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Cloning (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

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Jun 302016
 

Strictly speaking, cloning is the creation of a genetic copy of a sequence of DNA or of the entire genome of an organism. In the latter sense, cloning occurs naturally in the birth of identical twins and other multiples. But cloning can also be done artificially in the laboratory via embryo twinning or splitting: an early embryo is split in vitro so that both parts, when transferred to a uterus, can develop into individual organisms genetically identical to each other. In the cloning debate, however, the term cloning typically refers to a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). SCNT involves transferring the nucleus of a somatic cell into an oocyte from which the nucleus and thus most of the DNA has been removed. (The mitochondrial DNA in the cytoplasm is still present). The manipulated oocyte is then treated with an electric current in order to stimulate cell division, resulting in the formation of an embryo. The embryo is (virtually) genetically identical to, and thus a clone of the somatic cell donor.

Dolly was the first mammal to be brought into the world using SCNT. Wilmut and his team at the Roslin Institute in Scotland replaced the nucleus from an oocyte taken from a Blackface ewe with the nucleus of a cell from the mammary gland of a six-year old Finn Dorset sheep (these sheep have a white face). They transferred the resulting embryo into the uterus of a surrogate ewe and approximately five months later Dolly was born. Dolly had a white face: she was genetically identical to the Finn Dorset ewe from which the somatic cell had been obtained.

Dolly, however, was not 100% genetically identical to the donor animal. Genetic material comes from two sources: the nucleus and the mitochondria of a cell. Mitochondria are organelles that serve as power sources to the cell. They contain short segments of DNA. In Dolly’s case, her nuclear DNA was the same as the donor animal; other of her genetic materials came from the mitochondria in the cytoplasm of the enucleated oocyte. For the clone and the donor animal to be exact genetic copies, the oocyte too would have to come from the donor animal (or from the same maternal line mitochondria are passed on by oocytes).

Dolly’s birth was a real breakthrough, for it proved that something that had been considered biologically impossible could indeed be done. Before Dolly, scientists thought that cell differentiation was irreversible: they believed that, once a cell has differentiated into a specialized body cell, such as a skin or liver cell, the process cannot be reversed. What Dolly demonstrated was that it is possible to take a differentiated cell, turn back its biological clock, and make the cell behave as though it was a recently fertilized egg.

Nuclear transfer can also be done using a donor cell from an embryo instead of from an organism after birth. Cloning mammals using embryonic cells has been successful since the mid-1980s (for a history of cloning, see Wilmut et al., 2001). Another technique to produce genetically identical offspring or clones is embryo twinning or embryo splitting, in which an early embryo is split in vitro so that both parts, when implanted in the uterus, can develop into individual organisms genetically identical to each other. This process occurs naturally with identical twins.

However, what many people find disturbing is the idea of creating a genetic duplicate of an existing person, or a person who has existed. That is why the potential application of SCNT in humans set off a storm of controversy. Another way to produce a genetic duplicate from an existing person is by cryopreserving one of two genetically identical embryos created in vitro for several years or decades before using it to generate a pregnancy. Lastly, reproductive cloning of humans could, in theory, also be achieved by combining the induced pluripotent stem cell technique with tetraploid complementation. Several research teams have succeeded in cloning mice this way (see, for example, Boland et al., 2009).

Dolly is a case of reproductive cloning, the aim of which is to create offspring. Reproductive cloning is to be distinguished from cloning for therapy and research, sometimes also referred to as therapeutic cloning. Both reproductive cloning and cloning for research and therapy involve SCNT, but their aims, as well as most of the ethical concerns they raise, differ. I will first discuss cloning for research and therapy and will then proceed to outline the ethical debate surrounding reproductive cloning.

Cloning for research and therapy involves the creation of an embryo via SCNT, but instead of transferring the cloned embryo to the uterus in order to generate a pregnancy, it is used to obtain pluripotent stem cells. It is thus not the intention to use the embryo for reproductive purposes. Embryonic stem cells offer powerful tools for developing therapies for currently incurable diseases and conditions, for important biomedical research, and for drug discovery and toxicity testing (Cervera & Stojkovic, 2007). For example, one therapeutic approach is to induce embryonic stem cells to differentiate into cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) to repair or replace damaged heart tissue, into insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes, or into neurons and their supporting tissues to repair spinal cord injuries.

A potential problem with embryonic stem cells is that they will normally not be genetically identical to the patient. Embryonic stem cells are typically derived from embryos donated for research after in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Because these stem cells would have a genetic identity different from that of the recipient the patient they may, when used in therapy, be rejected by her immune system. Immunorejection can occur when the recipient’s body does not recognize the transplanted cells, tissues or organs as its own and as a defense mechanism attempts to destroy the graft. Another type of immunorejection involves a condition called graft-versus-host disease, in which immune cells contaminating the graft recognize the new host the patient as foreign and attack the host’s tissues and organs. Both types of immunorejection can result in loss of the graft or death of the patient. It is one of the most serious problems faced in transplant surgery.

Cloning for research and therapy could offer a solution to this problem. An embryo produced via SNCT using the patient’s somatic cell as a donor cell would be virtually genetically identical to the patient. Stem cells obtained from that embryo would thus also be genetically identical to the patient, as would be their derivatives, and would be less likely to be rejected after transplantation. Though therapies using embryonic stem cells from SCNT embryos are not yet on the horizon for humans, scientists have provided proof of concept for these therapies in the mouse.

Embryonic stem cells from cloned embryos would also have significant advantages for biomedical research, and for drug discovery and toxicity testing. Embryonic stem cells genetically identical to the patient could provide valuable in vitro models to study disease, especially where animal models are not available, where the research cannot be done in patients themselves because it would be too invasive, or where there are too few patients to work with (as in the case of rare genetic diseases). Researchers could, for example, create large numbers of embryonic stem cells genetically identical to the patient and then experiment on these in order to understand the particular features of the disease in that person. The embryonic stem cells and their derivatives could also be used to test potential treatments. They could, for example, be used to test candidate drug therapies to predict their likely toxicity. This would avoid dangerous exposure of patients to sometimes highly experimental drugs.

Cloning for research and therapy is, however, still in its infancy stages. In 2011, a team of scientists from the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory was the first to have succeeded in creating two embryonic stem cell lines from human embryos produced through SCNT (Noggle et al., 2011). Three years earlier, a small San Diego biotechnological company created human embryos (at the blastocyst stage) via SCNT but did not succeed in deriving embryonic stem cells from these cells (French et al., 2008). Cloning for research and therapy is thus not likely to bear fruition in the short term. Apart from unsolved technical difficulties, much more basic research in embryonic stem cell research is needed. The term therapeutic cloning has been criticized precisely for this reason. It suggests that therapy using embryonic stem cells from cloned embryos is already reality. In the phase before clinical trials, critics say, it is only reasonable to refer to research on nuclear transfer as research cloning or cloning for biomedical research (PCBE, 2002).

Cloning for research and therapy holds great potential for future research and therapeutic applications, but it also raises various concerns.

Much of the debate about the ethics of cloning for research and therapy turns on a basic disagreement about how we should treat early human embryos. As it is currently done, the isolation of embryonic stem cells involves the destruction of embryos at the blastocyst stage (day five after fertilization, when the embryo consists of 125225 cells). But cloning for research and therapy not only involves the destruction of embryos, it also involves the creation of embryos solely for the purpose of stem cell derivation. Views on whether and when it is permissible to create embryos solely to obtain stem cells differ profoundly.

Some believe that an embryo, from the moment of conception, has the same moral status, that is, the same set of basic moral rights, claims or interests as an ordinary adult human being. This view is sometimes expressed by saying that the early embryo is a person. On this view, creating and killing embryos for stem cells is a serious moral wrong. It is impermissible, even if it could save many lives (Deckers, 2007). Others believe that the early embryo is merely a cluster of cells or human tissue lacking any moral status. A common view among those who hold this view is that, given its promising potential, embryonic stem cell and cloning research is a moral imperative (Devolder & Savulescu, 2006). Many defend a view somewhere in between these opposing positions. They believe, for example, that the early embryo should be treated with respect because it has an intermediate moral status: a moral status lower than that of a person but higher than that of an ordinary body cell. A popular view amongst those who hold this position is that using embryos for research might sometimes be justified. Respect can be demonstrated, it is typically argued, by using embryos only for very important research that cannot be done using less controversial means, and by acknowledging the use of embryos for research with a sense of regret or loss (Robertson, 1995; Steinbock, 2001). One common view among those who hold the intermediate moral status view is that the use of discarded IVF embryos to obtain stem cells is compatible with the respect we owe to the embryo, whereas the creation and use of cloned embryos is not. An argument underlying this view is that, unlike IVF embryos, cloned embryos are created for instrumental use only; they are created and treated as a mere means, which some regard as incompatible with respectful treatment of the embryo (NBAC, 1999). Others (both proponents and opponents of embryo research) have denied that there is a significant moral difference between using discarded IVF embryos and cloned embryos as a source of stem cells. They have argued that if killing embryos for research is wrong, it is wrong regardless of the embryo’s origin (Doerflinger, 1999; Fitzpatrick, 2003; Devolder, 2005). Douglas and Savulescu (2009) have argued that it is permissible to destroy unwanted embryos in research, that is, embryos that no one wishes to use for reproductive purposes. Since both discarded IVF embryos and cloned embryos created for the purpose of stem cell derivation are unwanted embryos in that sense, it is, on their view, permissible to use both types of embryos for research.

A less common view holds that obtaining stem cells from cloned embryos poses fewer ethical problems than obtaining stem cells from discarded IVF embryos. Hansen (2002) has advanced this view, arguing that embryos resulting from SCNT do not have the same moral status we normally accord to other embryos: he calls the combination of a somatic nucleus and an enucleated egg a transnuclear egg, which, he says, is a mere artifact with no natural purpose or potential to evolve into an embryo and eventually a human being, and therefore falls outside the category of human beings. McHugh (2004) and Kiessling (2001) advance a similar argument. On their view, obtaining stem cells from cloned embryos is less morally problematic because embryos resulting from SCNT are better thought of as tissue culture, whereas IVF represents instrumental support for human reproduction. Since creating offspring is not the goal, they argue, it is misleading to use the term embryo or zygote to refer to the product of SCNT. They suggest to instead use the terms clonote (Mc Hugh) and ovasome (Kiessling).

Cloning for research and therapy requires a large number of donor oocytes. Ethical issues arise regarding how these oocytes could be obtained. Oocyte donation involves various risks and discomforts (for a review of the risks, see Committee on Assessing the Medical Risks of Human Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research, 2007). Among the most pressing ethical issues raised by participating in such donation is what model of informed consent should be applied. Unlike women who are considering IVF, non-medical oocyte donors are not clinical patients. They do not stand to derive any reproductive or medical benefit themselves from the donation (though Kalfoglou & Gittelsohn, 2000, argue that they may derive a psychological benefit). Magnus and Cho (2005) have argued that donating women should not be classified as research subjects since, unlike in other research, the risks to the donor do not lie in the research itself but in the procurement of the materials required for the research. They suggest that a new category named research donors be created for those who expose themselves to substantial risk only for the benefit of others (in this case unidentifiable people in the future) and where the risk is incurred not in the actual research but in the procurement of the materials for the research. Informed consent for altruistic organ donation by living donors to strangers has also been suggested as a model, since, in both cases, the benefits will be for strangers and not for the donor. Critics of this latter suggestion have pointed out, however, that there is a disanalogy between these two types of donation. The general ethical rule reflected in regulations concerning altruistic donation, namely that there must be a high chance of a good outcome for the patient, is violated in the case of oocyte donation for cloning research (George, 2007).

Given the risks to the donor, the absence of direct medical benefit for the donor, and the uncertain potential of cloning research, it is not surprising that the number of altruistic oocyte donations for such research is very low. Financial incentives might be needed to increase the supply of oocytes for cloning research. In some countries, including the US, selling and buying oocytes is legal. Some object to these practices because they consider oocytes as integral to the body and think they should be kept out of the market: on their view, the value of the human body and its parts should not be expressed in terms of money or other fungible goods. Some also worry that, through commercialization of oocytes, women themselves may become objects of instrumental use (Alpers &Lo, 1995). Many agree, however, that a concern for commodification does not justify a complete ban on payment of oocyte donors and that justice requires that they be financially compensated for the inconvenience, burden, and medical risk they endure, as is standard for other research subjects (Steinbock, 2004; Mertes &Pennings, 2007). A related concern is the effect of financial or other offers of compensation on the voluntariness of oocyte donation. Women, especially economically disadvantaged women from developing countries, might be unduly induced or even coerced into selling their oocytes (Dickinson, 2002). Baylis and McLeod (2007) have highlighted how difficult it is concomitantly to avoid both undue inducement and exploitation: a price that is too low risks exploitation; a price that avoids exploitation risks undue inducement.

Concerns about exploitation are not limited to concerns about payment, as became clear in the Hwang scandal (for a review, see Saunders & Savulescu, 2008). In 2004, Woo-Suk-Hwang, a leading Korean stem cell scientist, claimed to be the first to clone human embryos using SCNT and to extract stem cells from these embryos. In addition to finding that Hwang had fabricated many of his research results, Korea’s National Bioethics Committee also found that Hwang had pressured junior members of his lab to donate oocytes for his cloning experiments.

Some authors have argued that a regulated market in oocytes could minimize ethical concerns raised by the commercialization of oocytes and could be consistent with respect for women (Resnik 2001; Gruen, 2007). Researchers are also investigating the use of alternative sources of oocytes, including animal oocytes, fetal oocytes, oocytes from adult ovaries obtained post mortem or during operation, and stem cell-derived oocytes. Finally, another option is egg-sharing where couples who are undergoing IVF for reproductive purposes have the option to donate one or two of their oocytes in return for a reduced fee for their fertility treatment. The advantage of this system is that it avoids exposing women to extra risks these women were undergoing IVF in any case (Roberts & Throsby, 2008).

Personalized cloning therapies are likely to be labor intensive and expensive. This has raised social justice concerns. Perhaps cloning therapies will only be a realistic option for the very rich? Cloning therapies may, however, become cheaper, less labor intensive and more widely accessible after time. Moreover, cloning may cure diseases and not only treat symptoms. Regardless of the economic cost, it remains true of course that the cloning procedure is time consuming, rendering it inappropriate for certain clinical applications where urgent intervention is required (e.g., myocardial infarction, acute liver failure or traumatic or infectious spinal cord damage). If cloning for therapy became available, its application would thus likely be restricted to chronic conditions. Wilmut (1997), who cloned Dolly, has suggested that cloning treatments could be targeted to maximize benefit: an older person with heart disease could be treated with stem cells that are not a genetic match, take drugs to suppress her immune system for the rest of her life, and live with the side-effects; a younger person might benefit from stem cells from cloned embryos that match exactly. Devolder and Savulescu (2006) have argued that objections about economic cost are most forceful against cloning for self-transplantation than, for example, against cloning for developing cellular models of human disease. The latter will enable research into human diseases and may result in affordable therapies and cures for a variety of common diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, which afflict people all over the world. Finally, some have pointed out that it is not clear whether cloning research is necessarily more labor intensive than experiments on cells and tissues now done in animals.

Some are skeptical about the claimed benefits of cloning for research and therapy. They stress that for many diseases in which cloned embryonic stem cells might offer a therapy, there are alternative treatments and/or preventive measures in development, including gene therapy, pharmacogenomical solutions and treatments based on nanotechnology. It is often claimed that other types of stem cells such as adult stem cells and stem cells from the umbilical cord blood might enable us to achieve the same aims as cloning. Especially induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have raised the hope that cloning research is superfluous (Rao & Condic 2008). iPSCs are created through genetic manipulation of a body cell. iPSCs are similar to embryonic stem cells, and in particular to embryonic stem cells from cloned embryos. However,iPSC research could provide tissue- and patient-specific cells without relying on the need for human oocytes or the creation and destruction of embryos. iPSC research could thus avoid the ethical issues raised by cloning. This promise notwithstanding, scientists have warned that it would be premature to stop cloning research as iPSCs are not identical to embryonic stem cells. Cloning research may teach us things that iPSC research cannot teach us. Moreover, iPSC research has been said to fail to completely avoid the issue of embryo destruction (Brown, 2009).

Slippery slope arguments express the worry that permitting a certain practice may place us on a slippery slope to a dangerous or otherwise unacceptable outcome. Several commentators have argued that accepting or allowing cloning research is the first step that would place us on a slippery slope to reproductive cloning. As Leon Kass (1998, 702) has put it: once the genies put the cloned embryos into the bottles, who can strictly control where they go?

Others are more skeptical about slippery slope arguments against cloning and think that effective legislation can prevent us from sliding down the slope (Savulescu, 1999; Devolder & Savulescu 2006). If reproductive cloning is unacceptable, these critics say, it is reasonable to prohibit this specific technology rather than to ban non-reproductive applications of cloning. The UK and Belgium, for example, allow cloning research but prohibit the transfer of cloned embryos to the uterus.

Apart from the question of how slippery the slope might be, another question raised by such arguments concerns the feared development reproductive cloning and whether it is really ethically objectionable. Profound disagreement exists about the answer to this question.

The central argument in favor of reproductive cloning is expansion of opportunities for reproduction. Reproductive cloning could offer a new means for prospective parents to satisfy their reproductive goals or desires. Infertile individuals or couples could have a child that is genetically related to them. In addition, individuals, same sex couples, or couples who cannot together produce an embryo would no longer need donor gametes to reproduce if cloning were available (some might still need donor eggs for the cloning procedure, but these would be enucleated so that only the mitochondrial DNA remains). It would be possible then to avoid that one’s child shares half of her nuclear DNA with a gamete donor.

Using cloning to help infertile people to have a genetically related child, or a child that is only genetically related to them, has been defended on the grounds of human wellbeing, personal autonomy, and the satisfaction of the natural inclination to produce offspring (Hyry, 2003; Strong, 2008). Offering individuals or couples the possibility to reproduce using cloning technology has been said to be consistent with the right to reproductive freedom, which, according to some, implies the right to choose what kind of children we will have (Brock, 1998, 145).

According to some, the main benefit of reproductive cloning is that it would enable prospective parents to control what genome their children will be endowed with (Fletcher, 1988, Harris, 1997, 2004; Pence 1998, 1016; Tooley, 1998). Cloning would enable parents to have a child with a genome identical to that of a person with good health and/or other desirable characteristics.

Another possible use of reproductive cloning is to create a child that is a tissue match for a sick sibling. The stem cells from the umbilical cord blood or from the bone marrow of the cloned child could be used to treat the diseased sibling. Such saviour siblings, have already been created through sexual reproduction or, more efficiently, through a combination of IVF, preimplantation genetic diagnosis and HLA testing.

Many people, however, have expressed concerns about human reproductive cloning. For some these concerns are sufficient to reject human cloning. For others, these concerns should be weighed against reasons for reproductive cloning.

What follows is an outline of some of the main areas of concern and disagreement about human reproductive cloning.

Despite the successful creation of viable offspring via SCNT in various mammalian species, researchers still have limited understanding of how the technique works on the subcellular and molecular level. Although the overall efficiency and safety of reproductive cloning in mammals has significantly increased over the past fifteen years, it is not yet a safe process (Whitworth & Prather, 2010). For example, the rate of abortions, stillbirths and developmental abnormalities remains high. Another source of concern is the risk of premature ageing because of shortened telomeres. Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at the tip of chromosomes that get shorter as an animal gets older. When the telomeres of a cell get so short that they disappear, the cell dies. The concern is that cloned animals may inherit the shortened telomeres from their older progenitor, with possibly premature aging and a shortened lifespan as a result.

For many, the fact that reproductive cloning is unsafe provides a sufficient reason not to pursue it. It has been argued that it would simply be wrong to impose such significant health risks on humans. The strongest version of this argument states that it would be wrong now to produce a child using SCNT because it would constitute a case of wrongful procreation. Some adopt a consent-based objection and condemn cloning because the person conceived cannot consent to being exposed to significant risks involved in the procedure (Kass, 1998; PCBE, 2002). Against this, it has been argued that even if reproductive cloning is unsafe, it may still be permissible if there are no safer means to bring that very same child into existence so long as the child is expected to have a life worth living (Strong, 2005).

With the actual rate of advancement in cloning, one cannot exclude a future in which the safety and efficiency of SCNT will be comparable or superior to that of IVF or even sexual reproduction. A remaining question is, then, whether those who condemn cloning because of its experimental nature should continue to condemn it morally and legally. Some authors have reasoned that if, in the future, cloning becomes safer than sexual reproduction, we should even make it our reproductive method of choice (Fletcher, 1988; Harris 2004, Ch. 4).

