background preloader

Do You Really Want to Live Forever?

Do You Really Want to Live Forever?
Imagine you are offered a trustworthy opportunity for immortality in which your mind (perhaps also your body) will persist eternally. Let’s further stipulate that the offer includes perpetual youthful health and the ability to upgrade to any cognitive and physical technologies that become available in the future. There is one more stipulation: You could never decide later to die. Would you take it? Cave’s fascinating new book, Immortality, posits that civilization is a major side effect of humanity's attempts to live forever. Cave identifies four immortality narratives that drive civilizations over time which he calls; (1) Staying Alive, (2) Resurrection, (3) Soul, and (4) Legacy. In the Staying Alive narrative Cave opens with the quest of the First Emperor of China to find the elixir of life but lands us soon the 21st century where transhumanists aim to use modern science to finally achieve the goal of perpetual youthful life. Resurrection is his next immortality narrative.

Bookshelf Porn Sex-selection, abortion, and the pro-choice movement: Why liberals shouldn't gulp Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images What’s a not-OK reason to get an abortion? Rape and health of the mother, you’re cool with, yes? What about this nice Jewish girl who got one in college? That feels right. And the 26-year-old newlywed who, crap, gets knocked up six months in and isn’t quite ready for kids yet? How does a 35-year-old single woman who wants to focus on her career strike you? Where do you land on the middle-class wife who wants to save up a little more money before starting a family? And the mother of two who is not in the market for number three? This is pretty elementary stuff: The pro-choice movement is not just about protecting the rights of women in the direst situations to control their own bodies. Background: Today, the House of Representatives voted on PRENDA—the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, otherwise known as “the sex-selection bill.” By all accounts, gender-motivated abortions are not a big thing in the United States.

WHICH IS THE BEST LANGUAGE TO LEARN? Our Top 12 in 2012. No. 1: Once a mark of the cultured, language-learning is in retreat among English speakers. It’s never too late, but where to start? Robert Lane Greene launches our latest Big Question ... From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, March/April 2012 For language lovers, the facts are grim: Anglophones simply aren’t learning them any more. Why learn a foreign language? Nonetheless, compelling reasons remain for learning other languages. Poetry and lyrics suffer particularly badly in translation. The practical reasons are just as compelling. So which one should you, or your children, learn? Probably not. This factor is the Chinese writing system (which Japan borrowed and adapted centuries ago). A recent survey reported in the People’s Daily found 84% of respondents agreeing that skill in Chinese is declining. To my surprise, all three of them simply shrugged in sheepish embarrassment. But if I was asked what foreign language is the most useful, and given no more parameters (where?

'Three-parent babies' cure for illness raises ethical fear | Science Aaron began to stand out at primary school. He was unlike other children in subtle ways that at times were hard to put a finger on. He couldn't hold a pen properly. There is no subtlety to Aaron's condition any more. What was wrong came to light only when Aaron turned yellow and was admitted to hospital. "I don't know what the future holds for my son. Mitochondrial disease runs in families, and more specifically is passed down from mother to child. Though obscure outside specialist hospital units, mitochondrial disease will soon be the subject of a national debate and a matter for parliament. The law as written reflects a line that has never been crossed in medicine. The ethical issues raised by the procedure are clear but for many doctors these are overridden by the chance to prevent life-threatening disease. The debate that is coming will be unusually centred on Britain, because no other country is known to be so close to offering the service to patients. Obesity Safety

Hipsters and Low-Tech Hipsters have been much discussed on the Cyborgology blog (see: here, here, here, and here). Cyborgology authors have also talked about the fetishization of low-tech/analog media and devices (see: here and here). As David Paul Strohecker pointed out, these two issue interrelated: “hipsters are at the forefront of movements of nostalgic revivalism.” I want to pick up these threads and add a small observation. Nathan Jurgenson and I were discussing why low-tech devices have a seductive quality. Consider the popularity of, for example, fixed-gear bicycles or vintage cameras (such as the Kodak Brownie or the Polaroid PX-70 [correction: SX-70]). Žižek is often cited as the philosopher of the hipster or the hipster philosopher, but, here, I argue that Simmel and Deleuze were the true Oracles of Hipsterdom. So, hipsters are the product of a moment in history where the socio-economic system benefits from and has discovered effective methods to enforce the moral imperative to “be unique.”

Motherhood: Immaculate gestation | The Last Word On Nothing “Mommy, why did you kill me?” was the first line of the comment. It devolved from there into a maudlin, hallucinatory, and occasionally Freudian fantasy of an aborted child’s final message to his mother, and it ended with the little guy playing baseball with God in heaven while the mother burned in hell. The reply was brief and furious: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” Another joined in: “When a man can get pregnant, I’ll be happy to listen to his opinions about abortion.” The abortion flamewar I’m describing took place in 1999, and it had the honor of being my first. Anonymous Internet Person #2 was right: men can’t get pregnant. In 1997, a pro-life group called Nightlight Adoptions set up a program called Snowflakes. If only there were some way to extend the concept, transplanting a developing fetus from a woman who found herself accidentally pregnant. But this apparent dead end does leave one intriguing loophole: scoop up the blastocyst before implantation.

