1994 to the present
VP Summit II
CONFERENCES & SUMMITS
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ExI — 2005,
Satellite Meeting — 2005, Caracus, Venezuela
Extropy Institute invites top scientific, technological, and cultural thinkers to share knowledge and exchange ideas about working to improve the world’s understanding of biotechnology and science of human enhancement to improve and extend life. Beginning Sunday, February 15 through 29th, the Summit presents a 2-week virtual discussion and debate of President Bush's Bioethics Council's ultraconservative Beyond Therapy report. Summit keynotes are addressing the use of the well-known "Precautionary Principle" by anti-biotech activists as a rallying tool to turn people against the science, medicine and biotechnology that could cure disease and improve life.
President of Extropy Institute and Chair of the VP Summit, Natasha Vita-More says, "We have a responsibility to protect ourselves, our children and our loved ones in determining what choices to make about the future of our health. We must research and develop ethical means for the investigations of emergent sciences and technologies of human enhancement. No one has the right to tell any human that he or she must go into the later years of life in crippled or feeble states with no resolve. No organization, no policy, no person should have the absolute power and authority to hinder scientific and medical advances that can and do help millions of people throughout the world. Yet it is our responsibility to seek out ways to make sure that ethics is primary and human enhancement is available to all the seek it."
The Vital Progress Summit is being held on the Internet at http://summit.extropy.org from Feb.15-29.
• Ronald Bailey, Science
Correspondent, Reason Magazine
Shaping Things to Come — 2001
San Jose, California
Since our first conference back in 1994, we have seen tremendous progress in many areas of science and technology. Many of the views of the future that seemed outlandish to some back then now look highly plausible and in some cases imminent. Biotechnology has exploded, with stem cells, telomerase, nuclear transfer and cloning technology, and tissue engineering making numerous breakthroughs. The information economy has taken off. The few online pioneers of the early 1990s have become 60% of the U.S. population now, while massive areas of the economy are being transformed by information technology.
These changes offer a multitude of benefits. Yet amidst all this we see a growing swell of opposition and fear. Some of this results from lack of knowledge. Some comes from well-organized, principled opponents of the ideas that we at Extropy Institute champion. These are enemies of the deep changes opened up by biotechnologies and information technology in predominantly free market economies. These opponents of many of the Enlightenment values of progress, reason, science, and practical optimism are tearing at the spread of market economies, opposing biotechnologies that could revitalize and extend lives, criticizing the information economy, calling for restraints on research and even open discussion, and promoting a philosophy of pessimism, cynicism, and relinquishment.
The voices of reaction are diverse. Some speak on isolated issues, while others systematically oppose technological advance and the information-market economy. Zalman says "Maybe we should declare that nanotechnology isn't kosher, and maybe the pope should declare it a mortal sin." Bill Joy recently suggested that we stop altering genes even if doing so might save a child from incurable cancer, and even calls for limits on free speech to stop the spread of technological knowledge. Some fundamentalist Christians are mobilizing to stop research using small clumps of embryonic cells.
Dr. Daniel Callahan, a biomedical ethicist at the Hastings Center, said that we should "make [longevity] research socially despicable". Audrey Chapman, Director of the Science and Human Rights at the AAAS, said "It is evil to focus energy on trying to live longer than 80 years." Prince Charles complained that the genetic engineering of food "takes mankind into realms that belong to God and God alone". Other organized groups such as the Turning Point project attack many forms of important technological advance and the spread of global markets that could bring benefits to all. We regard these messages of doom as ranging from innocently mistaken to ethically abhorrent. The Extro-5 conference was part of Extropy Institute's developing strategy to mount a cultural counter-offensive.
technologies such as artificial intelligence, bioengineering,
superlongevity, and nanotechnology do have dangers as well as enormous
potential for good in transforming the human condition. At Extro-5 each
session brought together several high powered thinkers to examine the
impact of advanced and accelerating technology, to look at opportunities
and to anticipate and proactively address potential problems, and to
address the critics of change. By carefully listening to the concerns of
those mystified by biotech advances or overwhelmed by the onrush of
information, we can restore and refine the Enlightenment values to
produce an extropic philosophy for a New Enlightenment.
Keynote Speaker: Ray Kurzweil "The Singularity Is Near"
Biotech Futures: Challenges of Life Extension and Genetic Engineering
August 7 - August 8, 1999
EXTRO4 was Extropy Institute's fourth conference, held on August 7-8, 1999, at Joseph Wood Crutch Theater on the Clark Kerr Campus, University of California, Berkeley. Extropy Institute (ExI), a not-for-profit educational organization, acts as a networking and information center for those seeking to foster our continuing evolutionary advance by using technology to extend healthy life, augment intelligence, optimize psychology, and improve social systems. While taking a distinctly optimistic view of the continuing co-evolution of humans and technology, our mission is to encourage informed and critical discussion to maximize the benefits and minimize the problems of rapid and dramatic change.
The EXTRO conferences contribute to the networking of those wanting to apply technology to bettering the human condition while challenging old assumptions about what is possible. The EXTRO conferences bring together people from many disciplines in the sciences, arts, and humanities. By facilitating the networking of leading edge technologists and thinkers we aim to accelerate research, development, critical evaluation, and communication of ideas.
