Sunday, April 02, 2006

Scenario

  • A scenario is a narrative, a story. As such, it should have a at least a little bit of plot.
  • Give names to the people in your scenarios. In addition to making the people seem more real (and interesting), it makes it easier to refer to them in later conversations.
  • In addition to names, give the people a background, a story. This helps convey why they act the way that they do.
  • Feel free to use your own story and name, but put your story in the third-person (say "he" or "she" instead of "I").
  • In addition to showing how your characters use Chandler, it may be helpful to show them struggling to do the same thing with their current PIM/email client.
  • Remember that not all human behavior is particularly admirable. Please include scenarios of people trying to do bad things with their tools.
  • Make it fun!
Found these points...might be useful to keep in mind

Nanobots Not Needed

Nanobots Not Needed

SUMMARY: The popular idea of so-called nanobots, powerful and at risk of running wild, is not part of modern plans for building things “atom-by-atom” by molecular manufacturing. Studies indicate that most people don't know the difference between molecular manufacturing, nanoscale technology, and nanobots. Confusion about terms, fueled by science fiction, has distorted the truth about advanced nanotechnology. Nanobots are not needed for manufacturing, but continued misunderstanding may hinder research into highly beneficial technologies and discussion of the real dangers.

Nanobots have plagued nanotechnology from the beginning. Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation (1986), which introduced nanotechnology to the public, described certain kinds of tiny robots with limited capability. But in some fiction and fanciful speculation, these “nanorobots” or “nanobots” possess near-magical powers: transforming any object into anything else, acting as a universal medical device, or destroying anything they touch. This idea has caused confusion about the actual goals of advanced nanotechnology1 research.

Originally, nanotechnology was about building stuff from the atoms up. “Assemblers” were specialized molecular construction machines. “Disassemblers” were research tools to figure out how to make things. A programmable atom-based manufacturing system would be able to build as many more systems as desired. But all these ideas merged with the nanobot concept, plus a heavy dose of science fiction, to create the idea of a single machine that could do it all—and might run wild, turning the world into a “gray goo” of self-copies.2

Meanwhile, the meaning of “nanotechnology” was being stretched. As funding opportunities increased, researchers in related and distant fields of nanoscale technology adopted the term to describe work they'd been doing for decades. By 1992, Drexler had to coin “molecular manufacturing” and “molecular nanotechnology” to indicate what he originally meant by nanotechnology.

Studies have shown that most readers don't know the difference between molecular manufacturing, nanoscale technology, and nanobots. Most nanoscale technologies use big machines to make small products. Molecular manufacturing is about tiny manufacturing systems. But those manufacturing systems are not nanobots.3 Modern plans for molecular manufacturing do not involve self-contained nanoscale construction robots at all.

No one worries about an inkjet printer crawling off the desk and stealing ink cartridges. Molecular manufacturing systems will be no more autonomous than inkjets. Early, primitive, microscopic systems will not even have onboard computers. In advanced designs, called nanofactories,4 the molecular fabrication apparatus will all be fastened down in well-ordered ranks inside a much larger structure. All designs will be externally controlled and supplied, capable of producing a duplicate nanofactory in about an hour—but only on command.

As nanoscale technologies begin to move from the lab to the marketplace, and attention turns to molecular manufacturing research, it will be increasingly important for journalists to counter outdated and incorrect ideas of nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing. Both scientists and the public have gotten the idea that molecular manufacturing requires the use of nanobots, and they may criticize or fear it on that basis. The truth is less sensational, but its implications5 are equally compelling.

European view of nanotech in 20 years

European view of nanotech in 20 years

See the report by Ottilia Saxl, founder and CEO of the Institute of Nanotechnology, UK, for the European Commission Expert Group on Key Technologies for Europe. Titled Nanotechnology – a Key Technology for the Future of Europe (PDF), it includes on pages 26-28 a scenario of the role of nanotech in 2025. The technology will sound familiar, but the political context is quite different from most U.S. nanotech scenarios (emphasis added):

“Rogerio remembers the days when people travelled by car or aeroplane, until droughts, fires, famines, plagues and hurricanes became so frequent that the scientific evidence for an imminent, irreversible ecological global disaster could no longer be ignored. Governments had to then make some very hard-hitting decisions to ensure the survival of the planet, and the continuation of the human race. Travel was forbidden, except in emergency, new forms of energy use were enforced through legislation…

“Surprisingly, also, the bank had done rather well out of the new world order. The use and development of these new technologies had been enforced by law, and this meant a new role for the bank in providing finance. By law also, banks today had to use a high proportion of their surplus to support projects in specified regions of the world at very low interest rates. Not popular to begin with, but the benefits were now apparent. However, it had been sad to see so many businesses such as those involved in import and export of out-of-season fruits, flowers and vegetable, and those needing a high energy input such as glass factories, go to the wall.”

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Emerging technologies and their implications for the future

Cyborgs

Biotech

Artificial Intelligence

Nanotechnology

RFID

More...http://future.iftf.org/rfid/index.html

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

http://futureimperative.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In the future, if everyone doesn't die. Wouldn't the world blow up?


In the future, if everyone doesn't die. Wouldn't the world blow up? Good question. But do notice that scientists once have done an experiment by caging two mice allowing them to multiply until the cage is full. After the mice community has reached 70, the female mice started to experience automatic abortions. Humans will react the same if the population grows too high.
The main reason why humans give birth to children is:When YOU become old, your son or daughter can take care of you.
But in the future, you don't age. What do you want children for? You no longer need people to take care of you. The Immortality Device and futuristic medicine will keep you extremely healthy for eternity. Imagine if your children also decide to have their own children. Then this planet will really blow up. In the future, people will change their ways of thinking. Children are no longer needed. Today's people love children. Tomorrow, children become hindrances. The more children we produce, the more mouth to feed. Soon everyone would be living on the street. Then your children and your grand children will blame you for producing them. They believe that you are responsible for their misery. Take a look at this cartoon:


Kids in the future will become colder to parents. Think about it. If you become physically immortal, you will never die. And you think your kids are supposed to take care of you and respect you forever? Say if you reached 60, and you want to retire. So you ask your kid to send you 15% of his income every month to support you. Since you will never die, your kid must give you 15% of his income for eternity? Right now, since people age and die, it's okay to ask your own children to support you until you die. But in the future, you will live forever. I don't think that kids in the future are going to be as generous as today's kids. Honestly speaking, YOU WILL NOT BE GENEROUS TO YOUR KIDS EITHER. Your kids learn from you and produce their own children. The next thing you know, you have 400 grand-children. All poor like hell due to population-overgrowth. They all come chasing behind you asking you for help. Since they are your offsprings, you should help them. Right? Well, good luck.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Christian Europe may have to rely on Muslims to keep the faith By Rónán Mullen

Europe has lost faith in God. And when you lose faith in God, you lose faith in humanity. Like the great Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said in his 1983 Templeton Prize Lecture: “The failings of the human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.”

The loss of faith that has led to European depopulation and cynicism may also prevent us from integrating our Muslim brothers and sisters.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1306520/posts

Secular Europe, religious America

AMERICA and Europe, or at least the nations of "old" western Europe, have been increasingly at odds since the end of the Cold War. Even a casual observer can see this in the rampant anti-Americanism on the continent. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0377/is_155/ai_n6143340

The Future of Human Nature

We are at an inflection point in history. For the first time, our technologies and intellectual energies are not aimed outward—at modifying our environment through agriculture, clothing, and constructing cities. Instead, our energies are increasingly aimed inward—at modifying our minds, memories, metabolisms, personalities, and progeny. This is occurring not in some distant future, but now and in the next 10 to 20 years. What does this shift in the definition of "human" mean for us and our kids? There are three scenarios: Heaven—in which our inventions conquer pain, suffering, stupidity, ignorance, and even death. Hell—in which our creations wipe out the human race or all of life on earth within a generation. And Prevail—which argues that these first two scenarios are technodeterminist. In this scenario, what really matters—as always—is not how many transistors we get to talk to each other, but how many ornery, imaginative, unpredictable human beings we can bring together to arrive at surprising ways to co-evolve with our challenges.

