Democratic establishment leaders but with Democratic voters who havent been exposed to the kind of work were doing, he said. That has absolutely been effective.
In Utah, Jim Bennett, the son of the late Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, and BYU political science professor Richard Davis, a Democrat, grew weary of extreme views co-opting their parties. They and other disaffected Republicans and Democrats formed the United Utah Party in 2017 to carve out a middle ground in the state.
As of this month, the party had only 2,501 registered members, according to the Utah elections office. Registered Republicans number more than 909,000, and Democrats 270,000 but there are 556,000 unaffiliated voters in the state.
Weve got a niche here that weve established, said Davis, who served two terms as the centrist partys chairman. His involvement in the fledgling party spurred him to look deeper into third parties resulting in a book last year titled Beyond Donkeys and Elephants: Minor Political Parties in Contemporary American Politics.
A United Utah candidate has yet to win an election. Party candidates captured a slightly smaller percentage of the overall vote in the state in 2020 compared to 2018, as the COVID-19 pandemic hampered their campaign efforts.
While the percentage was smaller, the number of votes cast for United Utah hopefuls was up last year, including more than 173,000 for its candidate for state auditor.
We saw that as progress given the fact that were still not known, Davis said.
Davis said hed like to have fusion voting in Utah to help get more moderate candidates elected to office rather than those who appeal to the more extreme Republican and Democratic bases.
In states where its used, third parties typically do better, Davis said. Unfortunately, theres not much encouragement on the part of Republicans and Democrats to do that.
Davis wonders if former Utah Rep. Ben McAdams, a conservative Democrat, would have benefitted from nominations in the Democratic and United Utah parties. He also thinks GOP Sen. Mitt Romney could have a sort of hedge with a United Utah nomination if he were to lose a Republican primary.
Fusion voting has popped up in the Utah Legislature a couple of times in the past, but never went anywhere, said Justin Lee, state elections director.
While the United Utah Party often inserts itself in debates on the issues of the day, its voice, like most third parties, goes largely ignored.
Too often the media can overlook the efforts of parties like us, Wronksi said.
For example, in 2008 the Vermont Progressive Party candidate for governor finished second in a three-way race. But network news outlets listed him as other next to the Democrat and the Republican even though he bested one of the major party candidates.
Some minor parties have tried to find strength in numbers. At least nine independent parties scattered across the country merged to form the Alliance Party over the past three years. Davis said the United Utah Party declined to join because it didnt care for the new partys presidential nominee and it prefers to concentrate its efforts on state and local races.
A third partys existence can also be tenuous. Many states require political parties to win a certain percentage of the overall vote in an election to maintain status as a recognized party. The Moderate Party in Rhode Island failed to do so in 2019, leaving officials to notify about 4,000 registered party members that they were now unaffiliated.
And whether you call them third parties, nontraditional parties or minor parties, not everything has to be red or blue.
Giraffe Party, anyone?
Read the rest here:
Third parties in the U.S. What options do voters have? - Deseret News
Posted: at 2:37 am
Midway through my life, I wake to find myself in a techno-dystopia, with no sense of where my proper pathway has gone. I have a muse, but no mentor to guide me through all the circles of this labyrinth, this global metropolis I have managed to avoid until now. My domestication settles over me like a nylon shirt, like rolls of fat around my belly; like a cybernetic key for doors to places I dont want to go but have to if I want my family to eat and be sheltereda key that shuts away my mind from the world and keeps it locked in my brain.
I cant feel for knowledge anymore, not from my belly or through my feet from the living land. So instead, I try to make sense of things. But that doesnt work, so I turn it around and try to sense-make. But I dont know what that is, so I type it into the device that is my key to this world (war) of information and I make friends through that door.
Theyre stoics and I like their sense of humor. I havent read Marcus Aurelius, so I dont know if they are practicing kindness; I just think they are kind. Daniel has a brain like a planet and he says to me, First principles, Tyson. What is each thing within itself? What is its nature? What does it do, this civilization you despise?
Maybe Ive found my Virgil to guide me through this.
It kills people. It kills land.
No! That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing it does, what need does it serve by killing?
Matricidal rage. Fear of death. Tiny dicks
No, it covets. That is its nature. And how do we begin to covet, Tyson? Do we seek out things to covet? No. We begin by coveting what we see every day.
