Scientists 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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The 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.
Scientists and transhumanists like Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey believe that humans can, should, and will eventually “solve” the problem of aging and death. They believe the human body can be altered on a biological and genetic level and programmed away from age-related decay and disease. It’s a controversial topic, but regardless of your stance on the pursuit of radical life extension and immortality, science has moved one step closer to realizing this goal. For the first time, scientists have regenerated a living organ.
Last year, Google announced the formation of Calico, a new company aimed not just at healthcare, but at tackling the “challenge of aging.” In other words, Google wants to “solve death,” and joins futurists and scientists such as Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey in the fight against senescence, the decay of our bodies that generally comes with aging. De Grey has identified seven types of aging damage, many of which involve cellular atrophy and mutations, that help direct researchers toward cures. Kurzweil has his own supplement company designed to help slow down aging. Increasingly, scientists are working on life extension, but new studies show that reduced fertility may be the price (or one of them, anyway) for achieving it.