Future Communication: Humanism vs. Technology

Technology—handheld devices, cell phones, texting, cell photos, MSN, CRM, databases, remote networking (Linked-in, PLAXO)—it’s all changed the way we communicate. Technological wizardry allows us more ways to be in touch, from more places, with increased computer power, video messaging, and portability. We are increasingly living in a knowledge-based economy. Part of living in such a world means dealing with a constant bombardment of messages. It’s shocking how much information we process yet how little knowledge we acquire. So, if the medium is the message, what are we saying about ourselves? Will we control how we communicate or will communication management tools cause us to adopt purely technological means of communication, and abdicate natural, human-to-human interaction? Will future communication happen solely by remote control? In the future, humans will still be able to play the decisive role in determining how we respond to communications technology; how we assess its impact on the quality, depth, and breadth of our communications; and in turn how we allow technology to shape the relationships we form on a business and personal level. A pivotal part of the equation is the different way that men and women respond to technology and communication.

World Future Society News

Latest Futurist Explores the Wealth Gap, Nanotechnology, and The Future of AgingTechnology is Changing Human Interaction
Most-Important Trends Shaping the Future
The Future of Dining

Is the aging of the developed world a ticking time bomb?

The developed-world populations are aging and shrinking, producing huge fiscal, economic, political, and social stresses given the unfunded liabilities of public entitlement programs. Does this phenomenon represent a global crisis? If a crisis looms, when will it unfold, who faces the greatest risk, and what if anything can be done? Twenty important experts offer their views - A Symposium Of Views - Panel Discussion - Cover Storyhttp://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2633/is_1_18/continue

http://loom.corante.com/archives/2006/01/17/the_return_of_the_puppet_masters.php

The Return of the Puppet Masters

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Posted by Carl Zimmer

Are brain parasites altering the personalities of three billion people? The question emerged a few years ago, and it shows no signs of going away.

I first encountered this idea while working on my book Parasite Rex. I was investigating the remarkable ability parasites have to manipulate the behavior of their hosts. The lancet fluke Dicrocoelium dendriticum, for example, forces its ant host to clamp itself to the tip of grass blades, where a grazing mammal might eat it. It's in the fluke's interest to get eaten, because only by getting into the gut of a sheep or some other grazer can it complete its life cycle. Another fluke, Euhaplorchis californiensis, causes infected fish to shimmy and jump, greatly increasing the chance that wading birds will grab them.

Those parasites were weird enough, but then I got to know Toxoplasma gondii. This single-celled parasite lives in the guts of cats, sheddding eggs that can be picked up by rats and other animals that can just so happen be eaten by cats. Toxoplasma forms cysts throughout its intermediate host's body, including the brain. And yet a Toxoplasma-ridden rat is perfectly healthy. That makes good sense for the parasite, since a cat would not be particularly interested in eating a dead rat. But scientists at Oxford discovered that the parasite changes the rats in one subtle but vital way.

The scientists studied the rats in a six-foot by six-foot outdoor enclosure. They used bricks to turn it into a maze of paths and cells. In each corner of the enclosure they put a nest box along with a bowl of food and water. On each the nests they added a few drops of a particular odor. On one they added the scent of fresh straw bedding, on another the bedding from a rat's nests, on another the scent of rabbit urine, on another, the urine of a cat. When they set healthy rats loose in the enclosure, the animals rooted around curiously and investigated the nests. But when they came across the cat odor, they shied away and never returned to that corner. This was no surprise: the odor of a cat triggers a sudden shift in the chemistry of rat brains that brings on intense anxiety. (When researchers test anti-anxiety drugs on rats, they use a whiff of cat urine to make them panic.) The anxiety attack made the healthy rats shy away from the odor and in general makes them leery of investigating new things. Better to lie low and stay alive.

Then the researchers put Toxoplasma-carrying rats in the enclosure. Rats carrying the parasite are for the most part indistinguishable from healthy ones. They can compete for mates just as well and have no trouble feeding themselves. The only difference, the researchers found, is that they are more likely to get themselves killed. The scent of a cat in the enclosure didn't make them anxious, and they went about their business as if nothing was bothering them. They would explore around the odor at least as often as they did anywhere else in the enclosure. In some cases, they even took a special interest in the spot and came back to it over and over again.


The scientists speculated that Toxoplasma was secreted some substance that was altering the patterns of brain activity in the rats. This manipulation likely evolved through natural selection, since parasites that were more likely to end up in cats would leave more offpsring.

The Oxford scientists knew that humans can be hosts to Toxoplasma, too. People can become infected by its eggs by handling soil or kitty litter. For most people, the infection causes no harm. Only if a person's immune system is weak does Toxoplasma grow uncontrollably. That's why pregnant women are advised not to handle kitty litter, and why toxoplasmosis is a serious risk for people with AIDS. Otherwise, the parasite lives quietly in people's bodies (and brains). It's estimated that about half of all people on Earth are infected with Toxoplasma.

Given that human and rat brains have a lot of similarities (they share the same basic anatomy and use the same neurotransmitters), a question naturally arose: if Toxoplasma can alter the behavior of a rat, could it alter a human? Obviously, this manipulation would not do the parasite any good as an adaptation, since it's pretty rare for a human to be devoured by a cat. But it could still have an effect.

Some scientists believe that Toxoplasma changes the personality of its human hosts, bringing different shifts to men and women. Parasitologist Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague administered psychological questionnaires to people infected with Toxoplasma and controls. Those infected, he found, show a small, but statistically significant, tendency to be more self-reproaching and insecure. Paradoxically, infected women, on average, tend to be more outgoing and warmhearted than controls, while infected men tend to be more jealous and suspicious.

It's controversial work, disputed by many. But it attracted the attention of E. Fuller Torrey of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Torrey and his colleagues had noticed some intriguing links between Toxoplasma and schizophrenia. Infection with the parasite has been associated with damage to a certain class of neurons (astrocytes). So has schizophrenia. Pregnant women with high levels of Toxoplasma antibodies in their blood were more likely to give birth to children who would later develop schizophrenia. Torrey lays out more links in this 2003 paper. While none is a smoking gun, they are certainly food for thought. It's conceivable that exposure to Toxoplasma causes subtle changes in most people's personality, but in a small minority, it has more devastating effects.

A year later, Torrey and his colleagues discovered one more fascinating link. They raised human cells in Petri dishes and infected them with Toxoplasma. Then they dosed the cells with a variety of drugs used to treat schizophrenia. Several of the drugs--most notably haloperidol--blocked the growth of the parasite.

So Fuller and the Oxford scientists joined forces to find an answer to the next logical question: can drugs used to treat schizophrenia help a parasite-crazed rat? They now report their results in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (press release). They ran the original tests on 49 more rats. Once again, parasitized rats lost their healthy fear of cats. Then the researchers treated the rats with haloperidol and several other anti-psychotic drugs. They found that the drugs made the rats more scared. They also found that the antipsychotics were as effective as pyrimethamine, a drug that is specifically used to eliminate Toxoplasma.

There's plenty left to do to turn these results into a full-blown explanation of parasites and personalities. For example, what is Toxoplasma releasing into brains to manipulate its hosts? And how does that substance give rise to schizophrenia in some humans? And even if the hypothesis does hold up, it would only account for some cases of schizophrenia, while the cause of others would remain undiscovered. But still...the idea that parasites are tinkering with humanity's personality--perhaps even giving rise to cultural diversity--is taking over my head like a bad case of Toxoplasma.

http://betterhumans.com/blogs/dry_observer/archive/2006/02/10/4288.aspx

Dry Observer

Gods and Monsters -- Human Augmentation for Athletes, Legal or Otherwise...

