Google Caught Misleading Users About Tracking Location Data

by Jack Davis


Google can always find you.

Contrary to claims Google was making to consumers, The Associated Press reported that some Google apps “automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.”

According to the AP, when a user simply opens the Maps app, that user’s location is stored.  Asking for weather updates means that a phone will note where the user was when the request was made.

But the AP also found random searches for subjects such as  “chocolate chip cookies,” or “kids science kits,” resulted in the phone tracking a user’s latitude and longitude.

Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist, had his lab test and verify the AP’s findings. The AP reported that whether the apps were installed on iPhones of Android phones, the results were the same. Mayer said that’s a problem.

“If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” Mayer said. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.”

The company said users are informed of what their phones are up to.

“Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete, or turn it off at any time,” the company said in a statement, Bloomberg News reported.

.“… we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions.”

Google needs to know where users are, one commentator said.

“They build advertising information out of data,” said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, an advertising technology company. “More data for them presumably means more profit.”

After the report revealed Google’s practices, the Electronic Privacy Information Center wrote to the Federal Trade Commission saying that Google’s action “clearly violates” a 2011 settlement with the government over Google’s privacy practices, the AP reported.
12:04 PM - 15 Aug 2018
WIRED‏Verified account @WIRED

If you use Google Maps, Google is tracking you right now. Even if you turned off Location History, the search giant still tracks and stores your location. There's a way to stop it—but it takes a lot of digging. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide Here

Google also responded to the report by making a change in what it told consumers, according to a follow-up AP report

Google formerly told users that “with Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

Google now says, “This setting does not affect other location services on your device.” It adds that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”

Google is owned by Alphabet Inc.

cience



Voters Consider Energy Price Hikes in Arizona, Nevada, Washington

by H. Sterling Burnett


Voters in Arizona, Nevada and Washington state will soon decide if they want to pay more for less reliable electricity.

Progressive California billionaire Tom Steyer is trying to take California’s energy policies on the road. California energy prices are among the highest in the country, and Golden State residents suffer more non-disaster-related blackouts and brownouts than any other state. In a vain effort to control the weather 100 years into the future, California has adopted policies that restrict fossil-fuel use and severely limit residents’ energy choices. The result: high energy prices and unreliable electricity that works only when the sun and wind cooperate.

At a time when residents and businesses are fleeing California to seek more affordable energy and homes, California is now trying to export its misguided energy policies beyond its borders.

This November, voters in Arizona and Nevada will consider ballot proposals that would mandate an increase in the proportion of electricity generated from renewable power sources to 50 percent by 2030. Both measures are bankrolled by Steyer.

Additionally, Washington state voters, for the second time in three years, will consider a ballot initiative to impose the nation’s first tax on carbon-dioxide emissions.

The plain truth is, if voters approve these initiatives they will be paying higher prices for energy with little or no environmental benefit. Numerous studies have revealed that states with renewable energy mandates have experienced increased energy prices. The Brookings Institution found replacing conventional power with wind power raises electricity prices by 50 percent. Even worse, replacing conventional power with solar power triples electricity costs. In short, the higher the mandate, the higher the costs.

Europe is further along the renewable energy path than the United States, and the results are telling. Despite a 25 percent increase in wind power and 6 percent growth in solar over the past decade, carbon emissions actually increased in 2017, by 1.8 percent, due to the fact that “idling fossil fuel plants must be quickly brought online when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, and, just like cars in traffic, idling engines produce more carbon emissions,” as reported by Nevada’s Sparks Tribune. Meanwhile, electricity costs across the European Union have increased by 23 percent during the past decade.

The same is true in the United States. Under its current renewable power mandate, Arizona produces 7 percent of its energy from wind and solar, an amount required to increase to 15 percent by 2025. The Energy Information Administration reports that meeting the current 7 percent requirement has already added $304 a year to the average Arizonan’s electric bill — meeting the 50 percent standard proposed in Steyer’s ballot initiative could cost Arizona residents an additional $2,100 annually.

The results are the same for Nevada. Over the last five years, the average Nevadan saw his or her electric bill rise by 11 percent, despite that nationally rates fell on average by 1 percent — and declined even more in states without green-energy mandates. This is due in part to Nevada’s existing renewable energy mandate.

A 2013 study commissioned by the Nevada Policy Research Institute showed that simply meeting the current requirement (utilities get 25 percent of the electric power they supply by 2025) would likely raise power prices by an additional 11 percent. This would also cost the state more than 3,000 jobs. Requiring 50 percent renewable energy just five years later, after the low hanging “inexpensive” power switching as already been accomplished, will make rates and job losses skyrocket even further.

Washington state’s carbon-dioxide tax would impose a penalty of $15 per metric ton on carbon-dioxide emissions, rising $2 per ton annually until the state meets its goal of reducing emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels. Evergreen State auditors found residents would pay approximately $2.2 billion more in taxes during its first five years of implementation, with gasoline prices likely to rise by 13 cents per gallon and the costs of home-heating oil likely to rise by 15 cents per gallon in 2020, the year the tax would take effect.

The higher energy prices and increased energy instability will be for naught with regards to preventing global warming. The United States is already reducing its emissions without such draconian policies, but even if it weren’t, nothing done in the United States can prevent a global rise in emissions because developing countries are adding huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they industrialize.

Only the IRS, politicians and climate fanatics could love these high-cost, no-return ballot initiatives. Let’s hope Arizona, Nevada and Washington state residents see through the green smokescreen the ballot initiatives’ advocates are emitting.


Trump, Educated by Heartland, Makes Bold Pitch for Climate Realism

President Trump has stood up more firmly for sound science and climate realism than any prior president.

President Donald Trump this week stood firm when subjected to a 60 Minutes interrogation on climate, making a bold pitch for climate realism. The Heartland Institute was happy to help the president in his successful efforts.

60 Minutes journalist Leslie Stahl began the interrogation by asking Trump if he thought climate change is a hoax. While declining to use the word “hoax,” Trump cast doubt on the notion that humans are creating a global warming crisis.

“Something’s changing and it’ll change back again…. But I don’t know that it’s manmade,” said Trump.

Trump referenced the economy-killing schemes proposed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, as well as the $100-billion-annual wealth transfers to developing nations under the Paris climate agreement.

“I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t want to be put at a disadvantage,” Trump explained.

When Stahl attempted to argue that scientists at NOAA and NASA make alarming global warming predictions, Trump immediately countered, “We have scientists that disagree with that.”

Scientists affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA have joined scores of other scientists making the case for global warming skepticism at The Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change series. Thousands of other scientists have signed the Oregon Petition, expressing similar skepticism about global warming alarmism.

Trump also noted that climate change has been a natural occurrence for millions of years.

Trump followed up his schooling of Leslie Stahl with an interview this Tuesday with the Associated Press.

Responding to a challenge about hurricanes, Trump observed the many hurricanes 50 or more years ago that were as strong or stronger as recent hurricanes.

“We had worse hurricanes in 1890. We had a worse hurricane 50 years ago. We’ve gone through a period, actually, fairly recently, where we have very few,” said Trump.

