David Gunkel (NIU): The Machine Question. Taking over from evolution: Arthur Saniotis and Maciej Henneberg on how technology could enhance humanity. What does the word “post-human” actually mean? Of course, we’ll be merging with machines, but what’s the final product? From The Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness, Giulio Prisco on Transcendent Engineering. How can one promote longevity in the polarized atmosphere of contemporary USA politics? Registering to vote is the first step. Do you want to be immortal, really? Yes, really. Would it be boring if we could live forever? George Dvorsky wonders. Immortality will arrive via Singularity, nanotech, or genetic engineering, say 800+ transhumanists. Nikola Danaylov on 17 definitions of the technological Singularity and on the top 10 reasons we should fear the Singularity. Luke Muehlhauser is facing the Singularity. For four years, Singularity University has deployed “exponentially advancing technologies” to address humanity’s biggest problems; now the elite Silicon Valley school is planning to exponentially advance itself.
A new issue of Sojourners is out. Michael S. Pardo (Alabama): Rationality. Will humans lose the battle with microbes? Bacteria have become increasingly resistant to the drugs we've come to rely on — only a concerted effort can avert a public health crisis. Could bingo in its purest form be hip? Time to investigate. A review of Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob (and Sex) by Peter Bart. The Special Ops community is stunned by the news of an unauthorized account of the Osama bin Laden takedown by one of their own; now the Navy brass say they might come after the author. Anthony Laden on his book Reasoning: A Social Picture. Hayes Brown assures Judge Tom Head the UN has zero interest in invading Lubbock, Texas (besides, the UN would lose). A world map shows every hurricane in recorded history. Daniel W. Drezner on intellectual power and responsibility in an age of superstars.
From The Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness, Giulio Prisco on how to cope with death. The world is a mess: Rafael Melo on how the problem with life is desire. Should it be legal for a doctor to give that one final prescription for suffering? Scott McLemee considers a book on death with dignity. Members of The Cult of Life can be quite dangerous, as they look and sound normal, may approach you in an affable manner, and generally claim to be concerned with your well-being. A review of The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death by Jill Lepore. Why not commit suicide? Fil Rabat on why he’s sold on anti-natalism (and part 2) Michael Dowd on a scientific honoring of death and on the sacred side of death. How long do you want to live? New discoveries may bring a steeper increase in life span — but not everyone wants it. If life after death is a fact, wouldn’t our favorite activities somehow unconsciously resemble it? Raymond Tallis on the case for assisted dying. Are goals ever worth accomplishing? A “horrible person who happens to be right about life” wonders. Emily Landau on Rakoff and Hitchens on death, with nothing afterward.
Andrea Louise Campbell (MIT): America the Undertaxed: U.S. Fiscal Policy in Perspective. Writer and philosopher Julian Baggini has been commissioned by the National Trust to spend a week at the White Cliffs of Dover exploring what this much loved stretch of the Kent coast says about our Britain. The evolution of revenge porn: As he readies a new site, Is Anyone Up founder Hunter Moore proves he just can’t get enough. From Dilbert’s PHB to The Office, the incompetent manager is such a popular trope that it’s in danger of becoming a tired cliche — but a recent study has confirmed a counter-intuitive idea proposed over 30 years ago: that promoting those who perform best may, in fact, be a losing strategy. A review of Models. Behaving. Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life by Emanuel Derman.
A look at how a 500-million-year-old “mistake” led to humans. The dawn of humanity is illuminated in a special edition of the Journal of Human Evolution, 50 years after the Leakeys. New fossils recast a flat-faced oddity as a star species in the first chapter of the human story — perhaps even as our oldest known truly human ancestor. The Paranthropines were to our Australopithecine ancestors (such as Lucy) what neanderthals are to you and me: a closely related sister lineage that ultimately died out — however, they’re interesting for the opposite reason neanderthals are. Was human technology superior to neanderthals’? James Miller on an economic rationale for resurrecting Neanderthals. Futurist Stewart Brand wants to revive extinct species. What we really know about our evolutionary past and what we don’t: A review of Evolving: The Human Effect and Why it Matters by Daniel J Fairbanks, Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins by Ian Tattersall, and Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature by David P Barash. David Barash on a short list of just a few human evolutionary mysteries, puzzles of human nature that are as yet unsolved. Paleolithic diets have become all the rage, but are they getting our ancestral diet all wrong? (and more)