Tag Archives: science-

Space Travel Facts for Kids

Posted: August 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

A few hundred years ago, traveling over the Earths surface was a risky adventure. Early explorers who set out to explore the New World went by boat, enduring fierce storms, disease and hunger, to reach their destinations. Today, astronauts exploring space face similar challenges.

All About Space Travel: One space shuttle launch costs $450 million

Space travel has become much safer as scientists have overcome potential problems, but its still dangerous. Its also very expensive. In order for a space shuttle to break free of Earths gravity, it has to travel at a speed of 15,000 miles per hour. Space shuttles need 1.9 million liters of fuel just to launch into space. Thats enough fuel to fill up 42,000 cars! Combine the high speed, heat and fuel needed for launching and youve got a very potentially dangerous situation.

In 1949, Albert II, a Rhesus monkey went to space. Keep reading to find out more all about space travel.

Re-entering the atmosphere is dangerous too. When a space craft re-enters the atmosphere, it is moving very fast. As it moves through the air, friction causes it to heat up to a temperature of 2,691 degrees. The first spacecrafts were destroyed during re-entry. Todays space shuttles have special ceramic tiles that help absorb some of the heat, keeping the astronauts safe during re-entry.

In 1957, the Russian space dog, Laika, orbited the Earth.

In 1959, the Russian space craft, Luna 2, landed on the moon. It crashed at high speed.

Russian astronaut, Yuri Gagarin, was the first human in space. He orbited the Earth in 1961.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon and return home safely a journey of 250,000 miles.

Check out this cool video all about space travel:

A video about the N.E.X.T. mission for space travel by NASA.

Enjoyed the Easy Science for Kids Website all about Space Travel info? Take the FREE & fun all about Space Travel quiz and download FREE Space Travel worksheet for kids. For lengthy info click here.

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Space Travel Facts for Kids

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Astronauts Taking Spacewalk to Install New Space Station …

Posted: August 21, 2016 at 11:08 am

First-time flier Kate Rubins and veteran spacewalker Jeff Williams will venture outside the International Space Station this morning (Aug. 19) to install a massive, crucial piece of machinery:a vital new docking port that will allow private space taxis to link up with the station on future missions.

The spacewalk is slated to begin at 8:05 a.m. EDT (1205 GMT), NASA officials said during a news briefing. You can watch the spacewalk live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.

This spacewalk marks a first for Rubins, and the fourth of Williams’ career. The two astronauts plan to spend about 6.5 hours outside the station installing this new heavy piece of machinery, known as an International Docking Adapter (IDA), which arrived at the station on July 20 aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. [The Most Memorable Spacewalks in History (Photo Gallery)]

The IDA being installed today is the first of two devices that will be attached to the space station as part of a new international standard that allows a variety of vehicles to dock with the orbiting lab independently rather than being grappled with the station’s robotic arm.

Williams, Expedition 48’s commander, will head out first, and Rubins will hand off a bag of IDA installation tools before stepping outside the station.

“This EVA [spacewalk] that we are going to be doing on Friday represents a very significant milestone on the path to establishing a commercial crew capability on board the ISS,” Kenny Todd, the station’s mission operations integration manager, said at the news briefing Monday (Aug. 15). “We’re very excited to put this piece of hardware on the front of the station.”

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams are all set to venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow (Aug. 19) to install the first International Docking Adapter. This addition to the ISS will allow future private space vehicles to hook up to the station.

Multiple previous spacewalks paved the way for today’s installation. During four EVAs (extravehicular activity) performed earlier this year, and in 2015, astronauts routed cables for the docking adapter and installed a control panel, among other maintenance tasks.

On Wednesday (Aug. 17), the ground robotics team successfully removed the IDA from the Dragon spacecraft’s trunk using the space station’s robotic arm, and positioned it 3 feet (0.9 meters) from the front of the port. This morning, prior to the start of the spacewalk, the ground crew used the arm to move the IDA closer to the port, so that it would be ready to be installed by Williams and Rubins.

The International Docking Adapter as seen before its launch to the International Space Station.

The new IDA, which measures 7.8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter, will allow for larger crews to launch from all different places around Earth and dock with the space station automatically. Boeing and SpaceX have contracts with NASA to send astronauts to the space station in 2017.

If all goes according to plan, the spacewalkers will complete some additional tasks after hooking up the IDA. Williams and Rubins will install thermal covers, as well as set up mirrors that will allow future space taxis to autonomously navigate, align and connect with the space station properly. The team will also route some additional cables for the second docking adapter, which is expected to fly up to the space station next year.

The International Space Station is the largest structure in space ever built by humans. Let’s see how much you know about the basics of this science laboratory in the sky.

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Cosmic Quiz: Do You Know the International Space Station?

The International Space Station is the largest structure in space ever built by humans. Let’s see how much you know about the basics of this science laboratory in the sky.

On Sept. 1, a second EVA will be conducted to perform more work on the IDA, during which astronauts will retract one of the station’s thermal radiators.

Williams and Rubins are part of a six-member space station crew. They arrived at the station on July 9, and are joined by Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka, Alexey Ovchinin and Anatoly Ivanishin.

Visit Space.com later today for complete coverage of the spacewalk and a final wrap-up of the day’s orbital activities.

Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Cyberpunk – MIT

Posted: August 14, 2016 at 7:16 pm

As the title suggests, the story returns to some of the core icons of the Gernsback tradition of technological utopianism. A young reporter seeks to document the remains of a future which never came to pass, the future foretold at the New York Worlds Fair and in films like Things To Come. As he investigates further, he finds himself staring face to face with that future as a “semiotic ghost” and he is horrified by his vision of a man and a woman from that other future:

They were blond. They were standing beside their car, an aluminum avocado with a central shark-fin rudder jutting up from its spine and smooth black tires like a child’s toy. He had his arm around her waist and was gesturing toward the city. They were both in white: loose clothing, bare legs, spotless white sun shoes. . . . They were heirs to the Dream. They were white, blond, and they probably had blue eyes. . . . Here, we’d gone on and on, in a dream logic that knew nothing of pollution, the finite bounds of fossil fuel, of foreign wars it was possible to lose. They were smug, happy, and utterly content with themselves and their world. . . . Behind me, the illuminated city: searchlights swept the sky for the sheer joy of it. I imagined them thronging the plaza of white marble, orderly and alert, their bright eyes shining with enthusiasm for their floodlit avenues and silver cars. It had all the sinister fruitiness of Hitler Youth propaganda.

