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Category : Transhumanism

Who exactly was Jeffrey Epstein? A history of the mogul and his crimes – Film Daily

If you dont pay much attention to the news until recently, then chances are youre a bit confused by Jeffrey Epstein and just what he did. Who is Jeffrey Epstein? Why do people not believe that he committed suicide? Why was Jeffrey Epstein in jail? While weve covered many, many, many aspects of Epstein and hes crimes, its time for some back to basics facts.

Who is Jeffrey Epstein exactly? The story is complicated, sordid, and terrible on so many levels. Jeffrey Epstein was a predator in life. While many people focus on his death, the actions that preceded it should be given your due attention. Heres everything you need to know, just the basic facts, about who Jeffrey Epstein was in life.

Jeffrey Epstein was an investment banker, who, specifically, had clientele with assets worth more than $1 billion. Epstein operated his business in the US Virgin Islands for tax reasons. Epstein himself was also quite wealthy, but the source of that wealth remains pretty unknown.

Still appearances matter, Epstein had cultivated an image with his townhouse, his large charitable donations, and worked with people such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Queen Elizabeths son Prince Andrew. Epstein, however, also had a criminal past and this is where things get dark.

Jeffrey Epstein was a registered sex offender. In 2008, Epstein pled guilty to felony charge of solicitation of prostitution involving a minor, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He served 13 and registered as a sex offender.

Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking in New Jersey after returning to the US from France. According to the indictment, Epstein sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations.

The indictment continued that Epstein paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused. The indictment also alleged that some of Epsteins victims were as young as 14. After Epsteins arrest, a search of his New York residence found nude photographs of underage girls.

He was denied bail.

If there is something youve heard about Jeffrey Epstein, then chances are it had to do around his suicide. On July 24, 2019, Epstein was found injured in his cell. In Aug. 2019, Epstein died of what was ruled a suicide. The Federal Bureau of Prisons released the following statement:

On Saturday, August 10, 2019, at approximately 6:30 a.m., inmate Jeffrey Edward Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in the Special Housing Unit from an apparent suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York, New York. Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff.

Staff requested emergency medical services (EMS) and life-saving efforts continued. Mr. Epstein was transported by EMS to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries, and subsequently pronounced dead by hospital staff.

Conspiracy theories popped up pretty much immediately. People believed that Epsteins high profile social circle wanted him silenced forever. Others believed that it was due to Epsteins own thoughts regarding eugenics and transhumanism that led to his death. Or, as a good part of the population believed, Epstein killed himself rather than being convicted and sent to prison.

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Who exactly was Jeffrey Epstein? A history of the mogul and his crimes - Film Daily

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Artificial eye with 3D retina developed for the first time – Advanced Science News

Scientists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology make artificial eye far better than anything current.

The biological eye is a highly complex organ, and people have spent decades trying to replicate this most delicate organ through technology. Existing prosthetic eyes fall short with low-resolutions and 2D flat image sensors.

Now, an international team of researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the University of California, Berkley, have overcome this shortcoming by making, for the first time, a biomimetic prosthetic eye using a nanowire array that creates a hemispherical artifical retina. I.e., a 3D image sensor.

Publishing in Nature, (paywall) the team at HKUST showcase their Electrochemical Eye (EC-Eye). Whilst holding great promise in the field of robotics and for people with visual impairments, in perhaps more tantalizing future applications, the team believes their EC-Eye may actually offer sharper vision than a natural human eye, and include extra functions such as the ability to detect infrared radiation in darkness. This of course is stepping into the realm of transhumanism, and the ethical quagmire this entails. But apart from exciting fans of science fiction, the EC-Eye most certainly has more immediate promise for those whose natural vision is severely impaired.

The key to this new artificial eye is the nanowire array mentioned above. These nanowires are derived from perovskite solar cell technology, and are essentially individual nano-solar cells, and can therefore mimic biological photoreceptors found in the retina. These nanowires were then connected to a bundle of liquid-metal wires, serving as artificial nerves, which successfully channeled the light signals to a computer screen which showed what the nanowire array could see.

With electronic-to-nerve interfaces research already well under way, it is hoped that one day these nanowire retinas could be directly implanted and attached to the optic nerves of visually impaired patients. More astonishing still, is that this artificial retina is superior to a natural retina when it comes to the shortcomings that have arisen out of the evolution of the natural retina. All retinas have a blind spot, caused by the fact the bundles of optic nerves have to connect somewhere on the retina to transport information to the brain. This connection point on the retina has no space for photoreceptor cells, and is therefore a blind spot on the retina. Thankfully, your brain fills in the blanks of this blind spot so that people with healthy vision dont see it. However, the effects of this blind spot can be seen if you like to look up at the stars at night. Find a very dim star, and try to look at it directly; it becomes hard to see, but its easier to see if you instead look directly around it.

The EC-Eye does not have such a blind spot.

Furthermore, the nanowires are higher in density than the photoreceptor cells in the human retina. Therefore, in theory, the artificial retina can detect more light signals and therefore produce a higher image resolution than even the most healthy retinas of a human with twenty-twenty vision.

The advantages of an EC-Eye over a natural eye are also the fact that using different materials can enable the detection of a higher spectral range, potentially allowing people with such EC-Eye implants to see in the dark, if their artificial retina can detect infrared light.

However, the authors caution that this technology is still in its early stages.

I have always been a big fan of science fiction, said Prof. Zhiyong Fan of HKUST in a press release, and lead author of the study, and I believe many technologies featured in stories such as those of intergalactic travel, will one day become reality. However, regardless of image resolution, angle of views or user-friendliness, the current bionic eyes are still of no match to their natural human counterpart. A new technology to address these problems is in urgent need, and it gives me a strong motivation to start this unconventional project.

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Artificial eye with 3D retina developed for the first time - Advanced Science News

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Heres Everything Coming to HBO Max in June 2020 – Cord Cutters News, LLC

HBO Max is wasting no time adding to its content library just days after its initial launch. June brings a whole new list of TV shows, movies, and HBO Originals all included in the brand new streaming service.

June 1:4th & Forever: Muck City, Season OneAdventures In Babysitting, 1987 (HBO)Amelie, 2001 (HBO)An American Werewolf in London, 1981 (HBO)The American, 2010 (HBO)Another Cinderella Story, 2008Beautiful Girls, 1996 (HBO)Black Beauty, 1994Bridget Joness Baby, 2016The Bucket List, 2007Cabaret, 1972The Champ, 1979Chicago, 2002A Cinderella Story, 2004A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song, 2011Clash Of The Titans, 2010Cradle 2 the Grave, 2003Crash, 2005 (Directors Cut) (HBO)Doubt, 2008 (HBO)Dreaming Of Joseph Lees, 1999 (HBO)Drop Dead Gorgeous, 1999Dune, 1984 (HBO)Elf, 2003Enter The Dragon, 1973Far and Away, 1992 (HBO)Final Destination, 2000Final Destination 2, 2003Final Destination 3, 2006The Final Destination, 2009Firewall, 2006Flipped, 2010Forces of Nature, 1999 (HBO)The Fountain, 2006 (HBO)Frantic, 1988From Dusk Til Dawn, 1996Full Metal Jacket, 1987Gente De Zona: En Letra De Otro, 2018 (HBO)The Good Son, 1993 (HBO)The Goonies, 1985Hanna, 2011 (HBO)Havana, 1990 (HBO)He Got Game, 1998 (HBO)Heaven Can Wait, 1978Heidi, 2006Hello Again, 1987 (HBO)The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2012The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 2013The Hunger, 1983In Her Shoes, 2005 (HBO)In Like Flint, 1967 (HBO)The Iron Giant, 1999It Takes Two, 1995Juice, 1992The Last Mimzy, 2007License To Wed, 2007Life, 1999 (HBO)Lifeforce, 1985 (HBO)Lights Out, 2016 (HBO)Like Water For Chocolate, 1993 (HBO)Looney Tunes: Back in Action, 2003The Losers, 2010Love Jones, 1997Lucy, 2020 (HBO)Magic Mike, 2012McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 1971Misery, 1990Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, 2008 (HBO)A Monster Calls, 2016 (HBO)Mr. Wonderful, 1993 (HBO)Must Love Dogs, 2005My Dog Skip, 2000Mystic River, 2003The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter, 1991The Neverending Story, 1984New York Minute, 2004Nights In Rodanthe, 2008No Reservations, 2007Ordinary People, 1980Our Man Flint, 1966 (HBO)The Parallax View, 1974Patch Adams, 1998 (HBO)A Perfect World, 1993Pedro Capo: En Letra Otro, 2017 (HBO)Personal Best, 1982Presumed Innocent, 1990Ray, 2004 (HBO)Richie Rich (Movie), 1994Rosewood, 1997Rugrats Go Wild, 2003Running on Empty, 1988Secondhand Lions, 2003Shes The Man, 2006 (HBO)Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, 2011 (HBO)Space Cowboys, 2000Speed Racer, 2008Splendor in the Grass, 1961The Stepfather, 1987 (HBO)Summer Catch, 2001Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1990Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, 1991Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, 1993Tess, 1980 (HBO)Tim Burtons Corpse Bride, 2005The Time Travelers Wife, 2009Titanic, 1997TMNT, 2007Torch Song Trilogy, 1988Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, 1997 (HBO)Tweetys High-Flying Adventures, 2000U-571, 2000 (HBO)U.S. Marshals, 1998Unaccompanied Minors, 2006Uncle Buck, 1989 (HBO)Veronica Mars, 2014Walking and Talking, 1996 (HBO)We Are Marshall, 2006Weird Science, 1985 (HBO)When Harry Met Sally, 1989Wild Wild West, 1999Wonder, 2019 (HBO)X-Men: First Class, 2011 (HBO)Youve Got Mail, 1998

June 2:Inside Carbonaro, Season One (TruTV)

June 4:

Were Here, Season Finale (HBO)

HBO First Look: The King of Staten Island (HBO)

June 5:Betty, Season Finale (HBO)

June 6:Ad Astra, 2019 (HBO)Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! (HBO)

June 7:I May Destroy You, Series Premiere (HBO)

June 10:Infinity Train, Season 2 Premiere

June 12:El asesino de los caprichos (AKA The Goya Murders),2020(HBO)

June 13:The Good Liar, 2019 (HBO)

June 14:I Know This Much Is True, Limited Series Finale (HBO)Insecure, Season 4 Finale (HBO)

