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Posts Tagged ‘humanity’

Artificial wombs by Dick Pelletier

In civilisation, medicine, nature, research, science on March 12, 2013 at 15:38

From: Artificial wombs: is a sexless reproduction society in our future? by  Dick Pelletier, IEET, http://ieet.org

Although naysayers believe that this bold science makes us less human, most experts predict that artificial wombs will one day be accepted by mainstream society as more people recognize its many benefits. Babies would no longer be exposed to alcohol or illegal drugs by careless mothers, and the correct body temperature would always be maintained, with 100% of necessary nutrients provided.

Concerns over losing emotional bond between mother and newborn are unwarranted, say scientists. Artificial intelligence advances expected over the next two decades will enable doctors to reproduce exact parent emotions and personalities via vocal recordings, movement, and other sensations. The developing infant would be maintained in a safe secure environment, connected electronically to the mother 24/7.

In the near term though, experts predict most women will probably gestate their children the old-fashioned way; but career-minded females might welcome a concept that allows them to bear children and raise a family without becoming pregnant, a physical condition that often weakens their job status.

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Reposted with permission from: IEET

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Echoes of the Phenomenon by Ben de Bruyn

In civilisation, ecology, interview, nature, philosophy, theory on January 29, 2013 at 18:18

From: Echoes of the Phenomenon – A Conversation with Robert Pogue Harrison by Ben de Bruyn, Image & Narrative, http://www.imageandnarrative.be

What if forests are not simply natural but also cultural sites? If deforestation is not only depleting our oxygen supply but also our cultural memory? And what if living human beings are always already dead, being fundamentally connected to the afterlives of their predecessors and of their offspring? What if our expulsion from the Garden of Eden was not a curse, but a blessing? If paradise was not – andcan never be – paradise? These are just some of the fascinating questions Robert Pogue Harrison has raised in his seminal studies on Forests, The Dominion of the Dead, and Gardens. As I have tried to show in my essay on Harrison‟s work in the previous issue of Image & Narrative, these studies have established the Stanford professor as an important critic with regard to topics such as ecology, memory, and humanity. His oeuvre lends a voice to the cultural echoes of phenomena, the things in the world. But how did this oeuvre about the earth and its dead, about natural and cultural conservation first emerge? And what is the relationship between these three studies which, as Harrison suggests, actually constitute a trilogy? How does he position himself vis-à-vis issues as diverse as Deconstruction and ecocriticism, humanism and existentialism, modernity and Christianity? What is the nature and value of literature, to his mind? And what, finally, does the future hold in store for him? These are just some of the questions that will be addressed in the present interview with Robert Pogue Harrison.

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Reposted with permission from: Image & Narrative

Authority and Agency in Stoicism G. Reydams-Schils

In Europe, philosophy, society on November 11, 2012 at 20:15

From: Authority and Agency in Stoicism G. Reydams-Schils, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, http://grbs.library.duke.edu

Seneca mentions a famous statement of Panaetius, who, when he was asked by a young man whether a sage would fall in love, responded: “As to the wise man, we shall see. What concerns you and me, who are still a great distance from the wise man, is to ensure that we do not fall into a state of affairs which is disturbed, powerless, subservient to another and worthless to oneself.”1 Seneca may have had good philosophical reasons for being attracted to this modest selfrepresentation of a Stoic teacher, as a co-learner with others, and one who in his own right is still removed from the ideal he professes. In other words, it may not be a coincidence that precisely Seneca recorded this anecdote.

Why would this kind of humility claim, in which the speaker deliberately puts himself on the same level as the interlocutor, be anything more than a common rhetorical trope and pedagogical device, at best (and false humility, at worst)?3 Later Stoic accounts of the first two centuries A.D. provide a
particularly illuminating answer to this question by consistently establishing a connection between a certain view of teaching authority and individual agency.

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Reposted with permission from: Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies

The Brave New Battlefield by Shane Harris

In government, history, nature, North America, politics, science, science fiction, society, technology, war on October 3, 2012 at 06:42

From: The Brave New Battlefield by Shane Harris, Defining Ideas, A Hoover Institution Journal, http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas

While there is a tremendous amount of money and thought going towards the construction of new drones, comparatively less attention is being paid to managing the consequences of autonomous warfare. The proliferation of drones raises profound questions of morality, hints at the possibility of a new arms race, and may even imperil the survival of the human species. Many of the most important policy judgments about how to adapt the machines to a human world are being based on the assumption that a drone-filled future is not just desirable, but inevitable.

This dilemma is not restricted to the battlefield. Civilian society will eventually be deposited in this automated future, and by the time we’ve arrived, we probably won’t understand how we got there, and how the machines gained so much influence over our lives.

In any case, it is not an overstatement to say that the people building and flying these unmanned machines are wrestling now with the very fundamentals of what it means to be human. And while senior military officials and policymakers swear up and down that humans will always have at least a foot in the loop, and that the military would never deploy robots that can select and attack targets on their own, the evidence suggests otherwise.

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Reposted with permission from: Defining Ideas, A Hoover Institution Journal

Anaïs Nin on Paris vs. New York, 1939 by Maria Popova

In art, books, community, culture, Europe, immigration, North America, psychology, society, writers on October 1, 2012 at 02:00

From: Anaïs Nin on Paris vs. New York, 1939 by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, http://www.brainpickings.org

From The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 3: 1939-1944 (public library) comes this poignant, articulate description of what Nin experienced as the difference between Parisians and New Yorkers — something recently explored in much lighter, more tongue-in-cheek terms — penned in the winter of 1939:

In Paris, when entering a room, everyone pays attention, seeks to make you feel welcome, to enter into conversation, is curious, responsive. Here it seems everyone is pretending not to see, hear, or look too intently. The faces reveal no interest, no responsiveness.

Overtones are missing. Relationships seem impersonal and everyone conceals his secret life, whereas in Paris it was the exciting substance of our talks, intimate revelations and sharing of experience.

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Reposted with permission from: Maria Popova

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