The images of a technological utopia of white marble, glass, and steel, have devolved here into a dehumanizing utopia, a world closer to the regimentation of Nazi Germany than to the visions of corporate America. “The Gernsback Continuum” was a radical text, an assertion that science fiction had to challenge and perhaps surrender its utopian and optimistic impulses, that it must speak to an age full of ambivalent feelings towards technology, a world created by intimate machines and digital media, a disorderly world where various groups from complex cultural backgrounds must interact and struggle for control.

The cyberpunk writers set their stories in the near future, not the distant future of the Gernsback tradition. One can understand something of how science fiction has evolved by comparing the time-frames in older science fiction with those of contemporary writers. The genre first emerged in response to the dramatic changes occurring in the late 19th and early 20th century. Still, the earliest science fiction writers told stories set thousands and even millions of years in the future, in order to envision social and technological change. The time frame has dwindled, decade by decade; much contemporary science fiction is set only twenty or thirty years in the future. We now live in a state of constant change, and the anxiety/thrill of permanent transition shapes the science fiction we read and write.

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cyberpunk | literature | Britannica.com

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poetry

Literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm….

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science fiction

A form of fiction that deals principally with the impact of actual or imagined science upon society or individuals. The term science fiction was popularized, if not invented, in…

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Pop Quiz

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satire

Artistic form, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque,…

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Writing Tips from 7 Acclaimed Authors

Believe you have an awe-inspiring novel stowed away in you somewhere but youre intimidated by the indomitable blank page (or screen)? Never fear, were here to help with these lists of tips from acclaimed…

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Editor Picks: 9 Queer Writers You Should Read

Editor Picks is a list series for Britannica editors to provide opinions and commentary on topics of personal interest. Shrewd observers and lavish prose stylists, the writers on this list…

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Pop Quiz: Fact or Fiction?

Take this Pop Culture True or False quiz at Encyclopedia Britannica to test your knowledge of T-shirts, Legos, and other aspects of pop culture.

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9 Precursors to Science Fiction

Science fiction came to prominence at the turn of the 20th century, and the term was popularized, if not invented, in the 1920s. However, it is a genre that had been long in the making, evolving over hundreds…

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Memorable Beginnings Vol. 2: Match the Opening Line to the Work

Take this literature quiz at Encyclopedia Britannica to test your knowledge of the opening lines of famous stories and novels.

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Romanticism

Attitude or intellectual orientation that characterized many works of literature, painting, music, architecture, criticism, and historiography in Western civilization over a period…

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rhetoric

The principles of training communicators those seeking to persuade or inform; in the 20th century it has undergone a shift of emphasis from the speaker or writer to the auditor…

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literature

A body of written works. The name has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and the perceived…

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Hidden In Plain Sight 4 Movies That Expose The Globalist …

Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:10 pm

by Gregg Prescott, M.S. Editor, In5D.com

While there are many movies that expose the globalist agenda, four movies particularly caught my attention.

There seems to be several agendas going on simultaneously, such as the alien agenda and the New World Order agenda, but one other agenda is being shoved down our collective throats for at least 30 years: The transhumanism agenda.

The premise of transhumanism dates as far back as mans first search for the elixir to immortality and in recent years has segued into glorifying the idea of combining man with machine.

IMDb describes Chappie as:

In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. But now, the people are fighting back. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. As powerful, destructive forces start to see Chappie as a danger to mankind and order, they will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo and ensure that Chappie is the last of his kind.

Chappie is glorifying the transhumanism agenda in conjunction with artificial intelligence where people will soon be offered to live as immortal gods in exchange for being hooked up to the matrix, which inevitably, will make these same people perpetual, subservient slaves.

We are starting to see the beginning of this through digital tattoos, smart tattoos, ingestible RFID chips, and nanoparticle RFIDs. Globalist shill Regina Dugan, former DARPA head who now leads advanced research for Motorola stated, It may be true that 10-20 year olds dont want to wear a watch on their wrists, but you can be sure that theyll be far more interested in wearing an electronic tattoo if only to piss off their parents.

For many people, The Matrix was just another science fiction movie but for even more people, this is the initial movie that truly woke the masses out of their collective stupor.

IMDb: A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Thomas A. Anderson is a man living two lives. By day he is an average computer programmer and by night a hacker known as Neo. Neo has always questioned his reality, but the truth is far beyond his imagination. Neo finds himself targeted by the police when he is contacted by Morpheus, a legendary computer hacker branded a terrorist by the government. Morpheus awakens Neo to the real world, a ravaged wasteland where most of humanity have been captured by a race of machines that live off of the humans body heat and electrochemical energy and who imprison their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. As a rebel against the machines, Neo must return to the Matrix and confront the agents: super-powerful computer programs devoted to snuffing out Neo and the entire human rebellion.

More and more people are beginning to realize the many truths in this movie which basically shows how we are living in a simulated reality while our bodies are living as an energy source for our overlords.

Similar to Chappie, transhumanism takes precedent as a means of going in and out of the matrix. While caught within the matrix, we all assume that this is real but relatively few people question why we need to work for money and cannot comprehend the premise behind the question, If there was no such thing as money, what would you be doing with your life? Weve been brainwashed for millennia about living in this false reality constructed to keep us living in subservience, control and conformity to a system designed to keep us living in fear as economic slaves.

When you look at it from this perspective, does it make sense to waste the majority of your life working some job that you hate for a boss whos an a*hole, only to get that 1 or 2 weeks off a year to enjoy as a vacation while your literally recharge your battery? Theres a reason we look forward to the weekend because by the weekend, we are weakened.

