In this edition of The Reasoning Show we're going to attempt to come to grips with something thing that most people think about from time to time, if only in limited ways and if only when it slaps them in the face: namely, the FUTURE. 

In the coming years and next few decades, the world as we know it will change significantly. Life spans will increase substantially. Our senses and cognitive faculties will be enhanced. We'll have greater control over most aspects of our minds. The limits of the human body will be transcended as technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and genetic engineering converge and accelerate. With them, we will redesign ourselves and force a new paradigm of thinking with regards to who and what we are as persons and as a species. This future presents us multifarious and profound issues to grapple with and questions to be addressed, the most salient of which may well prove to be: "are we ready for or capable of dealing with this future?"!  



Guest Bio: 

Dr. James "J" Hughes

Dr. Hughes' ambition in his early twenties was to become a scholar of Buddhist political thought. After a stint as a Buddhist monk and exegete of Buddhist scriptures, however, this ambition was thwarted by a lack of talent in Sanskrit, Pali and Japanese. 

At the University of Chicago, Dr. Hughes worked and taught at the U of C's MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics while completing his doctorate in medical sociology. During that time Dr. Hughes also founded and edited the internationally distributed zine, EcoSocialist Review, a publication dedicated to encouraging dialogue between social justice activists and ecological activists.

As a consultant to the University of Chicago Hospital and the Midwest Business Group on Health, and founder-editor of the international newsletter Doctor-Patient Studies, Dr. Hughes developed a unique perspective on systemic reform of health care organizations to empower patients. His dissertation examined the proposition that expert systems in the hands well-organized and well-trained nurses, midwives and allied health professionals may soon supplant doctors in the practice of medicine.

As the 90s progressed Dr. Hughes became increasingly distressed by the knee-jerk Luddism of both the Left and bioethics, and began to develop his pro-technology radical democratic perspective. This orientation led to writings such as his 1994 "Embracing Change with All Four Arms: A Post-Humanist Defense of Human Genetic Engineering".  

In 1998 Dr. Hughes started Changesurfer Radio, a weekly half hour public affairs program on the politics of future technologies. Under the the "nom de air" of "Dr. J.," Dr. Hughes has interviewed hundreds of the leading thinkers and activists in bioethics, politics and the sciences.  In 2002 Dr. Hughes also began publishing and distributing his Change Surfing columns, primarily published in Betterhumans.com. Dr. Hughes also contributes to Technoliberation project and the Cyborg Democracy blog.

Dr. J. is currently Associate Director of Institutional Research and Planning at Trinity College in Hartford, where he teaches Health Policy, Drug Policy, Infectious Disease Policy, and Research Methods in Trinity's Graduate Public Policy Studies program.

From 2004-2006 Dr. Hughes was served as the Executive Director of the World Transhumanist Association, which he now serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors. In 2005 he co-founded the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies with the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, and has served the IEET since then as Executive Director.

Dr. Hughes is a Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and the Working Group on Ethics and Technology at Yale University. Dr. Hughes speaks on medical ethics, health care policy and future studies worldwide, and appears often on radio and television.

Other links of interest:

The Cyborg Buddha Project

The Cyborg Life Project

Envisioning the Future

Rights of the Person Program



Copyright 2007 David Quinn.   All Rights Reserved


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