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Tracking the Future
Explore the most important technology and science trends! News, Analysis, Interviews, Presentations, Documentaries. All in one place at Tracking the future magazine
Curated by Szabolcs Kósa
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The Biointelligence Explosion

The Biointelligence Explosion | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

How recursively self-improving organic robots will modify their own source code and bootstrap our way to full-spectrum superintelligence.

 

“Homo sapiens, the first truly free species, is about to decommission natural selection, the force that made us…. Soon we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become.”
Edward O. Wilson, Consilience, The Unity of Knowledge, 1999


“I predict that the domestication of biotechnology will dominate our lives during the next fifty years at least as much as the domestication of computers has dominated our lives during the previous fifty years.”
Freeman Dyson, New York Review of Books (July 19, 2007)

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Cryonics, avatars or medicine: a transhumanist's dilemma (Wired UK)

Cryonics, avatars or medicine: a transhumanist's dilemma (Wired UK) | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Life-extending technologies are getting more lab time and investment than ever before, and with experts in the field proclaiming the knowledge is just a few decades away, you'll want to be around for it.

 

Over the past decade, the main areas of research -- brain emulation, regenerative medicine and cryonics -- have gradually been departing the realms of science fiction and making a name for themselves in scientific journals. Back in 2009, when Avatar suggested that people could one day upload their brain to an invincible body-double, it seemed like something only James Cameron could dream up. Then a student in Israel controlled a robot with his mind from 2,000km away. In 2009 Aubrey de Grey announced -- to more than a few raised eyebrows -- that the first person to live to 1,000 thanks to regenerative medicine was probably already alive -- and by 2012 a four-year old became the first person to receive a life-saving blood vessel made from her own cells. And around about the same time the horrendous 1997 film Batman & Robin painted cryonics as a field best reserved for psychotic villains, Gregory Fahy and William Rall announced the development of the first cryoprotectant able to vitrify the human body slowly enough that ice crystals don't form and cause tissue damage.

 

Wired.co.uk spoke with leading proponents of each field to find out if we could be convinced to fork out £50,000 to have our brains put on ice. (Wired and Tired by Luke Robert Mason, director of Virtual Futures and advisor to Humanity Plus).


Via olsen jay nelson
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Taking over from evolution: how technology could enhance humanity

Taking over from evolution: how technology could enhance humanity | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Human brains evolved over the last four million years in response to the interaction between environmental challenges and behaviours that enabled us to overcome these challenges. But the future of the brain may be more directly in human hands.

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Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers

Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Shawn Sarver took a deep breath and stared at the bottle of Listerine on the counter. “A minty fresh feeling for your mouth... cures bad breath,” he repeated to himself, as the scalpel sliced open his ring finger. His left arm was stretched out on the operating table, his sleeve rolled up past the elbow, revealing his first tattoo, the Air Force insignia he got at age 18, a few weeks after graduating from high school. Sarver was trying a technique he learned in the military to block out the pain, since it was illegal to administer anesthetic for his procedure.

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The Strange Neuroscience of Immortality

The Strange Neuroscience of Immortality | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

In the basement of the Northwest Science Building here at Harvard University, a locked door is marked with a pink and yellow sign: "Caution: Radioactive Material." Inside researchers buzz around wearing dour expressions and plastic gloves. Among them is Kenneth Hayworth. He's tall and gaunt, dressed in dark-blue jeans, a blue polo shirt, and gray running shoes. He looks like someone who sleeps little and eats less.

Hayworth has spent much of the past few years in a windowless room carving brains into very thin slices. He is by all accounts a curious man, known for casually saying things like, "The human race is on a beeline to mind uploading: We will preserve a brain, slice it up, simulate it on a computer, and hook it up to a robot body." He wants that brain to be his brain. He wants his 100 billion neurons and more than 100 trillion synapses to be encased in a block of transparent, amber-colored resin—before he dies of natural causes.

Why? Ken Hayworth believes that he can live forever.

But first he has to die.

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Transhumanism

A subjective and entertaining overview of transhumanism

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A Window of Opportunity

A Window of Opportunity | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

We are all traveling into the future, as are our children and grandchildren. So it is personally relevant to everyone what that future is like. We call a very good future, a future where our species thrives, a utopia. We call a very bad future a dystopia.

We have some agency in the matter of futures, which sort of future we end up experiencing. Particularly, we have agency at a fortunate time such as this, where we have a global infrastructure, global economy and global science to direct at the problems we choose.

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Engineering human evolution

Cyborgs, brain uploads and immortality - How far should science go in helping humans exceed their biological limitations? These ideas might sound like science fiction, but proponents of a movement known as transhumanism believe they are inevitable.

In this episode of The Stream, we talk to bioethicist George Dvorsky; Robin Hanson, a research associate with Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute; and Ari N. Schulman, senior editor of The New Atlantis, about the ethical implications of transhumanism.

