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Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick …

 Superintelligence  Comments Off on Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick …
Jun 212016
 

Is the surface of our planet — and maybe every planet we can get our hands on — going to be carpeted in paper clips (and paper clip factories) by a well-intentioned but misguided artificial intelligence (AI) that ultimately cannibalizes everything in sight, including us, in single-minded pursuit of a seemingly innocuous goal? Nick Bostrom, head of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, thinks that we can’t guarantee it _won’t_ happen, and it worries him. It doesn’t require Skynet and Terminators, it doesn’t require evil geniuses bent on destroying the world, it just requires a powerful AI with a moral system in which humanity’s welfare is irrelevant or defined very differently than most humans today would define it. If the AI has a single goal and is smart enough to outwit our attempts to disable or control it once it has gotten loose, Game Over, argues Professor Bostrom in his book _Superintelligence_.

This is perhaps the most important book I have read this decade, and it has kept me awake at night for weeks. I want to tell you why, and what I think, but a lot of this is difficult ground, so please bear with me. The short form is that I am fairly certain that we _will_ build a true AI, and I respect Vernor Vinge, but I have long been skeptical of the Kurzweilian notions of inevitability, doubly-exponential growth, and the Singularity. I’ve also been skeptical of the idea that AIs will destroy us, either on purpose or by accident. Bostrom’s book has made me think that perhaps I was naive. I still think that, on the whole, his worst-case scenarios are unlikely. However, he argues persuasively that we can’t yet rule out any number of bad outcomes of developing AI, and that we need to be investing much more in figuring out whether developing AI is a good idea. We may need to put a moratorium on research, as was done for a few years with recombinant DNA starting in 1975. We also need to be prepared for the possibility that such a moratorium doesn’t hold. Bostrom also brings up any number of mind-bending dystopias around what qualifies as human, which we’ll get to below.

(snips to my review, since Goodreads limits length)

In case it isn’t obvious by now, both Bostrom and I take it for granted that it’s not only possible but nearly inevitable that we will create a strong AI, in the sense of it being a general, adaptable intelligence. Bostrom skirts the issue of whether it will be conscious, or “have qualia”, as I think the philosophers of mind say.

Where Bostrom and I differ is in the level of plausibility we assign to the idea of a truly exponential explosion in intelligence by AIs, in a takeoff for which Vernor Vinge coined the term “the Singularity.” Vinge is rational, but Ray Kurzweil is the most famous proponent of the Singularity. I read one of Kurzweil’s books a number of years ago, and I found it imbued with a lot of near-mystic hype. He believes the Universe’s purpose is the creation of intelligence, and that that process is growing on a double exponential, starting from stars and rocks through slime molds and humans and on to digital beings.

I’m largely allergic to that kind of hooey. I really don’t see any evidence of the domain-to-domain acceleration that Kurzweil sees, and in particular the shift from biological to digital beings will result in a radical shift in the evolutionary pressures. I see no reason why any sort of “law” should dictate that digital beings will evolve at a rate that *must* be faster than the biological one. I also don’t see that Kurzweil really pays any attention to the physical limits of what will ultimately be possible for computing machines. Exponentials can’t continue forever, as Danny Hillis is fond of pointing out. http://www.kurzweilai.net/ask-ray-the…

So perhaps my opinion is somewhat biased by a dislike of Kurzweil’s circus barker approach, but I think there is more to it than that. Fundamentally, I would put it this way:

Being smart is hard.

And making yourself smarter is also hard. My inclination is that getting smarter is at least as hard as the advantages it brings, so that the difficulty of the problem and the resources that can be brought to bear on it roughly balance. This will result in a much slower takeoff than Kurzweil reckons, in my opinion. Bostrom presents a spectrum of takeoff speeds, from “too fast for us to notice” through “long enough for us to develop international agreements and monitoring institutions,” but he makes it fairly clear that he believes that the probability of a fast takeoff is far too large to ignore. There are parts of his argument I find convincing, and parts I find less so.

To give you a little more insight into why I am a little dubious that the Singularity will happen in what Bostrom would describe as a moderate to fast takeoff, let me talk about the kinds of problems we human beings solve, and that an AI would have to solve. Actually, rather than the kinds of questions, first let me talk about the kinds of answers we would like an AI (or a pet family genius) to generate when given a problem. Off the top of my head, I can think of six:

[Speed] Same quality of answer, just faster. [Ply] Look deeper in number of plies (moves, in chess or go). [Data] Use more, and more up-to-date, data. [Creativity] Something beautiful and new. [Insight] Something new and meaningful, such as a new theory; probably combines elements of all of the above categories. [Values] An answer about (human) values.

The first three are really about how the answers are generated; the last three about what we want to get out of them. I think this set is reasonably complete and somewhat orthogonal, despite those differences.

So what kinds of problems do we apply these styles of answers to? We ultimately want answers that are “better” in some qualitative sense.

Humans are already pretty good at projecting the trajectory of a baseball, but it’s certainly conceivable that a robot batter could be better, by calculating faster and using better data. Such a robot might make for a boring opponent for a human, but it would not be beyond human comprehension.

But if you accidentally knock a bucket of baseballs down a set of stairs, better data and faster computing are unlikely to help you predict the exact order in which the balls will reach the bottom and what happens to the bucket. Someone “smarter” might be able to make some interesting statistical predictions that wouldn’t occur to you or me, but not fill in every detail of every interaction between the balls and stairs. Chaos, in the sense of sensitive dependence on initial conditions, is just too strong.

In chess, go, or shogi, a 1000x improvement in the number of plies that can be investigated gains you maybe only the ability to look ahead two or three moves more than before. Less if your pruning (discarding unpromising paths) is poor, more if it’s good. Don’t get me wrong — that’s a huge deal, any player will tell you. But in this case, humans are already pretty good, when not time limited.

Go players like to talk about how close the top pros are to God, and the possibly apocryphal answer from a top pro was that he would want a three-stone (three-move) handicap, four if his life depended on it. Compared this to the fact that a top pro is still some ten stones stronger than me, a fair amateur, and could beat a rank beginner even if the beginner was given the first forty moves. Top pros could sit across the board from an almost infinitely strong AI and still hold their heads up.

In the most recent human-versus-computer shogi (Japanese chess) series, humans came out on top, though presumably this won’t last much longer.

In chess, as machines got faster, looked more plies ahead, carried around more knowledge, and got better at pruning the tree of possible moves, human opponents were heard to say that they felt the glimmerings of insight or personality from them.

So again we have some problems, at least, where plies will help, and will eventually guarantee a 100% win rate against the best (non-augmented) humans, but they will likely not move beyond what humans can comprehend.

Simply being able to hold more data in your head (or the AI’s head) while making a medical diagnosis using epidemiological data, or cross-correlating drug interactions, for example, will definitely improve our lives, and I can imagine an AI doing this. Again, however, the AI’s capabilities are unlikely to recede into the distance as something we can’t comprehend.

We know that increasing the amount of data you can handle by a factor of a thousand gains you 10x in each dimension for a 3-D model of the atmosphere or ocean, up until chaotic effects begin to take over, and then (as we currently understand it) you can only resort to repeated simulations and statistical measures. The actual calculations done by a climate model long ago reached the point where even a large team of humans couldn’t complete them in a lifetime. But they are not calculations we cannot comprehend, in fact, humans design and debug them.

So for problems with answers in the first three categories, I would argue that being smarter is helpful, but being a *lot* smarter is *hard*. The size of computation grows quickly in many problems, and for many problems we believe that sheer computation is fundamentally limited in how well it can correspond to the real world.

But those are just the warmup. Those are things we already ask computers to do for us, even though they are “dumber” than we are. What about the latter three categories?

I’m no expert in creativity, and I know researchers study it intensively, so I’m going to weasel through by saying it is the ability to generate completely new material, which involves some random process. You also need the ability either to generate that material such that it is aesthetically pleasing with high probability, or to prune those new ideas rapidly using some metric that achieves your goal.

For my purposes here, insight is the ability to be creative not just for esthetic purposes, but in a specific technical or social context, and to validate the ideas. (No implication that artists don’t have insight is intended, this is just a technical distinction between phases of the operation, for my purposes here.) Einstein’s insight for special relativity was that the speed of light is constant. Either he generated many, many hypotheses (possibly unconsciously) and pruned them very rapidly, or his hypothesis generator was capable of generating only a few good ones. In either case, he also had the mathematical chops to prove (or at least analyze effectively) his hypothesis; this analysis likewise involves generating possible paths of proofs through the thicket of possibilities and finding the right one.

So, will someone smarter be able to do this much better? Well, it’s really clear that Einstein (or Feynman or Hawking, if your choice of favorite scientist leans that way) produced and validated hypotheses that the rest of us never could have. It’s less clear to me exactly how *much* smarter than the rest of us he was; did he generate and prune ten times as many hypotheses? A hundred? A million? My guess is it’s closer to the latter than the former. Even generating a single hypothesis that could be said to attack the problem is difficult, and most humans would decline to even try if you asked them to.

Making better devices and systems of any kind requires all of the above capabilities. You must have insight to innovate, and you must be able to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the new systems, requiring the heavy use of data. As systems get more complex, all of this gets harder. My own favorite example is airplane engines. The Wright Brothers built their own engines for their planes. Today, it takes a team of hundreds to create a jet turbine — thousands, if you reach back into the supporting materials, combustion and fluid flow research. We humans have been able to continue to innovate by building on the work of prior generations, and especially harnessing teams of people in new ways. Unlike Peter Thiel, I don’t believe that our rate of innovation is in any serious danger of some precipitous decline sometime soon, but I do agree that we begin with the low-lying fruit, so that harvesting fruit requires more effort — or new techniques — with each passing generation.

The Singularity argument depends on the notion that the AI would design its own successor, or even modify itself to become smarter. Will we watch AIs gradually pull even with us and then ahead, but not disappear into the distance in a Roadrunner-like flash of dust covering just a few frames of film in our dull-witted comprehension?

Ultimately, this is the question on which continued human existence may depend: If an AI is enough smarter than we are, will it find the process of improving itself to be easy, or will each increment of intelligence be a hard problem for the system of the day? This is what Bostrom calls the “recalcitrance” of the problem.

I believe that the range of possible systems grows rapidly as they get more complex, and that evaluating them gets harder; this is hard to quantify, but each step might involve a thousand times as many options, or evaluating each option might be a thousand times harder. Growth in computational power won’t dramatically overbalance that and give sustained, rapid and accelerating growth that moves AIs beyond our comprehension quickly. (Don’t take these numbers seriously, it’s just an example.)

Bostrom believes that recalcitrance will grow more slowly than the resources the AI can bring to bear on the problem, resulting in continuing, and rapid, exponential increases in intelligence — the arrival of the Singularity. As you can tell from the above, I suspect that the opposite is the case, or that they very roughly balance, but Bostrom argues convincingly. He is forcing me to reconsider.

What about “values”, my sixth type of answer, above? Ah, there’s where it all goes awry. Chapter eight is titled, “Is the default scenario doom?” and it will keep you awake.

What happens when we put an AI in charge of a paper clip factory, and instruct it to make as many paper clips as it can? With such a simple set of instructions, it will do its best to acquire more resources in order to make more paper clips, building new factories in the process. If it’s smart enough, it will even anticipate that we might not like this and attempt to disable it, but it will have the will and means to deflect our feeble strikes against it. Eventually, it will take over every factory on the planet, continuing to produce paper clips until we are buried in them. It may even go on to asteroids and other planets in a single-minded attempt to carpet the Universe in paper clips.

I suppose it goes without saying that Bostrom thinks this would be a bad outcome. Bostrom reasons that AIs ultimately may or may not be similar enough to us that they count as our progeny, but doesn’t hesitate to view them as adversaries, or at least rivals, in the pursuit of resources and even existence. Bostrom clearly roots for humanity here. Which means it’s incumbent on us to find a way to prevent this from happening.

Bostrom thinks that instilling values that are actually close enough to ours that an AI will “see things our way” is nigh impossible. There are just too many ways that the whole process can go wrong. If an AI is given the goal of “maximizing human happiness,” does it count when it decides that the best way to do that is to create the maximum number of digitally emulated human minds, even if that means sacrificing some of the physical humans we already have because the planet’s carrying capacity is higher for digital than organic beings?

As long as we’re talking about digital humans, what about the idea that a super-smart AI might choose to simulate human minds in enough detail that they are conscious, in the process of trying to figure out humanity? Do those recursively digital beings deserve any legal standing? Do they count as human? If their simulations are stopped and destroyed, have they been euthanized, or even murdered? Some of the mind-bending scenarios that come out of this recursion kept me awake nights as I was reading the book.

He uses a variety of names for different strategies for containing AIs, including “genies” and “oracles”. The most carefully circumscribed ones are only allowed to answer questions, maybe even “yes/no” questions, and have no other means of communicating with the outside world. Given that Bostrom attributes nearly infinite brainpower to an AI, it is hard to effectively rule out that an AI could still find some way to manipulate us into doing its will. If the AI’s ability to probe the state of the world is likewise limited, Bsotrom argues that it can still turn even single-bit probes of its environment into a coherent picture. It can then decide to get loose and take over the world, and identify security flaws in outside systems that would allow it to do so even with its very limited ability to act.

I think this unlikely. Imagine we set up a system to monitor the AI that alerts us immediately when the AI begins the equivalent of a port scan, for whatever its interaction mechanism is. How could it possibly know of the existence and avoid triggering the alert? Bostrom has gone off the deep end in allowing an intelligence to infer facts about the world even when its data is very limited. Sherlock Holmes always turns out to be right, but that’s fiction; in reality, many, many hypotheses would suit the extremely slim amount of data he has. The same will be true with carefully boxed AIs.

At this point, Bostrom has argued that containing a nearly infinitely powerful intelligence is nearly impossible. That seems to me to be effectively tautological.

If we can’t contain them, what options do we have? After arguing earlier that we can’t give AIs our own values (and presenting mind-bending scenarios for what those values might actually mean in a Universe with digital beings), he then turns around and invests a whole string of chapters in describing how we might actually go about building systems that have those values from the beginning.

At this point, Bostrom began to lose me. Beyond the systems for giving AIs values, I felt he went off the rails in describing human behavior in simplistic terms. We are incapable of balancing our desire to reproduce with a view of the tragedy of the commons, and are inevitably doomed to live out our lives in a rude, resource-constrained existence. There were some interesting bits in the taxonomies of options, but the last third of the book felt very speculative, even more so than the earlier parts.

Bostrom is rational and seems to have thought carefully about the mechanisms by which AIs may actually arise. Here, I largely agree with him. I think his faster scenarios of development, though, are unlikely: being smart, and getting smarter, is hard. He thinks a “singleton”, a single, most powerful AI, is the nearly inevitable outcome. I think populations of AIs are more likely, but if anything this appears to make some problems worse. I also think his scenarios for controlling AIs are handicapped in their realism by the nearly infinite powers he assigns them. In either case, Bostrom has convinced me that once an AI is developed, there are many ways it can go wrong, to the detriment and possibly extermination of humanity. Both he and I are opposed to this. I’m not ready to declare a moratorium on AI research, but there are many disturbing possibilities and many difficult moral questions that need to be answered.

The first step in answering them, of course, is to begin discussing them in a rational fashion, while there is still time. Read the first 8 chapters of this book!

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Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick …

Moral nihilism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Nihilism  Comments Off on Moral nihilism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jun 212016
 

This article is about the meta-ethical position. For a more general discussion of amoralism, see Amorality.

Moral nihilism (also known as ethical nihilism) is the meta-ethical view that nothing is intrinsically moral or immoral. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is neither inherently right nor inherently wrong. Moral nihilists consider morality to be constructed, a complex set of rules and recommendations that may give a psychological, social, or economical advantage to its adherents, but is otherwise without universal or even relative truth in any sense.[1]

Moral nihilism is distinct from moral relativism, which does allow for actions to be right or wrong relative to a particular culture or individual, and moral universalism, which holds actions to be right or wrong in the same way for everyone everywhere. Insofar as only true statements can be known, moral nihilism implies moral skepticism.

According to Sinnott-Armstrong (2006a), the basic thesis of moral nihilism is that “nothing is morally wrong” (3.4). There are, however, several forms that this thesis can take (see Sinnott-Armstrong, 2006b, pp.3237 and Russ Shafer-Landau, 2003, pp.813). There are two important forms of moral nihilism: error theory and expressivism[1] p.292.

One form of moral nihilism is expressivism. Expressivism denies the principle that our moral judgments try and fail to describe the moral features, because expressivists believe when someone says something is immoral they are not saying it is right or wrong. Expressivists are not trying to speak the truth when making moral judgments; they are simply trying to express their feelings. “We are not making an effort to describe the way the world is. We are not trying to report on the moral features possessed by various actions, motives, or policies. Instead, we are venting our emotions, commanding others to act in certain ways, or revealing a plan of action. When we condemn torture, for instance, we are expressing our opposition to it, indicating our disgust at it, publicizing our reluctance to perform it, and strongly encouraging others not to go in for it. We can do all of these things without trying to say anything that is true.”[1] p.293.

This makes expressivism a form of non-cognitivism. Non-cognitivism in ethics is the view that moral statements lack truth-value and do not assert genuine propositions. This involves a rejection of the cognitivist claim, shared by other moral philosophies, that moral statements seek to “describe some feature of the world” (Garner 1967, 219-220). This position on its own is logically compatible with realism about moral values themselves. That is, one could reasonably hold that there are objective moral values but that we cannot know them and that our moral language does not seek to refer to them. This would amount to an endorsement of a type of moral skepticism, rather than nihilism.

Typically, however, the rejection of the cognitivist thesis is combined with the thesis that there are, in fact, no moral facts (van Roojen, 2004). But if moral statements cannot be true, and if one cannot know something that is not true, non-cognitivism implies that moral knowledge is impossible (Garner 1967, 219-220).

Not all forms of non-cognitivism are forms of moral nihilism, however: notably, the universal prescriptivism of R.M. Hare is a non-cognitivist form of moral universalism, which holds that judgements about morality may be correct or not in a consistent, universal way, but do not attempt to describe features of reality and so are not, strictly speaking, truth-apt.

Error theory is built on three principles:

Thus, we always lapse into error when thinking in moral terms. We are trying to state the truth when we make moral judgments. But since there is no moral truth, all of our moral claims are mistaken. Hence the error. These three principles lead to the conclusion that there is no moral knowledge. Knowledge requires truth. If there is no moral truth, there can be no moral knowledge. Thus moral values are purely chimerical.[1]

Error theorists combine the cognitivist thesis that moral language consists of truth-apt statements with the nihilist thesis that there are no moral facts. Like moral nihilism itself, however, error theory comes in more than one form: Global falsity and Presupposition failure.

The first, which one might call the global falsity form of error theory, claims that moral beliefs and assertions are false in that they claim that certain moral facts exist that in fact do not exist. J. L. Mackie (1977) argues for this form of moral nihilism. Mackie argues that moral assertions are only true if there are moral properties that are intrinsically motivating, but there is good reason to believe that there are no such intrinsically motivating properties (see the argument from queerness and motivational internalism).

The second form, which one might call the presupposition failure form of error theory, claims that moral beliefs and assertions are not true because they are neither true nor false. This is not a form of non-cognitivism, for moral assertions are still thought to be truth-apt. Rather, this form of moral nihilism claims that moral beliefs and assertions presuppose the existence of moral facts that do not exist. This is analogous to presupposition failure in cases of non-moral assertions. Take, for example, the claim that the present king of France is bald. Some argue[who?] that this claim is truth-apt in that it has the logical form of an assertion, but it is neither true nor false because it presupposes that there is currently a king of France, but there is not. The claim suffers from “presupposition failure.” Richard Joyce (2001) argues for this form of moral nihilism under the name “fictionalism.”

The philosophy of Niccol Machiavelli is sometimes presented as a model of moral nihilism, but this is at best ambiguous. His book Il Principe (The Prince) praised many acts of violence and deception, which shocked a European tradition that throughout the Middle Ages had inculcated moral lessons in its political philosophies. Machiavelli does say that the Prince must override traditional moral rules in favor of power-maintaining reasons of State, but he also says, particularly in his other works, that the successful ruler should be guided by Pagan rather than Christian virtues. Hence, Machiavelli presents an alternative to the ethical theories of his day, rather than an all-out rejection of all morality.

Closer to being an example of moral nihilism is Thrasymachus, as portrayed in Plato’s Republic. Thrasymachus argues, for example, that rules of justice are structured to benefit those who are able to dominate political and social institutions. Thrasymachus can, however, be interpreted as offering a revisionary account of justice, rather than a total rejection of morality and normative discourse.

Glover has cited realist views of amoralism held by early Athenians, and in some ethical positions affirmed by Joseph Stalin.[2]

Criticisms of moral nihilism come primarily from moral realists,[citation needed] who argue that there are positive moral truths. Still, criticisms do arise out of the other anti-realist camps (i.e. subjectivists and relativists). Not only that, but each school of moral nihilism has its own criticisms of one another (e.g. the non-cognitivists’ critique of error theory for accepting the semantic thesis of moral realism).[citation needed]

Still other detractors deny that the basis of moral objectivity need be metaphysical. The moral naturalist, though a form of moral realist, agrees with the nihilists’ critique of metaphysical justifications for right and wrong. Moral naturalists prefer to define “morality” in terms of observables, some even appealing to a science of morality.[citation needed]

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Moral nihilism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

wage slave – Why Work

 Wage Slavery  Comments Off on wage slave – Why Work
Jun 192016
 

What is a wage slave?

So what exactly IS a wage slave, anyway? It’s doubtful that you’d be exploring this web site if you didn’t have some idea at least, but for the sake of ease, we’ll clarify further.

Here are some brief and incomplete definitions from CLAWS members:

“Wage slavery is the state where you are unable to perceive choices and create courses of action different from the grind of the job.”

“Wage slave: A wage earner whose livelihood is completely dependent on the wages earned.”

The point here, of course, is that we don’t have a single agreed-upon definition of wage slavery. Many of us prefer to focus on wage slavery as a state of mind, while others prefer to focus on the external aspects of wage slavery such as the wage economy. But overall, we seem to sense something rotten at the core of what we’ve been taught about “making a living”, and that’s the place to begin our questioning.

Have you ever noticed how many of us seem to live “lives of quiet desperation”, as Henry David Thoreau puts it? We feel trapped by forces beyond our control, trapped in a mindless job, for the sake of money, status or recognition. We complain that we never seem to have the time for what’s really important to us, because our jobs take so much energy and focus that we hardly have anything left over. We plod along day to day; sometimes we even dread getting out of bed in the morning.

We see the futility of the standard, socially approved path in America. It goes something like this: Go to school, get good grades, so you can get a “good” job, make lots of money, get a mortgage and a car and a spouse, keep up with the Joneses, and be “successful”. We know it’s not the path for us; we want to define success for ourselves. But we don’t know how to forge a new path for ourselves, because, well, what would we do for money if we quit? How would we support ourselves? Sometimes there’s a glazed look in our eyes; it’s as if some part of us has died. We are just doing time, working hard and hoping for the next promotion, waiting for the day when we can throw off our shackles, quit our dull jobs, and finally live life. Everything gets put on hold until we have more time, or more money. Meanwhile, life is passing us by.

Perhaps you are one of these people. If so, CLAWS was created for your benefit. We have news for you: You do not have to live your life that way. CLAWS is here to inspire you to greater fulfillment, and to help you figure out how to get out of the endless cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and feeling chained to a job you don’t care about.

We have other news, too: It won’t necessarily be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. You have a choice, but you may have to re-examine your way of thinking very thoroughly. The pull of the socially accepted way of doing things is amazingly strong, and trips up the best of us despite our good intentions. It takes a certain kind of independent thinker to be “job-free”. We use that term rather than “unemployed”, in an effort to convey to people that we’re proud, not ashamed, of not having regular jobs. We also make an important distinction between jobs and work. All of us do some kind of work, though not necessarily for monetary compensation.

Another thing you’ll need if you decide to rethink your beliefs about jobs and money is the willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. It will take perseverence, and a commitment to throw out the limiting beliefs you may have unwittingly adopted. This is not the path for everyone. If your priority is comfort or social approval, or if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t rock the boat, CLAWS probably won’t meet your needs.

If you embark on this path, it’s important to know what it will ask of you. It may require you to disassemble, dissect, and tear apart your old beliefs, let go of some mighty persistent and tempting illusions, and build a new foundation for your thinking, sometimes from scratch. Are you prepared to do this? If so, you’re in the right place.

Even if you have seen through the false sense of “security” a normal job offers you, and already questioned that approach to life, you may not really believe you can do it. You may still have questions about how to bridge the gap from the old way of life to a new one that you envision. That’s where we can help, dear reader. CLAWS would like to see you devote yourself to the life you’ve dreamed of, the life your heart desires. We don’t want to see you waste your precious days any longer. Life is short, and the time to pursue your dreams is NOW.

In the words of Norman Cousins:

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

“The debt and work cycle is an ingenious tool of subjugation. Make people think they need all these things, then they must have a job, and they give up control of their lives. It’s as simple as that. We live in one of the most free countries in the world, but we fix it so we are not free at all. ” – Larry Roth

“Capitalism only supports certain kinds of groups, the nuclear family for example, or ‘the people I know at my job’, because such groups are already self-alienated & hooked into the Work/Consume/Die structure.” – Hakim Bey

“Supposing we suddenly imagine a world in which nearly everybody is doing what they want. Then we don’t need to be paid in order to work and the whole issue of how money circulates, how we get things done, suddenly alters.” – Robert Theobald

“When survival or mere subsistence is at stake, a society can focus only on the overwhelming needs of the moment, and questions of meaningful work and leisure are considered purely academic. But we believe that the world has enough wealth to move all of humanity above survival and subsistence.” – Alfonso Montuori & Isabella Conti, From Power to Partnership: Creating the Future of Love, Work, and Community

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wage slave – Why Work

WTC PROGRESS – One World Trade Center

 Progress  Comments Off on WTC PROGRESS – One World Trade Center
Jun 192016
 

Developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and managed, operated and leased by The Durst Organization, One World Trade Center is redefining Lower Manhattans New York skyline. Standing at a symbolic 1,776 feet tall, the architectural and engineering marvel is an ever-present symbol of renewal and hope.

Designed by renowned architect David Childs, of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP, One World Trade Center incorporates new architectural and environmental standards, setting a new level of social responsibility in urban design.

The 104-story building, a joint venture between The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and The Durst Organization, is designed to be the safest commercial structure in the world and the premier c ommercial business address in New York. Currently One World Trade Center has leased 67 percent of its 3,000,000,000 square feet of office space which includes tenants: Cond Nast who is One WTCs an chor tenant leasing nearly 1.2 million square feet to house its global headquarters, U.S. General Services Administration which has leased more than 270,000 square feet, global digital gaming company High 5 Games has leased more than 85,000 square feet, Tech advertising firm xAd has leased more than 86,000 square feet, and prominent financial services Moodys has leased more than 70,000 square fee t bringing some of the worlds top companies to Lower Manhattan.

One World Trade Center has also attracted broadcast tenants CBS, NBC Universal-owned WNBC, WNJJ and PBS has relocated operations to the 408-foot-tall spire of One World Trade Center.

The ultra-modern design of One World Trade Center is an innovative mix of architecture, safety and sustainability featuring column-free floors, nine-foot high, floor to ceiling, and clear glass windows for

spectacular unparalleled views. The building’s simplicity and clarity of form are timeless, extending the long tradition of American ingenuity in high-rise construction. One World Trade Center will be a new visual landmark for New York and the United States.

One World Trade Center is designed to achieve LEED CS Gold Certification and its structure is designed around a strong, redundant steel frame, consisting of beams and columns. Paired with a concrete-core shear wall, the redundant steel frame lends substantial rigidity and redundancy to the overall building structure while providing column-free interior spans for maximum flexibility. The building incorporates highly advanced state-of-the-art life-safety systems that exceed the requirements of the New York City Building Code and that will lead the way in developing new innovative technology for high-rise building standards.

Through unprecedented collaborations with technology and energy leaders throughout the world, One World Trade Center’s design team used the latest methods to maximize efficiency, minimize waste a nd pollution, conserve water, improve air quality and reduce the impacts of the development.

Taking advantage of the next generation of innovative energy sources, as well as off-site renewable wind and hydro power, One World Trade Center is slated to be both safe and environmentally friendly.

Workers commuting to One World Trade Center will enjoy unprecedented access to mass transit service. Dazzling new climate-controlled corridors will connect One World Trade Center to the WTC Transportation Hub and the new PATH terminal, 11 NYC Transit subway lines and the new Fulton Street Transit Center, the World Financial Center and ferry terminal, underground parking and approximately 450,000 square feet of world-class shopping and dining amenities developed by Westfield a leading world-wide retail property owner situated throughout the16-acre World trade Center campus.

One World Trade Center’s location in Lower Manhattan positions it in close proximity to amenities at the World Financial Center, Battery Park City and the new West Side Promenade, as well as offers easy access to Tribeca, South Street Seaport and Wall Street. Neighborhood amenities include world-class shopping and a riverfront walkway in a mixed-use community that is active 24/7.

To learn about leasing space, see floor plans and more, visit the One World Trade Center site.

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WTC PROGRESS – One World Trade Center

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Assisted Suicide – Information on right-to-die and …

 Euthanasia  Comments Off on Assisted Suicide – Information on right-to-die and …
Jun 172016
 

For the rights of the terminal, or hopelessly physically ill, competent adult http://www.assistedsuicide.org

Controversy in Oregon about the best term to describe how a doctor helps a terminally ill person to die under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act (1994) set me thinking about all the terms we use to describe ways of dying and death. The row in Oregon is between people on the choice side who abhor words like suicide, euthanasia, and Hemlock, while on the anti-choice side they want the foregoing words to be clearly spelled out because, they think, it helps their opposing case. Read more …

In a spirit of compassion for all, this manifesto proclaims that every competent adult has the incontestable right to humankinds ultimate civil and personal liberty — the right to die in a manner and at a time of their own choosing. Whereas modern medicine has brought great benefits to humanity, it cannot entirely solve the pain and distress of the dying process. Read more …

Controversial in death as in life, the Hemlock Society USA as a name died suddenly on June 13, 2003, in a boardroom in Denver, Colorado. It was 23 years old. Public relations experts and political strategists leaning heavily on focus groups were on hand to usher in the death knell. Months of agonizing debate had preceded the decision because no one could think of a better name!

Born in 1980 in my garage in Santa Monica, California, Hemlock went on to… Read more …

When we look at what the right-to-die movement has achieved, against what it has wished to do, an honest person would agree that there is still a long, long way to go. The first signs of organized activity on this issue came in the late 1930s in Britain, but nothing really happened until the 1970s when the public — the non-medical world — woke up with a shock to the fact that we often die differently nowadays compared to our ancestors. Read more …

Assisted suicide laws around the world are clear in some nations but unclear if they exist at all in others. Just because a country has not defined its criminal code on this specific action does not mean all assisters will go free. It is a complicated state of affairs. A great many people instinctively feel that suicide and assisted suicide are such individual acts of freedom and free will that they assume there are no legal prohibitions. This fallacy has brought many people into trouble with the law. Read more …

Visit the Assisted-Dying Blog maintained by Derek Humphry Share your views with the rest of the world on ERGOs weblog.

Join ERGO – Become a Member Help ERGO in its work to achieve choices in dying.

Join the International Right-To-Die Mailing List Exchange news and views on a wide range of right-to-die topics. (Only subscribe if you in principle support the right to choose to die when physical suffering is unbearable).

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Assisted Suicide – Information on right-to-die and …

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Genetic Engineering | Greenpeace International

 Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Genetic Engineering | Greenpeace International
Jun 172016
 

While scientific progress on molecular biology has a great potential to increase our understanding of nature and provide new medical tools, it should not be used as justification to turn the environment into a giant genetic experiment by commercial interests. The biodiversity and environmental integrity of the world’s food supply is too important to our survival to be put at risk. What’s wrong with genetic engineering (GE)?

Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally.

These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non ‘GE’ environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.

Their release is ‘genetic pollution’ and is a major threat because GMOs cannot be recalled once released into the environment.

Because of commercial interests, the public is being denied the right to know about GE ingredients in the food chain, and therefore losing the right to avoid them despite the presence of labelling laws in certain countries.

Biological diversity must be protected and respected as the global heritage of humankind, and one of our world’s fundamental keys to survival. Governments are attempting to address the threat of GE with international regulations such as the Biosafety Protocol.

April 2010: Farmers, environmentalists and consumers from all over Spain demonstrate in Madrid under the slogan “GMO-free agriculture.” They demand the Government to follow the example of countries like France, Germany or Austria, and ban the cultivation of GM maize in Spain.

GMOs should not be released into the environment since there is not an adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health.

We advocate immediate interim measures such as labelling of GE ingredients, and the segregation of genetically engineered crops and seeds from conventional ones.

We also oppose all patents on plants, animals and humans, as well as patents on their genes. Life is not an industrial commodity. When we force life forms and our world’s food supply to conform to human economic models rather than their natural ones, we do so at our own peril.

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Genetic Engineering | Greenpeace International

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wage slavery – Why Work

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Jun 152016
 

What is a wage slave?

So what exactly IS a wage slave, anyway? It’s doubtful that you’d be exploring this web site if you didn’t have some idea at least, but for the sake of ease, we’ll clarify further.

Here are some brief and incomplete definitions from CLAWS members:

“Wage slavery is the state where you are unable to perceive choices and create courses of action different from the grind of the job.”

“Wage slave: A wage earner whose livelihood is completely dependent on the wages earned.”

The point here, of course, is that we don’t have a single agreed-upon definition of wage slavery. Many of us prefer to focus on wage slavery as a state of mind, while others prefer to focus on the external aspects of wage slavery such as the wage economy. But overall, we seem to sense something rotten at the core of what we’ve been taught about “making a living”, and that’s the place to begin our questioning.

Have you ever noticed how many of us seem to live “lives of quiet desperation”, as Henry David Thoreau puts it? We feel trapped by forces beyond our control, trapped in a mindless job, for the sake of money, status or recognition. We complain that we never seem to have the time for what’s really important to us, because our jobs take so much energy and focus that we hardly have anything left over. We plod along day to day; sometimes we even dread getting out of bed in the morning.

We see the futility of the standard, socially approved path in America. It goes something like this: Go to school, get good grades, so you can get a “good” job, make lots of money, get a mortgage and a car and a spouse, keep up with the Joneses, and be “successful”. We know it’s not the path for us; we want to define success for ourselves. But we don’t know how to forge a new path for ourselves, because, well, what would we do for money if we quit? How would we support ourselves? Sometimes there’s a glazed look in our eyes; it’s as if some part of us has died. We are just doing time, working hard and hoping for the next promotion, waiting for the day when we can throw off our shackles, quit our dull jobs, and finally live life. Everything gets put on hold until we have more time, or more money. Meanwhile, life is passing us by.

Perhaps you are one of these people. If so, CLAWS was created for your benefit. We have news for you: You do not have to live your life that way. CLAWS is here to inspire you to greater fulfillment, and to help you figure out how to get out of the endless cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and feeling chained to a job you don’t care about.

We have other news, too: It won’t necessarily be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. You have a choice, but you may have to re-examine your way of thinking very thoroughly. The pull of the socially accepted way of doing things is amazingly strong, and trips up the best of us despite our good intentions. It takes a certain kind of independent thinker to be “job-free”. We use that term rather than “unemployed”, in an effort to convey to people that we’re proud, not ashamed, of not having regular jobs. We also make an important distinction between jobs and work. All of us do some kind of work, though not necessarily for monetary compensation.

Another thing you’ll need if you decide to rethink your beliefs about jobs and money is the willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. It will take perseverence, and a commitment to throw out the limiting beliefs you may have unwittingly adopted. This is not the path for everyone. If your priority is comfort or social approval, or if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t rock the boat, CLAWS probably won’t meet your needs.

If you embark on this path, it’s important to know what it will ask of you. It may require you to disassemble, dissect, and tear apart your old beliefs, let go of some mighty persistent and tempting illusions, and build a new foundation for your thinking, sometimes from scratch. Are you prepared to do this? If so, you’re in the right place.

Even if you have seen through the false sense of “security” a normal job offers you, and already questioned that approach to life, you may not really believe you can do it. You may still have questions about how to bridge the gap from the old way of life to a new one that you envision. That’s where we can help, dear reader. CLAWS would like to see you devote yourself to the life you’ve dreamed of, the life your heart desires. We don’t want to see you waste your precious days any longer. Life is short, and the time to pursue your dreams is NOW.

In the words of Norman Cousins:

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

“The debt and work cycle is an ingenious tool of subjugation. Make people think they need all these things, then they must have a job, and they give up control of their lives. It’s as simple as that. We live in one of the most free countries in the world, but we fix it so we are not free at all. ” – Larry Roth

“Capitalism only supports certain kinds of groups, the nuclear family for example, or ‘the people I know at my job’, because such groups are already self-alienated & hooked into the Work/Consume/Die structure.” – Hakim Bey

“Supposing we suddenly imagine a world in which nearly everybody is doing what they want. Then we don’t need to be paid in order to work and the whole issue of how money circulates, how we get things done, suddenly alters.” – Robert Theobald

“When survival or mere subsistence is at stake, a society can focus only on the overwhelming needs of the moment, and questions of meaningful work and leisure are considered purely academic. But we believe that the world has enough wealth to move all of humanity above survival and subsistence.” – Alfonso Montuori & Isabella Conti, From Power to Partnership: Creating the Future of Love, Work, and Community

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wage slavery – Why Work

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What is Posthumanism? | The Curator

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Jun 152016
 

Perhaps you have had a nightmare in which you fell through the bottom of your known universe into a vortex of mutated children, talking animals, mental illness, freakish art, and clamoring gibberish. There, you were subjected to the gaze of creatures of indeterminate nature and questionable intelligence. Your position as the subject of your own dream was called into question while voices outside your sight commented upon your tenuous identity. When you woke, you were relieved to find that it was only a dream-version of the book you were reading when you fell asleep. Maybe that book was Alice in Wonderland; maybe it was What is Posthumanism?

Now, it is not quite fair to compare Cary Wolfes sober, thoughtful scholarship with either a nightmare or a work of (childrens?) fantasy. It is a profound, thoroughly researched study with far-reaching consequences for public policy, bioethics, education, and the arts. However, it does present a rather odd dramatis personae, including a glow-in-the-dark rabbit, a woman who feels most at ease in a cattle chute, an artist of Jewish descent who implants an ID-chip in his own leg, researchers who count the words in a dogs vocabulary, and horses who exhibit more intelligence than the average human toddler. The settings, too, are often wildly different from those you might expect in an academic work: a manufactured cloud hovering over a lake in Switzerland, a tree park in Canada where landscape and architecture blend and redefine one another, recording studios, photographic laboratories, slaughterhouses, and (most of all) the putative minds of animals and the deconstructed minds of the very humans whose ontological existence it seeks to problematize.

But that is another exaggeration. Wolfes goal is not to undermine the existence or value of human beings. Rather, it is to call into question the universal ethics, assumed rationality, and species-specific self-determination of humanism. That is a mouthful.

Indeed, Wolfes book is a mouthful, and a headful. It is in fact a book by a specialist, for specialists. While Wolfe is an English professor (at Rice University) and identifies himself with literary and cultural studies (p. 100), this is first of all a work of philosophy. Its ideal audience is very small, consisting of English and Philosophy professors who came of age in the 70s, earned their Ph.D.s during the hey-day of Derridean Deconstruction, and have spent the intervening decades keeping up with trends in systems theory, cultural studies, science, bioethics, and information technology. It is rigorous and demanding, especially in its first five chapters, which lay the conceptual groundwork for the specific analyses of the second section.

In these first five chapters, Wolfe describes his perspective and purpose by interaction with many other great minds and influential texts, primarily those of Jacques Derrida. Here, the fundamental meaning and purpose of Posthumanism becomes clear. Wolfe wants his readers to rethink their relationship to animals (what he calls nonhuman animals). His goal is a new and more inclusive form of ethical pluralism (137). That sound innocuous enough, but he is not talking about racial, religious, or other human pluralisms. He is postulating a pluralism that transcends species. In other words, he is promoting the ethical treatment of animals based on a fundamental re-evaluation of what it means to be human, to be able to speak, and even to think. He does this by discussing studies that reveal the language capacities of animals (a dog apparently has about a 200-word vocabulary and can learn new words as quickly as a human three-year-old; pp. 32-33), by recounting the story of a woman whose Aspergers syndrome enables her to empathize with cows and sense the world the way they do (chapter five), and by pointing out the ways in which we value disabled people who do not possess the standard traits that (supposedly) make us human.

But Wolfe goes further than a simple suggestion that we should be nice to animals (and the unspoken plug for universal veganism). He is proposing a radical disruption of liberal humanism and a rigorous interrogation of what he sees as an arrogant complacency about our species. He respects any variety of philosophy that challenges anthropocentrism and speciesism (62)anthropocentrism, of course, means viewing the world as if homo sapiens is the center (or, more accurately, viewing the world from the position of occupying that center) and specisism is the term he uses to replace racism. We used to feel and enact prejudice against people of different ethnic backgrounds, he suggests, but we now know that is morally wrong. The time has come, then, to realize that we are feeling and enacting prejudice against people of different species.

Although Wolfe suggests many epistemological and empirical reasons for rethinking the personhood of animals, he comes to the conclusion that our relationship with them is based on our shared embodiment. Humans and animals have a shared finitude (139); we can both feel pain, suffer, and die. On the basis of our mutual mortality, then, we should have an emphasis on compassion (77). He is not out to denigrate his own species far from it. Indeed, he goes out of his way to spend time discussing infants (who have not yet developed rationality and language), people with disabilities (especially those that prevent them from participating in fully rational thought and/or communication), and the elderly (who may lose some of those rational capacities, especially if racked by such ailments as Alzheimers). Indeed, he claims: It is not by denying the special status of human being[s] but by intensifying it that we can come to think of nonhuman animalsasfellow creatures (77).

This joint focus on the special status of all human beings along with the other living creatures roaming (or swimming, flying, crawling, slithering) the globe has far-reaching consequences for public policy, especially bioethics. Wolfe says that, currently, bioethics is riddled with prejudices: Of these prejudices, none is more symptomatic of the current state of bioethics than prejudice based on species difference, and an incapacity to address the ethical issues raised by dramatic changes over the past thirty years in our knowledge about the lives, communication, emotions, and consciousnesses of a number of nonhuman species (56). One of the goals of his book, then, is to reiterate that knowledge and promote awareness of those issues that he sees as ethical.

If you read Wolfes book, or even parts of it, you will suddenly see posthumanism everywhere. You can trace its influence in the enormously fast-growing pet industry. From the blog Pawsible Marketing: As in recent and past years, there is no doubt that pets continue to become more and more a part of the family, even to the extent of becoming, in some cases, humanized.

You will see it in bring-your-pet-to-work or bring-your-pet-to-school days. You might think it is responsible for the recent introduction of a piece of legislation called H.R. 3501, The Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years, know as the HAPPY Act, which proposes a tax deduction for pet owners. You will find it in childrens books about talking animals. You will see it on Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, and a PBS series entitled Inside the Animal Mind. You will find it in films, such as the brand-new documentary The Cove, which records the brutal slaughter of dolphins for food. And you will see it in works of art.

Following this reasoning, section two of Wolfes book (chapters six through eleven) veers off from the strictly philosophical approach into the more traditional terrain of cultural studies: he examines specific works of art in light of the philosophical basis that is now firmly in place. Interestingly, he does not choose all works of art that depict animals, nor those that displace humans. He begins with works that depict animals (Sue Coes paintings of slaughterhouses) and that use animals (Eduardo Kacs creation of genetically engineered animals that glow in the dark), but then moves on to discuss film, architecture, poetry, and music. In each of these examinations, he works to destabilize traditional binaries such as nature/culture, landscape/architecture, viewer/viewed, presence/absence, organic/inorganic, natural/artificial, and, really, human/nonhuman. This second section, then, is a subtle application of the theory of posthumanism itself to the arts, [our] environment, and [our] identity.

What is perhaps most important about What is Posthumanism remains latent in the text. This is its current and (especially) future prevalence. By tracing the history of posthumanism back through systems theory into deconstruction, Wolfe implies a future trajectory, too. I would venture to suggest that he believes posthumanism is the worldview that will soon come to dominate Western thought. And this is important for academics specifically and thinkers in general to realize.

Whether you agree with Cary Wolfe or not, it would be wise to understand posthumanism. It appears that your only choice will be either to align yourself with this perspective or to fight against it. If you agree, you should know with what. If you fight, you should know against what.

What, then, is the central thesis of posthumanism? Wolfes entire project might be summed up in his bold claim that, thanks to his own work and that of the theorists and artists he discusses, the human occupies a new place in the universe, a universe now populated by what I am prepared to call nonhuman subjects (47)such subjects as talking rabbits, six-inch people, and mythical monsters?

Well, maybe not the mythical monsters.

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What is Posthumanism? | The Curator

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Online Gambling Sites & Games Guide | Gambling.com

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Jun 132016
 

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Online bingo has been growing at a rapid rate. The latest figures estimate that in the UK alone there are more than four million players — great news for this quick-fire group game with a highly social core.

While some countries have resisted the move from brick-and-mortar casinos to online gambling, many have welcomed the phenomenon, changing the landscape and culture of casino gambling forever.

Fantasy sports have been around for decades, tracing its roots back to 1980 when the original fantasy league started around Americas pastime, baseball. From that early league, fantasy sports have grown to encompass a huge variety of sports and formats, including the dramatic rise of Daily Fantasy Sports.

Recent advances in technology have meant that, while some lotteries are only open to residents of the same country, others can now be played by a global audience. This makes lottery betting today a more exciting and varied prospect than ever before.

According to Adweek, as of 2014 mobile users were spending over 85% of their time using apps, with 32% of this spent gaming and 17% on social media site Facebook. With so many more people reliant on their phones, the gambling industry responded, finding new and exciting ways for gamers to get online.

Switching from conventional multi-currency gambling websites to Bitcoin-only sites might seem a bit daunting, but it can also be a lucrative opportunity. There are a range of pros and cons that users should consider before signing up, especially now that Bitcoin gambling sites are becoming increasingly competitive.

The online poker scene has exploded in the last decade, offering an altogether different experience from live poker games in brick-and-mortar casinos, while retaining the high level of skill required to master the deck.

Online betting is more than just having your local bookies at your fingertips, it’s about finding creative ways to maximise enjoyment and profit from some of the greatest, most exciting and even the most obscure events from around the world.

The term “betting markets” covers a broad swath of events, basically anything that one could reasonably take bets on. While the sports world is the largest, odds on non-sports events can all be found at various online casinos.

When one thinks of bingo, variety is not the first thing that springs to mind, even though it is an integral part of the online bingo world. Most people think of bingo as one all-encompassing game, but that is not the case.

Casino games are the ‘Bell-of-the-Ball’ in terms of gambling offerings, as most top operators ensure their development teams concentrate a majority of their power on creating and optimizing casino games above even poker or bingo games.

Daily Fantasy Games represent a new paradigm in sports betting, and are also lightning rods for legislation in the United States. Regulation in that country appears imminent, and once a system for oversight is in place these games have the potential to drastically alter how players around the world enjoy sports.

Most popular casino games have a companion Live Dealer version offered by at least one operator if not them all. From the fan-favourite blackjack to the more risky Roulette, Live Dealer casino games should never be hard to find.

Long gone are the days when physical location limited a player’s gaming options thanks to online casinos. One such feature that is growing in popularity is lottery betting, which now allows customers to participate in the world’s largest lotteries from the comfort of their own home.

Poker has experienced a surge in popularity in the last decade or so, and nowhere has that translated into growth more than the world of online poker.

Slots and poker are the two games perhaps most associated with online casinos (and casinos in general), so it makes sense that gaming providers figured out a way to combine them years ago in the form of video poker.

Whether in a physical gambling hall or a digital one, slot games are afforded prime real estate, and for good reason as they are among the most popular and entertaining games around.

Poker Networks allow online casinos to draw from a massive player base to ensure that their games are always full. By offering multiple sites the same base software with personalized design schemes, both parties benefit alongside the players.

Depositing and withdrawing funds from an online casino account has never been easier, thanks to the rise of dedicated payment services and improvements in software that allow sites to accept funds from many different sources.

The software provider that an online casino chooses to partner with is one of the most crucial aspects of that casino’s identity. Beyond determining site functionality, the games available at a given casino is also affected by who they work with.

Community has long been at the heart of bingo’s success but with the iGaming revolution taking the industry by storm, it’s no surprise some are beginning to consider bingo software the primary engine of online bingo.

It can be easy to overlook the underlying software at an online betting hub, especially when getting lost in the flurry of numbers and odds on screen. The design and organization of these sites certainly play a major role in the betting experience.

Mobile gambling is one of the fastest growing sectors of the gaming industry. A quality mobile platform is a must-have for internet casinos, and a variety of studios have specialists dedicated to creating those platforms, much to the delight of gamers on the go.

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Oceania Cruises – Cruise Vacations & Cruise Deals | Mid-Sized …

 Oceania  Comments Off on Oceania Cruises – Cruise Vacations & Cruise Deals | Mid-Sized …
Jun 132016
 

Order Your Free Brochures

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On April 27, 2016, Sirena, the newest member of the Oceania Cruises fleet, was christened in Barcelona, Spain. Watch the event as it happened live, including opening remarks from Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague, Sirenas Godmother Claudine Ppin, the christening of the ship, and all the festivities!

Filled with a spectacular array of diverse and exotic destinations, your world awaits your discovery. There is simply no better way to explore it than aboard the elegant ships of Oceania Cruises. Our unique itineraries are wide-ranging, featuring the most fascinating destinations throughout the world. Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, Sirena, Marina and Riviera are all intimate and luxurious, with each calling on the worlds most desirable ports, from historic cities and modern meccas to seaside villages and faraway islands. On a voyage with Oceania Cruises, each day offers the rewarding opportunity to experience the history, culture and cuisine of a wondrous new destination.

Relax on board our luxurious ships and savor cuisine renowned as the finest at sea, rivaling even Michelin-starred restaurants ashore. Inspired by Master Chef Jacques Ppin, these culinary delights have always been a hallmark that distinguishes the Oceania Cruises experience from any other. Considering the uncompromising quality, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of an Oceania Cruises voyage is its incredible value. Lavish complimentary amenities abound, and there are never supplemental charges in any of the onboard restaurants. Value packages ensure that sipping a glass of vintage wine, surfing the Internet or enjoying a shore excursion is both convenient and affordable.

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Natural Alternative Medicine

 Alternative Medicine  Comments Off on Natural Alternative Medicine
Jun 132016
 

We specialize in the research and development of alternative medicine, natural health supplements and remedies. We endeavor to select the most essential formulas from our five thousand year old heritage of Traditional Chinese Medicine. All of our products are appraised by modern science and produced by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified pharmaceutical companies in the USA. These alternative medicines with unique formulas are distributed in the US and around the world through our vast sales network. With extraordinary therapeutic results, our products have been reported and acclaimed by more than 200 media in 40 different countries over the past 15 years.

Under the direction of Dr. Lian “Larry” J. Chong, a world renowned expert on alternative medicine for diabetes and the inventor of the theory of “human organ regeneration”, a collaborative project composed of 216 advanced researchers and experts in China and the US has been carrying on medical research and new formula development . Many international medical associations and organizations have awarded prizes to us or recommended our products.

Experts in our research centers and 48 collaborative units located in China and the US have been working hard to develop new herbal formulas. Through our sales network that covers 18 countries, these superior quality products are distributed to benefit the health and well-being of people throughout the world.

Our main products are as follows

Yu Xiao San 8805 (Dia-Naturale) SLIM 1-2-3 BREATH 1-2-3 For Her 1-2-3 (Ulti~Mate Tiger) KIDNEY PURIFIER 1-2-3

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Natural Alternative Medicine

 Posted by at 12:51 pm  Tagged with:

Jackboot – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Government Oppression  Comments Off on Jackboot – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jun 122016
 

A jackboot is a military boot such as the cavalry jackboot or the hobnailed jackboot. The cavalry jackboot was a version of the jackboots worn by postilions, such as guided the French stage coach or diligence, as described by an English visitor to France in 1803:

The near horse of the three first, is mounted by the postilion, in his great jack boots…. These curious protectors of his legs, are composed of wood, and iron hoops, softened within by stuffing, and give him all the dignity of riding in a pair of upright portmanteaus.[1]

The hobnailed jackboot has a different design and function than the first type. It is a combat boot that is designed for marching. It rises to mid-calf or higher with no laces and usually has a leather sole with hobnails. These boots have both been associated with totalitarianism, as they were worn by the Nazis and were used by armies in the former Soviet Union.

The term originally denoted tall winged leather cavalry boots, which had been “jacked”, or reinforced against sword blows by use of mail (armor) sewn into the lining of the leather.[2] The wings on these high boots particularly protected a rider’s knee-joint from a sword blow. These boots are still worn and still so termed by the Household Cavalry Regiment of the British Army, founded in the 17th century. The term originates from the French word Jaque (m) meaning mail. The term is of Catalan origin, descended from the Arabic schakk.[3] These boots were made very heavy by the mail reinforcement, and are slightly less so today from the use of modern materials as stiffeners. There are few manufacturers of Cavalry Jackboots extant in the 21st century, the most famous being Schnieder Boots[4] (pronounced Schneeder) of Mayfair, London, the official supplier to Her Majesty the Queen’s Household Cavalry.

The second meaning of the term is derived from the first, with reference to their toughness, but is unrelated in design and function, being a combat boot designed for marching, rising to at least mid-calf, with no laces, typically a leather sole with hobnails, and heel irons.[5][6] The Germans call this boot “Marschstiefel”, meaning “marching boot”. This is the classic boot used by the German Infantry in World War I, though the Stormtroopers dispensed with them in favor of laced boots then used by Austro-Hungarian mountain troops.[7] An etymological source not derived from the Cavalry Jackboot has been suggested as from the word jack, jacket or jerkin, as a common garment worn by the peasantry.[8]

Although hobnailed short Jackboots date from before the Napoleonic era, they became popular with the Germanic armies in the mid to late 19th century because of their perceived durability over “lesser” boots. Worn out boots were considered a major problem for armies on the march and the high quality leather “jackboot” with its hobnails was deemed to be more durable than the alternatives available. As Prussia and the associated German minor powers relied on quickly defeating its opponents before they could fully mobilize and coordinate, their infantry’s ability to march long distances was a major issue. The jackboot was replaced by lesser quality ankle boots in the German army when leather became scarce in World War II.

The boots are connected to fascism, particularly Nazism, as they were issued by the Wehrmacht and SS as part of the World War II German uniform before Germany encountered leather shortages. When goose-stepping on pavement, the large columns of German soldiers in Marschstiefel (“marching boots”) created a distinct rock-crushing sound which came to symbolize German conquest and occupation. A similar style of boot had been in use with German armies in World War I, the Franco-Prussian War, and before.

Jackboots were also associated with the armies of the former USSR (called sapogi) and East Germany. Jackboots are still a part of the modern parade and service attire of the army of Russia and several other former Soviet states.

The word is commonly used in English as a synonym for totalitarianism, particularly fascism, although jackboots and similar types of footwear have been worn by various British regiments since the 18th century (see Wellington Boot, origins). Following the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared that the democratic rights of the Falkland Islanders had been assaulted, and would not surrender the islands to the Argentine “jackboot.”

In the United States in October 1993, the National Rifle Association (NRA) ran a 4-page ad in the center of its American Rifleman magazine, the first page of which showed goose-stepping, jackbooted legs under the question, “What’s the First Step to a Police State?”[9] Two years later, the NRA’s executive vice-president, Wayne LaPierre, sparked controversy when he referred to federal agents as “jackbooted government thugs” in an NRA fund-raising letter. Such statements prompted former U.S. president George H.W. Bush to resign his membership in the organization soon after.[10][11]

The Russian expression ” ” “under one’s boot” translates as “under one’s heel” and symbolizes oppression. The Spanish expression “tener (algo o alguien) bajo la bota”[citation needed] or “to have (something or somebody) under the boot” has the same meaning.

Read more:

Jackboot – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

How Offshore Drilling Works | HowStuffWorks

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Jun 122016
 

Some people say money makes the world go round. Others insist the key ingredient is love or even music. But whatever drives humanity to carry on from day to day, our dependence on fossil fuels leaves one fact for certain: The axle of our spinning globe is greased with oil.

We consume more than 80 million barrels of the stuff every day [source: CIA]. To meet our ravenous demand for fossil fuels, petroleum companies constantly comb the planet for new reserves. Since oceans cover nearly three-quarters of Earth’s surface, a great deal of those reserves wind up underwater.

Reaching these undersea drilling sites poses quite a challenge. After all, drilling on land is an undertaking on its own. How do you drill in lightless ocean depths and transport all that liquid, gas and solid petroleum back to the surface? How do you keep from polluting the ocean? And how do you do all of this, with tons of special equipment, in the middle of rough seas?

To surmount these obstacles, petroleum companies have invested billions into the development of offshore drilling and offshore oil platforms. The first of these platforms was constructed in 1897 at the end of a wharf in California. In the years to follow, oil prospectors pushed out into the ocean, first on piers and then on artificial islands. In 1928, a Texan oilman unveiled the first mobile oil platform for drilling in wetlands. The structure was little more than a barge with a drilling outfit mounted on top, but it set the example for decades of advancements to come.

In the years that followed, petroleum companies moved even farther into the ocean. In 1947, a consortium of oil companies built the first platform that you couldn’t see from land in the Gulf of Mexico. Even the North Sea, which endures nearly constant inclement weather, is currently home to many offshore drilling sites [source: The Guardian].

Today’s oil rigs are truly gigantic structures. Some are basically floating cities, employing and housing hundreds of people. Other massive production facilities sit atop undersea towers that descend as far as 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) into the depths — taller than the world’s most ambitious skyscrapers. In an effort to sustain their fossil fuel dependency, humans have built some of the largest floating structures on Earth.

In this article, we’ll examine how petroleum companies go about sniffing out this buried, black gold and the methods they use to extract it.

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How Offshore Drilling Works | HowStuffWorks

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Portland Area Oregon Beaches – Portlandguide.com

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Apr 302016
 

The majority of north Oregon coast beaches are within two hours drive of Portland. The spectacular coastline has much to offer its visitors – breathtaking views of unspoiled beaches, sand dunes, and rocky cliffs and miles of nature and hiking trails. Although the north coast waters are too cold for most people to swim, wet-suit surfing is a popular sport on some beaches.

Seaside Beach Seaside is the favorite beach destination of many locals. This popular family-friendly town features a promenade and boardwalk along the beach. The downtown streets are lined with clothing shops, candy stores, arcades and the usual coastal trinket shops.

Cannon Beach Cannon Beach is a more upscale version of Seaside with boutiques, art galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants featuring fresh seafood lining both sides of the main street. Cannon Beach is also home to Haystack Rock – one of the largest monoliths in the world.

Lincoln City Lincoln City is known as one of the top kite-flying destinations in the world. Thousands of people come to this seaside town to watch the gray whales migrate in early spring and again in fall and early winter. Other favorite pastimes are beach-combing, deep-sea fishing, antiquing, and shopping at the Tanger Outlet Mall.

Read more here:
Portland Area Oregon Beaches – Portlandguide.com

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Freedom Tower (1 World Trade Center) – The New York Times

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Apr 222016
 

Latest Articles

Cond Nast is to lease one million square feet in the lead tower at ground zero in a deal worth an estimated $2 billion over 25 years.

The Port Authority has struggled to create an elegant and secure skyscraper while also containing costs.

Larry A. Silverstein, the developer of 4 World Trade Center, is taking up New York City on its commitment to lease one-third of the building.

In 2010, so much progress was made at the World Trade Center that officials saw no need to cook up fabricated milestones, as they had in the past. But in December, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey showed that old habits die hard. It announced in a press release (accompanied by this picture) that 1 World Trade Center – the building formerly known as Freedom Tower – had reached “halfway to the top.” Meaning what? That the structural steel had reached the level of the 52nd floor in what will be a 104-story building.

Few people seem willing to question whether building 1 World Trade Center makes any sense.

The Timess David W. Dunlap describes how the new World Trade Center complex is taking shape.

Despite setbacks and public cynicism, the puzzle that is the new World Trade Center complex is being pieced together rapidly.

Photographs from the Timess Fred R. Conrad provide an intimate view of construction at the site of the World Trade Center.

The publishing giant has signed a tentative deal to anchor the skyscraper now under construction.

The Durst real estate family won a hotly contested bidding contest for a stake in 1 World Trade Center and is expected to invest at least $100 million in the tower.

A family that owns 10 Midtown Manhattan office towers is favored by some Port Authority officials, but a deal is not assured.

A Subway restaurant franchise is housed in cargo containers and raised by cranes that rise as the building goes up.

Having the publishing giant as a tenant would bring a particular cachet to 1 World Trade Center.

Mr. Libeskind is best known for his work as the master plan architect for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center.

Panoramic views of 1 World Trade Center show the progress of building.

The days when 1 World Trade Center was regarded as an unnecessary exercise in waste appear to be over.

The Port Authority, the city and Larry A. Silverstein have worked out a formula to finance the project.

The Port Authority hopes to raise money for 1 World Trade Center, still under construction, and hand off the job of marketing the space and negotiating leases.

Fresh bread will soon be baking high above ground zero.

The Port Authority says that 1 World Trade Center, the address of the fallen north tower, is the most practical way to market the building. It had been called the Freedom Tower.

Cond Nast is to lease one million square feet in the lead tower at ground zero in a deal worth an estimated $2 billion over 25 years.

The Port Authority has struggled to create an elegant and secure skyscraper while also containing costs.

Larry A. Silverstein, the developer of 4 World Trade Center, is taking up New York City on its commitment to lease one-third of the building.

In 2010, so much progress was made at the World Trade Center that officials saw no need to cook up fabricated milestones, as they had in the past. But in December, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey showed that old habits die hard. It announced in a press release (accompanied by this picture) that 1 World Trade Center – the building formerly known as Freedom Tower – had reached “halfway to the top.” Meaning what? That the structural steel had reached the level of the 52nd floor in what will be a 104-story building.

Few people seem willing to question whether building 1 World Trade Center makes any sense.

The Timess David W. Dunlap describes how the new World Trade Center complex is taking shape.

Despite setbacks and public cynicism, the puzzle that is the new World Trade Center complex is being pieced together rapidly.

Photographs from the Timess Fred R. Conrad provide an intimate view of construction at the site of the World Trade Center.

The publishing giant has signed a tentative deal to anchor the skyscraper now under construction.

The Durst real estate family won a hotly contested bidding contest for a stake in 1 World Trade Center and is expected to invest at least $100 million in the tower.

A family that owns 10 Midtown Manhattan office towers is favored by some Port Authority officials, but a deal is not assured.

A Subway restaurant franchise is housed in cargo containers and raised by cranes that rise as the building goes up.

Having the publishing giant as a tenant would bring a particular cachet to 1 World Trade Center.

Mr. Libeskind is best known for his work as the master plan architect for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center.

Panoramic views of 1 World Trade Center show the progress of building.

The days when 1 World Trade Center was regarded as an unnecessary exercise in waste appear to be over.

The Port Authority, the city and Larry A. Silverstein have worked out a formula to finance the project.

The Port Authority hopes to raise money for 1 World Trade Center, still under construction, and hand off the job of marketing the space and negotiating leases.

Fresh bread will soon be baking high above ground zero.

The Port Authority says that 1 World Trade Center, the address of the fallen north tower, is the most practical way to market the building. It had been called the Freedom Tower.

Read the original here:
Freedom Tower (1 World Trade Center) – The New York Times

What is atheism? | Define atheism | CARM

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Mar 292016
 

by Matt Slick

The word, atheism, comes from the negative a which means “no,” and theos which means “god.” Hence, atheism in the most basic terms means “no god.” Basically, atheism is the lack of belief in a god and/or the belief that there is no god. By contrast, theism is the belief that there is a God and that He is knowable and that He is involved in the world. Most atheists do not consider themselves anti-theists but simply non-theists.

I’ve encountered many atheists who claim that atheism is not a belief system, while others say it is. Since there is no official atheist organization, nailing down which description of atheism to use can be difficult. Nevertheless, the following are some definitions offered by atheists. Whichever definition you accept, atheism denies God.

There are two main categories of atheists: strong and weak with variations in between. Strong atheists actively believe and state that no God exists. They expressly denounce the Christian God along with any other god. Strong atheists are usually more aggressive in their conversations with theists and try to shoot holes in theistic beliefs. They like to use logic and anti-biblical evidences to denounce God’s existence. They are active, often aggressive, and openly believe that there is no God.

Agnostic Atheists, as I call them, are those who deny God’s existence based on an examination of evidence. Agnosticism means “not knowing” or “no knowledge.” I call them agnostic because they state they have looked at the evidence and have concluded there is no God, but they say they are open to further evidence for God’s existence.

Weak atheists simply exercise no faith in God. The weak atheist might be better explained as a person who lacks belief in God the way a person might lack belief that there is a green lizard in a rocking chair on the moon. It isn’t an issue. He doesn’t believe it or not believe it.

Finally, there is a group of atheists that I call militant atheists. They are, fortunately, few in number. They are usually highly insulting and profoundly terse in their comments to theists and particularly Christians. Ive encountered a few of them, and they are vile, rude, and highly condescending. Their language is full of insults, profanity, and blasphemies. Basically, no meaningful conversation can be held with them.

Atheist positions seem to fall into two main categories. The first is the lack-of-evidence category where the atheist asserts that the supporting evidence isn’t good enough for him to affirm God’s existence. The second is the category where the athiestbelieves that the idea of God’s existence is illogical and contrary to the evidence at hand. To simplify, one position says that there isn’t enough evidence to conclude that God exists, and the other position says that the evidence is contrary to God’s existence. For those atheists who simply lack belief and exercise no energy in the discussion, neither category applies because they are not involved in the debate. But, some of those who claim to lack belief in God are often involved in discussions where they are arguing against God’s existence.

A typical argument posed by an atheist to show why God does not exist is as follows: God is supposed to be all good and all-powerful. Evil and suffering exist in the world. If God is all good, He would not want evil and suffering to exist. If He is all-powerful, then He is able to remove all evil and suffering. Since evil and suffering exist, God is either not all good (which means He is not perfect and not God) or He is not all-powerful (and limited in abilities and scope). Since either case shows God is not all good and powerful, then He does not exist. Of course, the problem is that the criticism is a false dichotomy. In other words, there are more than two possibilities, namely, God might have a reason for allowing evil and suffering, man’s freedom might require the allowance of evil and suffering, etc.

Presuppositions are important to us all. We look at the world through them. The atheist has a set of presuppositions, too. As I said, there is no definitive atheist organization that defines the absolutes of atheism, but there are basic principles that atheists as a whole tend to adopt. I’ve tried to list some of them below. Please note, however, that not all atheists accept all of these tenets. The only absolute common one to which they hold is that they do not believe in a God or gods.

For the Christian, atheism clashes with many aspects of our faith. Some atheists openly attack Christianity–citing apparent contradictions in the Bible, perceived philosophical difficulties related to God and what they consider as logical evidences against God’s existence. But the atheists’ criticisms are not without very good answers as you will see in the coming papers.

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What is atheism? | Define atheism | CARM

Hedonism Resort II Jamaica adults-only all … – Call Now

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Mar 272016
 

Everything Youve Heard Is True

The rumors, the legends, the myths are all true. For more than 30 years, Hedonism clothing optional resorts have enjoyed a reputation for shattering inhibitions and provoking the kind of behavior people dont talk about in polite circles. Its what happens when you combine warm water, a white-sand beach, open bars, and open minds. Our lifestyle resort is about as far as you can get from your everyday life. And best of all, just about everything you can eat, drink, and do is included.

Sooner or later, its gonna happen.

The primal urge to just let go, unwind, and unplug. Hedonism II on world-famous Negril Beach of Negril, Jamaica was created as a reward for all those times youve had to deny your basic instincts. In these lush gardens of pure pleasure, the word no is seldom heard.

After a week at Hedonism II, youll view the world from a slightly different angle. Youll be tanned and relaxed, and at times youll find yourself smiling for no reason whatsoever. Hedonism II, unlike all other clothing optional resorts.

Hedonism II is the only resort of its kind in the world. Its the resort where you can do what you want, when you want, in a way that you only can at Hedonism. From the nude beach to piano bar to the disco, Hedonism II is the best resort for adult only, all inclusive clothing optional travel. If you dont have fun at Hedonism II, you probably wont have fun anywhere.

And the best place to book your Hedonism II vacation is right here at Dream Pleasure Tours. Why? Dream Pleasure Tours is you main source for the best prices and best service for Hedonism II reservation.

See the rest here:

Hedonism Resort II Jamaica adults-only all … – Call Now

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Transhumanism: An Attempt To Use Technology To Turn Men Into Gods …

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Mar 252016
 

Did you know that the word transhuman literally means beyond human?

All over the world, scientists and intellectuals are joining the transhumanism movement. Those that adhere to this philosophy believe that the time has come for us to use technology to take control of our own evolution. By doing so, they believe that we can give ourselves superhuman powers and radically extend our lifespans. Right now, the most popular movie in America is Avengers: Age of Ultron, and in recent years we have watched films about mutants and superheroes become some of Hollywoods biggest moneymakers. But transhumanists believe that we will soon be able to literally turn ourselves into such superheroes as technology continues to increase at an exponential rate. And once we have superhuman powers and superhuman intelligence, they are convinced that we will eradicate all sickness, disease, poverty and war. Many of them actually believe that we will be able to achieve immortality and establish a utopia on Earth just a few decades from now. In other words, we wont need a God because we will have become our own gods.

At the core of the transhumanist movement is an unshakable faith in the inevitable technological progress of humanity. Yes, there are some transhumanists that have doubts, but for most transhumanists the solution to all of our problems is more technology. If you are not familiar with transhumanism, the following is a really good definitionthat I recently came across

Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement promoting the aim of transforming the human condition fundamentally by developing and making available technologies to enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capabilities. Transhumanist thinking studies the potential benefits and hazards of emerging technologies that could overcome basic human limitations. It also addresses ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. Some transhumanists predict that human beings may eventually transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities that they justify a state of being known as posthuman.

Transhumanists want to help humans live much longer, and they also want to dramatically increase the quality of those lives. Ultimately, most transhumanists are fully convinced that they will be able to defeat death altogether. The following is a short excerptfrom an ExtremeTech article

One of the core concepts in transhumanist thinking is life extension: Through genetic engineering, nanotech, cloning, and other emerging technologies, eternal life may soon be possible. Likewise, transhumanists are interested in the ever-increasing number of technologies that can boost our physical, intellectual, and psychological capabilities beyond what humans are naturally capable of (thus the termtranshuman). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), for example, which speeds up reaction times and learning speed byrunning a very weak electric current through your brain, has already been used by the US military to train snipers. On the more extreme side, transhumanism deals with the concepts of mind uploading (to a computer), and what happens when we finally craft a computer with greater-than-human intelligence (the technological singularity).

So would you like to live forever armed with superhuman powers?

The most famous transhumanist in the world, Ray Kurzweil, actually believes that he is going to be able to do that. But first he has to stay alive long enough for the technologies that he believes are coming to be developed. So Kurzweiltakes 150 supplements a day in an attempt to keep his body in peak condition

The youthful 65-year-old currently takes 150 supplements a day, which he argues is the first bridge.

The idea is to build enough bridges to ensure the body holds out long enough for life-lengthening technology to come into its own.

He has likened the biology of the body to computer software and believes we are all out of date.

Kurzweil is absolutely convinced that if he can just stretch his life out long enough that technologies that will enable him to achieve immortality are right around the corner. In fact,in a piece that he wrote for CNN he expressed his belief that our medical technologies will be a million times more powerful than they are today just two decades from now

Health and medicine is now an information technology and is therefore subject to what I call the law of accelerating returns, which is a doubling of capability (for the same cost) about each year that applies to any information technology.

As a result, technologies to reprogram the software that underlie human biology are already a thousand times more powerful than they were when the genome project was completed in 2003, and will again be a thousand times more powerful than they are today in a decade, and a million times more powerful in two decades.

So will he be right?

We will just have to wait and see.

For a long time, many in the transhumanist movement (including Kurzweil) have been pointing to a time period between 2030 and 2050 during which they believe something remarkable will happen. They believe that during that time period something known as the singularity will occur. As technology increases at an exponential rate, they believe that artificial intelligence will begin to greatly surpass human intelligence at some point, and that humanity will merge with this new super intelligence. Once that happens, they believe that the world will change in ways that we cannot even comprehend today

Kurzweil and his followers believe that a crucial turning point will be reached around the year 2030, when information technology achieves genuine intelligence, at the same time as biotechnology enables a seamless union between us and this super-smart new technological environment. Ultimately the human-machine mind will become free to roam a universe of its own creation, uploading itself at will on to a suitably powerful computational substrate. We will become essentially god-like in our powers.

Does that sound good to you, or does it sound frightening?

Other transhumanists are not quite as optimistic as Kurzweil and his followers. Just consider what Max Tegmark, the author of Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, had to say about what life will be like after the singularity

After this, life on Earth would never be the same. Whoever or whatever controls this technology would rapidly become the worlds wealthiest and most powerful, outsmarting allfinancial markets, out-inventing and out-patenting all human researchers, and out-manipulating all human leaders. Even if we humansnominally merge with such machines, we might have no guarantees whatsoever about the ultimate outcome, making it feel less like a mergerand more like a hostile corporate takeover.

Even some of the most prominent scientists in the world are skeptical of what an ultra-powerful artificial intelligence would mean for the future of humanity. The following is an excerpt from an article co-authored by Stephen Hawking

Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organized in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains. An explosive transition is possible, although it may play out differently than in the movie: as Irving Good realized in 1965, machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, triggering what Vernor Vinge called a singularity and Johnny Depps movie character calls transcendence. One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.

But despite these reservations from many in the scientific community, many transhumanists are pushing ahead as hard as they can. Many of them are absolutely convinced that what they are doing will bring a new golden age to this planet. Just consider the words oftranshumanist Zoltan Istvan

Despite this, people continue to worry that technology and science that make our species more transhuman will be used to create a deeper divide in society for the haves and have-nots. Those worries are unfounded. A close examination of the issues show that transhumanist technology and science liberates us, brings us better health, and has improved the living standards of all people around the world. If you value liberty, equality and progress, it makes sense to embrace the coming age of transhumanism.

Doesnt that sound wonderful?

And there are even some transhumanists that couch their hopes and dreams for the future in religious terminology. For example, transhumanist Mark Pesce is fully convinced that transhumanism will allow ordinary humans to become as gods

Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something morea transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form. An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will; To become as gods, take the universe in hand, and transform it in our imagefor our own delight. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman an apotheosis to reason, salvation attained by good works.

That is some pretty strong stuff.

So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below

The rest is here:

Transhumanism: An Attempt To Use Technology To Turn Men Into Gods …

Libertarian History: A Reading List | Libertarianism.org

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Mar 232016
 

November 3, 2011 essays

A guide to books on the history of liberty and libertarianism.

The history of libertarianism is more than a series of scholarly statements on philosophy, economics, and the social sciences. It is the history of courageous men and women struggling to bring freedom to the lives of those living without it. The works on this list give important context to the ideas found on the others.

A History of Libertarianism by David Boaz

This essay, reprinted from Libertarianism: A Primer, covers the sweep of libertarian and pre-libertarian history, from Lao Tzu in the sixth century B.C. to the latest developments of the 21st century. Because its available for free on Libertarianism.org, the essay also includes numerous links to more information about major thinkers and their works. For a general sense of the rich history of the movement for liberty, this is easily the best place to start.

The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn

Bernard Bailyns Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the ideas that influenced the American Revolution had a profound influence on our understanding of the republics origin by exposing its deeply libertarian foundations. Bailyn studied the many political pamphlets published between 1750 and 1776 and identified patterns of language, argument, and references to figures such as the radical Whigs and Cato the Younger. Because these were notions which men often saw little need to explain because they were so obvious, their understanding was assumed by the Founders and thus not immediately obvious to modern readers. When the Revolution is reexamined with Bailyns findings in mind, theres no way to escape the conclusion that America was always steeped in libertarian principles.

Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement by Brian Doherty

The libertarian movement in America in the 20th century is the focus of this delightful history from Brian Dorhety. Radicals for Capitalism is more the story of the men and women who fought for freedom and limited government than it is an intellectual history of libertarian ideas. But it is an important story because it helps to place the contemporary debate about the place of libertarianism in American politics within the context of a major and long-lived social movement.

The Decline of American Liberalism by Arthur A. Ekirch Jr.

Ekirch traces the history of the liberal idea in the United States from the founding through World War II. He places the high point of true liberalism in the years immediately following the American Revolution, before the federal government began its long march of ever more centralized control over the country. And he shows how this shift has negatively impacted everything from global peace to the economy to individual autonomy.

Against the Tide: An Intellectual History of Free Trade by Douglas A. Irwin

Ever since Adam Smiths Wealth of Nations appeared in 1776, the case for free tradeboth its economic benefits and its moral footingseemed settled. Yet in the ensuing two centuries, many have attempted to restrict freedom of trade with claims about its deleterious effects. Irwins Against the Tide traces the intellectual history of free trade from the early mercantilists, through Smith and the neoclassical economists, and to the present. He shows how free trade has withstood theoretical assaults from protectionists of all stripesand how it remains the most effective means for bringing prosperity and peace to people throughout the world.

The Triumph of Liberty: A 2,000 Year History Told Through the Lives of Freedoms Greatest Champions by Jim Powell

If Radicals for Capitalism is the tale of the men and women who fought for liberty in the 20th century, Jim Powells The Triumph of Liberty fills in the backstory. The book is an exhaustive collection of biographical articles on 65 major figures, from Marcus Tullius Cicero to Martin Luther King, Jr., summarizing their lives, thought, and impact. While not all of them were strictly libertarian, every one of the people Powell covers was instrumental in making the world a freer. For a grand sweep of libertys history through the lives of those who struggled in its name, theres no better source than The Triumph of Liberty.

How The West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation Of The Industrial World by Nathan Rosenberg and L. E. Birdzell Jr.

The central question that How the West Grew Rich addresses is precisely what its title implies. For thousands of years, human beings lived in unrelieved misery: hunger, famine, illiteracy, superstition, ignorance, pestilence and worse have been their lot. How did things change? How did a relatively few peoplethose in what we call the Westescape from grinding poverty into sustained economic growth and material well-being when most other societies remained trapped in an endless cycle of birth, hardship, and death? This fascinating book tells that story. The explanations that many historians have offeredclaiming that it was all due to science, or luck, or natural resources, or exploitations or imperialismare refuted at the outset, in the books opening chapter. Rosenberg and Birdzell are then free to provide an explanation that makes much more sense.

The State by Franz Oppenheimer

Much political philosophy begins with a social concept theory of the state. Mankind originally existed in a state of nature, and the state only arose when people came together and agreed to give up some of their liberties in exchange for protection of others. Oppenheimer rejects this rosy picture and replaces it with his much more realistic conquest theory, which finds the genesis of states in roving bands of marauders who eventually settled down and turned to taxation when they realized it was easier than perpetual raiding. The State also features Oppenheimers influential distinction between the two means by which man can set about fulfilling his needs: I propose in the following discussion to call ones own labor and the equivalent exchange of ones own labor for the labor of others, the economic means for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the political means.

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Cant Explain the Modern World by Deirdre McCloskey

In Bourgeois Dignity, McCloskey offers a different story of economic growth from the common one of capitalism and markets. The West grew rich, she argues, not simply because it embraced trade, but because its cultural ideas shifted, specifically in granting a sense of dignity to the bourgeoisie. It is that dignityand the rhetoric surrounding itthat sparked the Industrial Revolution and, in turn, lead to the modern world. Bourgeois Dignity traces the influence of these changing ideasand uses them to explain not just the rise of the West but also the recent, monumental growth of India and China. The book is the second in a four-volume series, The Bourgeois Era.

Aaron Ross Powell is a Cato Institute research fellow and founder and editor of Libertarianism.org, which presents introductory material as well as new scholarship related to libertarian philosophy, theory, and history. He is also co-host of Libertarianism.orgs popular podcast, Free Thoughts. His writing has appeared in Liberty and The Cato Journal. He earned a JD from the University of Denver.

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Libertarian History: A Reading List | Libertarianism.org

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Nihilism | definition of nihilism by Medical dictionary

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Mar 122016
 

.

1. an attitude of skepticism regarding traditional values and beliefs or their frank rejection.

2. a delusion of nonexistence of part or all of the self or the world. adj., adj nihilistic.

1. In psychiatry, the delusion of the nonexistence of everything, especially of the self or part of the self.

2. Engagement in acts that are totally destructive to one’s own purposes and those of one’s group.

[L. nihil, nothing]

1. an attitude of skepticism regarding traditional values and beliefs or their frank rejection.

2. a delusion of nonexistence of part or all of the self or the world.nihilistic

1. Philosophy The doctrine that nothing actually exists or that existence or values are meaningless.

2. Relentless negativity or cynicism suggesting an absence of values or beliefs: nihilism in postwar art.

a. Political belief or action that advocates or commits violence or terrorism without discernible constructive goals.

b. also Nihilism A diffuse, revolutionary movement of mid-19th-century Russia that scorned authority and tradition and believed in reason, materialism, and radical change in society and government through terrorism and assassination.

4. Psychiatry A delusion, experienced in some mental disorders, that the world or one’s mind, body, or self does not exist.

nihilist n.

nihilistic adj.

nihilistically adv.

1. psychiatry The delusion of the nonexistence of everything, especially of the self or part of the self.

2. Engagement in acts that are totally destructive to one’s own purposes and those of one’s group.

[L. nihil, nothing]

1. A psychotic delusion of one’s non-existence or of the non-existence of the world.

2. Extreme pessimism about the effectiveness of any form of medical treatment, especially of the use of drugs (therapeutic nihilism).

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