“What I’m not willing to do is sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows,” Trump insisted. “And you have scientists on both sides of the issue. And I agree the climate changes, but it goes back and forth, back and forth. So we’ll see.”

When presented with a “scientists say” question, Trump quickly saw through the misleading generalization and corrected it.

“No, no. Some say that and some say differently,” Trump noted.

The Heartland Institute has been happy to help President Trump understand the truth about climate change, as well as see through the traps the media constantly tries to spring on climate realists. During the White House transition after Trump’s election in November 2016, The Heartland Institute – at the request of Trump’s top staff – put together a PowerPoint presentation on climate change for the president’s viewing. His bold and powerful messaging on the topic and citation of global warming facts closely reflects The Heartland Institute’s views and published information on the topic.

President Trump has stood up more firmly for sound science and climate realism than any prior president. We look forward to helping him do more of the same throughout his presidency.


Personhood of a Transhuman and the Data Dilemma

by Gourav Krishna Nandi, Montana State University - Bozeman, MT


{An interesting 2014 article on what might constitute personhood in a transhuman- ED}

[“Data” refers to the anthropomorphized android from Star Trek]

Abstract

Personhood is often thought to be a characteristic possessed by those who can make decisions, have moral worth and responsibilities, and can participate in civil and political rights. Are these attributes exclusive to the naturally born and naturally maintained humans? If we, in the foreseeable future, are to adapt to the assimilation of individuals with technological enhancements in society, how should we regard the personhood of such enhanced sentient beings? In this paper, I use Hume's distinction between an idea and a belief to analyze our differences in the perception of personhood in a naturally born human and a transhuman. Using the instance of Julian Savulescu’s intelligent and independent observer and Gene Roddenberry’s android character Data, I argue that personhood is an evolving idea that does not depend on strict social constraints, but is similar to the mathematical definition of infinity, an abstract approximation.


Introduction

This paper explores the notion of anthropocentric bias against a transhuman individual

As neuro-informatics and cognitive sciences continue to flourish and impact the average citizen, the analysis of new technology driven social standards is paramount. I focus on a contemporary issue concerning personhood as a set of societal beliefs that would play such a role, if we are, in the foreseeable future, to adapt to a transhuman society.  At the outset, the paper analyzes the classical attributes of personhood from the lens of ideas and beliefs proposed by David Hume. Owing to the scope of this work, I limit the definition of personhood to its empirical association with the existence of the human, where personhood is an elementary entity that differentiates a human from a non-human; hence, personhood is inseparable from the human. The existence of a human implies the existence of personhood in them. The contrapositive states, if an individual does not possess personhood, they cannot be a human.  Furthermore, considering the limits, I concentrate on how transhumanism fits.

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into human society. In other words, can we consider a transhuman to be a human-individual who possesses personhood? How would technology affect such an idea? In an attempt to answer this, I contrast the separation of the human and the natural, from an oriental perspective proposed by Ryuichi Ida in his essay “Should we Improve Human Nature? An Interrogation from an Asian Perspective.”4    Lastly, I examine a concrete instance of what it means to be a human by using Gene Roddenberry’s android character Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation  to argue that being human and possessing personhood is an intangible idea, a mathematically and materialistically unreachable quantity, which is founded on the conceptions laid down by social constraints.5

 

2. Of Beliefs and Ideas:


According to David Hume, the belief of a concept is a subset of the idea of the concept itself.6 Every aspect of a belief is constrained in the set of ideas. 7  Mathematically, this results in the possible existence of the certain properties of a concept in which we can conceive and not believe. Hume further hypothesizes that the notion of both our ideas and our beliefs as molded by our experiences is empirically

4.  Ida, Ryuichi. Should we Improve Human Nature? An Interrogatio n from an Asian Perspective., Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human  Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

5.  Roddenberry, Gene. Star Trek: The Next Generation.

6.  “The idea of an object is an essential part of the belief of it, but not the whole.” Sec. vii Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief.  A Treatise of Human Nature.

7.  “We conceive many things, which we do not believe.” Sec. vii Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief. A Treatise of Human Nature.

 
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axiomatic.8   An idea of a concept is an immediate result of the sensory experiences of the world and its possible logical consequences, whereas, the belief  of a certain idea is dependent on the objective laws that the world is subjected to, in accordance to our senses. Hume provides the examples of a companion proposing the events concerning the death of Caesar in his bed, and mercury being heavier than gold.9   According to the proposed conjecture, the idea of Caesar’s death on his bed is conceivable through our sensory inputs, but the experience of the world with the historical evidence suggests otherwise.10  Caesar’s death on his bed is thus merely an idea , owing to the definition of death, a bed and our acquaintance with Caesar. I dismiss it as a belief   because history disproves it.

To equate this characteristic to the idea of transhumanism, I perform an empirical analysis. Let us begin with an example of a conception along Hume’s distinction of relations of ideas and matters of fact.11


Ideas/ Caesar’s death on his bed

Beliefs/ Caesar’s death by Brutus

 

Where does the personhood of a Transhuman lie in this venn diagram?

 

8.   Hume, D. Sec. vii  Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief.  A Treatise of Human Nature.

9.  Sec. vii Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief.

A Treatise of Human Nature. “more fusible, than lead, or mercury heavier than gold; it is evident, that notwithstanding my incredulity, I clearly understand his meaning, and form all the same ideas, which he forms ... is it possible for him to conceive any idea, which I cannot conceive; nor conjoin any, which I cannot conjoin.”

10.   Julius Caesar (100 BCE - 44 BCE) was assassinated in the Roman senate

11.   Hume, D. Sec. vii Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief.  A Treatise of Human Nature.


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In the Enquiry (1748), Hume states that all ideas are derived from their impressions, which he maintains are the results of sensations.12  What I deduce from experience are therefore copies of my sensations. He reasons that even the basic axioms require oneself to possess knowledge which are the results of the accumulation of sense experiences, impressions, that cannot be exclusively deduced by reason.13   The idea of a green grass-blade, for an instance, consists of several components, all of which may be reduced to the senses. The perception of the color of the grass-blade is dependent on my visual senses. The visible light waves, consisting of various wavelengths reflect from the blade. The color that I perceive as green is the result of the absorption of all other wavelengths by the grass-blade. The shape of the blade is subjected to my touch senses. As such, the idea of a grass-blade is dependent on the conception of its various components. The existence of the grass blade in my mind is what Hume calls an idea.14   The components of the conception of the blade are constant in me as a result of previous experiences. However, the capability to stretch the idea of the grass blade in accordance to my conceptions is what I further contemplate, as the idea of personhood and its relation to the concept of transhumanism. The belief of the grass, on the other hand, includes just the possibility of the occurrence of the idea.  For instance, my brain has noticed in the past, the presence of snow on a grass-blade. But, it never contemplates the existence of a white grass-blade, for it is in the domain of an idea and not a belief. The green-ness of the blade is a component of its concept, and I

 

12.  Hume, D.An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.

13.   Hume, D. Sec. vii Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief.  A Treatise of Human Nature.

14.  Hume, D. Sec. vii  Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief.  A Treatise of Human Nature.

 

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argue that such contemplation of notion of a white grass blade is similar to the concept of a human transhuman, an individual who is transhuman despite possessing the properties of personhood. Let us contemplate the accepted notions of being a human. Humans are born naturally; they have naturally endowed characteristics, which a transhuman does not possess. Hence, I have a socially held belief on whom to assign the “human” tag. Transhumanism underscores the idea of surpassing the natural order, in order to improve the physical and the mental faculty of the human.15   In the next chapter, I use the analogy of Hume’s empirical propositions to classify physical enhancements and broadly the notion of personhood, as an approximation.16

 

2.1 Ryuichi Ida’s concept review

 

It might be assumed as an axiom, under the constraint of our technological and sociological progress, that a human becomes a transhuman only after the application of enhancements, which would not have been present without the existence of present technology.

