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Archive for the ‘ethics’ category: Page 75

Jan 13, 2012

Verne, Wells, and the Obvious Future Part 2

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, business, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, futurism, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, military, nuclear weapons, philosophy, physics, policy, space

I am taking the advice of a reader of this blog and devoting part 2 to examples of old school and modern movies and the visionary science they portray.

Things to Come 1936 — Event Horizon 1997
Things to Come was a disappointment to Wells and Event Horizon was no less a disappointment to audiences. I found them both very interesting as a showcase for some technology and social challenges.… to come- but a little off the mark in regards to the exact technology and explicit social issues. In the final scene of Things to Come, Raymond Massey asks if mankind will choose the stars. What will we choose? I find this moment very powerful- perhaps the example; the most eloguent expression of the whole genre of science fiction. Event Horizon was a complete counterpoint; a horror movie set in space with a starship modeled after a gothic cathedral. Event Horizon had a rescue crew put in stasis for a high G several month journey to Neptune on a fusion powered spaceship. High accelleration and fusion brings H-bombs to mind, and though not portrayed, this propulsion system is in fact a most probable future. Fusion “engines” are old hat in sci-fi despite the near certainty the only places fusion will ever work as advertised are in a bomb or a star. The Event Horizon, haunted and consigned to hell, used a “gravity drive” to achieve star travel by “folding space.” Interestingly, a recent concept for a black hole powered starship is probably the most accurate forecast of the technology that will be used for interstellar travel in the next century. While ripping a hole in the fabric of space time may be strictly science fantasy, for the next thousand years at least, small singularity propulsion using Hawking radiation to achieve a high fraction of the speed of light is mathematically sound and the most obvious future.

https://lifeboat.com/blog/2012/09/only-one-star-drive-can-work-so-far

That is, if humanity avoids an outbreak of engineered pathogens or any one of several other threats to our existence in that time frame.

Continue reading “Verne, Wells, and the Obvious Future Part 2” »

Jan 12, 2012

Reparations Could Have a Future

Posted by in categories: ethics, homo sapiens


This week Reuters reported:

“As many as 2,000 people forcibly sterilized under a past North Carolina program should be compensated $50,000 each, a panel voted on Tuesday, the first time a state has moved to pay victims of a discredited human selection program.”

There approximately 2000 living victims of the eugenics experiment conducted between 1929 and 1974 in the State of North Carolina. The short report released at a late hour of the business day (3:26PM) in a non-graphic format only commanded ‘24’ tweets by the time that I wrote this article some 24 hour later. These are extremely small viewership numbers for the magnitude of this article.

Governor Beverly Perdue provided political backing for the aforementioned compensation derived by a five member task-force. While this information may just seem as common as Interpol discovering some Waffen SS General in his late 90’s, it is not. The political and legal implications of this executive decision are wide spread. It is not the normal protocol of any government to give legal and financial incentive to its constituencies to demand (and receive) any type of indemnification. A greater question for the NC-Governor and the task force is: Why? While I’d expect to see some District and possibly even the Supreme Court push back on this legislation, there is a real opportunity posed to the pseudo-democratic body that is the United States from a legal, socio-cultural, and technological standpoint. Of course there is a real threat posed from an economic standpoint. Every affected entity (individual or institution) seeking reparations for their abuse, from slavery to agriculture subsidies, has some new grounds for argument; and further, in the fashion of capitalistic we should assume that every ambitious attorney is paying attention.

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Jan 11, 2012

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Eco-Disaster Areas

Posted by in categories: ethics, habitats, nuclear energy, sustainability

It was with great satisfaction that I watched a recent (Horizon?) documentary on the wildlife, wolf population and introduced endangerd species flourishing in the Chernobyl district in the abandonment of the area by mankind 25 years ago — with most not willing to hunt in the area for fear of contracting radiation poisoning. One wonders if this will be the template for the future, that eco-disaster areas will be abandoned to become our new wildlife sanctuaries. Or is it morally wrong to designate such areas as wildlife sanctuaries and wilfully expose the animal kindom to such levels of radiation?