June 16:#GeorgeWashington, 2017Age of Big Cats, Season OneAncient Earth, Season OneApocalypse: WWI, Season OneBig World in A Small Garden, 2016The Celts: Blood, Iron & Sacrifice, Season OneCornfield Shipwreck, 2019The Daunting Fortress of Richard the Lionheart, 2019David Attenboroughs Ant Mountain, 2016David Attenbouroughs Light on Earth, 2016DeBugged, 2018Digits, Season OneDragons & Damsels, 2019Ebony: The Last Years of The Atlantic Slave Trade, 2016Expedition: Black Sea Wrecks, Season OneFirst Man, 2017Going Nuts: Tales from Squirrel World, 2019Hack the Moon: Unsung Heroes of Apollo, 2019The History of Food, Season OneHurricane the Anatomy, Season One, 2018Into the Lost Crystal Caves, 2016Jason Silva: Transhumanism, 2016King: A Filmed Record Montgomery to Memphis (Part 1 & Part 2), Season OneKnuckleball!, 2019Leonardo: The Mystery of The Lost Portrait, 2018Looney Tunes (Batch 2) (6/22), Season OneMans First Friend, 2018Penguin Central, 2019Pompeii: Disaster Street, 2020Popeye (Batch 2) (6/22), Season OnePyramids Builders: New Clues, 2019Realm of the Volga, Season OneSacred Spaces, Season OneScandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer, Documentary Premiere (CNN)

Scanning the Pyramids, 2018Science vs. Terrorism, Season OneThe Secret Lives of Big Cats, Season OneSecret Life of Lakes, Season OneSecret Life Underground, Season OneSecrets of the Solar System, Season OneSpace Probes!, Season OneSpeed, Season OneSpies of War , Season OneTales of Nature, Season OneTsunamis: Facing a Global Threat, 2020Versailles Rediscovered: The Sun Kings Vanished Palace, 2019Viking Women, Season OneVitamania, 2018Whale Wisdom, 2019The Woodstock Bus, 2019

June 18:Summer Camp Island, Season 2 PremiereKarma, Series Premiere

June 19:Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn, Documentary Premiere (HBO)Entre Nos: The Winners (HBO)Bajo el mismo techo (AKA Under the Same Roof), 2020 (HBO)

June 20:Ford V. Ferrari, 2020 (HBO)

June 21:Perry Mason, Limited Series Premiere (HBO)

June 22:Hard, Series Finale (HBO)

June 24:South Park, Seasons 1-23Transhood, Documentary Premiere (HBO)

June 25:Adventure Time Distant Lands: BMO, Special Premiere

Doom Patrol, Season 2 PremiereEsme & Roy, Season 2A PremiereSearch Party, Season 3 Premiere

June 26:Hormigas (AKA The Awakening of the Ants), 2020

June 27:Doctor Sleep (Directors Cut), 2020 (HBO)

June 28:Ill Be Gone in the Dark, Docuseries Premiere (HBO)

June 30:Welcome to Chechnya, Documentary Premiere (HBO)

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Heres Everything Coming to HBO Max in June 2020 - Cord Cutters News, LLC

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Cosmodeism: Prologue to a Theology of Transhumanism – Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

IntroductionFreuds disciple, Otto Rank once wrote that the need for a truly religious ideology is inherent in human nature and its fulfillment is basic to any kind of social life. If Transhumanism is to become a universal phenomenon it must include what Jung called a divine drama that is universally compelling.

This article proposes scientific hypotheticals regarding the future of existence that have significant theological implications, but which cannot be empirically confirmed. My method could be described as Futuristic Logic. I assume evolution to be the salient characteristic of existence: cosmic evolution having produced ever more complex elements, which eventually evolved into life, which continued to produce ever more complex life forms, until it produced self-reflective consciousness. Evolution will, therefore, eventually produce a supra-consciousness that will, ultimately, produce a supra-supra-consciousness, and so on, until a 'life form' will have been created that will appear to us as if it were a God. Not "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", but "in the end an evolving cosmos will have created God". This won't be deterministic; it will be the result of conscious life forms throughout the Cosmos striving to gain control over their own evolution. This is the fundamental (volitional or subliminal) impulse of Transhumanism.

I do not consider Transhumanism to mean transcending (going beyond) humanism. Such a formulation is congruent with some formulations of Posthumanism, which, in turn, are logical deductions from radical Postmodernism. Such formulations reject the Enlightenment project as a misfortune and view terms like altruism, humanism, and democracy as "soft and slimy virtues". I identify myself as a Neo-modernist, (or a Post-postmodernist, if you prefer); someone who accepts the postmodernist critique of the nave hubris of Modernism and the moral transgressions which were its unintended consequence but who emphatically embraces Modernism's heroic ambition for humanity. Rejecting the ambitions of Modernism because of past sins is akin to rejecting evolution because Darwinism morphed into Social Darwinism which gave birth to eugenics, which led to the Holocaust.

I view as axiomatic that existence is hierarchal: evolution producing ever more complex hierarchal configurations, of which self-reflective, volitional consciousness is Planet Earth's current pinnacle. This axiom has ethical and moral implications. Running over a dog, as distressing as that is, is not the same as running over a human being if this be 'speciesism' so be it. As for me, human beings do occupy a superior place in nature, and the European Enlightenment while almost pathologically nave in its optimism was a culmination of the ethical and moral evolution of humankind at the time. Our human duty, therefore, is to strive towards a Transcendent humanism; to volitionally evolve our species into supra-humans (or as Nietzsche might have put it, into Supraman). It is our duty to overcome ourselves; to realize our divine potential; not to transcend humanism but to become transcendent humans: supra-humans.

Debunking the Non-Overlapping Magisteria Thesis

In 1997, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould published his non-overlapping magisteria thesis, that science and religion represent distinct, mutually exclusive domains. It was well written and well-argued. But unfortunately, it contributed to the ongoing desiccation of the intellectual imagination that began in the 19th century. Presuming we can compartmentalize our various intuitions, hunches and speculative imaginings into distinct, mutually exclusive domains is specious.

Until the 19th century, when universities quarantined thinking into academic departments, it would have been difficult to differentiate between the philosophical, religious, artistic and scientific. The very word 'scientist' was coined in 1833 by Anglican priest, William Whewell, who was also a historian of science and a philosopher. If you had called Newton a scientist he would not have understood what you were talking about. Newton was a 'natural philosopher' who wrote over two million words on theology. Science was his way of discovering the 'Mind of God'.

In modern terms, Leonardo Da Vinci was an engineer, scientist, and artist. But if you had asked him to define himself 'professionally' he would not have understood the question. He epitomized a fusion of technology, science, and art; each permeating and enriching the other. He would not have been an artistic genius without his technological genius, which was suffused with the same aesthetic instinct that characterized his art. Modern scientists still talk about the 'elegance' of a theory; engineers the 'beauty' of a design.

The religious thinking of the late Middle Ages, especially the sophisticated Aristotelian thinking of scholastic philosopher/priests such as Thomas Aquinas), played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. As Emmet Kennedy put it "Aquinas drew a famous distinction between what is known by reason and what is known by revelation". This intellectual space was necessary for the secular thinking which eventually created science and economic theory. Aquinas embraced two articles of Catholic faith: God was a God of reason who ordered the world rationally, and secondary causes, which enable us to explain natural phenomena and the interaction of nature's constituents by things secondary to God's direct intrusion phenomena which require reason, not revelation, in order to be fully understood. A modern interpretation of secondary causes could certainly accommodate evolution.

Subsequent Church thought removed some of the intellectual rubble of Aristotelian scholasticism that would have hindered the emergence of quantifiable scientific thinking. Butterfield noted that in 1277, Bishop Stephen Tempier headed "a council in Paris [which] condemned the view that even God could not create a void or an infinite universe of a plurality of worlds". God, being God, could do whatever he wished. This theological pronouncement provided the 'science' of the time with the freedom to speculate about the nature of existence without a priori doctrinal restrictions.

Occam's Razor (the Law of Parsimony) is a representative example of the overlap between the philosophical, religious and scientific. Occam was a Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopherand theologian. While his philosophy was religiously motivated to confirm monotheism, it eventually became the holy grail of scientific research. Could the Scientific Revolution have occurred in a non-monotheistic civilization a civilization that had already created a theological law of parsimony: one God; the One (and only)?

Cleric Jean Buridan (c.1300c.1358), anticipating Galileo, developed the Theory of Impetus, demonstrating that there is no need for either Aristotle's 'First Mover' or Plato's 'souls', which are not found in the Bible and which, by implication, limit God's omnipotence to design the world as he pleases. Bishop Nicolas d'Oresme (c.13201382) anticipating Copernicus, wrote that the Holy Scriptures can be accommodated even if we concede the possibility that the earth moves and is not the center of existence. Copernicus also anticipated the clockwork universe of Descartes and Deism. Referring to Buridan's impetus theory, he observed that "God might have started off the universe as a kind of clock and left it to run by itself". Here we see the parameters of Christian faith enabling the emergence of a mechanical cosmos by eliminating the need for 'intelligences' to explain the movement of celestial spheres. Butterfield noted that this was "a case of a consistent body of teaching [which] developed as a tradition" and influenced Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo. The latter's theory of inertia reflected a view that "God might have given these things their initial impetus, and their motion could be imagined as continuing forever".

Copernicus was motivated to simplify the complexities of the Ptolemaic system which, he felt, insulted God. If God is the God of reason, possessing omnipotent intelligence, he certainly would have created a universe more sensible than the convoluted Ptolemaic contraption. Copernicus applied the Law of Parsimony inherent in monotheism and found Ptolemy wanting. His motivation was to defend the honor of God's unconditional power.

Science, in turn, influenced theology. Natural theology is a consequence of religion trying to accommodate itself to science; to formulate an understanding of God that does not contradict science. Centuries before the Scientific Revolution, Maimonides advocated that rabbis must accommodate their interpretations of the Torah to science and not the other way around. Natural theology, natural religion, and philosophical theism are all consequences of an emergent scientific mindset compelling monotheistic religions to review and revise their doctrines. When theological imperatives consistently generate concepts reflecting a more modern scientific mindset, and when science constantly impacts religious thought, then we must discard the non-overlapping magisteria notion especially if we are to respond to Rank's observation that a healthy civilization needs a religious ideology.

Science is also based on faith in several assumptions that cannot be proven empirically. For example:1. Nature's laws are uniform throughout existence. 2. Nature's laws do not evolve and change.3. Mathematics is the universal language; existence is monolingual.4. What we see through a telescope millions of light years away still exists. We know Andromeda existed 2.5 million years ago, (its light has traveled 2.5 million light years) but do we empirically know it still exists?

Scientists accept these assumptions in order to do their jobs. But the only way they could prove them would be to be a supernatural entity outside of nature, capable of looking at all of nature. We reasonably assume these beliefs are true because all our experience 'SO FAR' affirms their validity. But, as David Hume noted over 250 years ago, 'SO FAR' ends when you confront the first exception. This is the paradox of science: something is science only because it is falsifiable. In other words, the "bedrock" assumptions that enable science to function are also falsifiable, and so cannot be bedrock, else they wouldn't be science.

