Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Founder(s) Nick Bostrom and James Hughes
Established 2004[1]
Mission To promote ideas on how technology can be used to "increase freedom, happiness, and human flourishing in democratic societies."[1]
Executive James Hughes[2]
Faculty 26 Fellows and 25 Affiliate Scholars[2]

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) was founded in 2004 by philosopher Nick Bostrom and bioethicist James Hughes.[1] 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".[1] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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. The Institute, or its academic journal, has been mentioned by CNBC,[5] the New York Times,[6][7][8] BBC,[9] Vice,[10] CoinDesk,[11] the Christian Science Monitor,[12] and Huffington Post,[13] the Atlantic,[14] io9,[15] Forbes,[16] the Boston Globe,[17] Scientific American,[18] Discover magazine,[19]The Wall Street Journal,[20] and Slate magazine[21] In early Oct 2012, Kris Notaro became the Managing Director of the IEET.



The Institute publishes, the Journal of Evolution and Technology (JET), a peer-reviewed academic journal.[22] JET was established in 1998 as the Journal of Transhumanism and obtained its current title in 2004.[23] The editor-in-chief is Russell Blackford.[22] It covers futurological research into long-term developments in science, technology, and philosophy that "many mainstream journals shun as too speculative, radical, or interdisciplinary."[22] The Institute also maintains a technology and ethics blog that is supported by various writers.[24]


In 2006, the IEET launched the following activities:[25]

  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.


In late May 2006, the IEET held the Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights conference at the Stanford University Law School in Stanford, California.[26] The IEET along with other progressive organizations hosted a conference in Dec 2013 at Yale University on giving various species "personhood" rights.[27][28][29][30][31] Fellows of the Institute represent the Institute at various conferences and events, including the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[32]


The origins and activities of the Institute have elicited various reactions. Wesley J. Smith wrote that the Institute has one of the most active transhumanist websites, and the writers write on the "nonsense of uploading minds into computers and fashioning a post humanity."[33] Smith also criticized the results of the Institute's online poll that indicated the majority of Institute's readers are atheist or agnostic.[33] According to Smith, this was evidence that transhumanism is a religion and a desperate attempt to find purpose in a nihilistic and materialistic world.[33] The Institute's advocacy project to raise the status of animals to the legal status of personhood also drew criticism from Smith because he claimed human's are exceptional and raising the status of animals may lower the status of humans.[34]

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. national correspondent William Saletan, [35]

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, [36]


  1. ^ a b c d About, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, (Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014).
  2. ^ a b Staff, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, (Retrieved Jan. 9, 2015).
  3. ^ Bailey, Ronald (2006). "The Right to Human Enhancement: And also uplifting animals and the rapture of the nerds". Retrieved 2007-03-03. 
  4. ^ Daniel Faggella, Ethics and Policy Concerns in the Transhuman Transition, Humanity+, (July 29, 2014).
  5. ^ Cadie Thompson, Why living off the grid will get a lot easier in 25 years, CNBC, (Nov. 27, 2014).
  6. ^ Abby Ellin, The Golden Years, Polished With Surgery, New York Times, (Aug. 8, 2011).
  7. ^ The Darwinian Ethics of a Facelift New York Times, (Aug. 4, 2009).
  8. ^ Ashlee Vance, Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday, New York Times, (June 12, 2010).
  9. ^ Tim Maughan, Should we engineer animals to be smart like humans? BBC Future (Oct. 1, 2014).
  10. ^ Jordan Pearson, Superintelligent AI Could Wipe Out Humanity, If We're Not Ready for It, Vice magazine, (April 23, 2014).
  11. ^ Nermin Hajdarbegovic,Think Tank: Blockchain Could be 'Economic Layer' for the Web, CoinDesk, (Nov. 11, 2014).
  12. ^ Harry Bruinius, Facebook's secret experiment on users had a touch of 'Inception' (+video), Christian Science Monitor (June 30, 2014).
  13. ^ Zoltan Istvan, I'm an Atheist, Therefore I'm a Transhumanist, Huffington Post, (Dec. 5, 2013).
  14. ^ James Hamblin, Cheating Death and Being Okay With God, The Atlantic, (Aug. 6, 2013).
  15. ^ George Dvorsky, Should we upgrade the intelligence of animals?, io9, (Sept. 17, 2012).
  16. ^ Jon Entine, Frankenstein's Cat: New Book Shines Light on the 'Brave New World' of GMO Animals, Forbes, (March 21, 2013).
  17. ^ Should we make animals smarter?, The Boston Globe, (March 31, 2013).
  18. ^ Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig, Does Continual Googling Really Make You Stupid? [Excerpt], (Jan 11, 2013).
  19. ^ Kyle Munkittrick, Defending the World's Most Dangerous Idea, Discover, (Sept. 24, 2010).
  20. ^ Jamais Cascio,It's Time to Cool the Planet, The Wall Street Journal, (June 15, 2009).
  21. ^ Torie Bosch, Think Faster, Slate, (Aug. 4, 2014).
  22. ^ a b c Programs and Activities, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, (Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014).
  23. ^ Blackford, Russel (September 18, 2014). "Transhumanism and The Journal of Evolution and Technology". Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Retrieved February 27, 2015. 
  24. ^ Blog, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, (Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014).
  25. ^ "Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies - Programs and Activities". 
  26. ^ "Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies - Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights". 
  27. ^ George, Dvorsky Experts Gather at Yale to Discuss Whether Animals Are People, Io9, (Dec. 10, 2013).
  28. ^ Personhood Beyond the Human Conference, Kurzweil, (Retrieved Dec 30, 2014).
  29. ^ Conference: Personhood Beyond the Human, Figure / Ground, (Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014).
  30. ^ Personhood Beyond the Human, (Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014).
  31. ^ Michael Mountain, Personhood Beyond the Human, Nonhuman Rights Project, (April 16, 2013).
  32. ^ Events, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, (Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014).
  33. ^ a b c Smith, Wesley (June 6, 2012). "Transhumanism is Religion for Atheists". National Review. Retrieved February 27, 2015. 
  34. ^ Smith, Wesley (February 13, 2011). "Transhumanist Launch Campaign for Animal Personhood". National Review. Retrieved February 27, 2015. 
  35. ^ Among the Transhumanists: Cyborgs, self-mutilators, and the future of our race., Sunday, June 4, 2006
  36. ^ Unperson, Sunday, March 16, 2008

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