Mark Passio does an amazing job analyzing The Matrix trilogy:

IMDbs description of Network: A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchors ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.

In the 1970s, terrorist violence is the stuff of networks nightly news programming and the corporate structure of the UBS Television Network is changing. Meanwhile, Howard Beale, the aging UBS news anchor, has lost his once strong ratings share and so the network fires him. Beale reacts in an unexpected way. We then see how this affects the fortunes of Beale, his coworkers (Max Schumacher and Diana Christensen), and the network.

The star of the film, Howard Beale, even hinted at transhumanism:

The whole world is becoming humanoid creatures that look human, but arent. The whole world, not just us.

The bottom line is how the nightly news influences and persuades public opinion, even through blatant lies. Youll never feel good after watching the nightly news. Why? Because when you live in the lower vibration of fear, you can be easily controlled and manipulated. The current terrorist agenda is the perfect ploy by the globalists because its a war that can never be won. Additionally, people will gladly give up their civil liberties and freedom in exchange for perceived protection by the government to fight these non-existent entities.

David Icke calls this Problem. Reaction. Solution in which the government creates a problem through false flags, we react by saying the government needs to address the problem and the government has a solution to the problem, which ALWAYS involves the loss of civil liberties and freedom.

We are just starting to see a group of disgruntled reporters leave the industry because they do not agree with how the news is scripted or the propaganda that is being pushed by the CIA in order to influence public opinion regarding everything from how well the economy is doing to why we should start yet another war. Unfortunately, there are plenty of buffoons in search of fame and notoriety (ego) who are willing to take the places of these reporters who have left the business, and they will conform to whatever their overlords desire, even if that means hurting their friends and family by reporting lies to the masses.

John Carpenters 1988 cult classic, They Live combines an alien agenda with how the mainstream media is brainwashing the masses.

IMDb describes the movie as A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.

Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like Stay Asleep, No Imagination, Submit to Authority. Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued.

An intriguing part of the movie is when the aliens throw a party for their human collaborators who agree to push the alien agenda. This is very reminiscent of lobbyists who push agendas for Monsanto, Big Pharma, etc.. The bottom line is that if you support the alien agenda, you will be generously compensated to keep your mouth shut. Does this sound familiar to you?

The Terminator

IMDb:

A cyborg is sent from the future on a deadly mission. He has to kill Sarah Connor, a young woman whose life will have a great significance in years to come. Sarah has only one protector Kyle Reese also sent from the future. The Terminator uses his exceptional intelligence and strength to find Sarah, but is there any way to stop the seemingly indestructible cyborg?

Lucy

IMDb:

It was supposed to be a simple job. All Lucy had to do was deliver a mysterious briefcase to Mr. Jang. But immediately Lucy is caught up in a nightmarish deal where she is captured and turned into a drug mule for a new and powerful synthetic drug. When the bag she is carrying inside of her stomach leaks, Lucys body undergoes unimaginable changes that begins to unlock her minds full potential. With her new-found powers, Lucy turns into a merciless warrior intent on getting back at her captors. She receives invaluable help from Professor Norman, the leading authority on the human mind, and French police captain Pierre Del Rio.

While it may seem like a glamorous idea to have infinite knowledge, there will be a price to pay. For example:

Its not enough to expose these agendas. One needs to be cognizant of what is being forced upon us and be willing to make decisions that are proactive, such as refusing any RFID chip implantation or simply not buying into the false promises of how great your life will be as a cyborg. By choosing artificial intelligence, there is no spiritual progression for the soul, if any part of the soul remains.

The power of thought can also create the world you want to see. Try envisioning a world without transhumanism, money or globalist agendas. Replace the negative things in this world, such as nuclear energy, gas or coal, with free energy. We have the ability RIGHT NOW to create a world where everyone can live in abundance and prosperity without the need for economic subservience.

You were born as a PERFECT soul and upon returning to the Creator, you will remain in complete perfection without the need for artificial intelligence or transhumanism.

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About the Author: Gregg Prescott, M.S. is the founder and editor of In5D and BodyMindSoulSpirit. You can find his In5D Radio shows on the In5D Youtube channel. He is also a transformational speaker and promotes spiritual, metaphysical and esoteric conferences in the United States through In5dEvents. His love and faith for humanity motivates him to work in humanitys best interests 12-15+ hours a day, 365 days a year. Please like and follow In5D on Facebook as well as BodyMindSoulSpirit on Facebook!

Tags: agenda, artificial intelligence, chappie, gregg prescott, lucy, movie, movies, network, propaganda, RFID chip, the matrix, the terminator, they live, transhumanism, transhumanism agenda

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Hidden In Plain Sight 4 Movies That Expose The Globalist …

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Evolution : Pictures , Videos, Breaking News

Posted: August 2, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Mostly evolution this week, except for one excellent piece on “what about that 3% of climate scientists who reject the consensus?” Could they be on to…

Ann Reid

Executive Director, National Center for Science Education

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are a giraffe. You live on the grasslands of the African savannah. You have a neck that is 7 feet long (2.1 meter…

James Clear

Entrepreneur, weightlifter, and travel photographer at http://jamesclear.com

One thousand years ago, when the United States of America did not exist and Oxford and Cambridge were backwaters of ignorance, the light of human reason shone brightly in places like Tunis, Cairo, and Baghdad. During the Abbasid caliphate for much of the 8th through middle 11th centuries, and also sporadically thereafter, tolerance of certain non-Muslim groups was enshrined in law.

What do you think? Does the sacred express itself in the material world? Or are we mortals pretty much on our own here in this humongous universe? Here’s what a friend of mine, neonatal pathologist Geoff Machin has to say on the question:

Lots of great stuff last week, but if you only have time to read one thing this week, read the interview with Mary Schweitzer below. What might the wo…

Ann Reid

Executive Director, National Center for Science Education

“So shall I do to the freshest things now reigning, and make stale the glistering of this present” (TIME, as the Chorus in The Winter’s Tale by Shakes…

Ajay Chaturvedi is the founder of HarVa, the first BPO set up in rural India which employs only women and author of the widely acclaimed, Lost Wisdom …

Ajay Chaturvedi

Entrepreneur, Thinker, Author, Wanderer, Yogi, Apprentice to a Himalayan Master! Founder – HarVa, Author – ‘Lost Wisdom of The Swastika’, http://www.ajaychaturvedi.in

We must realize we aren’t grown up. We must realize we have to grow up and extend the vision that change is possible. We must learn about the nature of the human mind and ego and how it traps us in limited, fear-based thinking, and then teach our children how to be greater.