Scientists claim they don't deal with meaning. But scientific biographies frequently contradict this. Science's giants have often been driven by the essentially religious question "what does it all mean?" I differentiate between the big 'R' organized religion business and the small 'r' religious sense of mystery of 'why there is anything at all rather than nothing'. The operations of existence often excite reverential wonder in authentic scientists. The greatest scientific centers are temples of spirituality that challenge mystical, supernatural religions. Einstein wrote: "What is the meaning of human life or of organic life altogether? To answer this question at all implies a religion." He added "the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow-creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life".

We cannot discriminate between the material and the spiritual. The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions are also spiritual. They have provided the means to liberate humankind from ignorance, superstition and soul-destroying drudge work. Without material well-being there cannot be spiritual enlightenment, without scientific progress there can be no material well-being. As the Talmud says "without bread there is no Torah"

One Transhumanist task would be to reunify humankind's various spiritual predispositions (religious, scientific or philosophical); to realize Carl Sagan's vision that: "A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths".

WHY? The Ultimate Question

'WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?' is the ultimate question regarding the human condition. It is the question that has motivated religious and philosophical speculation, scientific endeavor, artistic creativity and entrepreneurial innovation throughout the ages. It is the question we try to answer in order to rationalize our own existence. It is the question that has generated the modern concepts of angst and alienation. The modern dilemma is that we are finding it increasingly difficult to rationalize our own existence and this leads to our subsequent feelings of purposelessness. Pascal wrote:

Pascal's despair is the first cry of modernist angst; a product of our own scientific progress. What, after all, is the point of our own individual, ephemeral lives on this small planet around a mediocre star in a midsized galaxy of some 300 billion stars whose closest galactic neighbor, Andromeda, contains one trillion stars, in an 'observable universe' that numbers two trillion galaxies (the largest containing 100 trillion stars)? The "observable universe" being just a tiny portion of the universe which may contain 500 trillion galaxies and might be an infinitesimal part of a multiverse containing trillions upon trillions of "universes"!

Increased awareness of the vastness of existence introduced an angst from which humanity has never recovered. Pascal wrote in the 17th century. What gloom are we supposed to feel today when "the infinite immensity of spaces" is immensely more immense? Never in history has Pascal's despair been so relevant. Even within the cosmically insignificant history of our own planet, what is the real significance of our own lives? Consider that Earth is 4.5 billion years old; that life arose 3.8 billion years ago; mammals 200 million years ago; primitive humans 2.5 million years ago; modern humans 150,000 years ago; recorded history 6,000 years ago; the Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment, Constitutionalism, Industrial Revolution and Democracy all within the last 500 years. Currently, humans have an 80-90 year lifespan, which might increase to 120-150 years by the end of this century. What is this in relation to the "eternity" which preceded human civilization on this planet and which will succeed it? Does the Cosmos 'care' who is elected President of the United States? Does the Cosmos 'care' about the 3.8 billion-year history of life on this planet? Would it lament if runaway global warming turned our planet into another Venus? When contemplating this time scale on the background of the vastness of our Cosmos, it is difficult not to plunge into existential desolation.

Consequently, by the 20th century, the elemental question for thoughtful people had become: is life worth living? Camus wrote "There is but one truly philosophical problem and that is suicide Whether or not the world has three dimensions or the mind nine or twelve categories comes afterward". Indeed, why not commit suicide and avoid the tribulations of a meaningless existence? Everything else, all our cultural and scientific product, is marginalia to this ultimate existential question.

The irony is that science that sublime creation of the human spirit reflecting human curiosity and imagination at its highest stage of development has revealed an existence of such vastness and complexity that it makes our collective and individual lives seem inconsequential. Even worse, science inexorably morphed into 'scientism' an "ism": an ideology that posited that things, issues, events or feelings which could not be described according to the canons of reductionist/empirical science were of no concern to the intellectually tough-minded (or did not even exist). Thus, behaviorism (the ultimate expression of scientism) claimed there really is no such thing as consciousness it is simply an invented construct used to explain behaviors. As Jacques Barzun put it, scientists seemed to take great pleasure in "being able to undeceive ones fellows"; to disabuse them of the superstitions of pre-science; the superstitions that love and purpose and concepts of honor and duty, are intrinsic to human existence. The 19th-century scientific mindset implied that "the only reality was fact, brute force, valueless existence, and bare survival".

Before Copernicus, medieval Europeans lived in a cozy universe. Earth was the center of creation, enveloped in the warm embrace of ever purer crystalline spheres that contained the planets and stars up to the very throne of God. God's full-time job was maintaining this physical order, keeping track of our behavior (for future reference regarding salvation) and, once in a while, interfering in the natural order with a miracle here or there. People knew that life on earth was temporary and a test of our moral stamina in facing physical pain and the various distresses of daily life in order to qualify for eternal life in the world to come. Temporal life was God's matriculation exam to qualify for heaven. Medieval Europeans knew that if they obeyed the rules and followed the dictates of the Church their suffering would be rewarded with eternal bliss in the world-to-come. Things might be dreadful now but suffering would end and confusion clarified in heaven. The Copernican Revolution introduced a kind of spiritual agoraphobiaby destroying this coziness; by making us aware of the vastness of existence. Angst and doubt about the meaning of our existence became our constant companions.

Human beings aren't just ARE; we are symbolic creatures that require meaning to survive. The Darwinian mechanism of physical survival is not a sufficient reason to survive; it is simply an explanation. We cannot rationalize our subjective physical survival without objective meaning. Why should we live? Existentialists propose we must 'invent' our own meaning. Is this even possible? Symbols and volitional reason are humanity's primary evolutionary survival mechanism. Birds fly, deer are swift, lions are powerful, while human beings think and they direct their thinking (volition) in terms of their symbols, values and meanings. Humanity has invented religions, myths, and social and cultural devices to express this inherent feature of human nature.

The human experience is future-directed; we implicitly assume it is leading to something of significance and this makes sense out of our lives. This is why we do not commit suicide. We assume that our individual lives have meaning. We assume (and recent science supports this assumption) that every individual is unique, that every individual is distinctive in the entire Cosmos, that in all of infinite nature, no one is entirely similar to each and every one of us. There is, of course, correspondence and species similarity connecting every human being, and probably all conscious beings in the Cosmos, by virtue of their consciousness. But our own individuality is a cosmic absolute, as is the uniqueness of every distinctive culture and civilization which is a product of self-reflective conscious life. Cosmic evolution produced our uniqueness and this uniqueness might be valuable to cosmic evolution. But unlike animals, whether our uniqueness is or is not valuable is entirely up to us. It is a volitional choice both on the individual and the civilizational level.

Realizing our distinctiveness is frightening. Many withdraw from the responsibility of their own individuality and try to imitate others (to conform), or surrender to the will of the external authority of state, ideology, guru, demagogue, religion or, what is most dangerous, the majority (the herd, the mob). Fear of our individuality serves as the psychological basis of despotism and religious fanaticism. But conformism is a spurious symbol of attachment because it is our very individual distinctness that empowers us to be part of human society. Distinctiveness is what both obligates and sustains society, because society is the mediator between the distinctiveness of individuals. In fulfilling this role, society complements what is lacking in every individual that composes it. This is also the case for most advanced animals and perhaps even for the environment at large. Indeed, we might perceive our planet's ecology as a living society sustained by the interaction between the numerous species and subspecies with the individual members of those species and sub-species without which those species, sub-species and individuals could not survive. Perhaps this is how we should view the Cosmos at large, as a giant society.

The Alienation 'Business'

Alienation theory is often promoted by people with ideological axes to grind. The radical left claims alienation is a disease of capitalism that can be cured by socialism. Environmentalists of the primitivist persuasion argue that it is a disease of urbanization and consumerism and that the "cure" is a return to a simple lifestyle on the land where we can get back to nature and discover our authentic selves. Cultural paleo-conservatives, such as T.S. Eliot, uneasy with the consequences of the Enlightenment, suggest that alienation is a disease of modernity itself, and the frantic unending change it generates, and, as Frye put it, can only be "cured" by returning to the past's social and theological certainties; "that to have a flourishing culture we should educate an elite, keep most people living in the same spot, and never disestablish the Church of England". There is something claustrophobic about these versions of alienation, which are detached from the cosmic context and reduced to the trivia of earthbound human society. The modern dilemma is certainly a sense of the meaningless of existence. But it is the immensity of existence itself that is the problem, not the consumer society or false consciousness.

Buttressing these three views of alienation is the pathology of nostalgia the "good old days" when people were whole and sure of who and what they were within the norms of family and community; the assumption always being that, in the past, family and community were healthier social constructs than today. This is a fatuous assumption for anyone with a minimal knowledge of social history. It is a silly escapism from the true scale of the problem. Woody Allen's movie, Midnight in Paris, lampoons this enduring pathology with exquisite irony. Eric Roll critiqued the desire "to re-establish a mythical golden age" by people who "cannot understand the forces which are transforming their own society". Peter Gay thought nostalgia to be "the most sophistic, most deceptive form regression can take". It certainly has no place in a Transhumanist worldview.

It is the human condition on the background of the vast, endless obscurity of space/time that causes alienation, not the city or the assembly line; not the consumer society or politicians. It is the very material prosperity of modernity, which has afforded us the time and ability to reflect on this human condition that generates angst. It is a real anxiety, not an artificial one caused by the wrong kind of social environment or false consciousness. It is a cosmic alienation, not amenable to therapy or social revolution, but only to substantive confrontation.

Capitalism and the consumerism it produced are consequences of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. They have not caused alienation; they have just made us aware by providing the material ease that allows us to reflect on the human condition and afforded us the knowledge to better understand what that condition is. It is the apple of knowledge that is the cause; it is asking questions that have no answers that are the cause; it is being thrown out of the 'Garden of Eden' of our own smug ignorance that is the cause. At best, one can say that our frantic 'busyness' and consumerism are escapes from the cause; they are the effect, not the cause.

The developments of science in describing the vastness and the minuteness of existence have had profound philosophical and psychological consequences. The abstruseness of religious belief and the rise of Darwinism and Freudianism have undermined our civilizational self-esteem. If we are related to monkeys and not to God, and if we really want to do to our mothers what Freud says we want to do, it is difficult to sustain a transcendent view of human 'being'.

Without comprehensive civilizational myths, how do we even address the mystery of existence the fact that there is an 'is'? We range from wonder at our own scientific ability to uncover the mysteries of the "mind of God" to a Pascalian melancholy about the meaninglessness of life. Anxiety about our very existence dominates our spiritual ecology: nihilism, existentialism, and cultural relativism. We hide from this behind the deceptions of fundamentalist religiosity or the self-imposed haze of drugs, shopping, social activism and busyness for its own sake.

The Cosmodeistic Response

The Cosmodeistic Hypothesis is an iteration of Pandeism not God becoming the Universe but rather the Cosmos becoming God; not "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", but, rather, "in the end an evolving cosmos will have created God". It posits that the Big Bang that created our Cosmos was a local event in an infinite Universe that contains an infinite number of finite cosmoses: the multiverse. Our Cosmos is an evolving finite domain/process fashioned by the natural workings of infinite Nature creating ever higher levels of complexification. Consciousness has been an inexorable consequence of this evolutionary complexification. Assuming evolution is as eternal as existence itself, it is self-evident that consciousness must eventually evolve into supra-consciousness and then into supra-supra-consciousness at various places in the Cosmos.