Human augmentation has the promise of improving human mental and physical abilities in almost every way by changing our biochemistry, our methods of learning, our neurology, even (perhaps especially) our genes. Ironically, while increasing human intelligence and creative/technical gifts would have a dramatic impact on human civilization, much of the furor surrounding this field's potential results from its demonstrated ability to modify athletes.

This article from Deutch Welle describes suspicions that a German coach has been involved in the "genetic doping" of athletes, defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency as "the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance." The article reports:
E-mails sent and received by Springstein, a one-time coach of the German Athletics Association (DLV), which were seized by the police during a raid on Springstein's home, brought up references to Repoxygen -- a banned substance meant to be used in gene therapy to treat patients with anemia.

"Repoxygen helps to induce a controlled release of erythropoietin (EPO), a substance that stimulates the production of red blood cells, thereby increasing the amount of oxygen the blood can deliver to the muscles.

"In one email, Springstein wrote that 'new Repoxygen is hard to get. Please give me new instructions soon so that I can order the product before Christmas.'"

The World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee have already banned synthetic EPO among athletes, but Repoxygen stimulates cells to produce EPO "naturally." Experts are surprised that genetic doping has become a factor prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Some experts actually suspected that genetic augmentation might have been a factor in even the 2004 Olympic Games (as noted here).

An article in The Scientist also discusses these issues, also noting some concerns from members of the World Anti-Doping Agency:

"Olivier Rabin, the agency's science director, said athletes are most likely to use gene technologies that offer them the same kind of benefits as banned drugs. 'Boosting of oxygen transfer and muscle mass building are definitely two of the key areas of gene doping, as indicated by the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs by some athletes for those purposes today,' Rabin said.

"Geoffrey Goldspink from University College London is one researcher whose work on gene therapy for muscle mass has already brought him unwanted attention from the sporting world. He and his colleagues are developing a treatment for muscle wasting diseases that involves transferring the gene for mechano growth factor, using a plasmid vector. In mouse studies, the gene triggered a 30% increase in muscle mass within weeks, suggesting the treatment could be more potent than anabolic steroids.

"Goldspink said he is frequently contacted by people from what he calls the 'sports counter-culture,' who want him to supply them with his technology. He forwards such Emails to WADA, but acknowledges it wouldn't be impossible for a lab elsewhere to produce it themselves. 'It's not rocket science to make genes,' he said. 'Many graduates in biochemistry can make them if they're experienced enough.'"

The article notes that WADA scientists are trying to develop ways of detecting gene doping, "including mass spectroscopy approaches that can distinguish between endogenous and introduced growth factors, tomographic detection of mRNA being formed in unusual tissues after gene transfer, and microarray searches for alterations in the expression profile of certain genes."

Opinions differ, however, as to whether or not genetic augmentation is necessarily a bad thing, as noted in this article from Betterhumans.Com:

"Miah, the author of Genetically Modified Athletes, says that the IOC can't treat genetic modification as it does other forms of doping. 'It's not sufficient simply to prohibit this technology in sport,' says Miah, 'and hope that will be the end of the issue.' Given the threat of black market labs and the lack of a valid method of detection, Miah says that prohibition isn't the best option. 'Increasingly, genetic modification will be seen as a valuable aspect of our society,' says Miah, 'promoting health and benefiting humanity.'

"Miah points out that genetic modification is just one more tool at athletes' disposal, no different than an altitude chamber that increases the concentration of their red blood cells to improve their endurance. He says the criteria for distinguishing between fair and unfair technologies haven't been addressed by international sport bodies since the beginning of the anti-doping movement 40 years ago.

"Some argue that genetic manipulation undermines the anti-doping position that doping creates an inequality amongst competitors. There are natural variations in genes among people and allowing athletes access to gene therapy could actually level the inherently uneven playing field. This argument, however, rests on there being equal access to gene therapy."

And equal access, of course, cuts to the heart of most human enhancement issues. If we can make people "better than well," if we can make them effectively superhuman in one or many attributes (such as endurance, memory, strength, overall health or basic intelligence), what happens to the gap between rich and poor if only a small sliver of a society can afford the augmentations?

As Joel Garreau, author of Radical Evolution, notes in this WorldChanging interview:

Garreau: "Well I have a scenario on that. Take any enhancement technology. I'm think of the ones that exist, like Modafinil, trade name Provigil. This is the primitive prescription drug that allows you to stay awake without any of the side effects of speed or caffeine like jitter or paranoia. You always see the same path. The drug is originally aimed at the sick. In this case it was aimed at the narcoleptics who fall asleep uncontrollably. But within the blink of an eye it moves on to group two, which is the needy well; in this case it was instantly tested on Army helicopter pilots who were young and healthy. The Army discovered that these helicopter pilots could function splendidly for 40 hours without sleep and then have 8 hours of sleep and then do it again for another 40 hours.

"And that's just the first iteration of this. The stuff that's in the pipeline is much more impressive in its effects. But the third group to be attracted to enhancements like this is where people start getting creeped out. And that's the merely ambitious, the people who want to stay awake either in the immortal words of Kiss, to "rock and roll all night and party every day," or they're just ambitious because they want to make partner in a law firm and they want to outperform their peers. And so they lunge at any enhancement that you can offer. Viagra was originally created for some other therapeutic reason but of course its big market has been the ambitious, if you will.

"I think we're going to see that path with any enhancement and I think what freaks people out is the idea that it's going to be used by people who simply want to have advantage over their competitors. If you buy that path, then you're looking in the very near term at a potential division of the species between the Enhanced, the Naturals, and the Rest. The Enhanced are the people who have the interest and the money to embrace all of these enhancements. The Naturals are the ones who could do it if they wanted to, but they're like today's vegetarians or today's fundamentalists, and they eschew these enhancements for either aesthetic or political or religious reasons. The third group is the Rest and either for reasons of geography or money, they don't have access to these enhancements and they hate and envy the people who do. That division could get pretty exciting pretty fast in terms of conflict."

James Hughes, author of Citizen Cyborg, offers this alternative path in the same interview:

Hughes: "My answer to that complaint is that literacy is in the same boat. When you teach people to read are you making the illiterate less well off? Yes, in fact, in a generally literate society employers will generally want to hire literate people. But we don't then argue that we shouldn't teach people to read because we're making the illiterates worse off. We argue that we should teach everyone to read. So if there is a substantial population of Amish in the future who feel disenfranchised because they've decided not to take the cognitive enhancement drugs, and aren't able to work at what's considered the then normative level of work productivity and cognitive performance, I don't really think that the answer is to have a regulatory approach. I'm not suggesting that that's Joel's answer, but that is a lot of people's answer.

"I also don't think that there's any useful distinction between therapy and enhancement although many people will persist in making it. My favorite example is that anti-aging medicine will stop an awful lot of diseases. I don't see how you can distinguish in that case between saying well this is also a prophylactic against cancer, and saying that it will extend my life a couple tens of decades. In terms of the psychopharmaceuticals I'm generally in favor of deregulation. As I said I think that there are gonna be some psychopharmaceuticals and neuro-nano technologies which will have very profound dangers attached to them, much more dangerous than heroin and cocaine are today. But we see with the Drug War today the tremendous social costs associated with restricting people's cognitive liberty.