Some fear that cloning threatens the identity and individuality of the clone, thus reducing her autonomy (Ramsey, 1966; Kitcher, 1997; Annas, 1998; Kass, 1998). This may be bad in itself, or bad because it might reduce the clone’s wellbeing. It may also be bad because it will severely restrict the array of life plans open to the clone, thus violating her right to an open future (a concept developed by Feinberg, 1980). In its report Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry, the US President’s Council on Bioethics (2002) wrote that being genetically unique is an emblem of independence and individuality and allows us to go forward with a relatively indeterminate future in front of us (Ch.5, Section c). Such concerns have formed the basis of strong opposition to cloning.

The concern that cloning threatens the clone’s identity and individuality has been criticized for relying on the mistaken belief that who and what we become is entirely determined by our genes. Such genetic determinism is clearly false. Though genes influence our personal development, so does the complex and irreproducible context in which our lives take place. We know this, among others, from studying monozygotic twins. Notwithstanding the fact that such twins are genetically identical to each other and, therefore, sometimes look very similar and often share many character traits, habits and preferences, they are different individuals, with different identities (Segal, 2000). Thus, it is argued, having a genetic duplicate does not threaten one’s individuality, or one’s distinct identity.

Brock (2002) has pointed out that one could nevertheless argue that even though individuals created through cloning would be unique individuals with a distinct identity, they might not experience it that way. What is threatened by cloning then is not the individual’s identity or individuality, but her sense of identity and individuality, and this may reduce her autonomy. So even if a clone has a unique identity, she may experience more difficulties in establishing her identity than if she had not been a clone.

But here too critics have relied on the comparison with monozygotic twins. Harris (1997, 2004) and Tooley (1998), for example, have pointed out that each twin not only has a distinct identity, but generally also views him or herself as having a distinct identity, as do their relatives and friends. Moreover, so they argue, an individual created through cloning would likely be of a different age than her progenitor. There may even be several generations between them. A clone would thus in essence be a delayed twin. Presumably this would make it even easier for the clone to view herself as distinct from the progenitor than if she had been genetically identical to someone her same age.

However, the reference to twins as a model to think about reproductive cloning has been criticized, for example, because it fails to reflect important aspects of the parent-child relationship that would incur if the child were a clone of one of the rearing parents (Jonas, 1974; Levick, 2004). Because of the dominance of the progenitor, the risk of reduced autonomy and confused identity may be greater in such a situation than in the case of ordinary twins. Moreover, just because the clone would be a delayed twin, she may have the feeling that her life has already been lived or that she is predetermined to do the same things as her progenitor (Levy & Lotz 2005). This problem may be exacerbated by others constantly comparing her life with that of the progenitor, and having problematic expectations based on these comparisons. The clone may feel under constant pressure to live up to these expectations (Kass, 1998; Levick, 2004, 101; Sandel, 2007, 5762), or may have the feeling she leads a life in the shadow of the progenitor (Holm, 1998; PCBE, 2002, Ch.5). This may especially be the case if the clone was created as a replacement for a deceased child. (Some private companies already offer to clone dead pets to create replacements pets.) The fear is that the ghost of the dead child will get more attention and devotion than the replacement child. Parents may expect the clone to be like the lost child, or some idealized image of it, which could hamper the development of her identity and adversely affect her self-esteem (Levick, 2004, 111132). Finally, another reason why the clone’s autonomy may be reduced is because she would be involuntarily informed about her genetic predispositions. A clone who knows that her genetic parent developed a severe single gene disease at the age of forty will realise it is very likely that she will undergo the same fate. Unlike individuals who choose to have themselves genetically tested, clones who know their genetic parent’s medical history will be involuntarily informed.

These concerns have been challenged on several grounds. Some believe that it is plausible that, through adequate information, we could largely correct mistaken beliefs about the link between genetic and personal identity, and thus reduce the risk of problematic expectations toward the clone (Harris, 1997, 2004; Tooley 1998, 845; Brock, 1998, Pence, 1998). Brock (1998) and Buchanan et al. (2000, 198) have argued that even if people persist in these mistaken beliefs and their attitudes or actions lead to cloned individuals believing they do not have an open future, this does not imply that the clone’s right to ignorance about one’s personal future or to an open future has actually been violated. Pence (1998, 138) has argued that having high expectations, even if based on false beliefs, is not necessarily a bad thing. Parents with high expectations often give their children the best chances to lead a happy and successful life. Brock (2002, 316) has argued that parents now also constantly restrict the array of available life plans open to their children, for example, by selecting their school or by raising them according to certain values. Though this may somewhat restrict the child’s autonomy, there will always be enough decisions to take for the child to be autonomous, and to realize this. According to Brock, it is not clear why this should be different in the case of cloning. He also points out that there may be advantages to being a delayed twin (154). For example, one may acquire knowledge about the progenitor’s medical history and use this knowledge to live longer, or to increase one’s autonomy. One could, for example, use the information to reduce the risk of getting the disease or condition, or to at least postpone its onset, by behavioral changes, an appropriate diet and/or preventive medication. This would not be possible, however, if the disease is untreatable (for example, Huntington’s Disease). Harris (2004, Ch.1) has stressed that information about one’s genetic predispositions for certain diseases would also allow one to take better informed reproductive decisions. Cloning would allow us to give our child a tried and tested genome, not one created by the genetic lottery of sexual reproduction and the random combination of chromosomes.

Cloning arouses people’s imagination about the clone, but also about those who will choose to have a child through cloning. Often dubious motives are ascribed to them: they would want a child that is just like so-and-so causing people to view them as objects or as commodities like a new car or a new house (Putnam, 1997, 78). They would want an attractive child (a clone of Scarlett Johansson) or a child with tennis talent (a clone of Victoria Azarenka) purely to show off. Dictators would want armies of clones to achieve their political goals. People would clone themselves out of vanity. Parents would clone their existing child so that the clone can serve as an organ bank for that child, or would clone their deceased child to have a replacement child. The conclusion is then that cloning is wrong because the clone will be used as a mere means to others’ ends. These critiques have also been expressed with regard to other forms of assisted reproduction; but some worry that individuals created through cloning may be more likely to be viewed as commodities because their total genetic blueprint would be chosen they would be fully made and not begotten (Ramsey, 1966; Kass 1998; PCBE 2002, 107).

Strong (2008) has argued that these concerns are based on a fallacious interference. It is one thing to desire genetically related children, and something else to believe that one owns one’s children or that one considers one’s children as objects, he writes. Other commentators, however, have pointed out that even if parents themselves will not commodify their children, cloning might still have an impact in society as a whole on people’s tendencies to do so (Levy & Lotz, 2005; Sandel 2007). A related concern expressed by Levick (2004, 1845) is that allowing cloning might result in a society where production on demand clones are sold for adoption to people who are seeking to have children with special abilities a clearer case of treating children as objects.

But suppose some people create a clone for instrumental reasons, for example, as a stem cell donor for a sick sibling. Does this imply that the clone will be treated merely as a means? Critics of this argument have pointed out that parents have children for all kinds of instrumental reasons, including the benefit for the husband-wife relationship, continuity of the family name, and the economic and psychological benefits children provide when their parents become old (Harris 2004, 412, Pence 1998). This is generally not considered problematic as long as the child is also valued in its own right. What is most important in a parent-child relationship is the love and care inherent in that relationship. They stress the fact that we judge people on their attitudes toward children, rather than on their motives for having them. They also deny that there is a strong link between one’s intention or motive to have a child, and the way one will treat the child.

Another concern is that clones may be the victims of unjustified discrimination and will not be respected as persons (Deech, 1999; Levick, 2004, 185187). Savulescu (2005, Other Internet Resources) has referred to such negative attitudes towards clones as clonism: a new form of discrimination against a group of humans who are different in a non-morally significant way. But does a fear for clonism constitute a good reason for rejecting cloning? Savulescu and others have argued that, if it is, then we must conclude that racist attitudes and discriminatory behavior towards people with a certain ethnicity provides a good reason for people with that ethnicity not to procreate. This, according to these critics, is a morally objectionable way to solve the problem of racism. Instead of limiting people’s procreative liberty we should combat existing prejudices and discrimination. Likewise, it is argued, instead of prohibiting cloning out of concern for clonism, we should combat possible prejudices and discrimination against clones (see also Pence, 1998, 46; Harris, 2004, 9293). Macintosh (2005, 11921) has warned that by expressing certain concerns about cloning one may actually reinforce certain prejudices and misguided stereotypes about clones. For example, saying that a clone would not have a personal identity prejudges the clone as inferior or fraudulent (the idea that originals are more valuable than their copies) or even less than human (as individuality is seen as an essential characteristic of human nature).

Another concern is that cloning threatens traditional family structures; a fear that has come up in debates about homosexuals adopting children, IVF and other assisted reproduction techniques. But in cloning the situation would be more complex as it may blur generational boundaries (McGee, 2000) and the clone would likely be confused about her kinship ties (Kass, 1998; O’Neil 2002, 6768). For example, a woman who has a child conceived through cloning would actually be the twin of her child and the woman’s mother would, genetically, be its mother, not grandmother. Some have argued against these concerns, replying that a cloned child would not necessarily be more confused about her family ties than other children. Many have four nurturing parents because of a divorce, never knew their genetic parents, have nurturing parents that are not their genetic parents, or think that their nurturing father is also their genetic father when in fact he is not. While these complex family relationships can be troubling for some children, they are not insurmountable, critics say. Harris (2004, 7778) argues that there are many aspects about the situation one is born and raised in that may be troublesome. As with all children, the most important thing is the relation with people who nurture and educate them, and children usually know very well who these people are. There is no reason to believe that with cloning, this will be any different. Onora O’Neil (2002, 678) argues that such responses are misplaced. While she acknowledges that there are already children now with confused family relationships, she argues that it is very different when prospective parents seek such potentially confused relationships for their children from the start.

Other concerns related to cloning focus on the potential harmful effects of cloning for others. Sometimes these concerns are related to those about the wellbeing of the clone. For example, McGee’s concern about confused family relationships not only bears on the clone but also on society as a whole. However, since I have already mentioned this concerns, I will, in the remainder of this entry, focus on other arguments

The strongest reason for why reproductive cloning should be permissible, if safe, is that it will allow infertile people to have a genetically related child. This position relies on the view that having genetically related children is morally significant and valuable. This is a controversial view. For example, Levy and Lotz (2005) have denied the importance of a genetic link between parents and their children. Moreover, they have argued that claiming that this link is important will give rise to bad consequences, such as reduced adoption rates and diminished resources for improving the life prospects of the disadvantaged, including those waiting to be adopted. Levick (2004, 185) and Ahlberg and Brighouse (2011) have also advanced this view. Since, according to these authors, these undesirable consequences would be magnified if we allowed human cloning, we have good reason to prohibit it. In response, Strong (2008) has argued that this effect is uncertain, and that there are other, probably more effective, ways to help such children or to prevent them from ending up in such a situation. Moreover, if cloning is banned, infertile couples may opt for embryo or gamete donation rather than adoption.

Another concern is that because cloning is an asexual way of reproducing it would decrease genetic variation among offspring and, in the long run, might even constitute a threat to the human race. The gene pool may narrow sufficiently to threaten humanity’s resistance to disease (AMA, 1999, 6). In response, it has been argued that if cloning becomes possible, the number of people who will choose it as their mode of reproduction will very likely be too low to constitute a threat to genetic diversity. It would be unlikely to be higher than the rate of natural twinning, which, occurring at a rate of 3.5/1000 children, does not seriously impact on genetic diversity. Further, even if millions of people would create children through cloning, the same genomes will not be cloned over and over: each person would have a genetic copy of his or her genome, which means the result will still be a high diversity of genomes. Others argue that, even if genetic diversity were not diminished by cloning, a society that supports reproductive cloning might be taken to express the view that variety is not important. Conveying such a message, these authors say, could have harmful consequences for a multicultural society.

Some see the increase in control of what kind of genome we want to pass on to our children as a positive development A major concern, however, is that this shift from chance to choice will lead to problematic eugenic practices.

One version of this concern states that cloning would, from the outset, constitute a problematic form of eugenics. However, critics have argued that this is implausible: the best explanations of what was wrong with immoral cases of eugenics, such as the Nazi eugenic programs, are that they involved coercion and were motivated by objectionable moral beliefs or false non-moral beliefs. This would not necessarily be the case were cloning to be implemented now (Agar, 2004; Buchanan, 2007). Unlike the coercive and state-directed eugenics of the past, new liberal eugenics defends values such as autonomy, reproductive freedom, beneficence, empathy and the avoidance of harm. Enthusiasts of so-called liberal eugenics are interested in helping individuals to prevent or diminish the suffering and increase the well-being of their children by endowing them with certain genes.

Another version of the eugenics concern points out the risk of a slippery slope: the claim is that cloning will lead to objectionable forms of eugenicsfor example, coercive eugenicsin the future. After all, historical cases of immoral eugenics often developed from earlier well intentioned and less problematic practices (for a history of eugenics as well as an analysis of philosophical and political issues raised by eugenics, see Kevles, 1985 and Paul, 1995). According to Sandel (2007, Ch.5), for example, liberal eugenics might imply more state compulsion than first appears: just as governments can force children to go to school, they could require people to use genetics to have better children.

A related concern expressed by Sandel (2007, 527) that cloning, and enhancement technologies in general, may result in a society in which parents will not accept their child for what it is, reinforcing an already existing trend of heavily managed, high-pressure child-rearing or hyper-parenting. Asch and Wasserman (2005, 202) have expressed a similar concern; arguing that having more control over what features a child has can pose an affront to an ideal of unconditioned devotion. Another concern, most often expressed by disability rights advocates, is that if cloning is used to have better children, it may create a more intolerant climate towards the disabled and the diseased, and that such practices can express negative judgments about people with disabilities. This argument has also been advanced in the debate about selective abortion, prenatal testing, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Disagreement exists about whether these effects are likely. For example, Buchanan et al. (2002, 278) have argued that one can devalue disability while valuing existing disabled people and that trying to help parents who want to avoid having a disabled child does not imply that society should make no efforts to increase accessibility for existing people with disabilities.

UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (1997) was the first international instrument to condemn human reproductive cloning as a practice against human dignity. Article 11 of this Declaration states: Practices which are contrary to human dignity, such as reproductive cloning of human beings, shall not be permitted This position is shared by the World Health Organization, the European Parliament and several other international instruments. Critics have pointed out that the reference to human dignity is problematic as it is rarely specified how human dignity is to be understood, whose dignity is at stake, and how dignity is relevant to the ethics of cloning (Harris 2004, Ch.2, Birnbacher 2005, McDougall 2008,). Some commentators state that it is the copying of a genome which violates human dignity (Kass 1998); others have pointed out that this interpretation could be experienced as an offence to genetically identical twins, and that we typically do not regard twins as a threat to human dignity (although some societies in the past did), nor do we prevent twins from coming into existence. On the contrary, IVF, which involves in increased risk to have twins, is a widely accepted fertility treatment.

Human dignity is most often related to Kant’s second formulation of the Categorical Imperative, namely the idea that we should never use a person merely as a means to an end. I have, however, already discussed this concern in section 4.2.2.

No unified religious perspective on human cloning exists; indeed, there are a diversity of opinions within each individual religious tradition. For an overview of the evaluation of cloning by the main religious groups see, for example, Cole-Turner (1997) and Walters (2004). For a specifically Jewish perspective on cloning, see, for example, Lipschutz (1999), for an Islamic perspective, Sadeghi (2007) and for a Catholic perspective, Doerflinger (1999).

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Cloning (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

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Mind uploading – RationalWiki

 Mind Uploading  Comments Off on Mind uploading – RationalWiki
Jun 302016
 

Mind uploading is a science fictional trope and popular desired actualization among transhumanists. It’s also one of the hypothesised solutions to bringing people back from cryonics.

It is necessary to separate reasonable extrapolations and speculation about mind uploading from the magical thinking surrounding it. Several metaphysical questions are brought up by the prospect of mind uploading. Like many such questions, these may not be objectively answerable, and philosophers will no doubt continue to debate them long after uploading has become commonplace.

The first major question about the plausibility of mind uploading is more or less falsifiable: whether consciousness is artificially replicable in its entirety. In other words, assuming that consciousness is not magic, and that the brain is the seat of consciousness, does it depend on any special functions or quantum mechanical effects that cannot ever be replicated on another substrate? This question, of course, remains unanswered although, considering the current state of cognitive science, it is not unreasonable to think that consciousness will be found to be replicable in the future.

Assuming that consciousness is proven to be artificially replicable, the second question is whether the “strong AI hypothesis” is justified or not: if a machine accurately replicates consciousness, such that it passes a Turing Test or is otherwise indistinguishable from a natural human being, is the machine really conscious, or is it a soulless mechanism that merely imitates consciousness?

Third, assuming that a machine can actually be conscious (which is no great stretch of the imagination, considering that the human brain is essentially a biological machine), is a copy of your consciousness really you? Is it even possible to copy consciousness? Is mind uploading really a ticket to immortality, in that “you” or your identity can be “uploaded”?

Advocates of mind uploading take the functionalist/reductionist approach of defining human existence as the identity, which is based on memories and personalities rather than physical substrates or subjectivity.[1] They believe that the identity is essential; the copy of the mind holds just as much claim to being that person as the original, even if both were to exist simultaneously. When the physical body of a copied person dies, nothing that defines the person as an individual has been lost. In this context, all that matters is that the memories and personality of the individual are preserved. As the recently murdered protagonist states in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, “I feel like me and no one else is making that claim. Who cares if I’ve been restored from a backup?”

Skeptics of mind uploading[2] question if it’s possible to transfer a consciousness from one substrate to another, and hold that this is critical to the life-extension application of mind uploading. The transfer of identity is similar to the process of transferring data from one computer hard drive to another. The new person would be a copy of the original; a new consciousness with the same identity. With this approach, mind uploading would simply create a “mind-clone”[3] an artificial person with an identity gleaned from another. The philosophical problem with uploading “yourself” to a computer is very similar to the “swamp man” thought experiment in which a clone is made of a man while the “original” is killed, or the very similar teleportation thought experiment.[4] This is one reason that has led critics to say it’s not at all clear that the concept mind uploading is even meaningful. For the skeptic, the thought of permanently losing subjective consciousness (death), while another consciousness that shares their identity lives on yields no comfort.

Consciousness is currently (poorly) understood to be an epiphenomenon of brain activity specifically of the cerebral cortex[5]. Identity and consciousness are distinct from one another though presumably the former could not exist without the latter. Unlike an identity, which is a composition of information stored within a brain it is reasonable to assume that a particular subjective consciousness is an intrinsic property of a particular physical brain. Thus, even a perfect physical copy of that brain would not share the subjective consciousness of that brain. This holds true of all ‘brains’ (consciousness-producing machines), biological or otherwise. When/if non-biological brains are ever developed/discovered it would be reasonable to assume that each would have its own intrinsic, non-transferable subjective consciousness, independent of its identity. It is likely that mind uploading would preserve an identity, if not the subjective consciousness that begot it. If identity rather than subjective consciousness is taken to be the essential, mind uploading succeeds in the opinion of mind-uploading-immortalist advocates.

Believing that there is some mystical “essence” to consciousness that isn’t preserved by copying is ultimately a form of dualism, however. Humans lose consciousness at least daily, yet still remain the same person in the morning. In the extreme, humans completely cease all activity, brain or otherwise, during deep hypothermic circulatory arrest, yet still remain the same person on resuscitation,[6] demonstrating that continuity of consciousness is not necessary for identity or personhood. Rather, the properties that make us identifiable as individuals are stored in the physical structure of the brain.

Ultimately, this is a subjective problem, not an objective one: If a copy is made of a book, is it still the same book? It depends if you subjectively consider “the book” to be the physical artifact or the information contained within. Is it the same book that was once held by Isaac Newton? No. Is it the same book that was once read by Isaac Newton? Yes.

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Mind uploading – RationalWiki

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Libertarianism Against the Welfare State: A Refresher …

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Jun 302016
 

I’m a hard-core libertarian who defines libertarianism broadly. If you think voluntarism is seriously underrated and government is seriously overrated, you’re a libertarian in my book. I also strive to treat others with common decency regardless of their political views. That includes libertarian apostates. People sometimes cease to be libertarians even on my broad definition – and when that happens, the proper reaction is not anger and ostracism, but friendliness and curiosity.

In recent years, I’ve heard many libertarians expressing new-found appreciation for the welfare state. This is most pronounced at the Niskanen Center, but that’s only part of a broader trend. If the revisionist position were a clear-cut, “Sure, most of the welfare state is terrible, but the rest of okay. We should cut social spending by 80%, not 100%,” their libertarian credentials would not be at issue.

