Tagged with “humans” (13)

  1. Ramez Naam: Enhancing Humans, Advancing Humanity - The Long Now

    Enhancing humans and humanity

    Beginning with the accelerating pace of biotech tools for human health and enhancement, Naam noted that health issues such as disease prevention will be drastically easier to implement than enhancement.

    Preventing some hereditary diseases can be done with a single gene adjustment, whereas enhancement of traits like intelligence or longevity entails the fine tuning of hundreds of genes.

    He favors moving ahead with human germline engineering to totally eliminate some of our most horrific diseases.

    Over time he expects that human gene editing will lead in the opposite direction from the enforced conformity depicted in Brave New World and the film “Gattaca.”

    Instead people will relish exploring variety, and the plummeting costs of the technology will mean that the poor will benefit as well as the rich.

    Naam’s brain discussion began with the Sergey Brin quote, “We want Google to be the third half of your brain.”

    Brain interface tools are proliferating.

    There are already 200,000 successful cochlear implants which feed sound directly into the nervous system.

    There is a digital eye that feeds pretty good visual data directly to the brain via a jack in the side of the user’s head.

    There is a hippocampus chip that can restore brain function in a rat.

    Rat brains have been linked so that what one rat learns, the other rat knows.

    The paper on that work was titled “Meta-organism of Two Rats on the Internet.”

    Humans also have been linked brain to brain at a distance to share function.

    Zebrafish have been lit up to show all their neurons firing in real time.

    Coming soon is the deployment of “neural dust” that can provide ultrasonic communications with tens of thousands of neurons at a time.

    How profound are the ethical issues?

    Naam observed that we already have many of the attributes of telepathy in our cell phones and smart phones.

    They came so rapidly and cheaply that they erased most of the concerns about a “digital divide.”

    Half of the world is now on the Internet, with the rest coming fast. And rather than a divider, the technology proved to be an equalizer and a connector, fostering economic growth and the rapid spread and sifting of ideas.

    Digital connectivity, he argued, is widening everyone’s “circle of empathy.”

    A viral video started the Arab Spring.

    Viral videos are changing how everyone thinks about race in America.

    These technologies, he concluded, are making humans more humane.

    One question from the audience inquired about the origin of so much reference in the Nexus series to group meditation as the epitome of mind sharing.

    Naam noted that Buddhists, including the Dalai Lama, are highly interested in brain science, and his own experiences of the ecstacy of mind sharing were at a rave at Burning Man and a ten-day Vipassana Meditation Retreat in Thailand.

    I asked if he agreed with the current round of panic about superintelligent artificial intelligence posing an existential threat to humanity.

    He said no.

    The dark scenarios imagine an AI so smart it implements new and grotesquely harmful pathways to solve a poorly contextualized problem.

    Naam pointed out that “Software almost never does anything well by accident.” (A flock of Tweets burst from the theater with that line.)

    And the dark scenarios imagine an isolated rogue super-capable AI.

    In reality nothing really capable is developed in isolation.

    —Stewart Brand


    —Huffduffed by adactio

  2. Organizing Conferences with Environments for Humans

    There are a lot of balls to juggle when running an event or conference: how does one get started? Ari Stiles and Christopher Schmitt of Environments for Humans gives us an in-depth look at in-person AND online conferences. They discuss how they got started, choosing topics and speakers, as well as sales, budgets, promotions and contingency planning.


    —Huffduffed by adactio

  3. Rethinking “Out of Africa”

    I’m thinking a lot about species concepts as applied to humans, about the "Out of Africa" model, and also looking back into Africa itself. I think the idea that modern humans originated in Africa is still a sound concept. Behaviorally and physically, we began our story there, but I’ve come around to thinking that it wasn’t a simple origin. Twenty years ago, I would have argued that our species evolved in one place, maybe in East Africa or South Africa. There was a period of time in just one place where a small population of humans became modern, physically and behaviourally. Isolated and perhaps stressed by climate change, this drove a rapid and punctuational origin for our species. Now I don’t think it was that simple, either within or outside of Africa.