Cate Montana

Author of The E Word: Ego, Enlightenment & Other Essentials

One of the great things about the minds of creatives is how well they think outside the box. They – or you – have the ability to see things not only f…

We all are guilty of procrastination from time to time, putting off those important tasks and saying ‘oh, I’ll do it tomorrow.” For many of us though, tomorrow never comes. So how do we defeat procrastination?

Atif Rashid

Freelance writer, community events organiser, speaker on religious platforms and aspiring journalist.

I concur with the New York Times editorialists who, among others, declared President Obamas speech in Dallas this week a rhetorical highpoint…

STEM is steadily earning a place as the dazzling star in the high school curriculum and for good reason. The benefit of high-level science and math co…

We are a species. Perhaps thats a bit of a blow to our modern, so-over-biology, Homo sapien arrogance; but its true just the same. Lik…

Owing to a technical difficulty, I can’t provide any illustration to accompany today’s What We’re Reading feature. But hey, you don’t only read it for…

Ann Reid

Executive Director, National Center for Science Education

While a bunch of NCSE staff members are rafting down the majestic Colorado River and another is making his way to Washington DC for the National Edu…

Ann Reid

Executive Director, National Center for Science Education

Playing ‘Spore’ is a good way to explore evolution. ‘Spore’ screenshotBy Alex Leith, Michigan State University You look down from the …

The Conversation US

Independent source of news and analysis, from the academic and research community.

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NATO – News: News

Posted: July 31, 2016 at 5:44 am

27 Jul. 2016 Change of Command – Director General of the NATO International Military Staff

Lieutenant General Jan Broeks took over the position of Director General of the NATO International Military Staff (DGIMS) from outgoing Director General, Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper today (27 July 2016). Lieutenant General Broeks is a three star General in the Royal Netherlands Army who was elected by the NATO Chiefs of Defence in September 2015 and will serve a term of three years.

The NATO Communication and Information (NCI) Agency is announcing business opportunities in cyber, air and missile defence as well as advanced software, worth 3 billion EUR. This comes in parallel to decisions taken at the Warsaw Summit to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defence.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attended a meeting of the Counter-ISIL Coalition at Joint Air Base Andrews, Maryland on Wednesday (20 July 2016). Discussions focused on the military campaign against ISIL and reaffirmed nations’ resolve to degrade and defeat the terrorist organisation.

I have spoken to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey. I welcomed the strong support shown by the people and all political parties to democracy and to the democratically elected government. The Turkish people have shown great courage.

I have just spoken to the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. I am following events in Turkey closely and with concern. I call for calm and restraint, and full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and its constitution. Turkey is a valued NATO Ally.

I am appalled and saddened by the terrorist attack in Nice. My thoughts are with the families and loved-ones of the victims and with all those affected.

Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow discussed recent developments in NATO-Ukraine relations with Ukraines Acting Chief of Mission Yehor Bozhok on Thursday (14 July 2016).

On 27 June 2016, on the banks of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan, the Head of the NATO Liaison Office (NLO) to Central Asia, Rosaria Puglisi, took part in the opening of the second edition of the International Summer School for Junior Diplomats. The event brought together 21 young representatives from the five Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and Mongolia.

Experts and officials from across the public sector and international institutions gathered to discuss issues related to border security and resolving conflicts in Southern and Eastern Europe at a workshop in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 9 to 10 June 2016.

Over the last years, Serbia has become increasingly active within the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme and identified many areas for practical cooperation with NATO. An Information Day in Belgrade, Serbia on 30 June 2016 provided the opportunity to take stock of the successful SPS cooperation, to explore new areas of cooperation and to raise awareness about the Programme.

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‘Superintelligence’ enjoyable read | Community …

Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:15 am

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 390 pages, $29.95.

Machines matching humans in general intelligence that is, possessing common sense and an effective ability to learn, reason and plan to meet complex information-processing challenges across a wide range of natural and abstract domains have been expected since the invention of computers in the 1940s, Nick Bostrom explains near the beginning of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, his new treatise on the evolving capabilities of the digital-networked devices we have at our disposal. At that time, the advent of such machines was often placed some 20 years into the future. Since then, the expected arrival date has been receding at a rate of one year per year; so that today, futurists who concern themselves with the possibility of artificial general intelligence still often believe that intelligent machines are a couple of decades away. …

From the fact that some individuals have overpredicted artificial intelligence in the past, however, it does not follow that AI is impossible or will never be developed, he continues. The main reason why progress has been slower than expected is that the technical difficulties of constructing intelligent machines have proved greater than the pioneers foresaw. But this leaves open just how great those difficulties are and how far we now are from overcoming them. Sometimes a problem that initially looks hopelessly complicated turns out to have a surprisingly simple solution (though the reverse is probably more common.

As you may have surmised, this is definitely one of those books that challenges you to think at a deeper level one that most of us are capable of but seldom do as we spend most of our time caught up in the minutia of everyday life. In that sense, I found this volume oddly inspiring in an existential sort of way. Unlike Ray Kurzweil, however, an author who explores similar themes (I reviewed Kurzweils 2012 book, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, in the Daily News back on March 31, 2013), Bostrom does not have a similar gift for breaking down multifaceted concepts into prose accessible by those without at least a rudimentary background in neuroscience and the myriad of related fields germane to artificial intelligence.