Lightbulb! I can see it, I can see it; they never felt superior at all, they never believed it for a second. They did not pity us or feel disgust, they was just jelly. Bah. If thats what your enlightenment gets you, then I dont want any of it.
But my new friends seem to have some bits and pieces from their Age of Reason that they want to keep, that might really be worth keeping. I think some of their algorithms are off, because of bad Paleolithic baseline data. I work to correct this in their games and on their commons, and find the skeleton of an Ark emerging. Did we make this one or dig it up on a mountain? I cant quite remember.
And dont worry, they say, were going to sense-make the fuck out of this imperialism right now. Jordan and Jim and Jamie and Brett and Eric are all going in, full tactical gear. I just have to finish up some interviews and loose ends.
But fuck me, they went to the wrong house and I went to the right one, and its there and hideous and all, It signs away its thoughts and land or else we take its kids again. And its Cook and Darwin and Deakin and its eyes are red and it can see in the dark. But not me: I can only see those glowing orbs so I shoot between thembam, bam, bam, bam, bamand briefly theres illumination, but only briefly, and I dont like what I see. So I pull my heart out of a dry well in the cellar, give it a puppy and tell it to fuck off home and wait for me there. Havent been back yet though, so I hope the puppys alright.
Off I go to work, building this Ark and raiding lost ones, and at one stage Im stuck on the wrong side of a crevasse and the tunnel is shaking and Im screaming, Throw me the whip so I can swing across! But Dr. Octopus is telling me, No, throw me your knowledge and then Ill throw you the whip. Hes saying theres no time, so I bundle my objects and stories and legacy and toss it across the void and I guess you know what happens next. I manage to get across later without the whip, then prize my knowledge from his cold, dead hands, only to lose it again to a boss villain. But thats alright, Ill get it back again. I think.
And I ask if feminism will find a place on the Ark, and then all the things that make up the fruits of that struggle (for equality?) are listed and included, except for the word itself. I argue for keeping it, and everybody is kind and they steel man my position and I feel good about all this support, that in the end all things are reducible to an essence, all things may be revealed by Occams razor. Stuff is a bit more complicated, a bit more nuanced though, when it comes to some issues around masculinity. I guess every man loves Occams razor until its time to shave his balls.
I sometimes fear I will be extradited to Wokestan and publicly executed. I still have friends and family there, and I hope theyre okay. And I would like to know if that puppy is alright. Maybe shes grown and had puppies of her own. Its been a long time since I started working on this transhumanist Ark. There are spaces for the Enlightenment, founding fathers, crypto wallets, VR goggles, breath work, meditation, leadership workshops, and micro-doses of DMT. It smells great and every surface is finished with evolutionary fitness. There is a security guard out front, but thats only to stop Jeffrey Epstein sneaking on board with his egg-shaped dick. We all know that bastard never died in prison so we have to stay vigilant, because there are kids on the Ark too and we need to keep them safe. If something happened to them, who would we practice our Vygotsky on?
Yeah, its all starting to make sense. Chaos and complexity. Institutions and decentralization. Generator functions. Perverse incentives. Bad and good faith discourse. Destruction or survival. Survival. Survival. I wonder, when that steel man inhabits my palatable, ambiguously non-white form, does it see survival in there? What does that survival look like? Is it some Bear Grylls shit, or is it a blonde girl living with cognitively diverse cavemen until she gets kicked out for getting too good with a sling shot? Certainly its a nightmare of fight or flight, my kind coming in the night with spears, or my kind eternally hyper-vigilant out on the savannah, hunted constantly by super predators and you never know where they are, and life is brutish and horrible and thats how our brains and social systems evolved, right?
The steel man leaves my body and I am myself again. I went somewhere while he was walking around in my skin, inhabiting my position. I went home. I flew over rivers and followed them like arteries to find my heart again and it was a shame the puppy didnt survive but I was home! The mangroves were breathing like a fat man into a microphone. I could never hear them before but they do have that name, the same name as lungs, those breathing roots. I know my old people must have heard them too, the same way to understand, not through a microscope but through language.
All the old girls are there at the beach going for mudshell and longshell and crab, but I cant stop because Im going for stingray with Dad there near the oyster reef, the body of that ancestral brolga hiding its egg from the narcissistic emu who stole her children. I miss my children. But Dads showing me the drag marks from the monster crocodile who lives there, and we have to go into that water where hes waiting for us. We dont mind. Were not fighting or flighting or anything like that.
