Top 10 Non-Profits Straight Outta Science Fiction
Sure, you can start a nonprofit based on giving food to hungry people or clothes for cold people, but why deal with boring real world problems when you can prepare to fight Terminators by making yourself into an immortal cyborg supervillain who also lives in space?
10. Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
This is a nonprofit dedicated to, well, advancing artificial intelligence, apparently because they haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Terminator, or The Matrix or…any robot movie really, because smart robots never turn out well.
Yes, they’re totally real. They have a website. You can read their bylaws, and browse their officers, which include University Professors and a guy named “Ted Senator” as their treasurer, which means they can say they have a (guy named) Senator as their treasurer.
On top of that, they organize one of the top conferences in the world (that are about smart robots), which is probably a lot like knowing the most about hot sauce (of anyone in your dorm room).
9. The Immortality Institute (Longecity)
We honestly can’t decide if this group are our heroes or just scare us a whole, whole bunch. On one hand, their mission statement is to “conquer the blight of involuntary death,” which sounds pretty rad. On the other hand, it’s also true that Longecity is just their “trade name” — the Immortality Institute is the “inner circle of voting members,” who decide the direction the organization goes. This surprised us because we thought The Avengers had stopped them back in the seventies.
Keep in mind they only want to stop dying of old age; they’re not doing anything about diseases, car accidents, or starvation. They’re trying to solve pretty much the one problem that only the luckiest people in the world get to face, so it’s no surprise that they come across as kind of elitist — for example, this thread talks about the potential affordability of immortality, and someone makes the analogy that though cell phones cost $1,000 in 1980, now “even kids in 3rd world countries have them.” Sure, okay, but kids in 3rd world countries aren’t dying of old age.
8. Singularity Institute
These guys are a lot like the AAAI, but they’re on our side. Their mission is to “bring rational analysis and rational strategy to the challenges facing humanity as we develop cognitive technologies that will exceed the current upper bounds on human intelligence.”
Since we’ve all seen movies where robots squish us like the pathetic meatbags we are, it’s nice to know that someone out there is trying to prevent us from being used as batteries. They do clarify, in case you were wondering, that “if a super intelligent AI causes the extinction of humanity, it will likely be due to indifference, not malice.” They also say that they’re interested in creating a world that looks “more like Star Trek, less like Terminator.”
Hey, anything anyone does to make this video come true is fine by us.
7. Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Have you ever worried that one day billions of microscopic, self-sustaining, repairing and reproducing robots would eat the entire world? Now you will! Take a gander at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (not “use” of nanotechnology — apparently they want the robots themselves to behave responsibly). One of CRNs biggest concerns is what they call “Grey Goo,” and we hope you weren’t planning on sleeping ever again, because:
“When nanotechnology-based manufacturing was first proposed, a concern arose that tiny manufacturing systems might run amok and ‘eat’ the biosphere, reducing it to copies of themselves. In 1986, Eric Drexler wrote, ‘We cannot afford certain kinds of accidents with replicating assemblers.’…We wish we could take grey goo off CRN’s list of dangers, but we can’t. It eventually may become a concern requiring special policy.”
Aaaaand it gets worse:
“The human lethal dose of botulism toxin is about 100 nanograms, or about 1/100 the volume of the weapon. As many as 50 billion toxin-carrying devices—theoretically enough to kill every human on earth—could be packed into a single suitcase.”
But this is just a bunch of crazy people, right? Not exactly: in 2005, they created a task force of 60+ International Experts that have written a series of essays on possible scenarios and created a “roadmap initiative” to prepare for the nanopocalypse.
One year later, the FDA did the exact same thing.
Humanity…plus, huh? What’s that mean? Let’s check out their statement of purpose:
“Humanity+ is an international nonprofit membership organization which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. In other words, we want people to be better than well.”
So, like… better? Best? That’s how superlatives/comparatives work, right? That seems…noble, we guess, if a bit vague. Let’s dig deeper.
“Humanity stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the future. We envision the possibility of broadening human potential by overcoming aging, cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering, and our confinement to planet Earth…”
That sounds pretty cool…
“We advocate the well-being of all sentience, including humans, non-human animals, and any future artificial intellects, modified life forms…”
Modified life forms? Wait….
“We favor allowing individuals a wide personal choice over how they enable their lives. This includes use of techniques that may be developed to assist memory, concentration, and mental energy; life extension therapies; reproductive choice technologies; cryonics procedures; and many other possible human modification and enhancement technologies.”
Cyborgs! Cyborgs! These people want to be cyborgs! We want to be cyborgs too.
The philosophy is called “trans-humanism”, and it straddles the line between crazy and awesome so well that we honestly have no idea which one to call it, so we’re just going to go with “crazy/awesome.” Crawsome, if you will.
5. Mormon Transhumanist Association
Mormon cyborgs! They wanna be Mormon cyborgs!
What’s amazing is that for these two cyborg organizations (cyborganizations?), their goal isn’t just self-improvement, but moral self-improvement. They aren’t just fantasizing about becoming General Warfield; these are people who saw the ethical problems raised by Blade Runner and I, Robot, stood up solemnly and said “no. Not on our watch. Mormons… assemble.”
4. SETI: Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
We’re not going to make fun of these people because they seem to bereally, really smart. Sure, they spend all their time looking for aliens, but they’ve also gotten the government to pay for it for over 20 years, so…
Everything they do is based on something called the Drake Equation, which was developed in 1961 to “determine how many intelligent, communicating civilizations there are in our galaxy“. Conveniently, the Drake Equation shows that even though they haven’t found any yet, we should keep funding SETI until they do because they’re totally on it, you guys. They promise. Jodie Foster says so.
3. Space Tourism Society
The Space Tourism Society is a non-profit with the goal “to conduct the research, build public desire, and acquire the financial and political power to make space tourism available to as many people as possible as soon as possible.”
Um… it seems like the free market might already be on this, guys. ”I wanna go to space” is one of our personal goals too, but is this really “let’s start a non-profit” worthy? We also wouldn’t mind living under the sea or having a second faucet in our home just for whiskey, but there’s something about being 501© certified and asking for donations for something that sounds cool to the eight-year-old in you that just rubs us the wrong way.
There are a lot of hungry people in the world, is our point.
2. The Planetary Society
Wait, there’s another one? And this one has a picture of Bill Nye The Science Guy using telekinetic powers to float a giant billiard ball?
We may have just changed our mind about this. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the Planetary Society in 1980, and now Bill Nye serves as Executive Director. They’re the largest space-interest group in the world (and yes, space-interest is a thing).
Their latest goal is to tell NASA and the US Government to stop messing around and get us to Mars already, because Mars!
And yes, we did just contradict the point of our last entry. It’s amazing the difference Bill Nye can make in our opinions on stuff.
1. Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology
While we’ve just gone over those that want to protect robot rights, those that want to protect against robots, those that want to be robots and those that just want to get to Mars already, we’ve finally found the organization that does all three: The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Not the biggest Non-Profit out there, and not the most focused, but they sure are the most aware that the future is gonna be way weirder than you could ever hope.
On their website you can find a collection of essays criticizing trans-humanism, an explanation of different bio-political points of view, and updates on Lockheed Martin and NASA’s Deep Space Exploration… stuff.
They even hold polls to see if their readers think robots are deserving of human rights.
The future is here, kids. And it kinda rules.