When libertarians start describing Danish “flexicurity” with deep admiration, however, I don’t just doubt their libertarian commitment. More importantly, I wonder why they changed their minds. And to be honest, the more I listen to them, the more I wonder. The most enlightening path, I think, is to restate what I see as the standard libertarian case against the welfare state, and find out exactly where they demur. Here goes.

Soft-Core Case

1. Universal social programs that “help everyone” are folly. Regardless of your political philosophy, taxing everyone to help everyone makes no sense.

2. In the U.S. (along with virtually every other country), most government social spending is devoted to these indefensible universal programs – Social Security, Medicare, and K-12 public education, for starters.

3. Social programs – universal or means-tested – give people perverse incentives, discouraging work, planning, and self-insurance. The programs give recipients very bad incentives; the taxes required to fund the programs give everyone moderately bad incentives. The more “generous” the programs, the worse the collateral damage. As a result, even programs carefully targeted to help the truly poor often fail a cost-benefit test. And while libertarians need not favor every government act that passes the cost-benefit test, they should at least oppose every government act that fails it.

4. “Helping people” sounds good; complaining about “perverse incentives” sounds bad. Since humans focus on how policies sound, rather than what they actually achieve, governments have a built-in tendency to adopt and preserve social programs that fail a cost-benefit test. Upshot: We should view even seemingly promising social programs with a skeptical eye.

Medium-Core Case

5. There is a plausible moral case for social programs that help people who are absolutely poor through no fault of their own. Otherwise, the case falters.

6. “Absolutely poor.” When Jean Valjean steals a loaf of bread to save his sister’s son, he has a credible excuse. By extension, so does a government program to tax strangers to feed Valjean’s nephew. If Valjean steals a smartphone to amuse his sister’s son, though, his excuse falls flat – and so does a government program designed to do the same.

7. “No fault of their own.” Why you’re poor matters. Starving because you’re born blind is morally problematic. Starving because you drink yourself into a stupor every day is far less so. Indeed, you might call it just desserts.

8. Existing means-tested programs generally run afoul of one or both conditions. Even if the welfare state did not exist, few people in First World countries would be absolutely poor. And most poor people engage in a lot of irresponsible behavior. Check out any ethnography of poverty.

9. First World welfare states provide a popular rationale for restricting immigration from countries where absolute poverty is rampant: “They’re just coming to sponge off of us.” Given the rarity of absolute poverty in the First World and the massive labor market benefits of migration from the Third World to the First, it is therefore likely that existing welfare states make global absolute poverty worse.

Hard-Core Case

10. Ambiguity about what constitutes “absolute poverty” and “irresponsible behavior” should be resolved in favor of taxpayers, not recipients. Coercion is not acceptable when justification is debatable.

11. If private charity can provide for people in absolute poverty through no fault of their own, there is no good reason for government to use tax dollars to do so. The best way to measure the adequacy of private charity is to put it to the test by abolishing existing social programs.

12. Consider the best-case scenario for forced charity. Someone is absolutely poor through no fault of his own, and there are no disincentive effects of transfers or taxes. Even here, the moral case for forced charity is much less plausible than it looks. Think of the Good Samaritan. Did he do a noble deed – or merely fulfill his minimal obligation? Patriotic brainwashing notwithstanding, our “fellow citizens” are strangers – and the moral intuition that helping strangers is supererogatory is hard to escape. And even if you think the opposite, can you honestly deny that it’s debatable? If so, how can you in good conscience coerce dissenters?

Personally, I embrace all twelve theses. But even the Soft-Core Case implies radical opposition to the welfare state as it currently exists. My questions for lapsed critics of the welfare state: Precisely which theses do you reject – and what’s the largest welfare state consistent with the theses you accept?

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Libertarianism Against the Welfare State: A Refresher …

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Action T4 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Euthanasia  Comments Off on Action T4 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jun 282016
 

Action T4

Hitler’s order for Action T4

Action T4 (German: Aktion T4, pronounced [aktsion te fi]) was the postwar designation for a programme of forced euthanasia in wartime Nazi Germany.[2] The name T4 is an abbreviation of Tiergartenstrae 4, a street address of the Chancellery department set up in spring 1940 in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten, which recruited and paid personnel associated with T4.[3] Under the programme German physicians were directed to sign off patients “incurably sick, by critical medical examination” and then administer to them a “mercy death” (German: Gnadentod).[5] In October 1939 Adolf Hitler signed a “euthanasia decree” backdated to 1 September 1939 that authorized Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler, the chief of his Chancellery,[6] and Dr. Karl Brandt, Hitler’s personal physician, to carry out the programme of involuntary euthanasia (translated as follows):

Reich Leader Bouhler and Dr. Brandt are entrusted with the responsibility of extending the authority of physicians, designated by name, so that patients who, on the basis of human judgment [menschlichem Ermessen], are considered incurable, can be granted mercy death [Gnadentod] after a definitive diagnosis. Adolf Hitler[7]

The programme ran officially from September 1939[9] to August 1941,[10] during which the recorded 70,273 people were killed at various extermination centres located at psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria, along with those in occupied Poland.[11]

Several rationales for the programme have been offered, including eugenics, compassion, reducing suffering, racial hygiene, cost effectiveness and pressure on the welfare budget.[12][13] After the formal end date of the programme, physicians in German and Austrian facilities continued many of the practices that had been instituted under Action T4, until the defeat of Germany in 1945.[15] The unofficial continuation of the policy led to additional deaths by medicine and similar means;[16] resulting in 93,521 beds “emptied” by the end of 1941. Historians estimate that twice the official number of T4 victims might have perished before the end of the war.[16][17] In addition, technology that was developed under Action T4, particularly the use of lethal gas to commit mass murder, was subsequently taken over by the medical division of the Reich Interior Ministry, along with transfer of personnel who had participated in the development of the technology and later served with Operation Reinhard.[19] This technology, the personnel and the techniques developed to deceive victims were used in the implementation of industrial killings in mobile death vans, and in established extermination camps with gas chambers for mass murder during the Holocaust.

The term “Aktion T4” was only introduced after 1945. At the time of the programme implementation the German terminology varied euphemistically between Euthanasie (“euthanasia”) and Gnadentod (“merciful death”).[7] In a minimal public relations effort, the perpetrators used these terms as bureaucratic cover, in order to invest with medical legitimacy what was essentially an outgrowth of negative eugenics violating basic human rights.[22] The killing was done solely according to the Nazi socio-political aims and beliefs, coupled with deception in dealing with victims and their families, as well as widespread use of faked death certificates, and cremation, to remove possible proof of criminal intent.[22]

The T4 programme stemmed from the Nazi Party’s policy of “racial hygiene”,[22] the belief that the German people needed to be “cleansed” of so-called racial enemies, which included people with disabilities as well as anyone confined to a mental health facility.[22] The ‘euthanasia’ programme was a major step in the evolution of policy that culminated in the extermination of the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust.[12] Hitler’s ideology had embraced the enforcement of “racial hygiene” from its outset. In his book Mein Kampf (1924), Hitler wrote that one day the task: “will appear as a deed greater than the most victorious wars of our present bourgeois era.”[23]

The idea of sterilising those carrying hereditary defects or exhibiting what was thought to be hereditary “antisocial” behaviour was widely accepted. The United States, Sweden, Switzerland and other countries also passed laws authorizing sterilization of certain classes of people. For example, between 1935 and 1975 Sweden sterilised 63,000 people on eugenic grounds.[24]

The policy and research agenda in racial hygiene and eugenics were actively promoted by Emil Kraepelin.[25] The eugenic sterilization of persons diagnosed with (and viewed as predisposed to) schizophrenia was advocated by Eugene Bleuler[26] who presumed racial deterioration because of mental and physical cripples in his Textbook of Psychiatry:[27]

The more severely burdened should not propagate themselves If we do nothing but make mental and physical cripples capable of propagating themselves, and the healthy stocks have to limit the number of their children because so much has to be done for the maintenance of others, if natural selection is generally suppressed, then unless we will get new measures our race must rapidly deteriorate.[27]

The Nazis began to implement “racial hygiene” policies as soon as they came to power. The July 1933 “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring” prescribed compulsory sterilisation for people with a range of conditions thought to be hereditary, such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea and “imbecility”. Sterilisation was also mandated for chronic alcoholism and other forms of social deviance.[28] The law was administered by the Interior Ministry under Wilhelm Frick through special Hereditary Health Courts (Erbgesundheitsgerichte), which examined the inmates of nursing homes, asylums, prisons, aged-care homes, and special schools to select those to be sterilised.[29]

It is estimated that 360,000 people were sterilised under this law between 1933 and 1939. Within the Nazi administration, some suggested that the programme should be extended to people with physical disabilities, but such ideas had to be expressed carefully, given that one of the most powerful figures of the regime, Joseph Goebbels, had a deformed right leg.[30] After 1937 the acute shortage of labour in Germany, arising from the demands of the crash rearmament programme, meant that anyone capable of work was deemed to be “useful” and thus exempted from the law. The rate of sterilisation declined.[29]

Both his physician, Dr. Karl Brandt, and the head of the Reich Chancellery, Hans Lammers, testified after the war that Hitler had told them as early as 1933 at the time when the sterilisation law was passed that he favoured the killing of the incurably ill, but recognised that public opinion would not accept this. In 1935 Hitler told the Leader of Reich Doctors, Gerhard Wagner, that the question could not be taken up in peacetime: “Such a problem could be more smoothly and easily carried out in war.” He wrote that he intended to ‘radically solve’ the problem of the mental asylums in such an event.[31]

Although officially started in September 1939, Action T4 was initiated with a ‘trial’ case in late 1938.[32] Hitler instructed his personal physician Karl Brandt to evaluate a family’s petition for the “mercy killing” of their blind, physically and developmentally disabled boy.[33] The child, born near Leipzig and identified as Gerhard Kretschmar eventually,[34] was killed in July 1939.[35] Hitler instructed Brandt to proceed in the same manner in all similar cases.[36] Three weeks after the killing of the boy, the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses was established on 18 August 1939. It was to prepare and proceed with the registration of sick children or newborns identified as defective. Secret killing of infants began in 1939 and increased after the war started. By 1941 more than 5,000 children had been killed.[37]

Hitler was in favour of killing those whom he judged to be “unworthy of life”. In a 1939 conference with health minister Leonardo Conti and the head of the Reich Chancellery, Hans Lammers a few months before the ‘euthanasia’ decree Hitler gave as examples the mentally ill who he said could only be “bedded on sawdust or sand” because they “perpetually dirtied themselves” and “put their own excrement into their mouths.” This issue, according to the Nazi regime, assumed new urgency in wartime. After the invasion of Poland the leading Nazi doctor, Dr. Hermann Pfannmller, said: “It is unbearable to me that the flower of our youth must lose their lives at the front while that feeble-minded and asocial element can have a secure existence in the asylum”. Pfannmller advocated gradual decrease of the food rations rather than death by medicine, which he believed was more merciful than poison injections.[39]

The German eugenics movement had an extreme wing even before the Nazis came to power. As early as 1920, Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding advocated killing those whose lives were “unworthy of life” (lebensunwertes Leben).[40] Darwinism was interpreted by them as justification of the demand for “beneficial” genes and eradication of the “harmful” ones. Historian Robert Lifton noted: “The argument went that the best young men died in war, causing a loss to the Volk of the best available genes. The genes of those who did not fight (the worst genes) then proliferated freely, accelerating biological and cultural degeneration”.

The advocation of eugenics in Germany gained ground after 1930, when the Depression caused sharp cuts in funding to state mental hospitals, creating squalor and overcrowding.[42] Most German eugenicists were already strongly nationalist and anti-Semitic, and embraced the Nazi regime with enthusiasm. Many were appointed to positions in the Health Ministry and German research institutes. Their ideas were gradually adopted by the majority of the German medical profession, from which Jewish and communist doctors were soon purged.[43]

During the 1930s the Nazi Party carried out a campaign of propaganda in favour of “euthanasia”. The National Socialist Racial and Political Office (NSRPA) produced leaflets, posters and short films to be shown in cinemas, pointing out to Germans the cost of maintaining asylums for the incurably ill and insane. These films included The Inheritance (Das Erbe, 1935), The Victim of the Past (Opfer der Vergangenheit, 1937), which was given a major premire in Berlin and was shown in all German cinemas, and I Accuse (Ich klage an, 1941), which was based on a novel by consultant for ‘child euthanasia’ Hellmuth Unger.

In mid-1939 Hitler authorized the creation of the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden), headed by Dr. Karl Brandt, his personal physician, and administered by Herbert Linden of the Interior Ministry as well as SS-Oberfhrer Viktor Brack. Brandt and Bouhler were authorized to approve applications to kill children in relevant circumstances,[45][46] though Bouhler left the details to subordinates such as Brack and SA-Oberfhrer Werner Blankenburg.[47]

Extermination centres were established at six existing psychiatric hospitals: Bernburg, Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Hadamar, Hartheim, and Sonnenstein.[22][48] They played a crucial role in developments leading to the Holocaust.[22] As a related aspect of the “medical” and scientific basis of this programme, the Nazi doctors took thousands of brains from ‘euthanasia’ victims for research.[49]

From August 1939 the Interior Ministry began registering children with disabilities, requiring doctors and midwives to report all cases of newborns with severe disabilities; the ‘guardian’ consent element soon disappeared. Those to be killed were identified as “all children under three years of age in whom any of the following ‘serious hereditary diseases’ were ‘suspected’: idiocy and Down syndrome (especially when associated with blindness and deafness); microcephaly; hydrocephaly; malformations of all kinds, especially of limbs, head, and spinal column; and paralysis, including spastic conditions”. The reports were assessed by a panel of medical experts, of whom three were required to give their approval before a child could be killed.[51]

The Ministry used various deceptions when dealing with parents or guardians particularly in Catholic areas, where parents were generally uncooperative. Parents were told that their children were being sent to “Special Sections” for children, where they would receive improved treatment. The children sent to these centres were kept for “assessment” for a few weeks and then killed by injection of toxic chemicals, typically phenol; their deaths were recorded as “pneumonia”. Autopsies were usually performed, and brain samples were taken to be used for “medical research”. This apparently helped to ease the consciences of many of those involved, since it gave them the feeling that the children had not died in vain, and that the whole programme had a genuine medical purpose.

Once war broke out in September 1939, the programme adopted less rigorous standards of assessment and a quicker approval process. It expanded to include older children and adolescents. The conditions covered also expanded and came to include

“various borderline or limited impairments in children of different ages, culminating in the killing of those designated as juvenile delinquents. Jewish children could be placed in the net primarily because they were Jewish; and at one of the institutions, a special department was set up for ‘minor Jewish-Aryan half-breeds'”.

At the same time, increased pressure was placed on parents to agree to their children being sent away. Many parents suspected what was really happening, especially when it became apparent that institutions for children with disabilities were being systematically cleared of their charges, and refused consent. The parents were warned that they could lose custody of all their children, and if that did not suffice, the parents could be threatened with call-up for ‘labour duty’. By 1941 more than 5,000 children had been killed.[56] The last child to be killed under Action T4 was Richard Jenne on 29 May 1945 in the children’s ward of the Kaufbeuren-Irsee state hospital in Bavaria, Germany, more than three weeks after troops from the U.S. had occupied the town.[57][58]

Brandt and Bouhler soon developed plans to expand the programme of euthanasia to adults. In July 1939 they held a meeting attended by Dr. Leonardo Conti, Reich Health Leader and state secretary for health in the Interior Ministry, and Professor Werner Heyde, head of the SS medical department. This meeting agreed to arranging a national register of all institutionalised people with mental illnesses or physical disabilities.

The first adults with disabilities to be killed on a mass scale by the Nazi regime were not Germans, but Poles. They were shot by the SS men of Einsatzkommando 16, Selbstschutz and EK-Einmann under direct command of SS-Sturmbannfhrer Rudolf Trger, with overall command by Reinhard Heydrich during the genocidal Operation Tannenberg in which 36,00042,000 people including Polish children died before the end of 1939 in Pomerania.[60] All hospitals and mental asylums of the Wartheland were emptied. The region was incorporated into Germany and earmarked for resettlement by Volksdeutsche following the German conquest of Poland. Notably, the technology for mass gassing of hospital patients had not been invented yet.[61] In the Danzig (now Gdask) area, some 7,000 Polish patients of various institutions were shot, while 10,000 were killed in the Gdynia area. Similar measures were taken in other areas of Poland destined for incorporation into Germany.[62] The first experiments with the gassing of patients were conducted in October 1939 at Fort VII in Posen (occupied Pozna), where hundreds of prisoners were killed by means of carbon monoxide poisoning in an improvised gas chamber developed by Dr Albert Widmann, chief chemist of the German Criminal Police (Kripo). In December 1939 Reichsfhrer of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, witnessed one of these gassings, ensuring that this invention would later be put to much wider uses.[63]

The idea of killing adult mental patients soon spread from occupied Poland to adjoining areas of Germany, probably because Nazi Party and SS officers in these areas were most familiar with what was happening in Poland. These were also the areas where Germans wounded from the Polish campaign were expected to be accommodated, which created a demand for hospital space. The Gauleiter of Pomerania, Franz Schwede-Coburg, sent 1,400 patients from five Pomeranian hospitals to undisclosed locations in occupied Poland where they were shot. Likewise, the Gauleiter of East Prussia, Erich Koch, had 1,600 patients murdered out of sight. In all, more than 8,000 Germans were killed in this initial wave of killings carried out under the command of local officials, although Himmler certainly knew and approved of them.[64]

The sole legal basis for the programme was a 1939 letter from Hitler, not a formal ‘Fhrer’s decree’ which would carry the force of law. Hitler deliberately bypassed Health Minister Conti and his department, who might have raised questions about the legality of the programme. He entrusted it to his personal agents Bouhler and Brandt. The programme was administered by Viktor Brack and his staff from Tiergartenstrae 4 disguised as the “Charitable Foundation for Cure and Institutional Care” offices which served as the front. It was supervised by Bouhler and Brandt.[66][67]

The officials in charge included Dr Herbert Linden, who had been heavily involved in the children’s programme; Dr Ernst-Robert Grawitz, chief physician of the SS; and August Becker, an SS chemist. They personally selected doctors who were to carry out the operational part of the programme; based on political reliability as long-term Nazis, professional reputation, and known sympathy for radical eugenics. The list included physicians who had proved their worth in the child-killing programme, such as Unger, Heinze, and Hermann Pfannmller. The new recruits were mostly psychiatrists, notably Professor Carl Schneider of Heidelberg, Professor Max de Crinis of Berlin and Professor Paul Nitsche from the Sonnenstein state institution. Heyde became the operational leader of the programme, succeeded later by Nitsche.

In early October all hospitals, nursing homes, old-age homes and sanatoria were required to report all patients who had been institutionalised for five years or more, who had been committed as “criminally insane”, who were of “non-Aryan race”, or who had been diagnosed with any of a list of specified conditions. These included schizophrenia, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, advanced syphilis, senile dementia, paralysis, encephalitis and “terminal neurological conditions generally”. Many doctors and administrators assumed that the purpose of the reports was to identify inmates who were capable of being drafted for “labour service”. They tended to overstate the degree of incapacity of their patients, to protect them from labour conscription with fatal consequences. When some institutions refused to co-operate, teams of T4 doctors (or in some cases Nazi medical students) visited them and compiled their own lists, sometimes in a very haphazard and ideologically motivated way.[69] At the same time, during 1940 all Jewish patients were removed from institutions and killed.[70]

As with the child inmates, the adult cases were assessed by a panel of experts, working at the Tiergartenstrae offices. The experts were required to make their judgments solely on the basis of the reports, rather than on detailed medical histories, let alone examinations. Sometimes they dealt with hundreds of reports at a time. On each they marked a + (meaning death), a – (meaning life), or occasionally a ? meaning that they were unable to decide. Three “death” verdicts condemned the person concerned. As with reviews of children, over time these processes became less rigorous, the range of conditions considered “unsustainable” grew broader, and zealous Nazis further down the chain of command increasingly made decisions on their own initiative.[69]

The first gassings in Germany proper took place in January 1940 at the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre. The operation was headed by Viktor Brack, who said: “the needle belongs in the hand of the doctor.”[71] Bottled pure carbon monoxide gas was used.[72] At trials, Brandt described the process as a “major advance in medical history”. Once the efficacy of the method was confirmed, it became standardised, and instituted at a number of centres across Germany under the supervision of Widmann, Becker, and Christian Wirth a Kripo officer who later played a prominent role in the extermination of the Jews as commandant of newly built death camps in occupied Poland. In addition to Brandenburg, the killing centres included Grafeneck Castle in Baden-Wrttemberg (10,824 dead), Schloss Hartheim near Linz in Austria (over 18,000 dead), Sonnenstein Euthanasia Centre in Saxony (15,000 dead), Bernburg Euthanasia Centre in Saxony-Anhalt and Hadamar Euthanasia Centre in Hesse (14,494 dead). The same facilities were also used to kill mentally sound prisoners transferred from concentration camps in Germany, Austria and occupied parts of Poland.