We know that predator and where he is. We know the trick of how to pass him invisiblethe discipline of holding him in your awareness in that instant while also not thinking of him at all. Its a hell of a meditation, that one, and beats the shit out of TM. Because were related to our predators, and we always know where they are. A tiger shark comes and Dad turns him with his spear. I spear stingrays. Dad stirs them up and sends them crashing into my legs to make sure I know the lesson about the lie of fight or flight. If I jump or run or attack they will sting me. If I stand among them Ill be fine and theyll share their bodies for our meat. So I stand there and know that were more than what weve become. Were more than a story of survival. We were always more (us humans, I mean).
I spear way too many stingray, more than we could ever eat there. It doesnt matter. There is an abundance in this season and they are fat. That fat is what my brain is made of, and its how I evolved that brain. I cook the stingrays and thats my two hours work done to sustain our lives that day. The survival hours I guess youd call them. The rest of the day is for walking, meeting people, ritual and ceremony, arts and crafts, sex and love, feasting and sport, fighting and reconciling, governing and trading collectively. The leftover stingrays wont go to wasteit all goes into the land, feeding the plants and spirits of place that have evolved to depend on these things. I might take the livers out though, because I really like that liver. It makes my abs pop.
But the land moves and you must move with it. Altered states tend to shift in the same way and I find myself back in my fat domesticated body when the steel man is finished with it. Im losing the weight though, and feeling a bit happier. I have friends now who practice their kindness on me, no matter what kind of awful things I say, and Im just making so much sense now that people have started buying my book, which means I can afford a Keto diet and some weights and a punching bag. Sixteen hours is a lot of work, between the job and the gigs and the kids and the housework and the cooking and so on, but its worth it they say. Its better than primitive subsistence and getting raped and eaten by tigers all day, struggling for survival. Did you know a third of all caveman deaths were homicides? True, we checked the Neanderthal church records. Your ancestors were evil and stupid and unhappy. Forget them.
Its time to grow beyond this meat suit, this clumsy primate in clothes who stinks and shits and dies. Its time to outlive survival, time to upload consciousness and fly to the stars and be the demi-gods we all deserve to be, god dammit!
Thats what they tell me anyway. We all just have to keep working a little longer, extracting the last of the stuff. The tech bros say theyre too tired and sad to merely survive now, and that this world is probably all a simulation anyway. They want to embody the etymology of that weird verb, and live above. They say they will look down at the rest of us left behind in the biosphere like were squirrels or something. I wont be going. Somebody has to clean up.
I guess thats what the future is to me. Its a janitorial position, a thousand years of making our land livable again, and patiently bringing former settlers back under the Law of the land again. Its not quite survival, and its not quite deliverance, although there may be some banjos and bow hunting involved. Its survivance.
Survivance is a collaboration between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and e-flux Architecture.
Tyson Yunkaporta is an academic, an arts critic, and a researcher who is a member of the Apalech Clan in far north Queensland. He carves traditional tools and weapons and also works as a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University in Melbourne.
Posted: February 5, 2021 at 9:54 pm
The poet Richard Brautigan said that one day we would all be watched over by "machines of loving grace". It was a nice sentiment at the time. But I surmise Brautigan might have done a quick 180 if he was alive today. He would see how intelligent machines in general and AI in particular were being semi-weaponized or otherwise appropriated for purposes of a new kind of social engineering. He would also likely note how this process is usually positioned as something "good for humanity" in vague ways that never seem to be fully explained.
As both a technologist and a journalist, I find it very difficult to think of transhumanism and what I'll call the New Eugenics as anything less than deeply and literally dehumanizing.
The hits, as they say, just keep on coming. Recently I ran across an article advising recent college graduates looking for jobs that they had better be prepared to have their facial expressions scanned and evaluated by artificial intelligence programs during and after interviews.
An article in the publication "Higher Ed" warned that: "Getting a job increasingly requires going through an interview on an AI platformIf the proprietary technology [used to ] to evaluate the recordings concludes that a candidate does well in matching the demeanor, enthusiasm, facial expressions or word choice of current employees of the company, it recommends the candidate for the next round. If the candidate is judged by the software to be out of step, that candidate is not likely to move on."
If this were happening in China, of course, it would be much less surprising. You don't have to be a Harvard-trained psychiatrist to see that this kind of technology is violating some very basic human boundaries: how we think and feel and our innermost and private thoughts. And you don't have to be a political scientist to see that totalitarian societies are in the business of breaking down these boundaries for purposes of social and political control.
