Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
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Photo credit: Ian Waldie / Getty Images
  • The coalition argues that government agencies might abuse facial recognition technology.
  • Google and Microsoft have expressed concern about the potential problems of facial recognition technology.
  • Meanwhile, Amazon has been actively marketing the technology to law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
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When should we stop trying to save the patient and focus on saving the organs?

A definition of death is surprisingly malleable, leading to complications when it comes to organ donation.

A doctor performing a kidney transplant. (Photo by: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)
  • The latest Hastings Center Report is dedicated to the question of defining death.
  • Definitions of death are not only biological, but cultural, leading to important questions about organ donation.
  • The brain can continue to be electrically active for five minutes after cardiac death—valuable time for patients in need of transplants.
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How to be a good parent to artificial intelligence

Human values evolve. So how will we raise virtuous A.I.s?

  • Until we can design a mind that's superhuman and flawless, we'll have to settle for instilling plain old human values into artificial intelligence. But how to do this in a world where values are constantly evolving?
  • Many of our life choices today would be considered immoral by people in the Middle Ages — or even the 1970s, says Ben Goertzel, whose family personally experienced the sad state of LGBTQ acceptance in Southern New Jersey 50 years ago.
  • Raising an A.I. is a lot like raising kids, says Goertzel. Kids don't learn best from a list of rules, but from lived experience – watching and imitating their parents. A.I.s and humans will have to play and learn side by side, and evolve together as values adapt toward an increasingly technological future.
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​How AI is learning to convert brain signals into speech

The first steps toward developing tools that could help disabled people regain the power to speak.

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  • The technique involves training neural networks to associate patterns of brain activity with human speech.
  • Several research teams have managed to get neural networks to "speak" intelligible words.
  • Although similar technology might someday help disabled people regain the power to speak, decoding imagined speech is still far off.
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