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Category Archives: Transhuman

The Best Way to Handle Your Decline Is to Confront It Head On – The Atlantic

Read: Your professional decline is coming (much) sooner than you think

The good news is that its possible to work on extinguishing the terror of this virtual death by borrowing from techniques used to vanquish the fear of physical death.

The fear of literal nonexistence through death is addressed by many philosophical and religious traditions. Many Buddhist monasteries in Southeast Asia, for example, display photos of corpses in various states of decomposition. This body, too, Buddhist monks learn in the Satipatthana Sutta to say about themselves as they look at the photos, such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate.

Some monks engage in a meditation called maranasati (mindfulness of death), which consists of imagining nine states of ones own dead body:

At first, this seems strange and morbid. The objective, however, is to make death vivid in the mind of the meditator, and, through repetition, familiar. Psychologists call this process desensitization, in which repeated exposure to something repellent or frightening makes it seem ordinary, prosaic, and less scary.

Read: How happiness changes with age

Western research has tested the idea of death desensitization. In 2017, a team of researchers recruited volunteers to imagine that they were terminally ill or on death row, and then to write about the feelings they imagined they would have. The researchers then compared these thoughts with writings by those who were actually terminally ill or facing execution. The results, published in Psychological Science under the title Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive, were astounding: People imagining their deaths were three times as negative as those actually facing it. Death, it seems, is scarier when it is theoretical than when it is real.

Contemplating death can also inspire courage. There is an ancient Japanese story about a band of lawless samurai warriors notorious for terrorizing the local people. Every place they went, they brought destruction. One day they come to a Zen Buddhist monastery, intent on violence and plunder. The monks ran away in fear for their lives--all except the abbot, a man who had completely mastered the fear of his own death. He sat quietly in the lotus position as the warriors burst in. Approaching the abbot with his sword drawn, the samurai leader said, Dont you see that I am the sort of man who could run you through without batting an eye? Calmly, the master answered, Dont you see that I am a man who could be run through without batting an eye?

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The Best Way to Handle Your Decline Is to Confront It Head On - The Atlantic

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Transhumanism: Meet the cyborgs and biohackers redefining beauty – CNN

Written by Karina Tsui, CNN

Today, we can alter our bodies in previously unimaginable ways, whether that's implanting microchips, fitting advanced prosthetic limbs or even designing entirely new senses.

So-called transhumanists -- people who seek to improve their biology by enhancing their bodies with technology -- believe that our natural condition inhibits our experience of the world, and that we can transcend our current capabilities through science.

Ideas that are "technoprogressive" to some are controversial to others. But to photographer David Vintiner, they are something else altogether: beautiful.

Made in collaboration with art director and critic Gem Fletcher, the book features a variety of people who identify, to some degree, as "transhuman" -- including a man with bionic ears that sense changes in atmospheric pressure, a woman who can "feel" earthquakes taking place around the world and technicians who have developed lab-made organs.

Fletcher was first introduced to the transhumanist subculture via the London Futurist Group, an organization that explores how technology can counter future crises. Upon meeting some of its members, the London-based art director approached Vintiner with the idea of photographing them in a series of portraits.

"Our first shoot was with Andrew Vladimirov, a DIY 'brain hacker,'" Vintiner recalled in a phone interview. "Each time we photographed someone new, we asked for referrals and introductions to other key people within the movement."

Redefining human experience

One of Vintiner's subjects, James Young, turned to bionics after losing his arm and leg in an accident in 2012. Young had always been interested in biotechnology and was particularly drawn to the aesthetics of science fiction. Visualizing how his body could be "re-built," or even perform enhanced tasks with the help of the latest technology, became part of his recovery process.

But according to the 29-year-old, the options presented to him by doctors were far from exciting -- standard-issue steel bionic limbs with flesh-colored silicone sleeves.

"To see what was available was the most upsetting part," Young said in a video interview.

"What the human body can constitute, in terms of tools and technology, is such a blurry thing -- if you think about the arm, it's just a sensory piece of equipment.

"If there was anyone who would get their arm and leg chopped off, it would be me because I'm excited about technology and what it can get done."

Japanese gaming giant Konami worked with prosthetics sculptor Sophie de Oliveira Barata to design a set of bionic limbs for Young. The result was an arm and leg made from gray carbon fiber -- an aesthetic partly inspired by Konami's "Metal Gear Solid," one of the then-22-year-old's favorite video games.

Beyond the expected functions, Young's robotic arm features a USB port, a screen displaying his Twitter feed and a retractable dock containing a remote-controlled drone. The limbs are controlled by sensors that convert nerve impulses from Young's spine into physical movements.

