‘World Wide Mind’ - Total Connectedness, and Its Consequences by Micheal Chorost
Michael Chorost's blog Cyborg Thoughts is here.
A virtual commonplace book on the seasonal movements, habitat utilization, breeding habits and population ecology of the common cyborg (rapidus permuto Humanus)
LOS ANGELES - (Business Wire) Filmmakers Barry and Felicia Ptolemy (Ptolemaic Productions) along with partners (Therapy Studios) make their festival debut at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival (April 22-May 3, 2009) with TRANSCENDENT MAN, which makes its world premiere in the World Documentary Feature Competition on April 25. No distributor is attached at this time. See below for premiere screening details.
The compelling feature-length documentary film--a first for Director Barry Ptolemy--chronicles the life and controversial ideas of luminary Ray Kurzweil. For more than three decades, inventor, futurist, and NY Times best-selling author Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future.
In TRANSCENDENT MAN, Ptolemy follows Kurzweil around the globe as he presents the daring arguments from his best-selling book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Kurzweil predicts that with the ever-accelerating rate of technological change, humanity is fast approaching an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and trillions of times more powerful than today. This will be the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations. In Kurzweil’s post-biological world, there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. Human aging and illness will be reversed, world hunger and poverty will be solved, and we will ultimately cure death.
...Ptolemy expertly explores the social and philosophical implications of these profound changes and the potential threats they pose to human civilization in dialogues with world leaders such as Colin Powell; technologists Hugo de Garis, Peter Diamandis, Kevin Warwick, and Dean Kamen; journalists Kevin Kelly and Tom Abate; and luminary Stevie Wonder. Kurzweil himself maintains a radically optimistic view of the future course of human development, while acknowledging new dangers. As such, TRANSCENDENT MAN offers a view of the coming age that is both a dramatic culmination of centuries of technological ingenuity and a genuinely inspiring vision of our ultimate destiny.
"When a Los Angeles fertility clinic offered last month to let parents choose their kids' hair and eye color, public outrage followed. On March 2, the clinic shut the program down — and that, says transhumanist author James Hughes, is a shame.
According to Hughes, using reproductive technologies — in this case, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), in which doctors screen embryos before implanting them — for cosmetic purposes is just an old-fashioned parental impulse, translated into 21st century technology.
If nobody gets hurt and everybody has access, says Hughes, then genetic modification is perfectly fine, and restricting it is an assault on reproductive freedom. "It's in the same category as abortion. If you think women have the right to control their own bodies, then they should be able to make this choice," he said. "There should be no law restricting the kind of kids people have, unless there's gross evidence that they're going to harm that kid, or harm society."
Hughes' views are hardly universal. "I'm totally against this," said William Kearns, the medical geneticist who developed the techniques used by the Fertility Institutes for cosmetic purposes, in a newspaper interview. In the same article, Mark Hughes, one of the inventors of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, called its non-therapeutic use "ridiculous and irresponsible."
If it is true that, as theorist Sherry Turkle has claimed, that in our increasingly mediated world "we are all dreaming cyborg dreams," it is certainly safe to say that at least some of these dreams are religious ones.
In this essay, I look at four types of immersive new media that address the issue of religious identity: Waco Resurrection, a religiously-inspired first-person shooter, Noah’s Ark, a religious online reality show; Roma Victor, a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, and religious experiences in the online world of Second Life.
In each of these examples, the level of immersion in online identity plays a very powerful role in shaping the authenticity of religious experience, as channeled through those digital representations of self that virtual natives call their avatars.
As we regrow or engineer more body parts we will likely significantly increase average life span and run into a third track of speciation. Those with access to Google already have an extraordinary evolutionary advantage over the digitally illiterate. Next decade we will be able to store everything we see, read, and hear in our lifetime. The question is can we re-upload and upgrade this data as the basic storage organ deteriorates? And can we enhance this organ's cognitive capacity internally and externally? MIT has already brought together many of those interested in cognition—neuroscientists, surgeons, radiologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, computer scientists—to begin to understand this black box. But rebooting other body parts will likely be easier than rebooting the brain, so this will likely be the slowest track but, over the long term, the one with the greatest speciation impact.