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News From The Nonhuman Rights Project:

16 May 2017, 1:13 am
<p>If you follow the science of nonhuman animal cognition and emotion, chances are you already know and love Barbara J. King’s work. A contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture, professor emerita of anthropology at the College of William & Mary, author of seven books, and an NhRP supporter, Barbara writes about nonhuman animal lives with clarity and... <a class="view-article" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/barbara-j-king/">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/barbara-j-king/">The Power of Science-Based Storytelling: An Interview With Barbara J. King</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>


24 April 2017, 4:44 pm
<p>A translated excerpt by Lisa Rainwater from Jürgen Ritterbach’s German essay, “Eine Reise zur Perle Afrikas” (February 2015) On my short trip to see mountain gorillas a few years back, I hadn’t experienced many densely populated regions. So it was with a bit of skepticism that we set off on our first visit to the East... <a class="view-article" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/photographing-chimpanzees-uganda/">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/photographing-chimpanzees-uganda/">A Brave Photog’s Unexpected, Thrilling Search for Chimpanzees</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>


20 April 2017, 2:30 pm
<p>In November of 2016, an Argentine judge issued a ruling that has changed the life of a single chimpanzee—and could help do the same for other autonomous nonhuman animals. Thanks to litigation brought by an Argentine organization (AFADA) and modeled on the NhRP’s habeas petitions in the US, Cecilia—formerly held alone in captivity at the Mendoza Zoo—is now considered... <a class="view-article" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/chimpanzee-cecilia/">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/chimpanzee-cecilia/">Chimpanzee Cecilia Finds Sanctuary: An Interview with GAP Brazil</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>


10 April 2017, 6:44 pm
<p>Working to change nonhumans’ status from “legal things” to “legal persons” is huge. It’s what will improve and protect the lives of the greatest number of beings.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/why-the-nhrp-matters-valerie-traina/">Why The NhRP Matters To Me: Valerie Traina</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>


8 April 2017, 6:39 pm
<p>It was a glance that changed my life. Looking out of my breakfast window just beyond our bird feeder and pine trees was a sight I never imagined I would see at age fourteen on Douglas Avenue in Riverdale, New York: a small chimpanzee in a red long-sleeved shirt and blue overalls taking a stroll... <a class="view-article" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/my-old-friend-nim-chimpsky/">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/my-old-friend-nim-chimpsky/">In Loving Memory of My Old Friend Nim Chimpsky</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>


6 April 2017, 10:37 pm
<p>Today, NhRP Executive Director Kevin Schneider sent a letter to Bryan Garner—the editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and a noted commentator on legal language—to urge him to correct a serious decades-old error that NhRP volunteer attorney Spencer Lo discovered in the publication’s definition of a legal person. The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department relied... <a class="view-article" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/rights-or-duties/">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/rights-or-duties/">Legal Persons Capable of “Rights or Duties,” Not “Rights and Duties”</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>


28 March 2017, 8:36 pm
<p>On March 20th, 2017, the Uttarakhand high court in India recognized two rivers (the Ganga and Yamuna) as “living entities” with fundamental rights, making it possible for designated humans to represent the rivers in court and for complaints to be filed in the rivers’ names (you can read the full decision here). The court subsequently enlarged the... <a class="view-article" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/rivers-with-rights/">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/rivers-with-rights/">Why You Should Be Excited About India’s “Rivers with Rights” Ruling</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>


27 March 2017, 1:14 am
<p>In a room full of dedicated animal advocates, I found myself inspired by those who spent their Saturday night watching a film about the work we’re doing to win fundamental rights for nonhuman animals.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org/blog/new-jersey/">An Inspiring Night With Animal Advocates in New Jersey</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nonhumanrights.org">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>


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The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness*

On this day of July 7, 2012, a prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and computational neuroscientists gathered at The University of Cambridge to reassess the neurobiological substrates of conscious experience and related behaviors in human and non-human animals. While comparative research on this topic is naturally hampered by the inability of non-human animals, and often humans, to clearly and readily communicate about their internal states, the following observations can be stated unequivocally:

· The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the correlates of consciousness.

