Hera the Buddha (Book 3 of The Herasaga) now available!

Product Description:

Hera the Buddha (Book 3 of The Herasaga)

https://www.amazon.ca/Hera-Buddha-Utopian-Fiction-Herasaga-ebook/dp/B074KP7Q1R/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501945489&sr=1-1&keywords=hera+the+buddha

Product Details:

Author: William Leiss (www.leiss.ca)
Length: Pages Xix, 195
Publisher: Magnus & Associates Ltd.
Language: English
ISBN 978-0-9738283-2-0

Table of Contents

Prologue and Retrospective
Part One: The Mind Unhinged: Modernity and its Discontents
Chapter 1: The Rupture in Historical Time in the Modern West
Chapter 2: Sublime Machine
Chapter 3: Modern Science and its Spacetime
Chapter 4: Seven Figures and the Agony of Modernity
Part Two: Pathways to Utopia
Chapter 5: A Utopia for our Times
Chapter 6: The Threat of Superintelligence
Chapter 7: Good Robot
Chapter 8: Dialogues Concerning the Two Chief Life-Systems:
Introduction: Silicon and Carbon
The First Dialogue: The Guardians
The Second Dialogue: At Home in the Universe
The Third Dialogue: What is Time?
The Fourth Dialogue: Two Forms of Intelligence
The Fifth Dialogue: On Superintelligence and the Ethical Will
The Sixth Dialogue: What is Life?
The Seventh Dialogue: Interdependence between Humanity and Machine Intelligence
Conclusion: Mastery over the Mastery of Nature
Chapter 9: Utopia in Practice, with A Discourse on Voluntary Ignorance
Chapter 10: A Moral Machine: Rebooting Hal
Appendix: “Hal” (Outline for a Screenplay)
Sources and References / Acknowledgements / About The Herasaga

Synopsis
Prologue and retrospective:
A summary of the main themes in the first two volumes of The Herasaga: Hera, or Empathy (2006) and The Priesthood of Science (2008).

Chapter 1:
Recounts the radical rupture in modern history caused by the emergence of the new natural sciences. Argues that the new science is an unambiguous good for humanity, but that its close connection with technology and industry is highly problematic, leading to out-of-control advances which, in the era of nuclear weapons, lead to the threat – still around us today – of the utter destruction of the entirety of civilization.

Chapter 2:
Tells the story of the nineteenth-century reaction to the coming of industrial technology, called the “Age of Machinery,” regarded as greatly problematic by many important writers, notably Herman Melville, and leading to a powerful countervailing current in the early twentieth century, in E. M. Forster’s 1909 short story, “The Machine Stops,” and in the first dystopian novel, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924).

Chapter 3:
The French Enlightenment in the eighteenth century saw the new science as spreading rationalism against superstition and religion through all of society – but it underestimated badly the strength of traditional institutions which opposed this. Then, in the twentieth century, the new subatomic physics revealed the underlying natural world to be a scene of incomprehensibly weird forces, and modern science lost its ability to shape thinking in the social world.

Chapter 4:
The second phase of Enlightenment is known as “modernity.” Across virtually all aspects of high culture during the twentieth century, modernity posed a radical challenge to traditional ways of thought and behavior. But it evoked an equally radical and violent reaction, represented best in Nazi ideology, which had a shockingly destructive outcome. At the core of this contest were the European Jewish communities, which suffered its horrendous consequences.

Chapter 5:
The wreckage left by the violent contest over modernity prompts us to take another look at the tradition of utopian thought, with its vision of a better model for human society. Four different “platforms” are described and contrasted, with a special focus on their approach to the challenge implicit in the impact of steady technological advance on social life.

Chapter 6:
The most recent challenge of technological advance is the idea of “superintelligence,” which imagines a future in which computer capabilities far exceed those of humans, in terms of thinking and decision-making. Scenarios have described the possibility that such a machine might turn out to be opposed to human interests and might have the capacity to deceive its human masters about what its own goals are. This has raised the prospect of a strongly-bifurcated future state for humanity: on the one hand, an end to all of the old problems of poverty and inequality; on the other hand, the possibility of the destruction of the planet and the human race itself.

Chapter 7:
A whimsical short story, set sometime in the future, about robots and humans.