Ryuichi Ida asserts that the concept of enhancements that pertains to physical and mental enhancements are artificial; a nano-chip inserted into the brain to increase


15.  I describe the natural order as is done by Ida: enhancing the individual in a way that wouldnot have been possible without the humans.

16.  Approximation is equivalent to limiting value in calculus. I use the word to attribute the abilityof, say ‘n’ to reach a value ‘b’. When we state that n is an approximation to the value b, it impliesthat n limits toward the value of b, but never reaches b. Mathematically, n ~  b, but n not = b.

 

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memory and to aid in extensive learning can provide an instance in this regard.17   The existence of the humans is paramount to the existence of the nano-chip. The nano-chip needed the humans to be in the current state of technology. According to Ida, the enhancement using the nano-chip is not natural, i.e, had the humans been absent from the chain of events, the chip would never have existed. However, this stance does not affirm that the existence of the humans is unnatural.

Now, every mention of an improvement in the physical and mental capabilities of a human underscores an artificial enhancement. Ida asserts there is a difference between natural enhancements and artificial enhancements of an individual. He provides an objective illustration: A candidate studying every day for a demanding examination and being rewarded with the highest grade can be termed as the realization of the person using their naturally given capabilities. The mental enhancement that results from a continuous practice using the natural endowments of a person is what, according to the Ida, constitutes the oriental definition of a natural enhancement. However, he opposes the view, where an examinee uses genetic enhancement to improve their performance in the examination. Such a modification, according to Ida, is artificial and accounts for the “control and management of nature through knowledge and technology.”18    I may conclude that Ida’s position implies that every enhancement that is possible due to the presence of the modern humans and

 

17.  Ida, Ryuichi. Should we Improve Human Nature? An Interrogation from an Asian Perspective.

Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

18.   Ida, Ryuichi. Should we Improve Human Nature? An Interrogation from an Asian Perspective.

Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

 

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their technological growth is termed as unnatural. Here, the usage of the word “modern” is important, as the enhancements caused due to pre-historic agricultural and urban settlements are considered by Ida as natural.19

 

3. Enhancements as beliefs and concepts

 

Despite Ida’s perception of technology as artificial, he maintains that the humans are fundamentally natural. However, the way the humans have used the natural resources during their evolution to develop technology has separated them from nature, and is thus, unnatural. As such, transhumans can exist if only we develop artificial enhancements. Such individuals cannot be termed as natural and therefore personhood cannot be associated with a transhuman. In the Venn diagram of ideas and beliefs, Ida would place the personhood of a transhuman outside the domain of beliefs.  Humans are thought to have a natural order, and the enhancements acts as a deviation from the natural to create a transhuman is unnatural.

 

3.1 Savulescu’s independent observer

 

Extending Ida’s premise of the natural human, I state two possible attributes of being human: it is an attainable state of existence or it is a mathematical state of approximation.20  If the notion of personhood an intangible concept, like infinity, personhood can be approximated to, but never reached physically. Whereas, if it is an

 

19.  Ida considers agriculture, which involves the cultivation of the land and the manipulation of the

natural order in the land ecosystem. His concerns begins with technology. I consider, in a later section, the definition of technology. Should any tool making be termed as technology, or is it just the modern improvements? In other words, how different is the building of a chisel to that of a computer?

20.  I use the terms being human and personhood interchangeably

 

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attainable state, there is a set of clauses, obtaining which, an individual can possess personhood. Moreover, if human nature is a mathematical approximation of propositions, individuals whom I consider transhumans in the contemporary society, may be defined as humans in a transhumanist society, for a change in the social paradigms would witness the growth of the set of beliefs. Here, I reason that enhancement cannot make us any more or any less human, using the view of an independent observer, a view which is against the oriental perspective as asserted by Ida.21

 

3.1.1 The Natural and the Artificial to the Independent Observer

 

The differentiation of the human and the natural underscores the separation of the two. It asserts the East Asian perspective upheld by Ida, who considers living amidst nature, but excludes the human when considering natural.22  However, the differentiation of the unnatural from the natural enhancement is a propensity that is historically evident in both the Eastern and the Western traditions, where philosophers have sought to distinguish between the natural and the human.

In an attempt to nullify this distinction, I consider Savulescu’s independent observer. Let us contemplate a hypothetical scenario where there exists an intelligent species on a different star system, who apparently, have developed warp drive and traveled to Earth to observe human activities. From the perspective of our visitor,

 

21.  Savulescu, Julian. Prejudice and Moral Status of Enhanced Beings.  Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

22.  Ida, Ryuichi. Should we Improve Human Nature? An Interrogation from an Asian Perspective.

Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

 

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anthropocentric values are inconsistent; their superior intelligence affirms that our technological developments and the reworking of the Earth’s surface, to them, is synonymous to our view of say, the chimpanzee using tools and displaying empathy. Savulescu terms such an observer, an independent one, who is not only devoid of my anthropocentric biases, but is also able to comprehend human intelligence. Our premise examines if the independent observer would consider our creations natural. We often attribute the same characteristic of animals using tools to the chimpanzee who uses a tool and the hummingbird who builds its nest. I reason that the association of our building of a modern city and the building of the ant-hill by the army ants to the intelligent observer is coherent and logically consistent with the premise that the observer is more intelligent than both the species. To them, without the presence of the army ants on the planet, the ant colonies and the ant-hill would never have existed, as would a city of humans without the humans. The hypothesis is also a reminder to us that our creation of advanced tools and computer technology is but a better manipulation of the natural resources available to us. The army ant uses its own armor (its natural endowment) and twigs (utilization of natural resources) to dig the soil and create the ant-hill. Similarly, we use advanced iron ore, and bricks and cement (advanced utilization of natural resources) to create buildings in a city. Evidently, to the observer, the distinction between the ants and the humans is in the advancements of tool making. As such, when we invent physical enhancements to create a transhuman, the inherent nature of the device would be termed natural to such an observer. The argument bridges the gap between the human and the natural, which in the first place existed because of our human-centric approach to the problem. The transhuman, I can


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reason, is a natural product, owing to the advanced use of the natural resources available to us.