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Upgrading The Human Machine

Upgrading The Human Machine | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

I’m sure you’ve probably heard about the “man without a pulse” artificial heart recipient, who’s been in the news so much lately. I’m bringing it up today because it’s an illustration of one of the biases that we as transhumans will have to overcome to actually become “Trans” humans.

Which bias is that, you ask? The idea that the human body as it currently is constructed is either “perfect” or that any “enhancements” must mimic how the body currently functions

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The Next Transitions in the Technium

What kinds of developmental thresholds would any planet of sentient beings pass through? The creation of writing would be a huge one. The unleashing of cheap non-biological energy is another. The invention of the scientific method is a giant leap. And the fine control of energy (as in electricity) for long-distant communications is significant as well, enabling all kinds of other achievements. Our civilization has passed through all these stages; what are some future transitions we can expect -- no matter the fashions and fads of the day? What are the emergent thresholds of information and energy organization that our civilization can look forward to? Most of these thresholds are gradual, so we can't assign dates, but each of these structures seem to be a natural transition that any civilization must reach sooner or later.

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A Future History

A Future History | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Predictions about the future of technology are so often wide of the mark, yet for many of us they’re irresistible. They fuel our passion for science fiction and the expansive philosophy of thinkers like Olaf Stapledon. To begin 2012, Tau Zero founder Marc Millis offers up a set of musings about where we may be going, a scenario that, given the alternatives, sounds about as upbeat as we’re likely to get.

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The Case for Enhancing People

Does the enhancement of human physical and intellectual capacities undermine virtue?

In answering this question, we must first make a distinction between therapy and enhancement. Therapeutic technologies are meant to restore impaired or degraded human capacities to some more normal level. By contrast, any enhancements would alter human functioning beyond the normal.

by Ronald Bailey

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Transhumanism, The Singularity and Skepticism

Micheael Shermer is interviewed about his views on the future of AI, the Technological Singularity, Transhumanism, and skepticism.

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, the host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University.

http://www.michaelshermer.com/

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Chemical Brain Preservation: How to Live "Forever" - A Personal View

A number of neuroscientists, working today with simple model organisms, are investigating the hypothesis that chemical brain preservation may inexpensively preserve the organism's memories and mental states after death.

by John Smart

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Transhuman Week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement

Transhuman Week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Wired.co.uk seeks to navigate the thorny ethical, medical and social issues associated with using technology to enhance the human body and mind through a series of features, galleries and guest posts...

from 3 September to 7 September

http://www.wired.co.uk/topics/transhuman-week

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Hacking humans: Building a better you

Hacking humans: Building a better you | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

'Man is something that shall be overcome,' wrote Nietzsche. He may have never envisioned today's efforts to re-engineer the body, but he looks prophetic as pioneers aim to push the envelope of human capability.

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Blade Runner for real: The days of augmenting human bodies with “mods” are coming

Blade Runner for real: The days of augmenting human bodies with “mods” are coming | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Do you want legs that let you jump 10 feet high? Or a body that “impresses chicks”? Or a brain that can be electronically pulled back from extreme depression? Computer experts of today think that the day will be coming when human cyborgs will be possible?

Two computer-savvy medical students, who noted they were not doctors, gave the presentation at the Defcon hacker conference on Saturday. Christian “Quaddi” Dameff and Jeff “Replicant” Tully said that the day is not so distant when we will be able to “mod” our organic bodies with inorganic mechanical and electronic materials that enhance our augment our basic abilities. They refer to the coming era of human augmentation as “transhumanism.” The subject, which they illustrated with the above picture of actress Megan Fox of Transformers fame, is a controversial one that brings up questions of ethics of technologists who can make the worlds of sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner, where “replicant” cyborgs imitate humans, come to life.


Via Robert Farrow
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Brain Implants Powered by Spinal Fluid: Another Huge Step Towards Our Cyborg Future

Brain Implants Powered by Spinal Fluid: Another Huge Step Towards Our Cyborg Future | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The biggest question for would-be cyborgs is: How are you going to power all those brain implants? And now it looks like some MIT engineers may have stumbled upon the answer. They have developed a fuel cell that can run on your brain's own glucose — a breakthrough that could result in powerful neural prosthetics that could restore and control a number of bodily functions.

Here's how it would work — plus why this breakthrough could combine with two other recent developments to make a cyborg future much closer than it was before.

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Pinocchio's Lament : An Alternative Transhumanist Scenario

Pinocchio's Lament : An Alternative Transhumanist Scenario | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The question of A.I rights, liberties and freedom has always seemed like a sort of candidate for a Prime Directive i.e. exactly how far should we allow an A.I. which has achieved sentience to self-evolve? At what point do our fail-safes break down, and we find that A.I.’s have simply liberated themselves against our best safe-guards and that A.I.’s as a result of usurping power over their own dominion have taken options, made decisions which directly impact on our own survival, and where do the rights of the sentient artificial life-form fit in to this moral quagmire?