Chapter 8:
The longest chapter in the book, an imaginary scene set 50 years in the future, this is a series of dialogues between a fictional human character and a superintelligent computer which calls itself “Hal.” The most intense discussion involves the difference between biological and machine forms of intelligence, and the dialogue revisits the potential threat of superintelligence covered in Chapter 6. After many pages of back-and-forth conversations about complex ideas, as well as some friendly banter, there is a surprise ending.

Chapter 9:
This chapter returns to the utopian themes in Chapter 5 in the light of the subsequent issues raised in Chapters 6 and 8, and, in this context, reviews once again the difficult problems raised by the challenge that relentless technological advance poses for human society.

Chapter 10:
Hal is rebooted in a scenario in which “his” human programmers are resolved to try to turn him into a “moral machine.”

Appendix:
This is an outline for a movie screenplay about a superintelligent computer which is not at all malevolent but which simply wishes to control its own existence.

https://www.amazon.ca/Hera-Buddha-Utopian-Fiction-Herasaga-ebook/dp/B074KP7Q1R/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501945489&sr=1-1&keywords=hera+the+buddha

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Book Two of the Herasaga available online

Product Description

https://www.amazon.ca/Priesthood-Science-Utopian-Fiction-Herasaga-ebook/dp/B075MNKB64/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505672894&sr=1-1&keywords=leiss+the+priesthood+of+science

The Priesthood of Science, Second Edition (2017)

(Book Two of The Herasaga)

Pages xxxii, 350

Pictures and Illustrations

Publisher: Magnus & Associates Ltd.

The second edition features a new concluding chapter, entitled “Such Clever Microbes!” which deals with the implications of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technique.

The work originally published in 2008 had two components that were central to its purpose as a work belonging to a specific genre, namely, science-based utopian fiction: First, a collection of essays, grounded in scientific literature, on the history of science, social impacts of science and technology, and mammalian reproductive biology. Second, a series of dialogues, involving different combinations of characters, that are philosophical in nature, largely concerned with exploring the social and ethical implications of the technologies associated with modern science. Works of utopian fiction in modern times have always been “novels of ideas,” and the present work seeks to remain faithful to that tradition. This edition has had minor changes to the text throughout, as well as the addition of an entirely new chapter on genome editing at the end, Chapter 17: “Such Clever Microbes!” focusing on the CRISPR-Cas9 technique.

I read in the paper recently that you are supposed to have said: “If I were to be born a second time, I would become not a physicist, but an artisan.” These words were a great comfort to me, for similar thoughts are going through my mind as well, in view of the evil which our once so beautiful science has brought upon the world.

Max Born, Letter to Albert Einstein (1954)

Plotline:

Hera and her sisters are now sealed off from the rest of the world in their private enclave at Yucca Mountain in southern Nevada. She is still tormented by the decision of her parents, two neuroscientists, to make genetic modifications in the brains of their twelve daughters—and by her own agreement to allow a similar procedure to be used later on a much larger group of human embryos.

Her doubts now spill over into a series of debates with a molecular biologist, Abdullah al-Dini, about whether scientists have the right to hand over the vast new powers they have discovered to a world still riddled with religious fanaticism, ethnic hatred, and a longing to see the prophecy of the “end of days” be fulfilled.  These debates refer back to what happened during the Second World War, when physicists were unveiling the secrets of nuclear power, and the possibility of the atom bomb, just as the time when Nazi Germany and its allies were launching their terrifying bid for world domination.

Meanwhile, that group of engineered embryos has become one thousand young people, just turning eighteen, and the gender politics among them is threatening to bring down in ruins her own little experiment in redesigning human society.