Superintelligence is extensively researched, with 44 pages of source notes at the conclusion of the 15 chapters comprising the main narrative. Full disclosure: I struggled to get through many sections of the book. Whereas I am usually a pretty fast reader, this one took me considerably longer to digest than is typically the case. Again and again, I had to reread entire portions of the text, and I often had to Google the terminology Bostrom employs to get a better sense of what he was describing and how it all fits into his overarching thesis. But in the final analysis, it was worth the extra effort. For example, reflect on this excerpt from Paths to Superintelligence, the second chapter and one I found especially intriguing:Another conceivable path to superintelligence is through the gradual enhancement of networks and organizations that link individual human minds with one another and with various artifacts and bots. The idea here is not that this would enhance the intellectual capacity of individuals enough to make them superintelligence, but rather that some system composed of individuals thus networked and organized might attain a form of superintelligence. Humanity has gained enormously in collective intelligence over the course of history and prehistory. The gains come from many sources, including innovations in communications technology, such as writing and printing, and above all the introduction of language itself; increases in the size of the world population and the density of habitation; various improvements in organizational techniques and epistemic norms; and a gradual accumulation of institutional capital.

Bostrom is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at Oxford University, where he is also the founding director of the Future of Humanity Institute, a multidisciplinary research center that enables a set of exceptional mathematicians, philosophers and scientists to think about global priorities and big questions for humanity. Moreover, he directs the Strategic Artificial Intelligence Research Center. After studying physics and neuroscience at Kings College, he earned his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. Previous books include Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy and Human Enhancement, which he co-edited with Julian Savulescu. Interestingly, when he was younger he did stand-up comedy on the London pub and theatre circuit.

More than anything, Superintelligence is extremely thought-provoking.

General machine intelligence could serve as a substitute for human intelligence, Bostrom asserts in Multipolar Scenarios, the 11th chapter. Not only could digital minds perform the intellectual work now done by humans, but, once equipped with good actuators or robotic bodies, machines could also substitute for human physical labor. Suppose that machine workers which can be quickly reproduced become both cheaper and more capable than human workers in virtually all jobs. What happens then?

Good question. In addition to the technological implications, this scenario could have drastic repercussions for our entire economic system and way of life. Freeing up humanity from the intrinsic demands of physical labor seems, on the surface, like a liberating and even desirable idea. Then again, anything thats too good to be true usually is; we should always be on the lookout for unintended consequences.

In the final analysis, I enjoyed Superintelligence immensely. It was a great diversion from what I usually read for either work or personal fulfillment and I found the whole premise fascinating. If you like science fiction shows like Limitless, but want a more realistic take on the subject matter, youd probably find the journey Bostrom takes his readers on to be an exciting adventure. On the other hand, if you are looking for something light and breezy, youll probably want to sit this one out.

Reviewed by Aaron W. Hughey, Department of Counseling and Student Affairs, Western Kentucky University.

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Evolution – The New York Times

Posted: July 25, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Latest Articles

A single-cell, bacterium-like organism clinging to volcanic sea vents may have been the forebear of every animal, plant and microbe on earth.

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An ancient reptilian creature was found by researchers to be the source of the spikes, plumage and fur that cover reptiles, birds and mammals.

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Members of the mustelid family, including badgers, ferrets and otters, have evolved into remarkable predators.

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A ripple effect of weather, insects and other food supplies, from the Arctic to the tropics, may be driving down the population of the red knot, a study finds.

By CARL ZIMMER

The bearded dragon shows stages of sleep similar to those in humans and other mammals, suggesting that the stages evolved earlier than scientists thought.

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Most of the diversity outlined on the new tree has been hiding in plain sight.

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When everyone has a theory, actual scientific theories like evolution take a hit.

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An exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History documents the recently established link between dinosaurs and modern birds.

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In a cave in Thailand, scientists discovered a parallel to one of evolutions signature events: the transition from sea to land.

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The interbreeding may have given modern humans better immunity to pathogens, according to the authors of the analysis of global genomes.

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Male nursery web spiders tie up females with spider silk before mating to avoid being killed and eaten.

By SAMANTHA STARK and JAMES GORMAN

Scientists at Harvard concluded that stone tools that broke down food could have helped early human relatives conserve energy, aiding in their evolution.

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A report in the journal Science reveals how evolution harnessed viral DNA to rewire humans own genetic circuitry and strengthen the immune system.

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It may seem noble and selfless, but its also about improving your reputation.

By JILLIAN JORDAN, PAUL BLOOM, MOSHE HOFFMAN and DAVID RAND

1 . .

By JAMES GORMAN

A dig in Kenya has uncovered the remains of a slaughter from 10,000 years ago, suggesting that warfare may have existed even before humans began agriculture.

By JAMES GORMAN

Humans sleep more deeply but for shorter periods than other primates habits, a study finds. The pattern may have helped humans evolve more powerful brains.

By CARL ZIMMER

A single-cell, bacterium-like organism clinging to volcanic sea vents may have been the forebear of every animal, plant and microbe on earth.

By NICHOLAS WADE

In the extremity of the urban environment, natural selection is transforming species in unexpected ways.

By MENNO SCHILTHUIZEN

Gualicho shinyae was found to have evolved its stubby arms independently, suggesting there was some evolutionary advantage to the small size.

By NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR

An ancient reptilian creature was found by researchers to be the source of the spikes, plumage and fur that cover reptiles, birds and mammals.

By NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR

Members of the mustelid family, including badgers, ferrets and otters, have evolved into remarkable predators.

By NATALIE ANGIER

A ripple effect of weather, insects and other food supplies, from the Arctic to the tropics, may be driving down the population of the red knot, a study finds.

By CARL ZIMMER

The bearded dragon shows stages of sleep similar to those in humans and other mammals, suggesting that the stages evolved earlier than scientists thought.

By ERICA GOODE

Most of the diversity outlined on the new tree has been hiding in plain sight.

By CARL ZIMMER

When everyone has a theory, actual scientific theories like evolution take a hit.

By CARL ZIMMER

Humans arent so special. Animals think much more deeply than we imagine.

By FRANS de WAAL

An exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History documents the recently established link between dinosaurs and modern birds.