Condemned patients were ‘transferred’ from their institutions to newly built centres in the T4 Charitable Ambulance buses, called the Community Patients Transports Service. They were run by teams of SS men wearing white coats, to give it an air of medical care.[74] To prevent the families and doctors of the patients from tracing them, the patients were often first sent to transit centres in major hospitals, where they were supposedly assessed. They were moved again to “special treatment” (Sonderbehandlung) centres. Families were sent letters explaining that owing to wartime regulations, it was not possible for them to visit relatives in these centres. Most of these patients were killed within 24 hours of arriving at the centres, and their bodies cremated.[72] For every person killed, a death certificate was prepared, giving a false but plausible cause of death. This was sent to the family along with an urn of ashes (random ashes, since the victims were cremated en masse). The preparation of thousands of falsified death certificates took up most of the working day of the doctors who operated the centres.

During 1940 the centres at Brandenburg, Grafeneck and Hartheim killed nearly 10,000 people each, while another 6,000 were killed at Sonnenstein. In all, about 35,000 people were killed in T4 operations that year. Operations at Brandenburg and Grafeneck were wound up at the end of the year, partly because the areas they served had been cleared and partly because of public opposition. In 1941, however, the centres at Bernburg and Sonnenstein increased their operations, while Hartheim (where Wirth and Franz Stangl were successively commandants) continued as before. As a result, another 35,000 people were killed before August 1941, when the T4 programme was officially shut down by Hitler. Even after that date, however, the centres continued to be used to kill concentration camp inmates: eventually some 20,000 people in this category were killed.[76]

In 1971 the Austrian-born journalist Gitta Sereny conducted a series of interviews with Franz Stangl, who was in prison in Dsseldorf after having been convicted of co-responsibility for killing 900,000 people as commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps in Poland. Stangl gave Sereny a detailed account of the operations of the T4 programme based on his time as commandant of the killing facility at the Hartheim institute. He described how the inmates of various asylums were removed and transported by bus to Hartheim. Some were in no mental state to know what was happening to them, but many were perfectly sane, and for them various forms of deception were used. They were told they were at a special clinic where they would receive improved treatment, and were given a brief medical examination on arrival. They were induced to enter what appeared to be a shower block, where they were gassed with carbon monoxide (this ruse was later used on a much larger scale at the extermination camps).

After the official end of the euthanasia programme in 1941, most of the personnel and high-ranking officials, as well as gassing technology and the techniques used to deceive victims, were transferred under the jurisdiction of the national medical division of the Reich Interior Ministry.[15] Further gassing experiments with the use of mobile gas-chambers (Einsatzwagen) were conducted at Soldau concentration camp by Herbert Lange following Operation Barbarossa. Lange was appointed commander of the Chemno extermination camp in December 1941. He was given three gas vans by the RSHA, converted by the Gaubschat GmbH in Berlin,[78] and already before February 1942 killed atotal of 3,830 Polish Jews and around 4,000 Gypsies under the guise of “resettlement”.[79] After the Wannsee conference, the knowledge acquired in the process was then put to use by Reinhard Heydrich in the deadliest phase of the Holocaust. Beginning in spring 1942 three industrial killing centres were built secretly in east-central Poland. The SS officers responsible for the Aktion T4, including Christian Wirth, Franz Stangl, and Irmfried Eberl, were all given key roles in the implementation of the “Final Solution” for the next two years. The first killing centre equipped with stationary gas chambers modelled on Action T4 was established at Beec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. Notably, the decision preceded the Wannsee Conference of January 1942 by three months.[80]

In January 1939 Viktor Brack commissioned a paper from Professor of Moral Theology at the University of Paderborn, Joseph Mayer, on the likely reactions of the churches in the event of a state euthanasia programme being instituted. Mayer a longstanding euthanasia advocate reported that the churches would not oppose such a programme if it was seen to be in the national interest. Brack showed this paper to Hitler in July, and it may have increased his confidence that the “euthanasia” programme would be acceptable to German public opinion.[46] Notably, when Gitta Sereny interviewed Mayer shortly before his death in 1967, he denied that he formally condoned the killing of people with disabilities, but no copies of this paper are known to survive.

There were those who opposed the T4 programme within the bureaucracy. Lothar Kreyssig, a district judge and member of the Confessing Church, wrote to Grtner protesting that the action was illegal since no law or formal decree from Hitler had authorised it. Grtner replied, “If you cannot recognise the will of the Fhrer as a source of law, then you cannot remain a judge”, and had Kreyssig dismissed.[42] Hitler had a fixed policy of not issuing written instructions for policies relating to what could later be condemned by international community, but made an exception when he provided Bouhler and Brack with written authority for the T4 programme in his confidential letter of October 1939 in order to overcome opposition within the German state bureaucracy. Hitler told Bouhler at the outset that “the Fhrer’s Chancellery must under no circumstances be seen to be active in this matter.”[66] The Justice Minister, Franz Grtner, had to be shown Hitler’s letter in August 1940 to gain his cooperation.[67]

In the towns where the killing centres were located, many people saw the inmates arrive in buses, saw the smoke from the crematoria chimneys and noticed that the buses were returning empty. In Hadamar, ashes containing human hair rained down on the town. The T4 programme was no secret. Despite the strictest orders, some of the staff at the killing centres talked about what was going on. In some cases families could tell that the causes of death in certificates were false, e.g. when a patient was claimed to have died of appendicitis, even though his appendix had been surgically removed some years earlier. In other cases, several families in the same town would receive death certificates on the same day. In May 1941 the Frankfurt County Court wrote to Grtner describing scenes in Hadamar where children shouted in the streets that people were being taken away in buses to be gassed.

During 1940 rumours of what was taking place spread, and many Germans withdrew their relatives from asylums and sanatoria to care for them at home often with great expense and difficulty. In some places doctors and psychiatrists co-operated with families to have patients discharged, or, if the families could afford it, had them transferred to private clinics where the reach of T4 did not extend. Other doctors agreed to “re-diagnose” some patients so that they no longer met the T4 criteria. This risked exposure when the Nazi zealots from Berlin conducted inspections. In Kiel, Professor Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt managed to save nearly all of his patients. However, for the most part doctors co-operated with the programme, either from ignorance of its true meaning, agreement with Nazi eugenicist policies, or fear of the regime.

During 1940 protest letters were sent to the Reich Chancellery and the Ministry of Justice, some of them from Nazi Party members. The first open protest against the removal of people from asylums took place at Absberg in Franconia in February 1941, and others followed. The SD report on the incident at Absberg noted that “the removal of residents from the Ottilien Home has caused a great deal of unpleasantness”, and described large crowds of Catholic townspeople, among them Party members, protesting against the action.

Others who privately protested were the Lutheran theologian Friedrich von Bodelschwingh, director of the Bethel Institution for epileptics at Bielefeld and Pastor Paul-Gerhard Braune, director of the Hoffnungstal Institution near Berlin. Both used their connections with the regime to negotiate exemptions for their institutions: Bodelschwingh negotiated directly with Brandt and indirectly with Hermann Gring, whose cousin was a prominent psychiatrist. Braune had meetings with Justice Minister Grtner, who was always dubious about the legality of the programme. Grtner later wrote a strongly worded letter to Hitler protesting against it; Hitler did not read it, but was told about it by Lammers. In general, the leaders of the Protestant church were more enmeshed with the Nazi regime than was the case for Catholics and they were unwilling to criticise its actions.

During 1940 and 1941 some Protestant churchmen protested privately against T4, but none made any public comment. Bishop Theophil Wurm, presiding the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Wrttemberg, wrote a strong letter to Interior Minister Frick in March 1940. In March 1940 a confidential report from the SD in Austria warned that the killing programme must be implemented with stealth “in order to avoid a probable backlash of public opinion during the war”.[89] On 4 December 1940 Reinhold Sautter, Supreme Church Councillor of Wrttemberg’s State Church, reproached the Nazi Ministerial Councillor Eugen Sthle for the murders in Grafeneck Castle. Stahle retorted with the Nazi government opinion, that “The fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill, is no commandment of God but a Jewish invention” and no longer had any validity.[90]

Catholic churchmen, led by Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Munich, wrote privately to the government protesting against the policy. In July and August 1941, the Bishop of Mnster, August von Galen, gave three sermons criticizing the Nazi state: for arresting Jesuits, confiscating church property, and for the euthanasia program.[91] Theologian Bernhard Lichtenberg protested to the Nazis chief medical officer.[92] On 24 August the euthanasia of adults (but not children) was suspended in Germany.[91] Hitler recommended caution in Catholic areas,[citation needed] which after the annexations of Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938 included nearly half the population of Greater Germany.

Von Galen telegrammed the text of his sermon to Hitler, calling on

“the Fhrer to defend the people against the Gestapo”. “It is a terrible, unjust and catastrophic thing when man opposes his will to the will of God”, Galen said. “We are talking about men and women, our compatriots, our brothers and sisters. Poor unproductive people if you wish, but does this mean that they have lost their right to live?”

Historian Robert Lifton noted that the sermon might have had a greater impact than any other statement in consolidating the anti-‘euthanasia’ sentiment because it was dropped by British Royal Air Force pilots among German troops. Historian Henry Friedlander states that it was not the criticism from the church, but rather the loss of secrecy and “general popular disquiet about the way euthanasia was implemented” that caused the suspension of the program.[95]

Von Galen had detailed knowledge of the euthanasia program in July 1940, but did not speak out until almost a year after Protestants had begun their protest.[91] Historian Beth A. Griech-Polelle explained the caution of Von Galen and the Catholic hierarchy:

Worried lest they be classified as outsiders or internal enemies, they waited for Protestants, that is the “true Germans,” to risk a confrontation with the government first. If the Protestants were able to be critical of a Nazi policy, then Catholics could function as “good” Germans and yet be critical too.[96]

Another Bishop, Franz Bornewasser of Trier, also sent protests to Hitler, though not publicly. In August Galen was even more outspoken, broadening his attack to include the Nazi persecution of religious orders and the closing of Catholic institutions. He attributed the heavy Allied bombing of Westphalian towns to the wrath of God against Germany for breaking His laws. Galen’s sermons were not reported in the German press but were widely circulated in the form of illegally printed leaflets.[97] Local Nazis asked for Galen to be arrested but Goebbels told Hitler that such action would provoke open revolt in Westphalia.[98]

By August the protests had spread to Bavaria. According to Gitta Sereny, Hitler was jeered by an angry crowd at Hof the only time he was opposed in public during his 12 years of rule. Despite his private fury, Hitler knew that he could not afford a confrontation with the Church at a time when Germany was engaged in a life-and-death war, a belief which was reinforced by the advice of Goebbels, Martin Bormann, head of the Party Chancellery and SS leader Heinrich Himmler. Robert Lifton writes: “Nazi leaders faced the prospect of either having to imprison prominent, highly admired clergymen and other protesters a course with consequences in terms of adverse public reaction they greatly feared or else end the programme.” Himmler said: “If operation T4 had been entrusted to the SS, things would have happened differently”, because “when the Fhrer entrusts us with a job, we know how to deal with it correctly, without causing useless uproar among the people.”

On 24 August 1941 Hitler ordered the cancellation of the T4 programme. He issued strict instructions to the Gauleiters to avoid further provocations of the churches for the duration of the war. The invasion of the Soviet Union in June provided new opportunities to use the T4 personnel. Many were transferred to the east to begin work on a vastly greater programme of killing: the “final solution of the Jewish question”. The winding-up of the T4 programme did not end the killing of people with disabilities. From the end of 1941, the killing became less systematic. Lifton documents that the killing of adults and children continued to the end of the war, on the local initiative of institute directors and party leaders. The methods reverted to those employed before use of the gas chambers: lethal injection or starvation. Kershaw estimates that by the end of 1941 some 75,000 to 100,000 people had been killed in the T4 programme. Tens of thousands of concentration camp inmates and people judged incapable of work, were killed in Germany between 1942 and 1945. This figure does not include Jews who were deported to their deaths in Action Reinhard of 1942 and 1943. The Hartheim and Hardamar centres continued to kill people sent to them from all over Germany until 1945.[17]

After the war a series of trials was held in connection with the Nazi euthanasia programme at various places including: Dresden, Frankfurt, Graz, Nuremberg and Tbingen.

In December 1946 an American military tribunal (commonly called the Doctors’ trial) prosecuted 23 doctors and administrators for their roles in war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes included the systematic killing of those deemed “unworthy of life”, including the mentally disabled, the institutionalized mentally ill, and the physically impaired. After 140 days of proceedings, including the testimony of 85 witnesses and the submission of 1,500 documents, in August 1947 the court pronounced 16 of the defendants guilty. Seven were sentenced to death and executed on 2 June 1948. They included Dr. Karl Brandt and Viktor Brack.

The indictment read in part:

14. Between September 1939 and April 1945 the defendants Karl Brandt, Blome, Brack, and Hoven unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly committed crimes against humanity, as defined by Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, and were connected with plans and enterprises involving the execution of the so called “euthanasia” program of the German Reich, in the course of which the defendants herein murdered hundreds of thousands of human beings, including German civilians, as well as civilians of other nations. The particulars concerning such murders are set forth in paragraph 9 of count two of this indictment and are incorporated herein by reference.[103]

Earlier, in 1945, American forces tried seven staff members of the Hadamar killing centre for the killing of Soviet and Polish nationals, which was within their jurisdiction under international law, as these were the citizens of wartime allies. (Hadamar was within the American Zone of Occupation in Germany. This was before the December 1945 Allied resolution supporting prosecution of “crimes against humanity” for such mass atrocities.) Alfons Klein, Karl Ruoff and Wilhelm Willig were sentenced to death and executed; the other four were given long prison sentences.[104] In 1946, newly reconstructed German courts tried members of the Hadamar staff for the murders of nearly 15,000 German citizens at the facility. Adolf Wahlmann and Irmgard Huber, the chief physician and the head nurse, were convicted.

The Ministry for State Security of East Germany stored around 30,000 files of the T4 project in their archives. Those files became available to the public only after the German Reunification in 1990, leading to a new wave of research on these wartime crimes.[108]

The German national memorial to the people with disabilities murdered by the Nazis was dedicated in 2014 in Berlin.[109][110] It is located in the pavement of a site next to the Tiergarten park, the location of the former villa at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin, where more than 60 Nazi bureaucrats and doctors worked in secret under the “T4” program to organize the mass murder of sanatorium and psychiatric hospital patients deemed unworthy to live.[110]

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Jun 282016
 

Large enough to provide a first rate education. Small enough to know you by name.

Ascension is a school replete with opportunities and poised to take advantage of them as we embrace 21st century educational ideologies. Our small class sizes allow for greater depth of teaching, a more individualized approach, greater ease in differentiation and the unique opportunity to build deeper relationships with students and parents, which allows a firm understanding of each students inimitable learning profile.

Our sound financial planning and dedicated community have made it possible to be the only school in Kentucky to offer our students 1:1 iPads in Kindergarten through 8th grade. This gives each student and teacher the ability to learn and teach on a tailor made basis while keeping us on the cutting edge.

Beyond technology, we will continue to encourage each students creativity through music, art, drama and play as we recognize that each student has talents in diverse areas.

As we celebrate our 50th year as a parish/school we invite our students,alumni, friends, parishioners and current/former faculty and staff to join us at the many events we have planned throughout the year in celebration of our rich history and exciting future. We do everything at Ascension through our faith, community, giftedness, opportunity and excellence.

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Parallel universes, the Matrix, and superintelligence …

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Jun 282016
 

Physicists are converging on a theory of everything, probing the 11th dimension, developing computers for the next generation of robots, and speculating about civilizations millions of years ahead of ours, says Dr. Michio Kaku, author of the best-sellers Hyperspace and Visions and co-founder of String Field Theory, in this interview by KurzweilAI.net Editor Amara D. Angelica.

Published on KurzweilAI.net June 26, 2003.

What are the burning issues for you currently?

Well, several things. Professionally, I work on something called Superstring theory, or now called M-theory, and the goal is to find an equation, perhaps no more than one inch long, which will allow us to “read the mind of God,” as Einstein used to say.

In other words, we want a single theory that gives us an elegant, beautiful representation of the forces that govern the Universe. Now, after two thousand years of investigation into the nature of matter, we physicists believe that there are four fundamental forces that govern the Universe.

Some physicists have speculated about the existence of a fifth force, which may be some kind of paranormal or psychic force, but so far we find no reproducible evidence of a fifth force.

Now, each time a force has been mastered, human history has undergone a significant change. In the 1600s, when Isaac Newton first unraveled the secret of gravity, he also created a mechanics. And from Newtons Laws and his mechanics, the foundation was laid for the steam engine, and eventually the Industrial Revolution.

So, in other words, in some sense, a byproduct of the mastery of the first force, gravity, helped to spur the creation of the Industrial Revolution, which in turn is perhaps one of the greatest revolutions in human history.

The second great force is the electromagnetic force; that is, the force of light, electricity, magnetism, the Internet, computers, transistors, lasers, microwaves, x-rays, etc.

And then in the 1860s, it was James Clerk Maxwell, the Scottish physicist at Cambridge University, who finally wrote down Maxwells equations, which allow us to summarize the dynamics of light.

That helped to unleash the Electric Age, and the Information Age, which have changed all of human history. Now its hard to believe, but Newtons equations and Einsteins equations are no more than about half an inch long.

Maxwells equations are also about half an inch long. For example, Maxwells equations say that the four-dimensional divergence of an antisymmetric, second-rank tensor equals zero. Thats Maxwells equations, the equations for light. And in fact, at Berkeley, you can buy a T-shirt which says, “In the beginning, God said the four-dimensional divergence of an antisymmetric, second rank tensor equals zero, and there was Light, and it was good.”

So, the mastery of the first two forces helped to unleash, respectively, the Industrial Revolution and the Information Revolution.

The last two forces are the weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force, and they in turn have helped us to unlock the secret of the stars, via Einsteins equations E=mc2, and many people think that far in the future, the human race may ultimately derive its energy not only from solar power, which is the power of fusion, but also fusion power on the Earth, in terms of fusion reactors, which operate on seawater, and create no copious quantities of radioactive waste.

So, in summary, the mastery of each force helped to unleash a new revolution in human history.

Today, we physicists are embarking upon the greatest quest of all, which is to unify all four of these forces into a single comprehensive theory. The first force, gravity, is now represented by Einsteins General Theory of Relativity, which gives us the Big Bang, black holes, and expanding universe. Its a theory of the very large; its a theory of smooth, space-time manifolds like bedsheets and trampoline nets.

The second theory, the quantum theory, is the exact opposite. The quantum theory allows us to unify the electromagnetic, weak and strong force. However, it is based on discrete, tiny packets of energy called quanta, rather than smooth bedsheets, and it is based on probabilities, rather than the certainty of Einsteins equations. So these two theories summarize the sum total of all physical knowledge of the physical universe.

Any equation describing the physical universe ultimately is derived from one of these two theories. The problem is these two theories are diametrically opposed. They are based on different assumptions, different principles, and different mathematics. Our job as physicists is to unify the two into a single, comprehensive theory. Now, over the last decades, the giants of the twentieth century have tried to do this and have failed.

For example, Niels Bohr, the founder of atomic physics and the quantum theory, was very skeptical about many attempts over the decades to create a Unified Field Theory. One day, Wolfgang Pauli, Nobel laureate, was giving a talk about his version of the Unified Field Theory, and in a very famous story, Bohr stood up in the back of the room and said, “Mr. Pauli, we in the back are convinced that your theory is crazy. What divides us is whether your theory is crazy enough.”

So today, we realize that a true Unified Field Theory must be bizarre, must be fantastic, incredible, mind-boggling, crazy, because all the sane alternatives have been studied and discarded.

Today we have string theory, which is based on the idea that the subatomic particles we see in nature are nothing but notes we see on a tiny, vibrating string. If you kick the string, then an electron will turn into a neutrino. If you kick it again, the vibrating string will turn from a neutrino into a photon or a graviton. And if you kick it enough times, the vibrating string will then mutate into all the subatomic particles.

Therefore we no longer in some sense have to deal with thousands of subatomic particles coming from our atom smashers, we just have to realize that what makes them, what drives them, is a vibrating string. Now when these strings collide, they form atoms and nuclei, and so in some sense, the melodies that you can write on the string correspond to the laws of chemistry. Physics is then reduced to the laws of harmony that we can write on a string. The Universe is a symphony of strings. And what is the mind of God that Einstein used to write about? According to this picture, the mind of God is music resonating through ten- or eleven-dimensional hyperspace, which of course begs the question, “If the universe is a symphony, then is there a composer to the symphony?” But thats another question.