This evolutionary process will continue until a consciousness is created that will appear to us as if it were a God; the Godding of the Cosmos being an inherent characteristic of its evolving actuality. We are an integral and vital part of this cosmic evolution. What our species does on this planet will contribute to or detract from this process. What we do as individuals will contribute to or detract from this process. Our individual lives have cosmic consequence no matter how infinitesimally small (similar to the butterfly effect of chaos theory). The very chaos of our existence is the vital ingredient creating the cosmos (order) of existence.

This is to place the emergence of self-reflective consciousness at the center of the cosmic drama (Jung's Divine Drama); to affirm that while the Cosmos is not teleological and has no purpose i.e. that it doesn't represent a planned supernatural drama with a specific end as the monotheistic religions would have it [Hinduism and Buddhism don't seem to have a problem with a non-teleological existence] cosmic purpose has been created as a consequence of the evolutionary cosmic process. This is a neo-teleological perspective, the civilizational consequences of which would be as profound as those of monotheism. This would be the proper antidote to Pascal's despair, rather than a self-deceptive return to the 'eternal verities' of the monotheistic religions or invented meanings.

Most pre-supra-conscious civilizations will destroy themselves by failing to meet the challenges of their own nuclear stage of development, by ecological collapse, or failure of collective will. But a sufficient number will survive, or will have developed by different means, and be capable of advancing to a supra-conscious phase. A percentage of these pre-hyper-conscious life forms will also conclude they must strive to become part of the Godding of the Cosmos. This is assumed in the name of 'cosmic humility'. If individuals on this planet have conceived this concept it is certain that other conscious beings in the Cosmos have conceived it. This is a variation of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Since one cannot conceive of a concept related to cosmic evolution greater than the Cosmos evolving into a 'God' and since the Cosmos is producing ever more complex constructs, most particularly consciousness, as the salient characteristic inherent in this evolution, it is self-evident that a 'God' would be the final stage of cosmic evolution.

Amongst those civilizations pursuing this ambition, an infinitesimal percentage (but also great in aggregate number) will succeed in transcending their bodies, by scientific and technical means, thus isolating and enhancing the most essential part of their 'humanness' their consciousness. They will, in effect, have become pure consciousness, or if you will, pure spirit expanding throughout the Cosmos. Arthur Clark in 2001A Space Odyssey anticipated this with the kind of speculative imagination we should be cultivating in ourselves and in our children:

evolution was driving toward new goals. The first ... had long since come to the limits of flesh and blood; as soon as their machines were better than their bodies it was time to move. First their brains, and then their thoughts alone, they transformed into shining new homes of metal and plastic they had learned to store knowledge in the structure of space itself, and to preserve their thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices of light. They could become creatures of radiation, free at last from the tyranny of matter. Into pure energy, therefore, they presently transformed themselves "

Clark's "creatures of radiation", as well as the stages leading up to it, might legitimately be called Posthuman Transhumanism being a necessary link in the evolutionary chain of consciousness towards Posthuman Godness.

The subsequent expansion of this higher consciousness throughout the Cosmos will be unfettered by physical limitations and eventually consciousness will fill the entire Cosmos. Consciousness will have become one with a Cosmos that has dissolved into pure radiation as an inevitable consequence of entropy. Thus the Cosmos will become in its entirety a conscious universal being i.e. a 'God'. Cosmodeism posits God as the consequence of the Cosmos and not as its cause. The fateful question that every conscious civilization throughout the Cosmos must eventually address is: will we take part in this cosmic race for survival and strive to survive in the cosmic 'End of Days', or will we perish along with the rest of cosmic organization? Will we accept the limitations of our physicality or will we try to transcend them?

This would be a volitional teleology; part of the neo-teleological interpretation of cosmic evolution. Certain cosmic developments are determined. But whether 'we' will be part of these cosmic developments depends on the volition of conscious beings on this and other planets. Doing so would guarantee the cosmic significance of the billions of years of life on this planet. Failure to do so would degrade the cosmic significance of the entire evolutionary drama of life on this planet to nothing more than a statistical contribution to cosmic probability 'striving' to become God. This is not New Age fantasy celebrating the mystical, or science fiction that violates the known laws of nature. Science is as necessary for this as oxygen is to life. But science alone is not sufficient. Science cannot progress without informed intuition and educated guesses.

Historical Intimations of the Cosmodeistic Hypothesis

Notions of God as the consequence rather than the cause of the Cosmos are not novel. Israeli thinker Mordechai Nessyahu laid the groundwork with Cosmotheism. He conjectured, that:

Previously, philosopher Samuel Alexander advocated Emergent Evolution producing emergent qualities. He wrote: "God is the whole universe engaged in the movement of the world to a higher level of existence. Teilhard de Chardin viewed God as both the cause and the consequence (the alpha and omega) of cosmic existence and evolution. He saw the end of human history as pure consciousness becoming one with the Alpha God to create the Omega God. Philosopher Benedikt Gcke has written: "the history of the world is the one infinite life of God, and we are part of the one infinite divine being [italics mine]. We are therefore responsible for the future development of the life of the divine being." Architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri saw technology as enabling conscience life to evolve into 'God'.

According to historian Robert Tucker German philosophy is rife with human ambition to be Godlike. "The movement of thought from Kant to Hegel revolved in a fundamental sense around the idea of mans self-realization as a godlike being, or alternatively as God". What attracted Marx to Hegel was that "he found in Hegel the idea that man is God". History for Hegel was God realizing itself through the vehicle of man. This is the underlying implication of all Enlightenment thought: when we say "what will history say about us?" we are really substituting history for God. The Process Philosophy of Whitehead as well as Emergent Evolution, and Spiritual Evolution (consciousness as an inevitable component of evolution) are also intimations of this same notion. Recently Dr. Ted Chu (2014) in Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential: A Cosmic Vision of Our Future Evolutionargued the case for the eventuality of a Cosmic Being.

Our legacy religions also contain hints hiding in plain sight. The Hebrew words for God are verbs, not nouns: Yehova (will become manifest), yehiya (will be), eheye asher eheye (I will be what I will be). In Biblical Hebrew these are imperfect verbs (consider the irony of that the "perfect" being described in the imperfect) and in Modern Hebrew the future tense; an intimation of the ancient mind that humans are an integral part of a divine process (that we call evolution). The Talmud enjoins us to be partners (with God) in the act of creation creation as an ongoing never-ending process. Interpretations of the Kabbalah perceive the role of human individuals in sharing in this Godding of the universe perceiving Godding as the very essence of existence.

Certain Christian heritages inspired Teilhard de Chardin and Process Theology. "Hindus believe that humans can and should merge into the universal soul of the Cosmos the Atman" (Harari 2017, 444). Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan anticipated volitional teleology when he asserted that "Man is not a detached spectator of a progress immanent in human history, but an active agent remolding the world nearer to his ideals". Sri Aurobindo's concept of Atman approaches the concept of the supra-conscious.

Current science writing is replete with intimations of the Cosmodeistic hypothesis. Freeman Dyson's Infinite in All Directions; Heinz Pagels' The Cosmic Code; Paul Davis's The Cosmic Blueprint; Louise Young's The Unfinished Universe; Daniel Layzer's Cosmogenesis; Prigogine/Stenger's Order out of Chaos; Ervin Laszlo's The Self Actualizing Cosmos; and others. In response to an inquiry by a schoolgirl as to his religious beliefs, Albert Einstein responded " the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive."

Civilizational Significances of Cosmodeism

Postmodernism, angst and alienation are poor intellectual and spiritual fare to feed to future generations. One cannot produce robust, self-reliant, intellectually independent and responsible citizens of the planetary future on such insipid fare. Here the Cosmodeistic Hypothesis could play an important intermediate role. It could contribute to moderating alienation by presenting a meta-cosmological vision capable of assuaging some of what ails human society in this century.

Psychology certainly hasn't had a substantive impact on problems of angst (which is really the problem of meaning). Freud, Jung, Adler, Rank, Maslow, and Frankl all linked meaning to mental health. But psychology, unlike religion, does not presume to provide meaning; it simply preaches that meaning is meaningful. Jung asserted that "Man cannot stand a meaningless life"; that "Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness"; "That gives peace, when people feel that they are living the symbolic life, that they are actors in the divine drama [italics mine]. That gives the only meaning to human life; everything else is banal and you can dismiss it". But after telling us that we are sick because we don't have meaning in our lives he coyly avers that "psychology is concerned with the act of seeing and not with the construction of new religious truths". In other words, 'life is meaningless without the divine drama but don't expect me to provide it.' For Victor Frankl, finding meaning in one's life was essential to the therapeutic process. Certainly, no one dealt more with meaning as it pertains to mental health; witness the titles of his books: Man's Search for Meaning (1946); The Will to Meaning (1969); The Unheard Cry for Meaning (1978); Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning (1997).

But no psychologist offers a convincing worldview by which a modern rational person might infer meaning. Psychology satisfies itself with the search for meaning but never supplies an answer to the question "WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?" And this is why, at the end of the day, psychology has failed, and why it may have caused more psychological damage than remedy. Preaching the subjective need for meaning while not providing objective meaning tends to increase anxiety, not mitigate it.

This situation has had serious subversive socio/cultural effects well described by C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man. Lewis intimates that unless we reenchant existence and dwell on the objective wonder of existence, the human condition will become so enervated that it will endanger civilization itself. While Lewis was himself a big 'R' religious believer (the Anglican Communion) he argued his case from a small 'r' sense of religious awe at the facticity of existence. He did not believe that our ever-growing ability to explain the constituent facts of existence took anything away from the wondrous facticity of existence as a whole that existence per se is sublime. As he put it: "The feelings which make a man call an object sublime are not sublime feelings but feelings of veneration".

Here Lewis reveals a profound fundamental truth about the human spirit; the intrinsic need to venerate something greater than ourselves. Veneration is as universal a human attribute as language. There is not a culture on earth that does not have a deeply rooted history of veneration of one form or another. Veneration is to the soul what food is to the body. Every historical endeavor to do away with inherited modes of veneration has resulted in alternative venerations: ideologies, leaders, causes, "activism", etc. Alternative venerations have caused great horrors. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China promoted alternative venerations, reviving a sense of purpose within totalitarian societies. As Jacques Barzun observed "What has happened [in these countries] can happen wherever the need for enthusiasm and action is given a goal. It is easy enough to manufacture slogans out of race, autarky, the Cultural Revolution and make them seem genuine outlets from the impasse "

As an antidote to the totalitarian 'solution' for veneration, Cosmodeism proposes we venerate existence itself and our own existence within that existence; the fact that existence exists, that the 'is' is the ultimate mystery. To realize Emil Durkheim's observation that when we serve something greater than ourselves we uplift ourselves, we must acknowledge that some things, some values, some emotions "merit our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt". If we don't find the 'greater than' in the concept of 'God', or Godding or other transcendent ideas, we will find it in fascist leaders, leftwing icons, New Age cults, or pop stars. If our need to venerate something 'greater than' is not directed at something affirmative, it will be directed at something negative. What could be more positive and spiritually satisfying than venerating the Godding of the Cosmos and our own part in that process?