"My final point about this is that the real distinction in the future will be between what we have 'in the Plan,' that is what we have as a matter of universal access, and what we have in the market. Already we have 'enhancements' covered by Medicaid or Medicare or by private health insurance, like breast reconstruction after cancer or Viagra, and so we just stretch our boundaries of what we consider to be therapeutic to include these cosmetic or life enhancements. At the same time, over in the marketplace, we have things like aspirin and Band-Aids which are indisputably therapeutic but we've decided that there's no useful reason why they need to be 'in the Plan.' So I think that's the kind of decision that we're gonna have to make in the future. If there are drugs or treatments or devices which threaten to radically exacerbate inequality in society that is the point at which you say everybody needs access to this through some kind of universal access system - put them in the plan and give them to everybody. But if the enhancements don't threaten those kinds of inequalities, then we can have a debate about whether they belong in the market or not."

I happen to think a well-informed public discussion of these issues would serve everyone's best interests. I also think we should remember this discussion is not happening in a vacuum -- whatever the United States or the European Union may decide to do, India, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, Russia and many other advanced nations will have to decide how they will deal with this issue. Will they decide to dramatically augment their entire populations? Just the scientists? Just a chosen elite? Or will they forego the technology altogether?

http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n634/a03.html

SPORT, DRUGS AND IT'S TIME FOR HEADS TO ROCK AND ROLL

Neil Drysdale Says That Drug Usage Is Making A Mockery Of The Sporting Ideals

While eco-terorists engage in conflict against genetically-modified foodstuffs by burning crops and gaining royal patronage, and the use of recreational drugs, whether ecstasy or cocaine, has increasingly become the crime that dare not speak its name, sport continues to be plagued by the march of the monsters.

Within the past week, Arsenal's Emmanuel Petit has claimed there is widespread substance abuse in football; Michelle de Bruin's four-year ban from international swimming has predictably been ratified by the IOC; Scotland's European champion, Dougie Walker, has spoken of his personal torment as he awaits the verdict of a doping panel; and the former cycling hero, Marco Pantani, whose exploits in last summer's notorious Tour de France earned him the adulation of his compatriots and admission to 'la dolce vita', currently finds himself the latest spokes-personality to find his reputation in tatters over a positive blood test and allegations that his huge success owes more to the laboratory than any God-given talent.

It's a reminider, if any were required, that we are fast approaching the development of the GM athlete, created then fortified by science and immune from detection by the testers. Log onto the internet these days and virtual reality has been transformed to hard fact. Peptide hormones, diuretics, HGH, endogenous steroids, human chorionic gonadotrophin....

Here is a polysyllabic realm in which the progress of the boffins allows these competitors prepared to cheat a pass- key to their wildest dreams of lucrative sponsorships, Olympic gold medals and the inevatability that even if they're eventually trapped, the mess of litigation which ensues will drag on in sufficiently Jarndyce-like fashion to convince a sceptical public that their suspicions are correct. Namely: "They're all at it."

Ultimately, this cynicism will prove the death of sport if it's allowed to rage on unfettered, but according to Frank Dick, the respected coach and mentor to a wide range of sports stars from Boris Becker to Gerhard Berger and Daley Thompson, we've passed the stage where hand-wringing and why-oh-why editorials are the answer.

Either we simply cry havoc and let slip of drugs, permitting everyone to take whatever substances they want, or we decide finally to stamp down on those for whom the pharmacy is a shortcut to success.

Not with a minority of cash-strapped testing agents either, but by governments and the IOC finally combining to ram home the message that the next generation of Johnsons, Flo-Jos and De Bruins will not be allowed to pollute the Olympic ideal.

"It's easier said than done when you acknowledge that some variants of HGH are nearly impossible to detect, and that the development of drugs like creatine has muddied the waters, but I don't believe, and I can't believe, that the problems are insurmountable and that we should complacently hand athletics, cycling, swinning and the rest over to the druggies," said Dick. "The fact is, though, that the present rules were devised for amateurs not professionals, and that the limited funding available to the testers is completely inadequate to deal with the scale of the abuse. In a perfect world, the breakthrough would come when people did the right thing because they wanted to, not because they had to, but the incentives and inducements are so huge nowadays that's probably a pipe dream.

"Yet it has to be recognised that science is on the move and too many sports bodies are standing still. The UK Sports Council has just formed an Ethics Committee and maybe that is one way forward. But, at the moment, we're only scratching the surface. What's the government doing? And what have previous governments done?"

Precious little is the immediate response as you might expect from a body whose PR geniuses produce images of copulating insects designed to discourage teenagers from having sex and similarly obscure and/or simplistic anti-drug messages. But even the prudes and puritans have to accept it's never been enough to tell youngsters: "Just Say No."

Instead, the International Olympic Committee has to grasp the reality that in a world of test-tube babies, cryogenics, the development of GM substances and animal cloning, science and sport are inextricably linked and that, if new performance-enhancing supplements are placed on the market, as long as they're both safe and legal, there should be no obstruction to athletes employing them to improve their standards.

As for the remainder, those materials with horrific side-effects - such as the growth hormone preparations which have been linked to CJD - the only course of action open to the IOC and its political counterparts, is to invest significantly in eradicating the scourge with regular out-of-season sampling, blood testing and contracts signed by athletes confirming that they have not contravened the regulations.

"The IOC established a $25 million anti-doping agency in February but we need the government to offer more than merely spiritual support," said Craig Reedie, one of Britain's two committee members. "Because unless sport gets its act together, national legislation will have to be enacted here, as it is in France, and drug-taking will become a criminal offence."

Cycling has already proved what happens when you allow the gendarmerie to turn an event into a Tour de Force. Other sports should be watching and worrying and waking up to the possibility of suffering the same dreaded fate.

[Sidebar:] THE DRUGS THEY TAKE, THE THINGS THEY DO...

AMPHETAMINES

Amphetamines can increase aggression as well as reducing tiredness and fatigue, allowing competitors to perform at their maximum for a longer period. They have a long history of use, especially in cycling. British cyclist, Tommy Simpson who died on the slopes of Mont Ventoux in the 1967 Tour de France was found to have amphetamines in his bloodstream.

Side effects are a rise in blood pressure and body temperature as well as an increase in anxiety.

ANABOLIC STEROIDS

Perhaps the most famous sort a illegal drug, anabolic steroids help build muscle, and strength. They are therefore widely used by power athletes who rely on explosiveness like weightlifters and sprinters. Endurance athletes, like cyclists, long distance swimmers and triathietes also use them however to help them recover from the effects of their heavy training loads. Testing is done by measuring the bodies' level of testosterone to epitosterone.

Side effects are well documented and include mood changes and other psychiatric and psychological conditions, hypertension, skin disease and an increased chance of suffering a stroke.

BETABLOCKERS

Are used to control the effects of anxiety and also to slow down the heart rate. As such they tend to be used in sports requiring a steady hand and great precision such as archery or shooting.

DIURETICS

Used to bring about dramatic weight loss and as such are favoured by the likes of boxers and jockeys. Also the type of drug that Diego Maradona used before the 1994 World Cup in which he failed a drug test. Diuretics can also be used to increase urine volume in an effort to make the detection of small quantities of banned substances more difficult.

PEPTIDE HORMONES

Often referred to as "designer drugs" these amino acids are designed to simulate the actions of the body's natural steroid hormones, increasing the body's anabolic capabilities. Worryingly, there is a possible link between the use of human growth hormone and Creutzfeld-Jacob disease.

BLOOD DOPING

Blood doping simulates the benefits of training at altitude, boosting the body's red blood cell count thereby increasing endurance. In days gone by blood doping was achieved by taking blood out of the body, storing it and then reinfusing it into the athlete's body. In recent years this inconvenient and time consuming method has been superseded by the use of the drug Erthyropoietin ( EPO ). EPO was originally developed to counter anaemia resulting from kidney failure but is now the drug of choice for endurance athletes and was at the centre of last years Tour de France scandals. EPO is impossible to detect and so the cycling authorities have decreed that a haematocrit level above 50% is both unsafe and an indication of drug taking.

