James Hughes, PhD, is the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. A bioethicist and sociologist, he serves as the associate provost for institutional research, assessment, and planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future, and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999 to 2011, Hughes produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio. A fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is also a member of Humanity+, the Neuroethics Society, the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities, and the Working Group on Ethics and Technology at Yale University. He speaks on medical ethics, health care policy and future studies worldwide. Hughes holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he taught bioethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics.
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A talk about the political term technoprogressive and the recent Technoprogressive Declaration Hughes helped develop.
Rejecting the two extremes of bioconservatism and libertarian transhumanism, Hughes argues for a third way, “democratic transhumanism,” a radical form of techno-progressivism which asserts that the best possible “posthuman future” is achievable only by ensuring that human enhancement technologies are safe, made available to everyone, and respect the right of individuals to control their own bodies.
Without a clear strategic goal of a humanity freed from work through the gradual expansion of automation and the social wage, all policies short of Luddite bans on new technology will have disappointing and perverse effects.
Only a guaranteed basic income can ensure economic growth, technological innovation and social welfare.
The cognitive science emerging from this dialog with Buddhism can now also make some suggestions for those attempting to create self-aware, self-directed artificial intelligence (AI).
Hughes looks at how politicians and economists have yet to face the fact that an increasingly automated economy will mean the decline of human employment, and the potential establishment of a basic income guarantee.