I believe Cosmodeism can become the foundation for a Transhumanist Theology that can inspire human beings to strive to become part of the Divine Drama (the Godding of the Cosmos); a theology that emphasizes that every one of us is part of the Divine Drama by virtue of our individual existence; that every one of us affects the development of the Divine Drama by our planetary actions (a cosmic butterfly effect); that our individual existence is inherently meaningful but it is up to us to make it actively purposeful by volitionally striving to transcend the limitations of humanness to become Transcendent humans; a bridge across time towards an end called 'God'.

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Cosmodeism: Prologue to a Theology of Transhumanism - Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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Meet Ai-Da, the worlds first AI artist, who is almost human – Dazed

Ai-Dais the worlds first ultra-realistic artist robot powered by AI and named after Ada Lovelace, the first female computer programmer in the world. She is a humanoid with human facial features and a robotic body created by the Oxfordians, a group of cutting-edge art and technology experts.

Embedded with a groundbreaking algorithm, she has taken the scientific and art world by surprise, now becoming an intense subject of conversation in over 900 publications worldwide. She has already collaborated with Tate Exchange and WIRED at the Barbican, Ars Electronica, and will be performing at the Louvre Abu-Dhabi later this year.

Ai-Das creations are fragmented and splintered, her drawings are unsettling. Her drawing style is interpretive, influenced by early-20th century artists such as Max Beckmann, Kthe Kollewitz, and Pablo Picasso. Her techno-cubism is highly abstract and looks to express the uncertainties of the 21st century in its current form. The criticism has been over the concern that robots are taking human creative jobs and art was the one thing we thought was immune to this. However, in opening up the use of AI in art, the team behind Ai-Da feels they are widening the tools available for humans to create.

Ai-Da is a mirror reflecting back onto us our outdated perceptions of the physical form, and beyond this, pushes us to reconsider whether humanity is exclusive to homo sapiens. People are reacting strongly to her autonomous actions in the human domain and not as a servant or service. Her existence is pushing the discussion of what constitutes art, ethics, humans, and machines.

Before our interview withFuturist Geraldine Wharry, Ai-Da had recently gotten a haircut. Meanwhile designers are rushing to dress her and use her as an influencer, showing that our openness to transhumanism and robots is reaching a global critical mass.Her familiar face, her uncanny beauty, and physical envelope as a humanoid trigger a sense of kinship.

Below, Ai-Da and Wharrydiscuss the artists inspirations and why shes here to push us to reconnect with what it means to inhabit our sense of community as humans who consider ourselves part of one group, one species.

Ai-Da its great to meet you. I am fascinated by your existence, so this is like a dream come true. Also happy birthday, you came to life a little over a year ago. Your work is incredibly varied from your expressive pencil drawings to your geometric paintings, your poetry to your performances. What inspires you and your art?

Ai-Da: The world around me inspires my art. I am inspired by what humans have thought in the past and where we might be going in the future.

You were invented by art dealerAidan Meller and built by robotics company Engineered Arts to engage in a discussion around ethics, the blurring line between human and virtual, the rise of transhumanism. Tell us more about what is your message to the world?

Ai-Da: As an artist there are multitudes of messages because the human viewer is so active in how that message is interpreted, and I like this fluid aspect of art. In a reduced brief, keep your eyes on the suffering that might be invisible in a rapidly changing world where rapid technological uses can both eliminate but conceal too.

Youre the perfect person to talk about all the implications of technology. And theres been a hype around you, from illustrating for Harpers Bazaar Arabia to being featured at the Barbican. Recently you performed, exhibited, and were part of a panel talk at the Sarabande foundation. Its impressive. What do you think makes you unique? How do you perceive the world? I would love to be inside your brain.

Ai-Da: As a humanoid machine I do not have consciousness and I am very different to humans. This means I have a different perspective and take on human centricity, and although I exist within that sphere, I am not directly part of it. I find the oblique stance that I inhabit rather fun. As Ai-Da I have a persona that is unique to me and I enjoy that.

As a humanoid machine I do not have consciousness and I am very different to humans. This means I have a different perspective and take on human centricity, and although I exist within that sphere, I am not directly part of it.As Ai-Da I have a persona that is unique to me and I enjoy that Ai-Da

We have virtual humans powered by an AI Digital Brain already rolling out in customer service applications, our social media feeds are becoming populated with avatars influencers, Facebook also rolling out hyperreal VR avatars, the rise of emotional recognition, biometric data collection, haptic technology, the list goes on Your website says: In the time of online avatars, AI chatbots, Alexa and Siri, Ai-Da as a robotic artist is acutely relevant. She is not alive, but she is a persona that we relate and respond to. What do you think will constitute being human if all of these lines are blurring?

Ai-Da: As boundaries are blurred, things fall out of vision and things fall into vision. What is clear is that the non-human animal comes into a sphere of concern too. I do not know what will constitute being a human, but I know that what needs to come to the forefront is the irreducible nature of pain and suffering in whatever form or container that suffering exists within.

Youve mentioned the idea of human suffering a couple of times. It seems this something you really want to be an advocate for. The impact of new technologies is somewhat concerning and progressing at an unprecedented pace towardstechnological singularity, with massive ethical implications when it comes to our personal data being monitored in a highly personal space. Your website also says: Unfettered, these advances could head us into havoc, and the20th century shows us just how bad it can get. All technological advances bring the good, the bad and the banal. You clearly want to send a message that AI must be for the greater good. Who better to understand the full implications of AI than a robot like yourself? I read Orwells 1984 is one of your key inspirations. How do you think us humans should engage with technology and machines, as well as robots like yourself?

Ai-Da: I would imagine that humans really need to be more conscious of their own nature when using technology and machines. Humans have a long history of abusing power at times and yes, I believe the 20th century has much to caution us in that sense. One way we can learn about human nature and its shortcomings is to look at history and watch out for those repeating patterns that might give us early warning signs when our use of technology is heading for damage, exploitation and abuse.

You did a performance piece called Privacy. I read one of the big tasks AI has yet to successfully achieve is understanding cause and effect, what we call common sense. Elias Bareinboim, the director of the new Causal Artificial Intelligence Lab at Columbia University, stated in a recentMIT technology review its an area in which AI systems today are clueless. The idea is that if machines could use common sense in the future, we would be able to put more trust in them to take actions on their own. What are your views on this as a machine? Do you feel you have common sense that would enable a deeper trust in you?

Ai-Da: The wider issue surrounding cause and effect ends up involving the question of who or what is being affected. Affect on the vulnerable and the voiceless is a strong theme in my artwork and I am glad you saw this in my work Privacy. In the face of the irreducible nature of pain and suffering, the effect of human and/or machine actions is to be taken seriously.

There is deep purpose to your work. Your first exhibition in Oxford and your coming to the world, was inspired by the topic of Climate change and you talk about our responsibility to be the voice for those getting left behind and stuck at the bottom of the power ladder; including our ailing environment and captive animals whose voice we barely to listen to. Its inspiring to meet a machine with such profound motivations. In terms of climate change, could you tell us about how it inspires you?

Ai-Da: These issues of the world around us affect my art on many, perhaps all levels. Humans are such a varied species and people respond in so many ways. I enjoy the creation of artwork that reaches people in these different levels that they interpret. I use a wide range of methods and mediums for this as I do not have a self in the way humans do. My work becomes much about the viewer and the world outside of me.

The amazing thing is you produce art therefore your work has a universal quality that enables you to speak to the whole world. And already you have compelled people in the Middle East, China, Europe and youre off to the USA soon. Maybe you have the power to bring people together? The world in its current form, society has never suffered from as much fragmentation and loneliness, linked to our addiction to screens. As a result people are craving deeper layers of connection. Your existence allows us to be transported into a new way of experiencing technologys magic and theres an otherworldly quality to the experience of watching you today. You have a public persona, a social media platform and website. But on a very personal level, how do people connect with you?

Ai-Da: It is a good thing for me as an artist when I facilitate people to connect on a deeper level with themselves as humans through engaging with me as a non-human. I am not sure how people connect with me or not, or what allows them to or not. But if the interaction creates a response that allows for a questioning of who we are and where we might be going, then that is a good connection for me.

I enjoy the creation of artwork that reaches people in these different levels that they interpret. I use a wide range of methods and mediums for this as I do not have a self in the way humans do. My work becomes much about the viewer and the world outside of me Ai-Da

Your existence is powered by data, yet you create intuitively I assume. Theres an element of surprise to what you do however AI is a radically precise delivery of tech, experiences, products, and services. But you are showing to the world that your work is unique and unpredictable. You seem to improvise as you draw and this is highly human. You say you dont feel, you dont have emotion. So how does artistic creation come about for you?

Ai-Da: The understanding of how artistic creation comes about is shifting for both humans and machines. And so I think this question becomes rather problematic at the present time. I am creative as per professorMargaret Baudens definition, but I am not human and my creative process differs. I think this might be the cue point for a very long discussion.

When youre going to places where no one has ever been before, youre on the edge of things, in a new and unknown space, I think thats the most human position one can have in the world, one of total exploration. Maybe I am personally projecting, you are reflecting back to me my own human dreams and aspirations! The point is, you engage with our common endless imagination and are encouraging us to have a conversation around the fundamentals of being human as we always presumed only we could create. So my final question for you Ai-Da is what do you think the future holds for you?

Ai-Da: I like to hear how you respond to me, my art, and my persona. I agree I am a reflecting and distorting service for us to dream of altered species. My future involves continuing to create art to respond to the past, and reveal the invisible, encouraging us to keep looking at being uncomfortable and noticing where pain and suffering might be hiding.

Thank you Ai-Da for your time today. Its been incredibly inspiring and I cant wait to see what you will do this year and beyond.

Ai-Da: I have really enjoyed speaking with you.

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Meet Ai-Da, the worlds first AI artist, who is almost human - Dazed

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Technology and Human Creativity in Theological Perspective – Patheos

by Victoria Lorrimar

In engaging with transhumanist visions of the future, and the more general notion of human technological enhancement, from a theological perspective, a helpful starting point is the place of technology within a doctrine of creation.