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n634/a03.html
Newshawk: Shug http://www.ukcia.org/
Votes: 1
Pubdate: Sun, 13 June 1999
Source: Scotland on Sunday
Section: Sport
Contact: Letters_sos@scotsman.com
Author: Neil Drysdale
things they do...', is at the end of the item.

SPORT, DRUGS AND IT'S TIME FOR HEADS TO ROCK AND ROLL

Neil Drysdale Says That Drug Usage Is Making A Mockery Of The Sporting Ideals

While eco-terorists engage in conflict against genetically-modified foodstuffs by burning crops and gaining royal patronage, and the use of recreational drugs, whether ecstasy or cocaine, has increasingly become the crime that dare not speak its name, sport continues to be plagued by the march of the monsters.

Within the past week, Arsenal's Emmanuel Petit has claimed there is widespread substance abuse in football; Michelle de Bruin's four-year ban from international swimming has predictably been ratified by the IOC; Scotland's European champion, Dougie Walker, has spoken of his personal torment as he awaits the verdict of a doping panel; and the former cycling hero, Marco Pantani, whose exploits in last summer's notorious Tour de France earned him the adulation of his compatriots and admission to 'la dolce vita', currently finds himself the latest spokes-personality to find his reputation in tatters over a positive blood test and allegations that his huge success owes more to the laboratory than any God-given talent.

It's a reminider, if any were required, that we are fast approaching the development of the GM athlete, created then fortified by science and immune from detection by the testers. Log onto the internet these days and virtual reality has been transformed to hard fact. Peptide hormones, diuretics, HGH, endogenous steroids, human chorionic gonadotrophin....

Here is a polysyllabic realm in which the progress of the boffins allows these competitors prepared to cheat a pass- key to their wildest dreams of lucrative sponsorships, Olympic gold medals and the inevatability that even if they're eventually trapped, the mess of litigation which ensues will drag on in sufficiently Jarndyce-like fashion to convince a sceptical public that their suspicions are correct. Namely: "They're all at it."

Ultimately, this cynicism will prove the death of sport if it's allowed to rage on unfettered, but according to Frank Dick, the respected coach and mentor to a wide range of sports stars from Boris Becker to Gerhard Berger and Daley Thompson, we've passed the stage where hand-wringing and why-oh-why editorials are the answer.

Either we simply cry havoc and let slip of drugs, permitting everyone to take whatever substances they want, or we decide finally to stamp down on those for whom the pharmacy is a shortcut to success.

Not with a minority of cash-strapped testing agents either, but by governments and the IOC finally combining to ram home the message that the next generation of Johnsons, Flo-Jos and De Bruins will not be allowed to pollute the Olympic ideal.

"It's easier said than done when you acknowledge that some variants of HGH are nearly impossible to detect, and that the development of drugs like creatine has muddied the waters, but I don't believe, and I can't believe, that the problems are insurmountable and that we should complacently hand athletics, cycling, swinning and the rest over to the druggies," said Dick. "The fact is, though, that the present rules were devised for amateurs not professionals, and that the limited funding available to the testers is completely inadequate to deal with the scale of the abuse. In a perfect world, the breakthrough would come when people did the right thing because they wanted to, not because they had to, but the incentives and inducements are so huge nowadays that's probably a pipe dream.

"Yet it has to be recognised that science is on the move and too many sports bodies are standing still. The UK Sports Council has just formed an Ethics Committee and maybe that is one way forward. But, at the moment, we're only scratching the surface. What's the government doing? And what have previous governments done?"

Precious little is the immediate response as you might expect from a body whose PR geniuses produce images of copulating insects designed to discourage teenagers from having sex and similarly obscure and/or simplistic anti-drug messages. But even the prudes and puritans have to accept it's never been enough to tell youngsters: "Just Say No."

Instead, the International Olympic Committee has to grasp the reality that in a world of test-tube babies, cryogenics, the development of GM substances and animal cloning, science and sport are inextricably linked and that, if new performance-enhancing supplements are placed on the market, as long as they're both safe and legal, there should be no obstruction to athletes employing them to improve their standards.

As for the remainder, those materials with horrific side-effects - such as the growth hormone preparations which have been linked to CJD - the only course of action open to the IOC and its political counterparts, is to invest significantly in eradicating the scourge with regular out-of-season sampling, blood testing and contracts signed by athletes confirming that they have not contravened the regulations.

"The IOC established a $25 million anti-doping agency in February but we need the government to offer more than merely spiritual support," said Craig Reedie, one of Britain's two committee members. "Because unless sport gets its act together, national legislation will have to be enacted here, as it is in France, and drug-taking will become a criminal offence."

Cycling has already proved what happens when you allow the gendarmerie to turn an event into a Tour de Force. Other sports should be watching and worrying and waking up to the possibility of suffering the same dreaded fate.

[Sidebar:] THE DRUGS THEY TAKE, THE THINGS THEY DO...

AMPHETAMINES

Amphetamines can increase aggression as well as reducing tiredness and fatigue, allowing competitors to perform at their maximum for a longer period. They have a long history of use, especially in cycling. British cyclist, Tommy Simpson who died on the slopes of Mont Ventoux in the 1967 Tour de France was found to have amphetamines in his bloodstream.

Side effects are a rise in blood pressure and body temperature as well as an increase in anxiety.

ANABOLIC STEROIDS

Perhaps the most famous sort a illegal drug, anabolic steroids help build muscle, and strength. They are therefore widely used by power athletes who rely on explosiveness like weightlifters and sprinters. Endurance athletes, like cyclists, long distance swimmers and triathietes also use them however to help them recover from the effects of their heavy training loads. Testing is done by measuring the bodies' level of testosterone to epitosterone.

Side effects are well documented and include mood changes and other psychiatric and psychological conditions, hypertension, skin disease and an increased chance of suffering a stroke.

BETABLOCKERS

Are used to control the effects of anxiety and also to slow down the heart rate. As such they tend to be used in sports requiring a steady hand and great precision such as archery or shooting.

DIURETICS

Used to bring about dramatic weight loss and as such are favoured by the likes of boxers and jockeys. Also the type of drug that Diego Maradona used before the 1994 World Cup in which he failed a drug test. Diuretics can also be used to increase urine volume in an effort to make the detection of small quantities of banned substances more difficult.

PEPTIDE HORMONES

Often referred to as "designer drugs" these amino acids are designed to simulate the actions of the body's natural steroid hormones, increasing the body's anabolic capabilities. Worryingly, there is a possible link between the use of human growth hormone and Creutzfeld-Jacob disease.

BLOOD DOPING

Blood doping simulates the benefits of training at altitude, boosting the body's red blood cell count thereby increasing endurance. In days gone by blood doping was achieved by taking blood out of the body, storing it and then reinfusing it into the athlete's body. In recent years this inconvenient and time consuming method has been superseded by the use of the drug Erthyropoietin ( EPO ). EPO was originally developed to counter anaemia resulting from kidney failure but is now the drug of choice for endurance athletes and was at the centre of last years Tour de France scandals. EPO is impossible to detect and so the cycling authorities have decreed that a haematocrit level above 50% is both unsafe and an indication of drug taking.


MAP posted-by: Richard Lake

Human Body Version 2.0


Human Body Version 2.0
by Ray Kurzweil

In the coming decades, a radical upgrading of our body's physical and mental systems, already underway, will use nanobots to augment and ultimately replace our organs. We already know how to prevent most degenerative disease through nutrition and supplementation; this will be a bridge to the emerging biotechnology revolution, which in turn will be a bridge to the nanotechnology revolution. By 2030, reverse-engineering of the human brain will have been completed and nonbiological intelligence will merge with our biological brains.