Our usual predictably dystopian vision of the evolution of the Artificially Intelligent which infests the realm of public consciousness like a cultural artifact may not necessarily come to pass however, as A.I.’s may one day evolve sufficiently to recognize the value of data input in it’s all multifaceted forms, which tends to create a balanced perspective and a richer view of reality that engages not only cogent, rational intelligence but other ways of interpreting reality, other forms of data such as something akin to emotional intelligence.

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Kevin Warwick - Implants & Technology -- The Future of Healthcare?

Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, where he carries out research in artificial intelligence, control, robotics and cyborgs. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the IET.

Kevin's research involves the invention of an intelligent deep brain stimulator to counteract the effects of Parkinson Disease tremors. The tremors are predicted and a current signal is applied to stop the tremors before they start -- this is to be trialled in human subjects. Another project involves the use of cultured/biological neural networks to drive robots around -- the brain of each robot is made of neural tissue.

Kevin is perhaps best known for his pioneering experiments involving a neuro-surgical implantation into the median nerves of his left arm to link his nervous system directly to a computer to assess the latest technology for use with the disabled. He was successful with the first extra-sensory (ultrasonic) input for a human and with the first purely electronic telegraphic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans.

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When Death Becomes Optional

When Death Becomes Optional | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The year is 2032. You have just celebrated your 80th birthday and you have some tough decisions ahead. You can either keep repairing your current body or move into a new one.
The growing of “blank” bodies has become all the rage, and by using your own genetic material, body farmers can even recreate your own face at age 20.
In just 20 years, this is an industry that has moved from the equivalent of Frankenstein’s laboratory to the new celebrity craze, with controversy following it every step of the way.
The combination of a few high profile “accidents” along the way, coupled with those in the religious community who claim that body farmers are playing God, and asking “where does our soul reside?” has given it thousands of top media headlines around the world.
Every person on the planet has a different opinion about this moral dilemma, or whether its safe or dangerous, or whether we should just get better at repairing our existing bodies.
As medical advances continue, and we devise an entirely new range of health-enhancing options, I propose we set a new standard, raising the bar to the highest possible level. I propose we put an end to human death.

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Robert J. Sawyer on Humanity 2.0

What will it mean to be human in the future? Uploading consciousness into virtual worlds and prolonging life through biotechnology are already being contemplated. Canada's leading science fiction writer, Robert J. Sawyer, offers his insights in a lecture entitled Humanity 2.0, produced in collaboration with the Literary Review of Canada.

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Talking To The Future Humans

Talking To The Future Humans | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Steve Fuller is a sociology professor who’s interested in how technological enhancements can improve the human body and mind. This could lead to a world full of superhumans, like Robocop but without the desire to brutalise criminals. There’s a whole movement that thinks this way and it’s called transhumanism. The idea is that technology can help us live longer, be stronger and faster and more intelligent, and generally make us better human beings than the pathetic mortals we are now.

So, maybe in a near future, race and wealth divides will be replaced by those who have technological enhancements and those who are just boring old flesh and blood. Maybe we’ll go to the doctors for updates similar to those for computer software, or there’ll be plastic surgery for the brain. Maybe you didn’t get that job because a cyborg had a better CV than you. Sounds like sci-fi, but it could be reality if the transhumanists are right.

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Max More - The Singularity and Transhumanism

Max More speaks about Transhumanism and the Singularity.

Founder of the Extropy Institute, Max More has written many articles espousing the philosophy of transhumanism and the transhumanist philosophy of extropy, most importantly his Principles of Extropy (currently version 3.11).

In a 1990 essay "Transhumanism: Toward a Futurist Philosophy", he introduced the term "transhumanism" in its modern sense.

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Will You Live Forever—or until Your Next Software Release—by Uploading Your Brain into a Computer?

Will You Live Forever—or until Your Next Software Release—by Uploading Your Brain into a Computer? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Ray Kurzweil and other so-called transhumanists have promised that in coming decades we will be able to transfer a digital copy of the trillions of connections among nerve cells in our brains into a computer. We would essentially reincarnate ourselves as non-biological beings that persist for eternity inside a laptop, on the endless links of the Internet or as avatars inside a television set. After achieving the ultimate copy and paste, we would wave goodbye to death as we know it.

For fairly evident reasons, biologists tend to dismiss out of hand the ideas of Kurzweil and the transhumanist lot as the ravings of computer jocks who know nothing about the real workings of the DNA and cells that make up living tissue. Into this debate comes Sebastian Seung, a young and well-regarded computational neuroscientist from MIT, who has taken a serious look at some of the questions put forth by the transhumanists.

 

watch Sebastian Seung's 2010 TED presentation on this link: http://youtu.be/HA7GwKXfJB0

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