Facial recognition has already been implemented by some law enforcement agencies. Other technology being used for social control starts out in the corporate world and then migrates. Given the melding of corporate and government power that's taken place in the U.S. over the last few decades, what's impermissible in government now can get fully implemented in the corporate world and then in the course of time bleeds over to government use via outsourcing and other mechanisms. It's a nifty little shell game. This was the case with the overt collection of certain types of data on citizens which was expressly forbidden by federal law. The way around it was to have corporations to do the dirty work and then turn around and sell the data to various government entities. Will we see the same thing happen with artificial intelligence and its ability to pry into our lives in unprecedented ways?
There is a kind of quasi-worship of technology as a force majeure in humanity's evolution that puts AI at the center of human existence. This line of thinking is now linked to the principles of transhumanism, a set of values and goals being pushed by Silicon Valley elites. This warped vision of techno-utopianism assures us that sophisticated computers are inherently superior to humans. Implicit in this view is the notion that intelligence (and one kind of intelligence at that) is the most important quality in the vast array of attributes that are the essential qualities of our collective humanity and longstanding cultural legacies.
The corporate PR frontage for these "breakthroughs" is always the same: they will only be used for the highest purposes like getting rid of plastics in the oceans. But still the question remains: who will control or regulate the use of these man-made creatures?
The most hardcore transhumanists believe that our role is simply to step aside and assist in the creation of new life forms made possible by hooking up human brains to computers and the Internet, what they consider to be an evolutionary quantum leap. Unfortunately, people in powerful corporate positions like Ray Kurzweil, Google's Director of Engineering, and Elon Musk, founder of Neuralink, actually believe in these convoluted superhero mythologies. This line of thinking is also beginning to creep into the mainstream thanks to the corporate-driven hype put forth by powerful Silicon Valley companies who are pushing these ideas for profit and to maintain technology's ineluctable "more, better, faster" momentum.
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The transhumanist agenda is a runaway freight train, barely mentioned in the mainstream media, but threatening to run over us all. In related "mad science" offshoot, scientists have succeeded in creating the first biological computer-based hybrids called Xenobotswhich the New York Times describes as "programmable organisms" that "live for only about a week". The corporate PR frontage for these "breakthroughs" is always the same: they will only be used for the highest purposes like getting rid of plastics in the oceans. But still the question remains: who will control or regulate the use of these man-made creatures?In the brave new world of building machines that can think and evolve on their own because they combine AI programming with biological programming, we have to ask where all this is headed. If machines are being used to evaluate us for job interviews, then why won't they be eventually used as police officers or judges? (In fact, Singapore is now using robotic dogs to police parks for Covid-related social distancing.)
As both a technologist and a journalist, I find it very difficult to think of transhumanism and what I'll call the New Eugenics as anything less than deeply and literally dehumanizing. In the aftermath of WWII, eugenics used to be widely reviled when Nazi scientists experimented with and so highly valued it. Now it's lauded as cutting edge.There are two ugly flies in this ointment. The first is the question of who directs and controls the AI machines being built. You can make a safe bet that it won't be you, your friends, or your neighbors but rather technocratic elites. The second is the fact that programmers, and their masters, the corporate Lords of Tech, are the least likely candidates to come up with the necessary wisdom to imbue AI with the deeper human qualities necessary to make it anything more than a force used for social and political control in conjunction with mass surveillance and other tools.
Another consideration is: how does politics fit into this picture? In the middle ages, one of the great power shifts that took place was from medieval rulers to the church. In the age of the enlightenment, another shift took place: from the church to the modern state. Now we are experiencing yet another great transition: a shift of power from state and federal political systems to corporations and, by extension, to the global elites that are increasingly exerting great influence on both, the 1 percenters that Bernie Sanders frequently refers to.
When considering the use of any new technology, the question should be asked: who does it ultimately serve? And to what extent are ordinary citizens allowed to express their approval or disapproval of the complex technological regimes being created that we all end up involuntarily depending upon?
These trends have political implications because they have happened in tandem with the neoliberal sleight of hand that began with President Reagan. Gradually anti-democratic policy changes over a period of decades allowed elites to begin the process of transferring public funds to private coffers. This was done under the neoliberal smokescreen of widely touted but socially hollow benefits such as privatization, outsourcing, and deregulation bolstered by nostrums such as "Government must get out of the way to let innovation thrive."