What do you think of Sir Martin Rees concerns about the risk of creating black holes on Earth in his book, Our Final Hour?

I havent read his book, but perhaps Sir Martin Rees is referring to many press reports that claim that the Earth may be swallowed up by a black hole created by our machines. This started with a letter to the editor in Scientific American asking whether the RHIC accelerator in Brookhaven, Long Island, will create a black hole which will swallow up the earth. This was then picked up by the Sunday London Times who then splashed it on the international wire services, and all of a sudden, we physicists were deluged with hundreds of emails and telegrams asking whether or not we are going to destroy the world when we create a black hole in Long Island.

However, you can calculate that in outer space, cosmic rays have more energy than the particles produced in our most powerful atom smashers, and black holes do not form in outer space. Not to mention the fact that to create a black hole, you would have to have the mass of a giant star. In fact, an object ten to fifty times the mass of our star may in fact form a black hole. So the probability of a black hole forming in Long Island is zero.

However, Sir Martin Rees also has written a book, talking about the Multiverse. And that is also the subject of my next book, coming out late next year, called Parallel Worlds. We physicists no longer believe in a Universe. We physicists believe in a Multiverse that resembles the boiling of water. Water boils when tiny particles, or bubbles, form, which then begin to rapidly expand. If our Universe is a bubble in boiling water, then perhaps Big Bangs happen all the time.

Now, the Multiverse idea is consistent with Superstring theory, in the sense that Superstring theory has millions of solutions, each of which seems to correspond to a self-consistent Universe. So in some sense, Superstring theory is drowning in its own riches. Instead of predicting a unique Universe, it seems to allow the possibility of a Multiverse of Universes.

This may also help to answer the question raised by the Anthropic Principle. Our Universe seems to have known that we were coming. The conditions for life are extremely stringent. Life and consciousness can only exist in a very narrow band of physical parameters. For example, if the proton is not stable, then the Universe will collapse into a useless heap of electrons and neutrinos. If the proton were a little bit different in mass, it would decay, and all our DNA molecules would decay along with it.

In fact, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of coincidences, happy coincidences, that make life possible. Life, and especially consciousness, is quite fragile. It depends on stable matter, like protons, that exists for billions of years in a stable environment, sufficient to create autocatalytic molecules that can reproduce themselves, and thereby create Life. In physics, it is extremely hard to create this kind of Universe. You have to play with the parameters, you have to juggle the numbers, cook the books, in order to create a Universe which is consistent with Life.

However, the Multiverse idea explains this problem, because it simply means we coexist with dead Universes. In other Universes, the proton is not stable. In other Universes, the Big Bang took place, and then it collapsed rapidly into a Big Crunch, or these Universes had a Big Bang, and immediately went into a Big Freeze, where temperatures were so low, that Life could never get started.

So, in the Multiverse of Universes, many of these Universes are in fact dead, and our Universe in this sense is special, in that Life is possible in this Universe. Now, in religion, we have the Judeo-Christian idea of an instant of time, a genesis, when God said, “Let there be light.” But in Buddhism, we have a contradictory philosophy, which says that the Universe is timeless. It had no beginning, and it had no end, it just is. Its eternal, and it has no beginning or end.

The Multiverse idea allows us to combine these two pictures into a coherent, pleasing picture. It says that in the beginning, there was nothing, nothing but hyperspace, perhaps ten- or eleven-dimensional hyperspace. But hyperspace was unstable, because of the quantum principle. And because of the quantum principle, there were fluctuations, fluctuations in nothing. This means that bubbles began to form in nothing, and these bubbles began to expand rapidly, giving us the Universe. So, in other words, the Judeo-Christian genesis takes place within the Buddhist nirvana, all the time, and our Multiverse percolates universes.

Now this also raises the possibility of Universes that look just like ours, except theres one quantum difference. Lets say for example, that a cosmic ray went through Churchills mother, and Churchill was never born, as a consequence. In that Universe, which is only one quantum event away from our Universe, England never had a dynamic leader to lead its forces against Hitler, and Hitler was able to overcome England, and in fact conquer the world.

So, we are one quantum event away from Universes that look quite different from ours, and its still not clear how we physicists resolve this question. This paradox revolves around the Schrdingers Cat problem, which is still largely unsolved. In any quantum theory, we have the possibility that atoms can exist in two places at the same time, in two states at the same time. And then Erwin Schrdinger, the founder of quantum mechanics, asked the question: lets say we put a cat in a box, and the cat is connected to a jar of poison gas, which is connected to a hammer, which is connected to a Geiger counter, which is connected to uranium. Everyone believes that uranium has to be described by the quantum theory. Thats why we have atomic bombs, in fact. No one disputes this.

But if the uranium decays, triggering the Geiger counter, setting off the hammer, destroying the jar of poison gas, then I might kill the cat. And so, is the cat dead or alive? Believe it or not, we physicists have to superimpose, or add together, the wave function of a dead cat with the wave function of a live cat. So the cat is neither dead nor alive.

This is perhaps one of the deepest questions in all the quantum theory, with Nobel laureates arguing with other Nobel laureates about the meaning of reality itself.

Now, in philosophy, solipsists like Bishop Berkeley used to believe that if a tree fell in the forest and there was no one there to listen to the tree fall, then perhaps the tree did not fall at all. However, Newtonians believe that if a tree falls in the forest, that you dont have to have a human there to witness the event.

The quantum theory puts a whole new spin on this. The quantum theory says that before you look at the tree, the tree could be in any possible state. It could be burnt, a sapling, it could be firewood, it could be burnt to the ground. It could be in any of an infinite number of possible states. Now, when you look at it, it suddenly springs into existence and becomes a tree.

Einstein never liked this. When people used to come to his house, he used to ask them, “Look at the moon. Does the moon exist because a mouse looks at the moon?” Well, in some sense, yes. According to the Copenhagen school of Neils Bohr, observation determines existence.

Now, there are at least two ways to resolve this. The first is the Wigner school. Eugene Wigner was one of the creators of the atomic bomb and a Nobel laureate. And he believed that observation creates the Universe. An infinite sequence of observations is necessary to create the Universe, and in fact, maybe theres a cosmic observer, a God of some sort, that makes the Universe spring into existence.

Theres another theory, however, called decoherence, or many worlds, which believes that the Universe simply splits each time, so that we live in a world where the cat is alive, but theres an equal world where the cat is dead. In that world, they have people, they react normally, they think that their world is the only world, but in that world, the cat is dead. And, in fact, we exist simultaneously with that world.

This means that theres probably a Universe where you were never born, but everything else is the same. Or perhaps your mother had extra brothers and sisters for you, in which case your family is much larger. Now, this can be compared to sitting in a room, listening to radio. When you listen to radio, you hear many frequencies. They exist simultaneously all around you in the room. However, your radio is only tuned to one frequency. In the same way, in your living room, there is the wave function of dinosaurs. There is the wave function of aliens from outer space. There is the wave function of the Roman Empire, because it never fell, 1500 years ago.

All of this coexists inside your living room. However, just like you can only tune into one radio channel, you can only tune into one reality channel, and that is the channel that you exist in. So, in some sense it is true that we coexist with all possible universes. The catch is, we cannot communicate with them, we cannot enter these universes.

However, I personally believe that at some point in the future, that may be our only salvation. The latest cosmological data indicates that the Universe is accelerating, not slowing down, which means the Universe will eventually hit a Big Freeze, trillions of years from now, when temperatures are so low that it will be impossible to have any intelligent being survive.

When the Universe dies, theres one and only one way to survive in a freezing Universe, and that is to leave the Universe. In evolution, there is a law of biology that says if the environment becomes hostile, either you adapt, you leave, or you die.

When the Universe freezes and temperatures reach near absolute zero, you cannot adapt. The laws of thermodynamics are quite rigid on this question. Either you will die, or you will leave. This means, of course, that we have to create machines that will allow us to enter eleven-dimensional hyperspace. This is still quite speculative, but String theory, in some sense, may be our only salvation. For advanced civilizations in outer space, either we leave or we die.

That brings up a question. Matrix Reloaded seems to be based on parallel universes. What do you think of the film in terms of its metaphors?

Well, the technology found in the Matrix would correspond to that of an advanced Type I or Type II civilization. We physicists, when we scan outer space, do not look for little green men in flying saucers. We look for the total energy outputs of a civilization in outer space, with a characteristic frequency. Even if intelligent beings tried to hide their existence, by the second law of thermodynamics, they create entropy, which should be visible with our detectors.

So we classify civilizations on the basis of energy outputs. A Type I civilization is planetary. They control all planetary forms of energy. They would control, for example, the weather, volcanoes, earthquakes; they would mine the oceans, any planetary form of energy they would control. Type II would be stellar. They play with solar flares. They can move stars, ignite stars, play with white dwarfs. Type III is galactic, in the sense that they have now conquered whole star systems, and are able to use black holes and star clusters for their energy supplies.

Each civilization is separated by the previous civilization by a factor of ten billion. Therefore, you can calculate numerically at what point civilizations may begin to harness certain kinds of technologies. In order to access wormholes and parallel universes, you have to be probably a Type III civilization, because by definition, a Type III civilization has enough energy to play with the Planck energy.

The Planck energy, or 1019 billion electron volts, is the energy at which space-time becomes unstable. If you were to heat up, in your microwave oven, a piece of space-time to that energy, then bubbles would form inside your microwave oven, and each bubble in turn would correspond to a baby Universe.

Now, in the Matrix, several metaphors are raised. One metaphor is whether computing machines can create artificial realities. That would require a civilization centuries or millennia ahead of ours, which would place it squarely as a Type I or Type II civilization.

However, we also have to ask a practical question: is it possible to create implants that could access our memory banks to create this artificial reality, and are machines dangerous? My answer is the following. First of all, cyborgs with neural implants: the technology does not exist, and probably wont exist for at least a century, for us to access the central nervous system. At present, we can only do primitive experiments on the brain.

For example, at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, its possible to put a glass implant into the brain of a stroke victim, and the paralyzed stroke victim is able to, by looking at the cursor of a laptop, eventually control the motion of the cursor. Its very slow and tedious; its like learning to ride a bicycle for the first time. But the brain grows into the glass bead, which is placed into the brain. The glass bead is connected to a laptop computer, and over many hours, the person is able to, by pure thought, manipulate the cursor on the screen.

So, the central nervous system is basically a black box. Except for some primitive hookups to the visual system of the brain, we scientists have not been able to access most bodily functions, because we simply dont know the code for the spinal cord and for the brain. So, neural implant technology, I believe is one hundred, maybe centuries away from ours.

On the other hand, we have to ask yet another metaphor raised by the Matrix, and that is, are machines dangerous? And the answer is, potentially, yes. However, at present, our robots have the intelligence of a cockroach, in the sense that pattern recognition and common sense are the two most difficult, unsolved problems in artificial intelligence theory. Pattern recognition means the ability to see, hear, and to understand what you are seeing and understand what you are hearing. Common sense means your ability to make sense out of the world, which even children can perform.

Those two problems are at the present time largely unsolved. Now, I think, however, that within a few decades, we should be able to create robots as smart as mice, maybe dogs and cats. However, when machines start to become as dangerous as monkeys, I think we should put a chip in their brain, to shut them off when they start to have murderous thoughts.

By the time you have monkey intelligence, you begin to have self-awareness, and with self-awareness, you begin to have an agenda created by a monkey for its own purposes. And at that point, a mechanical monkey may decide that its agenda is different from our agenda, and at that point they may become dangerous to humans. I think we have several decades before that happens, and Moores Law will probably collapse in 20 years anyway, so I think theres plenty of time before we come to the point where we have to deal with murderous robots, like in the movie 2001.

So you differ with Ray Kurzweils concept of using nanobots to reverse-engineer and upload the brain, possibly within the coming decades?

Not necessarily. Im just laying out a linear course, the trajectory where artificial intelligence theory is going today. And that is, trying to build machines which can navigate and roam in our world, and two, robots which can make sense out of the world. However, theres another divergent path one might take, and thats to harness the power of nanotechnology. However, nanotechnology is still very primitive. At the present time, we can barely build arrays of atoms. We cannot yet build the first atomic gear, for example. No one has created an atomic wheel with ball bearings. So simple machines, which even children can play with in their toy sets, dont yet exist at the atomic level. However, on a scale of decades, we may be able to create atomic devices that begin to mimic our own devices.

Molecular transistors can already be made. Nanotubes allow us to create strands of material that are super-strong. However, nanotechnology is still in its infancy and therefore, its still premature to say where nanotechnology will go. However, one place where technology may go is inside our body. Already, its possible to create a pill the size of an aspirin pill that has a television camera that can photograph our insides as it goes down our gullet, which means that one day surgery may become relatively obsolete.

In the future, its conceivable we may have atomic machines that enter the blood. And these atomic machines will be the size of blood cells and perhaps they would be able to perform useful functions like regulating and sensing our health, and perhaps zapping cancer cells and viruses in the process. However, this is still science fiction, because at the present time, we cant even build simple atomic machines yet.

Is there any possibility, similar to the premise of The Matrix, that we are living in a simulation?

Well, philosophically speaking, its always possible that the universe is a dream, and its always possible that our conversation with our friends is a by-product of the pickle that we had last night that upset our stomach. However, science is based upon reproducible evidence. When we go to sleep and we wake up the next day, we usually wind up in the same universe. It is reproducible. No matter how we try to avoid certain unpleasant situations, they come back to us. That is reproducible. So reality, as we commonly believe it to exist, is a reproducible experiment, its a reproducible sensation. Therefore in principle, you could never rule out the fact that the world could be a dream, but the fact of the matter is, the universe as it exists is a reproducible universe.

Now, in the Matrix, a computer simulation was run so that virtual reality became reproducible. Every time you woke up, you woke up in that same virtual reality. That technology, of course, does not violate the laws of physics. Theres nothing in relativity or the quantum theory that says that the Matrix is not possible. However, the amount of computer power necessary to drive the universe and the technology necessary for a neural implant is centuries to millennia beyond anything that we can conceive of, and therefore this is something for an advanced Type I or II civilization.

Why is a Type I required to run this kind of simulation? Is number crunching the problem?

Yes, its simply a matter of number crunching. At the present time, we scientists simply do not know how to interface with the brain. You see, one of the problems is, the brain, strictly speaking, is not a digital computer at all. The brain is not a Turing machine. A Turing machine is a black box with an input tape and an output tape and a central processing unit. That is the essential element of a Turing machine: information processing is localized in one point. However, our brain is actually a learning machine; its a neural network.

Many people find this hard to believe, but theres no software, there is no operating system, there is no Windows programming for the brain. The brain is a vast collection, perhaps a hundred billion neurons, each neuron with 10,000 connections, which slowly and painfully interacts with the environment. Some neural pathways are genetically programmed to give us instinct. However, for the most part, our cerebral cortex has to be reprogrammed every time we bump into reality.

As a consequence, we cannot simply put a chip in our brain that augments our memory and enhances our intelligence. Memory and thinking, we now realize, is distributed throughout the entire brain. For example, its possible to have people with only half a brain. There was a documented case recently where a young girl had half her brain removed and shes still fully functional.

So, the brain can operate with half of its mass removed. However, you remove one transistor in your Pentium computer and the whole computer dies. So, theres a fundamental difference between digital computerswhich are easily programmed, which are modular, and you can insert different kinds of subroutines in themand neural networks, where learning is distributed throughout the entire device, making it extremely difficult to reprogram. That is the reason why, even if we could create an advanced PlayStation that would run simulations on a PC screen, that software cannot simply be injected into the human brain, because the brain has no operating system.

Ray Kurzweils next book, The Singularity is Near, predicts that possibly within the coming decades, there will be super-intelligence emerging on the planet that will surpass that of humans. What do you think of that idea?

Yes, that sounds interesting. But Moores Law will have collapsed by then, so well have a little breather. In 20 years time, the quantum theory takes over, so Moores Law collapses and well probably stagnate for a few decades after that. Moores Law, which states that computer power doubles every 18 months, will not last forever. The quantum theory giveth, the quantum theory taketh away. The quantum theory makes possible transistors, which can be etched by ultraviolet rays onto smaller and smaller chips of silicon. This process will end in about 15 to 20 years. The senior engineers at Intel now admit for the first time that, yes, they are facing the end.

The thinnest layer on a Pentium chip consists of about 20 atoms. When we start to hit five atoms in the thinnest layer of a Pentium chip, the quantum theory takes over, electrons can now tunnel outside the layer, and the Pentium chip short-circuits. Therefore, within a 15 to 20 year time frame, Moores Law could collapse, and Silicon Valley could become a Rust Belt.

This means that we physicists are desperately trying to create the architecture for the post-silicon era. This means using quantum computers, quantum dot computers, optical computers, DNA computers, atomic computers, molecular computers, in order to bridge the gap when Moores Law collapses in 15 to 20 years. The wealth of nations depends upon the technology that will replace the power of silicon.

This also means that you cannot project artificial intelligence exponentially into the future. Some people think that Moores Law will extend forever; in which case humans will be reduced to zoo animals and our robot creations will throw peanuts at us and make us dance behind bars. Now, that may eventually happen. It is certainly consistent within the laws of physics.

However, the laws of the quantum theory say that were going to face a massive problem 15 to 20 years from now. Now, some remedial methods have been proposed; for example, building cubical chips, chips that are stacked on chips to create a 3-dimensional array. However, the problem there is heat production. Tremendous quantities of heat are produced by cubical chips, such that you can fry an egg on top of a cubical chip. Therefore, I firmly believe that we may be able to squeeze a few more years out of Moores Law, perhaps designing clever cubical chips that are super-cooled, perhaps using x-rays to etch our chips instead of ultraviolet rays. However, that only delays the inevitable. Sooner or later, the quantum theory kills you. Sooner or later, when we hit five atoms, we dont know where the electron is anymore, and we have to go to the next generation, which relies on the quantum theory and atoms and molecules.

Therefore, I say that all bets are off in terms of projecting machine intelligence beyond a 20-year time frame. Theres nothing in the laws of physics that says that computers cannot exceed human intelligence. All I raise is that we physicists are desperately trying to patch up Moores Law, and at the present time we have to admit that we have no successor to silicon, which means that Moores Law will collapse in 15 to 20 years.

So are you saying that quantum computing and nanocomputing are not likely to be available by then?

No, no, Im just saying its very difficult. At the present time we physicists have been able to compute on seven atoms. That is the worlds record for a quantum computer. And that quantum computer was able to calculate 3 x 5 = 15. Now, being able to calculate 3 x 5 = 15 does not equal the convenience of a laptop computer that can crunch potentially millions of calculations per second. The problem with quantum computers is that any contamination, any atomic disturbance, disturbs the alignment of the atoms and the atoms then collapse into randomness. This is extremely difficult, because any cosmic ray, any air molecule, any disturbance can conceivably destroy the coherence of our atomic computer to make them useless.

Unless you have redundant parallel computing?

Even if you have parallel computing you still have to have each parallel computer component free of any disturbance. So, no matter how you cut it, the practical problems of building quantum computers, although within the laws of physics, are extremely difficult, because it requires that we remove all in contact with the environment at the atomic level. In practice, weve only been able to do this with a handful of atoms, meaning that quantum computers are still a gleam in the eye of most physicists.

Now, if a quantum computer can be successfully built, it would, of course, scare the CIA and all the governments of the world, because it would be able to crack any code created by a Turing machine. A quantum computer would be able to perform calculations that are inconceivable by a Turing machine. Calculations that require an infinite amount of time on a Turing machine can be calculated in a few seconds by a quantum computer. For example, if you shine laser beams on a collection of coherent atoms, the laser beam scatters, and in some sense performs a quantum calculation, which exceeds the memory capability of any Turing machine.

However, as I mentioned, the problem is that these atoms have to be in perfect coherence, and the problems of doing this are staggering in the sense that even a random collision with a subatomic particle could in fact destroy the coherence and make the quantum computer impractical.

So, Im not saying that its impossible to build a quantum computer; Im just saying that its awfully difficult.

When do you think we might expect SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] to be successful?

I personally think that SETI is looking in the wrong direction. If, for example, were walking down a country road and we see an anthill, do we go down to the ant and say, “I bring you trinkets, I bring you beads, I bring you knowledge, I bring you medicine, I bring you nuclear technology, take me to your leader”? Or, do we simply step on them? Any civilization capable of reaching the planet Earth would be perhaps a Type III civilization. And the difference between you and the ant is comparable to the distance between you and a Type III civilization. Therefore, for the most part, a Type III civilization would operate with a completely different agenda and message than our civilization.

