I like to think of SENS in terms of it being a useful framework to approach aging from an engineering standpoint, as explained in the podcast. It’s not a recipe for making people live longer in and of itself, but rather, a good start in terms of viewing age-related health problems as potentially solvable. So, I hope this episode is at least somewhat useful and at least marginally interesting.
Feedback is very much appreciated, since I want to make sure I am talking about these sorts of things in an understandable manner.
In this episode, I briefly outlined the Seven Deadly Things associated with aging. These Seven Deadly Things are:
If you’d like to learn about these Things in greater detail, and hear some actual scientists talking about them, I would like to draw your attention to the audio files linked at the bottom of each page associated with each of the items above. These files are primarily recordings from the 10th Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology (IABG 10) and SENS 2 conferences held in recent years, and are an excellent supplementary resource for anyone wanting to learn more about biogerontology while they jog or wash the dishes.
IABG 10 talks are listed here and available for download.
SENS 2 talks are listed here and available for download.
I’ve listened to about 10 of the above talks over the past week, and though the audio quality is somewhat variable, the information is tremendously interesting.
Episode 10 of Existence is Wonderful Audio will be soon forthcoming; I’ve been working on the scripts for episodes 9 and 10 in parallel, and they’ve both been rather a long time in the making.
And as a final (and somewhat off-topic) note, just because I think it’s really nifty, here are some neat examples of High Dynamic Range Imaging:
There are heaps more in the Flickr pool; I haven’t tried creating any such photos myself yet, but I would really like to at some point. A large part of the reason I find this sort of imaging appealing is because it very closely approximates the way I see the world all the time. The third photo in particular looks a lot like what I see when I first enter a place like a shopping mall. One aspect of my brain-wiring is that I tend to see the details of, well, everything by default. Every bit of visual information tends to be fairly equally weighted as far as my brain is concerned.
This is definitely part of the reason I’ve never had a drivers’ license, but it’s also a part of the reason why I find so much beauty in the world (and why I can draw accurately and why I have excellent edge-detection skills), and I would never trade it for anything. I’m not trying to self-aggrandize here, but this definitely seemed like a good example of a biological trait that can be a strength or a liability depending upon context—and an example of something that I would never want to lose, even if losing it might make life logistically easier for me in some ways.
On February 15, 2007 SF author, mathematician and originator of the idea of the Singularity Vernor Vinge spoke in the Long Now Foundation‘s seminar series on various future scenarios in which Singularities do or do not occur.
The articles Robotic Nation and Robotic Freedom, as well as the book Manna, have only been on the Internet for a short period of time, and already the response has been startling. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about my proposals to provide all human beings with a basic income guarantee in order to facilitate our transition to a fully automated economy.
Classical utilitarians want to maximise the happiness in the world, conceiving of happiness as subjective feelings of pleasure. Really, they want to maximise the balance of pleasure over pain. Preference utilitarians want to maximise the sum of preference satisfaction.
On March 5th the IEET’s Executive Director James Hughes discussed to address whether it was important to have a body to be human with Dr. Brent Waters of Garrett Theological Seminary and the students and faculty of the East Texas Baptist University. An edited version of Dr. Hughes’ prepared remarks are available here.
On March 5th I was invited to discuss transhumanism with Dr. Brent Waters of Garrett Theological Seminary and the students and faculty of the East Texas Baptist University. I’d like to thank the very kind hospitality of ETBU. These are an edited version of the short prepared remarks from that morning (view video here) in which Dr. Waters and I were asked to address whether it was important to have a body to be human.
Despite being a transhumanist who wants to transcend my boundaries, I agree strongly with the need for limits and constraints as we move towards increasingly transformative technologies. For some, “no limits, yay!” is the rallying call, but I look at the situation from a thermodynamic, not political, perspective.
Caterpillar on beach and in room:
Climbing on sand dune, river bank, and in room:
Second Life, the immensely popular 3-dimensional virtual world, is really starting to take on a life of its own. There are things going on in there that have undoubtedly gone beyond the wildest expectations of its developers.
In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of American children diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). Almost all of these kids are placed on psycho-stimulant medications like Ritalin. As this trend continues, our children are rapidly becoming the most medicated children in the world. With ADHD diagnosis rates ten times greater than those observed in Europe or Japan, the United States now consumes 90% of the annual global production of Methylphenidate.
There are two kinds of ethicists. The first kind makes you think about what it is you want, and why. The second kind tells you what you should want. The first kind of ethicist is very valuable. The second can be damaging.
