Tag Archives: transhumanism

Longevity Cookbook Indiegogo Campaign Is the Most Effective Step You Can Take towards Your Longevity

longevity cookbook, health, rejuvenation, aging, cookbook, healthy eating

Something amazing has happened! We have launched our Longevity Cookbook Indiegogo Campaign.

Aging steals away your most valuable resource: time. The Longevity Cookbook is a strategy guide to help you get more time to experience the joy from everything that you like in life. Take yourself on a journey starting with nutrients and exercise regimes that goes on to exploring the usage of genetically modified symbiotic organisms and using gene therapy to boost your own longevity.

Contributing to ‪#LongevityCookbook‬ is the best way you can spend your money, because we are fighting for your life. Please, contribute and share the Longevity Cookbook campaign. Let’s defeat aging together!

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Transhumanism Strategy Boils Down to Choosing a Crowdfunding Project

Maria in the library First of all, let’s draw a line between a strategy and wishful thinking. There are plenty of wonderful transhumanist projects. A viral video, a global portal, attracting celebrities, proof that aging is a disease, convincing billionaires, educational programs, letters to politicians, civil actions, participating in elections, creating a strong community, clinical trials of combinations of existing age delaying drugs on animals, TV shows, Hollywood blockbusters, creating a political committee, conferences on transhumanist topics, scientific megaproject on life extension, cryonics company, crowdfunding, a lot of startups relevant to transhumanist topics, active use of AI elements in all areas and so on . The only question is how can we do all of this? Often, when a person gives advice that we need to do this and that, they have a feeling that they solved the problem. However, “this and that” won’t just appear by itself. There is merely a feeling that the problem is solved. This is how a person solves the problem of being involved in transhumanism by giving a piece of advice. It should be noted that all pure transhumanists projects either failed, or lead a miserable existence, or degenerated into something unreliable. Continue reading

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Transhumanism Strategy

We’ve put together the survey on transhumanism strategy to reveal the inner discussion inside the transhumanist movement. Our goal is to inspire the people to act.

We believe the greatest sin in our field is wishful thinking. It’s when a person is saying that it would be good to do something, like for instance, to shoot a viral video, but at the same time this person is not doing anything. His or hers advice has to be implemented in real life somehow on its own.

We also tried to get away from discussing whether it’s going to be boring to live, what about overpopulation, and whether we should argue with nature or not. We can’t be talking about this nonsense forever.

We will take the liberty of commenting on the obtained results from 223 respondents and share our own opinion on the proposed questions.

58% think a global movement is needed. I suppose we agree with it, but it’s not necessary that right now there have to be a lot of people. It is more important that the people understand the situation and the goals of transhumanism and are ready to act.

20% believe that the cure for aging can only be created as a non-profit project, and 80% think not necessarily. Our position is that only a non-profit initiative can achieve significant deceleration of aging. We’ve witnessed tens of commercial projects in life extension and every time the idea to earn money wins over the idea of living longer. Radical life extension idea is extremely complicated and burdening it with making money overcomplicates everything.

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Artificial Intelligence Is the Most Important Technology of the Future

Artificial Intelligence is a set of tools that are driving forward key parts of the futurist agenda, sometimes at a rapid clip. The last few years have seen a slew of surprising advances: the IBM supercomputer Watson, which beat two champions of Jeopardy!; self-driving cars that have logged over 300,000 accident-free miles and are officially legal in three states; and statistical learning techniques are conducting pattern recognition on complex data sets from consumer interests to trillions of images. In this post, I’ll bring you up to speed on what is happening in AI today, and talk about potential future applications. Any brief overview of AI will be necessarily incomplete, but I’ll be describing a few of the most exciting items.

The key applications of Artificial Intelligence are in any area that involves more data than humans can handle on our own, but which involves decisions simple enough that an AI can get somewhere with it. Big data, lots of little rote operations that add up to something useful. An example is image recognition; by doing rigorous, repetitive, low-level calculations on image features, we now have services like Google Goggles, where you take an image of something, say a landmark, and Google tries to recognize what it is. Services like these are the first stirrings of Augmented Reality (AR).

