Monday, July 20, 2009

Terasem Movement’s 5th Annual Workshop on Geoethical Nanotechnology

Terasem Movement’s 5th Annual Workshop on Geoethical Nanotechnology took place on July 20, 2009, 40th anniversary of Apollo 11's first Moon landing, at the Terasem Island Amphitheater in Second Life. The topic for this year's workshop was "Applications of Asilomar Guidelines to Self-Replicating Machines": reconciling conflicts, apprehensions, and scientific ambitions regarding self-replicating nanotechnology via use of the practical guidelines developed for biotechnology.

After an introduction by Lori Rhodes, Terasem founder, successful space and biotech entrepreneur, transexual pioneer and visionary transhumanist genius Martine Rothblatt, represented in the picture by her Second Life avatar Vitology Destiny, delivered a kickass presentation on future replicating nanotechnology, its promises and risks, and the significance of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11: "it reminds us of the imperative to move outwards - we must get religiously fanatic about galactic colonization.".

Galactic colonization, spreading to the cosmos, is the ultimate objective for which the Asilomar cautious approach might prove too restrictive. In reply to my question Martine confirmed that today's approach to biotechnology and nanotechnology seems too cautious - we have seen a tremendous growth in information technologies, enabled by a less cautious approach, and thinks only a bolder and more open attitude can enable a similar growth in biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. There is room for everyone: the Singularity University, government, the private sector, NASA...

Martine discussed mind uploading in the context of galactic colonization -- the presence of uploaded minds in self-replicating probes to colonize the galaxy -- and invited the audience to start a gradual, non destructive mind upload process by building a mindfile via her CyBeRev project to upload to self replicating spacecraft take part in the future cosmic adventures of our species. I think the CyBeRev approach to uploading is basically correct, but I also think it can only work in practice with neural BCI (Brain-Computer Interfaces) order of magnitude faster than current person-computer interfaces. However, such interfaces are being slowly developed, and I will certainly work on my CyBeRev mindfile (there are also nice prizes to win).

The main message of Martine is: we need to get off this little rock -- let the party begin -- lets do it now!!. She also talked of the importance of education -- we must use social tools to educate people everywhere on the planet, perhaps with virtual universities, and infect them with a heartfelt viral desire for galactic colonization. We must infect minds with education, the importance of science and technology, the goal of a galactic civilization, and we will make a difference. Martine's talk was (as usual) a great motivational boost, and I am honored to have played a small part in the organization of the workshop.