Behind the scenes, the use of advanced technology has played a strong role in enabling this transition but it did so out of the public's watchful eye. Now, it seems abundantly clear that technologies such as 5G, machine learning, and AI will continue to be leveraged by technocratic elites for the purposes of social engineering and economic gain. As Yuval Harari, one of transhumanism's most vocal proponents has stated: "Whoever controls these algorithms will be the real government."
If AI is allowed to begin making decisions that affect our everyday lives in the realms of work, play and business, it's important to be aware of who this technology serves: technologically sophisticated elites. We have been hearing promises for some time about how better advanced computer technology was going to revolutionize our lives by changing just about every aspect of them for the better. But the reality on the ground seems to be quite different than what was advertised. Yes, there are many areas where it can be argued that the use of computer and Internet technology has improved the quality of life. But there are just as many others where it has failed miserably. Healthcare is just one example. Here misguided legislation combined with an obsession with insurance company-mandated data gathering has created massive info-bureaucracies where doctors and nurses spend far too much time feeding patient data into a huge information databases where it often seems to languish. Nurses and other medical professionals have long complained that too much of their time is spent on data gathering and not enough time focusing on healthcare itself and real patient needs.
When considering the use of any new technology, the question should be asked: who does it ultimately serve? And to what extent are ordinary citizens allowed to express their approval or disapproval of the complex technological regimes being created that we all end up involuntarily depending upon? In a second "Gilded Age" where the power of billionaires and elites over our lives is now being widely questioned, what do we do about their ability to radically and undemocratically alter the landscape of our daily lives using the almighty algorithm?
Posted: at 9:54 pm
The X-Men are really big into combining their powers now, something Deadpool uses when it's time to smash invading symbiotes.
Having a country seems to be all the rage in comics these days. After all, in addition to traditional mainstays like Black Panther's Wakanda and Doctor Doom's Latveria, the X-Men now have the mutant nation of Krakoa, and Deadpool, of all people, has found himself the monarch of the Monster Nation. With countries come culture, and there seems to be some cultural cross-pollination going on in the pages of Marvel Comics. In Deadpool #10, written by Kelly Thompson and illustrated by Gerardo Sandoval, the Merc with a Mouth seems to have borrowed a page from X-Men to combine the powers of his constituents into a fearsome symbiote-smashing giant robot! But what precedent does this increasing common occurrence set, and what implications does it have going forward?
Combining powers is nothing new in comics. Perhaps is the most famous example is "the Fastball special" which would see Colossus launch Wolverine at their adversaries. However, Krakoa has taken this concept to a whole new level, developing much more intricate - and potentially dangerous - combinations. After all, some mutants wield various elements, controlled by sheer force of will. Any emotional instability could spell disaster. Fortunately, most mutants in Krakoa have an insurance policy in the form of their resurrection through psychic downloads.
Related: Deadpool Just Saved Captain America and Cyclops in the Most Ridiculous Way
On the pages of Deadpool, the titular monarch is using the powers of former enemy Jelby to create a massive gelatinous body to house his team, and then use their individual powers against the symbiotes threatening his nation and the world at large. Jelby also captures Deadpool's pet, Jeff the Landshark, who had been infected by a symbiote, and by the end of the adventure, even helps capture a massive symbiote dragon. Ultimately, the move to combine powers - which Deadpool fittingly refers to as "Plan X" - pays off.
Still, from a storytelling perspective, there are potential pitfalls for power combination. Its possible power combination could become nothing more than a plot device, or worse, a deus ex machina. After all, Krakoa is a blossoming transhumanist state, and it's possible no individual situation poses much of a threat thanks to the sheer number of power combinations at the mutants' disposal now. Ultimately, the story could suffer, especially if the emphasis falls on the "wow factor" of power combination instead of the character dynamics working behind the scenes.
Of course, this new mutant culture could be a way of raising the stakes. After all, would the mutants be so willing to engage in these dynamics if they didn't have resurrection pods? Cheating death typically doesn't end well. If or when Krakoa loses its resurrection capability, mutants could put themselves in considerable danger performing these maneuvers. The comics have already explored how vulnerable clones feel in the face of uncertain resurrection. What if the mutants had to perform these literally death-defying moves without a safety net?