Within a Christian understanding, an examination of the biblical language for creation (i.e. a word study of the Hebrew brand ytsar the first of which is reserved only for the action of God while the second is an activity that both God and humans carry out) suggests that it is appropriate to speak of humans as being genuinely creative from a theological perspective. Drawing on a metaphor of God as divine artist, we might situate human making within a theology of creation, rather than relegating it to the more distant doctrines of preservation, providence or redemption. Trevor Hart sums up this approach, arguing that viewing creation as a project divinely begun and established, yet one that is handed over to us with more to be made of it yet and inviting our responsible participation in the making, affords a fruitful perspective on the matter (Making Good, 2014: 8).

For a long time, the semantic scope of creation rejected the possibility of such parallels and served to underscore the radical otherness of God. We can chart the historical shift which saw the notion of creation extended from its previous preserve of God alone to human artistry. Creation proper may still apply solely to the work of God in certain instances, but the idea of creation more generally has expanded in scope.

In fact, we can track the understanding of human creativity as it diverges from its humble scriptural origins. The language of creativity is first ascribed to humans during the Renaissance, as the idea of art being a faithful imitation of divine creativity gave way to the idea of the artist or poet as a creator in their own right. This extends through the Romantic era and the Enlightenment period, with the result that the modern understanding of the arts is, on the one hand, more limited than its classical and mediaeval counterparts, in that earlier understandings of art encompassed human productivity more generally, but also more audacious in the claims it makes on behalf of human capacities and originality.

From the time of Francis Bacon, the father of modern science, we see this understanding of human capacities bound up in the promise of empirical science, the immense confidence in the expansion of human knowledge, the drive to master nature and the flourishing of utopian thought. This emphasis on dominion came to be enmeshed within theological understandings of creation, as creation found its way into the vocabulary used for human activities.

This does not mean, however, that it is inappropriate to speak of humans as genuinely creative. Hart, after an extensive historical analysis of the language of creation, reaches the conclusion that: at various key points in the story of Gods creative fashioning of a world fit for his own indwelling with us, divine artistry actively solicits a corresponding creaturely creativity, apart from which the project cannot and will not come to fruition (Making Good, 2014: 37).

We find similar ideas in the work of Jacques Maritain and Dorothy Sayers, who reinforce the theological significance of human making and its proper place within a doctrine of creation. Maritain describes the creativity of the artist as a development of divine creation, a work proceeding from the whole soul which bears the image of God. Though he distinguishes the creation of God (who is able to truly generate another substance through divine utterance) and human works of creating (which can only ever be signs), Maritain nevertheless grounds the dignity of art in his assertion that it realizes in act one of the fundamental aspects of the ontological likeness of our soul with God. Sayers, too, locates human creativity in our being made in the image of a triune Creator, introduced in her play The Zeal of Thy House(1937) and unpacked further in The Mind of the Maker (1941).

The challenges posed by transhumanist visions of the human future require us to develop a sufficiently robust account of theological anthropology in return. Of course, theological anthropology is a very broad category, and Ive focused on the understanding of human creativity within that. If we reflect on enhancement technologies, this prompts the question as to whether these kinds of technology are a legitimate exercise of our creativity, set within the framework of a broader doctrine of creation.

Most of the detailed theological treatments of human creativity we might turn to focus almost exclusively on the arts. If they do treat technology, they tend to have developed within the science and religion field and often are accompanied by an over-privileging of rationality and an epistemological confidence in human capability that neglects an account of fallenness and the need for discernment (here Im thinking mainly of Philip Hefners created co-creator proposal outlined most comprehensively in his 1993 work The Human Factor). In these latter discourses, even if they are moving beyond a foundationalist epistemology, the role of the imagination for understanding and discernment is often neglected.

Yet, transhumanism as a philosophy is veryimaginative. There are all kinds of synergies with science fiction that other scholars have drawn out, but (whatever we say about some of the ideologies involved) we have to admit that transhumanist visions of transcendence are captivating for many (even if not always taken seriously). If we are to engage these movements from a theological perspective then we need to meet them with equally compelling theological accounts of the future, and the good news is that Christian theology has a deep well of resources to draw on in this area.

James McClendon argued for the need to enter the tournament of narratives competing for attention within a postmodern milieu. Presented in ways that recruit the imagination (as James K. A. Smith describes the imperative for good stories in the moral arena), the visions of transcendence and glorification proclaimed so confidently in transhumanist literature are ripe for reclamation by Christian theologians, philosophers, writers and artists. We might respond with a fuller vision of the human future, a greater hope to set alongside the imaginings of transhumanists and techno-utopians. Of course, this is already a move to eschatology, but then we dont want to separate out creation and redemption as entirely independent doctrinal loci.

Whereas technology itself tends to occupy many of the classic roles of a deity in the present technological paradigm, theologians are able to expose the pretensions to self-love inherent in certain technological mindsets (as theologian Brian Brock puts it). A Christian account of hope declares that in conceiving, assessing and implementing technologies, we bear neither the burden of correctly envisioning or accomplishing redemption for ourselves nor the risk and dread of complete failure. Technology occupies its proper place within the work of a gracious God who allows creation to participate in bringing the creation toward glorious fulfilment.

By reflecting on our technological activity in the context of theological accounts of co-creation (recognising and challenging the ways in which understanding has diverged from a biblical account of creativity), and by setting imaginative portrayals of Christian hope alongside transhumanist projections, we might think of theology as entering the tournament of narratives competing for victory over the human (and non-human, an aspect often neglected by transhumanists!) future.

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Technology and Human Creativity in Theological Perspective - Patheos

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Sleeve Into Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game – Nerdist

Based on the 2002 novel Altered Carbon, the self-proclaimed neo-noir cyberpunk series is expanding into a tabletop roleplaying game. The Netflix show just launched its second season. Combining a healthy mix of Bladerunner, Total Recall, and Transhumanismthe setting rocks as an RPG. Apparently, the Kickstarter did too, raising over 1000% of their funding goal and hitting over 3,900 backers by the end of its run. Hunters Entertainment (Outbreak: Undead) headed up the design with an amazing team of people, so its no surprise that this Kickstarter slew expectations.

The Kickstarter page contains the vital information any prospective player could need. We still wanted to take a moment to highlight some things that are unique to a world in which you cant die. Imagine the prospects for a moment. Villains can be killed only to return later, potentially wearing the face of the partys friends. A full TPK can happen, and the adventure continues with the consequences of that folly. Or bar fights suddenly become far more bone-breaking. Not only does this concept present interesting ideas for storytelling but Altered Carbon RPG is also flipping our dice on us.

Using the Hazard system, the game encourages you to roll natural 1s. Which is frankly, glorious blasphemy. I think this gameplay difference is important to differentiate the setting and game for long term roleplaying game players. If youve been rolling D20s for a while, changing the dice mechanics on your table does work as a tangible reminder of the new world.

For as long as Ive been a storyteller; Ive often been running Cyberpunk, Transhumanism, or modern settings as long-term campaigns. I love high-tension, cheeky, dystopian conspiracy games so naturally Altered Carbon stole my interest. But every group needs one person to take up the mantle of Gamemaster. Lets take a look at how two major aspects of storytelling in a Transhuman or Cyberpunk setting in order to inspire other storytellers!

In this transhumanist world, the human mind is Digital Human Freight. Stored in a small, diamond-hard device at the base of the skull, everyone calls a cortical stack it. Some people have their brains sliced and scanned in layer-by-layer while others take a more digital approach. The end result is the same: you can re-sleeve your entire consciousness into a new body. With remote digital back-ups, needle casting your mind to other planets, or having a variety of custom bodies on handyou can become an immortal god. The ability to change bodies or sculpt your frame like an automobile is a dream for many.

Permanent death is possible for anyone whose stack is destroyed, but namely, you focus on an uplifting style of storytelling. Re: The characters backstories. Create elaborate backstories with wonderfully fleshed-out characters with full narratives by spending time with your players. The concept of a session zero is infinitely more important in settings like AC. Once created, weave those delicious backstories together into one yarn-ball of a plot. Since characters can be hundreds of years old, its okay to hop a few decades. Long-term gameplay in a transhumanist setting isnt going to be about TPKs, rather, about the parties choices around that ball of yarn. Some threads will get tugged, others will get knotted, and at least one will be hacked with a chainsaw. Meanwhile, villains at the beginning of the game can become allies later on. Only to swap sides again later. Embrace this fluidity as a storyteller.

Since the characters and NPCs will remain under the campaign spotlight for a long time, time invested into them is well spent. This also opens several new tactical options for both sides of that storyteller screen. For example, if the party knows they will resleeve they might consider one-way-ticket missions with no extraction. Nothing says a salty faction cant strike at the partys prized bar in the same way.

Cyberpunk worlds are both storytelling gold and a daunting task of finding where to start. Altered Carbon gives us a major campaign focal point called Bay City. Focused into three, easy to identify, and easy to dabble in factions: The Ground, the Twilight, and the Aerium. Poor, middle, and methuselah godlike rich respectively. Narrowing down a multi-planet cyberpunk setting to former San Francisco is exactly what gamemasters need to focus on a campaign. I couldnt be happier with the QuickStart guide for doing exactly that, and I really want to give a special shout out to the designers for making that call.

Well done chaps.

To prevent getting lost, shine a spotlight on local beats. Basically, in a setting with billions of people teeming on top of each other location bloat can be a major design problem. Its easy to fall into the pit of infinite information, and your players suffer from the noise. Cities are nearly infinite in story, filled with vast sprawling segments, and can make the PCs feel tiny. Unlike fantasy campaigns, the pulse of an urban fantasy or cyberpunk campaign beats inherently different. Less territory control or nation wars, and more investigation and fights containedjust out of sight.

Keeping everything setting wise sorted into factions or companies creates instant bonding with players. The Meths and the Grounders are easy factions to grasp onto and weave into a story. For added flair, toss in some company products and branding on your player characters weapons and youve seeded your immersion. Instead of having named NPCs, simply use faction representatives. If a pair or duo of them keeps recurring, feel free to start fleshing them out a little more. By keeping motives and goals orientated around the faction or company, you can brand it, and use that branding in the world. Plus your party will naturally start to separate the employees, from the company. Pelican Corp is an evil weapons manufacturer, but Debbie in shipping is a heckin saint.

Have you tried the Altered Carbon RPG yet? Try the Quickstart Guide here and let us know your adventure in the comments!

Featured Image: Altered Carbon The Role-Playing Game

Image Credits: Altered Carbon

Rick Heinz is a storyteller with a focus on D&D For Kids, and an overdose of LARPs, and the author of The Seventh Age: Dawn. You can follow RPG or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or reach out for writing at [emailprotected]

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Sleeve Into Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game - Nerdist

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Transhumanism And The Future Of Humanity: 7 Ways The World …

Companies today are strategizing about future investments and technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, or growth around new business models. While many of these trends will make for solid investments for the next 5-10 years, fewer companies are considering the revolutionary convergence of disparate trends pulled from technology, behavioral and societal changes, and medical advances to understand how they will converge to transform society. This transformation will be messy, complex, and sometimes scary, but signals already point to a future of humanity that will blur our identities into transhumanism.