It’s easy to see how this kind of image recognition can be applied to repetitive tasks in biological research. One such difficult task is in brain mapping, an area that underlies dozens of transhumanist goals. The leader in this area is Sebastian Seung at MIT, who develops software to automatically determine the shape of neurons and locate synapses. Seung developed a fundamentally new kind of computer vision for automating work towards building connectomes, which detail the connections between all neurons. These are a key step to building computers that simulate the human brain.

As an example of how difficult it is to build a connectome without AI, consider the case of the flatworm, C. elegans, the only completed connectome to date. Although electron microscopy was used to exhaustively map the brain of this flatworm in the 1970s and 80s, it took more than a decade of work to piece this data into a full map of the flatworm’s brain. This is despite that brain containing just 7000 connections between 300 neurons. By comparison, the human brain contains 100 trillion connections between 100 billion neurons. Without sophisticated AI, mapping it will be hopeless.

There’s another closely related area that depends on AI to make progress; cognitive prostheses. These are brain implants that can perform the role of a part of the brain that has been damaged. Imagine a prosthesis that restores crucial memories to Alzheimer’s patients. The feasibility of a prosthesis of the hippocampus, part of the brain responsible for memory, was proven recently by Theodore Berger at the University of Southern California. A rat with its hippocampus chemically disabled was able to form new memories with the aid of an implant.

The way these implants are built is by carefully recording the neural signals of the brain and making a device that mimics the way they work. The device itself uses an artificial neural network, which Berger calls a High-density Hippocampal Neuron Network Processor. Painstaking observation of the brain region in question is needed to build a model detailed enough to stand in for the original. Without neural network techniques (a subcategory of AI) and abundant computing power, this approach would never work.

Bringing the overview back to more everyday tech, consider all the AI that will be required to make the vision of Augmented Reality mature. AR, as exemplified by Google Glass, uses computer glasses to overlay graphics on the real world. For the tech to work, it needs to quickly analyze what the viewer is seeing and generate graphics that provide useful information. To be useful, the glasses have to be able to identify complex objects from any direction, under any lighting conditions, no matter the weather. To be useful to a driver, for instance, the glasses would need to identify roads and landmarks faster and more effectively than is enabled by any current technology. AR is not there yet, but probably will be within the next ten years. All of this falls into the category of advances in computer vision, part of AI.

Finally, let’s consider some of the recent advances in building AI scientists. In 2009, “Adam” became the first robot to discover new scientific knowledge, having to do with the genetics of yeast. The robot, which consists of a small room filled with experimental equipment connected to a computer, came up with its’ own hypothesis and tested it. Though the context and the experiment were simple, this milestone points to a new world of robotic possibilities. This is where the intersection between AI and other transhumanist areas, such as life extension research, could become profound.

Many experiments in life science and biochemistry require a great deal of trial and error. Certain experiments are already automated with robotics, but what about computers that formulate and test their own hypotheses? Making this feasible would require the computer to understand a great deal of common sense knowledge, as well as specialized knowledge about the subject area. Consider a robot scientist like Adam with the object-level knowledge of the Jeopardy!-winning Watson supercomputer. This could be built today in theory, but it will probably be a few years before anything like it is built in practice. Once it is, it’s difficult to say what the scientific returns could be, but they could be substantial. We’ll just have to build it and find out.

That concludes this brief overview. There are many other interesting trends in AI, but machine vision, cognitive prostheses, and robotic scientists are among the most interesting, and relevant to futurist goals.

I would like to thank Michael Anissimov, a fellow transhumanist and author of the Accelerating Future blog, for contributing this piece. 

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Transhumanism Presentation in Tallinn at the NMR meeting

It was an honor for me to get invited to talk at the Nuclear Magnet Resonance conference in the framework of the Estonian Magnet Week in Tallinn on September, 30. I am very thankful to Ago Samoson who provided me with the opportunity to share our ideas about transhumanism as the ideology that can be used as the basis for uniting researchers and increasing the amount of funding. Researchers all over the world are struggling with the lack of money for experiments. Regardless of the way this money is distributed among the labs within a given field, it is still not enough. And it won’t be  enough unless there’s a social mandate formed in the society and the politicians react to it appropriately. Landing on the Moon was only possible because there was a strong idea behind it and a lot of people were backing up this idea. Transhumanism can offer the powerful ideology of defending life, increasing the human abilities with the help of technologies. It can serve as a point of crystallization. The government interest in scientific research, relies upon the interest of the general public. It’s the goal of the scientists to unite, to abandon their fears and explicitly state their goals – longevity and good health for everyone. This way we have a chance to be alive at the time when the life extension therapies are created and people no longer have to suffer from diseases and die.