To return to the initial argument concerning the beliefs and the ideas of a natural and an artificial enhancement, I conclude that the enhancement as a natural process is an idea for Ida, which exists as a belief to the independent observer. So far, I have concluded that the enhancements required to create a transhuman are natural; let us now explore the personhood of a transhuman. Due to the scope of this paper, I limit myself to the attribution of personhood to the transhuman individual. I assume personhood as a natural characteristic of the human individual owing to its development in us without any unnatural process. The human tag is associated with an individual who possesses personhood, as I discussed in the introduction. To analyze the possibility of a transhuman to be perceived as a human, in the following section, I study the fictional character Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

 

4. Data and Personhood

 

Data is an android character created by Gene Roddenberry for his popular science fiction series. The android is anthropomorphic in its appearance and functions. Data is programmed to evolve, and his goal is to become more and more human. According to Gene Roddenberry, the character was to be the closest one can be to a human without being a human.23  Nevertheless, the quintessential requirement to be a human, as mentioned above, is the possession of personhood. Data is a transhuman;

 

23.   Savulescu, Julian.  Prejudice and Moral Status of Enhanced Beings.Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

 

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he has capabilities, which transcends the physical and mental capacities of the average human. He is stronger, can think faster, and though made of silicon, he is able to evolve. At the outset, I shall consider Data a life form, as urged by Roddenberry.24   Besides, according the prevalent NASA’s definition of life, Data is capable to reproducing and evolving in a Darwinian approach. However, is Data a person? To answer this question, I retreat to Hume’s ideas and beliefs  to differentiate between Data’s personhood considering our social paradigms.



4.1 Beliefs and Ideas concerning transhumanism


According to Ida, Data does not possess the characteristics about the ideals of personhood, owing to his artificial birth. I shall analyze Data’s status quo as a human, despite his physical differences. Ida’s foremost appeal towards a human person is arguably an attempt to nullify the idea of unnatural improvements. In the previous two sections, we have concluded that from the view of an unbiased, independent observer, the improvements are natural, even if they include an enhancement using technology.

According to the Star Trek canon, given the right circumstances, Data acts like a human.25  Alan Turing pioneered the idea of a machine imitating a human in his famous experiment where the machine is able to fool the human into making him think that the machine was a human. He delved into the idea of a thinking machine. Data’s nature is similar to the dichotomy I analyzed in the first section. Firstly, he is an android. He is made of silicon chips rather than flesh and blood. He lacks the accepted definition of a human, but Roddenberry came up with the idea of an emotion chip, a device when

 

24.  Roddenberry, Gene. “Datalore”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation, Paramount, 1987. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

25.  Roddenberry, Gene.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.

 

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placed in Data’s circuits makes him “experience” human emotions.26   Often, Data is incapable of handling the emotions that he is subjected to due to their mathematical complexity, but the fact that he can experience a new emotion that is not controlled by the machine acts for the argument of assigning personhood with Data. He is able to think, to sacrifice, to love, to feel pain and even get confused with the emotion chip. As such, with the device implanted in Data’s body transforms the android into an individual having personhood. But should such an individual be called a human being? It can be argued that Data acts as a nonhuman with the subtraction of a certain chemical in their brain, but I reason that the lack of certain chemicals in the human brain can render a naturally born human, a non-person. As such, the criteria I discussed about Data’s personhood is consistent with humans as well; the fact that it’s an emotion chip that prevents Data from being a human is compatible logically.

 

4.2 Personhood as an approximation

 

As such, I can reason that the concept of transhuman is just an idea of an extended human. It’s a trans-person, someone more capable in some respect and less capable in other aspects of an individual socially accepted as a human. This is especially true for those who claim that being human cannot be reduced to a set of specific clauses; it is an intangible property.

 At the beginning of the paper, I limited myself to the empirical association of personhood to being human. Every individual who is a human possesses personhood. This condition does not necessarily imply that every possessor of personhood is a human. Rather, anyone not having personhood devoid themselves off the idea of being

 

26.  Roddenberry, Gene. “Generations”. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Paramount, 1987. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

 

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a human. Data, on the other hand, as I concluded, has personhood. He shows every characteristic that would tag him the notion of being a human. As such, being human has a necessary condition in personhood. Since, I have concluded that personhood is limited mostly by my acceptance of ideas into beliefs, I reason, there are no set of reducible clauses that would define the personhood of an individual.

 

5.  Conclusion

 

The essay began with an inspiration in popular science fiction, and how the ideas relating to personhood apply to Data, the anthropomorphized android from Star Trek.27

 

 I borrow the idea of mathematical infinity to reflect upon his goal. Infinity, for all its uses in

calculus, has never been defined. It is the abstract notion of a number which is larger than every other number imagined by the human mind. From Hume’s empirical point of view, infinity is not in the domain of a belief, for it’s incoherent with human experience. The only way I can define infinity is by limiting myself to the idea.  As an instance a statement in symbolic mathematics,

 

limn  --> infinity 1/ n = 0

implies that the value of 1/ n is 0, when n tends to infinity. Here, n is an integer; it never actually reaches infinity for an integer is presumed to be in the domain of a belief, it has an empirical existence in the human mind. As such, despite the immensity of its value, n always represents a number, which excludes the possibility of being infinite. The above expression, thus is concerned about the value that 1/n obtains, as n becomes larger,

 

27.  The choice to include Data ahead of C3PO or other androids is based on Data’s goal throughout the Star Trek series:  to become as close to being a human without becoming a human.

 

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which is 0.  In other words, the statement doesn’t prove the equivalence of the value of

n to infinity but of the equivalence of the value of 1/n to 0.

 

The analysis of Data’s personhood has synonymity in the definition of his goal: to become human.

 

Ideas/ Personhood of Data

Beliefs/ Accepted notion of personhood

 

The figure points out two constraints:

•to be a member of the set of beliefs, a concept has to be a set of ideas (Hume’s definition).

•the set of beliefs and the set of ideas are not necessarily equal. In other words, there are ideas which may not be beliefs.

Data’s personhood would be recognized by the social constraints as I learn that from an independent observer’s position, it’s our limitations that would not confer personhood on Data in the present society. I have drawn the set of beliefs in dotted lines to represent an ever changing set of the societal paradigms and our acceptance of who is a human; a notion that, in time, will broaden enough to include the personhood of Data. Personhood, as such, is alike infinity which is abstract, on its own, but tends to function when applied to a physical object to which I am acquainted. As I, from an unbiased approach define the relationship of Data and the notion of being human, I

 

PAGE 16:

observe an equivalence between Data and a human, as he evolves towards his personhood.28

 

Mathematically,

 

limData --> Personhood Data = Human”


28.  Savulescu, Julian. Prejudice and Moral Status of Enhanced Beings.  Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

 

PAGE 17:  REFERENCES

Hume, D. Sec. vii

Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief. A Treatise of Human Nature.

 

Hume, D. Sec. vii

Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief. A Treatise of Human Nature.

 

Hume, D., An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.