"Advanced prosthetics enabled James to change people's perception of (his) disability," said Vintiner of Young, adding: "When you first show people the photographs, they are shocked and disconcerted by the ideas contained within. But if you dissect the ideas, they realize that they are very pragmatic."

Young says it has taken several years for people to appreciate not just the functions of advanced bionic limbs but their aesthetics, too. "Bionic and electronic limbs were deemed scary, purely because of how they looked," he said. "They coincided with the idea that 'disability is not sexy.'"

He also felt there was stigma surrounding bionics, because patients were often given flesh-colored sleeves to conceal their artificial limbs.

"Visually, we think that this is the boundary of the human body," Young said, referring to his remaining biological arm. "Opportunities for transhumanists open up because a bionic arm can't feel pain, or it can be instantly replaced if you have the money. It has different abilities to withstand heat and to not be sunburned."

As Vintiner continued shooting the portraits, he felt many of his preconceptions being challenged. The process also raised a profound question: If technology can change what it is to be human, can it also change what it means to be beautiful?

"Most of my (original) work centers around people -- their behavior, character, quirks and stories," he said. "But this project took the concept of beauty to another level."

Eye of the beholder

Science's impact over our understanding of aesthetics is, to Vintiner, one of the most fascinating aspects of transhumanism. What he discovered, however, was that many in the movement still look toward existing beauty standards as a model for "post-human" perfection.

Speaking to CNN Style in 2018, Hanson said that Sophia's form would resonate with people around the world, and that her appearance was partly inspired by real women including Hanson's wife and Audrey Hepburn, as well as statues of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

Related video: Meet Sophia, the robot who smiles and frowns just like us

But with her light hazel eyes, perfectly arched eyebrows, long eyelashes, defined cheekbones and plump lips -- Sophia's appearance arguably epitomizes that of a conventionally beautiful Caucasian woman.

"When I photographed Ben Goertzel, he vocalized how he took no time to consider how he (himself) looked -- it was of no interest to him," the photographer recalled of the photo shoot.

Vintiner saw a certain irony: that someone who was unconcerned about his own appearance would nonetheless project our preoccupation with beauty through his company's invention.

It also served as a reminder that attractiveness may be more complex than algorithms can ever fathom.

"I fear that if we can design humans without any of the 'flaws' that occur in our biological makeup, things will be pushed further and further towards a level of perfection we can only imagine right now." Vintiner said. "Look at how plastic surgery has altered our perception of beauty in a very short space of time.

"If the transhumanists are right and we, as humans, can live to be several hundreds of years old, our notion of beauty and the very meaning of what it is to be human will change dramatically."

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Humans will be able to replace their bodies within 50 years claims transhumanist writer – Express.co.uk

Transhumanists believe humans can and should use technology to artificially augment their capabilities.Natasha Vita-More is Executive Director of Humanity+, formerly the World Transhumanist Association, and is one of the co-authors of the 1998 Transhumanist Declaration.

Speaking toExpress.co.ukshe said: We certainly do need to upgrade our biology and Ive been speaking about this for 30-something years.

The fact that our biology is vulnerable. We exist on a daily basis with an incredible vulnerable vehicle, our bodies, that anything could go wrong at any time.

As far as genetic engineering goes weve seen great work done with certain diseases like Tay-Sachs and sickle-cell anemia, certain cancers, certain diseases that handicap us.

Other gene therapies are in the works and there still needs to be far more work in this area and I think most of us will be undergoing gene therapy as soon as it comes online as needed.

Say 50 years from now I think well be looking at alternative bodies and we can see that really growing in the field of prosthetics.

Transhumanists think human lifespans can be radically extended, with many believing ageing can be reversed and death from disease abolished.

Ms Vita-More argued future humans will look to backup the content of their brains as an insurance policy against death or injury.

She asserted: It is essential our memories be stored some place.

Currently our memories are stored in our brain but thats vulnerable. We have hackers all the time in our brains and those are called viruses and disease.

Disease is constantly hacking our neurons so in order to protect that we need to have copies of it, we need to back it up and you see certain industry leaders like Google looking at how to back up the brain.

I see uploading as a necessary technology for not only backing up the brain but as a means for us to go into different environments.

Were currently in this physical/material world, this biosphere, there are other worlds yet to be explored just as were looking at space exploration.

READ MORE:Oxford academic claims future humans could live for thousands of years

Another area is virtual reality, augmented reality, all these other systems even in games to go into games and participate as yourself taking on an avatar or maybe something else.

Asked about those who might object, on religious or moral grounds, to radical life extension Ms Vita-More expressed confidence their arguments would be overcome.