Ultimately, the question is moot in Deadpool's case, as his Monster Nation is shown to be almost everything Krakoa is not - a rag-tag mix of monsters, aliens, villains, and even regular humans working together. If Deadpool can duplicate a key mutant technology without much effort, it's possible Krakoa might not be as innovative - or even stable - as they believe. All of this suggests Krakoa's recent breakthrough might really be leading the mutant nation down a path with very fragile feet of clay.
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Posted: September 5, 2020 at 11:55 pm
It is thanks to science and technology that we are living longer and healthier lives. Technology has greatly improved our quality of life. We even have bionic limbs, such as bionic arms, and exoskeletons for patients with full spinal cord injuries. Yet in spite of all this, we are still contending with serious shortcomings. Transhumanist Max More, who was born as Max T. OConnor, wrote a letter to Mother Nature:
Mother Nature, truly we are grateful for what you have made us. No doubt you did the best you could. However, with all due respect, we must say that you have in many ways done a poor job with the human constitution. You have made us vulnerable to disease and damage. You compel us to age and diejust as were beginning to attain wisdom.  You gave us limited memory, poor impulse control, and tribalistic, xenophobic urges. And, you forgot to give us the operating manual for ourselves!
Transhumanists hope to use genetic modification, synthetic organs, biotechnology, and AI techniques to enhance the human condition. What intrigues me here is the moral enhancement aspect. This deliberately sets out to improve peoples character or behavior. Scientists are seeking ways to improve levels of morality through the use of medication and technology, such as moral neuroenhancement. These so-called neurotechnologies directly change specific cerebral states or neural functions in order to induce beneficial moral improvements. Academics, for example, are exploring the feasibility of increasing empathy with medication. This leads to interesting questions.
We all harbor prejudices as well as a tendency to feel more empathy for people we know or who we can identify with, but what is the right amount of empathy if you want to increase it? If you felt responsible for every other person on the planet, life would most likely become unbearable, as you would be overwhelmed by all this misery. Moral enhancement by means of biotechnology is controversial ethically speaking. A great deal of criticism has been leveled at this, among other things, concerning the limitations of autonomy.
Studies in the medical world indicate that AI systems are at least as good, and sometimes even better, than doctors in diagnosing cancer. For example, researchers have trained deep neural networks with the help of a dataset of around 130,000 clinical images of skin cancer. The results demonstrate that algorithms are on the same level as experienced dermatologists when it comes to predicting skin cancer. While Deep Minds AI even beat doctors in screenings for breast cancer.
Consequently, AI systems are capable of supporting doctors in making diagnoses. But what about AI that would help us make moral decisions? An AI system is conceivably more consistent, impartial, and objective. Although this does depend a lot on the quality of the data that is used to train it. Unlike people, AI can process massive datasets, which may perhaps result in better-informed decisions being made.
We often fail to adequately consider all the information that is needed to make a moral decision, in part due to stress, lack of time, limited scope for information processing, and so on. So, might we eventually turn to a moral AI adviser? A kind of virtual Socrates that asks pertinent questions, points out flaws in our thinking, and ultimately issues moral advice based on input from various databases.
In order to be able to engage in an in-depth, meaningful philosophical dialogue with an AI system, the technical challenges are undoubtedly enormous, not least in the field of Natural Language Processing. The complexity of morality also presents immense challenges, given that it is so context-sensitive and anything but binary. Numerous ethical rules even the ban on homicide depend on the context. Killing in self-defense is evaluated differently in moral and legal terms. Ethics is the grey area, the weighing up process.
And that brings me back to one of the most wonderful quotes on morality. From Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago: If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Computer says no.
About this column:
In a weekly column, written alternately by Tessie Hartjes, Floris Beemster,Bert Overlack, Mary Fiers, Peter de Kock, Eveline van Zeeland, Lucien Engelen, Jan Wouters, Katleen Gabriels, and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, occasionally joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions to the problems of our time. So that tomorrow is good. Here are all theprevious articles in this series.
Masks Against the Coronavirus: How the Rejection of Mask Use, Unites the Extreme Right and the Extreme Left The Costa Rica News – The Costa Rica News
Posted: at 11:55 pm
Shouting freedom and without social distance, more than 2,500 people gathered this Sunday in the center of Madrid to protest against the mandatory use of masks and against what they describe as a false Pandemic of Coronavirus. The protesters held banners that read: The Virus does not exist, Masks kill and We are not afraid. The rally drew a variety of attendees, including conspiracy theorists, libertarians, and anti-vaccines.