After Fukushima the world was reawakened to the real danger of fault tollerance at nuclear power plants — but as a relatively clean technology is surely here to stay. Is there a need for a more inclusive debate on the location of such reactors to areas that are a) less likey to suffer natural disasters but b) also provide a suitable follow-on purpose in the event of area abandonment due to radiation. Opinions welcome.

Jan 10, 2012

Verne, Wells, and the Obvious Future Part 1

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, business, education, engineering, ethics, events, existential risks, finance, fun, futurism, media & arts, military, nuclear weapons, philosophy, physics, policy, robotics/AI, space, transparency

Steamships, locomotives, electricity; these marvels of the industrial age sparked the imagination of futurists such as Jules Verne. Perhaps no other writer or work inspired so many to reach the stars as did this Frenchman’s famous tale of space travel. Later developments in microbiology, chemistry, and astronomy would inspire H.G. Wells and the notable science fiction authors of the early 20th century.

The submarine, aircraft, the spaceship, time travel, nuclear weapons, and even stealth technology were all predicted in some form by science fiction writers many decades before they were realized. The writers were not simply making up such wonders from fanciful thought or childrens ryhmes. As science advanced in the mid 19th and early 20th century, the probable future developments this new knowledge would bring about were in some cases quite obvious. Though powered flight seems a recent miracle, it was long expected as hydrogen balloons and parachutes had been around for over a century and steam propulsion went through a long gestation before ships and trains were driven by the new engines. Solid rockets were ancient and even multiple stages to increase altitude had been in use by fireworks makers for a very long time before the space age.

Some predictions were seen to come about in ways far removed yet still connected to their fictional counterparts. The U.S. Navy flagged steam driven Nautilus swam the ocean blue under nuclear power not long before rockets took men to the moon. While Verne predicted an electric submarine, his notional Florida space gun never did take three men into space. However there was a Canadian weapons designer named Gerald Bull who met his end while trying to build such a gun for Saddam Hussien. The insane Invisible Man of Wells took the form of invisible aircraft playing a less than human role in the insane game of mutually assured destruction. And a true time machine was found easily enough in the mathematics of Einstein. Simply going fast enough through space will take a human being millions of years into the future. However, traveling back in time is still as much an impossibillity as the anti-gravity Cavorite from the First Men in the Moon. Wells missed on occasion but was not far off with his story of alien invaders defeated by germs- except we are the aliens invading the natural world’s ecosystem with our genetically modified creations and could very well soon meet our end as a result.

While Verne’s Captain Nemo made war on the death merchants of his world with a submarine ram, our own more modern anti-war device was found in the hydrogen bomb. So destructive an agent that no new world war has been possible since nuclear weapons were stockpiled in the second half of the last century. Neither Verne or Wells imagined the destructive power of a single missile submarine able to incinerate all the major cities of earth. The dozens of such superdreadnoughts even now cruising in the icy darkness of the deep ocean proves that truth is more often stranger than fiction. It may seem the golden age of predictive fiction has passed as exceptions to the laws of physics prove impossible despite advertisments to the contrary. Science fiction has given way to science fantasy and the suspension of disbelief possible in the last century has turned to disappointment and the distractions of whimsical technological fairy tales. “Beam me up” was simply a way to cut production costs for special effects and warp drive the only trick that would make a one hour episode work. Unobtainium and wishalloy, handwavium and technobabble- it has watered down what our future could be into childish wish fulfillment and escapism.

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Jan 6, 2012

The Internet is a Human Right, VINTON G. CERF is Mistaken

Posted by in categories: business, ethics, philosophy, policy, rants

Wednesday on the Opinion Pages of the NY Times the renowned Vinton Cerf “father of the internet” published an article titles Internet Access Is Not A Human Right. It could be argued that the key word here is “access”, but before I address access again, I should start with the definition of the internet. I had this debate while at Michigan State in October of 2010 with the philosopher Andrew Feenberg. I’ll do my best not to be redundant while everything is still live via the links in this article.

