Search results for: "transhuman"

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The Transhumanist Party Announces Their 2016 Presidential Candidate

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transhumanismThe 2016 presidential race just got a lot more interesting. I’m not talking about Hillary Clinton or Rick Perry, or even Sarah Palin—I’m talking about someone with a far cooler name: Zoltan Istvan.

Istvan is a one of the most famous transhumanists out there, largely because of his prolific and popular writings. He writes for the Huffington Post, Vice, Psychology Today, and many other publications, and his novel The Transhumanist Wager, details one man’s search for immortality through technology.

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Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf: Ben Bova Returns With Transhuman

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As much as we love science fiction on TV, on the big screen, on the comics page, and in video game form, there’s just something irreplaceable about digging into a good book. There’s no shortage of new sci-fi adventures hitting shelves on a regular basis, but GFR is your one-stop shop to keep up with what’s hitting shelves in a given week. Here’s what’s new on the Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf!

TranshumanTranshuman” by Ben Bova

Six-time Hugo Award-winner Ben Bova presents Transhuman.

Luke Abramson, a brilliant cellular biologist who is battling lung cancer, has one joy in life, his ten-year-old granddaughter, Angela. When he learns that Angela has an inoperable brain tumor and is given less than six months to live, Abramson wants to try a new enzyme, Mortality Factor 4 (MORF4), that he believes will kill Angela’s tumor.

However, the hospital bureaucracy won’t let him do it because MORF4 has not yet been approved by the FDA. Knowing that Angela will die before he can get approval of the treatment, Abramson abducts Angela from the hospital with plans to take her to a private research laboratory in Oregon.

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What Happens When You Put A Worm’s Brain Inside A Robot?

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openwormtransparentScientists and transhumanists such as Ray Kurzweil talk a lot about radical life extension and immortality, which they think can be achieved in a few different ways. One approach involves improving our physical bodies to the point that they’re pretty much immune to disease and aging, either through cellular and genetic manipulation or the use of nanotechnology that cleanses the body from the inside. Another method of achieving immortality involves ditching our biological bodies and uploading our brains into computers — not unlike the plot of Transcendence, but presumably with a lot less stupid evil. Anyway, the idea is that, eventually, we can all be body-less avatars flying around doing whatever we want, leaving these earthly trappings behind. Of course, that raises some pretty hefty questions, such as whether or not one’s avatar or virtual self is really that person, or if something’s lost in the translation. Given that it’s pretty tough to know for sure either way, scientists are trying to do more than simply speculate about this possible future. Thus, scientists wanted to start small — with a worm brain.

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Blocking Pain Receptors May Lead To A Longer Life

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miceAs scientists continue to make breakthroughs in radical life extension, Google’s lofty goal of solving death and transhumanists’ pursuit of immortality seem less and less farfetched. The latest of these discoveries is that mice genetically designed to lack a pain receptor called TRPV1 are less prone to age-related diseases and live much longer.

Pain receptors serve an important purpose, they indicate when we might be in danger. If they didn’t, we might jump into fires or step into the ring against someone twice our size. But for all the important warning messages pain receptors send, pain harms us, and not just in the obvious way. Studies have shown that people who suffer chronic pain are likely to live shorter lives, though no one knows exactly why.

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Young Blood May Be The Fountain Of Youth

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miceRegardless of one’s philosophy about the pursuit of immortality, scientists keep making breakthroughs that make that goal seem more plausible. The latest of those efforts are two studies conducted by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and one by Stanford University and University of California at San Francisco researchers that involved injecting the blood of young mice into older mice to reverse the effects of aging.

The initial methodology seems pretty strange: scientists essentially turned two mice into Siamese twins, attaching an old and a young mouse together via their circulatory systems. The older mouse’s brain and muscles benefited from being conjoined, and after a month stem cells in the brain and muscles of the older mouse became more active and produced more neurons and tissue. But the young mice who were joined up with the old mice had the opposite result — they stopped producing as many new cells, and they began to age faster than they otherwise would.

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Comparing Prosthetics: 3D Printed Vs. Pricey Myoelectric

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Delgado and BeastEach year, I teach a research seminar on artificial intelligence and other futuristic technologies, and each year, my students become obsessed with something a little bit different. The Ray Kurzweil/Singularity year was a while back, as were drones and 3-D printing. This year’s hot research topics are the pursuit of immortality and prosthetics. The latter has particularly captured students’ attention both because of the incredible strides in the field and because we’re in Boston, where fairly recently a bunch of residents of our fair city found themselves in need of prosthetics. One of the aspects we talk about frequently is the affordability and accessibility of prosthetics and bionic limbs, which my students fear will further cleave the rich and the poor. Thus, a recent comparison of a $42,000 prosthetic hand to a $50 3D-printed one caught my eye.

53-year-old Jose Delgado, Jr. was born without a left hand and over the years has tried countless prosthetics. The cream of the crop was a $42K myoelectric device that operates via muscle signals in his arm. He could open and close his hand, and differentiate between, say, holding a baseball and holding an egg. Even though his insurance covered half of the cost of the device, Delgado still had a hefty sum to pay, which supports the notion that these technologies aren’t affordable for everyone. While the device is impressive, Delgado wondered if it was indeed the best option out there, especially when considering the cost.

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