The anti-mask militants have one point in common: they believe that the authorities are violating their rights. For the experts, in addition, they have a greater presence among voters on the extreme right or extreme left, due to their distrust of the State or authority in general.
Pilar Martn, a 58-year-old housewife, said that she had come to Madrid from Zaragoza for the demonstration because she believed that governments around the world were exaggerating the number of infections to curb peoples freedoms.
They are forcing us to wear a mask, they want us to stay at home practically locked up. It is obvious that they are continuously deceiving us by talking about outbreaks. It is all a lie, she said during the protest.
Anti-mask groups began to appear in demonstrations against the confinement measures in the United States, and later spread to Germany where a demonstration with far-right parties and far-left movements brought together 15,000 people Canada, the United Kingdom and France.
For the sociologist David Le Breton, the refusal of some to wear the mask is a new sign of growing individualism. The paradox is that the freedom defended by the masks is, in reality, the freedom to contaminate others, Le Breton told journalists. It is the product of civic disengagement, one of the hallmarks of contemporary individualism, he added.
For Tristan Mends France, a specialist in digital cultures, the anti-mask movement is heterogeneous, made up of people who do not have the same concerns or the same discourse against the use of masks. There are supporters of conspiracy theories, regardless of their ideological tone, and people who have an ideological agenda, more linked to the extreme right.
For her part, Jocelyn Raude, professor of social psychology at the School of Higher Studies in Public Health in France, considers that anti-masks are more present among voters on the extreme right and extreme left. There is in this attitude a way of disobeying a government that they do not approve or of expressing a broader relationship of distrust in relation to the State and authority in general.
Among the advocacy groups of Professor Didier Raoult, a French infectologist who has conducted controversial studies on hydroxychloroquine, a drug that according to Raoult would be effective in treating COVID-19, there are countless people against the mandatory use of masks and also against vaccines.
Although hydroxychloroquine has undergone some studies in the context of the Coronavirus outbreak, so far there is no good-quality evidence to show that it is effective against COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned.
The virologist attracted many followers of conspiracy theories. A survey by the Jean-Jaurs Institute on the profile of Raoults followers revealed that 20% of them voted in the last presidential elections of 2017 for Franois Fillon, the candidate of the traditional right (party that ruled the country several times); 18% voted for Jean-Luc Mlnchon, from France Insoumise, the most voted on the extreme left, and 17% opted for Marine Le Pen, candidate from the extreme right.
Several members of the anti-mask groups also reject the effectiveness of the same to contain the spread of the new Coronavirus, and question that they are useless or even supposedly dangerous. Various false information about masks circulates in these groups.
The mask deprives us of most of our oxygen. Therefore, it can kill us, says Maxime Nicolle, a well-known figure in the yellow vest movement, protests that erupted in late 2018 in France, some of them violent , with social demands. Reports that masks can cause death is false, vehemently denied by doctors and researchers.
A part of the anti-mask militants, the most radical, is adept at conspiracy theories, which are most widespread in the far-right media and among those who consider themselves anti-system and anti-vaccines. Many of those theories falsely link Microsoft founder Bill Gates to the Coronavirus. Some accuse him of leading a class of global elites. Others are supposedly leading efforts to depopulate the planet or even trying to implant microchips in people.
When you put on a mask, you become intellectually vulnerable, lose your identity and become an ideal prey for occult and transhumanist powers (movement to transform the human condition through the use of science and technology) who want to destroy you in the name of the new world order, affirms an Internet user of these groups in France. First there are the masks and then the vaccines that will have a nanochip controlled by 5G, says another French activist.
At the Sunday demonstration in Madrid, attendees shouted freedom to demand that the use of masks be voluntary and that they be allowed the right to choose whether or not to receive the possible vaccine for COVID-19. Many of the protesters denied the existence of the Coronavirus and chanted that there are no new outbreaks at a precise moment in which Spain is experiencing a rebound in cases of the worst in Europe.