A picture from Estonian coast and a video of the first half of my talk shot with the iPhone in a dark room)

 

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I am an Aging Fighter Because Life is the Main Human Right, Demand and Desire

Here’s my essay on the Longevity Party published on the IEET website with the help of Hank Pellisier. I am coping the text below with tiny edits. Enjoy!

My name is Maria Konovalenko and I am an aging fighter. I work for the Science for Life Extension Foundation in Moscow, Russia. It is a small private non-profit headed by Mikhail Batin.  Our goal is to attract funding for research aimed at studying the fundamental mechanisms of aging and finding the ways of life extension. We are attracting around 5 million dollars a year on average, both from the government and the private sector.

I am a transhumanist. I would very much like to live forever, but most importantly I would like all the people in the world to have this opportunity. Therefore, I am spending 100% of my time on life extension projects. I graduated from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, which is the best Physics school in Russia. My major is Molecular Biological Physics. During my 5th year at school I had a course in Gerontology and this is how I became involved with the radical life extension initiative. I have spent 9 years in the music school and I’ve been swimming competitively for about 11 years in Murmansk, my home town, which is located in the very north-west part of Russia. It is a place where we have 9 months of winter, and I really wish I were joking.

Right now I am entirely focused on transhumanism, because I believe life extension is the top priority goal.

Why did we start the Longevity Party? Because life is the main human right, demand and desire. Trying to increase lifespan means wanting to live and be constantly healthy. In the modern developed society life expectancy depends on the state of biomedical technologies. And the state of health care is the issue of government policy. I am talking not only about the availability of modern technologies, but also about whether they are actually developed or not. This means that your life depends entirely on the budgets allocated for fighting aging and life extension. It is crucial that people in different countries demand funding the fight against aging, because the main interest of the voters is staying alive. So, the question whether you are alive or not is a political one. A party is a political tool, therefore it is essential the majority of countries have parties that place life extension on the top place in their agenda.

The idea of the Longevity Party is acting rationally in our own interest. I believe if there were 20 people in the US, who had the necessary level of intellectual resources, they could change the situation, possibly with the help of the Longevity Party. Unfortunately, there is no large-scale scientific project in the area of life extension. The task of the Longevity Party is to elucidate the super-importance of such a project to the people.

At this moment the will to live looks like a struggle of common sense against superstition and unbelievable stupidity. Idiocy is an incredibly strong enemy. You cannot just go ahead and tell people that living is good and dying is bad, because you will immediately hear in response that many “would be bored to hell to live that long” and they “don’t want to argue with nature.”

Arguments are not enough to persuade the public, we need a powerful propaganda machine. How this machine is organized is perhaps the task of the Longevity Party, or perhaps the task of an incredible genius who will become the most significant person in the history of the civilization. I don’t know such a person yet. The goals of the party include finding this leader or leaders. Defeating aging is defeating narrow-mindedness, lack of education and inertia; it requires total intellectual superiority.

I envision a global Longevity Party. A national initiative [in numerous nations] to fight for radical life extension would be enough. The US, UK, Germany, Turkey and Russia all possess the budgets for radical life extension. However, the influence of transhumanists on national governments is zero. Probably the first goal of the international alliance for significant life extension is to impact the situation in a single small country, like Denmark or Israel.  We could play on the will of small countries to be noticed. People don’t listen to logical arguments, so maybe art can help us, like Pussy Riot or Femen.

The international Longevity Party is the alliance of people with firm character. If you have decided to be involved in transhumanism professionally – welcome. Our first step? Maybe we should let 400 coffins float down the Hudson River, that’s the number of people that die each day in NYC. I know only one thing – we need to be courageous. Forums, where mostly freaks hang out, are useless. Conversations among ourselves have given us exactly nothing. The Party is a tool of self-identification. We need to give people the opportunity to make a rational and moral choice, that is to join the Party.

