James Hughes – History, Politics, Utopia & Transhumanism

This is a video is called James Hughes – History, Politics, Utopia & Transhumanism.  This video was actually my first introduction to James Hughes.  I think he makes some interesting points.  When talking about the future economy and how people will be fed in a post-scarcity world, Hughes says, “To blithely say, oh well, people are going to starve” and not recognize that w e’re setting the preconditions for whether that happens today. That’s the reason they can’t talk about it – because they’re not really thinking in the present tense.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Sure, it’s fun to spend time in speculation, but the future will grow from the seeds we plant today which means that the majority of the time we spend should be spent tending the crops we already have… if we’re wise farmers.  Basically, let’s not get so caught up in imagining the singularity that we forget to plan it.


 

Runtime: 38:56


This video can also be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5NtXTekHac

Video Info:

Published on Jan 23, 2013

James J. Hughes Ph.D. is a sociologist and bioethicist teaching health policy at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in the United States.
http://internet2.trincoll.edu/facProf…
http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/bio/hu…

Hughes holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he served as the assistant director of research for the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Before graduate school he was temporarily ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1984 while working as a volunteer in Sri Lanka for the development organization Sarvodaya from 1983 to 1985.
Hughes served as the executive director of the World Transhumanist Association (which has since changed its name to Humanity+) from 2004 to 2006, and currently serves as the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, which he founded with Nick Bostrom. He also produces the syndicated weekly public affairs radio talk show program Changesurfer Radio and contributed to the Cyborg Democracy blog. Hughes’ book Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future was published by Westview Press in November 2004.

Rejecting the two extremes of bioconservatism and libertarian transhumanism, Hughes argues for a third way, “democratic transhumanism,” a radical form of techno-progressivism which asserts that the best possible “posthuman future” is achievable only by ensuring that human enhancement technologies are safe, made available to everyone, and respect the right of individuals to control their own bodies.
Appearing several times in Hughes’ work, the term “radical” (from Latin rādīx, rādīc-, root) is used as an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the root or going to the root. His central thesis is that emerging technologies and radical democracy can help citizens overcome some of the root causes of inequalities of power.

“The emergence of biotechnological controversies, however, is giving rise to a new axis, not entirely orthogonal to the previous dimensions but certainly distinct and independent of them. I call this new axis biopolitics, and the ends of its spectrum are transhumanists (the progressives) and, at the other end, the bio-Luddites or bio-fundamentalists. Transhumanists welcome the new biotechnologies, and the choices and challenges they offer, believing the benefits can outweigh the costs. In particular, they believe that human beings can and should take control of their own biological destiny, individually and collectively enhancing our abilities and expanding the diversity of intelligent life. Bio-fundamentalists, however, reject genetic choice technologies and “designer babies,” “unnatural” extensions of the life span, genetically modified animals and food, and other forms of hubristic violations of the natural order. While transhumanists assert that all intelligent “persons” are deserving of rights, whether they are human or not, the biofundamentalists insist that only “humanness,” the possession of human DNA and a beating heart, is a marker of citizenship and rights.” — James Hughes, Democratic Transhumanism 2.0, 2002

 

 

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The BioBricks Foundation – Synthetic Biology and Modular DNA

The following is from the BioBricks Foundation where research into synthetic biology and biotechnology is taking place.  The article and video below are from the BioBricks Foundation About page.  I’ll be keeping an eye on their research and I will post anything interesting that arises from it here on Dawn of Giants.


 

About the BioBricks Foundation

The BioBricks Foundation (BBF) is a 501(c)(3) public-benefit organization founded in 2006 by scientists and engineers who recognized that synthetic biology had the potential to produce big impacts on people and the planet and who wanted to ensure that this emerging field would serve the public interest.

Our mission is to ensure that the engineering of biology is conducted in an open and ethical manner to benefit all people and the planet.

We envision a world in which scientists and engineers work together using freely available standardized biological parts that are safe, ethical, cost effective and publicly accessible to create solutions to the problems facing humanity.

We envision synthetic biology as a force for good in the world. We see a future in which architecture, medicine, environmental remediation, agriculture, and other fields use synthetic biology.

We believe biosecurity, biosafety, bioethics, environmental health, and sustainability must be integrated with scientific research and applied technology.

We bring together engineers, scientists, attorneys, innovators, teachers, students, policymakers, and ordinary citizens to make this vision a reality.

Decoding Synthetic Biology on KQED’s “Quest”


 

Video Info:

Uploaded on Jul 22, 2009

Imagine living cells acting as memory devices; biofuels brewing from yeast, or a light receptor taken from algae that makes photographs on a plate of bacteria. With the new science of synthetic biology, the goal is to make biology easier to engineer so that new functions can be derived from living systems. Find out the tools that Bay Area synthetic biologists are using and the exciting things they are building.


 

This summary can also be found at http://biobricks.org/about-foundation/