By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

In a cave in Thailand, scientists discovered a parallel to one of evolutions signature events: the transition from sea to land.

By CARL ZIMMER

The interbreeding may have given modern humans better immunity to pathogens, according to the authors of the analysis of global genomes.

By CARL ZIMMER

Male nursery web spiders tie up females with spider silk before mating to avoid being killed and eaten.

By SAMANTHA STARK and JAMES GORMAN

Scientists at Harvard concluded that stone tools that broke down food could have helped early human relatives conserve energy, aiding in their evolution.

By CARL ZIMMER

A report in the journal Science reveals how evolution harnessed viral DNA to rewire humans own genetic circuitry and strengthen the immune system.

By CARL ZIMMER

It may seem noble and selfless, but its also about improving your reputation.

By JILLIAN JORDAN, PAUL BLOOM, MOSHE HOFFMAN and DAVID RAND

1 . .

By JAMES GORMAN

A dig in Kenya has uncovered the remains of a slaughter from 10,000 years ago, suggesting that warfare may have existed even before humans began agriculture.

By JAMES GORMAN

Humans sleep more deeply but for shorter periods than other primates habits, a study finds. The pattern may have helped humans evolve more powerful brains.

By CARL ZIMMER

Excerpt from:

Evolution – The New York Times

Posted in Evolution | Comments Off on Evolution – The New York Times

Wirehead hedonism versus paradise-engineering

Posted: at 3:47 pm

“The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heaven” Satan, in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Far-fetched? Right now, the abolitionist project sounds fanciful. The task of redesigning our legacy-wetware still seems daunting. Rewriting the vertebrate genome, and re-engineering the global ecosystem, certainly pose immense scientific challenges even to a technologically advanced civilisation.

The ideological obstacles to a happy world, however, are more formidable still. For we’ve learned how to rationalise the need for mental pain – even though its nastier varieties blight innumerable lives, and even though its very existence will soon become optional.

Today, any scientific blueprint for getting rid of suffering via biotechnology is likely to be reduced to one of two negative stereotypes. Both stereotypes are disturbing, pervasive, and profoundly ill-conceived. Together, they impoverish our notion of what a Post-Darwinian regime of life-long happiness might be like; and delay its prospect.

Rats, of course, have a very poor image in our culture. Our mammalian cousins are still widely perceived as “vermin”. Thus the sight of a blissed-out, manically self-stimulating rat does not inspire a sense of vicarious happiness in the rest of us. On the contrary, if achieving invincible well-being entails launching a program of world-wide wireheading – or its pharmacological and/or genetic counterparts – then most of us will recoil in distaste.

Yet the Olds’ rat, and the image of electronically-triggered bliss, embody a morally catastrophic misconception of the landscape of options for paradise-engineering in the aeons ahead. For the varieties of genetically-coded well-being on offer to our successors needn’t be squalid or self-centred. Nor need they be insipid, empty and amoral la Huxley’s Brave New World. Our future modes of well-being can be sublime, cerebral and empathetic – or take forms hitherto unknown.

Instead of being toxic, such exotically enriched states of consciousness can be transformed into the everyday norm of mental health. When it’s precision-engineered, hedonic enrichment needn’t lead to unbridled orgasmic frenzy. Nor need hedonic enrichment entail getting stuck in a wirehead rut. This is partly because in a naturalistic setting, even the crudest dopaminergic drugs tend to increase exploratory behaviour, will-power and the range of stimuli an organism finds rewarding. Novelty-seeking is normally heightened. Dopaminergics aren’t just euphoriants: they also enhance “incentive-motivation”. On this basis, our future is likely to be more diverse, not less.

Perhaps surprisingly too, controlled euphoria needn’t be inherently “selfish” – i.e. hedonistic in the baser, egoistic sense. Non-neurotoxic and sustainable analogues of empathogen hug-drugs like MDMA (“Ecstasy”) – which releases a lot of extra serotonin, dopamine and pro-social oxytocin – may potentially induce extraordinary serenity, empathy and love for others. An arsenal of cognitive enhancers will allow us be smarter too. For feeling blissful isn’t the same as being “blissed-out”.

Ultimately, however, using drugs or electrodes for psychological superhealth is arguably no better than taking medicines to promote physical superhealth. Such interventions can serve only as dirty and inelegant stopgaps. In an ideal world, our emotional, intellectual and physical well-being would be genetically predestined. A capacity for sustained bliss may be a design-feature of any Post-Darwinian mind. Indeed some futurists predict we will one day live in a paradise where suffering is physiologically inconceivable – a world where we can no more imagine what it is like to suffer than we can presently imagine what it is like to be a bat.

Technofantasy? Quite possibly. Today it is sublime bliss that is effectively inconceivable to most of us.

Olds mapped the whole brain. Stimulation of some areas – the periaqueductal grey matter, for instance – proved aversive: an animal will work hard to avoid it. “Aversive” is probably a euphemism: electrical pulses to certain neural pathways may be terrifying or excruciating. Euphemisms aside, our victims are being tortured.

Happily, more regions in the brain are rewarding to stimulate than are unpleasant. Yet electrical stimulation of most areas, including the great bulk of the neocortex, is motivationally neutral.

One brain region in particular does seem especially enjoyable to stimulate: the medial forebrain bundle. The key neurons in this bundle originate in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the basal ganglia. VTA neurons manufacture the catecholamine neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is transported down the length of the neuron, packaged in synaptic vesicles, and released into the synapse. Crucially, VTA neuronal pathways project to the nucleus accumbens. VTA dopaminergic neurons are under continuous inhibition by the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system.

In recent years, a convergence of neuropharmacological evidence, clinical research, and electrical stimulation experiments has led many researchers to endorse some version of the “final common pathway” hypothesis of reward. There are anomalies and complications which the final-common-pathway hypothesis still has to account for. Any story which omits the role and complex interplay of, say, “the love hormone”, oxytocin; the “chocolate amphetamine”, phenylethylamine; the glutamate system; the multiple receptor sub-types of serotonin, noradrenaline and the opioid families; and most crucially of all, the intra-cellular post-synaptic cascade within individual neurons, is going to be simplistic. Yet there is accumulating evidence that recreational euphoriants, clinically useful mood-brighteners, and perhaps all rewarding experiences critically depend on the mesolimbic dopamine pathway.

