Saturday, February 12, 2011

Technological Transcendence: An Interview with Giulio Prisco, on H+ Magazine

Technological Transcendence: An Interview with Giulio Prisco, by Ben Goertzel, is on H+ Magazine.

From Ben's introduction: "While transhumanism differs from traditional religions in being based around reason more centrally than faith, it does have some commonality in terms of presenting a broad vision of the universe, with implications on the intellectual level but also for everyday life. And it does present at least some promise of achieving via science some of the more radical promises that religion has traditionally offered -- immortality, dramatic states of bliss, maybe even resurrection. A host of transhumanist thinkers have explored the connections between transhumanism and spirituality, seeking to do so in a manner that pays proper respect to both"

From me: "Our universe is a very big place with lots of undiscovered and unimagined “things in heaven and earth” which science will uncover someday, and perhaps in this mysterious and beautiful complexity there is room for spirituality and even for the old promises of religions, such as immortality and resurrection... I am persuaded that these glimpses into veiled future possibilities are basically compatible with our best understanding of how the universe really works. And they give me beautiful visions of future worlds, and the hope, drive and energy that I need to try living a good and productive life, in this world. And this, I believe, is what really matters." The interview is long, and we discuss many related ideas and the work of spiritually inclined transhumanist groups such as the Turing Church, Terasem, the Society for Universal Immortalism, and the Mormon Transhumanist Association.

At the end Ben gives some very interesting ideas "about how to start a Confederation of Cosmists – i.e. some sort of active organization centered around Cosmism aka “strong transhumanism” as a practical philosophy. Not a religion but something vaguely analogous to a religion, founded on rational radical transhumanism rather than traditional faiths."

I have written a lot on transhumanist spirituality, but I have often been misunderstood, which probably means that I have never been clear enough. I hope in this interview, and with Ben's valuable help, I have managed to be more clear.

Donate Bitcoins to Pioneer One

It is good to see positive and powerful trends coming together. This morning I have written about Bitcoin, and now I just found out that Pioneer One is accepting donations in Bitcoin. I donated 6 Bitcoins so far.

Pioneer One is notable both for being funded purely through donations and for being the first TV series created for and released on BitTorrent networks. See the Pioneer One website and the Pioneer One page on VODO helps promote and distribute new creative works all over the world and enables those enjoying shared media to make donations to creators.

I am a big fan of Pioneer One and This is an alternative distribution model for creative content (film, music, literature, are, whatever) which, if we consumers support it, will end the traditional model. It works like this: creatorors produce something good, make it available as a free download, and those who like it donate something to permit creators making a living with their creative work.

Pioneer One (2 episodes so far, a third coming) has been made with a few tens of thousands of dollars instead of many tens of millions of dollars like major TV series. Of course it is not yet as good as major TV series, but I think it is solid and professional work, and the plot is interesting. If we support this and similar initiatives, the quality will become better and better and we will have plenty of legally downloadable and sharable content at a fraction of the cost. Donate something to Pioneer One now to participate in the people's media revolution.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bitcoin: a CryptoCurrency for a free Internet

Bitcoin has been covered by the popular show Security Now on the TWiT network: Security Now 287: BitCoin CryptoCurrency.

I have posted to an edited version of the video (the original has a CC license), with only the 45 min dedicated to Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer digital currency. Peer-to-peer (P2P) means that there is no central authority to issue new money or keep track of transactions. Instead, these tasks are managed collectively by the nodes of the network. Bitcoin has been created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto as one of the first implementations of a concept called cryptocurrency, which was first described in 1998 by Wei Dai on the cypherpunks mailing list. See also the Bitcoin page on Wikipedia.

I have been playing with Bitcoin for a couple of years and I have a few hundreds of Bitcoins (which have recently reached parity with the US dollar as reported by Slashdot). So far I have used it mainly to experiment, but recently I have purchased the first "real" service with Bitcoin. I really hope Bitcoin will be successful.

