September 1, 2003

September 2003

September 30, 2003
.: James Pinkerton responds to Yuval Levin's column "Science, Politics, and the New Utopians."
.: Paul Davies's bio page on

September 29, 2003
Homophobia in the Name of God
Struggling to prevent legalization of gay marriage in Canada and elsewhere, religious groups and social conservatives are proving to be their own worst enemy By George Dvorsky

September 29, 2003
.: Vernor Vinge interview.
.: Paul Davies on E.T. and God.
.: Oh, oh. Apparently men are doomed to extinction.

.: I was interviewed today by Kevin Miller, a 3rd year university student from Carleton University in Ottawa. Specifically, we spoke about cryonics, public opinion, and the state of the industry.

September 26, 2003
.: Lev Navrozov is interviewed about nanoweapons. Check out his Webpage on world threats.
.: Chet Raymo of the Boston Globe wants to know who gets the smart pills.
.: News Forge has an article about MIT's Emerging Technologies Conference.
.: Check out Emeagwali's speech about his search for the holy grail of immortality.
.: Read the WTA news for September 20, 2003.

.: Paul Lewis wants the Democrats to join together and form the next Canadian province. It's a very tongue-in-cheek but flattering article, but one must take it with a grain of salt; Unfortunately, I only wish that Canada were the utopia that it's often described and assumed to be. The gay marriage issue is by no means over and remains an issue that is splitting the country, we have an obnoxious right-wing, populist party as the official opposition in parliament, we are consistently undergoing dubious experiments with "Americanization" reforms (i.e. ongoing privatization of such things as health care and hydro), our socialist democratic party is an organizational and ideological joke, and while we may have favoured Kyoto, we remain one of the world's worst polluters, particularly here in Ontario. We still have ways to go.
.: I'm now on It's proving to be a great way of networking with like-minded individuals. Tribes that I'm a member of include Nanotechnology, Cognitive Science, Meditation, Toronto, Quantum Physics, Immortalists, Bloggers, Buddhism, MEMEMACHINE, Radical Cyborgs, Singularitarians, The Libertarian Left, and Transhumanists. I also started my own tribe, Agnostics, of which there are now 5 members.
.: What I'm reading these days: Robert Pepperell's The Posthuman Condition: Consciousness Beyond the Brain and From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice by Allen Buchanan, Dan W. Brock, Norman Daniels, and Daniel Wikler. I'm also reading and reviewing a pre-release version of James Hughes's upcoming book, Cyborg Democracy: Free, Equal and United in the Posthuman World, and I'm helping with the next version of the official Transhumanist FAQ.

September 25, 2003
.: Chris MacDonald asks, "Will the 'Secular Priests' of Bioethics Work Among the Sinners?" in
.: The Slate on Neal Stephenson's new book, Quicksilver.
.: Here's another 'we're all living in a simulation' article that deals with the multiverse hypothesis.

September 22, 2003
.: Simon Smith says we ignore our past at our own peril.
.: James Hughes argues that a guaranteed basic income will help when all our jobs are taken over by robots. I'm so there.
.: Richard Dawkins says that atheists are people too and he has the memes to prove it.
.: Transhumanist philosopher Mark Walker prefers the term panhumanism to posthumanism. It's all personhood ethics and democracy to me.
.: Chinese ID cards are set to contain genetic samples.
.: Sixty scientists say that cloning humans is still dangerous. Hello, Raelians? Are you listening?

.: Picked up the new A Perfect Circle CD on the weekend, Thirteenth Step. Joy.
.: Using GnuCash open source accounting software on my new Linux machine. I'm also using Grip to create *.ogg files (an open source audio format) instead of MP3s. Geez, listen to me, I am turning into a Linux zealot! And a geek! Oh, wait a minute, I already am a geek.

September 19, 2003
.: Those pesky gamma ray bursts may not be as bad as we thought. As an aside, cosmologist Milan M. Cirkovic notes that hypernovaes may cause massive gamma ray bursts that can sterilize as much as a quarter of a galaxy! Er, not good.
.: It's never too late to start that low calorie diet.
.: An anti-transhumanist rant from the religious right, Remaking Humans: The New Utopians Versus a Truly Human Future.
.: Top 100 guitar players according to Rolling Stone.

September 19, 2003
Yay, I've migrated over to Linux! My new system is running Red Hat 9. I feel Moreover, now I can become a Linux zealot amongst my other zealotries.

September 18, 2003
And the Disabled Shall Inherit the Earth
Uninhibited about technological modification, they're poised to be the first posthumans, By George Dvorsky

September 18, 2003
.: Yuval Levin writes about Science, Politics, and the New Utopians.
.: Jonathan Rauch wonders if frankenfoods will save the planet.
.: Is the first human clone embryo ready for implantation?

September 18, 2003
Saw Interpol play the Kool Haus in Toronto last night. A truly amazing show -- an excellent live band.

September 15, 2003
.: The Chinese Brave New World.