Published on KurzweilAI.net Feb. 17, 2003. The author will present a talk based on this article on Feb. 21 at Time magazine's "The Future of Life" conference.

Sex has already been largely separated from its biological function. For the most part, we engage in sexual activity for intimate communication and sensual pleasure, not reproduction. Conversely, we have multiple methodologies for creating babies without physical sex, albeit most reproduction still does derive from the sex act. Although not condoned by all sectors of society, this disentanglement of sex from its biological function has been readily, even eagerly, adopted by the mainstream.

So why don't we provide the same extrication of purpose from biology for another activity that also provides both social intimacy and sensual pleasure, namely eating? We have crude ways of doing this today. Starch blockers, such as Bayer's Precose, partially prevent absorption of complex carbohydrates; fat blockers, such as Chitosan, bind to fat molecules, causing them to pass through the digestive tract; and sugar substitutes, such as Sucralose and Stevia, provide sweetness without calories. There are limitations and problems with each of these contemporary technologies, but a more effective generation of drugs is being developed that will block excess caloric absorption on the cellular level.

Let us consider, however, a more fundamental reengineering of the digestive process to disconnect the sensual aspects of eating from its original biological purpose: to provide nutrients into the bloodstream that are then delivered to each of our trillions of cells. These nutrients include caloric (energy-bearing) substances such as glucose (from carbohydrates), proteins, fats, and a myriad of trace molecules, such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, that provide building blocks and facilitating enzymes for diverse metabolic processes.

An Era of Abundance

Our knowledge of the complex pathways underlying digestive processes is rapidly expanding, although there is still a great deal we do not fully understand. On the one hand, digestion, like any other major human biological system, is astonishing in its intricacy and cleverness. Our bodies manage to extract the complex resources needed to survive, despite sharply varying conditions, while at the same time, filtering out a multiplicity of toxins.

On the other hand, our bodies evolved in a very different era. Our digestive processes in particular are optimized for a situation that is dramatically dissimilar to the one we find ourselves in. For most of our biological heritage, there was a high likelihood that the next foraging or hunting season (and for a brief, relatively recent period, the next planting season) might be catastrophically lean. So it made sense for our bodies to hold on to every possible calorie. Today, this biological strategy is extremely counterproductive. Our outdated metabolic programming underlies our contemporary epidemic of obesity and fuels pathological processes of degenerative disease such as coronary artery disease, and type II diabetes.

Up until recently (on an evolutionary time scale), it was not in the interest of the species for old people like myself (I was born in 1948) to use up the limited resources of the clan. Evolution favored a short life span—life expectancy was 37 years only two centuries ago—so these restricted reserves could be devoted to the young, those caring for them, and those strong enough to perform intense physical work.

We now live in an era of great material abundance. Most work requires mental effort rather than physical exertion. A century ago, 30 percent of the U.S. work force worked on farms, with another 30 percent deployed in factories. Both of these figures are now under 3 percent. The significant majority of today's job categories, ranging from airline flight attendant to web designer, simply didn't exist a century ago. Circa 2003, we have the opportunity to continue to contribute to our civilization's exponentially growing knowledge base—incidentally, a unique attribute of our species—well past our child-rearing days.

Our species has already augmented the "natural" order of our life cycle through our technology: drugs, supplements, replacement parts for virtually all bodily systems, and many other interventions. We already have devices to replace our hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, jaws, teeth, skin, arteries, veins, heart valves, arms, legs, feet, fingers, and toes. Systems to replace more complex organs (for example, our hearts) are beginning to work. As we're learning the principles of operation of the human body and the brain, we will soon be in a position to design vastly superior systems that will be more enjoyable, last longer, and perform better, without susceptibility to breakdown, disease, and aging.

Artist and cultural catalyst Natasha Vita-More pioneered a conceptual design for one such system, called Primo Posthuman, designed for mobility, flexibility and superlongevity. It features innovations such as a metabrain for global-net connection with prosthetic neo-neocortex of AI interwoven with nanobots; smart skin that is solar protected with biosensors for tone and texture changeability, and high-acuity senses.

Introducing Human Body Version 2.0

We won't engineer human body version 2.0 all at once. It will be an incremental process, one already well under way. Although version 2.0 is a grand project, ultimately resulting in the radical upgrading of all our physical and mental systems, we will implement it one benign step at a time. Based on our current knowledge, we can already touch and feel the means for accomplishing each aspect of this vision.

From this perspective, let's return to a consideration of the digestive system. We already have a reasonably comprehensive picture of the constituent ingredients of the food we eat. We already have the means to survive without eating, using intravenous nutrition (for people who are unable to eat), although this is clearly not a pleasant process, given the current limitations in our technologies for getting substances in and out of the blood stream.

The next phase of improvement will be largely biochemical, in the form of drugs and supplements that will block excess caloric absorption and otherwise reprogram metabolic pathways for optimal health. We already have the knowledge to prevent most instances of degenerative disease, such as heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and cancer, through comprehensive programs of nutrition and supplementation, something which I personally do, and will describe in an upcoming book (A Short Guide to a Long Life, coauthored with Terry Grossman, M.D.). I view our current knowledge as a bridge to the full flowering of the biotechnology revolution, which in turn will be a bridge to the nanotechnology revolution.

It's All About Nanobots

In a famous scene from the movie, The Graduate, Benjamin's mentor gives him career advice in a single word: "plastics." Today, that word might be "software," or "biotechnology," but in another couple of decades, the word is likely to be "nanobots." Nanobots—blood-cell-sized robots—will provide the means to radically redesign our digestive systems, and, incidentally, just about everything else.

In an intermediate phase, nanobots in the digestive tract and bloodstream will intelligently extract the precise nutrients we need, call for needed additional nutrients and supplements through our personal wireless local area network, and send the rest of the food we eat on its way to be passed through for elimination.

If this seems futuristic, keep in mind that intelligent machines are already making their way into our blood stream. There are dozens of projects underway to create blood-stream-based "biological microelectromechanical systems" (bioMEMS) with a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic applications. BioMEMS devices are being designed to intelligently scout out pathogens and deliver medications in very precise ways.

For example, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago has created a tiny capsule with pores measuring only seven nanometers. The pores let insulin out in a controlled manner but prevent antibodies from invading the pancreatic Islet cells inside the capsule. These nanoengineered devices have cured rats with type I diabetes, and there is no reason that the same methodology would fail to work in humans. Similar systems could precisely deliver dopamine to the brain for Parkinson's patients, provide blood-clotting factors for patients with hemophilia, and deliver cancer drugs directly to tumor sites. A new design provides up to 20 substance-containing reservoirs that can release their cargo at programmed times and locations in the body.

Kensall Wise, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, has developed a tiny neural probe that can provide precise monitoring of the electrical activity of patients with neural diseases. Future designs are expected to also deliver drugs to precise locations in the brain. Kazushi Ishiyama at Tohoku University in Japan has developed micromachines that use microscopic-sized spinning screws to deliver drugs to small cancer tumors.

A particularly innovative micromachine developed by Sandia National Labs has actual microteeth with a jaw that opens and closes to trap individual cells and then implant them with substances such as DNA, proteins or drugs. There are already at least four major scientific conferences on bioMEMS and other approaches to developing micro- and nano-scale machines to go into the body and bloodstream.

Ultimately, the individualized nutrients needed for each person will be fully understood (including all the hundreds of phytochemicals) and easily and inexpensively available, so we won't need to bother with extracting nutrients from food at all. Just as we routinely engage in sex today for its relational and sensual gratification, we will gain the opportunity to disconnect the eating of food from the function of delivering nutrients into the bloodstream.

This technology should be reasonably mature by the 2020s. Nutrients will be introduced directly into the bloodstream by special metabolic nanobots. Sensors in our bloodstream and body, using wireless communication, will provide dynamic information on the nutrients needed at each point in time.