One complication is that pleasure and desire circuitry have intimately connected but distinguishable neural substrates. Some investigators believe that the role of the mesolimbic dopamine system is not primarily to encode pleasure, but “wanting” i.e. incentive-motivation. On this analysis, endomorphins and enkephalins – which activate mu and delta opioid receptors most especially in the ventral pallidum – are most directly implicated in pleasure itself. Mesolimbic dopamine, signalling to the ventral pallidum, mediates desire. Thus “dopamine overdrive”, whether natural or drug-induced, promotes a sense of urgency and a motivation to engage with the world, whereas direct activation of mu opioid receptors in the ventral pallidum induces emotionally self-sufficient bliss.

Certainly, the dopamine neurotransmitter is not itself the brain’s magic pleasure chemical. Only the intra-cellular cascades triggered by neurotransmitter binding to the post-synaptic receptor presumably hold the elusive, tantalising key to everlasting happiness; and they are not yet fully understood. But it’s notable that dopamine D2 receptor-blocking phenothiazines, for example, and other aversive drugs such as kappa opioid agonists, tend to inhibit activity, or increase the threshold of stimulation, in the mesolimbic dopamine system. Conversely, heroin and cocaine both mimic the effects of direct electrical stimulation of the reward-pathways.

Comparing the respective behavioural effects of heroin and cocaine is instructive.If rats or monkeys are hooked up to an intravenous source of heroin (or other potent mu opioid agonist such as fentanyl), the animals will happily self-administer the drug indefinitely; but they still find time to sleep and eat. If rats or monkeys have the opportunity to self-administer cocaine without limit, however, they will do virtually nothing else. They continue to push a drug-delivery lever for as long as they are physically capable of doing so. Within weeks, if not days, they will lose a substantial portion of their body weight – up to 40%. Within a month, they will be dead.

Humans don’t have this problem. So what keeps our mesolimbic dopamine and opioidergic systems so indolent? Why does a “hedonic treadmill” stop us escaping from a genetically-predisposed “set-point” of emotional ill-being? Why can’t social engineering, politico-economic reform or psychotherapy – as distinct from germ-line genetic re-writes – make us durably happy?

Evolutionary biology provides some plausible answers. A capacity to experience many different flavours of unhappiness – and short-lived joys too – was adaptive in the ancestral environment. Anger, fear, disgust, sadness, anxiety and other core emotions each played a distinctive information-theoretic role, enhancing the reproductive success of our forebears. Thus at least a partial explanation of endemic human misery today lies in ancient selection pressure and the state of the unreconstructed vertebrate genome. Selfish DNA makes its throwaway survival-machines feel discontented a lot of the time. A restless discontent is typically good for promoting its “inclusive fitness”, even if it’s bad news for us. Nature simply doesn’t care; and God has gone missing, presumed dead.

On the African savannah, naturally happy and un-anxious creatures typically got outbred or eaten or both. Rank theory suggests that the far greater incidence of the internalised correlate of the yielding sub-routine, depression, reflects how low spirits were frequently more adaptive among group-living organisms than manic self-assertion. Group living can be genetically adaptive for the individual members of the tribe in a predator-infested environment, but we’ve paid a very high psychological price.

Whatever the origins of malaise, a web of negative feedback mechanisms in the CNS conspires to prevent well-being – and (usually) extreme ill-being – from persisting for very long.

Life-enriching emotional superhealth will depend on subverting these homeostatic mechanisms. The hedonic set-point around which our lives fluctuate can be genetically switched to a far higher altitude plateau of well-being.

At the most immediate level, firing in the neurons of the ventral tegmental area is held in check mainly by gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate central nervous system. Opioids act to diminish the braking action of GABA on the dopaminergic neurons of the VTA. In consequence, VTA neurons release more dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. The reuptake of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens is performed by the dopamine transporter. The transporter is blocked by cocaine. Dopamine reuptake inhibition induces euphoria, augmented by activation of the sigma1 receptors. [Why? We don’t know. Science has no understanding of why sentience – or insentience for that matter – exists at all.] Amphetamines block the dopamine transporter too; but they also act directly on the dopaminergic neurons and promote neurotransmitter release.

The mesolimbic dopamine pathway passes from the VTA to the nucleus accumbens and ascends to the frontal cortex where it innervates the higher brain. This architecture is explicable in the light of evolution. Raw limbic emotional highs and lows – in the absence of represented objects, events or properties to be (dis)satisfied about – would be genetically useless to the organism. To help self-replicating DNA differentially leave more copies of itself, the textures of subjective niceness and nastiness must infuse our representations of the world, and – by our lights – the world itself. Hedonic tone must be functionally coupled to motor-responses initiated on the basis of the perceived significance of the stimulus to the organism, and of the anticipated consequences – adaptively nice or nasty – of simulations of alternative courses of action that the agent can perform. Natural selection has engineered the “encephalisation of emotion”. We often get happy, sad or worried “about” the most obscure notions. One form this encephalisation takes is our revulsion at the prospect of turning ourselves into undignified wirehead rats – or soma-pacified dupes of a ruling elite. Both scenarios strike us as too distasteful to contemplate.

In any case, wouldn’t we get bored of life-long bliss?

Apparently not. That’s what’s so revealing about wireheading. Unlike food, drink or sex, the experience of pleasure itself exhibits no tolerance, even though our innumerable objects of desire certainly do so. Thus we can eventually get bored of anything – with a single exception. Stimulation of the pleasure-centres of the brain never palls. Fire them in the right way, and boredom is neurochemically impossible. Its substrates are missing. Electrical stimulation of the mesolimbic dopamine system is more intensely rewarding than eating, drinking, and love-making; and it never gets in the slightest a bit tedious. It stays exhilarating. The unlimited raw pleasure conjured up by wirehead bliss certainly inspires images of monotony in the electrode-na&iumlve outsider; but that’s a different story altogether.

