Neal Stephenson's next novel is Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, an 880-page Stephsonian brick of a novel that has ample room for two novels, and that's because Stephenson actually stuck a second novel inside the first one. Read the rest
This simulation of live mobile internet stats offers a sense of scale: there are millions of concurrent Google searches, and, every minute, about half a million photos posted on WhatsApp, 3,000 smartphones sold (roughly half from Samsung and Apple), 35m messages sent on Facebook, and 40m emails opened. It is a marketing infographic, take heed, but it does conclude "Heck some people think smartphones are the gateway to transhumanism, where one day we will fully merge with machines!", which is nice. Read the rest
Motherboard's Claire Evans visited The Church of Perpetual Life, a transhumanist house of worship whose adherents await the time technology brings them into eternity—by curing aging. The strangest thing is that it seems much like any other smalltown Protestant church, right down to the bland off-white architecture, the nice pews, the books on tables, the clean-cut religiosity. It is in Florida.
"We are fighting against involuntary death, and view immortality as the ultimate solution to every problem mankind faces,” said Bill Faloon, one of the church’s founders.
His parishioners call themselves “immortalists.” Other monikers include transhumanists, “longevity enthusiasts,” and “people who really are committed to the anti-aging concept.”
Whatever they call themselves, they all share one thing in common: They believe that science and technology will find a way for humans to live forever on Earth.
The space exploration game Sun Dogs comes with a promising description: "Sun Dogs is about exploring our inner solar system, altering your body, and embracing death." After playing, I deem it accurate. Read the rest
I loved Nexus, Ramez Naam's 2012 debut novel about biohackers who produce a nano-based party drug that installs a networked computer inside your brain, and quickly turns into a war-on-drugs bioethics thriller about the free/open transhumanists and mirthless, ruthless drug enforcement agents. Read the rest
The North Paw is a kit for an anklet that subtly vibrates your on the side of your ankle that faces north, so that you attain a kind of subliminal "Compass Sense" like those possessed by certain birds.
What makes it way more awesome than a regular compass? Persistence. With a regular compass the owner only knows the direction when he or she checks it. With this compass, the information enters the wearer’s brain at a subconscious level, giving the wearer a true feeling of absolute direction, rather than an intellectual knowledge as with a regular compass.
Because of the plasticity of the brain, it has been shown that most wearers gain a new sense of absolute direction, giving them a superhuman ability to navigate their surroundings. The original idea for North Paw comes from research done at University of Osnabrück in Germany. In this study, rather than an anklet, the researchers used a belt. They wore the belt non-stop for six weeks, and reported successive stages of integration.
"Hands Fixing Hands" is Shane Willis's clever and well-executed transhumanist take on Escher's "Hands Drawing Hands," with lots of crunchy little details to dote upon, including the underlying work-surface, which has the look-and-feel of a real maintenance engineer's well-used case.
Max Barry's Machine Man is a disarmingly funny and light-feeling novel about an antisocial engineer who decides to create his own prosthetic leg after he loses his own in an industrial accident. Charles Neumann is an antisocial, technology-dependent scientist at a top secret military contractor's skunkworks. Dissatisfied with the prosthesis he is fitted with after he accidentally crushes his leg in a materials-testing machine, he sets out to create a better leg -- a leg that's so good you'd chop your own off to get it (this is also the battle-cry of the real-world open-source prosthetics movement). Which is precisely what he does.
What unfolds is a superficially simple, absurdist tale about a misfit geek who pursues a relentless and seemingly logical program of amputation and replacement. Barry uses this narrative to smuggle in a sly and insightful critique of the anti-human edges of the transhumanist movement, the place where transcendence of nature meets mortification of the flesh.
As with all of the best thought-provoking sf, Machine Man pulls this off without slowing down the action -- which involves some properly cinematic cyborg duelling and such -- and without sacrificing characterization. This is a really fantastic read and a thought-provoking one, too -- a great companion to such books as James Hughes's Citizen Cyborg. Read the rest