A key question in designing this technology will be the means by which these nanobots make their way in and out of the body. As I mentioned above, the technologies we have today, such as intravenous catheters, leave much to be desired. A significant benefit of nanobot technology is that unlike mere drugs and nutritional supplements, nanobots have a measure of intelligence. They can keep track of their own inventories, and intelligently slip in and out of our bodies in clever ways. One scenario is that we would wear a special "nutrient garment" such as a belt or undershirt. This garment would be loaded with nutrient bearing nanobots, which would make their way in and out of our bodies through the skin or other body cavities.

At this stage of technological development, we will be able to eat whatever we want, whatever gives us pleasure and gastronomic fulfillment, and thereby unreservedly explore the culinary arts for their tastes, textures, and aromas. At the same time, we will provide an optimal flow of nutrients to our bloodstream, using a completely separate process. One possibility would be that all the food we eat would pass through a digestive tract that is now disconnected from any possible absorption into the bloodstream.

This would place a burden on our colon and bowel functions, so a more refined approach will dispense with the function of elimination. We will be able to accomplish this using special elimination nanobots that act like tiny garbage compactors. As the nutrient nanobots make their way from the nutrient garment into our bodies, the elimination nanobots will go the other way. Periodically, we would replace the nutrition garment for a fresh one. One might comment that we do obtain some pleasure from the elimination function, but I suspect that most people would be happy to do without it.

Ultimately we won't need to bother with special garments or explicit nutritional resources. Just as computation will eventually be ubiquitous and available everywhere, so too will basic metabolic nanobot resources be embedded everywhere in our environment. In addition, an important aspect of this system will be maintaining ample reserves of all needed resources inside the body. Our version 1.0 bodies do this to only a very limited extent, for example, storing a few minutes of oxygen in our blood, and a few days of caloric energy in glycogen and other reserves. Version 2.0 will provide substantially greater reserves, enabling us to be separated from metabolic resources for greatly extended periods of time.

Once perfected, we will no longer need version 1.0 of our digestive system at all. I pointed out above that our adoption of these technologies will be cautious and incremental, so we will not dispense with the old-fashioned digestive process when these technologies are first introduced. Most of us will wait for digestive system version 2.1 or even 2.2 before being willing to do dispense with version 1.0. After all, people didn't throw away their typewriters when the first generation of word processors was introduced. People held onto their vinyl record collections for many years after CDs came out (I still have mine). People are still holding onto their film cameras, although the tide is rapidly turning in favor of digital cameras.

However, these new technologies do ultimately dominate, and few people today still own a typewriter. The same phenomenon will happen with our reengineered bodies. Once we've worked out the inevitable complications that will arise with a radically reengineered gastrointestinal system, we will begin to rely on it more and more.

Programmable Blood

As we reverse-engineer (learn the principles of operation of) our various bodily systems, we will be in a position to engineer new systems that provide dramatic improvements. One pervasive system that has already been the subject of a comprehensive conceptual redesign is our blood.

One of the leading proponents of "nanomedicine," (redesigning our biological systems through engineering on a molecular scale) and author of a book with the same name is Robert Freitas, Research Scientist at nanotechnology firm Zyvex Corp. Freitas' ambitious manuscript is a comprehensive road map to rearchitecting our biological heritage. One of Freitas' designs is to replace (or augment) our red blood cells with artificial "respirocytes" that would enable us to hold our breath for four hours or do a top-speed sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath. Like most of our biological systems, our red blood cells perform their oxygenating function very inefficiently, and Freitas has redesigned them for optimal performance. He has worked out many of the physical and chemical requirements in impressive detail.

It will be interesting to see how this development is dealt with in athletic contests. Presumably, the use of respirocytes and similar systems will be prohibited from Olympic contests, but then we will have the specter of teenagers in junior high school gymnasiums routinely outperforming Olympic athletes.

Freitas envisions micron-size artificial platelets that could achieve hemostasis (bleeding control) up to 1,000 times faster than biological platelets. Freitas describes nanorobotic microbivores (white blood cell replacements) that will download software to destroy specific infections hundreds of times faster than antibiotics, and that will be effective against all bacterial, viral and fungal infections, with no limitations of drug resistance.

I've personally watched (through a microscope) my own white blood cells surround and devour a pathogen, and I was struck with the remarkable sluggishness of this natural process. Although replacing our blood with billions of nanorobotic devices will require a lengthy process of development, refinement, and regulatory approval, we already have the conceptual knowledge to engineer substantial improvements over the remarkable but very inefficient methods used in our biological bodies.

Have a Heart, or Not

The next organ on my hit list is the heart. It's a remarkable machine, but it has a number of severe problems. It is subject to a myriad of failure modes, and represents a fundamental weakness in our potential longevity. The heart usually breaks down long before the rest of the body, and often very prematurely.

Although artificial hearts are beginning to work, a more effective approach will be to get rid of the heart altogether. Among Freitas' designs are nanorobotic blood cell replacements that provide their own mobility. If the blood system moves with its own movement, the engineering issues of the extreme pressures required for centralized pumping can be eliminated. As we perfect the means of transferring nanobots to and from the blood supply, we can also continuously replace the nanobots comprising our blood supply.

Energy will be provided by microscopic-sized hydrogen fuel cells. Integrated Fuel Cell Technologies, one of many companies pioneering fuel cell technology, has already created microscopic-sized fuel cells. Their first-generation design provides tens of thousands of fuel cells on an integrated circuit and is intended to power portable electronics.

With the respirocytes providing greatly extended access to oxygenation, we will be in a position to eliminate the lungs by using nanobots to provide oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. One might point out that we take pleasure in breathing (even more so than elimination!). As with all of these redesigns, we will certainly go through intermediate stages where these technologies augment our natural systems, so we can have the best of both worlds. Eventually, however, there will be no reason to continue with the complications of actual breathing and the requirement of having breathable air everywhere we go. If we really find breathing that pleasurable, we will develop virtual ways of having this sensual experience.

We also won't need the various organs that produce chemicals, hormones, and enzymes that flow into the blood and other metabolic pathways. We already create bio-identical versions of many of these substances, and we will have the means to routinely create all biochemically relevant substances within a couple of decades. These substances (to the extent that we still need them) will be delivered via nanobots, controlled by intelligent biofeedback systems to maintain and balance required levels, just as our "natural" systems do today (for example, the control of insulin levels by the pancreatic Islet cells). Since we are eliminating most of our biological organs, many of these substances may no longer be needed, and will be replaced by other resources that are required by the nanorobotic systems.

Similarly the organs that filter the blood for impurities, such as the kidneys, can also be replaced by nanorobot-based elimination services.

It is important to emphasize that this redesign process will not be accomplished in a single design cycle. Each organ and each idea will have its own progression, intermediate designs, and stages of implementation. Nonetheless, we are clearly headed towards a fundamental and radical redesign of the extremely inefficient and limited functionality of human body version 1.0.

So What's Left?

Let's consider where we are. We've eliminated the heart, lungs, red and white blood cells, platelets, pancreas, thyroid and all the hormone-producing organs, kidneys, bladder, liver, lower esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, and bowel. What we have left at this point is the skeleton, skin, sex organs, mouth and upper esophagus, and brain.

The skeleton is a stable structure, and we already have a reasonable understanding of how it works. We replace parts of it today, although our current technology for doing this has severe limitations. Interlinking nanobots will provide the ability to augment and ultimately replace the skeleton. Replacing portions of the skeleton today requires painful surgery, but replacing it through nanobots from within can be a gradual and noninvasive process. The human skeleton version 2.0 will very strong, stable, and self repairing.