Diary of an acid trip. The most sexed up man in history... If I didn't know about God and sin. Andy understands me on so many levels. And just like that... Follow your ambitions. Despite all his rage, he's still just a widdle puppy in a cage Group blogs: Journal of Medical Ethics blog » Blog Archive » Treating the Sex Offender 13 Jun, 12 | by Iain Brassington This is an interesting story picked up by the BBC: drugs are being used to “suppress sexual thoughts and urges” among sex offenders in an experiment at HMP Whatton. It is early days, and the number taking part is small – so far fewer than 60 – but the graphs illustrating such measures as prisoners’ strength of sexual urges, or time spent thinking about sex, all show a downward trend.The Ministry of Justice is pleased with the initial evaluation of the scheme. The treatment will continue to be available to high-risk sex offenders who are assessed as being suitable, it says. There’s all manner of questions raised by the prospect of using drugs to alter, reduce, or otherwise manipulate sex drive. At the same time, there might be questions about the moral difference between having a certain sexual fantasy in the privacy of your own head, and acting it out. The possibility of such procedures ought to be of interest to people working on moral enhancement.

10 places that don’t exist (but should) We've all read a book or watched a movie and wished the places it transported us to were real. Some of the most enduring destinations are fictional. Well, not completely. Some were inspired by real places that resonated with their authors. So, here are my top mythical locations. 10. The home of Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and friends, the lush and charming Hundred Acre Wood is the literary soul mate of Ashdown Forest in Sussex. 9. 8. The mythical city of gold has come to represent things opulent or unattainable. 7. Rumour has it only children can visit Neverland, but if you think happy thoughts you might just find your way to the famous home of Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys. 6. Who wouldn’t like to travel via rabbit hole? 5. Arthurian scholar Norris J. 4. 3. There one minute, gone the next, illusive, mist-shrouded Brigadoon is how many travellers like to imagine Scotland. 2. Surrounded by desert on all sides, Frank L. 1. Runners Up: Fantasia

"Biomedicine’s Democratic Revolution" by Stephen H Friend Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space SEATTLE – Very soon, it will be economically feasible to sequence human genomes and collect massive amounts of different types of health data as standard medical practice. Consider the Beery twins, born in 1996 in San Diego, California. Frustrated, their parents had the twins’ genomes sequenced. So why haven’t success stories like that of the Beery twins, together with the Internet’s power and increasingly affordable collection of molecular data, led to the construction of a knowledge network of disease? One possible answer is that there are still technical barriers that block the construction and use of such networks. Cultural barriers are the real stumbling block. Similarly, the example of the Beery twins shows us that an alternative to symptom-based medicine can be realized: the advent of genomics technology can change not just what is known, but, more importantly, how we think of ourselves.

Books that will induce a mindfuck Here is the list of books that will officially induce mindfucks, sorted alphabetically by author. Those authors in bold have been recommended by one or more people as being generally mindfucking - any books listed under their names are particularly odd. You're welcome to /msg me to make an addition to this list. And finally, although he's way down at the bottom, my personal recommendation is definitely Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, as it turns the ultimate mindfuck: inverting the world-view of our entire culture, and it is non-fiction.

Noninvasive prenatal diagnostic tests, ethics, abortion, and insurance coverage Photograph by Comstock. In 2003, back when such things remained unpredictable, a woman gave birth to a baby boy with Down syndrome. Her family was shocked. The event left a deep impression on Rabinowitz. A scientist in Hong Kong had recently shown that a pregnant woman’s blood contains a small amount of fetal DNA, and the prenatal screening world was buzzing about the potential of that discovery. That test, called Parental Support, is currently in trials funded by the National Institutes of Health. Now insurance companies are getting involved. The potential benefits of NIPD are many: elimination of the risks associated with amniocentesis, the replacement of aggravating probabilities with accurate information, and more time for expectant parents to make difficult decisions. Scientists have known for decades that the blood of a pregnant woman contains a few stray fetal cells. When Lo licensed his technology to Sequenom, he stipulated that it could not be used for sex selection.

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes: Lessons in Mindfulness and Creativity from the Great Detective by Maria Popova “A man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.” “The habit of mind which leads to a search for relationships between facts,” wrote James Webb Young in his famous 1939 5-step technique for creative problem-solving, “becomes of the highest importance in the production of ideas.” But just how does one acquire those vital cognitive customs? That’s precisely what science writer Maria Konnikova explores in Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (UK; public library) — an effort to reverse-engineer Holmes’s methodology into actionable insights that help develop “habits of thought that will allow you to engage mindfully with yourself and your world as a matter of course.” The idea of mindfulness itself is by no means a new one. It is most difficult to apply Holmes’s logic in those moments that matter the most. Our intuition is shaped by context, and that context is deeply informed by the world we live in.

Brendan O’Neill - Why society should never institutionalise a "right to die" On 24 April 2012, I gave a speech at St Michael’s Hospice in Yorkshire arguing against the “right to die”. The speech is published below. Over the past month, there have been two interesting and seemingly unrelated news stories about old people – two media stories about pensioners which seem to be quite distinct, but which I think are linked in quite subtle and important ways. The first news story was about the alleged problem of pensioners using up too many of society’s resources. And the second news story was about the importance of the right to die, the importance of assisted suicide, especially at a time when we have more and more old people suffering from dementia. So the first news story was about the alleged problem of pensioner greed and the second news story was about how important it is today to give pensioners who are suffering the right to die if they want it. Now, these stories were not reported in the same breath; they did appear not on the same pages on newspapers.