September 15, 2003
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

September 12, 2003
.: Robert Wright on 9/11 two years after.
.: Live in the West? Surprise! You're rich!
.: Listen to this speech by Vanessa Foster, Chair of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, who spoke at TransVision 2003.
.: Madison Ave. is a cool place that offers a forum for the transgendered, including their friends and families.

September 11, 2003
.: Check out these cool lab notes from Berkeley Engineering: video games where you can control the movements of another person, pens with haptic feedback, the latest in virtual reality, etc.
.: The Riken Brain Institute in Japan has announced a project to create a brain by 2023. A commendable goal, and an even more commendable timeframe, but I don't think so. Talk to me once we figure out how our own brains actually work.
.: Check out the Ivory Lab blog.
.: What the next generation of wearables will look like.

September 10, 2003
.: Kenan Malik on why there is nothing wrong with humanism.
.: Erik Baard of the Village Voice uncovers scientists who refuse to get paid for their dangerous (i.e. military) ideas.
.: I'm not quite sure what to make of this idea to sell sterilization to drug addicts.
.: New Scientist reports that learning disabilities result from general problems in the brain rather than specific genetic or neurological defects
.: Hey folks, let's get with the program here: flash mobs are happy mobs.

September 9, 2003
I received an email today from Giuseppe Vatinno who is currently studying physics in Rome. Like me, Giuseppe has an interest in both transhumanism and parapsychology, and he asked me if I thought the two fields could somehow be merged. Here's my response:

Hi Giuseppe, wonderful to hear from you. Re: parapsychology and transhumanism -- that's a good question, and I'm not sure I have an answer to that. Parapsychology needs to mature as a scientific discipline, and I have a feeling that it can only do so once we have a better understanding of how consciousness works and what its relationship is to quantum phenomenon. I believe the answers to many of the questions posed by parapsychology will be answered/refuted by these particular avenues of research.

Once we understand *why* there is such a thing as parapsychological phenomenon (I'm not even sure we're asking the right questions yet), we can start to analyze how it works and what it is. Eventually, given this comprehension, we may someday be able to engineer ourselves and our conscious abilities to exploit our understanding of parapsychological phenomenon. So, for example, I would speculate (and it's mere speculation), that we could enhance our telepathic abilities. We might also be able to manipulate the material world with our minds in a way more profound than just influencing random numbers on a computer screen.

Of course, all this is dependant on a number of factors. For instance, we might find that the cause of parapsychological phenomenon is not what we think it is, or that we'll never be able to understand the quantum consciousness link.

September 9, 2003
I am now the president of the Toronto Transhumanist Association. Here's the official announcement:

The Toronto Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that George Dvorsky will be taking on the role of President effective immediately. Simon Smith, who held the position for the first year of the TTA's existence, will be assuming Dvorsky's position as Vice-President.

Under the new arrangement, Smith will be able to devote more of his time and focus to Betterhumans while George will assume responsibility for leading the development and management of the TTA.

Priorities for the next several months include general and student outreach to increase membership, the establishment of an advisory board and the building of an executive staff.

If anyone would like to help with the TTA, please contact Dvorsky at

September 9, 2003
.: Jeff Patterson, who maintains the Gravity Lens blog, passed on a link to an article which claims that Japan will soon have 20,000 people over age 100.
.: Nicholas Thompson argues that there is a growing division between the GOP and science.
.: Read why minds and technologies are made to merge: Natural-Born Cyborgs.
.: Read about consciousness beyond the brain: The Posthuman Condition.
.: Wired's Kristen Philipkoski says it takes genes to make Olympians.
.: The Ascender's Alliance is an organization for disabled transhumanists (look for my column on Betterhumans next week about the disabled and posthumanism).

September 8, 2003
.: Julian Savulescu wonders if we should select the best children.
.: Help to put a Permanent End to hunger, illiteracy and environmental degradation.
.: Reason's Tim Cavanaugh on the false confessions about the "New Anti-Catholicism."
.: Simon Smith lauds the pioneers of human redesign.

September 5, 2003
.: Nick Bostrom narrates a BBC show featuring interviews with Max and Natasha Vita-More, William Haseltine and Gregory Stock.
.: Do you honour the new Humane Rights?
.: Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder believe that the age of molecular nanotechnology is closer than we think (Small Times).
.: Help the study of proteomics through distributed computing.

September 4, 2003
.: Learn how not to cryonically preserve someone
.: Reason's Bailey on the ethics and politics of not medically treating children
.: The New Zealand Herald is reporting that computer modelling is the future of medicine and I believe them
.: You should go to the Accelerating Change Conference and explore the future of accelerating change (whoa, check out that list of speakers!)

September 3, 2003
The Many Worlds Interpretation, much to my surprise, does not eliminate the possibility that the meta-universe was consciously designed. In fact, if we can prove that a meta-universe is engineerable within our multiverse (i.e. the metasystem that expresses the multiverses) then by virtue of the MWI, which implies that all probable events must happen across the spectra of all universes, then the construction of a metasystem that generates many worlds must also happen.