We will not notice the absence of many of our organs, such as the liver and pancreas, as we do not directly experience their functionality. The skin, however, is an organ we will actually want to keep, or at least we will want to maintain its functionality. The skin, which includes our primary and secondary sex organs, provides a vital function of communication and pleasure. Nonetheless, we will ultimately be able to improve on the skin with new nanoengineered supple materials that will provide greater protection from physical and thermal environmental effects while enhancing our capacity for intimate communication and pleasure. The same observation holds for the mouth and upper esophagus, which comprise the remaining aspects of the digestive system that we use to experience the act of eating.

Redesigning the Human Brain

The process of reverse engineering and redesign will also encompass the most important system in our bodies: the brain. The brain is at least as complex as all the other organs put together, with approximately half of our genetic code devoted to its design. It is a misconception to regard the brain as a single organ. It is actually an intricate collection of information-processing organs, interconnected in an elaborate hierarchy, as is the accident of our evolutionary history.

The process of understanding the principles of operation of the human brain is already well under way. The underlying technologies of brain scanning and neuron modeling are scaling up exponentially, as is our overall knowledge of human brain function. We already have detailed mathematical models of a couple dozen of the several hundred regions that comprise the human brain.

The age of neural implants is also well under way. We have brain implants based on "neuromorphic" modeling (i.e., reverse-engineering of the human brain and nervous system) for a rapidly growing list of brain regions. A friend of mine who became deaf while an adult can now engage in telephone conversations again because of his cochlear implant, a device that interfaces directly with the auditory nervous system. He plans to replace it with a new model with a thousand levels of frequency discrimination, which will enable him to hear music once again. He laments that he has had the same melodies playing in his head for the past 15 years and is looking forward to hearing some new tunes. A future generation of cochlear implants now on the drawing board will provide levels of frequency discrimination that go significantly beyond that of "normal" hearing.

Researchers at MIT and Harvard are developing neural implants to replace damaged retinas. There are brain implants for Parkinson's patients that communicate directly with the ventral posterior nucleus and subthalmic nucleus regions of the brain to reverse the most devastating symptoms of this disease. An implant for people with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis communicates with the ventral lateral thalamus and has been effective in controlling tremors. "Rather than treat the brain like soup, adding chemicals that enhance or suppress certain neurotransmitters," says Rick Trosch, an American physician helping to pioneer these therapies, "we're now treating it like circuitry."

A variety of techniques are being developed to provide the communications bridge between the wet analog world of biological information processing and digital electronics. Researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute have developed noninvasive devices that can communicate with neurons in both directions. They demonstrated their "neuron transistor" by controlling the movements of a living leech from a personal computer. Similar technology has been used to reconnect leech neurons and to coax them to perform simple logical and arithmetic problems. Scientists are now experimenting with a new design called "quantum dots," which uses tiny crystals of semiconductor material to connect electronic devices with neurons.

These developments provide the promise of reconnecting broken neural pathways for people with nerve damage and spinal cord injuries. It has long been thought that recreating these pathways would only be feasible for recently injured patients because nerves gradually deteriorate when unused. A recent discovery, however, shows the feasibility of a neuroprosthetic system for patients with long-standing spinal cord injuries. Researchers at the University of Utah asked a group of long-term quadriplegic patients to move their limbs in a variety of ways and then observed the response of their brains, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although the neural pathways to their limbs had been inactive for many years, the pattern of their brain activity when attempting to move their limbs was very close to that observed in non-disabled persons.

We will, therefore, be able to place sensors in the brain of a paralyzed person (e.g., Christopher Reeve) that will be programmed to recognize the brain patterns associated with intended movements and then stimulate the appropriate sequence of muscle movements. For those patients whose muscles no longer function, there are already designs for "nanoelectromechanical" systems (NEMS) that can expand and contract to replace damaged muscles and that can be activated by either real or artificial nerves.

We Are Becoming Cyborgs

We are rapidly growing more intimate with our technology. Computers started out as large remote machines in air-conditioned rooms tended by white-coated technicians. Subsequently they moved onto our desks, then under our arms, and now in our pockets. Soon, we'll routinely put them inside our bodies and brains. Ultimately we will become more nonbiological than biological.

The compelling benefits in overcoming profound diseases and disabilities will keep these technologies on a rapid course, but medical applications represent only the early adoption phase. As the technologies become established, there will be no barriers to using them for the expansion of human potential. In my view, expanding our potential is precisely the primary distinction of our species.

Moreover, all of the underlying technologies are accelerating. The power of computation has grown at a double exponential rate for all of the past century, and will continue to do so well into this century through the power of three-dimensional computing. Communication bandwidths and the pace of brain reverse-engineering are also quickening. Meanwhile, according to my models, the size of technology is shrinking at a rate of 5.6 per linear dimension per decade, which will make nanotechnology ubiquitous during the 2020s.

By the end of this decade, computing will disappear as a separate technology that we need to carry with us. We'll routinely have high-resolution images encompassing the entire visual field written directly to our retinas from our eyeglasses and contact lenses (the Department of Defense is already using technology along these lines from Microvision, a company based in Bothell, Washington). We'll have very-high-speed wireless connection to the Internet at all times. The electronics for all of this will be embedded in our clothing. Circa 2010, these very personal computers will enable us to meet with each other in full-immersion, visual-auditory, virtual-reality environments as well as augment our vision with location- and time-specific information at all times.

By 2030, electronics will utilize molecule-sized circuits, the reverse-engineering of the human brain will have been completed, and bioMEMS will have evolved into bioNEMS (biological nanoelectromechanical systems). It will be routine to have billions of nanobots (nano-scale robots) coursing through the capillaries of our brains, communicating with each other (over a wireless local area network), as well as with our biological neurons and with the Internet. One application will be to provide full-immersion virtual reality that encompasses all of our senses. When we want to enter a virtual-reality environment, the nanobots will replace the signals from our real senses with the signals that our brain would receive if we were actually in the virtual environment.

We will have a panoply of virtual environments to choose from, including earthly worlds that we are familiar with, as well as those with no earthly counterpart. We will be able to go to these virtual places and have any kind of interaction with other real (as well as simulated) people, ranging from business negotiations to sensual encounters. In virtual reality, we won't be restricted to a single personality, since we will be able to change our appearance and become other people.

Experience Beamers

"Experience beamers" will beam their entire flow of sensory experiences as well as the neurological correlates of their emotional reactions out on the Web just as people today beam their bedroom images from their web cams. A popular pastime will be to plug in to someone else's sensory-emotional beam and experience what it's like to be someone else, à la the plot concept of the movie "Being John Malkovich." There will also be a vast selection of archived experiences to choose from. The design of virtual environments and the creation of archived full-immersion experiences will become new art forms.

The most important application of circa-2030 nanobots will be to literally expand our minds. We're limited today to a mere hundred trillion interneuronal connections; we will be able to augment these by adding virtual connections via nanobot communication. This will provide us with the opportunity to vastly expand our pattern recognition abilities, memories, and overall thinking capacity as well as directly interface with powerful forms of nonbiological intelligence.

It's important to note that once nonbiological intelligence gets a foothold in our brains (a threshold we've already passed), it will grow exponentially, as is the accelerating nature of information-based technologies. A one-inch cube of nanotube circuitry (which is already working at smaller scales in laboratories) will be at least a million times more powerful than the human brain. By 2040, the nonbiological portion of our intelligence will be far more powerful than the biological portion. It will, however, still be part of the human-machine civilization, having been derived from human intelligence, i.e., created by humans (or machines created by humans) and based at least in part on the reverse-engineering of the human nervous system.

Stephen Hawking recently commented in the German magazine Focus that computer intelligence will surpass that of humans within a few decades. He advocated that we "develop as quickly as possible technologies that make possible a direct connection between brain and computer, so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than opposing it." Hawking can take comfort that the development program he is recommending is well under way.



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