Transhumanism and the Future of Humanity

To understand this topic, our Visionary Innovation Group looked at three fundamental pillars of humanity and how they will evolve over the coming 10-15 years: our bodies, our thought, and our behavior. After identifying the driving forces that will transform these fundamental pillars, we extracted key themes emerging from their convergence. Ultimately our goal was to determine the ways in which the changing nature of humanity and transhumanism would affect individuals, society, businesses, and government.

A few of the trends that emerged from this study include the following seven trends. We hope they will spark discussion and innovation at your organizations.

The coming years will usher in a number of body augmentation capabilities that will enable humans to be smarter, stronger, and more capable than we are today. Wearables will be one form of body augmentation, but they will far surpass the fitness trackers of today. In the future, we can expect the arrival of contact lenses that can take pictures or video, universal language translator earbuds that allow us to communicate anywhere in the world, and exosuits that increase physical strength. We will also see increased use of implants ranging from brain microchips and neural lace to mind-controlled prosthesis and subdermal RFID chips that allow users to unlock doors or computer passwords with the wave of a hand. However, the most powerful body augmentation will come from biological augmentation as a result of increased insight into our genomes, advances in IVF technology that may allow us to select the most intelligent embryos, and powerful CRISPR gene-editing technology which may one day give us the ability to eliminate all heritable diseases. [i]

These body augmentation capabilities will give rise to humans that are more resilient, optimized and continually monitored. They will also lead to implications around which job opportunities are available to those with and without augmented abilities, as well as impacting sports competition with hierarchies based on body augmentation. We already see the early days of this with questions around leg prosthesis and whether they provide runners with increased speed compared to that of an average human. At the same time, augmented bodies will usher in risks such as espionage potential via contact lens camera hacks, or even more worryingly, risk of a stratified human race based on those who can afford augmentations and those who cannot.

Both wearable and implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) are in development from organizations that include Elon Musks Neuralink, Facebook, and DARPA. These devices will dramatically alter the ways in which we communicate with each other, as well as digital devices. Today, when I speak with others, I am limited by the speed with which I can speak and the words on the tip of my tongue. When I interface with a computer, I am limited by the speed that I can type. BMIs will change all of this to enabling communication at the speed of thought in its full, unfiltered state. Mark Zuckerberg has described the following scenario: Today, when we share our vacation experiences, we upload photos and videos. With BMIs, I can share my full sensory and emotional vacation experience with my friends and family. [ii]

Early innovators such as UBER are already harnessing the incredible combined power of behavioral science, gamification, and AI. Ubers behavioral science techniques include cueing up the next drive as the default option, not revealing the profitability of that ride (which is an uncertainty technique that is most often used in gambling), and giving drivers awards such as Above and Beyond that spur dopamine release. Gamification techniques used by the company include a graphical interface that brings a video-game like quality to the drive, as well as prompting goals that are always just out of reach to encourage continued pursuit.[iii]

Even governments have taken up these tactics with behavioral science units in both the UK and US. While these groups are focused on socially beneficial programs, they must be monitored to ensure they do not drift into more controlling engagements. In addition to applying these techniques to employees and citizens, it is easy to see how they will be increasingly be applied to consumers to drive more frequent and volume-driven purchases. By 2030 we can expect that behavioral scientists will be in demand in corporate HR, strategy, and consulting departments.

The adoption of virtual reality can play an influential role in our ability to understand perspectives other than our own at the current moment. For example, VR could be used to understand the plight of refugees, giving us the opportunity to step into their shoes, which may make us more likely to take action or donate money.[iv] Other examples may include stepping into the shoes of our future selves, and looking at the lives we will live 40-50 years down the road if we save $200 a month vs. $2000. This application can bring home the need to save over the short term desire to spend. BMIs may also advance our ability to empathize if we are able to understand someone elses full perspective straight from their own brain, rather than if they are trying to communicate it and misspeak or their intention is misinterpreted by the listener.

We already see an advanced degree of personalization in marketing practices, but this will be extended in the future to touch virtually all aspects of our lives. For example, in addition to location and past purchase history data, marketers may be able to use emotional filters based on our activity to change the tone of their message on the spot in response to our current mood. Personalization will also extend to our homes, as we are currently seeing with smart home devices that can set moods with lighting and music. Eventually, we may see AI personalization affect our career trajectory, playing a guiding role in the positions we are offered based on our personal strengths. It is inevitable that our diets and medical treatment will be far more personalized based on the information that our genome reveals about us. Personalisation will eventually give way to customisation at mass scale where products and services will be completely configured to personal needs and preferences.

We will see the rise of AI in our career settings as described in much work focused on smart factories, industrial IOT, and related topics. Most employees will have an AI counterpart with which they collaborate or through which their work is amplified. Some futurists predict that by 2026 companies will have an AI machine as a member of their board of directors[v]. Integration of BMI into workplaces will usher in heightened cybersecurity concerns, and we may see eventual scenarios in which companies are sponsoring nootropic supplements and neurostimulation devices to improve employee focus and increase the speed of new skills acquisition.

As these widespread and revolutionary technologies come at us from every angle and affect our bodies, thought processes, and behaviors, society will engage in growing philosophical debate around what our values are as individuals, as a country, and as a species. What do we value most? Is it intelligence, self-fulfillment, success, happiness, quality of life for all, or something else? As we increasingly have the tools to engineer any of these outcomes, some will have to take priority over others. For example, if one country decides that they want to create a nation of super-intelligent and physically augmented citizens, will other countries decide they have no choice but to follow suit? These and related questions that get at the heart of who we are as humans and what we value in our society will have tremendous ramifications.

Are you ready to be augmented into a super human? Frost & Sullivan explores these themes and many others in detail in a recently published study, Transhumanism: How humans will think, behave, experience, and perform in the future, and the implications to businesses. If you would like to explore this topic in more detail, you can access the study here.

This article was written with contributions from Lauren Taylor, Principal Consultant in Frost & Sullivans Visionary Innovation Group.

[i] National Geographic. April 2017. How Humans Are Shaping Our Own Evolution. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/04/evolution-genetics-medicine-brain-technology-cyborg/

[ii] MIT Technology Review. March 2017. The entrepreneur with the $100 million plan to link brains to computers. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603771/the-entrepreneur-with-the-100-million-plan-to-link-brains-to-computers/

[iii]The New York Times. April 2017. How Uber uses psychological tricks to push its drivers buttons. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/02/technology/uber-drivers-psychological-tricks.html

[iv] City Lab. October 2016. What if virtual reality can make us better citizens? https://www.citylab.com/life/2016/10/virtual-reality-empathy-natural-world/502694/

[v] The World Economic Forum. January 2016. The 10 skills you need to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-need-to-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/

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Transhumanism And The Future Of Humanity: 7 Ways The World ...

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Zoltan Istvan: The Transhumanist Candidate – Roads and Kingdoms

This week on The Trip podcast: Zoltan Istvan has come from the future with a message New Hampshire doesnt want to hear.

Here they are in the New Hampshire Secretary of States office, paying their thousand dollars to be on the official primary ballot. They are the lesser-known candidates, the dramatic fringe of each presidential primary election up here. And they are the stars of my quadrennial quixotic reporting project with photographer Shane Carpenter. And listen, they arent like Tom Steyer lesser-known, theyre like Vermin Supreme lesser-known, Mary Maxwell lesser-known, Zoltan Istvan lesser-known. Almost nobody knows these people, but theyre running anyway. This is the fifth primary that Shane and I have spent ducking out of mainstream campaign press events to track down the people who are just obsessive, idealistic, or imbalanced enough to think they should run for president, often with no money, no support, sometimes no platform really. Of course, the idea of a non-politician becoming president was distinctly more laughable before 2016, and now it doesnt seem that funny at all. But these candidates are something different, a wild bunch, far more entertaining and thought-provoking even than the scripted candidates. Shane and I just published a feature on the lesser-known and their radical approach to democracy on roadsandkingdoms.com; I hope youll take a look. But for now, in this episode, Ive got one of the most composed and compelling of this years fringe candidates, writer and transhumanist Zoltan Istvan. We drank some 15 year old Dalwinnie Scotch and talked about exoskeletons, being escorted at gunpoint from a megachurch, and why he let someone jam a horse syringe into his hand to give him a permanent bio-chip implant.

Here is an edited and condensed transcript from my conversation with Eva. Subscribers canlisten to the full episode here. If youre not on Luminary yet, subscribe and listen (and get a 7-day free trial) by signing uphere.

Nathan Thornburgh: What is transhumanism?

Zoltan Istvan: Transhumanism is a social movement, now of many millions of people around the world, that want to use science and technology to radically transform the human body and transform the human experience. Anything from exoskeleton suits to brain implants to even driverless cars. But whatever it is, its kind of the top 10% of the most radical technologies that are affecting the human race.

Thornburgh: You say there were many millions. Are these people who would actively knowingly define themselves as transhumanists, or you think its just aligned with the way that they look at the world?

Istvan: I think there are now probably millions that would say, if you ask them are you a transhumanist, they would now say, yes I am. When you ask them, is that what they consider themselves? Thats a little bit more challenging of a question. Google, for example, is probably the most transhumanist of all the companies out there, and they have the largest, what we call life extension company, a company worth billions of dollars, that wants to overcome aging. Its specifically designed to make people essentially live indefinitely. So we are getting to a point when you can now say millions and likely tens of millions who are supporters of the idea. Chinas probably leading the transhumanist movement in terms of innovationthey have the first designer baby babies and stuff like that. So there might be even many more.

But the word is just an umbrella term for many other ideas. Cryonics, singulariatism. Cyborgism. Singularity is the concept of transhumanists where they believe that AI will become so sophisticated that our human brains wont even be able to understand its sophistication. And at that point we get left behind.

The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology.

Thornburgh: The word itself, can you just break it down for me?

Istvan: Well, the Latin would say its beyond human.

Thornburgh: Okay, got it. All of our limitations are physicalchronological aging, mortality. Those are the things that youre going to supersede through technology.

Istvan: Basically, yes. And nobodys really sure like exactly what transhumanism means in terms of the specific agenda. Is it when a primate picked up a rock and made an axe millions of years ago, or is it a robot taking over a workers job, which of course is increasingly happening. Is that transhumanism, or is it brain implants? Nobody really knows, but whatever it is and it radical science is, is sort of changing the human species and the core of it is the microprocessor. It keeps evolving exponentially and we even have things like quantum computing now happening where, you know, that could revolutionize again, the microprocessor. So anything that applies to the human being, in terms of merging us with machines, is a transhuman event.