She commented: I think its largely religious but I think it is also innate.

I think the narrative is engrained in culturalization, it seems to be endemic across cultures.

Given that plus the largest percentage of people on our planet are religious that puts a damper on it too. However it doesnt prevent it.

It could be interesting if we see religious doctrines changing a little bit to include life extension and changing as weve seen with divorce.

If you believe an afterlife it doesnt have to happen at exactly a certain time. Maybe instead of 90 as a lifespan maybe 300 if you want to go that route.

So well see a realisation that religions have to keep up with the state of society and their members within that.

Ms Vita-More is also an advisor to the Singularity University and co-editor and contributing author to The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future.

Asked what most excites her about the future she replied: I would like to totally reengineer my body, its not available yet but Id like to have a whole new body thats smoothly integrated not only with narrow artificial intelligence (AI) but with artificial general intelligence and Id like to have a metabrain where Id have AI working with me like a best friend or cohort.

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Humans will be able to replace their bodies within 50 years claims transhumanist writer - Express.co.uk

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Heres everything coming to HBO Max in June 2020 – MarketWatch

HBO Max, the new streaming service from AT&T T, +0.36% , is launching May 27, but really takes off in June, with a slew of movies and series some original, others coming over from WarnerMedias many cable channels.

Among the highlights: The long-awaited third season of the millennial comedy/thriller Search Party (June 25); the HBO limited series Perry Mason (June 21), a noirish prequel to the iconic TV lawyer starring Matthew Rhys of The Americans; the HBO true-crime docuseries Ill Be Gone in the Dark (June 28); and all 23 seasons of South Park (June 24).

Theres also a bunch of kid-friendly options such as Adventure Time Distant Lands: BMO (June 25) and new cartoons from Looney Tunes and Popeye (both June 16) and movies, including The Iron Giant, Titanic (both June 1), Ad Astra (June 6), First Man (June 17) and Ford v. Ferrari (June 20).

Also see: What coming in June to Netflix | Hulu

Thats all in addition to the launch-day offerings, which include every season of Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and six originals: Love Life,a romantic-comedy anthology series starring Anna Kendrick; the controversial Russell Simmons documentaryOn the Record; Legendary,a voguing competition series; the kids competition show Craftopia; and new offerings from Looney Tunes and Sesame Streets Elmo.

HBO Max costs $14.99 a month the same as HBO Now or an HBO cable subscription but if you sign up before May 27 you can get a years subscription for $11.99 a month.

June 1

4th & Forever: Muck City, Season 1

Adventures In Babysitting, 1987 (HBO)

Amelie, 2001 (HBO)

An American Werewolf in London, 1981 (HBO)

The American, 2010 (HBO)

Another Cinderella Story, 2008

Beautiful Girls, 1996 (HBO)

Black Beauty, 1994

Bridget Joness Baby, 2016

The Bucket List, 2007

Cabaret, 1972

The Champ, 1979

Chicago, 2002

A Cinderella Story, 2004

A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song, 2011

Clash Of The Titans, 2010

Cradle 2 the Grave, 2003

Crash, 2005 (Directors Cut) (HBO)

Doubt, 2008 (HBO)

Dreaming Of Joseph Lees, 1999 (HBO)

Drop Dead Gorgeous, 1999

Dune, 1984 (HBO)

Elf, 2003

Enter The Dragon, 1973

Far and Away, 1992 (HBO)

Final Destination, 2000

Final Destination 2, 2003

Final Destination 3, 2006

The Final Destination, 2009

Firewall, 2006

Flipped, 2010

Forces of Nature, 1999 (HBO)

The Fountain, 2006 (HBO)

Frantic, 1988

From Dusk Til Dawn, 1996

Full Metal Jacket, 1987

Gente De Zona: En Letra De Otro, 2018 (HBO)

The Good Son, 1993 (HBO)

The Goonies, 1985

Hanna, 2011 (HBO)

Havana, 1990 (HBO)

He Got Game, 1998 (HBO)

Heaven Can Wait, 1978

Heidi, 2006

Hello Again, 1987 (HBO)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2012

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 2013

The Hunger, 1983

In Her Shoes, 2005 (HBO)

In Like Flint, 1967 (HBO)

The Iron Giant, 1999

It Takes Two, 1995

Juice, 1992

The Last Mimzy, 2007

License To Wed, 2007

Life, 1999 (HBO)

Lifeforce, 1985 (HBO)

Lights Out, 2016 (HBO)

Like Water For Chocolate, 1993 (HBO)

Looney Tunes: Back in Action, 2003

The Losers, 2010

Love Jones, 1997

Lucy, 2020 (HBO)