So far, the response I have gotten from people about the Longevity Party is… okay. People are active and willing. There are no strong leaders, though. They are especially needed in the United States. Maybe a critical mass is lacking.

In Russia registering a political party is a rather bureaucratic procedure and is frowned upon by the government. We have submitted the application and we need to organize the founding meeting within half a year with representatives from 42 regions of the country. This is quite a significant amount of money for us. Nonetheless, we are going to give away membership cards. We will think of the hierarchy so that a person could grow within the Party and gain new knowledge.

My prediction for the future?  Will immortality be achieved? If humanity doesn’t perish, then immortality is inevitable. The only question is whether you, specifically, are going to make it. The most irrational human generation is ruling the planet now. It is missing the unique opportunity to radically extend their own lives. Undone is even a simple experiment of testing the longevity effects of pharmacological compounds in humans. This should have been done already, in the 1970s!

If this generation dies, it dies only because of its own stupidity. Because it doesn’t care about scientific research in the area of life extension. There is some research going on, but it’s pace and the amount of funding is ridiculous compared to the importance of the goal.

I believe that real technologies of rejuvenation could be created in 20 years provided there is a scientifiс megaproject on life extension. It is going to be expensive at first – several billion dollars, but after a while the price will fall down the same way it did with genome sequencing, which costs a couple thousand dollars today and will be less than a hundred dollars tomorrow. If you are less than 65 years old, then you can buy immortality with about 30 billion dollars. But you also need intelligence and will. Intelligence you need for not giving your money to frauds, and will – to not to stop half-way to eternal life.

If you are 20, you have pretty good chances to live up to 1000 years, if there’s no global catastrophe. There’s only one serious problem threatening immortality – Unfriendly Artificial Intelligence. Aside from that – people have got the whole universe ahead of them.

If you are older than 60 – you should do diagnostics of aging using numerous biomarkers, fight cancer, and be involved in cryonics.

If you are 50-60 years old – you should be involved in regenerative medicine and gene therapy, in particular, creating the “longevity viruses.”

If you are 40-50 – you should focus on therapeutic cloning, brain transplantation artificial organs, neuro-modeling.

If you are 30-40 – you should work on development of friendly Artificial Intelligence and nanotechnologies.

If you are 20-30 – do all of the above.

If you are less than 20, aging will be defeated without you. Your major risk is a global catastrophe. Work on creating the friendly AI and it’s going to solve all the problems and you will become a superhuman with capabilities that the Olympic Gods wouldn’t even dream of.

But of course, improve yourselves, study and look after your health at any age.

What do I see as the best path to Radical Life Extension?  Technology is convergent and genome manipulations are now absolute nanotechnologies. Most effective is stimulating our own reparative, regenerative mechanisms. We need to urgently bring the diagnostics of age-related changes, i.e. aging, to the clinic. We need to learn how to restore functioning of the damaged spine using stem cells and transplant brains in primates. We need to learn how to clone a human. We need to carry out the Human Epigenome Project.

I mentioned cloning, hence a few words about bioethics.

We need to make it clear to everyone that life extension and defeat of death is absolutely moral and righteous for humanity. Miscreants, religious zealots and unbelievable illiterates are using their rhetoric to slow down scientific progress. Progress, by definition, is the movement from bad to good. Today, we transhumanists must promote the ideals of goodness, to combat people in pulpits and media who harangue against life extension, mortifying millions of people in the name of “bioethics.” It is, quite obviously, quintessentially Ethical to save the lives of millions of people. The servants of Satan stand against us, when they try to inculcate their credulous parishes that they act out of love for them.

The incontestable leader in biotechnology is the United States. Maybe China will come up with something significant. Europe has kind of mentally surrendered in the technological race. Governments in Europe act mostly to please the middlebrows with their not-so-sophisticated values: how to eat tasty food and watch football. Europeans are forced to transform into social animals that live in autopilot mode. On the other hand, Life Extension is a creative goal. People in society have to come out their psychological comfort zone.