Lets say that a ten-lane superhighway is being built next to the anthill. The question is: would the ants even know what a ten-lane superhighway is, or what its used for, or how to communicate with the workers who are just feet away? And the answer is no. One question that we sometimes ask is if there is a Type III civilization in our backyard, in the Milky Way galaxy, would we even know its presence? And if you think about it, you realize that theres a good chance that we, like ants in an anthill, would not understand or be able to make sense of a ten-lane superhighway next door.

So this means there that could very well be a Type III civilization in our galaxy, it just means that were not smart enough to find one. Now, a Type III civilization is not going to make contact by sending Captain Kirk on the Enterprise to meet our leader. A Type III civilization would send self-replicating Von Neumann probes to colonize the galaxy with robots. For example, consider a virus. A virus only consists of thousands of atoms. Its a molecule in some sense. But in about one week, it can colonize an entire human being made of trillions of cells. How is that possible?

Well, a Von Neumann probe would be a self-replicating robot that lands on a moon; a moon, because they are stable, with no erosion, and theyre stable for billions of years. The probe would then make carbon copies of itself by the millions. It would create a factory to build copies of itself. And then these probes would then rocket to other nearby star systems, land on moons, to create a million more copies by building a factory on that moon. Eventually, there would be sphere surrounding the mother planet, expanding at near-light velocity, containing trillions of these Von Neumann probes, and that is perhaps the most efficient way to colonize the galaxy. This means that perhaps, on our moon there is a Von Neumann probe, left over from a visitation that took place million of years ago, and the probe is simply waiting for us to make the transition from Type 0 to Type I.

The Sentinel.

Yes. This, of course, is the basis of the movie 2001, because at the beginning of the movie, Kubrick interviewed many prominent scientists, and asked them the question, “What is the most likely way that an advanced civilization would probe the universe?” And that is, of course, through self-replicating Von Neumann probes, which create moon bases. That is the basis of the movie 2001, where the probe simply waits for us to become interesting. If were Type 0, were not very interesting. We have all the savagery and all the suicidal tendencies of fundamentalism, nationalism, sectarianism, that are sufficient to rip apart our world.

By the time weve become Type I, weve become interesting, weve become planetary, we begin to resolve our differences. We have centuries in which to exist on a single planet to create a paradise on Earth, a paradise of knowledge and prosperity.

2003 KurzweilAI.net

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Bahamas Vacation Packages & Travel Deals – Atlantis

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Jun 262016
 

*Savings of up to 50% per night. Savings listed are per night, dbl occ. for Beach Tower Terrace. Savings on other room categories may vary by tower and travel dates. Must be booked by 6/30/16 for travel 9/22/16 through 12/20/16. New bookings only.2 night min stay required.Weekend charges apply. Taxes, levies, fees, service charges, and mandatory gratuities are additional starting from $100 per night per room.Blackout dates apply. This offer is subject to availability and may be changed or cancelled without notice. Offer not combinable with any other offer listed at time of offer. Not applicable to groups.

1.RESORT CREDIT: Royal Towers resort credit is $200 per room, per stay. The Cove Atlantis resort credit is $300 per room, per stay. Resort Credit is only valid for new bookings and is subject to a 3 night minimum stay. Resort credit is a one-time credit and applicable per room per stay. This offer is valid for new bookings only made from 6/22/16-6/30/16. The Resort credit offer is available for stays beginning on 6/22/16 and ending on 1/2/17. Stays that cross the effective travel dates will not receive the Resort credit for any portion of their stay. Resort credit cannot be used towards the cost of the room. Credit begins on the date of arrival and expires upon checkout. No credit will be issued for any unused amount. 2 bedroom suites are considered 1 room for purposes of this offer. This offer has no cash value. Resort credit may be used for Dolphin & Marine Adventures, Atlantis Kids Adventures, CRUSH, Atlantis Pals, Atlantis Speedway, Atlantis LIVE performances, internet service or select food and beverage outlets. Resort credit may not be used for laundry service or at any of the following outlets: Mandara Spa, Ocean Club Golf Course, the Casino, Marina Starbucks, Quizno’s, the Atlantis Signature shops or any other retail shops. It may not be used on gratuities for food and beverage consumption, in-room movies or phone calls, transportation/transfers, or taxes and Energy Surcharges. Resort credit is not applicable for bookings at the Harborside Resort or The Reef Atlantis. Not applicable for the Beach Tower All-Inclusive Experience. Offer is only applicable on reservation earning Marriott Rewards points and is not applicable on reservation booked using Marriott Rewards points.

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Prison Planet.com Bill Gates And Neo-Eugenics: Vaccines …

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Jun 262016
 

F. William Engdahl Financial Sense Friday, March 5, 2010

Microsoft founder and one of the worlds wealthiest men, Bill Gates, projects an image of a benign philanthropist using his billions via his (tax exempt) Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to tackle diseases, solve food shortages in Africa and alleviate poverty. In a recent conference in California, Gates reveals a less public agenda of his philanthropypopulation reduction, otherwise known as eugenics.

Gates made his remarks to the invitation-only Long Beach, California TED2010 Conference, in a speech titled, Innovating to Zero!. Along with the scientifically absurd proposition of reducing manmade CO2 emissions worldwide to zero by 2050, approximately four and a half minutes into the talk, Gates declares, First we got population. The world today has 6.8 billion people. Thats headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.1 (authors emphasis).

In plain English, one of the most powerful men in the world states clearly that he expects vaccines to be used to reduce population growth. When Bill Gates speaks about vaccines, he speaks with authority. In January 2010 at the elite Davos World Economic Forum, Gates announced his foundation would give $10 billion (circa 7.5 billion) over the next decade to develop and deliver new vaccines to children in the developing world. 2

The primary focus of his multi-billion dollar Gates Foundation is vaccinations, especially in Africa and other underdeveloped countries. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a founding member of the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccinations and Immunization) in partnership with the World Bank, WHO and the vaccine industry. The goal of GAVI is to vaccinate every newborn child in the developing world.

Now that sounds like noble philanthropic work. The problem is that the vaccine industry has been repeatedly caught dumping dangerousmeaning unsafe because untested or proven harmfulvaccines onto unwitting Third World populations when they cannot get rid of the vaccines in the West. 3 Some organizations have suggested that the true aim of the vaccinations is to make people sicker and even more susceptible to disease and premature death.4

Dumping toxins on the Third World

In the aftermath of the most recent unnecessary Pandemic declaration of a global H1N1 swine flu emergency, industrial countries were left sitting on hundreds of millions of doses of untested vaccines. They decided to get rid of the embarrassing leftover drugs by handing them over to the WHO which in turn plans to dump them for free on select poor countries. France has given 91 million of the 94 million doses the Sarkozy government bought from the pharma giants; Britain gave 55 million of its 60 million doses. The story for Germany and Norway is similar.5

As Dr. Thomas Jefferson, an epidemiologist with the Cochrane Research Center in Rome noted, Why do they give the vaccines to the developing countries at all? The pandemic has been called off in most parts of the world. The greatest threat in poor countries right now is heart and circulatory diseases while the virus figures at the bottom of the list. What is the medical reason for donating 180 million doses? 6 As well, flu is a minor problem in countries with abundant sunshine, and it turned out that the feared H1N1 Pandemic new great plague was the mildest flu on record.

The pharmaceutical vaccine makers do not speak about the enormous health damage from infant vaccination including autism and numerous neuro-muscular deformities that have been traced back to the toxic adjuvants and preservatives used in most vaccines. Many vaccines, especially multi-dose vaccines that are made more cheaply for sale to the Third World, contain something called Thimerosal (Thiomersol in the EU), a compound (sodium ethylmercurithiosalicylate), containing some 50% mercury, used as a preservative.

In July 1999 the US National Vaccine Information Center declared in a press release that, The cumulative effects of ingesting mercury can cause brain damage. The same month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted the public about the possible health effects associated with thimerosal-containing vaccines. They strongly recommended that thimerosal be removed from vaccines as soon as possible. Under the directive of the FDA Modernization Act of 1997, the Food and Drug Administration also determined that infants who received several thimerosal-containing vaccines may be receiving mercury exposure over and above the recommended federal guidelines.7

(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)

A new form of eugenics?

Gates interest in inducing population reduction among black and other minority populations is not new unfortunately. As I document in my book, Seeds of Destruction,8 since the 1920s the Rockefeller Foundation had funded the eugenics research in Germany through the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institutes in Berlin and Munich, including well into the Third Reich. They praised the forced sterilization of people by Hirtler Germany, and the Nazi ideas on race purity. It was John D. Rockefeller III, a life-long advocate of eugenics, who used his tax free foundation money to initiate the population reduction neo-Malthusian movement through his private Population Council in New York beginning in the 1950s.

The idea of using vaccines to covertly reduce births in the Third World is also not new. Bill Gates good friend, David Rockefeller and his Rockefeller Foundation were involved as early as 1972 in a major project together with WHO and others to perfect another new vaccine.

The results of the WHO-Rockefeller project were put into mass application on human guinea pigs in the early 1990s. The WHO oversaw massive vaccination campaigns against tetanus in Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines. Comite Pro Vida de Mexico, a Roman Catholic lay organization, became suspicious of the motives behind the WHO program and decided to test numerous vials of the vaccine and found them to contain human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, or hCG. That was a curious component for a vaccine designed to protect people against lock-jaw arising from infection with rusty nail wounds or other contact with certain bacteria found in soil. The tetanus disease was indeed, also rather rare. It was also curious because hCG was a natural hormone needed to maintain a pregnancy. However, when combined with a tetanus toxoid carrier, it stimulated formation of antibodies against hCG, rendering a woman incapable of maintaining a pregnancy, a form of concealed abortion. Similar reports of vaccines laced with hCG hormones came from the Philippines and Nicaragua.9

Gates Gene Revolution in Africa

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with David Rockefellers Rockefeller Foundation, the creators of the GMO biotechnology, are also financing a project called The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) headed by former UN chief, Kofi Annan. Accepting the role as AGRA head in June 2007 Annan expressed his gratitude to the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and all others who support our African campaign. The AGRA board is dominated by people from both the Gates and Rockefeller foundations. 10

Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta and other major GMO agribusiness giants are reported at the heart of AGRA, using it as a back-door to spread their patented GMO seeds across Africa under the deceptive label, bio-technology, a euphemism for genetically engineered patented seeds. The person from the Gates Foundation responsible for its work with AGRA is Dr. Robert Horsch, a 25-year Monsanto GMO veteran who was on the team that developed Monsantos RoundUp Ready GMO technologies. His job is reportedly to use Gates money to introduce GMO into Africa.11

To date South Africa is the only African country permitting legal planting of GMO crops. In 2003 Burkina Faso authorized GMO trials. In 2005 Kofi Annans Ghana drafted bio-safety legislation and key officials expressed their intentions to pursue research into GMO crops. AGRA is being used to create networks of agro-dealers across Africa, at first with no mention of GMO seeds or herbicides, in order to have the infrastructure in place to massively introduce GMO.12

GMO, glyphosate and population reduction

GMO crops have never been proven safe for human or animal consumption. Moreover, they are inherently genetically unstable as they are an unnatural product of introducing a foreign bacteria such as Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) or other material into the DNA of a given seed to change its traits. Perhaps equally dangerous are the paired chemical herbicides sold as a mandatory part of a GMO contract, such as Monsantos Roundup, the most widely used such herbicide in the world. It contains highly toxic glyphosate compounds that have been independently tested and proven to exist in toxic concentrations in GMO applications far above that safe for humans or animals. Tests show that tiny amounts of glyphosate compounds would do damage to a human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells in a pregnant woman drinking the ground water near a GMO field.13

One long-standing project of the US Government has been to perfect a genetically-modified variety of corn, the diet staple in Mexico and many other Latin American countries. The corn has been field tested in tests financed by the US Department of Agriculture along with a small California bio-tech company named Epicyte. Announcing his success at a 2001 press conference, the president of Epicyte, Mitch Hein, pointing to his GMO corn plants, announced, We have a hothouse filled with corn plants that make anti-sperm antibodies. 14

Hein explained that they had taken antibodies from women with a rare condition known as immune infertility, isolated the genes that regulated the manufacture of those infertility antibodies, and, using genetic engineering techniques, had inserted the genes into ordinary corn seeds used to produce corn plants. In this manner, in reality they produced a concealed contraceptive embedded in corn meant for human consumption. Essentially, the antibodies are attracted to surface receptors on the sperm, said Hein. They latch on and make each sperm so heavy it cannot move forward. It just shakes about as if it was doing the lambada. 15 Hein claimed it was a possible solution to world over-population. The moral and ethical issues of feeding it to humans in Third World poor countries without their knowing it countries he left out of his remarks.

Spermicides hidden in GMO corn provided to starving Third World populations through the generosity of the Gates foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Kofi Annans AGRA or vaccines that contain undisclosed sterilization agents are just two documented cases of using vaccines or GMO seeds to reduce population.

And the Good Club

Gates TED2010 speech on zero emissions and population reduction is consistent with a report that appeared in New York Citys ethnic media, Irish.Central.com in May 2009. According to the report, a secret meeting took place on May 5, 2009 at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, President of Rockefeller University, among some of the wealthiest people in America. Investment guru Warren Buffett who in 2006 decided to pool his $30 billion Buffett Foundation into the Gates foundation to create the worlds largest private foundation with some $60 billions of tax-free dollars was present. Banker David Rockefeller was the host.

The exclusive letter of invitation was signed by Gates, Rockefeller and Buffett. They decided to call themselves the Good Club. Also present was media czar Ted Turner, billionaire founder of CNN who stated in a 1996 interview for the Audubon nature magazine, where he said that a 95% reduction of world population to between 225-300 million would be ideal. In a 2008 interview at Philadelphias Temple University, Turner fine-tuned the number to 2 billion, a cut of more than 70% from todays population. Even less elegantly than Gates, Turner stated, we have too many people. Thats why we have global warming. We need less people using less stuff (sic).16

Others attending this first meeting of the Good Club reportedly were: Eli Broad real estate billionaire, New Yorks billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Wall Street billionaire and Council on Foreign Relations former head, Peter G. Peterson.

In addition, Julian H. Robertson, Jr., hedge-fund billionaire who worked with Soros attacking the currencies of Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and the Asian Tigen economies, precipitating the 1997-98 Asia Crisis. Also present at the first session of the Good Club was Patty Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Gates foundation, and John Morgridge of Cisco Systems. The group represented a combined fortune of more than $125 billion. 17

According to reports apparently leaked by one of the attendees, the meeting was held in response to the global economic downturn and the numerous health and environmental crises that are plaguing the globe.

But the central theme and purpose of the secret Good Club meeting of the plutocrats was the priority concern posed by Bill Gates, namely, how to advance more effectively their agenda of birth control and global population reduction. In the talks a consensus reportedly emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat. 18

Global Eugenics agenda

Gates and Buffett are major funders of global population reduction programs, as is Turner, whose UN Foundation was created to funnel $1 billion of his tax-free stock option earnings in AOL-Time-Warner into various birth reduction programs in the developing world.19 The programs in Africa and elsewhere are masked as philanthropy and providing health services for poor Africans. In reality they involve involuntary population sterilization via vaccination and other medicines that make women of child-bearing age infertile. The Gates Foundation, where Buffett deposited the bulk of his wealth two years ago, is also backing introduction of GMO seeds into Africa under the cloak of the Kofi Annan-led Second Green Revolution in Africa. The introduction of GMO patented seeds in Africa to date has met with enormous indigenous resistance.

Health experts point out that were the intent of Gates really to improve the health and well-being of black Africans, the same hundreds of millions of dollars the Gates Foundation has invested in untested and unsafe vaccines could be used in providing minimal sanitary water and sewage systems. Vaccinating a child who then goes to drink feces-polluted river water is hardly healthy in any respect. But of course cleaning up the water and sewage systems of Africa would revolutionize the health conditions of the Continent.

Gates TED2010 comments about having new vaccines to reduce global population were obviously no off-the-cuff remark. For those who doubt, the presentation Gates made at the TED2009 annual gathering said almost exactly the same thing about reducing population to cut global warming. For the mighty and powerful of the Good Club, human beings seem to be a form of pollution equal to CO2.

Resources:

1 Bill Gates, Innovating to Zero!, speech to the TED2010 annual conference, Long Beach, California, February 18, 2010, accessed in http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates.html.

2 Telegraph.co.uk, Bill Gates makes $10 billion vaccine pledge, London Telegraph, January 29, 2010, accessed in t: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/dav

3 Louise Voller, Kristian Villesen, WHO Donates Millions of Doses of Surplus Medical Supplies to Developing countries, Danish Information, 22 December 2009, accessed in http://www.theflucase.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2419%3Awhos-swine-flu-jab-donations-to-developing-countries-demarks-information-reports&catid=41%3Ahighlighted-news&Itemid=105&lang=en

4 One is the Population Research Institute in Washington, http://pop.org/

5 Louise Voller et al, op. cit.

6 Ibid.

7 Noted in Vaccinations and Autism, accessed in http://www.mercurypoisoningnews.com/vacautism.html

8 F. William Engdahl, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, Global Research (www.globalresearch.ca), Montreal, 2007, pp. 79-84.

9 James A. Miller, Are New Vaccines Laced With Birth-Control Drugs?, HLI Reports, Human Life International, Gaithersburg, Maryland; June-July 1995.

10 Cited in F. William Engdahl, Doomsday Seed Vault in the Arctic: Bill Gates, Rockefeller and the GMO giants know something we dont, Global Research, December 4, 2007, accessed in http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7529

11 Mariam Mayet, Africas Green Revolution rolls out the Gene Revolution, African Centre for Biosafety, ACB Briefing Paper No. 6/2009, Melville, South Africa, April 2009.

12 Ibid.

13 Nora Benachour and Gilles-Eric Seralini, Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical Embryonic, and Placental Cells, Chemical Research in Toxicology Journal, American Chemical Society, 2009, 22 (1), pp 97105.

14 Robin McKie, GMO Corn Set to Stop Man Spreading His Seed, London, The Observer, 9 September 2001.

15 Ibid. McKie writes, The pregnancy prevention plants are the handiwork of the San Diego biotechnology company Epicyte, where researchers have discovered a rare class of human antibodies that attack spermthe company has created tiny horticultural factories that make contraceptivesEssentially, the antibodies are attracted to surface receptors on the sperm, said Hein. They latch on and make each sperm so heavy it cannot move forward. It just shakes about as if it was doing the lambada.

16 Ted Turner, cited along with youTube video of Turner in Aaron Dykes, Ted Turner: World Needs a Voluntary One-Child Policy for the Next Hundred Years, Jones Report.com, April 29, 2008. Accessed in http://www.jonesreport.com/article/04_08/28turner_911.html

17 John Harlow, Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation, London, The Sunday Times May 24, 2009. Accessed online in http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6350303.ece.

18 Ibid.

19 United Nations Foundation, Women and Population Program, accessed in http://www.unfoundation.org/about-unf/experts/

Full story here.

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In a Huge Breakthrough, Googles AI Beats a Top Player at …

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Jun 262016
 

Slide: 1 / of 1 .

Caption: Google

In a major breakthrough for artificial intelligence, a computing system developed by Google researchers in Great Britain has beaten a top human player at the game of Go, the ancient Eastern contest of strategy and intuition that has bedeviled AI experts for decades.

Machines have topped the best humans at most games held up as measures of human intellect, including chess, Scrabble, Othello, even Jeopardy!. But with Goa 2,500-year-old game thats exponentially more complex than chesshumangrandmasters have maintained an edge over even the most agile computing systems. Earlier this month, top AI experts outside of Google questioned whether a breakthrough couldoccuranytimesoon, and as recently as last year, many believed another decade would pass before a machine could beat the top humans.

But Google has done just that. It happened faster than I thought, says Rmi Coulom, the French researcher behind what was previously the worlds top artificially intelligent Go player.

In theory, such training only produces a system that’s as good as the best humans—not better. So researchers matched their AI system against itself.

Researchers at DeepMinda self-professed Apollo program for AI that Google acquiredin 2014staged this machine-versus-mancontest in October, at the companys offices inLondon. The DeepMind system, dubbed AlphaGo, matched its artificial wits against Fan Hui, Europes reigning Go champion, and the AI system went undefeated in five games witnessed by an editor from the journal Nature and an arbiter representing the British Go Federation. It was one of the most excitingmoments in my career, both as a researcher and as an editor, the Nature editor, Dr. Tanguy Chouard, said during a conference call with reporterson Tuesday.