 

Hume, D. Sec. vii

Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief. A Treatise of Human Nature

 

.•Ida, Ryuichi. Should we Improve Human Nature? An Interrogation from an Asian Perspective.

Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

 

Ida, Ryuichi. Should we Improve Human Nature? An Interrogation from an Asian Perspective.

Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

 

Manzo, Silvia. "Francis Bacon: Freedom, Authority and Science."  British Journal for the History of Philosophy  14.2 (2006): 245-73. ProQuest.Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

 

Morris, John. "Pattern Recognition in Descartes' Automata."  Isis  60 (1969): 451-60. ProQuest.

Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Rozemond, Marleen. "Descartes's Case for Dualism."  Journal of the History of Philosophy

 33.1 (1995): 29-63.  ProQuest. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Roddenberry, Gene.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Savulescu, Julian. Prejudice and Moral Status of Enhanced Beings. Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

 

PAGE 18:

Savulescu, Julian. Prejudice and Moral Status of Enhanced Beings. Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

Roddenberry, Gene. Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Savulescu, Julian. Prejudice and Moral Status of Enhanced Beings.  Savulescu, Julian; Bostrom, Nick, eds. Human Enhancement. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009: 59-70.

Roddenberry, Gene. “Datalore”. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Paramount, 1987. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

Roddenberry, Gene. “Generations”. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Paramount, 1987. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

Taub, Liba. Ptolemy's Universe: The Natural Philosophical and Ethical Foundations of Ptolemy's Astronomy., 1993. ProQuest. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.

Xenophanes, Clement of Alexandria, Book V. 110.


FOOTNOTES:

1.  I generalize the notion of a transhuman, where an  individual with any form of enhancement that enables them to better their functioning, physically or mentally, is called a transhuman.

Also, considering that our understanding is materialized by perception, I consider bias to be an a-priori tautology. We perceive matter, as it were, through the senses. In other words, spatial and temporal occurrences in nature trigger the stimulus that engender into (engender into?) the perceptions we undergo. What we perceive as physical objects are the result of the reactions due to events that cause the materialization of the physical objects.

2.  “Personhood” is often taken to have a very special and specific meaning in philosophy —those things with personhood have moral latency; that is, they are objects of moral concern, are worthy of being cared about, have rights, have responsibilities, etc. Persons often are thought to be those things that can make decisions, or, at the very least, are things that we make decisions about legally and morally, because they are important and worthy of moral judgment.

3.  Personhood => Human

               not (Human) => not(Personhood)





[Note:  Amazing -- another plunge into philosophy -- this time by a transhumanist using a modern philosopher (Hume-the-empiricist and utilitarian) and a special mathematical formula to justify Posthuman “Personhood” -- specifically, the “personhood” of Data, the Star Trek android!  If ever there was an example of someone using the subject matter and method of one field (math) while trying to analyze the subject matter of a different field (philosophical anthropology, or how to define “a human being”) it is this article -- and apparently he doesn’t even know that he is violating the division and methods of the “sciences”!  (Same weird phenomenon with engineers, physicists and mathematicians doing human genetics in biology!).  E.g., you can’t study math with a microscope, and you don’t have a bus driver perform brain surgery!  Another sizzling failure of NanoBioInfoCogno.  (Whoever thought that up?!).

Not to mention that all “modern” philosophies (including utilitarian bioethics) are riddled with problems that real philosophers are fully aware of, and Hume is no exception -- especially the theoretically devastating “mind/body split”.   Additionally, David Hume (1711-1776):

“ ... questioned common notions of personal identity, and argued that there is no permanent “self” that continues over time. He dismissed standard accounts of causality and argued that our conceptions of cause-effect relations are grounded in habits of thinking, rather than in the perception of causal forces in the external world itself.  ...  In the philosophy of religion, he argued that it is unreasonable to believe testimonies of alleged miraculous events, and he hints, accordingly, that we should reject religions that are founded on miracle testimonies. ...  In moral theory, against the common view that God plays an important role in the creation and reinforcement of moral values, he offered one of the first purely secular moral theories, which grounded morality in the pleasing and useful consequences that result from our actions. He introduced the term “utility” into our moral vocabulary, and his theory is the immediate forerunner to the classic utilitarian views of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.”  Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, at:  http://www.iep.utm.edu/hume/

But this writer is apparently clueless as to the “cons” of Humean philosophy or of utilitarian bioethics which render irrelevant this writer’s wished-for conclusion below --including the “cons” of transhumanist/bioethicist student of Peter Singer, Savulescu.  In a real philosophical analysis it is required to acknowledge both the “pros” and the “cons” of any particular philosophical position and respond to those “cons” before adopting that philosophical position as your own -- otherwise your opponent will gladly hurl them at you.  You can’t just pick and choose bits and pieces of a particular philosophical tradition that please you and gets you where you want to go, and ignore the bits and pieces that you don’t want.

And while some “personhood” standards and definitions of "a human being" are simply matters of "evolving" social constructions (such as that proposed in the following article), not all “personhood” standards are.  Indeed, some are inherently empirically grounded in our objective knowledge of human beings -- whole human beings, that is.  [See Irving, “Philosophical and scientific expertise:  An evaluation of the arguments on ‘personhood’”, Linacre Quarterly February 1993, 60:1:18-46, at:  http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_04person1.html;   also "What is 'bioethics'?" (June 3, 2000), at:  http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_36whatisbioethics01.html].

I do wonder what kind of “academic” organization would even want to post the following hypothetical space-alien perspective of the "independent observer" using symbolic mathematical/utilitarian philosophical/bioethical  “analysis” to argue for the possible social-constructed “personhood” for posthumans based on infinity.   But I’m sure NBIC and WTEC -- and Roddenberry -- will love it.  PS -- if you can’t follow the “logic” of the following article, or get dizzy, it’s not you.  The article first appeared here. --  DNI]

 







IEET’s George Dvorsky offers course on Introduction to Transhumanism

{An interesting 2014 article demonstrating an artificially stimulated interest in transhumanism - ED].


by Institute for “Ethics” and Emerging Technologies (IEET)
(Co-founded by transhumanists James Hughes and Oxford don Nick Bostrom)

IEET’s George Dvorsky offers course on Introduction to Transhumanism

George Dvorsky, prominent futurist, writer on ethics and technology and Chairman of the IEET Board of Directors, is offering his:  Introduction to Transhumanism course during May, from May 1st to May 31st, 2014.

This course introduces the philosophy and socio-cultural movement that is transhumanism. We will survey its core ideas, history, technological requirements, potential manifestations, and ethical implications. Topics to be discussed will include the various ways humans have tried to enhance themselves throughout history, the political and social aspects of transhumanism, the technologies required to enhance humans (including cybernetics, pharmaceuticals, genetics, and nanotechnology), and the various ways humans may choose to use these technologies to modify and augment their capacities (including radical life extension, intelligence augmentation, and mind uploading). Along the way we will discuss social and ethical problems that might be posed by human enhancement.