I think Bitcoin is important. We must protect the Internet and the right to free speech, pseudonimity and anonimity online, and we need a untraceable anonymous currency. Of course I realize that anonimity and cryptocurrencies can also be used by bad people to do bad things, but I think the benefits outweigh the dangers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Protecting the Internet

Mullvad "simply bypasses everything between your computer and the real, unrestricted internet using an encrypted VPN tunnel. Anyone trying to monitor your internet connection will only see a strongly encrypted stream of data to one of the Mullvad servers. Anyone trying to trace the source of a communication will not see the true origin but only a Mullvad server. The technology used is OpenVPN using 2048-bit RSA and 128-bit Blowfish encryption."

Today I have started using Mullvad. I have chosen this particular VPN mainly because they accept payment in Bitcoin, the new decentralized P2P cryptocurrency which I hope will have a very big impact. After a few hours of use, I am quite happy with Mullvad. My IP is now in the Netherlands, and my connection seems as fast as usual.

I used to be a PGP user a few years ago. I had not used PGP for a few years, but today I have reinstalled PGP (actually GPG) and created a brand new key.

I am just a fat middle aged guy who uses to go sleep at 10 and does not have much to hide, so why am I using strong privacy tools? The answer is simple: I want to protect the free Internet that we love. I think the open and free Internet is one of the best things that have happened to our species, definitely one of the best things happened in my own lifetime. Now I see that the open and free Internet is under attack by big governments and big corporations that want to control it, and I think we should all fight for our right to privacy and free speech, even those of us who don't have much too hide. If many people use privacy and anonimity tools, the Internet will be much more difficult to control. See also my article on We must protect the Internet and the very interesting comment thread on the Space Collective site.

Friday, February 4, 2011

First post from Android mobile Blogger app

The mobile Blogger app is now on the Android market. This is my first post from the app. It supports tags and pictures.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My review of Greg Egan's Zendegi at H+ Magazine

My review of Greg Egan's Zendegi is online at H+ Magazine. The novel describes a possible scenario for the early development of mind uploading technology.

In 2012, the Australian journalist Martin is in a politically troubled Iran at a time of major changes, and the young Iranian refugee Nasim is in the US working as a computational neuroscientist in the Human Connectome Project. 15 years later, both Martin and Nasim live in Iran. Martin is married to a woman he met in the first part of the book, and they live with their young son Javeed... when Martin becomes terminally ill he asks Nasim to upload him to [the virtual world] Zendegi so he can continue to be present in his son’s life. They only want to build a credible emulation for Javeed, but others supports the project because they see it as a precursor of uploading and personal cybernetic immortality... Read the rest at H+ Magazine.

After writing this review I have started reading again the first part (Iran in 2012), with a description of a popular uprising against the theocratic regime, which is eventually brought down. It is quite similar to what is happening now in Egypt. The governments shuts down the Internet and cell phone systems, and the citizens react by creating ad-hoc mobile mesh networks. The government tries to shut off these as well, and the citizens react with more and more ingenious solutions.

It is bad to see governments at war against their own citizens, but I am afraid we will see more and more of that, and not only in the “developing world”. There is now a very disturbing trend – that big governments and big corporations now want to control the Internet much more. I have written a short article on this, with links to some countermeasures that we citizens should begin to adopt.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It has been almost two months since I posted the last entry. A quick update:

I am currently focusing on mobile application development for the Android and iOS platforms.

The teleXLR8 project to which I have dedicated much of 2010 is on hold and waiting for funding. See teleXLR8 wants to be the “TED” for virtual worlds on HyperGrid Business and this summary for a background. I think the first experimental phase of the project has been very successful, and I am still persuaded that online telepresence talks are the way to go. I hope somebody with more money will continue the project where I left, or launch a similar project.

I have given up many projects and I am now doing only work for hire (see my new website Perhaps I can help you?

I will write more on other online magazines and blogs such as H+ Magazine (at this moment under renovation), and the great Space Collective site (see my recent post on We must protect the Internet), and post links, excerpts and comments here. But I am not known for strictly following rules, so I will also continue posting original content here.