Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) was founded in 2004 by philosopher Nick Bostrom and bioethicist James Hughes. Incorporated in the United States as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the IEET is a self-described "technoprogressive think tank" that seeks to contribute to understanding of the likely impact of emerging technologies on individuals and societies by "promoting and publicizing the work of thinkers who examine the social implications of scientific and technological advance". A number of such thinkers are offered honorary positions as IEET Fellows. The institute also aims to influence the development of public policies that distribute the benefits and reduce the risks of technological change.[1]

The IEET works with Humanity Plus (previously known as the World Transhumanist Association), an international non-governmental organization with a similar mission but with an activist rather than academic approach. Humanity Plus was also founded and chaired by Bostrom, and Hughes was formerly its executive director. However, the founders of the IEET argue that it is not a transhumanist organization. Individuals who have accepted appointments as Fellows with the IEET support the institute's mission, but they have expressed a wide range of views about emerging technologies and not all identify themselves as transhumanists.[1]

In late May 2006, the IEET held the Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights conference at the Stanford University Law School in Stanford, California.[2]

In early Oct 2012, Kris Notaro became the Managing Director of the IEET.

The IEET along with other progressive organizations hosted a conference in Dec 2013 at Yale University on giving various species "personhood" rights.

Programs[edit]

In 2006, the IEET launched the following activities:[3]

  1. Securing the Future: Identification and advocacy for global solutions to threats to the future of civilization.
  2. Rights of the Person: Campaign to deepen and broaden the concept of human rights.
  3. Longer, Better Lives: Case for longer healthier lives, addressing objections to life extension, challenge ageist and ableist attitudes that discourage the full utilization of health technology.
  4. Envisioning the Future: Collection of images of posthumanity and non-human intelligence, positive, negative and neutral, e.g., in science fiction and popular culture; engagement with cultural critics, artists, writers, and filmmakers in exploring the lessons to be derived from these.

Journal of Evolution and Technology[edit]

The Journal of Evolution and Technology is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. It covers futurological research into long-term developments in science, technology, and philosophy.

The journal was established in 1998 as the Journal of Transhumanism and obtained its current title in 2004. The editor-in-chief is Russell Blackford.

Reactions[edit]

The origins and activities of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies have elicited various reactions:

That's the curious thing about the folks at the Stanford conference. Some were from the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, an offshoot of the World Transhumanist Association, which advocates the transformation of our species through drugs, "genetic engineering, information technology ... nanotechnology, machine intelligence, uploading, and space colonization." [...] These are weird people with weird ideas. But sometimes it takes a weirdo to see what's odd about what the rest of us call normal. [...] Maybe the cockeyed thinking of transhumanists is what allows them to see the illogic of the way we dope kids with caffeine while banning other stimulants. Maybe that's why they find it odd that we denounce steroids as cheating but ignore athletes who get Lasik or muscle-enhancing surgery. Maybe that's why they look back at the doubling of human life expectancy in the last century and wonder why we shouldn't try to double it again. To our hunter-gatherer ancestors, they figure, we already look posthuman. Meanwhile, they look at cyborg technology and see in it what's human.

Slate.com national correspondent William Saletan, [4]

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies has become in my view, and possibly always was, a stealthy organization seeking to help legitimize the institutional positions and media reputations of key members of the World Transhumanist Organization, the better to increase membership and funding for that and other transhumanists organizations, as well as to mainstream the specific assertions of belief shared by those who identify as "transhumanists" in particular, under cover of a more serious discourse about emerging technoscientific change more generally. There is nothing wrong with such an agenda (even if I don't personally agree with it), although it seems to me that for the same reasons that the WTA website is not likely to achieve, in its explicit transhumanist form, either mainstream or academic respectability any time soon, neither would IEET were its apparently insistent connection to the WTA better known.

— Former IEET Human Rights Fellow Dale Carrico, [5]

References[edit]

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