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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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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Freud versus Jung: a bitter feud over the meaning of sex

How mutual admiration was torn asunder by the sex drive: Freud, Jung and the schism at the heart of psychoanalysis.

On 27 February 1907, at Berggasse 19 in Vienna, Sigmund Freud fell in love. The object of his affection was Carl Gustav Jung: 19 years younger than Freud, the young psychiatrist was already the clinical director of the prestigious Burghölzli Hospital and a professor at the University of Zurich. Jung had gained international recognition for his invention of the word-association test, and his practice was renowned for its gentle incisiveness. But when Jung read Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), he was startled by Freud's theory, and decided to go to talk with the man himself. And talk they did: for 13 hours, they plumbed the depths of the unconscious, the methods of psychoanalysis, and the analysis of dreams.

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Humans take psychedelics. Should robots?

Psychedelics are crude drugs. Could neuroscience and super-intelligent AI help us design something better?

  • The illegal status of psychedelic substances is a terrible thing, says Ben Goertzel. With everything happening behind closed doors, our societies are not developing the right set of cultural institutions to guide people in the productive use of psychedelics.
  • Once scientists have mastered artificial general intelligence (AGI), the psychedelic experience could be engineered for the modern world – it would be safer, less haphazard, and more meaningful. We would "trip" by jacking our brains into the superhuman AGI mind cloud.
  • "We're going to be exploring states of consciousness that go way beyond anything we can imagine now and way beyond anything that the very crude psychedelic drugs that exist allow us access to," Goertzel says.
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10 atheist quotes that will make you question religion

From psychology to neuroscience, what we believe is not nearly as relevant as why we do.

Photo: Daniel Hjalmarsson / Unsplash
  • Belief systems arise to address the time and social conditions of each era and culture.
  • Your relationship to your community and environment is very influential in what you believe.
  • Neuroscience explains many of the questions as to why we believe in the first place.
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