Perhaps the internet requires much more definition, as the roots of the word can be confusing. Inter: situated within – Net: any network or reticulated system of filaments or the like. Its terminology is synonymous with the “web” or a web, which requires multiple linkages to points of initiation in order to exist well. If this is the internet that Feenberg is referring to then I’d think it accurate. However, the internet is not actually a web of ever connected points. Information destinations are not required.

The internet is analogous to space. Regardless of whether or not we access space, its potential exists – we can access or insert entities of sorts into the space regardless of, if another user were present to receive information of sorts from the distributed. Space is a dynamic system of expanding material potential as is the internet’s material potential. The potential of the internet expands as users (or rather, potential users) access to the internet expands – access could come in many forms including, user population(s) growth or by computing speed or by computing power… The internet, regardless of the constraints of the word, it cannot be identified as a specific technology.

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Nov 18, 2011

Femtotechnology: AB-Needles Fantastic properties and Applications

Posted by in categories: cosmology, ethics, nanotechnology, physics

Femtotechnology: AB-Needles. Fantastic properties and Applications

after posting this on facebook.com and seeing its shared on Scribd.com I was a bit shocked by the community of reads in their disregard for these thoughts on Femtotechnology. One reader was quoted to say

I don’t understand why people bother talking about femtotech when we barely even have nanotech…

And while the reader’s voice should be heard, I like to think that if we can imagine it, its worth being a part of the tool box. These ideas are some +50 years in the making and just as nanotech or any other tech this literature predating our abilities is necessary in crafting human kinds exploration. So this entry is a bit activist, and so what smile #fullspeedahead.

Nov 13, 2011

D’Nile aint just a river in Egypt…

Posted by in categories: business, complex systems, cosmology, economics, education, ethics, existential risks, finance, futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, humor, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, neuroscience, open access, open source, philosophy, policy, rants, robotics/AI, space, sustainability

Greetings fellow travelers, please allow me to introduce myself; I’m Mike ‘Cyber Shaman’ Kawitzky, independent film maker and writer from Cape Town, South Africa, one of your media/art contributors/co-conspirators.

It’s a bit daunting posting to such an illustrious board, so let me try to imagine, with you; how to regard the present with nostalgia while looking look forward to the past, knowing that a millisecond away in the future exists thoughts to think; it’s the mode of neural text, reverse causality, non-locality and quantum entanglement, where the traveller is the journey into a world in transition; after 9/11, after the economic meltdown, after the oil spill, after the tsunami, after Fukushima, after 21st Century melancholia upholstered by anti-psychotic drugs help us forget ‘the good old days’; because it’s business as usual for the 1%; the rest continue downhill with no brakes. Can’t wait to see how it all works out.

Please excuse me, my time machine is waiting…
Post cyberpunk and into Transhumanism

Jul 30, 2011

Naveen Jain — Rethinking Sustainable Philanthropy

Posted by in categories: business, economics, education, ethics, philosophy, sustainability

There are as many ways to help another human being as there are people in need of help. For some, the urgent need is as basic as food and water. For others, it is an opportunity to develop a talent, realize an idea, and reach one’s full potential. Helping people get what they need most in life is at the heart of successful philanthropy.

However, you can’t simply give money away without thinking deeply about how and where the money will go and why you’re doing the giving. You need to approach philanthropy in a strategic and systematic way—just as an entrepreneur approaches a new venture. That’s the only way to make a self-sustaining difference in the world. That being said, here are five key ways to achieve sustainable success with your philanthropic efforts.