    CHRISTOPHER STRINGER is one of the world’s foremost paleoanthropologists. He is a founder and most powerful advocate of the leading theory concerning our evolution: Recent African Origin or "Out of Africa". He has worked at The Natural History Museum, London since 1973, is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and currently leads the large and successful Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project (AHOB), His most recent book is The Origin of Our Species (titled Lone Survivors in the US).


    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  4. A New Look at Population Bombs and Bulges


    "…a variety of experts discuss the path past 7 billion people. One voice is that of Mara Hvistendahl, the Asia correspondent for the journal’s news staff and author of “Unnatural Selection,” a potent and revealing book about selective abortion and related issues. In this case, she discusses her piece on the potential benefits and perils of “youth bulges” like those underlying the turmoil in many Arab countries this year.?

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  5. A Mystery: Why Can’t We Walk Straight? : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR


    —Huffduffed by briansuda

  6. On Point: Claude Levi-Strauss

    At the imperial dawn of the 20th century, there was the “civilized” world and the “savage” or “primitive” world, and one felt free to judge the other.

    By the century’s end, the whole idea of primitive man as separate from civilized man was pretty well gone. And with it, the “savage mind.”

    Much of the banishing was the work of the towering anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. Levi-Strauss has died at 100 in his native France. We are all, he said, driven by deep myth and common structures of thinking — even to our own extinction.

    This hour, On Point: The mind and work of Claude Levi-Strauss.


    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  7. Richard Dawkins: The Greatest Show on Earth

    Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion created a storm of controversy over the question of God’s existence. Now, in The Greatest Show on Earth, Dawkins presents a stunning counterattack against advocates of "Intelligent Design" that explains the evidence for evolution while keeping an eye trained on the absurdities of the creationist argument.

    More than an argument of his own, it’s a thrilling tour into our distant past and into the interstices of life on earth. Taking us through the case for evolution step-by-step, Dawkins looks at DNA, selective breeding, anatomical similarities, molecular family trees, geography, time, fossils, vestiges and imperfections, human evolution, and the formula for a strong scientific theory.

    Dawkins’ trademark wit and ferocity is joined by an infectious passion for the beauty and strangeness of the natural world, proving along the way that the mechanisms of the natural world are more miraculous — a "greater show" — than any creation story generated by any religion on earth.


    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  8. Earth: A Millennium Hence

    Humans have not gone unnoticed on this planet. We’ve left our mark with technology, agriculture, architecture, and a growing carbon footprint. But where is this trajectory headed?

    In the second of a two-part series: what we’ll lose and what will last in 1000 years or more.

    Discover what the planet might look like to geologists of the far-off-future… the stubborn longevity of plastic and radioactive waste… human civilization in space… and postcards from the galactic edge; crafting interstellar messages to E.T.


    Charles Moore – Sea Captain and founder of Algalita Marine Research Foundation Jan Zalasiewicz – Geologist, University of Leicester and author of The Earth After Us: What Legacy Will Humans Leave in the Rocks? Matthew Wald – Reporter for the New York Times and author of the article “Is There a Place for Nuclear Waste?” in the August 2009 issue of Scientific American Doug Vakoch – Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute David Korsmeyer – Chief of the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center


    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  9. 2050: A Hypothetical Future

    With a current world population of 6.8 billion, projected to be 9 billion by 2050, what will our lives be like in another fifty years? Our consumption is causing scarcity of resources, food production is struggling to meet demand, almost everything we do destroys delicate ecosystems and our greenhouse gas emissions keep growing.

    Meanwhile, we all believe in a basic human right to reproduce. This UTSpeaks presents a diverse panel of UTS experts to speculate on a future where overpopulation may be the key force impacting every aspect of human life.

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  10. NYPL: Adam Gopnik with Steven Pinker - How Far Can Darwin Take Us?

    Adam Gopnik, author of Angels & Ages, A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln and Modern Life and Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate and many other works, will discuss a fundamental question: How far can Darwin take us as a guide to why we are the way we are?

    Both outspoken appreciators of Darwin, Adam Gopnik and Steven Pinker will compare their visions—perhaps complementary, perhaps contrasting—of what Darwin’s legacy is on the two hundredth anniversary of his birth.


    —Huffduffed by adactio

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