This morning,Nature published a paper describing DeepMinds system, which makes clever use of, among other techniques, an increasingly important AI technology called deep learning. Using a vast collection of Go moves from expert playersabout 30 million moves in totalDeepMind researchers trained their system to play Go on its own. But this was merely a first step. In theory, such training only produces a system as good as the best humans. To beat the best, the researchers then matched their systemagainst itself. This allowed them togenerate a new collectionof moves they could then use to train a new AI player that could top a grandmaster.

The most significant aspect of all thisis that AlphaGo isnt just an expert system, built with handcrafted rules, says Demis Hassabis, who oversees DeepMind. Instead, it uses general machine-learning techniques how to win at Go.

‘Go is implicit. It’s all pattern matching. But that’s what deep learning does very well.’ Demis Hassabis, DeepMind

The win is more than a novelty. Online services likeGoogle, Facebook, and Microsoft, already use deep learning to identify images, recognize spoken words, and understand natural language. DeepMinds techniques, which combine deep learning with atechnology called reinforcement learning and other methods, point the way to a future where real-world robots can learn to perform physical tasks and respond to their environment. Its a natural fit for robotics, Hassabis says.

He also believes these methods can accelerate scientific research. He envisions scientists working alongside artificially intelligent systems that can home in on areas of research likely to be fruitful. The system could process much larger volumes of data and surface the structural insight to the human expert in a way that is much more efficientor maybe not possible for the human expert, Hassabis explains. The system could even suggest a way forward that might point the human expert to a breakthrough.

But at the moment, Go remains his primary concern. After beating a grandmaster behind closed doors, Hassabis and his team aim to beat one of the worlds topplayers in a public forum. In mid-March, in South Korea, AlphaGo will challenge Lee Sedol, who holdsmore international titles than all but one player and has won the most over the past decade. Hassabis sees him as the Roger Federer of the Go world.

In early 2014, Couloms Go-playing program, Crazystone, challengedgrandmaster Norimoto Yoda at a tournament in Japan. And itwon. But the win came with caveat: the machine had a four-move head start, a significantadvantage. At the time, Coulom predicted that it would be another 10years before machinesbeat the best players without a head start.

The challenge lies in the nature of the game. Even the most powerful supercomputers lack the processing power toanalyze the results of every possible move in any reasonable amount of time. When Deep Blue topped world chess champion Gary Kasparov in 1997, it did so with whats calledbrute force. In essence, IBMs supercomputer analyzed the outcome of every possible move, looking further ahead than any human possibly could. Thats simply not possible with Go. In chess, at any given turn, there are an average 35 possible moves. WithGoin which two players compete with polished stones on 19-by-19 gridthere are 250. And each of those 250 has another 250, and so on. As Hassabis points out, there are more possible positions on a Go board than atoms in the universe.

Players will tell you to make moves based on the general appearance of the board, not by closely analyzing how each move will play out.

Using a technique called a Monte Carlo tree search, systems like Crazystone can look pretty far ahead. And in conjunction with other techniques, they can pare down thefieldof possibilities they mustanalyze. In the end, they canbeat some talented playersbut not the best.Among grandmasters, moves are rather intuitive. Players will tell you to make moves based on the general appearance of the board, not by closely analyzing how each move mightplay out. Good positions look good, says Hassabis, himself a Go player. It seems to follow some kind of aesthetic. Thats why it has been such a fascinating game for thousands of years.

But as 2014 gave way to 2015, several AI experts, including researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Facebook as well as the team at DeepMind, started applying deep learning to the Go problem. The idea was thetechnology could mimic the human intuition that Go requires. Go is implicit. Its all pattern matching, says Hassabis. But thats what deep learning does very well.

Deep learning relies on what are called neural networksnetworks of hardware and software that approximate the web of neurons in the human brain. These networks dont operate by brute forceorhandcrafted rules. They analyze large amounts of data in an effort to learn a particular task. Feed enough photos of a wombatinto a neural net, and it can learn to identify a wombat. Feed it enough spoken words, and it can learn to recognize what you say. Feed it enough Go moves, and it can learn to play Go.

At DeepMind and Edinburgh and Facebook, researchers hoped neural networks could master Go by looking at board positions, much likea human plays. As Facebook showed in a recent research paper, thetechnique works quite well. Bypairing deep learning andthe Monte Carlo Tree method, Facebook beat some human playersthough not Crazystone and other top creations.

But DeepMind pushes this ideamuch further. After training on 30 million human moves, a DeepMind neural net could predict the next human move about 57 percent of the timean impressive number (the previous record was 44 percent). ThenHassabis and team matched thisneural net against slightly different versions of itself through whats called reinforcement learning. Essentially, as the neural nets play each other, the system tracks which move brings the most rewardthe most territory on the board. Over time, it gets better and better at recognizing which moves will work and which wont.

AlphaGo learned to discover new strategies for itself, by playing millions of games between its neural networks, against themselves, and gradually improving, says DeepMind researcher David Silver.

According to Silver, this allowed AlphaGo to top other Go-playing AI systems, including Crazystone. Then the researchers fed the results into a second neural network. Grabbing moves suggested by the self-play, this neural network looks ahead to the results of each move. This is similar to whatolder systems like Deep Blue would do with chess, except that the system is learning as it goes along, as it analyzes more datanot exploring every possible outcome through brute force. In this way, AlphaGo learned to beat not only existing AI programs but a top human as well.

Like most state-of-the-art neural networks, DeepMinds system runs atop machines equipped with graphics processing units, or GPUs. These chips were originally designed to render images for games and other graphics-intensiveapplications. But as it turns out, theyre also well suited to deep learning. Hassabis says DeepMindssystem works pretty well on a single computer equipped with a decent number of GPU chips, but for the match against Fan Hui, the researchersused a larger network of computers that spanned about 170 GPU cards and 1,200 standard processors, or CPUs. This larger computer network both trained the system andplayed the actual game, drawing on the results of the training.

When AlphaGo plays the world champion in South Korea, Hassabiss team will use thesame setup, though theyre constantly working to improve it. That means theyll need an Internet connection to play Lee Sedol. Were laying down our own fiber, Hassabis says.

According to Coulom and others, topping the world champion will be more challenging thantopping Fan Hui. But Coulom is betting on DeepMind. He has spent the past decadetrying to build a system capable of beatingthe worlds best players, and now, he believes that system is here. Im busy buying some GPUs, he says.

The importance of AlphaGo is enormous. The same techniques could be applied not only to robotics and scientific research, but so many other tasks, from Siri-like mobile digital assistants to financial investments. You can apply it to any adversarial problemanything that you can conceive of as a game, where strategy matters, says Chris Nicholson, founder of the deep learning startup Skymind. That includes war or business or [financial] trading.

For some, thats a worrying thingespecially when they consider that DeepMinds system is, in more ways than one, teaching itself to play Go. The system isnt just learning from data provided by humans. Its learning by playing itself, by generating its own data. In recent months, Tesla founder Elon Musk and others have voiced concerns that such AI system eventually could exceed human intelligence and potentially break free from our control.

But DeepMinds system is very much under the control of Hassabis and his researchers. And though they used it to crack a remarkably complex game, it is still just a game. Indeed, AlphaGo is a long way from real human intelligencemuch less superintelligence. This is a highly structured situation, says Ryan Calo, an AI-focused law professor and the founder of the Tech Policy Lab at the University of Washington. Its not really human-level understanding. But it points in the direction. If DeepMinds AI can understand Go, then maybe it can understand a whole lot more. What if the universe, Calo says, is just a giant game of Go?

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Transhumanism: The World’s Most Dangerous Idea?

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Jun 262016
 

What idea, if embraced, would pose the greatest threat to the welfare of humanity? This was the question posed by the editors of Foreign Policy in the September/October issue to eight prominent policy intellectuals, among them Francis Fukuyama, professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and member of the Presidents Council on Bioethics.

And Fukuyamas answer? Transhumanism, a strange liberation movement whose crusaders aim much higher than civil rights campaigners, feminists, or gay-rights advocates. This movement, he says, wants nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological constraints.

More precisely, transhumanists advocate increased funding for research to radically extend healthy lifespan and favor the development of medical and technological means to improve memory, concentration, and other human capacities. Transhumanists propose that everybody should have the option to use such means to enhance various dimensions of their cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being. Not only is this a natural extension of the traditional aims of medicine and technology, but it is also a great humanitarian opportunity to genuinely improve the human condition.

According to transhumanists, however, the choice whether to avail oneself of such enhancement options should generally reside with the individual. Transhumanists are concerned that the prestige of the Presidents Council on Bioethics is being used to push a limiting bioconservative agenda that is directly hostile to the goal of allowing people to improve their lives by enhancing their biological capacities.

So why does Fukuyama nominate this transhumanist ideal, of working towards making enhancement options universally available, as the most dangerous idea in the world? His animus against the transhumanist position is so strong that he even wishes for the death of his adversaries: transhumanists, he writes, are just about the last group that Id like to see live forever. Why exactly is it so disturbing for Fukuyama to contemplate the suggestion that people might use technology to become smarter, or to live longer and healthier lives?

Fierce resistance has often accompanied technological or medical breakthroughs that force us to reconsider some aspects of our worldview. Just as anesthesia, antibiotics, and global communication networks transformed our sense of the human condition in fundamental ways, so too we can anticipate that our capacities, hopes, and problems will change if the more speculative technologies that transhumanists discuss come to fruition. But apart from vague feelings of disquiet, which we may all share to varying degrees, what specific argument does Fukuyama advance that would justify foregoing the many benefits of allowing people to improve their basic capacities?

Fukuyamas objection is that the defense of equal legal and political rights is incompatible with embracing human enhancement: Underlying this idea of the equality of rights is the belief that we all possess a human essence that dwarfs manifest differences in skin color, beauty, and even intelligence. This essence, and the view that individuals therefore have inherent value, is at the heart of political liberalism. But modifying that essence is the core of the transhumanist project.

His argument thus depends on three assumptions: (1) there is a unique human essence; (2) only those individuals who have this mysterious essence can have intrinsic value and deserve equal rights; and (3) the enhancements that transhumanists advocate would eliminate this essence. From this, he infers that the transhumanist project would destroy the basis of equal rights.

The concept of such a human essence is, of course, deeply problematic. Evolutionary biologists note that the human gene pool is in constant flux and talk of our genes as giving rise to an extended phenotype that includes not only our bodies but also our artifacts and institutions. Ethologists have over the past couple of decades revealed just how similar we are to our great primate relatives. A thick concept of human essence has arguably become an anachronism. But we can set these difficulties aside and focus on the other two premises of Fukuyamas argument.

The claim that only individuals who possess the human essence could have intrinsic value is mistaken. Only the most callous would deny that the welfare of some non-human animals matters at least to some degree. If a visitor from outer space arrived on our doorstep, and she had consciousness and moral agency just like we humans do, surely we would not deny her moral status or intrinsic value just because she lacked some undefined human essence. Similarly, if some persons were to modify their own biology in a way that alters whatever Fukuyama judges to be their essence, would we really want to deprive them of their moral standing and legal rights? Excluding people from the moral circle merely because they have a different essence from the rest of us is akin to excluding people on basis of their gender or the color of their skin.

Moral progress in the last two millennia has consisted largely in our gradually learning to overcome our tendency to make moral discriminations on such fundamentally irrelevant grounds. We should bear this hard-earned lesson in mind when we approach the prospect of technologically modified people. Liberal democracies speak to human equality not in the literal sense that all humans are equal in their various capacities, but that they are equal under the law. There is no reason why humans with altered or augmented capacities should not likewise be equal under the law, nor is there any ground for assuming that the existence of such people must undermine centuries of legal, political, and moral refinement.

The only defensible way of basing moral status on human essence is by giving essence a very broad definition; say as possessing the capacity for moral agency. But if we use such an interpretation, then Fukuyamas third premise fails. The enhancements that transhumanists advocate longer healthy lifespan, better memory, more control over emotions, etc. would not deprive people of the capacity for moral agency. If anything, these enhancements would safeguard and expand the reach of moral agency.

Fukuyamas argument against transhumanism is therefore flawed. Nevertheless, he is right to draw attention to the social and political implications of the increasing use of technology to transform human capacities. We will indeed need to worry about the possibility of stigmatization and discrimination, either against or on behalf of technologically enhanced individuals. Social justice is also at stake and we need to ensure that enhancement options are made available as widely and as affordably as possible. This is a primary reason why transhumanist movements have emerged. On a grassroots level, transhumanists are already working to promote the ideas of morphological, cognitive, and procreative freedoms with wide access to enhancement options. Despite the occasional rhetorical overreaches by some of its supporters, transhumanism has a positive and inclusive vision for how we can ethically embrace new technological possibilities to lead lives that are better than well.

The only real danger posed by transhumanism, it seems, is that people on both the left and the right may find it much more attractive than the reactionary bioconservatism proffered by Fukuyama and some of the other members of the Presidents Council.

[For a more developed response, see In Defense of Posthuman Dignity, Bioethics, 2005, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 202-214.]

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What does Extropianism mean? – Definitions.net

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Jun 262016
 

Extropianism

Extropianism, also referred to as the philosophy of Extropy, is an evolving framework of values and standards for continuously improving the human condition. Extropians believe that advances in science and technology will some day let people live indefinitely. An extropian may wish to contribute to this goal, e.g. by doing research and development or volunteering to test new technology. Extropianism describes a pragmatic consilience of transhumanist thought guided by a proactionary approach to human evolution and progress. Originated by a set of principles developed by Dr. Max More, The Principles of Extropy, extropian thinking places strong emphasis on rational thinking and practical optimism. According to More, these principles “do not specify particular beliefs, technologies, or policies”. Extropians share an optimistic view of the future, expecting considerable advances in computational power, life extension, nanotechnology and the like. Many extropians foresee the eventual realization of unlimited maximum life spans, and the recovery, thanks to future advances in biomedical technology or mind uploading, of those whose bodies/brains have been preserved by means of cryonics.

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What does Extropianism mean? – Definitions.net

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Ayn Rand Institute – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Jun 212016
 

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank in Irvine, California that promotes Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. It was established in 1985, three years after Rand’s death, by Leonard Peikoff, Rand’s legal heir. Its executive director is Yaron Brook.[2]

ARI’s stated goal is:

. . . to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture. The major battleground in this fight for reason and capitalism is the educational institutionshigh schools and, above all, the universities, where students learn the ideas that shape their lives.[3]

ARI is mainly an educational organization, but also has “outreach programs.” Its various programs include classes on Objectivism and related subjects offered through its Objectivist Academic Center, public lectures, op-ed articles, letters to the editor, competitions for essays about Rand’s novels, materials for Objectivist campus clubs, supplying Rand’s writings to schools and professors, and providing intellectuals for radio and TV interviews.[4]

During her lifetime, Rand helped establish The Foundation for the New Intellectual, to promote Objectivist ideas. The Foundation was dissolved some 15 years after her death, as having been made redundant by the Ayn Rand Institute. Although Rand never intended for Objectivism to become an organized movement, she heartily approved of rational individuals with the same ideas working toward a common goal.[5] Peikoff, her legal heir, was convinced to start the organization after businessman Ed Snider organized a meeting of possible financial supporters in New York in the fall of 1983.[6] Peikoff also agreed to be the first chairman of the organization’s board of directors.[7]

ARI began operations on February 1, 1985, three years after Rand’s death. The first board of directors included Snider and psychologist Edith Packer. Snider was also one of the founding donors for the organization.[7] Its first executive director was Michael Berliner, who was previously the chairman of the Department of Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education at California State University, Northridge.[8] ARI also established a board of governors, which initially included Harry Binswanger, Robert Hessen, Edwin A. Locke, Arthur Mode, George Reisman, Jay Snider, and Mary Ann Sures, with Peter Schwartz as its chairman.[9]M. Northrup Buechner and George Walsh joined the board of advisors shortly thereafter.[10]

ARI’s first two projects were aimed at students. One was developing a network of college clubs to study Objectivism. The other was a college scholarship contest for high-school students based on writing an essay about Rand’s novel The Fountainhead.[10] Later, additional essay contests were added based on Anthem, We the Living and Atlas Shrugged.[11] In 1988 the institute began publishing a newsletter for contributors, called Impact.[12]

In 1989, a philosophical dispute resulted in ARI ending its association with philosopher David Kelley.[13] Board of advisors member George Walsh, who agreed with Kelley, also left.[14] Kelley subsequently founded his own competing institute now known as The Atlas Society, which remains critical of ARI’s stance on loyalty.[15]

In January 2000, Berliner retired as Executive Director, replaced by Yaron Brook, then an assistant professor of finance at Santa Clara University.[2] The institute was originally headquartered in Marina del Rey, California, but in 2002, it moved to larger offices in Irvine, California.[16]

Charity Navigator, which rates charitable and educational organizations to inform potential donors, gives ARI four out of four stars. According to the latest data from Charity Navigator, ARI spends 86.7% of its expenses on programs, 8.6% on fundraising, and 4.6% on administration.[17] As of June 2012[update] the institute’s board of directors[18] consists of Brook; Berliner (co-chair); Arline Mann (co-chair), retired attorney, formerly of Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Carl Barney, CEO of several private colleges; Harry Binswanger, long-time associate of Ayn Rand; Peter LePort, a surgeon in private practice; Tara Smith, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin;[19] and John Allison, CEO of the Cato Institute and former CEO of BB&T.[20]

Peikoff retains a cooperative and influential relationship with ARI.[21] In 2006, he remarked that he approved of the work ARI has done[22] and in November 2010 that the executive director “has done a splendid job.”[23] Peikoff was a featured speaker at ARI summer conferences in 2007 and 2010.[24] In August, 2010, he demanded and received a change to ARI’s board of directors.[25]

ARI runs a variety of programs:

In 2008, ARI opened the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights (“ARC”) in Washington, D.C. to specialize in issues of public policy.[27]

During the current economic crisis, the ARC has been a vocal proponent of the position that government intervention is responsible for the crisis, and that the solution lies not in further government regulation but in moving toward full laissez-faire capitalism.[28][29]

On foreign policy, the ARC advocates American national self-interest, including ending the regimes that sponsor terrorism, rather than the Bush Administration’s policies which they see as timid, halfway measures that only weaken America’s position in the world.[30]

ARI sponsored writers and speakers have promoted a number of specific positions in contemporary political and social controversies.[31]

Since Objectivism advocates atheism, ARI promotes the separation of church and state, and its writers argue that the Religious Right poses a threat to individual rights.[32] They have argued against displaying religious symbols (such as the Ten Commandments) in government facilities[33] and against faith-based initiatives.[34] The institute argues that religion is incompatible with American ideals[35] and opposes the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools.[36]

ARI has taken many controversial positions with respect to the Muslim world. They hold that the motivation for Islamic terrorism comes from their religiosity, not poverty or a reaction to Western policies.[37] They have urged that the US use overwhelming, retaliatory force to “end states who sponsor terrorism”, using whatever means are necessary to end the threat.[38] In his article “Ends States Who Sponsor Terrorism”, which was published as a full page ad in The New York Times, Peikoff wrote, “The choice today is mass death in the United States or mass death in the terrorist nations. Our Commander-In-Chief must decide whether it is his duty to save Americans or the governments who conspire to kill them.” Although some at ARI initially supported the invasion of Iraq, it has criticized how the Iraq War was handled.[39] Since October 2, 2001, the institute has held that Iran should be the primary target in the war against “Islamic totalitarianism”.[38]

ARI is generally supportive of Israel.[40] Of Zionism, executive director of the institute Yaron Brook writes: “Zionism fused a valid concern self-preservation amid a storm of hostility with a toxic premise ethnically based collectivism and religion.”[41]

In response to the Muhammad cartoons controversy, ARI started a Free Speech Campaign in 2006.[42]

ARI is highly critical of environmentalism and animal rights, arguing that they are destructive of human well-being.[43][44]

The institute is also highly critical of diversity and affirmative action programs, as well as multiculturalism, arguing that they are based on racist premises that ignore the commonality of a shared humanity.[45][46]

ARI supports women’s right to choose abortion,[47] voluntary euthanasia, and assisted suicide.[48]

ARI denounces neoconservatism in general. For example, C. Bradley Thompson wrote an article entitled “The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism”,[49] which was later turned into the book (with Yaron Brook) Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea.[50]

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Libertarian Party on the Issues