“If we’re looking at the highlights of human development, you have to look at the evolution of the organism and then at the development of its interaction with the environment. Evolution of the organism will begin with the evolution of life perceived through the hominid coming to the evolution of mankind. Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man. Now, interestingly, what you’re looking at here are three strings: biological, anthropological — development of the cities — and cultural, which is human expression.
Now, what you’ve seen here is the evolution of populations, not so much the evolution of individuals. And in addition, if you look at the time scales that are involved here — two billion years for life, six million years for the hominid, 100,000 years for mankind as we know it — you’re beginning to see the telescoping nature of the evolutionary paradigm. And then when you get to agricultural, when you get to scientific revolution and industrial revolution, you’re looking at 10,000 years, 400 years, 150 years. Uou’re seeing a further telescoping of this evolutionary time. What that means is that as we go through the new evolution, it’s gonna telescope to the point we should be able to see it manifest itself within our lifetime, within this generation.
The new evolution stems from information, and it stems from two types of information: digital and analog. The digital is artificial intelligence. The analog results from molecular biology, the cloning of the organism. And you knit the two together with neurobiology. Before on the old evolutionary paradigm, one would die and the other would grow and dominate. But under the new paradigm, they would exist as a mutually supportive, noncompetitive grouping. Okay, independent from the external.
And what is interesting here is that evolution now becomes an individually centered process, emanating from the needs and desires of the individual, and not an external process, a passive process where the individual is just at the whim of the collective. So, you produce a neo-human, okay, with a new individuality and a new consciousness. But that’s only the beginning of the evolutionary cycle because as the next cycle proceeds, the input is now this new intelligence. As intelligence piles on intelligence, as ability piles on ability, the speed changes. Until what? Until we reach a crescendo in a way could be imagined as an enormous instantaneous fulfillment of human, human and neo-human potential. It could be something totally different. It could be the amplification of the individual, the multiplication of individual existences. Parallel existences now with the individual no longer restricted by time and space.
And the manifestations of this neo-human-type evolution, manifestations could be dramatically counter-intuitive. That’s the interesting part. The old evolution is cold. It’s sterile. It’s efficient, okay? And its manifestations of those social adaptations. We’re talking about parasitism, dominance, morality, okay? Uh, war, predation, these would be subject to de-emphasis. These will be subject to de-evolution. The new evolutionary paradigm will give us the human traits of truth, of loyalty, of justice, of freedom. These will be the manifestations of the new evolution. And that is what we would hope to see from this. That would be nice.”
An inquiry from a journalist about the phenomenon of sex in the virtual world Second Life (NSFW) got me waxing eloquent about a topic interwoven with my Cyborg Buddha book project: the future of sex. Here is my thesis: the two most important developments in the technological control of sex are both already occurring; first separating sex from physical contact, and then establishing our control over our sexual feelings altogether.
A friend worries that my support of the politics of consent over the politics of imposing general standards may make me hopelessly utopian. He analogizes my position to that of someone who might say, “I want to create a world where there is no homophobia so that we don’t have to ban biotechnologies that could be used in a homophobic manner.” To such a sentiment he proposes the intervention: “[S]ince it is impossible to create such a world, isn’t it more pragmatic to ban some potentially homophobic uses of technologies?”
The Blogisattva Awards were announced today and George Dvorsky‘s Sentient Developments blog was the winner of two awards: Best Achievement Blogging on Matters Philosophical or Scientific and Best Achievement in Wonderful, Remarkable, Elegant Design. You can read about all the winners and why they were chosen here.
I’m flattered by Richard Hayes’ latest intervention in the debate over human enhancement, “Our Biopolitical Future: Four Scenarios” (Worldwatch, March/April 2007 - free after registration). Its clear that he feels the need to throw some counter-spin to Citizen Cyborg, and the growing set of progressive transhumanist and technoprogressive voices reflected here at the IEET. His essay is an engagingly science fictional propaganda effort, reflecting a serious engagement with technoprogressive arguments, even as he refuses to use the term.
Looks like a third of the respondents are skeptics about wither climate change or efforts to stop and remediate climate change. Of those who accept the need for some kind of carbon emissions solution a quarter were opposed to nuclear power out of hand. The rest were roughly equally divided between nuclear power enthusiasts and tentative adopters. No consensus here.
New poll: Should there be a standing United Nations military force to enforce world law?
I have long been leery of the general term “enhancement medicine” to describe what are now (and will soon be in even more powerful forms) therapeutic practices of genetic, prosthetic, and cognitive modification.