The first (2008) edition is available from the University of Ottawa Press in three formats:

  • Paperback (a beautiful book!)
  • ePub & ePDF

https://press.uottawa.ca/the-priesthood-of-science.html

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New 2017 edition of Hera, or Empathy (Book One of The Herasaga) available now

Hera, or Empathy (Book One of The Herasaga):

Now Available in a Revised Edition 2017 as an Ebook at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Hera-Empathy-Utopian-Fiction-Herasaga-ebook/dp/B0753K64K1/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504200927&sr=1-1&keywords=hera+or+empathy

Pages xv, 550

This work, originally published in 2006, had two components that were central to its purpose as a book belonging to a specific genre, namely, science-based utopian fiction: First, a collection of essays, grounded in scientific literature, on neuroscience, genetics, and reproductive biology. Second, a series of dialogues, involving different combinations of characters, that are philosophical in nature, largely concerned with exploring the social and ethical implications of the technologies used to create a tribe of genetically-modified individuals. Works of utopian fiction in modern times have always been “novels of ideas,” and the present work seeks to remain faithful to that tradition. The revisions undertaken for this edition were the elimination of two later chapters and some other material, beginning in Chapter 15, but none of the material related to the two key components has been deleted. Finally, this new edition contains pictures and illustrations not found in the original 2006 book, as well as an updated timeline for the events (advanced by a decade from the original timeline).

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Three Courses by Herbert Marcuse from the 1960s ©William Leiss 2017, All Rights Reserved

William Leiss took these notes in handwritten form in courses offered by Herbert Marcuse, in 1960-61 and 1963 at Brandeis University, and in 1966-67 at the University of California, San Diego.

Marcuse Hegel Seminar 1966 Final Marcuse Marxism 1963 Course Final Marcuse Political Theory 1960 Course Final [PDF]

Marcuse Marxism 1963 Course Final [PDF]

Marcuse Hegel Seminar 1966 Final [PDF]

 

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President Trump’s First Hundred Days: An American Political Fantasy

President Trump’s First Hundred Days:
An American Political Fantasy (V4: New Material at End)

© William Leiss 2016

Shortly after New Year’s Day, anticipating the Inauguration Ceremony later that month, some hundreds of local armed groups started to ready themselves for the tasks ahead. They assumed a variety of names, such as “2nd Amendment Militia,” “Protection Posse,” and “Red State Raiders.” Almost immediately after January 20th, the roundups of suspected illegal immigrants began. With an estimated eleven million undocumented aliens to choose from, there was much to be done.

In shop basements, empty warehouses, abandoned factories, and derelict houses across the towns and cities of many states, including those which had voted marginally “blue” during the November election, tens of thousands of individuals and families were gathered and kept under guard. Spokespersons for these operations displayed copious quantities of illegal drugs which, they maintained, had been seized from the detainees, although it at least one instance it was revealed that the drugs had been borrowed from a police evidence locker.

It was not long before the public outcry elsewhere forced state governors to plead with the new President for federal funds to assist them in managing this dangerously unstable situation. The President agreed that those who had been rounded up needed the protection of legal processes while they were in temporary custody. The requested funds were quickly pledged, and state officials started assisting the transfer of the captives to public facilities such as empty barracks at former military bases; where no such facilities were available, tent cities were erected and encircled with razor-wire fences.

The President joked that the camp conditions were not going to resemble those in his signature hotels, but he insisted that all detainees were being treated very humanely. However, he added, measures would soon be under way to transport the first wave of them from the camps to the Mexican border for deportation.

Quickly Mexican officials countered that its border would be sealed to prevent the entry of any persons held in U. S. custody who did not possess proper identity documents, including proof of Mexican citizenship. (A senior Mexican official commented, “A wall along the border works both ways.”) Since the overwhelming majority of those from the camps had no identity documents at all, it was impossible to predict how long this stalemate might persist.

Meanwhile, during this same period of run-up to the Inauguration and the weeks following, large contingents marched in cities under the “Black Lives Matter” banner. Blacks had voted for the defeated presidential candidate in overwhelming numbers, and many of them thought they knew what was coming. Increasingly the local armed militias called upon their members to line the parade routes, and the warning was understood. When individual blacks began to be shot in areas adjacent to the main events, protest organizers called upon their own supporters, which included many whites, to form armed contingents to protect the marchers. The calls for restraint from police forces were ignored. Thus Month One came to a close.

No sooner were the first camps up and running than drones appeared overhead, which turned out to be operated by opponents who were posting videos on the Internet, including some showing appalling sanitary conditions as well as inadequate food and medical care. When attempts were made to shoot them down, massed sorties of dozens of drones were launched to overwhelm the shooters.