Yet are wireheading or supersoma really the only ways to ubiquitous ecstasy? Or does posing the very question reflect our stunted conception of the diverse family of paradise-engineering options in prospect?

This question isn’t an exercise in idle philosophising. As molecular neuroscience advances, not just boredom, but pain, terror, disgust, jealousy, anxiety, depression, malaise and any form of unpleasantness are destined to become truly optional. Their shifting gradients played a distinct information-theoretic role in the lives of our ancestors in the ancestral environment of adaptation. But their individual textures (i.e. “what it feels like”, “qualia”) can shortly be either abolished or genetically shifted to a more exalted plane of well-being instead. Our complicity in their awful persistence, and ultimately our responsibility for sustaining and creating them in the living world, is destined to increase as the new reproductive technologies mature and the revolution in post-genomic medicine unfolds. The biggest obstacles to a cruelty-free world – a world cured of any obligate suffering – are ideological, not technical. Yet whatever the exact time-scale of its replacement, in evolutionary terms we are on the brink of a Post-Darwinian Transition.

Natural selection has previously been “blind”. Complications aside, genetic mutations and meiotic shufflings are quasi-random i.e. random with respect to what is favoured by natural selection. Nature has no capacity for foresight or contingency-planning. During the primordial Darwinian Era of life on Earth, selfishness in the technical genetic sense has closely overlapped with selfishness in the popular sense: they are easily confused, and indeed selfishness in the technical sense is unavoidable. But in the new reproductive era – where (suites of) alleles will be societally chosen and actively designed by quasi-rational agents in anticipation of their likely behavioural effects – the character of fitness-enhancing traits will be radically different.

For a start, the elimination of such evolutionary relics as the ageing process will make any form of (post-)human reproduction on earth – whether sexual or clonal – a relatively rare and momentous event. It’s likely that designer post-human babies will be meticulously pre-planned. The notion that all reproductive decisions will be socially regulated in a post-ageing world is abhorrent to one’s libertarian instincts; but if they weren’t regulated, then the Earth would soon simply exceed its carrying capacity – whether it is 15 billion people or even 150 billion. If reproduction on earth does cease to be a personal affair and becomes a (democratically accountable?) state-sanctioned choice, then a major shift in the character of typically adaptive behavioural traits will inevitably occur. Taking a crude genes’ eye-view, a variant allele coding for, say, enhanced oxytocin expression, or a sub-type of serotonin receptor predisposing to unselfishness in the popular sense, will actually carry a higher payoff in the technical selfish sense – hugely increasing the likelihood that such alleles and their customised successors will be differentially pre-selected in preference to alleles promoting, say, anti-social behaviour.

Told like this, of course, the neurochemical story is a simplistic parody. It barely even hints at the complex biological, socio-economic and political issues at stake. Just who will take the decisions, and how? What will be the role in shaping post-human value systems, not just of exotic new technologies, but of alien forms of emotion whose metabolic pathways and substrates haven’t yet been disclosed to us? What kinds, if any, of inorganic organisms or non-DNA-driven states of consciousness will we want to design and implement? What will be the nature of the transitional era – when our genetic mastery of emotional mind-making is still incomplete? How can we be sure that unknown unknowns won’t make things go wrong? True, Darwinian life may often be dreadful, but couldn’t botched paradise-engineering make it even worse? And even if it couldn’t, might not there be some metaphysical sense in which life in a blissful biosphere could still be morally “wrong” – even if it strikes its inhabitants as self-evidently right?

Unfortunately, we will only begin to glimpse the implications of Post-Darwinism when paradise-engineering becomes a mature scientific discipline and mainstream research tradition. Yet as the vertebrate genome is rewritten, the two senses of “selfish” will foreseeably diverge. Today they are easily conflated. A tendency to quasi-psychopathic callousness to other sentient beings did indeed enhance the inclusive fitness of our DNA in the evolutionary past. In the new reproductive era, such traits are potentially maladaptive. They may even disappear as the Reproductive Revolution matures.

The possibility that we will become not just exceedingly happier, but nicer, may sound too good to be true. Perhaps we’ll just become happier egotists – in every sense. But if a genetic predisposition to niceness becomes systematically fitness-enhancing, then genetic selfishness – in the technical sense of “selfish” – ensures that benevolence will not just triumph; it will also be evolutionarily stable, in the games-theory sense, against “defectors”.

Needless to say, subtleties and technical complexities abound here. The very meaning of being “nice” to anyone or anything, for instance, is changed if well-being becomes a generic property of mental life. Either way, once suffering becomes biologically optional, then only sustained and systematic malice towards others could allow us to perpetuate it for ever. And although today we may sometimes be spiteful, there is no evidence that institutionalised malevolence will prevail.

From an ethical perspective, the task of hastening the Post-Darwinian Transition has a desperate moral urgency – brought home by studying just how nasty “natural” pain can be. Those who would resist the demise of unpleasantness may be asked: is it really permissible to compel others to suffer when any form of distress becomes purely optional? Should the metabolic pathways of our evolutionary past be forced on anyone who prefers an odyssey of life-long happiness instead? If so, what means of coercion should be employed, and by whom?

Or is paradise-engineering the only morally serious option? And much more fun.

Refs and further reading

Roborats James Olds Homeostasis Robert Heath Orgasmatrons Future Opioids BLTC Research Hypermotivation Superhappiness? Empathogens.com The Orgasmic Brain Social Media (2016) The Good Drug Guide The Abolitionist Project Utilitarianism On The Net The Hedonistic Imperative The Reproductive Revolution Critique of Brave New World MDMA: Utopian Pharmacology? When Is It Best To Take Crack Cocaine? Wireheads and Wireheading in Science Fiction Pleasure Evoked by Electrical Stimulation of the Brain Wireheads and wireheading: Definitions from Science Fiction

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Wirehead hedonism versus paradise-engineering

Posted in Hedonism | Comments Off on Wirehead hedonism versus paradise-engineering