Future Humans and the Price of Progress

Future Humans and the Price of Progress

A Long Now Boston Conversation with James Hughes (IEET) and Nir Eiskovits (UMAEC).

November 4, 02019, at CIC, 1 Broadway, Cambridge MA
Doors open @ 6pm — Come early and meet other Long Now thinkers
Presentations start @ 7pm

See the post-event Summary: How Humans and Technology Co-Evolve

Humans invent technology to shape the world — but technology also reshapes humans.  What will future humans be like?

Recently, alarms have begun to sound about the impact of excessive screen time, the ethics of AI and the negative effects of social media  on culture and politics. These technologies have increased communication and inspired social change – but they are also changing the human beings they are intended to serve, in unanticipated and potentially harmful ways.  Nir Eiskovits (AEC UMass Boston), will discuss these impacts and how they could play out in the decades and centuries ahead.

At the same time, technologies are changing humans from the inside.   The outsourcing of our short-term memory to smart phones is just the tip of the iceberg.  We are moving into an era when human perception, reproduction, genetics, and even physiology and brain function, will be fundamentally enabled by engineering and biological technologies.  James Hughes (IEET) will discuss the prospects for engineered super-humans, and the many ethical issues that will be raised.

Join Nir, James, and other Long Now thinkers as we explore some of these questions:

  • What will humans be like in 100 or 1,000 years? What does it even mean to be human? 
  • Is humanity defined by physiology?  By mental cognition? By emotional and moral capacity?  
  • Will the post-human transition be a gradual process, or will a race of super-humans leap forward, leaving the bulk of humanity behind?  
  • As we embrace new technology to become “better, stronger, smarter, healthier and more long-lived”, what do we give up?  

Join the conversation and be part of the solution.
$15 in advance // $20 at the door. Students w/ID admitted free.
Audience participation is encouraged.
If Eventbrite tickets sell out, seating for walk-ups will unlikely be available due to room size.

About the speakers:

James Hughes Ph.D. is a bioethicist and sociologist, and the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), which he co-founded with philosopher Nick Bostrom in 2004.  James also serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he also taught bioethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. He is the author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future, and from 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio.

Nir Eiskovits is an associate professor of philosophy and founding director of the Applied Ethics Center at UMass Boston, and has recently been working on the impact of AI of our everyday experiences. He was an associate professor of legal and political philosophy at Suffolk University and co-founded  the Graduate Program in Ethics and Public Policy. Nir is author of A Theory of Truces (Palgrave MacMillan) and Sympathizing with the Enemy  (Brill), and the guest editor the recent issue of Theoria on The Idea of Peace in the Age of Asymmetrical Warfare.   In addition to his scholarly work, he advises several NGOs focused on conflict resolution and comments frequently on the Middle East conflict for American newspapers and magazines. 

We’re proud and excited to welcome James and Nir to the Long Now Boston community.

Cambridge Innovation Center is an in-kind sponsor of this Long Now Boston conversation. We are very grateful for their support.

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