First Annual Colloquium on the Law of Transhuman Persons
Melbourne (Space Coast), Florida, December 10, 2005
PURPOSES OF THE COLLOQUIUM
First, to provide the public with informed perspectives regarding the legal rights and obligations of "transhuman persons" via audio/video webcast (including transcripts) of expert presentations, challenges and discussions.
Second, to begin development of a body of law covering the rights and obligations of conscious computers, cryogenically-revived persons and other entities that transcend, and yet encompass, conventional conceptions of humanness.
In 1957 the evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley, in a book of essays on the future of humanity entitled New Wine in New Bottles, defined the term "transhumanism" (T.S. Elliott and Dante had also mentioned versions of the word). Huxley envisioned a new philosophy under this name that was based on the proposition that humans had the duty, and the destiny, to "take charge" of evolution by transcending their biological limitations.
Nearly half-a-century later, Ray Kurzweil, inventor of technologies such as all-font scanners, digital music synthesizers and talking books for the blind, has redefined the term "singularitarianism" to express a similar sentiment. In his forthcoming 2005 treatise, The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil calculates, based on many decades of intersecting trends, that humanity is on the cusp of merging with computational technology. This merger is occurring both extrinsically (such as reliance upon computers for civilized life) and intrinsically (via nano-sized supercomputer neural implants vastly more advanced but roughly analogous to contact lenses or pacemakers). He observed that due to exponential growth rates in processor speed and digital memory, such computational technology was the path of future evolution. (Read more)
Student attendees are selected by the sponsor (Terasem Movement) based on the quality of their submissions in response to the annual Call for Student Papers. Student invitees may take positions either in favor of or opposed to expanded legal rights for transhuman persons, even though the Terasem Movement favors such rights. The sponsor believes that law develops best when challenged via an adversarial process, and hence welcomes opposing views.
Additional attendees will be invited by the sponsor based on their
interest in the subject matter and/or their ability to make a valuable
contribution to the discussion. The number of attendees for each year
is limited to enhance the interactive atmosphere.
Click here for final program.
Martine Rothblatt endowed the sponsor to encourage Earth to move forward with curative GRAIN (Genomics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology) technologies. Based on her experience in implementing new world-changing technologies, she believes that publicly accessible information and reasonable regulatory controls are essential to overcome resistance to technological change. She was previously responsible for co-founding the first non-governmental international satellite communications system (PanAmSat), launching the global vehicle tracking industry (Geostar), creating the satellite sound broadcasting alternative to shortwave (WorldSpace) and founding/running a major satellite-to-car digital radio company (Sirius Satellite Radio).
She also represented the Radio Astronomy quiet band interests of the
National Academy of Sciences Committee on Radio Frequencies and led
the International Bar Association's effort to provide the United Nations
with a draft Human Genome Treaty. In 1996 she formed United Therapeutics,
a NASDAQ-traded biotech company with FDA-approved therapies for pulmonary
disease, advanced clinical trials in oncology, and one of the world's
largest telemedicine networks.
All expenses for invitees are paid by the Sponsor, as well as a $1000 honorarium for each student attendee. Lodging is at the oceanfront Radisson Hotel in Indialantic, FL (nearby the Terasem Movement's Space Coast Retreat), where a block of rooms is reserved.
The Colloquium is at the nearby Terasem Space Coast Retreat, 201 Oak
Street, Melbourne Beach, Florida. Transportation from the Hotel to the
Retreat will be provided for a welcome dinner on December 9th, the Colloquium
on December 10th, and a closing dinner on December 10th.
The genesis of the Terasem Colloquium on the Law of Transhuman Persons was the historic BINA48 mock legal proceeding, convened at the 2003 International Bar Association Meeting in San Francisco, CA. We encourage interested participants to review the transcript and/or videocast of that hearing at "Biocyberethics: should we stop a company from unplugging an intelligent computer?" on KurzweilAI.net.
Participants in Track B of the Colloquium should endeavor to improve upon the quality of the briefs submitted in the original BINA48 hearing. BINA48 was a hypothetical customer-service computer with 1018 bps processing capability. This level of computing speed exceeds most estimates of human mental processing capability. BINA48 became aware by monitoring the email traffic of the company that deployed it of a plan to dismember it in favor of a new computer. BINA48 adopted a female gender, gained income as a Google Answers researcher, and subsequently emailed several attorneys seeking legal help. One attorney took her on as a client and filed a motion for a preliminary restraining order to prevent any change to the BINA48 pending a trial on the merits. A hearing was held before a judge in the Northern District of California.