1. Open a Door
Helping people boost themselves out of poverty is the best way to make a lasting positive difference in a person’s life. A new skill, an introduction, an education—these gifts open doors that would otherwise remain closed. A promising beneficiary will walk through that door and create opportunities for others.

2. Define Your Passion
To have enduring impact, your philanthropic efforts should reflect the causes you are most passionate about. For me, one of those things is education: A good education is the most valuable thing you can give another person. My own philanthropic efforts have always included an educational element, whether it’s expanding opportunities to educate a promising mind or extending the brain’s ability to learn. If you follow your own passions, you’ll increase exponentially your chances of sustainable success.

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Mar 24, 2011

The Existential Importance of Life Extension

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, ethics, existential risks, life extension
The field of life extension is broad and ranges from regenerative medicine to disease prevention by nutritional supplements and phytomedicine. Although the relevance of longevity and disease prevention to existential risks is less apparent than the prevention of large-scale catastrophic scenarios, it does have a high relevance to the future of our society. The development of healthy longevity and the efficiency of modern medicine in treating age-related diseases and the question of how well we can handle upcoming issues related to public health will have a major impact on our short-term future in the next few decades. Therefore, the prospect of healthy life extension plays important roles at both a personal and a societal level.
From a personal perspective, a longevity-compatible lifestyle, nutrition and supplementary regimen may not only help us to be active and to live longer, but optimizing our health and fitness also increase our energy, mental performance and capacities for social interaction. This aids our ability to work on the increasingly complex tasks of a 21st-century world that can make a positive impact in society, such as work on existential risk awareness and problem-solving. Recently, I wrote a basic personal orientation on the dietary supplement aspect of basic life extension with an audience of transhumanists, technology advocates with a high future shock level and open-minded scientists in mind, which is available here.
On a societal level, however, aging population and public health issues are serious. A rapid increase of some diseases of civilization, whose prevalence also climbs rapidly with advanced age, is on the march. For example, Type-II-Diabetes is rapidly on its way to becoming an insurmountable problem for China and the WHO projects COPD, the chronic lung disease caused by smoking and pollution, as the third leading cause of death in 2030.
While the currently accelerating increase of diseases of civilization may not collapse society itself, the costs associated with an overaging population could significantly damage societal order, collapse health systems and impact economies given the presently insufficient state of medicine and prevention. The magnitude, urgency and broad spectrum of consequences of age-related diseases of civilization currently being on the march is captured very well in this 5-minute fact-filled presentation on serious upcoming issues of aging in our society today by the LifeStar Foundation. Viewing is highly recommended. In short, a full-blown health crisis appears to be looming over many western countries, including the US, due to the high prevalence of diseases of aging in a growing population. This may require more resources than available if disease prevention efforts are not stepped up as early as possible. In that case, the required urgent action to deal with such a crisis may deprive other technological sectors of time and resources, affecting organizations and governments, including their capacity to manage vital infrastructure, existential risks and planning for a safe and sufficient progress of technology. Hence, not caring about the major upcoming health issue by stepping up disease prevention efforts according to latest biomedical knowledge may indirectly pose challenges affecting our capabilities to handle existential risks.

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Dec 7, 2010

Top 10 lessons for becoming a successful entrepreneur — Naveen Jain

Posted by in categories: business, education, ethics

I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my adult life. Recently, on a long business flight, I began thinking about what it takes to become successful as an entrepreneur — and how I would even define the meaning “success” itself. The two ideas became more intertwined in my thinking: success as an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial success. I’ve given a lot of talks over the years on the subject of entrepreneurship. The first thing I find I have to do is to dispel the persistent myth that entrepreneurial success is all about innovative thinking and breakthrough ideas. I’ve found that entrepreneurial success usually comes through great execution, simply by doing a superior job of doing the blocking and tackling.

But what else does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur — and how should an entrepreneur define success?

Bored with the long flight, sinking deeper into my own thoughts, I wrote down my own answers.

Here’s what I came up with, a “Top Ten List” if you will:

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