Transhumanism & Education - Kevin Jain - H+ Summit @ Harvard

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Kevin Jain
Transhumanism & Education


In reviewing the curricula of various Universities, one will find few, if any, classes that meaningfully consider the increasing assimilation of technology with the human. If an education predicated on assumptions of human nature is made without a meaningful consideration of transhumanism, can it remain relevant in a future where technology may render false these very assumptions? How can the question of human enhancement be introduced as a topic of more widespread academic deliberation? This talk will also discuss current efforts in this arena.

Kevin Jain is an undergraduate at Harvard University, and is Founder and President of the Harvard College Future Society, a student organization interested in evaluating the impact of future technologies on the human and humanity. He is the Student H+ Summit Coordinator, and helped organize the H+ 2010 Summit at Harvard. He plans to graduate with a special concentration in Transhumanism.

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Transhumanism & Education - Kevin Jain - H+ Summit @ Harvard

  1. 1. Transhumanism & Education<br />Kevin Jain<br />President, Harvard College Future Society<br />kevinjain@college.harvard.edu<br />2010 H+ Summit at Harvard University<br />June 12, 2010<br />
  2. 2. Purpose of Education<br />For the Individual:<br />A means towards self sufficiency & well being<br />Fulfilling desire to learn about something<br />For Society:<br />Augment productivity & enable future well being<br />Prepare us for the future<br />
  3. 3. Vision of the Future<br />Education: to “prepare us for the future”<br />What is assumed to be the “future” that we are being prepared for?<br />
  4. 4. Modern Assumptions<br />* As a model for the future, not “explanatory” or “descriptive”<br />
  5. 5. Incorporating Emerging Technologies with Education <br />Fields of Study<br />Technological Development<br /><ul><li>Anthropology
  6. 6. Astrophysics
  7. 7. Biology
  8. 8. Chemistry
  9. 9. Computer Science
  10. 10. Economics
  11. 11. English
  12. 12. Government
  13. 13. Philosophy
  14. 14. Physics
  15. 15. Psychology
  16. 16. Sociology
  17. 17. Etc.
  18. 18. Nanotechnology
  19. 19. Longevity
  20. 20. Cryonics
  21. 21. Artificial (General) Intelligence
  22. 22. Moore's law
  23. 23. Transhumanism & Human Enhancement
  24. 24. Virtual reality
  25. 25. Etc.</li></li></ul><li>Modern Assumptions ??<br />
  26. 26. Significance<br />Keep Education Relevant to Goal<br />Shaky foundation<br />Disconnection between model and world<br />Understanding increases Receptivity<br />Counteract Short Termism<br />Consider our Biology<br />Government, Businesses Interests<br />
  27. 27. Towards a Solution: Our Current Efforts<br />Organizations & Conferences<br />Humanity+, Foresight, Singularity Summit, etc.<br />Science Fiction<br />VernorVinge, Isaac Asimov, <br />Books & Magazines<br />The Singularity is Near, Ending Aging, hplus<br />Independent Research<br />Wikipedia, blogs<br />Classroom? <br />
  28. 28. Curriculum Sample<br /><ul><li>Week 2: (Jan 31- Feb 6) and Week 3: (Feb 7 – Feb 13) and Week 4: (Feb 14- Feb 20) -Accelerating Technological Change and Existential Risk
  29. 29. Accelerating Technological Change
  30. 30. Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity Is Near When Humans Transcend Biology. New York: Viking Adult, 2005.
  31. 31. The Singularity is Always Near, Critique of Kurzweil: http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2006/02/the_singularity.php
  32. 32. Response to The Singularity is Always Near: http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0664.html?printable=1
  33. 33. “What if the singularity does not happen” by vernorvingehttp://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0696.html
  34. 34. Smart, J. 2004. A Brief History of Intellectual Discussion of Accelerating Change. Published at AccerationWatch.com.
  35. 35. “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” by Bill Joy: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy_pr.html
  36. 36. Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us by Rodney Brooks (Excerpts)
  37. 37. Existential Risks
  38. 38. Existential Risks (2002): http://www.nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html 40 pages
  39. 39. TED Video on Different Routes to Human Extinction http://www.ted.com/talks/stephen_petranek_counts_down_to_armageddon.html
  40. 40. The Future of Humanity by Nick Bostromhttp://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/10222/future_of_humanity.pdf
  41. 41. Other:
  42. 42. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_extinction
  43. 43. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existential_risk (and look for different organizational approaches to mitigate risk)</li></li></ul><li>Transhumanism Textbook <br />Units (each with 8-10 chapters on specialized topics)<br />Accelerating Technological Change<br />Human Enhancement <br />Enabling Technologies<br />
  44. 44. Getting Involved<br /> Textbook: Goal- Finish and get into classes by this time next year<br />Collaborate Effort:<br />We need teachers to teach <br />Experts to write<br />Students to take it! <br />Taking Charge: Recognize the importance of transhumanism<br />
  45. 45. Educating the Future. <br />
  46. 46. Transhumanism & Education<br />Kevin Jain<br />President, Harvard College Future Society<br />kevinjain@college.harvard.edu<br />2010 H+ Summit at Harvard University<br />June 12, 2010<br />

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