Then at a large camp located near a state border, a heavily-armed contingent calling themselves “Blue State Raiders” launched their first operation, cutting the fences and freeing hundreds of captives, escorting them along back roads and forest tracks, previously scouted by drone reconnaissance, and across the state line. The escapees were housed in dozens of prepared sanctuaries, mostly in church basements. Many others were inspired by this initial success to plan and carry out similar ventures as increasing numbers of tickets for the new Underground Railroad were printed.

Soon mass arrests at the larger and larger “Black Lives Matter” marches overwhelmed local prison facilities. State officials reasoned that they had no choice but to arrange to open a second set of temporary camps, a move which was justified on the grounds that the arrestees needed protection while awaiting trial.

The back-and-forth strategies around both sets of camps escalated. Razor-wire enclosures were electrified as a further safety measure, the President explained, to prevent those in custody from being terrorized and kidnapped by the Blue State Raiders. But this and other measures failed to stop the numerous successful attacks, and the numbers of those escorted into the sanctuary states rose dramatically, even as the camp system itself was continuously refilled with newer detainees. Attempts by Red State Raiders to carry out missions against some sanctuary sites, in order to return former captives to the camps, were thwarted by quick police action. Thereafter some state governors called out their National Guard troops to protect the sanctuary sites. Thus ended Month Two.

As the nation reached the end of Month Three and the First Hundred Days, the Republican elected officials who controlled both the Senate and the House were happily proceeding with their own agendas, filling dozens of federal judicial appointments denied to the former president with suitable candidates; slashing tax rates for the rich and entitlement programs for the rest; repealing Obamacare, while promising to replace it with something better in the future; refusing to act on the President’s campaign pledge for a national child care program; and planning constitutional amendments to outlaw permanently same-sex marriage and abortion and to entrench control over voter eligibility firmly in the hands of state governments.

But even as the President watched with pleasure the opposing national party contort itself into an ineffective frenzy following his election, troubles were beginning to appear on the horizon. He knew full well that the illegal immigrant issue would not be enough to distract his supporters forever. The red state denizens who had packed his election rallies were already demanding that the new President fulfill his pledge to bring millions of well-paying jobs back from abroad by tearing up the international trade agreements which stood in the way. The projected federal budget deficit was soaring, and for this and obvious other reasons creditor nations were finally starting to doubt their longstanding faith in the safe haven represented by the U. S. dollar.

His party in Congress had made it clear that they were not prepared to deal with such minor issues. The President knew he could not avoid now turning to the task of bringing his own party into line. He was sure he could do this in short order, and if it turned out that he needed some help in the matter, he was quite certain that his good friend in Russia’s Presidential Palace would oblige.

A Special Note for Canadians:

Anyone in Canada who remembers the period 1965 – 1970 will also recall the long-running influx of Americans opposed to the Vietnam War: first, the draft resisters, numbering some 30,000, followed by the U.S. Army deserters, a much smaller number but counting individuals who took much greater personal risks to seek sanctuary here. The first group posed little problem for the Canadian government, since the resisters were not actively pursued by U. S. authorities, and most of them had financial support from their families. The second group, however, presented a unique situation: To the best of my knowledge, no NATO member country had ever before received a large contingent of military deserters from another NATO power and declined to repatriate them.

But the government of Pierre Eliot Trudeau did just that. They were allowed to stay and apply for permanent residence, and five years later they could qualify for citizenship here. Some returned after President Carter’s 1977 amnesty, but many did not. Canada as a country benefited from these two waves of grateful and productive new citizens.

It is eerily appropriate that we now have another Trudeau as Prime Minister, because, fellow Canadians, he and we should be getting ready for the next set of asylum-seekers at our southern border. Should the scenario sketched above come to pass, there may very well be a flood of “illegal” immigrants from South America, now living in the U. S., who will be fleeing deportation. There may also be a fair number of Afro-American citizens who fear harsh crackdowns on black protests against police and perhaps private violence. And there may even be numbers of white U. S. citizens who do not face persecution but who do not wish to live in the kind of country that Trump’s supporters intend to create.

We would be wise to consider these possibilities in advance and not just wait to see what might happen.

See also:

September 30, 2016
To be continued. Comments and Suggestions welcome.

http://worldif.economist.com/article/12166/world-v-donald

PDF Version: President Trump’s First Hundred Days V4

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