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...]

Should you be able to buy a car online?

It’s illegal to buy a car direct from the factory or over the internet.  You have to go through a local dealer.  The electric car company Tesla is trying to change that.  But state and local governments are resisting.  That, arguably, goes against the free market and against the trends of the new technology.  But do we really want online commerce to kill off small businesses that are the backbone of many small town economies? [Read more...]

The morning after abortion pill, over-the-counter

The “morning after” pill, designed to induce abortion immediately after sex, will now be available without a prescription to any female 15 and over.  This, my friends, is bigger than Roe v. Wade. [Read more...]

New system for our “comments”

Patheos, which hosts this blog, is going to be making some major upgrades, including moving to a higher-end server, that should decrease load times, eliminate spam, prevent a host of problems, and make possible new features.  One new feature that will be added before moving to the new server is the Disqus system for comments.

Comments will stream as they are made.  You can go back and forth to and from different discussions.  You can follow different commenters whose thoughts especially interest you.  If I’m understanding it aright, you can follow and take part in related discussions that bridge different blogs.  Here is a description of the few features, some of which I don’t fully understand:  For Websites – DISQUS. [Read more...]

The next step in internet TV

As a follow-up to our ZeroTV discussion, I present to your information about Aereo, a website that will stream live television broadcasts that it picks up over the free airwaves.  Broadcasters and Cable moguls alike are trying to stop this venture in the courts, but so far to no avail.

I have questions for both sides of the controversy:  (1) How are broadcasters harmed if a website shows their over-the-air programming as opposed to that programming being shown on a television set? (2)  What is the advantage of watching live broadcasts on a computer screen as opposed to watching it over a television screen?  (3) Television stations are howling that their content is being “stolen.”  But how can it be stolen if the stations are giving it away for free? (4)  Why would viewers pay $10 per month for Aereo when they can get the same programming on a bigger screen for free?  [Read more...]


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