Schedule and readings: Specific reading and discussion goals are set for each week, and students can proceed at their own pace. There are no live events planned. An assortment of resources will be used, including academic papers, online presentations, instructional videos, and popular articles. Everything about the course and all readings are provided within the PSA Moodle website. Course lectures, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive George Dvorsky’s replies in discussion forums. There is nothing “live” you can miss – log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7, throughout May.

Ask George about this course by tweeting to him at twitter.com/dvorskyor posting on his facebook wall at www.facebook.com/gdvorsky

Canadian futurist, science writer, and ethicist George Dvorsky has written and spoken extensively about the impacts of cutting-edge science and technology—particularly as they pertain to the improvement of human performance and experience. George is a contributing editor at io9 where he writes about science, culture, and futurism. A founding member of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, he is its Chair of the Board and the founder and program director for its Rights of Non-Human Persons program. In addition, George is the co-founder and president of the Toronto Transhumanist Association and has served on the Board of Directors for Humanity+ for two terms. His work has been featured in such publications as The Guardian, the BBC, CBC, Forbes, the New York Times, Slate, Radio Free Europe, and al-Jazeera. He is also an avid CrossFitter, an ancestral health enthusiast, and an accomplished music performer, composer, and recording engineer.




[Note:  Couldn’t be more “in their own words” and “in your face”.  Let’s remember that bioethics founder Art Caplan is on the IEET board of trustees, so we already know which “ethics” they use, including utilitarian’s “for the greater good” and the libertine bioethics principle of absolute “autonomy”:  http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/bio/caplan/;  also,

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/category/C46.   And of course, see a good upfront description of transhumanism/futurism/posthumanism in the recent articles by transhumanists, at:  http://wavism.net/principles/what-is-social-futurism/, and at  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-transhumanistphilosopher/201404/transhumanist-explores-new-type-community (Bitcoin and all). The article first appeared here.

‘Unhackable’ Apple Embarrassed by Teen Who Dumped Secure Data in Folder Named ‘Hacky Hack Hack’

by Jack Davis


A 16-year-old boy was so fascinated with his favorite technology company that he hacked his way into Apple’s servers, stealing 90 gigabytes worth of files and accessing customer accounts as well.

The Children’s Court in Melbourne, Austrailia, heard the case Thursday, in which the teen pleaded guilty. The teen’s name is being withheld by the court.

His defense lawyer said the teen was so well known in the hacking community that sharing details of the case could put him at risk.

The teen said he “dreamed of” working for Apple, and decided to hack his way into their servers, something he did for about a year.

The boy’s hacking exploits came to an end last year when the Australian Federal Police executed a search warrant on his home, The Age reported.

While the attacker tried to hide his identity, Apple was able to identify the serial numbers of the laptops used to perform the attacks, and that’s how the investigation led to Australia, according to the New York Post.

Police also found a trove of hacking files and instructions in a folder titled “hacky hack hack.”

Apple trumpeted its role in eventually finding the hacker.

“At Apple, we vigilantly protect our networks and have dedicated teams of information security professionals that work to detect and respond to threats,” the company said in a statement, according to The Guardian.

“In this case, our teams discovered the unauthorized access, contained it, and reported the incident to law enforcement,” the statement said.

However, the teen also helped get himself caught by bragging about what he had done on WhatsApp, police said.

Apple insisted that despite what was said in court, no personal accounts were compromised

“We … want to assure our customers that at no point during this incident was their personal data compromised,” its statement said. .[Yeah, right! - ED]

Suelette Dreyfus, a privacy expert from the University of Melbourne, is urging that the teen be treated with leniency, saying kids push limits online just as they do everywhere else.

“I have researched a number of teen hacker cases internationally,” Dreyfus said.

“Almost all these teens grew out of the technology boundary-pushing of their youth, and then went on to live useful lives and contributing to society. Putting them in prison is often a waste of that potential,” she said.

“Young people often make mistakes when they are exploring and rule-breaking especially online — including boasting about their exploits. It’s not right, but for tech teens, it can be a part of growing up … there’s usually a really worried teen and family at the end of this sort of court case,” Dreyfus concluded.








Jack Davis is a free-lance writer. Writing as "Rusty" Davis, he is a Spur Award-nominated writer whose first two novels, “Wyoming Showdown” and “Black Wind Pass” were published by Five Star Publishing.

What You Need to Know About EPA’s New Boss Andrew Wheeler

by H Sterling Burnett


Former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s resignation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) marked the end of a productive but tumultuous period for the agency. The good news? Pruitt’s replacement, Andrew Wheeler, will likely continue the needed reforms Pruitt began. In the immortal words of The Who, “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss.”

However history judges Pruitt’s tenure at EPA, critics and supporters can agree he initiated a series of efforts to fundamentally transform the antiquated agency. He ended sue-and-settle agreements; reshaped its science advisory committees; reduced graft; and rolled back myriad regulatory actions, including the Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, the massive increase in the Corporate Fuel Economy Standard (CAFE), and various energy efficiency mandates for appliances. Thanks to Pruitt, EPA is finally changing how it conducts business.

You might be concerned that Pruitt’s absence could result in a complete change in course, but fear not! President Donald Trump’s energy and environment agenda will not substantively change with Wheeler’s ascension to the agency’s top post.

Sadly, and not surprisingly, environmental zealots treated Wheeler’s appointment as though it is the end of the world. A Huffington Post headline stated, “Scott Pruitt’s Replacement Is Even Worse.” In the article, Frank O’Donnell, president of the left-wing group Clean Air Watch, stated, “This is like rearranging deck chairs on the environmental Titanic.”

The Left’s histrionic response to Wheeler mirrors its response to Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. Regardless of an appointee’s qualifications, anyone Trump nominates to lead the EPA will inevitably be tarred and feathered by the Left and braded a climate-change-denying polluter. 

Environmentalists dread Wheeler for the same reason small-government advocates applaud him: Wheeler could be even more effective than Pruitt at rolling back onerous regulations. EPA’s new chief has significant experience working within and outside of the agency. In fact, Wheeler won awards for his work at the agency between 1991 through 1995. Subsequently, Wheeler worked as majority staff director and chief counsel at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, with EPA oversight. Wheeler will be more than capable to rein in EPA overreach.

The regulatory rollback at EPA started under Pruitt is expected to increase with Wheeler at the helm. EPA is currently working on overhauling CPP, WOTUS, and CAFE to improve transparency and ease compliance with commonsense guidelines.

In his short time as the agency’s acting administrator, there has been no shortage of statements supporting Wheeler as a more disciplined, less scandal prone replacement for Pruitt.

“We have full confidence in Andrew both from his past experience and the job he has done at EPA,” Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the Washington Examiner. “We think he will carry on the Trump reform agenda in a really competent way.”

“For the top people at the EPA, the various Pruitt accusations have been a real challenge and a distraction,” Ebell continued. “Once Pruitt is gone, and Andrew is in charge, people will get back to doing their jobs everyday rather than accusations.”