When we understand that aging isn’t absolutely required, Death becomes horrifying. The nation where a critical mass of people think like that, will be the nation that solves the problem of life extension.

What do I need to help me with my endeavor? Money. As a biophysicist, I can tell you that money is the source of life. Unfortunately, our supporters have very little money. There are almost no people in the world working on advancing transhumanism who are not thinking about where to get food, clothing and housing.

If you haven’t got many resources, spend them on self-education in the area of molecular biology, artificial Intelligence or similar things. Even if you have tons of money, you should do the same thing. Studying stimulates neurogenesis and helps you make the right decisions.

The Longevity Party needs design, movies, art, scientific research, organizational work, lobbying, advertising, websites, remote education. Even making an interactive multimedia textbook on aging costs several millions of dollars. Nonetheless, we have to act even in these hostile circumstances. Supporters of radical life extension should meet together often, so that new projects can originate from discussions. We have to persuade the people around us. We have to spoil each and every party with conversations about immortality and emerging technologies.

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Do you Want to Be Immortal? Really? – Yes, Really.

In this recent article the Huffington Post author George Young asks a question if we really want to be immortal. He tells the readers about Igor Vishev, Russian philosopher, who believes that the first people to become immortal are likely to be already born today. Igor Vishev is the follower of Russian cosmists, such as Nikolai Fedorov, Vladimir Vernadsky and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

From Fedorov on, a main cosmist idea has been to overcome death. For Fedorov individual immortality was not sufficient; our ultimate task was to bring back to life all humans who had ever lived. A devout if eccentric Christian, Fedorov viewed the resurrection as a human task, the Christ-like duty of the sons and daughters of humanity to restore life to those from whom it had been taken. Children would use future scientific technology to resurrect their parents, who in turn would resurrect theirs, all the way back to Adam and Eve.

And then after telling the story of Russian cosmists the author of the article simply becomes blind all of a sudden and falls into the trap built by shortsightedness and inability to think rationally. He writes:

The important question now may not be whether remaking ourselves and our universe to eliminate limits to present life is possible, but whether it is desirable. For centuries poets have intuited profound value in the mystery of death. As Shakespeare tells us in Sonnet 73, death gives life meaning, and love grows more strong for that “which thou must leave ere long.” Or, as Wallace Stevens wrote in “Sunday Morning,” “Death is the mother of beauty.” Could many of our best intangibles be lost in the transition from human to “transhuman”?

Shakespeare knew nothing about antibiotics and resuscitation. He had no choice but to accept death, otherwise it would be just too hard to live knowing that death is the worst, most horrible thing that can happen. It is so much easier to attribute death some meaning or even positive qualities. It means that we don’t have to fight it or fear it, death is normal, good even and we can get back to our everyday routine. But the reality is 100% different. Death is not the mother of beauty. Death is the mother of worms, eating your rotting body. Death makes your life worth nothing. And it doesn’t matter if you leave your work behind – you won’t care, because there will be no you. Just like every dying pharaoh would trade all the gold and pyramids he owns for another day of life, every lethally sick person would give everything he owns for the cure, just to live one more day, just to breathe for a bit longer.

The question of what death is and how or whether we should attempt to eliminate it won’t be settled here, or anywhere, anytime soon. But if Igor Vishev is right, someone alive today — certainly not the one writing these words, but maybe someone reading them — may be around long enough to know the answer.

I understand why George Young is so against immortality – he doesn’t believe he will be able to use life extension technologies. He is a senior citizen at the moment and this makes him pessimistic. His mind wants to protect him from the frightening thought that some people will become immortal, forever young maybe, but not him. So his mind tries to justify death in his own eyes.

But Mr. Young may be wrong in his assumption that he is not going to benefit from life extension technologies. If the existing life extension results are transferred from model animal to humans, he may well have the chance to live for quite some more time. And during this extra time there’s a good chance some new technologies would be developed to prolong his life even more. We don’t know this for sure, but we have to fight for our lives.

The more optimistic and unbiased articles we have about the possibility of life extension, the greater our chances are to eliminate all the age-related diseases and make people live much healthier and, most importantly, much longer lives.

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