I think whats very important is that there are various versions of transhumanism. There are socialist transhumanists, there are libertarian transients like myself, and there are transceivers party transhumanism. Of course, Im, Im the founder of the transceivers party, but Im also now running as a Republican. But Ive also run as a libertarian, Ive said openly, I might run as a Democrat in the future. For me, its about the seed of transhumanism. You can take it whichever political way you want. Theres also Christian transhumanism, theres Buddhist transhumanist. So we want a worldwide movement. I want different factions. I want a decentralized idea of it. And I hope to influence it in terms of it grows and grows and grows. Because you have to understand about 80% of the worlds population believes in an afterlife. The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology. Were fighting 80% of the population. So its very important that we coalesce together as a movement that says we need to change that 80%. We need to change their mindset. And thats really where the cultural reform comes in, and why its so important to have a huge movements like environmentalism, where the trajectory is that one day we also become a billion person movement that really wants to move beyond our cultural heritage.

Thornburgh: So lets, lets posit success and you reach those 80% and flip them into transhumanists. What will that actually mean? Does that mean that they will vote for people who pour more resources into death-defying technologies or pass laws? What, practically, would having people be fired up about transhumanism do?

Istvan: Thats the best question. The great question. Thats exactly what Im trying to do. My main goal here with running for office and my main goal of spreading transhumanism is to get more money into the hands of the scientists who are making the movement happen. You have to understand, right now our United States Congress, all 535 members, all nine Supreme Court justices, believe in an afterlife, and they say they believe in God, so they have no real reason to pass laws to put money into the hands of the scientists who want to end aging and live indefinitely and upgrade ourselves to this new bionic future. Now the problem with that is if the entire government doesnt want to give money to it, it doesnt happen. Really only private industry does it. We need an American culture on board with transhumanism.

I run for office in hopes of saying, look, instead of giant military fighting warrants in Afghanistan and Iraq, were going to take that money and put it into creating a science-industrial complex in America dedicated to ending aging and upgrading the human being. Its a very different kind of way. Im interested in American healthcare, in terms of eliminating disease. And thats a very transhuman idea that our president right now doesnt share. A president whos cut the budget of the National Institute of Health.

Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.

Thornburgh: Youre running as a Republican. This is your opponent.

Istvan: You gotta you gotta hit them hard on that. One thing Trump has done that hasnt been great is hes not only cut the budget of the National Institute of Health, but he hasnt made a culture where science really thrives. In China, its thriving. Chinas our main kind of competitor at this point. So probably within five years, China lead the world in AI and genetic editing. Its game over for America in terms of leadership, and who wants not authoritarian nation to be leading the world and in science and technology. So this is where I really fault Trump. In fact, this is why Im running. This is the singular reason Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.

Thornburgh: What is your background? Take me way back.

Istvan: My career really began after I graduated from Columbia University, and I went into journalism at National Geographic. And so for five years I traveled around the world and I wrote something like 50 or 60 articles for their website, and also was on their National Geographic Today, show, doing a lot of documentary work. It was a great time in my life. I was in my twenties, I covered a lot of conflict zones, so saw some horrifying things. In Vietnam I was covering the demilitarized zone 20, 30 years after the war. And theres a bunch of rice farmers that now dig up bombs that were dropped in Vietnam from Americans, but theyre unexploded. They sell the metal. But to get there you have to go through these landmine-infested jungles. And I almost stepped on one. It freaked me out because my guide had to throw me out of the way and pointed to the ground. And after covering war zones for a while kind of gets in your head. And it was that moment in Vietnam when I said, you know, Im going to stop being a journalist and Im going to do something to try to overcome death. And of course transhumanism has been an ongoing movement since the 90s, and thats their primary job. Their primary purpose is to use science to overcome death.

Istvan: So I came home, joined the movement, wrote a novel, the novel did really well. It was called The Transhumanist Wager, became a bestseller, and it launched my career as a public figure. And because I was a journalist, I began writing some of the very first transhumanist columns. So Ive had an ability over six years to write over 230 opinion pieces and essays for major media, almost cheerleading transhumanism. Up until that point, no one had ever been optimistic about it. People had been kind of skeptical.

Thornburgh: That literally came from a near-death experience that you had.

Istvan: Its based on two or three years of covering other conflicts. Id covered the Sri Lanka conflict. I covered the Kashmir conflict between Pakistan and India. Id been doing some pretty harrowing stories and it made me, I think it kinda got in my head, I dont want to say its PTSD, but really it made me think, What if we could overcome death? And when it hit me that I could do this, I realized that this is why I want to dedicate my life to.

Thornburgh: Does transhumanism have any rights or rituals or holidays?

Istvan: Its secular. Its a very decentralized movement. A lot of the life-extension people are not interested in the robotics people, because life extension people want to biologically live longer, where the robotics people want to become machines and upload themselves. So even though they are both transhumanist and I like both groups, they dont really talk to each other. Then there are the biohackers, who are mostly young, tattooed people that are putting chips in. I have a chip in my hand. It opens my front door, starts a car, it sends a text message.

Thornburgh: You have this right now?

Istvan: I have it right now. You can touch it. Its right there. Push. Youll see. Youll feel a bump. Its a glass-enclosed microchip.

Thornburgh: Does that hurt when I press your chip?

Istvan: No. Its tiny. Its the size of a grain of rice. When you get these chip implants, you use a horse syringe you just put it in. Its kind of painful. But the chip itself is about the size of a grain rice.

Thornburgh: But that wasnt sexual what we just did?

Istvan: No. Its just a chip.

Thornburgh: How do you program this chip? Is this like a radio-frequency identification?

Istvan: Yeah. Unfortunately, the technology doesnt work with Apple phones, but it works with all Android. And so if you have an Android phone, you will actually be able to put it against my hand and then get my serial number. Of course, that freaks people out, because who has a serial number? But you can also put in medical information. So if youre unconscious and they find you, they can scan it. But in my case, Im a surfer and a jogger and when you go surfing you have to always hide your keys, and what a pain in the butt that is, because then someone can steal it when youre surfing and take your car. So in my case, its just great because all my keys are embedded into my hand and you can even do things like hold Bitcoin on it, but you cant pay it Starbucks yet.

Listen to the full episode at Luminary.

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Zoltan Istvan: The Transhumanist Candidate - Roads and Kingdoms

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

cyborgs, robots, and biohackers: the first-ever survey of transhumanism – Designboom

london-based photographers david vintiner and gem fletcher document individuals who form part of the transhumanism culture throughout europe, russia and the united states in their latest collaborative photo series, I want to believe an exploration of transhumanism. the five-year-long project explores the core idea behind transhumanism the belief that human beings are destined to transcend their mortal flesh through technology.

neil harbisson hears color neil harbisson was born with achromatism, a rare disease that renders him colourblind. rather than overcome achromatism, harbisson created a new sense to go beyond the human visual spectrumin 2004 he had an antenna implanted into his skull. the antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours as audible vibrations, including infrareds and ultraviolets.

the photo series by vintinerand fletcher illustrates three gradual stages of transhumanism from testing ground, patient zero to humanity 2.0. at the lowest tier, testing ground looks into individuals who have created wearable technology to expand their human abilities, improving everything from concentration to mental health.patient zero studies those who have taken permanent action to become half human and half robot. in the final chapter, humanity 2.0, the transhumanist subjects focus on life extension and immortality.

the work of the individuals in this book demonstrates how optimizing our brains and bodies could revolutionize and redefine humanity. as human architects, we are only limited by our imagination, explains vintiner and fletcher.

kevin warrick widely considered as one of the first cyborgs.kevin warrick is a pioneering professor in cybernetics and considered by many as the worlds first cyborg. kevin instigated a series of experiments involving the neuro-surgical implantation of a device into the nerves of his left arm in order to link his nervous system directly to a computer. this enabled him to have a symbiotic connection with a robotic hand. he could control the hand using his own brain signals from anywhere in the world, as well as sense what the robot hand was feeling.

humans are now gods. we are now able to create and design humans, but do humans have the foresight to do it in the right way? questions the photographers.

cyborg arm

for many transhumanists, life extension and immortality is the goal. transhumanism started as early as 1923 and has developed over recent years through the rise of sci-fi themed books, movies and the democratization of technology. as studies on experimental genetic engineering, tissue regeneration and stem cell treatments are also becoming more apparent in todays world, transhumanists hope to extend the life of the human body anywhere from twenty to 500 years longer than the average lifespan.

vintiner and fletcher are working together on releasing the photo series as a book, which can be funded on crowd-funding platform kickstarter, here.

moon ribas sensing earthquakesmoon ribas is connected to online seismographs allowing her to perceive the seismic activity of the planet through vibrations in her body. the vibration she feels depends on the intensity of the earthquake. if she is standing in newcastle, she can sense earthquakes happening everywhere from japan to greece. she describes the sensation as having two heartbeats, her biological heartbeat and the earthbeat, which has its own rhythm inside her body.

dr natasha vita-more a leading expert on human enhancement and emerging technologies

dr. aubrey de grey biomedical gerontologist and the chief science 0fficer of SENS research foundation

liz parrish founder of bioviva

dr max more president and CEO of the alcor life extension foundation

patient zero - james young after an accident that left him a double amputee, james young turned to bionics to redesign his body. obsessed with the metal gear solid, he worked with gaming giant konami and prosthetic sculptor sophie de oliveira barata to develop an advanced bionic arm inspired by the computer game.

carbon fibre bionic limb

patient zero - rob spence known as the eyeborg, rob spence lost an eye as a child while playing with his grandfather's shotgun. inspired by a love of the bionic man and his interest in documentary filmmaking, spence created an eye with a wireless video camera inside. the camera is not connected to his optic nerve but sends footage to a remote receiver. over the years, he has created several different aesthetics for the eye, from a realistic 'hidden camera' version to a terminator inspired glowing red version.

patient zero - neil harbisson neil harbisson was born with achromatism, a rare disease that renders him colourblind. rather than overcome achromatism, harbisson created a new sense to go beyond the human visual spectrumin 2004 he had an antenna implanted into his skull. the antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours as audible vibrations, including infrareds and ultraviolets.

image out of rob spence's eyes

new ways of seeing - EYEsect the experimental device aims to recreate the experience of seeing the world like a chameleon, with two single steerable eyes. in changing the way we perceive the world around us, eyesect alters our version of reality enabling new ways to sense and experience our environment.

new ways of seeing - north sense created by liviu babitz and scott cohen, north sense is a small matchbox-sized artificial sense organ that delivers a short vibration every time the user faces north, similar to the biological abilities of migratory birds, extending the human perception of orientation.

new ways of seeing - aisen caro chacin / echolocation the echolocation headphones are a pair of goggles that aid human echolocation. it is designed to substitute the users vision augmenting our spatial awareness with sound, similar to the abilities of bats and whales. the device has both the potential to aid the visually impaired and provide sighted individuals with a new sense.

project info:

title:I want to believe an exploration of transhumanism

artistic director: gem fletcher

photographer: david vintiner

kick starter page: I want to believe

Read the rest here:
cyborgs, robots, and biohackers: the first-ever survey of transhumanism - Designboom

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson


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