“With Andy Wheeler stepping in to replace Pruitt, I think we’ll see a change in style but not in substance,” Jeff Holmstead, a former deputy administrator of the EPA in the George W. Bush administration, told the Washington Examiner. “Andy probably is the ideal person to lead EPA at this point.

“Pruitt got a lot of regulatory reforms started, but he’s never worked a regulatory agency and didn’t fully understand the administrative process and what it would take to get them finalized. Andy certainly does,” Holmstead said. “He’s worked on these issues for years and may actually be more effective than Pruitt when it comes to carrying out the reforms that Pruitt started.”

No one knows exactly what Wheeler’s tenure might mean for EPA climate policy. Driven by the endangerment finding, EPA has begun the process of drafting a replacement of CPP. However, if Wheeler’s past statements are any indication of EPA’s future actions, it seems like sound science will replace climate alarmism.

The Huffington Post notes in 2010, while working for the Senate, Wheeler “accused the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of blurring ‘the lines between science and advocacy’ and functioning ‘more as a political body than a scientific body,’ suggesting EPA could ‘reconsider its endangerment finding without almost exclusively relying upon the IPCC.’”

All Trump administration officials operate under an intense (and biased) media spotlight. It is difficult, if not impossible, for any Trump appointee to stay below the radar, but if anyone can remain effective and ethical, Andrew Wheeler certainly can. With his knowledge of the inner-workings of EPA’s regulatory processes and his low-key, non-confrontational style, Wheeler can complete the job Pruitt started and restore the EPA back to its mission:protect human health and the environment.



A Transhumanist Explores a New Type of Community - "Zero State"

[A 2014 article from transhumanist Amon Twyman who is an advocate of radical social and technological change leading to a zero state, no gender, no individuality, no freedom, where the majority are nothing more than engineered man-machines comprising the vast part of a one world community under autocratic control.  His statement; ".. direct democratic action to circumvent obsolete political institutions." promotes the 'social justice' of Aldous Huxley's eugenics world dream via 'mob rule' anarchy  - ED ]

Interview with Zero State founder and transhumanist Dr. Amon Twyman. [Emphasis DNI]

Rapid advances in technology are paving the way for new ideas about the future, including those of the communities we live in. I had a chance to catch up with transhumanist, Zero State founder, and cognitive scientist Dr. Amon Twyman, who is a leader of one such community that is exploring new directions for the betterment of humanity

Dr. Amon Twyman

 

Q. Dr. Twyman, What is Zero State?

A. Zero State (ZS) is a community that grew out of the transhumanist movement back in 2011. It’s now part of a broad coalition of groups and movements that we call WAVE, referring to a coming wave of radical technological and social change. The basic ZS idea is to create networks of people and resources which could evolve into a distributed, virtual State. Right now there are only a few thousand ZSers (albeit well connected to much larger networks), but in a hypothetical full-blown Zero State there would be tens of millions or more, all supporting each other and being part of a single nation no matter where they live in the world. Our motto is "positive social change through technology."

 Q. How does transhumanism relate to ZS?

A. Our core principles and ideas are deliberately compatible with transhumanism. That comes naturally, as ZS grew out of transhumanism and our most active “citizens” tend to self-identify as Transhumanists. That said, it’s important to stress that people don’t have to be transhumanists to join ZS. More generally, we consider ourselves to be a “Social Futurist” community, which is to say that we believe technological breakthroughs don’t happen in a social vacuum. There are social, economic, and political issues which not only stubbornly continue to exist in the face of techno-optimism, but which are sometimes greatly exacerbated by technological change. In short, we believe that technology should be applied to improving the human condition on both physiological and societal levels.

Q. How can ZS help the world?

A. In the first instance, we are focused on helping ZS’ citizens, or more accurately, helping them to help each other. An increasing number of people are finding themselves in need of help of one type or another these days, and we would like to demonstrate that mutual support is made more achievable than ever before thanks to the power of cutting-edge technologies. We tend to focus on bringing together people and ways to access current technologies such as meshnets, cryptocurrency, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, while exploring ideas such as longevity, super-intelligence & wellbeing, accelerating change, and direct democratic action to circumvent obsolete political institutions. Beyond working to help our own people, we actively work to support the wider network of like-minded groups and believe that compassionately, intelligently applied technology has the potential to improve the lives of everybody in the world.

 Q. How did you come to be the founder of ZS?

A. My background is in a combination of psychological research (consciousness and decision making, Artificial Intelligence) and digital & performing arts. Although I’d read my fair share of science fiction as a kid, I decided I was a transhumanist while studying at university, after reading “Mind Children” by Hans Moravec. Over time, my various interests in art, science, transhumanism, and contemporary social/political issues coalesced into a coherent worldview, and I eventually decided to form an organization to pursue these ideas. The result, Zero State, was heavily informed by my experience as a co-founder of the UK Transhumanist Association, which has since evolved into Humanity+ UK. I started building WAVE, the broader network ZS is part of, two years later. That was once we’d had time to realize that there was a bigger picture emerging; a large number of like-minded groups forming to address a vast array of specific issues with a common outlook. That common outlook is characterized by technological savvy, distaste for old thinking and limits, and a keen awareness of social issues.


A. What does the future hold for ZS?

Q. ZS-affiliated project groups continue to work on developing tools for our members. A lot of these projects are collaborative and many have a distinctly transhumanist flavor, such as experimentation with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (using electrical charge to help concentration—work being done in collaboration with Dirk Bruere and Andrew Vladimirov). Some of the projects seem more like simple fun than serious experimentation at first glance—such as the ZSers building Minecraft environments in which to test their AI software—but that’s half the point; For people to do something useful and have fun at the same time. Our most vigorous efforts are currently going into WAVE, expanding the wider, networked context in which ZS operates, doing what we can to help out like-minded groups. We’ve been establishing connections with large networks, such as The Zeitgeist Movement and an emerging coalition of online transhumanist organizations. We live in extremely exciting times, with lots of rapid change both good and bad, and it looks like Zero State will soon get its chance to help people help each other in that brave new world. If you believe in the promise of technology, the importance of social justice, and the power of community building then feel free to jump in and join the fun!


Zoltan Istvan is an award-winning journalist, philosopher, and activist. You can find him on TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn. Zoltan is also the author of the recently published #1 Philosophical bestseller novel The Transhumanist Wager. Available in ebook or paperback, the controversial novel is a revolutionary reading experience. You can check it out here

 



Zoltan Istvan

Zoltan Istvan is an American-Hungarian philosopher, journalist, entrepreneur, and futurist. He is best known as a leading transhumanist and the author of the controversial novel, 
The Transhumanist Wager, a #1 bestseller in both Philosophy and Science Fiction Visionary and Metaphysical on Amazon.[ He has a B.A. in philosophy and religious studies from Columbia University. The article first appeared here. If this doesn't give you reason to pause, I don't know what could - DNI]




Birth of ‘living materials’ at MIT combines synthetic biology, materials engineering

by Kenrick Vezina

Illustration by Yan Liang, via MIT News.