 Libertarian  Comments Off on Libertarian Party on the Issues
Jun 212016
 

VoteMatch Responses (Click here for VoteMatch quiz) VoteMatch Question & Answer (Click on question for explanation and background) Based on these stances: (Click on topic for excerpt & citation) Strongly Favors topic 1: Abortion is a woman’s unrestricted right (+5 points on Social scale) Government should be kept out of the matter of abortion: Strongly Favors topic 1 Abortion is a womans choice and does not concern the state: Favors topic 1 Opposes topic 2: Legally require hiring women & minorities (+2 points on Economic scale) Support individuals right to choose, even if we disapprove: Strongly Opposes topic 2 Redress the wrongs of the U.S. towards the Indians: Favors topic 2 Hate crimes are used to punish blacks: Neutral on topic 2 Favors topic 3: Comfortable with same-sex marriage (+2 points on Social scale) OK to deny service to gays & OK to boycott those companies: Opposes topic 3 Let consenting adults choose their own sexual relationships: Strongly Favors topic 3 Repeal all laws against homosexuality: Strongly Favors topic 3 Favors topic 4: Keep God in the public sphere (-3 points on Social scale) No welfare & no restrictions on work: Favors topic 4 Church and state should be completely separate: Strongly Opposes topic 4 Non-profits more effective than government at safety net: Strongly Favors topic 4 Strongly Opposes topic 5: Expand ObamaCare (+5 points on Economic scale) Restore and revive a free market health care system: Strongly Opposes topic 5 Government should not be in the health insurance business: Strongly Opposes topic 5 Strongly Favors topic 6: Privatize Social Security (+5 points on Economic scale) Phase out government-sponsored retirement system: Strongly Favors topic 6 Replace the Social Security system with a private system: Strongly Favors topic 6 Privatize Social Security: Strongly Favors topic 6 Strongly Favors topic 7: Vouchers for school choice (+5 points on Economic scale) Let parents control all educational funding: Strongly Favors topic 7 Poor kids end up at worst schools in current system: Favors topic 7 Support a market in education to provide more choices: Strongly Favors topic 7 The state should stay out of education: Favors topic 7 Treat private school funding the same as public schools: Strongly Favors topic 7 Strongly Opposes topic 8: EPA regulations are too restrictive (+5 points on Social scale) Enforce individual rights for land, water, air, and wildlife: Strongly Opposes topic 8 Government is the worst polluter: Opposes topic 8 The parties responsible for pollution should be held liable: Opposes topic 8 Strongly Opposes topic 9: Stricter punishment reduces crime (+5 points on Social scale) Support restitution; and maintain constitutional safeguards: Strongly Opposes topic 9 Three Strikes approach is illusory & dangerous: Strongly Opposes topic 9 Omnibus Crime Bill, including death penalty, has failed: Opposes topic 9 Encourage private efforts to fight crime: Opposes topic 9 Strengthen, not reduce, the rights of the accused: Strongly Opposes topic 9 Strongly Favors topic 10: Absolute right to gun ownership (+5 points on Economic scale) Affirm the right to keep and bear arms: Strongly Favors topic 10 Repeal all gun control laws and regulation of weapons: Strongly Favors topic 10 Strongly Opposes topic 11: Higher taxes on the wealthy (+5 points on Economic scale) Repeal the income tax and abolish the IRS: Strongly Opposes topic 11 No taxation or regulation of private property: Strongly Opposes topic 11 Repeal all income taxes, & the 16th Amendment: Strongly Opposes topic 11 Strongly Favors topic 12: Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens (+5 points on Social scale) Unrestricted political refugees; but restrict threats: Favors topic 12 Eliminate all restrictions on immigration: Strongly Favors topic 12 Strongly Favors topic 13: Support & expand free trade (+5 points on Economic scale) Remove governmental impediments to free trade: Strongly Favors topic 13 Reduce taxes, spending, and eliminate controls on trade: Favors topic 13 Abolish all trade barriers and agreements: Strongly Favors topic 13 Strongly Favors topic 14: Support American Exceptionalism (+5 points on Economic scale) End all foreign military and economic aid: Strongly Favors topic 14 No U.S. intervention in the affairs of other countries: Strongly Favors topic 14 Strongly Opposes topic 15: Expand the military (+5 points on Social scale) End foreign military operations; shut down foreign bases: Strongly Opposes topic 15 Military should defend against aggression; not world police: Strongly Opposes topic 15 Reduce defense spending by half; just defend the US: Strongly Opposes topic 15 Opposes topic 16: Make voter registration easier (-3 points on Social scale) Oppose gerrymandering and restrictions on ballot access: Favors topic 16 Repeal laws which restrict voluntary financing of campaigns: Strongly Opposes topic 16 Strongly Favors topic 17: Avoid foreign entanglements (+5 points on Social scale) Eliminate intervention by US abroad: Strongly Favors topic 17 Strongly Opposes topic 18: Prioritize green energy (+5 points on Economic scale) Oppose government control of energy pricing and production: Strongly Opposes topic 18 Gale Norton is giant leap for environmental sense: Opposes topic 18 Strongly Opposes topic 19: Marijuana is a gateway drug (+5 points on Social scale) De-fund war on drugs, and end violent drug cartels: Strongly Opposes topic 19 Repeal all drug laws creating crimes without victims: Strongly Opposes topic 19 Allow drugs, alcohol, prostitution, gambling, and suicide: Strongly Opposes topic 19 The war on drugs threatens individual liberties: Strongly Opposes topic 19 Strongly Opposes topic 20: Stimulus better than market-led recovery (+5 points on Economic scale) Market allocates resources efficiently; government does not: Strongly Opposes topic 20 Free-market banking: unrestricted competition & no bailouts: Opposes topic 20

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Libertarian Party of Florida

 Libertarian  Comments Off on Libertarian Party of Florida
Jun 212016
 

The Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF) is the third largest political party in the nation, and is the only true alternative to the Republican/Democrat stranglehold on our economic freedom and individual liberty.

The LPF recognizes that you own your life, and that you are free to pursue happiness in your own way, with extremely limited interference from government. The Libertarian Party of Florida promotes and defends the following principles:

We are building the structure to ensure historic electoral victories in 2016 and beyond. We have the right legislative plan to ensure that government is beholden to the We the People. And we have the right platform to repair the economy and restore our freedoms. We have the candidates on the local, county and state level who will actually uphold and defend the Constitutionnot just talk about it during campaign season.

The LPF has new leadership, a bold vision, and a renewed determination to achieve these goals. All we need now is you!

Become a part of the Libertarian revolution. Join the Libertarian Party of Florida today. Support your local Libertarian candidates. Invest you time to our noble and worthy cause. Donate as much money as you can so that we have the resources to defeat the political ruling class.

With your help, we can ensure our children inherit a State, and a Nation, that would make our Founding Fathers proud.

//

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Libertarian Republican – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Jun 212016
 

A libertarian Republican is a politician or Republican party member who has advocated libertarian policies while typically voting for and being involved with the United States Republican Party.

Sometimes the terms Republitarian or liberty Republican are used as well. Libertarian Republicans’ views are similar to Libertarian Party members, but differ in regard to the strategy used to implement libertarian policies.[citation needed]

Libertarian Republicans represent a political faction within the Republican Party. They are strong believers in the traditional Republican principle of economic libertarianism that was advocated by past and present presidential candidates such as former Senator Robert A. Taft, former Senator Barry Goldwater and former Representative Ron Paul and his son, current Senator Rand Paul. Individuals who self-identify as libertarian Republicans do not necessarily share the same political beliefs across the spectrum, though there do seem to be several issues that bind them together, including beliefs in fiscal conservatism, personal responsibility, and personal liberty.[citation needed]

The most common belief libertarian Republicans share is fiscal conservatism specifically, advocating for lower taxes at every level of government, a reduction in the level of spending in the federal budget, easing the burden of federal regulations on business interests, the reform of the entitlement system, and ending or making significant cuts to the welfare state. Additionally, they oppose budget deficits and deficit spending and work to minimize it as much as possible. Libertarian Republicans tend to support more fiscal conservatism than their mainstream counterparts in the party, and are less willing to abandon these principles for political expediency.[citation needed]

Libertarian Republicans often differ from traditional Republicans in their emphasis on protection of civil liberties.[1] It is distinct from the Republican Party because it sees state-enforced conservative social policies as encroachments on personal privacy and individual liberties.[1] Libertarian Republicans disagree with the activities of mainstream Republicans with regard to civil liberties since the September 11 attacks in 2001, opposing the PATRIOT Act, its reform the USA Freedom Act, REAL ID, and President George W. Bush’s domestic intelligence program.[2]

Opposition to the use of the term libertarian Republican comes from the libertarian adherence to the Non-Aggression Principle, its core philosophy of voluntaryism and lack of force against individuals, to which the Republican Party platform or philosophy does not adhere.[3]

The Republican Liberty Caucus was founded in 1991 at a meeting of a group of Florida members of the Libertarian Republican Organizing Committee attending a Young Republicans Convention. They included Philip Blumel, Tom Walls, Eric Rittberg, and Rex Curry and decided to develop a national Republican Liberty Caucus organization.[4] The group represents the GOP’s libertarian wing.

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Home – Ascension Parish

 Ascension  Comments Off on Home – Ascension Parish
Jun 212016
 

Welcome to Ascensions Web site. Founded in 1965, the Church of the Ascension will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as one of Louisvilles premier parishes next year. Comprised of 700 registered households and 1,800 parishioners, the Church of the Ascension features vibrant liturgies; several active ministries; an energetic youth ministry program and a solid commitment to social outreach.

I encourage you to explore the numerous opportunities for ministry involvement as well as personal spiritual growth detailed throughout this Web site. Ascension has an opportunity for YOU, so, please consider participating in one of our weekend liturgies (4:00 on Saturday; 8:30 and 10:30 on Sunday) or at weekday Mass (Tuesday 5:15 and Wednesday through Friday at 8:15).

Ascensions school is first-rate and offers small class sizes as well as state-of-the art learning opportunities for children from preschool through the 8th grade. Our test scores are among the highest in the Archdiocese and many Ascension School graduates go on to attend prestigious schools in the Louisville area. If you are seeking a quality education at an affordable price, I encourage you to consider Ascension today.

As the Churchs new shepherd, having been appointed in June of 2014, I am humbled and privileged to serve this community. Be a part of an energetic and vibrant faith community: join Ascension today!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

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Home – Ascension Parish

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Superintelligence – Nick Bostrom – Oxford University Press

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Jun 212016
 

Superintelligence Paths, Dangers, Strategies Nick Bostrom Reviews and Awards

“I highly recommend this book” –Bill Gates

“Nick Bostrom makes a persuasive case that the future impact of AI is perhaps the most important issue the human race has ever faced. Instead of passively drifting, we need to steer a course. Superintelligence charts the submerged rocks of the future with unprecedented detail. It marks the beginning of a new era.” –Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science, University of California, Berkley

“Those disposed to dismiss an ‘AI takeover’ as science fiction may think again after reading this original and well-argued book.” –Martin Rees, Past President, Royal Society

“This superb analysis by one of the world’s clearest thinkers tackles one of humanity’s greatest challenges: if future superhuman artificial intelligence becomes the biggest event in human history, then how can we ensure that it doesn’t become the last?” –Professor Max Tegmark, MIT

“Terribly important … groundbreaking… extraordinary sagacity and clarity, enabling him to combine his wide-ranging knowledge over an impressively broad spectrum of disciplines – engineering, natural sciences, medicine, social sciences and philosophy – into a comprehensible whole… If this book gets the reception that it deserves, it may turn out the most important alarm bell since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring from 1962, or ever.” –Olle Haggstrom, Professor of Mathematical Statistics

“Valuable. The implications of introducing a second intelligent species onto Earth are far-reaching enough to deserve hard thinking” –The Economist

“There is no doubting the force of [Bostrom’s] arguments…the problem is a research challenge worthy of the next generation’s best mathematical talent. Human civilisation is at stake.” –Clive Cookson, Financial Times

“Worth reading…. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes” –Elon Musk, Founder of SpaceX and Tesla

“Every intelligent person should read it.” –Nils Nilsson, Artificial Intelligence Pioneer, Stanford University

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Superintelligence

 Superintelligence  Comments Off on Superintelligence
Jun 212016
 

Description

We humans steer the future not because we’re the strongest or the fastest but because we’re the smartest animal on this planet. However, there are no reasons to assume that blind evolutionary processes have reached the physical limit of intelligence with us. Quite to the contrary, we have already seen how intelligent machines outperform the best of our kind on an increasing number of tasks, ranging from Chess over the quiz show Jeopardy to Go. What will happen when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence in a broader range and controls our destiny? Are we ready to make our final invention? And what is to be done from an ethical perspective?

The following discussion paper by the Effective Altruism Foundation examines short- and medium-term implications of increasing automation as well as long-term opportunities and risks from superintelligent AI.

Presentation for the Futures Hub Switzerland on 3 March 2015 (photos by Boaz Heller Avrahami):

Presentation for the ETH Entrepreneur Club on 4 March 2015 (Photography: http://www.manuelmaisch.ch):

Presentation on the long-term future of artificial intelligence at Fantasy Basel on 14 May 2015:

Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated! Please send them to .

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Superintelligence

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WW3 – World War Three in Detail, showing Start Date …

 Ww3  Comments Off on WW3 – World War Three in Detail, showing Start Date …
Jun 212016
 

A Three World War scenario was developed several decades ago (see Conspiratorial History). Two World Wars have already been achieved, and the Third and final World War envisions an attack on Iraq, Iran and/or Syria as being the trigger to set the entire Middle East into fiery conflagration. Once America is firmly entrenched into the Middle East with the majority of her first-line units, North Korea is to attack South Korea. Then, with America’s forces stretched well beyond the limit, China is to invade Taiwan. This will usher in the start of World War Three.

What constitutes a ‘world war’? How many countries need to be involved? And who decides at which point a number of regional skirmishes can be grouped together and called a World War? At the time, who called the official start of World War 1 and World War 2?

And have you noticed that although the term ‘World War Three’ is freely used in the alternative press and on the Internet, all the major news networks have stoically avoided using any phrase reminiscent of World War.

Since it’s difficult to find a definition for an event which has only happened twice in modern history, here’s my attempt at an answer to the question ‘what constitutes a world war’?

A World War is a military conflict spanning more than 2 continents, in which at least 20 major countries participate in an attack against a common enemy, and which has the attention of the man-in-the-street due to the significant loss of life.

With that definition, we can agree that WW1 and WW2 were in fact World Wars (both wars involved some degree of participation from most of the world’s then existing countries: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the Soviet Union). We can also agree that we are very close to achieving World War 3. The only requirement left to fulfill the start of WW3 is that of a military conflict spanning more than 2 continents. As soon as Israel attacks Palestine, or North Korea attacks South Korea or the US, or China invades Taiwan, we will have the next World War well underway.

These are, I believe, the stages of the planned Third World War:

Both Biblical prophecy and the Illuminati plan state that Israel is the key. The Third World War is planned to begin when Israel goes to war against her Arab enemies. Then, and only then, will all the other elements begin to occur and they will do so in rapid succession. The plan is to have one disaster following another in such rapid succession that, before people can mentally and emotionally handle one disastrous news event, they will be hit with another. It is also accurate to say that until ALL of the elements for WW3 are in place, the plan will not commence.

While it would be naive to suggest a specific timeline for the events leading up to and including World War 3, we do know that the plans for World War 3 are well advanced, and our leaders involved in this secret plan are waiting only for the right signal before all-out war begins.

We are in the last stages of the preparation to so globalize the world that the Masonic New Age Christ (Antichrist) can appear to receive all the political and economic power of the world’s rulers. This is the Illuminati plan and Biblical prophecy (Revelation 17:12-17).

In the words of Peter Lemesurier, author of The Armageddon Script:

“Their script is now written, subject only to last-minute editing and stage-directions. The stage itself, albeit in darkness, is almost ready. Down in the pit, the subterranean orchestra is already tuning up. The last-minute, walk-on parts are even now being filled. Most of the main actors, one suspects, have already taken up their roles. Soon it will be time for them to come on stage, ready for the curtain to rise. The time for action will have come.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats and welcome on stage the players of this Grand Play:

World War Three!

Intro | Prelude | Act I | Act II | Act III | Act IV | Act V | Act VI

For a detailed look at WW3 statistics, including the running cost of World War Three, the number of lives lost and the countries involved in World War Three, please see our World War Overview. Further details will be added as events dictate.

If you found this article interesting and want access to other carefully researched and well written articles, you might want to see what others are saying about the ThreeWorldWars newsletter.

Next: How the tragic events of 911 fit in with the planned World War 3.

Previous: The true cause of World War 2.

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WW3 – World War Three in Detail, showing Start Date …

 Posted by at 11:12 pm  Tagged with:

Vitamins & Supplements | Life Extension Europe

 Life Extension  Comments Off on Vitamins & Supplements | Life Extension Europe
Jun 212016
 

Published studies have proven that those who eat more fruits and vegetables have less health problems. Few people, however, eat enough plant food to protect against common age-related decline. At the same time, commercialmultivitaminsdo not provide all vital plant components needed to maintain good health. Life Extension Mix offers a broad array of vegetable/fruit extracts. The upgraded Life Extension Mix now includes5-MTHF, the metabolically active form of folic acid.

Nicotinamide ribosideis a substance naturally found inmilk that has been shownto support mitochondrial health and thereby our energy generating processes. Moreover research suggests thatNicotinamide riboside alsopromotes pathways of longevity. Life Extension multivitamis are the only multivitamin formulas to contain nicotinamide riboside. The amount of nicotinamide riboside in the updated Life Extension Mix is equivalent to 13 cups of milk.

Scientists have identified multiple mechanisms by whichgreen teaextract helps protect against LDL oxidation, neuronal oxidation and other age-related changes. Life Extension Mix provides more green tea extract than in commercial formulations.Vitamin D3helps maintain healthy bone density and DNA. There is five times more vitamin D in Life Extension Mix compared to conventional multivitamins.

Broccoliis one of the vegetables best documented to protect healthy DNA. The concentrate in Life Extension Mix is standardised to provide compounds that lie behind broccolis protective benefits. D-glucarate, found in grapefruit, apples, oranges, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, helps to remove DNA toxins.Olive polyphenolshelp protect against LDL oxidation, quench free radicals and stabilise cell membranes. Life Extension Mix contains an olive extract that provides the best-documented polyphenol, called hydroxytyrosol.Luteolinis a flavonoid found in parsley, artichoke, basil, celery and other food. It helps to protect against DNA oxidative damage and has been proven as the most beneficial flavonoid at maintaining healthy DNA. Life Extension Mix contains a standardised dose of 8 mg of luteolin.

Lycopeneis the red carotenoid found in tomatoes. It supports a healthy prostate and helps to promote healthy lipid profiles. Lutein is found in spinach and collard greens and has been shown to help maintain eye macula pigment structure.Pomegranatemay be the most effective plant for maintaining optimal endothelial function. This pomegranate extract provides punicalagins and other polyphenols found in up to 2.6 ounces of pomegranate juice. Sesame lignans increase tissue levels of vitamin E, including gamma tocopherol, and inhibit the formation of an inflammatory precursor, called arachidonic acid.

Wildblueberryextract assists in maintaining optimal neuronal function. Pterostilbene is a compound naturally found in blueberries and grapes that has been shown to have anti-ageing effects. Cyanidin-3-Glucoside is a berry compound that promotes healthy function of the retina to help support night vision.Pyridoxal 5-phosphatehelps to protect against glycation, a toxic process involved in accelerated ageing. Life Extension Mix contains nowmethylcobalaminethat allows for superior absorption compared to other forms of B12. Life Extension Mix utilises natural mixed tocopherols that providenatural vitamin Efrom alpha tocopherol and a small amount of gamma tocopherol (40 mg). Compared to synthetic vitamin E, the natural form is far more bioavailable to the body.

N-acetyl-L-cysteinesuppresses free radicals inside the cell and maintains healthy glutathione levels.Taurinemay protect cells against free radicals and supports eye health. Life Extension Mix contains the sodium selenite, selenomethionine and Se-methyl L-selenocysteine forms ofselenium. Some scientific evidence suggests that consumption of selenium may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer.Zincis often poorly absorbed. To aid with this issue, Life Extension Mix provides two of the most bioavailable forms of zinc.Boronis not only needed to maintain healthy bone density, but may also help promote healthy prostate cell function.

Life Extension Mix provides a high amount of an optimal form ofchromiumto help maintain arterial wall structure and already normal glucose levels. Magnesium helps to protect arteries and heart valves and supports heart and brain cells. Life Extension Mix provides high potency of six different forms ofmagnesiumto saturate the body with this mineral. Maintaining high levels of acetylcholine in the brain contributes to better cognitive function and memory. Life Extension Mix contains two types of choline, which are used by your body for the formation of acetylcholine.

Life Extension Mix is by far the most completemulti-nutrient formulaanywhere with the most popular vitamin and mineral supplements, antioxidants, water and fat soluble vitamin C, the ideal forms of vitamin E and phyto-extracts that help protect against cellular DNA damage and age related problems.

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Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution