human

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Moments

I found this beautiful reflection as I was pouring a bowl of cereal.  It's a great way to start this day. 

Moments from Everynone on Vimeo.

The image that struck me sharpest was the footprint on the sand, washed away.  Isn't that what we all are?  In our vanity and bluster we try to ignore that or pretend that it is not so, but is it not the very essence of life?  Is the temporary impact of what we are and who we are - not in fact, the very engine that makes this life of each of us the special thing that it is?

What strikes you about this film?

(h/t @nnepton)

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Hans Rosling on global population growth

The world's population will grow to 9 billion over the next 50 years -- and only by raising the living standards of the poorest can we check population growth. This is the paradoxical answer that Hans Rosling unveils at TED@Cannes using colorful new data display technology (you'll see). 

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Call for Papers - NAHM VII: Culture - Nature Revisited

Culture - nature revisited

NAHM VII
June 8-11, 2011

The 7th Conference in Nordic Anthropology of Health and Medicine will be held June 8-11, 2011 in Grenå, Denmark, under the auspices of the University of Copenhagen and University of Aarhus. The conference is organized by: Department of Anthropology and Ethnography, Aarhus University; Department of Anthropology, Copenhagen University and VIA University College.

The opposition or dichotomy between culture and nature has been central through much of the history of anthropology, especially in defining what anthropology is about and defining cultural versus natural phenomena in specific cultures, not to speak of the interaction between the two. With Latour in mind it is now, however difficult to maintain a distinction that may belong only to an outdated vision of modernity that we have never reached.

As with many other fields in anthropology, the culture-nature distinction has now entered a more complex state where it is worth a closer inspection. This is especially the case for medical anthropology where new research fields in medicine, biochemistry, biotechnology, genetics, etc. with the use of e.g. animal spare parts in human bodies or the invention of cyborg-technology, makes it obvious that the borderlines between nature and culture are apt to rethinking in anthropological terms. Another development going on is an expanding physiologization of processes until now thought of as primarily or exclusively social, cultural or psychological. These developments are very visible e.g. within the field of psychiatry where the brain and neuro-chemical processes are given priority to the psyche and psychological mal-adaptation. In these research fields, as well as in others, the distinction is constantly challenged, directly or indirectly, and the possible changes, socially and culturally, contain a huge potential for critical thinking and analysis by medical anthropology. Some rethinking already takes place – the concept of ‘local biology’ has for instance been suggested by Margaret Lock to encompass the biological body, social reality and cultural discourse to overcome both the arbitrariness of the material, biological body and the cultural body. But also concepts such as cyborgs, bio-sociality etc. point in new directions for the relationship between nature and culture.

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Introduction to the Yogyakarta Principles

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. Sexual orientation [1] and gender identity [2] are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse.
 
Many advances have been made toward ensuring that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live with the equal dignity and respect to which all persons are entitled. Many States now have laws and constitutions that guarantee the rights of equality and non-discrimination without distinction on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
 
Nevertheless, human rights violations targeted toward persons because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity constitute a global and entrenched pattern of serious concern. They include extra-judicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, sexual assault and rape, invasions of privacy, arbitrary detention, denial of employment and education opportunities, and serious discrimination in relation to the enjoyment of other human rights. These violations are often compounded by experiences of other forms of violence, hatred, discrimination and exclusion, such as those based on race, age, religion, disability, or economic, social or other status.

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What's Wrong With Transhumanism

IEET Managing Director Mike Treder and CUNY Professor Massimo Pigliucci debate the pros and cons of the transhumanist agenda.

 

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Interview with Nick Bostrom and David Pearce about Transhumanism

By Andrés Lomeña [HedWeb]

Dave and Nick are the co-founders of the World Transhumanist Association, a nonprofit organization aiming to improve human capabilities with high technology

ANDRÉS LOMEÑA: Transhumanism, or human enhancement, suggests the use of new technologies to improve mental and physical abilities, discarding some aspects as stupidity, suffering and so forth. You have been described as technoutopian by critics who write on “Future hypes”. In my opinion, there is something pretty much worse than optimism: radical technopessimism, managed by Paul Virilio, deceased Baudrillard and other thinkers. Why is there a strong strain between the optimistic and pessimistic overview?

NICK BOSTROM: I can’t recall any instance of me personally being labeled “technoutopian”, although certainly it’s a term that has been applied to transhumanism by some critics.  In fact, there is some justice in this criticism.  Transhumanism is a very diverse movement, and some individuals who call themselves transhumanists might fairly be called “technoutopian” in the sense of “uncritically accepting of the view that technology will inevitably soon solve all big problems”.

I don’t know whether technopessimism is worse or better than technoutopianism.  It seems to me that we should try to overcome biases in either direction --- biases towards positive as well as biases towards negative outcomes --- and assign probabilities based on evidence and honest judgment rather than on the basis of ideological or temperamental prejudice.

DAVID PEARCE: Is our quality of life in technologically advanced societies better than life for our hunter-gatherer ancestors on the African savannah? The answer might seem obviously ‘yes’.  Technopessimists might reply that evidence suggesting we’re on average any happier is thin – and then go on to extrapolate accordingly. Such extrapolation is premature. We’re on the eve of a profound transformation of human nature itself. In theory, we can even recalibrate the hedonic treadmill and become constitutionally happier – relegating pessimism to history.  Technopessimism can sometimes be useful when it encourages deeper thought on unanticipated consequences of new technologies, worst-case scenario planning and better risk-reward analysis. But if humans were all depressive realists, then we’d still be living in caves. Transhumanists believe that we can overcome our physical, intellectual, emotional (and moral?) limitations as human beings via the responsible use of technology.

For what it’s worth, I’m a pessimist by temperament. But I (tentatively) believe that infotech and biotechnology will deliver billions of years of invincible well-being far richer than anything feasible today.

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Aimee Mullins on humanity and beauty

Aimee Mullins gave a truly delightful talk on being human.

 

I have watched this piece several times, each time coming away with something precious, that reaffirms the beliefs at the core of this site:

I define my sex, gender, body. You define yours.

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