September 3, 2003
Many scientists, philosophers, and thinkers are starting to buy into the Many Worlds Interpretation of existence. This list includes Stephen Hawking, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, David Deutsch, and, as I recently learned, Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eli described the MWI as "beautiful"). I'm starting to see the efficacy of this theory as well.

Essentially, the MWI tells us that at each given moment-slice, we are copied a near infinite number of times into probabilistically varying universes. One of the implications of this theory is that across the spectrum of multiverses everything must happen so long as it is probable. The implications of this on free-will are troubling, but David Deutsch argues that the MWI does not deny the existence of free-will. I'm not sure I understand Deutsch in this context, but that's why he's a world famous quantum physicist and I am not.

If the MWI can be proven to be true -- and recent advances in quantum computing may help establish this at an empirical level -- it changes everything, yet it changes nothing. The ethical and moral framework surrounding our lives remain unaltered.

By virtue of the MWI, it truly appears that there is no meaning or purpose to existence. This revelation, however, does not preclude the necessity and validity of living a moral life; we need to remain cognizant of the suffering of other persons and life forms. In an indifferent and cruel universe, we should strive to create our own purpose and our own standards for what it means to live morally and ethically in relation to other persons and life forms. The same holds true for determining value and desirability. By virtue of the fact that intelligence can create an ethical code of conduct and standards in this universe, intelligence subsequently establishes meaning in the universe.

September 3, 2003
.: The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology has published A Technical Commentary on Greenpeace's Nanotechnology Report. The original report was called "Future Technologies, Today's Choices."

September 3, 2003
Letters critical of my article, "Progressive Ideas in Government? Don't Bet on It," are starting to come in. Here's a recent exchange I had with an anonymous reader (my replies are in blue):

> Anonymous trading is the key to any gains that the added "insight" would likely produce from such a 'futures' market--but not for the population in which a violent event is likely to be carried out.

Incorrect -- the assumption is that "insight" will translate to prevention. In this regard, a futures market would *directly* benefit any targeted population.

> For the person making the bet, it is profit from first-hand knowledge of an impending violent action. It is the equivalent of insider trading. It seems to me that any knowledge that is parlayed into a successful bet would necessarily result from collusion. Precisely the reason why no "trader" is going to hedge a bet if he is not allowed to remain anonymous.

I agree that anonymous bets are a bad idea, and I said as much in the column. That being said, you make it sound like all the trading will be done by nefarious opportunists hiding sensitive information. I don't think this is a fair characterization; do Wall Street traders only bet based on "insider information?" Obviously not. Rather, traders will make bets based on a spectrum of incoming data, extrapolations, and inferences.

> Existing futures market are a specious analogy: the outcomes do not result in murder, mayhem, turmoil, or war. PAM is designed to validate the blood-money that spies, govt. officials, assassins, etc., would make from their actions.

I don't share your line of reasoning, your lack of faith in governmental institutions, nor your cynicism.

> PAM is another example of the extremist ideology which pervades this countries institutions today. how this is useful to progress, science, or rational debates about society and the tools it uses is beyond me. given your previous ideas/thoughts, im flummoxed as to why you think PAM is remotely useful.

It is useful to progress in that it represents a novel, safe, and effective means of information gathering for the purpose of *preventing* bloodshed. You believe that PAM will change, validate, and motivate political agendas; I believe those particular arenas will remain unaffected by the trading inasmuch as predicted events may be thwarted.

September 2, 2003
.: Bruce Bower explores Mind-Expanding Machines (i.e. cognitive prosthetics) in Science News
.: Read about the Brain of the Future
.: The Pentagon is drawing unwanted attention regarding its technological projects
.: The Dalai Lama is Investigating the Mind at a sold-out conference

September 2, 2003
We had about 15-20 people show up for Eliezer's talk -- pretty good turnout. Thanks to Eli for giving the presentation.

September 2, 2003
Thanks to James Hughes and Margaret Somerville for that great debate on Friday night. It was truly a historical night for both Betterhumans and transhumanism.

September 2, 2003
Over the course of this past weekend I got to spend time and meet with bioethicist and transhumanist James Hughes, bioethicist Margaret Somerville, and AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky. Not too shabby company. Actually, my apartment could have been renamed the Toronto Transhumanist Bed & Breakfast as I hosted both J and Eli this weekend.

September 1, 2003
Progressive Ideas in Government? Don't Bet on It
The US outcry against a proposed terrorism futures market demonstrates the difficultly of converting innovative ideas into policy By George Dvorsky

September 1, 2003
.: The final installment of the Smith & Cohen debate
.: Martin Rees wonders if we are alone in the universe
.: Thomas Brain writes about Robotic Freedom in the age of automation and the need for a universal minimum income
.: Way cool scientist: Evans Walker Harris. Be sure to check out his ideas on consciousness.

September 1, 2003
Check out the recent cosmetic and functional changes to Betterhumans. We now have a drop down menu for the Resources section, and we've added an Around the Web section.

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