Is the internet worth it?

Economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson argues that the internet is not worth it.  Yes, it’s nice to get e-mail, watch YouTube, and have access to all this information.  But, he maintains, the internet has made our infrastructure more fragile and our dependence on the internet opens us up to new levels of crime, sabotage, privacy violations, and social problems. [Read more...]

Heather has three biological parents

Great Britain has approved a in-vitro-fertilization technique that conceives babies using genetic material from three different parents.  (If I’m sorting it out correctly, it will take one father and two different mothers, with the destruction of one embryo being used for spare parts.) [Read more...]

Obama is pro-fracking

Evidently, President Obama is not in complete thrall to environmentalists.  He has said that he supports “fracking,” the technique of pumping in liquid to fracture geological formations that is unlocking vast quantities of natural gas. [Read more...]

Meeting online yields happier marriages

Who says the new information technology is messing up human life?  A new study has found that couples who first met online have happier marriages and fewer divorces than those who first met in the real world. [Read more...]

Non-biological bodies & digital immortality

The director of engineering at Google, Ray Kurzweil–who has written a couple of books on these subjects– told a conference that in about 30 years, we will be able to download our minds into the internet to achieve “digital immortality.”  We will also be able to dispense with our physical bodies in favor of “non-biological bodies.”

Think of these goals as the promises of a new religion for our day.  Note the gnosticism, that ancient but always recurring heresy that denigrates the body and the material creation.  No families would be needed, since there would be no need for reproduction.  This would seem to herald the end of sex, though perhaps it would simply be the next step in internet pornography replacing sex.  (Though what would be the locus of desire without bodies?)  Getting rid of biological bodies, of course, would mean killing them, so this opens the door to mass murders, but that would be all right since people’s “minds”–which is the only part that counts–would be downloaded into Google’s servers.  Not much privacy there, but we could access everyone else’s minds, which would be the new version of human relationships, replacing such retro concepts as love and community.

What else?  (After the jump, details from Kurzweil’s sermon to the futurist conference.) [Read more...]

Defending the Surveillance programs

Most of the discussion on this blog about the government’s program to monitor phone calls and the internet has been against it.  But some pundits, politicians, and security experts are defending the surveillance.

After the jump, I have excerpts from two journalists who defend the programs.  The conservative Charles Lane argues that, despite Rand Paul’s plans to file a lawsuit against the surveillance programs, they are, in fact, constitutional and legal.  The liberal Richard Cohen argues that the surveillance isn’t all that bad.  Safeguards are built in, and, besides, we have already given up our privacy every time we log onto Google and other online sites.

Do these arguments change your mind?  If not, how would you answer them?

[Read more...]


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