Magic Mike, 2012

McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 1971

Misery, 1990

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, 2008 (HBO)

A Monster Calls, 2016 (HBO)

Mr. Wonderful, 1993 (HBO)

Must Love Dogs, 2005

My Dog Skip, 2000

Mystic River, 2003

The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter, 1991

The Neverending Story, 1984

New York Minute, 2004

Nights In Rodanthe, 2008

No Reservations, 2007

Ordinary People, 1980

Our Man Flint, 1966 (HBO)

The Parallax View, 1974

Patch Adams, 1998 (HBO)

A Perfect World, 1993

Pedro Capo: En Letra Otro, 2017 (HBO)

Personal Best, 1982

Presumed Innocent, 1990

Ray, 2004 (HBO)

Richie Rich (Movie), 1994

Rosewood, 1997

Rugrats Go Wild, 2003

Running on Empty, 1988

Secondhand Lions, 2003

Shes The Man, 2006 (HBO)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, 2011 (HBO)

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Heres everything coming to HBO Max in June 2020 - MarketWatch

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Mutual aid, global solidarity and techno-fixes – The Ecologist

The success of mutual aid groups across the UK is the unexpected plus of the Covid-19 pandemic. These community-led groupstake a secular approach to helping their neighbourhoodswithout profit in mind, and are united by a belief thatsocial exclusion increases individual and community vulnerability.

As the UK negotiates its path outside the EU, we are all faced with a collective challenge. Can we build on these community-led initiatives andwidespread feelings of solidarity among popular movements across the world to bring about a different future? Or do we passively take a blind path into the deeper embrace of trans-national corporations who are ready to impose their untested technical solutions, backed by a government more than willing to hand over control?

It is not just the top-down nature of these digital-eratechno-fixes that is causing widespread fear. There is also a high risk thatthisFourth Industrial Revolution(4IR)would draw us into a de-humanising spiral of short-term profiteering, surveillance and control that will sink the climate and our food system.

Technology

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is already selling his 4IR dream offarmers replaced by drones, mini robots and extreme forms of genetic engineering.

Though the virus has taught policymakers across the globe the value of using aprinciple of precautionin one context of future public policy, the 4IR fan club which includes the influentialWorld Economics Forum- doesnt appear to understand that their techy-AI vision must also be subject to similar safeguards.

The disruptors motto to move fast and break things is the polar opposite of precaution. A precautionary approach to 4IR wouldnt stop people having clever ideas for fixing things, but it would force potentially risky research to open itself to public scrutiny - allowing time to assess potential harms as well as benefits.

Capitalist systems have taken resources from the poor to allow accumulation of new wealth by elites, despite this leading to simultaneoushuman and ecological disastersfrom asbestos, lead, benzene, pesticides, ozone-depleting chemicals, factory trawler fishing and GM crops.

The twenty-first century scientisms core myth, that of the selfish gene, guides many of those who back 4IR. Their save-the-world mantra tends to a kind of neoliberaltranshumanist fantasy- that humans are automatons controlled by our genetically-encoded competitive desire for individual gain. This will see many of us replaced by robots in the service of corporate profit.

Symbiosis

Happily, 4IRs normalisationof selfish individualism appears to be contradicted by the spectacularblossoming of mutual aid across the world since the pandemic began. In the UK, 4,000 localgroupswere created by the grassroots within a couple of weeks of the 23 March lockdown.

Despite its core position in capitalist economic theory, the basis for the claim that competition is the main driving force in the living world has always been suspect. It has bizarrely become a myth that we live by, to quote philosopherMary Midgley.

Now an increasing number of ecological researchers are concluding that living systems are founded on their interconnections and mutual dependency.

It started with the youngBeatrix Potter, a pioneer Victorian scientist before she became a celebrated storyteller. She was among the first to notice that lichens -those curious encrustations living on tree trunks, seashores, and walls -are made up of not one but two organisms in intimate alliance. A century later,Lynn Margulis, a celebrated biologist, referred to this relationship as symbiosis, literally living together.

Most plants receive essential nutrients via their underground microbial symbionts, to which they supply sugars in return. Plant-eating animals can only digest the tough cellulose in their diet because of symbiotic bacteria in their gut. A co-originator of the Gaia Hypothesis with James Lovelock, Margulis devoted most of her lifeto showing that the very plants and animals that make our parks, gardens and rural landscapes, the food we eat, even the evolution of eukaryotic cells, of which all non-bacterial life on Earth is composed, all depend onsymbiotic associations.