The fourth EXTRO conference had a tighter focus than our previous wide-ranging events. The theme was Biotech Futures: Challenges of Life Extension and Genetic Engineering. Over the weekend of August 7-8 1999 we covered several closely related themes. Rather than single-person, single-perspective speakers, most sessions involved debates between conflicting views, and panel discussions between experts. Sessions fell into three main groups: Life extension research and issues, genetic engineering, and the transhumanist movement. We covered the following topics:
- Leading research into
understanding and controlling the aging process.
Keynote Speaker: Max More, Ph.D. "Utopias, Dystopias, and
August 9 - August 10, 1997
EXTRO3 was Extropy Institute's third conference, held on August 9-10, 1997, at the Double Tree Hotel (formerly the Red Lion Hotel) in San Jose, California. Extropy Institute functions as a networking organization bringing together scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, philosophers, and artists who share certain general interests including: using technology to overcome human limits, including extending life span, augmenting intelligence (both cognitive and emotional), gaining access to space, and achieving control over our own biology through genetic engineering, bioengineering, neural-computer interfaces, and molecular nanotechnology. We welcome all interested members of the public to attend and participate.
Extropy Institute approaches the future with active optimism and a respect for reason. We believe the route to a better future for humans involves using intelligence, science, technology, and good will in an open, market-based economy to improve ourselves and our environment. We do not think we will improve the future through fear of progress and technology, dogmatism, or central control.
The EXTRO conferences contribute to the networking of those wanting to apply technology to bettering the human condition while challenging old assumptions about what is possible. The EXTRO conferences bring together people from many disciplines, including computer science, artificial intelligence, psychology, neuroscience, genetic engineering, molecular nanotechnology, philosophy, and economics. By facilitating the networking of leading edge technologists and thinkers we aim to accelerate research, development, and communication of ideas in a way not possible for a single-discipline conference.
Along with ExI's other projects, the EXTRO conference generates and communicates positive ideas and helps protect our future against the numerous individuals and groups seeking to hold us back. This includes fundamentalists and anti-biotech activists, the extreme environmentalists who want to reverse economic and technological progress, the postmodernists with their attack on science and reason, and the growing wave of Luddites (making their claims in several recent books). The anti-progress message of these groups is fed by lack of knowledge in much of the public. The recent cloning announcement demonstrated the fears that arise in the absence of understanding. Through the EXTRO conference and ExI's other projects we are taking a stand against these trends opposing science, technology, and intellectual and cultural progress.
Aside from the serious aspects of the event, participants at past EXTRO conferences expressed delight at the sheer intellectual pleasure of the sessions, combined with many pleasurable interactions with other conference goers. The parties and meals before, during, and after the conference provide numerous opportunities for fun and networking.
EXTRO3 took place over two days. On one day the theme was The Future of the Body and Brain. The other day focused on Future Infrastructure, including computers, communications, and economy. Our Keynote Speaker this year was Eric Drexler, molecular nanotechnology expert, and author of Engines of Creation and Nanosystems.
Past EXTRO speakers have
included Marvin Minsky of MIT, Bart Kosko -- fuzzy logic and neural network
pioneer at USC, Roy Walford -- leading gerontologist at UCLA, Hans Moravec --
Director of Carnegie-Mellon's Mobile Robot Lab, Michael Rothschild -- author
of Bionomics, and Ralph Merkle -- nanotechnologist at Xerox PARC.
Opening Address and Closing Remarks: Dr. Max More
"Engineering the Human
Germline" Dr. Gregory Stock, Ph.D.
"Future of Gender Panel" Dr. Chris Heward,
Natasha Vita-More, Dr. Sharon Presley
The 2nd Extropy Institute Conference on Transhumanist Thought — 1995
Santa Monica, California
EXTRO2 will be a rich, intellectually invigorating gathering designed to help push outwards the boundaries of progress and possibility. It will be both a serious study and a spirited celebration of humanity's limitless potential and how it will be realized. Besides presentations of accepted papers, the conference will feature lectures by leading thinkers, panel discussions, a banquet, and impromptu parties.
Our keynote speaker, Professor Marvin Minsky's is known as the "Father of Artificial Intelligence." Dr. Minsky's research has led to both theoretical and practical advances in artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, neural networks, and the theory of Turning Machines and recursive functions. He has made major contributions to the scientific foundations of the domains of symbolic description, knowledge representation, computational semantics and linguistics, machine perception, symbolic and connectionist learning, mechanical robotics, and industrial automation.
Our second conference will be held at the elegant and superbly-located Miramar Sheraton in Santa Monica, California.
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Marvin Minsky, "Why Freud was the First Good
"The 4th Information Revolution" Michael Rothschild
The First Extropy Institute Conference on Transhumanist Thought
Extro 1 is Extropy Institute's first conference on transhumanist thought. Our keynote speaker is Hans P. Moravec, a principle research scientist in the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University.
Keynote Speaker: Hans Moravec "The Age of Robots "
Extropy Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Educational Organization founded in 1991.
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