.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.


The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

James Pinkerton on "Malcolm X-Men"

James Pinkerton has his own take on the recent film X: The Last Stand, and what it foreshadows in terms of the biological enhancement of human beings in the real world:

If this movie brings in all the money that I suspect it will, there will be more "X"s in the future. And while the filmmakers will be well advised to stay close to their fan base among special-effects-crazed kids, the storyline has continuing potential among older audiences, too.

How so? Forty years ago, the notion of mutations among humans was mere speculation, confined to sci-fi. But today, human speciation, driven by rapid advances in biotech -- bionics, gene therapy, stem cell -- is a clear and present danger. Or is it an opportunity?

So speciation and mutation; our friends or our foes? Scribblers will be seeking to answer such questions in wonky publications such as this for a long time to come. But filmmakers will be offering their own answer, too -- for a lot more money.

Not that I'm jealous or anything.

Personally, I'm just happy this particular discussion is seeping more and more into the public consciousness. Not every film is going to be as serious or as focused as Gattacca, but having these ideas surface in more and more blockbuster films certainly doesn't hurt the public debate. By enabling us to have a public debate, for example, instead of keeping it behind closed doors in the hands of various special interest groups.

I'd say more, but I have to get back to the smoke-filled room. (The socio-economic one, that is, not the political one. Come on in, there's plenty of room.) =)

Bio, Soc
Future Imperative

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Times on "Intelligent Beings in Space!"

The New York Times reports on how space probes are being designed with increasing levels of mental autonomy. The Times notes:
Until recently, interplanetary robotic explorers have largely been marionettes of mission controllers back on Earth. The controllers sent instructions, and the spacecraft diligently executed them.

But as missions go farther and become more ambitious, long-distance puppetry becomes less and less practical. If dumb spacecraft will not work, the answer is to make them smarter. Artificial intelligence will increasingly give spacecraft the ability to think for themselves.

"These technologies are already in operation on specific missions," said Steve Chien, a computer scientist who heads the artificial intelligence group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Scientists discussed some of the recent progress last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Baltimore.

Clearly, this is yet another demand on computational flexibility and resources apt to drive us towards more advanced AI technology. But we may still be looking at a near future in which our artificial intelligence needs are being met by piecemeal advances which more-than-adequately meet our practical needs, while failing to create the kind of transcendant AI (or rapidly evolving seed AI) many researchers and enthusiasts are looking for.

But it remains an interesting field to track. Especially when that track leads into deep space.

Future Imperative