human evolution

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Kurzweil's Transcendent Man

We haven’t had an opportunity to screen Ray Kurzweil‘s the film, Transcendent Man, yet, but The Futurist magazine published a preview:

Scene: A movie theater on the west side of Manhattan during the Tribeca Film Festival. The audience teems with hip New York film students eager to see the world premiere of a new documentary. They’re joined, unexpectedly, by computer scientists, geneticists, and futurists from Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. The lights dim. After a brief opening, inventor Ray Kurzweil appears on the screen, looks squarely into the camera, and says, “I’m never going to die.”

So began the world premiere of Barry Ptolemy’s Transcendent Man, a feature-length film that chronicles Kurzweil’s ideas on the future of technological innovation. Chief among his forecasts: In the next 30 years, humans will use genomics, nanotechnology, and even artificial intelligence to escape death.

The film is in limited release and we will post more about the film and its implications for education as soon as we have an opportunity to view it. In the meantime, Read more at The Futurist or visit the film’s website.

MIT Media Lab H2.0 webcasts online

Archived webcasts from the MIT Media Lab H2.0 symposium are available online. Under a theme of “new minds, new bodies, new identities,” the one-day event explored, “how today’s—and tomorrow’s—advances will seamlessly interact with humans, giving us a glimpse into a future where all humans will integrate with technology to heighten our cognition, emotional acuity, perception, and physical capabilities.”

Discussions from the morning session include:

  • Deb Roy, “Memory Augmentation: Extending our Sense of Self”
  • Rosalind W. Picard, “Technology-Sense and People-Sensibility”
  • Cynthia Breazeal, “The Next Best Thing to Being There. Increasing the Emotional Bandwidth of Mediated Communication Using Robotic Avatars”
  • Douglas H. Smith, “The Brain is the Client: Designing a Back Door into the Nervous System”
  • John Donoghue, “New Successes in Direct Brain/Neural Interface Design”

…and from the afternoon:

  • Hugh Herr, “New Horizons in Orthotics and Prosthetics: Merging Bodies and Machines”
  • Tod Machover, “Enabling Expression: Music as Ultimate Human Interface”

LA Times: Smart drugs, smart minds

Article link: Sharper minds

The LA Times is running an article today on new drugs that will change the way we think. By extension, the Times speculates, they may change who we are. Largely funded by the U.S. military, new drugs are being developed to dramatically increase mental acuity. Among the military’s goals: a drug that will enable soldiers to remain active and alert an entire week.

In regard to the impact in schools, “some students think they have no choice [but to take mind enhancing drugs]. ‘You figure you’re being compared to people who are on Ritalin,’ said one Los Angeles student who frequents [an Internet chat site] and recently asked a relative to supply the drug. ‘I just figured it would be more fair if you’re on the same level.’