May 20, 2008

Next TTA event: "Apocalyptic Threats and Happy Pills," with Dr. Mark Walker

The Toronto Transhumanist Association is proud to announce its next event, a talk by Dr. Mark Walker entitled, "Apocalyptic Threats and Happy Pills."

The talk is open to the general public and admission is free. It will be held on Saturday, June 14, 2008 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at the Centre for Inquiry Ontario, 216 Beverley St. in Toronto.

Mark A. Walker, Ph.D. is Research Associate in philosophy at Trinity College, University of Toronto, and lecturer in Philosophy at McMaster University. He is founder and president of Permanent End International, a nonprofit organization devoted to ending hunger, illiteracy and environmental degradation. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Evolution and Technology and served on the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association from 2002 to 2006.

Abstract for Dr. Walker's talk:
Apocalyptic threats are possible or probable civilization-ending events, e.g., asteroid collisions, global nuclear war, biotechnology accidents or warfare, and various "goo" scenarios connected with self-replicating nanotechnology. Obviously, reducing such threats is morally imperative. I will delineate two broad strategies for attempting to mitigate such threats: the technical and the social. Technical mitigation seeks to use technology to defeat, defend or disarm the threatening events; examples include fallout shelters, antivirals and universal surveillance. Social mitigation of apocalyptic threats work indirectly to reduce the social causes that may contribute to an increased probability of such threats, or reduce the probability that we will effectively deal with such threats, for example, removing sources of conflict such as poverty and injustice. Transhumanists have focused considerable attention on technical mitigation but little to social mitigation. This talk discusses the possibility of using "happy pills" for the purpose of social mitigation of apocalyptic threats.
Dr. Walker has also authored such papers as In Praise of Bio-Happiness, Universal Superlongevity: Is It Inevitable And Is It Good?, Apologism, Prolongevistism and Utilitarianism, Mary Poppins 3000s of the World Unite: A Moral Paradox in the Creation of Artificial Intelligence, Where did Marx go wrong?, Genetic Virtue, and Prolegomena to any Future Philosophy, and coauthored Astrophysical Fine Tuning, Naturalism, and the Contemporary Design.

Contact me for more information.

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