The Honorable Dr. Dale Layman, Founder of Robowatch, LLC, is Recognized as the 2020 Humanitarian of the Year by Top 100 Registry, Inc. – IT News…
Posted: September 4, 2020 at 1:56 am
Joliet, IL, September 03, 2020 --(PR.com)-- The Honorable Dr. Dale Pierre Layman, A.S., B.S., M.S., Ed.S., Ph.D. #1, Ph.D. #2, Grand Ph.D. in Medicine, MOIF, FABI, DG, DDG, LPIBA, IOM, AdVMed, AGE, is the Founder and President of Robowatch, L.L.C. (www.robowatch.info.) Robowatch is an international non-profit group aiming to keep a watchful human eye on the fast-moving developments occurring in the fields of robotics, computing, and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) industries. As the first person in his family to attend college in 1968, he earned an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Life Science from Lake Michigan College. The same year, he won a Michigan Public Junior College Transfer Scholarship to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1971, he received an Interdepartmental B.S. with Distinction, in Anthropology - Zoology, from the University of Michigan. From 1971 to 1972, Dr. Layman served as a Histological Technician in the Department of Neuropathology at the University of Michigan Medical School. From 1972 to 1974, he attended the U of M Medical School, Physiology department, and was a Teaching Fellow of Human Physiology. He completed his M.S. in Physiology from the University of Michigan in 1974.
From 1974 to 1975, Dr. Layman served as an Instructor in the Biology Department at Lake Superior State College. In 1975, he became a full-time, permanent Instructor in the Natural Science Department of Joliet Junior College (J.J.C.) and taught Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Medical Terminology to Nursing & Allied Health students. Appointed to the Governing Board of Text & Academic Authors, he authored several textbooks, including but not limited to the Terminology of Anatomy & Physiology and Anatomy Demystified. In 2003, Dr. Layman wrote the Foreword to the Concise Encyclopedia of Robotics, Stan Gibilisco.
As a renowned scholar and book author, Dr. Layman proposed The Faculty Ranking Initiative in the State of Illinois to increase the credibility of faculty members in the States two-year colleges, which will help with research grants or publications. In 1994, the State of Illinois accepted this proposal. J.J.C. adapted the change in 2000, and Dr. Layman taught full-time from 1975 until his retirement in 2007. He returned and taught part-time from 2008 to 2010. Dr. Layman received an Ed.S. (Educational Specialist) in Physiology and Health Science from Ball State University in 1979. Then, in 1986, Dr. Layman received his first Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, in Health and Safety Studies. In 2003, Dr. Layman received a second Ph.D. and a Grand Ph.D. in Medicine, from the Academie Europeenne D Informatisation (A.E.I.) and the World Information Distributed University (WIDU). He is the first American to receive the Grand Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine.
In 1999, Dr. Layman delivered a groundbreaking speech at the National Convention of Text and Academic Authors, Park City, Utah. Here, he first publicly explained his unique concept: Compu-Think, a contraction for computer-like modes or ways of human thinking. This reflects the dire need for humans to develop more computer-like modes or ways of Natural Human thinking. This concept has important practical applications to Human Health and Well-being. In 2000, Dr. Layman gave several major talks and received top-level awards. In May of 2000, he participated in a two-week faculty exchange program with Professor Harrie van Liebergen of the Health Care Division of Koning Willem I College, Netherlands.
In 2001, after attending an open lecture on neural implants at the University of Reading, England, Dr. Layman created Robowatch. The London Diplomatic Academy published several articles about his work, such as Robowatch (2001) and Robowatch 2002: Mankind at the Brink (2002). The article Half-human and half-computer, Andrej Kikelj (2003) discussed the far-flung implications of Dr. Laymans work. Using the base of half-human, half-computer, Dr. Layman coined the name of a new disease, Psychosomatic Technophilic, which translates as an abnormal love or attraction for technology [that replaces] the body and mind. Notably, Dr. Layman was cited several times in the article Transhumanism, (Wikipedia, 2009). Further in 2009, several debates about Transhumanism were published in Wikipedia, and they identified Dr. Layman as an anti-transhumanist who first coined the phrase, Terminator argument.
In 2018, Dr. Layman was featured in the cover of Pro-Files Magazine, 8th Edition, by Marquis Whos Who. He was the Executive Spotlight in Robotics, Computers and Artificial Intelligence, in the 2018 Edition of the Top 101 Industry Experts, by Worldwide Publishing. He also appeared on the cover of the July 2018 issue of T.I.P. (Top Industry Professionals) magazine, the International Association of Top Professionals. Dr. Layman was also the recipient of the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award (2017-2018). Ever a Lifelong Student and taking classes for the past few years at J.J.C., Dr. Layman was recently inducted (2019) to his second formal induction into the worlds largest honor society for community college students, Phi Theta Kappa.
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