A team at MIT has combined techniques from synthetic biology and materials engineering to create hybrid “living materials”: bacteria engineered to take up functional nanoparticles and grow into thin layers with usable properties, like electrical conduction or light emission. This achievement is a perfect follow-up to news from earlier this month that another group at MIT had successfully created bionic plants   [Emphasis Others] (Read our Gene-ius post on the news here.)

Anne Trafton, writing for MIT News, reports: 

These “living materials” combine the advantages of live cells, which respond to their environment, produce complex biological molecules, and span multiple length scales, with the benefits of nonliving materials, which add functions such as conducting electricity or emitting light. 

The organic analog of choice is bone. As Amina Kahn at the Los Angeles Times puts it:

 Our bones are remarkable feats of engineering; strong and yet light, shot through with holes and yet able to bear incredible loads. This super-strong natural material is built as cells incorporate hard minerals like calcium into living tissue

The MIT team, led by assistant professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering Timothy Lu, was inspired by this interplay of living cells with nonliving components.

The process Lu and his team used begins with the bacteria E. coli and genetic engineering. They chose E. coli because it naturally produces thin, slimy films that adhere to surfaces — it’s this adhesion that’s key. In order to adhere to surfaces, E. coli produces “curli fibers”, comprised of repeating protein chains.

The MIT team replaced the bacteria’s ability to produce curli fibers with an engineered genetic circuit that only produces curli fibers if given a certain molecule. Now the team essentially has an on-off switch for the bacteria and can control the formation of biofilms: supply the bacteria with the trigger molecule and they produce curli fibers and form biofilms.

On top of this, the team engineered another set of E. coli with a similar on-off switch but based on a different molecular trigger. And these bacteria were modified one step further: researchers altered the genes coding for the creation of curli fibers so that the protein chains would grab on to gold nanoparticles

So they had two varieties of engineered bacteria, both controllable via distinct molecule of their choosing, and one of the two’s ability to latch onto its environment with curli fibers has been co-opted to make the bacteria gather tiny bits of gold from its environment. 

Take both varieties, grow them together; manage their growth relative to one another with the two on-off molecules; and supply some nanoscale bits of gold. The researchers did just this and managed to coax the bacteria to build a tiny film laced through with gold nanowires: a conductive surface comprised of living cells

And the conductive biofilm is just one of several proofs-of-concept to come out of this project. 

The team was also able to embed quantum dots — semiconductor nanoparticles that glow a particular color after being illuminated by light — in their biofilm through a similar technique.

The final success lies in getting their modified cells to communicate with one another, as emphasized by the Christian Science Monitor. The molecular “on-off switches” described above don’t necessarily need to be supplied manually; in fact the researchers produced a third variety of E. coli which naturally produced the chemical trigger, activating the generation of gold-locking curli fibers in the second variety.

The potential applications for these living materials include batteries and solar cells, diagnostic devices and scaffolds for tissue engineering. According to Trafton, “The researchers are also interested in coating the biofilms with enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of cellulose, which could be useful for converting agricultural waste to biofuels.”

This latest breakthrough is sure to be one of many similar efforts that blurs the perceived boundaries between living and nonliving, artificial and organic. We’re increasingly able, as Lu and his team demonstrate, to manipulate our world at the level of molecules and atoms — whether those are DNA molecules or gold nanowiring.

 
Sources:

Additional Resources:




The article first appeared here.

How to build your very own Self-Directed Immortality Avatar for 2045!

by 2045.com


International Manifesto of the "2045" Strategic Social Initiative

Mankind has turned into a consumer society standing at the edge of a total loss of the conceptual guidelines necessary for further evolution. The majority of people are almost exclusively absorbed  in merely maintaining their own comfortable lives.

Modern civilization, with its space stations, nuclear submarines, iPhones and Segways cannot save mankind from the limitations in the physical abilities of our bodies, nor from diseases and death.

We are not satisfied with modern achievements of scientific and technical progress. Science working for the satisfaction of consumer needs will not be able to ensure a technological breakthrough towards a radically different way of life.

We believe that the world needs a different ideological paradigm. Within its framework it is necessary to form a major objective  capable of pointing out a new direction for the development of all mankind and ensuring the achievement of a scientific and technical revolution.  The new ideology should assert, as one of its priorities, the necessity of using breakthrough technology for an improvement of man himself and not only of his environment.

We believe that it is possible and necessary to eliminate aging and even death, and to overcome the fundamental limits of the physical and mental capabilities currently set by the restrictions of the physical body.

Scientists from various countries in the world are already developing technology that ensures the creation of an artificial human body prototype within the next decade. We believe the biggest technological project of our times will become the creation of such artificial human body and a subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body.

Implementation of this technological project will inevitably result in an explosive development of innovations and global changes in our civilization and will improve human life.

We believe that before 2045 an artificial body will be created that will not only surpass the existing body in terms of functionality, but will achieve perfection of form and be no less attractive than the human body. People will make independent decisions about the extension of their lives and the possibilities for personal development in a new body after the resources of the biological body have been exhausted.

The new human being will receive a huge range of abilities and will be capable of withstanding extreme external conditions easily: high temperatures, pressure, radiation, lack of oxygen, etc. Using a neural-interface humans will be able to operate several bodies of various forms and sizes remotely.

We suggest the implementation of not just a mechanistic project to create an artificial body, but a whole system of views, values and technology which will render assistance to humankind in intellectual, moral, physical, mental and spiritual development.

We invite all interested specialists: scientists, politicians, mass media personalities, philosophers, futurologists and businessmen to join the "2045" strategic social initiative. We welcome all who share our vision of the future and are ready to make the next jump.


THE AVATAR R&D NETWORK OF THE 2045 INITIATIVE

[To the right of the main page, click on “Immortality Button”:  “Click this button to start the development of your personalized immortal Avatar”]

The main objectives of our movement are:

1. To achieve the support of the International community and create conditions for international co-operation of interested specialists around the "2045" Initiative.  

2. To create an international research center for cybernetic immortality to advance practical implementations of the main technical project – the creation of the artificial body and the preparation for subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body. 
 
3. To engage experts in the selection and support of the most interesting projects in the quest to ensure technological breakthroughs.

4. To support innovative industries and create special scientific education programs for schools and institutes of higher education.

5. To create educational programs for television, radio and internet, to hold forums, conferences, congresses and exhibitions, and to establish awards and produce books, movies and computer games with the view of raising the profile of the initiative and spreading its ideas.

6. To form a culture connected with the ideology of the future, promoting technical progress, artificial intellect, “multi-body”, immortality, and cyborgization.


REQUIREMENTS:


For the registration of your pre-order, please answer the following questions:

Are you 18 or older?

Are you of sound mind so as to bear legal responsibility for your actions?

Do you personally -- yourself or as legal representative -- dispose of the funds required for the development (> $3M) for your avatar?

Have you decided to commission the development of your custom-made immortal avatar?

If you answer “no” to a question, you cannot proceed further 

[Note:  Guess this is yet another way to de-populate the world -- Russian-style.  Note that the Russians charge in U.S. dollars! -- DNI]