· The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions generates corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-human animals. Wherever in the brain one evokes instinctual emotional behaviors in non-human animals, many of the ensuing behaviors are consistent with experienced feeling states, including those internal states that are rewarding and punishing. Deep brain stimulation of these systems in humans can also generate similar affective states. Systems associated with affect are concentrated in subcortical regions where neural homologies abound. Young human and nonhuman animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. Furthermore, neural circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).

· Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in particular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.

· In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical feedforward and feedback processing. Pharmacological interventions in non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious behavior in humans can lead to similar perturbations in behavior in non-human animals. In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness. Evidence that human and nonhuman animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.

We declare the following: “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

* The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was written by Philip Low and edited by Jaak Panksepp, Diana Reiss, David Edelman, Bruno Van Swinderen, Philip Low and Christof Koch. The Declaration was publicly proclaimed in Cambridge, UK, on July 7, 2012, at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals, at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, by Low, Edelman and Koch. The Declaration was signed by the conference participants that very evening, in the presence of Stephen Hawking, in the Balfour Room at the Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, UK. The signing ceremony was memorialized by CBS 60 Minutes.

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness can be downloaded Here


News From the IEET:

  • John G. Messerly What Is The Point of Money?

    Wealth is necessary in order to live well, but it is not sufficient. You may have lots of money but live terribly without friends or wisdom. You may have mistaken part of a good life—sufficient wealth to live—with the whole of the good life. For money isn’t an end in itself, it is merely a means to an end.

  • Steve Fuller A Modest Proposal for Suicide as a Facilitator of Transhumanism

    Perhaps the most potent argument against suicide in modern secular societies is that it constitutes wastage of the agent’s own life and commits at the very least indirect harm to the lives of others who in various ways have depended on the agent. However, the force of this argument could be mitigated if the suicide occurred in the context of experimentation, including self-experimentation, with very risky treatments that aim to extend the human condition. Suicides in these cases could be quite informative and hence significantly advance the prospects of the rest of humanity. The suicide agent’s life would most certainly not have been in vain.

  • Hadrian Pourbahman Le progrès doit-il se conformer au droit ?

    Avis d’un juriste sur la question.

    Hadrien Pourbahman est étudiant en droit et membre de l’Association Française Transhumaniste. En début d’année, il avait effectué un stage avec Didier Coeurnelle sur le thème « Vers une reconnaissance d’un droit à la longévité », dont vous pouvez lire le résumé ici.

  • Steve Fuller Tomorrow’s Problem of Good and Evil: The Challenges of Trans- and Post- Humanism

    A conception of evil that carries over from the Abrahamic religions into secular modernity is that of the ‘disorganization of the soul’. The idea here is that evil isn’t something separate from good but something that arises from the malformation or malfunctioning of good parts. Thus, Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost is God’s best angel gone rogue, the template for the villains faced by comic book superheroes. Many if not most mental illnesses, from neurosis to autism, are defined as some sort of ‘disorder’. In a similar but grander vein, cybernetics founder Norbert Wiener regarded entropy – the ultimate expression of disorganization in physics – as the material equivalent of evil, the source of all suffering, decay and death.

  • B. J. Murphy Cyborg Dad Fights to Regain Custody of Children - You Can Help

    There is no doubt anymore that informational science and technologies are growing at an exponential pace. As a result, many are beginning to use those technologies to augment and enhance their own biological substrate. It is the first time in history where there is now a growing population of cyborgs whom live among us.

  • What will humans look like in 100 years?

    We can evolve bacteria, plants and animals — futurist Juan Enriquez asks: Is it ethical to evolve the human body? In a visionary talk that ranges from medieval prosthetics to present day neuroengineering and genetics, Enriquez sorts out the ethics associated with evolving humans and imagines the ways we’ll have to transform our own bodies if we hope to explore and live in places other than Earth.

  • Robots Must Pay For Their Crimes!

    Traditionally when a robot injures someone or damages property we hold the robot’s creator or owner accountable. But that notion is changing. On May 31, 2016 the European Parliament received a report from the Commission on Legal Affairs saying that, depending on circumstances, the ROBOT might be held responsible for its own actions!

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