Interdependence

In the same way, the emergence of human civilisation was profoundly shaped by mutual childcare and the sharing of food. Really it should come as no surprise that the UKs thousands of Covid-19 Mutual Aid groups should function well. Competition may be one feature of our existence, but so too is interdependence.

After so many weeks of clapping key workers, will westill accept a society in which nurses and carers are paid a minute fraction of the salary of a hedge fund manager?

What about the other jobs without which society cant survive, but are often rewarded with a minimum wage farm labourers, rubbish collectors, public transport and nursery workers, not to mention the countless unpaid and largely invisible care-givers almost all of them women?

The current surge of mutual aid is already strengtheningthe hand of civil society alliances arguing for a global reset of capitalism .The world cannot claim mutualist values while also continuing an economic system that values some people in the world so much more than others.

Accountability

What hope is there for our post-Covid survival if we continue with the economics of consumer capitalism - encouraging us to measure our freedom by the amount of stuff we buy that we really dont need? Or by allowing our corporate-government complex to gather digital data, compute and monetise every action we take inside and outside our homes, everything we say, where we go, who we meet, what crops we plant, what food we eat?

Rather than accept a fourth industrial revolution that is not only immoral, but surely a collective death sentence for much of humanity, Covid-19 gives us the opportunity to pause and collectively envision how the UK could move to a future based on the values of mutual aid.

This Mutualist New Deal would be guided by precaution and democratic accountability, without an unquestioning rush to adopt new technologies, particularly those owned and controlled by corporations or nation states which give scant attention to people.

This Author

Dr Tom Wakeford is a senior researcher atETC Groupand Honorary Associate Professor at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, University of Exeter.

Image: Ilona Pimbert, from an original drawing by Christie Lyons.

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Mutual aid, global solidarity and techno-fixes - The Ecologist

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Introducing When the Sparrow Falls, the Debut Novel From Neil Sharpson – tor.com

Will Hinton, executive editor at Tor Books, has acquired North American rights to two books by debut novelist Neil Sharpson, from his agent Jennie Goloboy at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. The first book, When the Sparrow Falls, is scheduled for publication in spring 2021.

Part thriller, part literary science fiction, When the Sparrow Falls is an exploration of the coming AI revolution, transhumanism, totalitarianism, loss, and the problem of evil.

In the future, AI are everywhere. They are our employers, our employees, our friends, lovers and even our children. Over half the human race now lives online.

But in the Caspian Republic, the last true human beings have made their stand, and their repressive, one-party state is locked in perpetual cold war with the outside world.

The republic is thrown into chaos when the virulently anti-AI journalist Paulo Xirau is found dead in a bar. At his autopsy, the unthinkable is discovered: Xirau was AI.

Security Agent Nikolai South is given a seemingly mundane task; escorting Xiraus widow while she visits the Caspian Republic to identify her husbands remains. He is stunned to discover that the beautiful, reserved, Lily Xirau bears an unearthly resemblance to his wife, who has been dead for thirty years.

As Nikolai and Lily delve deeper into the circumstances surrounding Paulos death, trying desperately to avoid the attentions of the murderous Bureau of Party Security, a tentative friendship between the two begins to blossom. But when they discover Xiraus last secret South must choose between his loyalty to his country and his conscience.

Neil Sharpson said:

Ive been living in the Caspian Republic (whether as a play, screenplay or novel) for around nine years now and its almost impossible to believe that the journey is finally at an end. Its a story about one man trying to survive in a brutal regime who is given one final chance to make amends to the woman he let down. Im incredibly grateful to Will Hinton and the team at Tor for choosing this book, and to Jennie Goloboy, the best agent any writer could ask for. And most of all to my wife Aoife, who never doubted for a second, even when I did. And while its certainly not a place Id recommend moving to, I sincerely hope people enjoy their time in the Caspian Republic.

Will Hinton added:

It is a rare and joyous occasion to discover a debut novel brimming with this much talent, insight, poise and heart. The voice of Nikolai South is indelible and the world he brings us into is unforgettable, part Le Carr, part Philip K. Dick, and many layers besides. Sharpson asks questions, and gives a few answers, about what is gained and what is lost in the way we live in the 21st century that will keep me thinking for a long time. I cant wait for you to read it!

When the Sparrow Falls is scheduled for publication in spring 2021 by Tor in the US and by Rebellion in the UK.

Neil Sharpson lives in Dublin with his wife and their two children. Having written for theatre since his teens, Neil transitioned to writing novels in 2017, adapting his own play The Caspian Sea into When the Sparrow Falls.

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Introducing When the Sparrow Falls, the Debut Novel From Neil Sharpson - tor.com

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