From the mainstream to the alternative

For this edition of the carnival, Centauri Dreams sends Prospects for Red Dwarf ‘Earths’. Paul Gilster analyzes a new paper by Greg Laughlin and Ryan Montgomery that looks at whether Earth-class planets might be found in the habitable zone around red dwarfs. These stars make up over 70 percent of the galactic population, so such a result would mean vast numbers of potentially habitable planets.


Even mainstream science can be cool at times. Check out the Orbital Hub for this past Friday’s Carnival of Space #95. Good stuff for space junkies.


From the NWO/Police State Department:




The London police have bested their own impressive record for insane and stupid anti-terrorism posters with a new range of signs advising Londoners to go through each others’ trash-bins looking for “suspicious” chemical bottles, and to report on one another for “studying CCTV cameras.”

It’s hard to imagine a worse, more socially corrosive campaign. Telling people to rummage in one another’s trash and report on anything they don’t understand is a recipe for flooding the police with bad reports from ignorant people who end up bringing down anti-terror cops on their neighbors who keep tropical fish, paint in oils, are amateur chemists, or who just do something outside of the narrow experience of the least adventurous person on their street. Essentially, this redefines “suspicious” as anything outside of the direct experience of the most frightened, ignorant and foolish people in any neighborhood.

Even worse, though, is the idea that you should report your neighbors to the police for looking at the creepy surveillance technology around them. This is the first step in making it illegal to debate whether the surveillance state is a good or bad thing. It’s the extension of the ridiculous airport rule that prohibits discussing the security measures (“Exactly how does 101 ml of liquid endanger a plane?”), conflating it with “making jokes about bombs.”

The British authorities are bent on driving fear into the hearts of Britons: fear of terrorists, immigrants, pedophiles, children, knives… And once people are afraid enough, they’ll write government a blank check to expand its authority without sense or limit.

What an embarrassment from the country whose level-headed response to the Blitz was “Keep Calm and Carry On” — how has that sensible motto been replaced with “When in trouble or in doubt/Run in circles scream and shout”?


Great Britain is fast becoming Airstrip One.

Somewhere, Eric Blair is crying.

Hat tip to Boing Boing.


On the “morality” of “uplifting” some animal species to human level “intelligence”:

Biological uplift describes the act of biologically enhancing nonhuman animals and integrating them into human and/or posthuman society. There is no reason to believe that we won’t some day be able to do so; the same technologies that will someday work to augment the human species could also be applied to other animals. The big questions now have to do with whether or not we should embark on such a project and how we could do so in an ethical and responsible manner.

Recently on his blog, David Brin wrote, “[See] Developmental and ethical considerations for biologically uplifting nonhuman animals,” by George Dvorsky… opining that we humans will soon attempt what I described 30 years ago, when I coined “uplift” in several novels that explored the concept from many angles. George’s fascinating paper, might have benefited from more on the sfnal history of the idea. Before me, HG Wells, Cordwainer Smith, and Pierre Boulle depicted humans endowing animals with powers of intelligence and speech – though always in a context of abuse and involuntary servitude. Indeed, those cautionary tales may have helped ensure that it will be done openly and accountably, hence qualifying the tales as “self-preventing prophecies.” Allowing me to be the first to ponder “what if we tried to do uplift ethically and well?”

David Brin, the author of many “Uplift” Series sci-fi novels is the guest blogger at George Dvorsky’s blog this week and has a lot to say on the subject of animal uplift.

But I noticed a few comments around the InnerTubes that have linked to this post asking why should we uplift animals to sapience in order to have “alien” companions? Many have said they wouldn’t be alien at all, only anthropocentric animal versions of ourselves. And some have suggested what the article stated, that we would use them as slaves, (read Cordwainer Smith’s classic, “The Dead Lady of Clown Town“).

Alternative history researchers Zecharia Sitchen and Lloyd Pye have suggested that humanity itself is a result of uplift from hominids by the Annunaki of Ancient Sumerian legends, however, they do have their detractors.

Could the urge to ‘uplift’ come naturally to us because we are a result of the process?

According to Brin’s fiction, that’s the case.

But is it inadvertantly the truth?

Will we “uplift” animals to sapiency?


5 responses

  1. […] about Boing Boing as of March 24, 2009 From the mainstream to the alternative – 03/24/2009 For this edition of the carnival, Centauri Dreams sends […]

  2. James M. Essig | Reply

    Hi dad2059;

    The above artwork on glises 581c is awesome. I think that pure art can and will be a motivator for manned intersteller space travel efforts. The beauty of the above artistic image is in itself highly intellectual and invokes spiritual feelings that provide cause in themselves for the endeaver of manned spaceflight.

    Note that as I am typing, the text in the comments box is comming out tiny. I apologize for any poor spelling. I simply cannot read what I am typing.


    Your Friend Jim

  3. Your spelling’s alright Jim, I’ve had to translate worse! 😆

    Art in of itself is a thing of beauty. I don’t know if it’s enough of a motivator for manned interstellar travel, but one can hope!

  4. I sympathize with Jim. I had to expand text size twice in View to come up with a comfortable resolution for reading.
    I recall reading one of Cordwainer Smith’s stories on animal uplift. As SF has salacious roots, it was about a cat-based Jollygirl with tail, fur of exotic style and instincts more feral and independent than would have been common for humans.
    As to the wisdom of the whole idea : get serious. Worse than none.

  5. Yeah, the small text fonts are systemic with this theme, I might have to change theme soon, I’m an old fart in training too y’know J! 😆

    As for uplift, I think we should let the animals be animals, giving them sapience because we can, or lonely isn’t doing them any favors and is totally selfish on our part.

    But there could be an ingrained urge for us to do so.

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